Saturday, November 15, 2008

Terra Incognita 59 Ted Stevens, received wisdom and Barbados

Terra Incognita
Issue 59
“Written to enlighten, guaranteed to offend”

A Publication of Seth J. Frantzman
Jerusalem, Israel


November 4th, 2008

1) Ted Stevens: Man of Steel: Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican senator, has been convicted of corruption. Now he faces 35 years in prison and numerous voices are threatening to expel him from the Senate if he wins re-election. Stevens served as a ‘flying tiger’ in the Second World war in China. He wrote the law granting Alaska statehood and was responsible for granting native Americans rights to large swaths of Alaska. The man devoted his entire life to real public service, not naked ambition, but serving the nation. Now the long knives are out for this man of steel. It is a tragedy that people should condemn such a figure, a man who literally carved out an entire state from the wilderness and defended China from Japanese imperialism.

2) Received Wisdom: African slavery and the American Frontier, Part 1 of 2: Received wisdom tells us that the Africans had the institution of slavery before the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century but that their institution was ‘humane’. Furthermore history tells us that the institution predated the arrival of Islam in Africa in the 8th century. But a true examination of the sources shows that there was never African slavery south, central or west Africa. For instance slavery only came to Namibia in the 19th century. Islam brought the institution of slavery to Africa, causing native tribes bordering Islam to embrace the institution to survive and Europeans followed suit. The African’s “natural state” was not some “humane” slavery, this is a lie designed to make Islam seem ‘native’ to Africa and at the same time make European slavery appear ‘worse.’ But in truth it was always a satanic institution, one brought on a large scale by Islam and one still practiced in Islamic African states, usually by Arabs against Africans. History shows the only African solution to Islam and its slavery has been when cannibals have eaten the slave traders. We could all learn from this.

3) Obama's Model: The Democratic Labour party of Barbados: Before there was Obama and the mantra of ‘change we can believe in’ there was the DLP victory in Barbados and their campaign of ‘change’. But what has befallen Barbados since the election of the DLP in January of 2008? What role did race play in that election? Did Owen Arthur really accuse his DLP enemies of being ‘negrocrats’ and did they call him an ‘Oreo’? Is ‘change’ a realistic and acceptable mantra for a campaign?

Ted Stevens: Man of Steel
October 28th, 2008
Seth J. Frantzman

After a lifetime of service Alaska’s senior senator and the longest serving Republican Senator (the Democratic ones are Byrd, Kennedy and Inouye), Ted Stevens, has been found guilty of corruption. His sin? Accepting $250,000 in renovations to a 2,000 square foot house. He now faces some 35 years in prison, a sentence that would mean life in prison, for he is 85 years old. John McCain has called for his resignation, describing him as ‘currupt’. But what is curruption? Is it positive that there is little sense of proportion between the law and the crime? But Stevens is not vindictive and combative, the way James Traficant was ( a former Democrat from Ohio and another ‘Man of Steel’ who was convicted of currption and will be released from prison in 2009). When pressed for answers by Foxnews, Ted Stevens was unappologetic and confident. When asked if Alaska would re-elect him, he is currently up for re-election, he said “they will.” When asked if he had any comments he said “I will tell Alaskans.” This is a man of steel. But let us recall why.

Ted Stevens was born in 1923 in a cottage built by his grandfather in Indiana. He served as a pilot in the Second World War, earning the distinguished flying cross for serving as one of the ‘Flying Tigers’ defending China from the Japanese. After a legal career he was brought, by a colleague, to the Department of the Interior in 1956. Here he helped campaign for Alaskan statehood. Stevens helped write the Alaska Statehood Act which was passed in 1958. He was involved in setting aside portions of Alaska for the federal government, for oil drilling, logging and national parks (the Alaksa National Interest Conservation Act, signed in 1980, covered some 79 million acres for instance). But his greatest influence on Alaska was the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (it was signed by Richard Nixon who was, oddly enough, a great supporter of Native American rights to land). This provided for some 80,000 natives to be given rights to 44 million acres and to receive moneys from oil drilling. A dozen corporations and numerous villages were recognized under the act in which the natives received shares. It was probably the most ‘progressive’ piece of legislation in terms of granting native Americans rights to their ancestral lands ever passed.

And yet now the man who fought for his country in the Second World War, who helped save China from the Japanese, who brought the State of Alaska into being and who helped shape its landscape is being called ‘currupt’ and risks life in prison. Is this justice? Corruption is a serious offence. There is no doubt here. But Mr. Stevens has served in the U.S Senate since 1968. The man has simply devoted his entire life to service. This is not the wishy-washy service of the modern era where people claim to ‘serve their country’ but truly serve only their own ambition and vanity. This is the service of old, of the time of such great devoteess of the nation such as Cato the Elder. Stevens, corrupt? How corrupt can he be. He is 85 years old. He doesn’t drive gold plated cadillacs. Representative Laura Richardson, who is called ‘Little Mama’ by her colleauge Representative ‘Big Mama’ Maxine Waters, drove her government paid for car 30,000 miles, using it for personal use, defaulted on three loans for a house and currently drives a 2007 Lincoln Town Car at a cost of $1,700 a month to the taxpayer. This is, of course, all ‘legal’. She is not the only one. Other Senators and Congressman receive perks beyond the norm. Yet this is a legal form of corruption. Stevens, by contrast was frugal with the taxpayers money. But some friend of his paid for some remodelling that cost between $130,000 and $250,000. Overall his house was valued at $271,000. And this is corruption. Other politicians, McCain among them, have dozens of homes and cars in multiple states. Some have compounds (such as the Bushes and Kennedys. John Edwards, who spoke of ‘two Americas’ has the largest home in his country, a six million dollar 28,000 swuare foot mansion on 102 acres. Lets compare for a second. 28,000 acres for Edwards and 2,300 for Stevens. One man served his country and fought in a war. One man was a lawyer. One man is called ‘corrupt’. Michelle Obama was the ‘vice president of community and external affairs’ where she made some $265,000 a year to do almost nothing, except sit in a chair. The same Obama told students not to ‘go into the corporate world.’ Why would someone go into a corportate world and work when they can get $265,000 to do nothing? Why would they go into the army and risk their lives when they can just enjoy being in charge of ‘community affiars’ or better yet, ‘community organizing’?

Corruption is an interesting idea. There is corruption in many places and in general the United States is a culture that abhors corruption. That is a good thing. But there is more than one type of corruption. There is the kind that Stevens was involved in. But there is also the kind that Edwards and Richardson and the Obamas were involved in. This is the kind where one bilks soceity and the taxpayers out of money. This is the one where one gets big profits working for a ‘non-profit’ organization. Stevens spent a lifetime in the Senate. He was there was Nixon resigned. All that life didn’t bring him a 102 acre property, or dozens of cars and a 28,000 square foot house. He didn’t request the most expensive car to lease on the taxpayers dole from the Senate. Stevens was a modest man of modest backround. He is a man of steel and the Senate deserves him. The people of Alaska, a state he almost single handedly created and crafted, deserve their most loyal citizen. If he is sent to prison it will be a great tragedy. John McCain has done a disservice by damning this man. McCain got a pass when he was one of the ‘Keating five’. He deserved a pass because of his service. But it seems the pot cannot refrain from calling the kettle black. Should Stevens return the money? Yes. Should he declare it on his tax returns or whatever he was supposed to have done? Yes. But the man of steel counts on the people and the people will not let him down. This is why he does not deny or grandstand. He simply says, when asked if they will send him back to public service; “I know they will.”

Received Wisdom: African slavery and the American Frontier, Part 1 of 2
Seth J. Frantzman
October 27th, 2008

There are two pieces of received wisdom that every American and many other people around the world are led to believe: African slavery existed before the American slave trade and was more humane and the American frontier was one of manifest destiny where the white man exterminated the peaceful natives. These two narratives are central to any understanding of the history of Africa and the United States. But it turns out that both narratives are fraught with lies.

Let us begin with Africa. Most students are now taught that African slavery was part of African society but that it was more humane than its western counterpart. The narrative tells us that Africans enjoyed trading in slaves and that all African tribes did so. In the book Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological perspectives by Igor Kopytoff and Suzanne Miers we are treated with the following "the question that requires study is not the simplistic one of whether African 'slavery' in general was benign or not. Such questions are based on a false premise. They assume that these complex and extremely varied systems can be treated as a single institution-African slavery….some were used in ritual sacrifices or killed to accompany a dead chief…acquired persons were valuable as economic, social and political capital, as a type of wealth that could be converted from one use to another and that had the comparable advantage of being self-supporting and self-reproducing…they could serve as pawns…be held in reserve and bartered in times of scarcity…the Sena primarily wanted 'slaves' as social and not labor units…the Tawana economic level would suggest a relatively benign and assimilative form of 'slavery'…yet we find that Tawana 'slaves' were kept from easy integration with their masters by ethnic considerations as were the machube of the Fulani whose rather simple productive economy coexisted with a very onerous and chattellike 'slavery'." It is perhaps inevitable that only a white western leftist academic could write this way about slavery in Africa. Because people in the West cannot think and do not see humanity as human, since they live in a state of post-humanism, they apparently cannot reason either. Thus slavery becomes 'slavery'. Humans become 'acquired persons' and 'labor units'. Of course. What else would they be? They couldn't be human. Ironically, in an attempt to be scientific and anthropological the modern leftist liberal at the university reproduces the same callous inhuman treatment of the slave as one might have found in the Old South.

But beyond the myth of the 'benign' African slave trade and how slaves existed in 'varied' systems' there is another piece of history that is left unraveled. Was slavery as wide spread in Africa as we have been led to believe? Was it truly a 'native' African institution that 'all' African tribes practiced? To unravel this question we must actually return to the present. Where does slavery exist in Africa today? It exists in the Sudan. It also exists in Niger, Mauritania and Mali. Who are the slaves in these states? They are the darker African peoples. Who are the slave owners? They are the whiter Arab Muslims. This is not only apparent from the numerous books that have come out from former slaves in the Sudan (such as Mande Nazer's Slave and Francis Bok's Escape from Slavery) but it is most apparent in the story of Hadijatou Mani. She was born in Niger and sold into slavery at the age of 12 to a Muslim named Soulaymane Narou. Her price was $500. For ten years she was forced to do domestic and agricultural work. She was, of course, raped by her owner at the age of 13. There are still some 40,000 slaves in Niger and the practice was only criminalized 5 in 2003. When one researches other parts of Africa they find precisely the same thing as one finds in Niger. In Somalia for instance there exist the Somali Bantu, a minority group of dark skinned Africans who are suppressed by the lighter skinned Arab Somalis. But these dark skinned Africans aren’t actually from Somlia. Their roots are in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. So how did they end up in southern Somalia in such numbers? They were transported there as slaves by Islam.

Any history of Africa tries as best it can to show on the one hand that the slave trade in the 'West' by Europeans was 'more brutal than its Eastern counterpart' and on the other hand tries to show that slavery existed in Africa before the arrival of Islam in the 8th century. But there is an essential problem with both narratives. A map of the slave trade in the 13th century, before the coming of the Europeans, shows where it was most prominent and who practiced it. In North Africa there was the Hafsid caliphate. There was the empire of Mali, a Muslim kingdom. And all along the East African coast there were the 'Arab slave stations'. There simply was no slavery in the non-Muslim parts of Africa. But there was slavery on the borderlands of Islam, practiced by non-Muslim tribes who worked as intermediaries. This phenomenon of Africans working as intermediaries in the trade was one that would be found against after the advent of the European slave trade in West Africa. Once local tribes grew tired of seeing their men and women taken away in chains they realized that they could only survive if they themselves could trade the bodies of others. They either became traders, were enslaves or fled the coastline. In some cases, such as the Sudan, the non-Muslim tribes agreed to provide human tribute every year in return for not being enslaves and forcibly converted to Islam or exterminated. The modern day genocide and slavery in Darfur is the legacy of this old pact. When the blacks of Darfur rose up against their Arab masters in Khartoum they were genocided precisely because of this old pact from the 8th century. In many cases it didn't matter if the African tribes converted to Islam, they were still viewed as 'abd' or 'slave'. There are only a few recorded instances of Africans refusing to engage in the slave trade and also defeating the slavers. In one case a tribe of cannibals from Madagascar came upon some Arabs on an island near Zanzibar. The Africans killed and ate the Arabs. The Arabs did not return. In another example of the use of cannibalism to defeat slaving the British employed African cannibals to eat Arab slavers who were operating in the Congo. But these are the only two known instances where Africans refused were victorious and did not have to compromise their morality by selling their fellow man. The existence of non-Muslim Africans working as intermediaries for the Islamic slave trade on the border lands of Islam is not unique. The Byzantine empire, in its attempts to appease Islam, sold the Slavic people into slavery for hundreds of years before Byzantium also fell to the Islamic sword.

Slavery in Africa was an invention of Arab slave traders and Islam. Historians in the west have worked hard to obscure this because the western academy has only two narratives about slavery in Africa: it existed before the 15ht century and was benign and it always existed in Africa in an indigenous way where the institution was different than that practiced in the Americas. But history records the truth. There simply were no slaves in Southern Africa before the arrival of Muslim slavers in Mozambique (one of the provinces in Mozambique, for instance, is called Gaza, a Muslim Arab name). Later, by way of the Portuguese, the word 'Kaffir', which means 'infidel' in Arabic and was used by Arab slavers to describe all Africans, was transferred to the Dutch colonizers of the Cape. The word then became akin to the word 'Nigger' in the U.S, its roots forgotten. But its roots should not have been forgotten. There were no Kaffirs or Niggers before the arrival of Islam in Africa. There were no 'labor units' or 'acquired persons'. The Xhosa and Khoisans didn't practice slavery. The Heroro of Namibia never had slaves. It is fanciful for us to want to see an Africa full of slaves, even benign ones, and for us to see it has 'native' to African culture. My teachers in high school tried to teach me this myth. They wrote on a board about the differences between 'Christian' slavery and 'Muslim' slavery and 'African' slavery. The Christian one in the Americas was the worst, of course. The Muslim one had all sorts of wonderful advantages such as the myth that the children of the female slaves with their Arab masters were no longer slaves and that if the slaves converted to Islam they were usually freed. The African form of slavery was said to be best, an idealic utopia where the slave was a member of society and loved his station in life. But there was no African slavery. African slavery was an invention of Islam, one that may have had its earliest roots in pre-Muslim Arab slaving in east Africa but one that came to the rest of Africa with the expansion of Islam. One cannot ignore the fact that the Bantu tribes, especially, rarely enslaved one another. Arabs brought slavery to all of Africa, sending slavers deep into the heart of Central Africa, depopulating the Kenyan and Tanzanian coastline, and raping so many Africans so as to create all sorts of mixed semi-Arab peoples from the Sudan to Somalia. While the West Africans were immune for a time from this barbarism they were finally brought under this satanic system in the 16th century with the arrival of the European slave stations in West Africa. By the 20th century the institution had spread to Namibia and the Congo before being outlawed by the British and finally abolished through the work of the British navy. It was only abolished in the United States in the course of the Civil War.

Obama's Model: The Democratic Labour party of Barbados
October 28th, 2008
Seth J. Frantzman

The Obama campaign likes to brag about its brand and about how it has stayed 'on message'. The message of course is 'change'. That is the mantra of the Obama campaign and it about the only substantive thing that comes out of its mouth at every campaign stop. Change. Change we can believe in. We need Change. It may surprise some people to know that the Obama's message of Change and its use of this message was modeled, unconsciously, on the campaign of David Thompson of Barbados.

What does a small Carribean island have to do with the U.S election? Before there was Obama there was David Thompson and before Americans voted for change the people of Barbados also voted overwhelmingly for change. But Barbados may serve as a model for what change will mean for America. David Thompson swept into office in January of 2008 with a 2/3 (20 seats to 10) majority in the Barbados House of Assembly. His mandate for change will proceed the Obama one for exactly one year. And we can look to Barbados to see what the mantra of change can bring when it is ushered in, not only with a majority in parliament, but also when it is carried into office by an extreme-left ideology.

Change was a word that rang true to Bajans (the people of Barbados) because the Barbados Labour Party had been in office since 1976. Its leader in the elections of January 2008 was Owen Arthur, who had been in office since 1994. Owen Arthur wasn't exactly the George Bush of Barbados but his party, the BLP, was their version of the ‘Grand Old Party’, founded in 1938. The Democratic Labour Party, the other main party in Barbados, was founded in 1955. Although the BLP was the party of independence it was seen increasingly as the party of business, a party that catered to the huge numbers of tourists who visit the island and a party that was, some say, 'the party of the white man', referring to the small white minority in Barbados, descendants of the old British colonials. Barbados is overwhelming black, like all former British colonies in the West Indies.
What was interesting about the election of David Thompson to the top spot in Barbados is that his skin color has gotten him as much attention as Mr. Obama's has gotten him. David Thompson is, in the parlance of a Barbados, 'a Bajan with light skin'. For an island that is primarily of African ancestry it may be surprising that race plays a role in politics. But sources show that Owen Arthur referred to some of his enemies as "negrocrats." In one speech he supposedly said “He [Harold Hoyte of Nation News] picks upon certain people in Barbados politics, because that is the nature of the negrocrat; there are some people who feel they’re better off than people like ourselves and a man like me, in their mind, has no legitimate right to lead this country because I ain’t come from nowhere.” Oddly enough Mr. Arthur was accused by his enemies of being an "Oreo”-(black on the outside, white on the inside). In contrast the former Environment Minister of Barbados referred to David Thompson as "Caucasian." As one writer at the Barbados Free Press pointed out on May 25th, 2006 "The official website of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) displays photos of Barbados citizens who are only of one specific race. Despite the fact that Barbados citizens hail from virtually every race and cultural heritage, only citizens of the majority race are shown on the BLP website. And - it apparently is not even enough to be of African heritage - one must have a darker skin tone to be shown on the BLP website. No lighter-skinned persons of african heritage or mixed race persons are shown on the website. And certainly no mixed-race couples like some of the folks who bring you the Barbados Free Press."
In the end, the racial controversies aside, the Barbados election of January 2008 did come down to change. The Thompson campaign fought the election on one word; 'change'. Arthur noted that the DLP was running on a platform of "change for the sake of change" and that it was made up of a "group of wild boys and old men in a great hurry" who would bring Barbados the "politics of desperation." Perhaps he meant the politics of an extreme agenda.
In the end change came to Barbados. The BLP went down to a disastrous defeat. On October 28th, 2008 the chairwoman of the BLP, Billie Miller noted that "We have handed over to those who govern now, an economy humming with progressive projects. Some of them have slowed down and it is not a year yet, and some of them have come to a full stop." Now the BLP faces the prospects that the Israeli opposition party Likud faced after its defeat by Kadima in April of 2006. It must refashion itself, streamline itself, reform itself and re-brand itself. The Republican party, it seems, will face a similar challenge, as a recent article in the Economist in October 2008 noted that even conservatives or 'Obamacons' were jumping the sinking Republican ship.
But the real question is whether the platform of 'change' is a meaningful one. Change is a nice word and surely appeals to voters, especially younger ones who believe all changes are good and associate the word with being 'progressive'. But change for the sake of change can be dangerous and problematic. The U.S now faces the same fate of Barbados and it is worthwhile staying tuned to events on that small island to see where change takes it.

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