Entries Tagged 'USA' ↓

The Ballad of Pepe the Frog

Let me tell you the story of Pepe the Frog,
who would have done well to remain on his log,
contenting himself with the mossies and flies.
But he gave himself airs, and that’s why Pepe died.

Young Pepe’s first words were ‚I’m better than this.‘
His fellow tadpoles said ‚You’re taking the piss!‘
And thus from the very day that he was hatched,
Our Pepe was known as the prick of the batch.

‘That’s it, then,’ said Pepe, ‘I’m leaving this log
To tell the world of feminazis and ZOG,
For then they won’t bother those who turn the screws,
They’ll blame it on foreigners, blacks, and the Jews.’

But soon, Pepe wondered, ‘Oh, what will I eat?’
But an earwig told him where the hunting’s a treat
And the tastiest brains all defencelessly roam.
So 4Chan’s fragrant bogs became Pepe’s new home.

He wrote to the log to tell of his new friends,
‘With Spencer and Bannon, the fun never ends!
We’re making the memes and dividing the loot.’
But he never expected the Antifa boot.

You’d think Pepe’s life was off to a great start,
He helped strike the fear into many a heart.
With Trump in DC he was loving the craic,
So much that wee Pepe did not watch his back.

‘Those lefties are cowards,’ he’d oft heard it said,
‘And if you turn up heavy, they’ll run off in dread.
They’re just keyboard warriors; they’ll run from a fight.‘
As Pepe’d soon learn, this was a bunch of shite.

That day on the streets with all his new friends,
Pepe’d never have guessed that his joy would soon end.
That frog was plain giddy as he took in the scene
Of boneheads with bottles and AR-15s.

When all had arrived, they were led by the cops
to a corner with a mosque and a nice halal shop,
and a synagogue offering a free Yiddish class.
Our Pepe looked forward to kicking some ass.

On such a great day for the men with white laces,
From emptying the bottles they were all off their faces.
The first firebomb they threw did not land with a crack;
It was caught by a comrade, who chucked it right back.

The bottle broke open, the flames soon drew near.
Pepe heard a voice say ‘get the fuck out of here!’
Some of his friends answered by raising their guns,
But soon found out that theirs weren’t the only ones.

Pepe made froggy cough sounds as he choked on the smoke,
And all his friends ran from the butt of their jokes.
He sat blinded by smoke, fire, and muzzle flash,
And the first boot to hit him belonged to the fash.

One after another, the master race fled.
Pepe’d seen better days, but he still wasn’t dead.
His frog eyes were bulging, and he had a hunch
That what he’d puked up wasn’t only his lunch.

Pepe wanted to run when a red and black boot,
Took both his legs clean off and rendered it moot.
He was stomped, and to add to his growing ennui,
He soon started a new life as cuisse de grenouille.

As he breathed his last, our wee fascist frog,
Wondered how things were going back home on the log.
The locals breathed easy, with nothing to fear.
And a white guy with dreadlocks shed Pepe’s first tear.

 

CounterPunch or Suckerpunch?

How ‚America’s Best Political Newsletter‘ Mainstreams the Far Right

Introduction

CounterPunch, which bills itself as ‚America’s best political newsletter‘, offering ‚independent investigative journalism‘, tends to figure quite prominently in the reading lists of left-leaning activists, who doubtlessly appreciate its consistent antiwar stance, its critical analysis on US economic and foreign policy and US-sponsored Israeli apartheid, and the regular contributions from such leading Left writers as John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Paul Street, Jeremy Scahill, and Tariq Ali. Indeed, CounterPunch generally tends to be thought of as a Left media outlet. However, in writing for, and sharing articles published on, CP, Leftists are unwittingly helping to promote the agenda of the far right. Continue reading →

Understanding the Chilean Elections: Part I, Setting the Stage

Si la presidenta no te cuenta la pulenta, lo hago yo
Chile está en venta desde que la Concerta ganó el NO
Aylwin, Lagos y también Frei dieron paso a Bachelet
Donde el mercado se hace rey y el subcontrato se hace ley
Mi canto no es de mala fe, tengo evidencia suficiente
Pa’ condenar a muerte a veinte dirigentes malolientes
Solamente basta con mirar las calles desde el Transantiago
4 millones de detalles cotidianos
Me confirman que la ciudadanía está pintada
Elección tras elección, la votación no cambia nada.

If President Bachelet won’t tell you what’s up, I’ll have a go:
Chile’s been for sale ever since the Concertación won one for NO.
Aylwin, Lagos, and then Frei made way for Bachelet,
where the market is king and outsourcing’s the big thing.
I’m not singing in bad faith. I’ve got sufficient evidence
to condemn to death twenty foul-smelling leaders.
All you need to do is look through the windows of Santiago’s buses,
4 million pieces of evidence every day,
confirming that the people are are the ones that always take hits,
we’ve had vote after vote, and the elections never change shit.
– Infórmate, Subverso

 

The international coverage of the recent Chilean elections, particularly in the English-language media, has been in keeping with the standards of depth and quality that have consistently been observed by the English-language press in its reporting on the current cycle of mass popular mobilisations that began roughly in 2011. That is to say that it has not been very good.

Guardian readers, for example, were presented with the image of a democratic process leading to a popular, implicitly left, victory in the form of the first round re-election of ex-president Michelle Bachelet Jeria and the entry into the National Congress of former university student union leader Camila Vallejo Dowling. The groundwork for this superficial and misleading picture has been laid over the past two years by articles that equate Vallejo (and, occasionally, her fellow élite university students Giorgio Jackson and Camilo Ballesteros) to the student movement as a whole, as if they (or their organisations) had in fact initiated the student mobilisations (they didn’t) and were the undisputed leaders of the movement (they never were). The much larger contingent, the secondary students, grouped in the horizontally organised ACES (Asamblea Coordinadora de Estudiantes Secundarios – Secondary Students‘ Coordinating Assembly), have been as thoroughly ignored by the foreign press as they have been by the Chilean government and the dominant media oligopoly there. Similarly, one would search in vain for any mention, let alone detailed reporting or analysis, on the other major popular movements that have mobilised in recent years, which all share with the majority of the student movement the desire to sweep away the repressive, neoliberal institutional legacy of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte and refound Chilean society on a new, egalitarian basis. The Chilean political and economic system is in a profound crisis of legitimacy – one utterly unaffected by the recent election, which was boycotted by 51% of the electorate – but readers of English-language media won’t hear about it. Continue reading →

Extrajudicial Executions and Learned Helplessness

In recent weeks, the Obama administration has released two documents related to its programme of extrajudicial executions[1]: The first was the secret memo that, like the Bush torture memo, was drafted by political appointees provide legal cover for criminal conduct I which the administration wished to engage. The second came in the form of Attorney-General Eric Holder’s letter to Rand Paul (KY-Plutocrat) in response to the latter’s question about the possible use of drones to execute US citizens within the US. The one is a secret get-out-of-jail-free card for internal use, whereas the other is a policy statement for public consumption.

In order to understand what Obama & Co. are telling us, we must read the two documents in tandem. Continue reading →

C. Derick Varn Interviews Me on the Malaise of the US Left

the opposite of what american liberals doRecently, following a discussion about a particularly annoying Facebook meme circling in left-liberal circles of late, C. Derick Varn of The Loyal Opposition to Modernity asked if I would be interested in being interviewed on the subject. I was, and the result was a wide-ranging discussion on the causes and remedies of left malaise in the US, entryism, misogyny, conspiracism, The entire interview, which can be found on the Loyal Opposition blog, is reproduced by permission below. I have added a few links to articles and pages referenced in the discussion, and corrected a few annoying typos that I had overlooked.

I would like to thank Derick for this opportunity. This interview allowed me to articulate quite a few thoughts that had been circling around my mind for a long time, but that I had not previously been able to set down in a cohesive manner. I would also like to thank Emma Rosenthal of Café Intifada, Jinjirrie of Kadaitcha, and Karen MacRae – discussing and working together with them has been a major help in formulating and refining the thoughts you will find below.

Continue reading →

Profiles in Collaboration

Part II of the Series:

A Who’s Who of the „Free Muslims Board

In Part I of this series, we examined the activities of Jon „Yani“ Haigh, a longtime Queensland resident who operates and monitors a network of racist troll groups on Facebook, and Kamal Nawash (for whom Haigh provides a range of web design and programming services) of the „Free Muslim Coalition Against Terror“ , a group that advocates the political repression and surveillance of the US Arab and Muslim communities (related to the Facebook group „Free Muslims“). This, the second part of the series, examines some of the other shady characters who make up the „Free“ Muslims Coalition.

 

The board of the Free Muslims are exactly what you’d expect of a group with the stated purpose of putting a Muslim face on the plethora of repressive measures, human rights violations, and outright war crimes that make up the „war on terror“.

Particularly fitting is the presence on the Board of Ray Hanania, who began his career as a journo in Chicago, covering local and regional politics for the Sun-Times and other print, radio, and TV outlets. During this period, he also hosted call-in radio chatshows on WLS, and appeared regularly on Dick Kay’s City Desk on WMAQ-TV. In 1990, he served as a panellist at the Chicago mayoral debate, which resulted in yet another electoral victory for the Daley clan. Two years later, he delved headfirst into the world of Chicago machine politics, founding the Urban Strategies Group, a full-service PR agency whose clients include Mayor-For-Life Daley himself, various city agencies, aldermen, Democratic committeemen, and „three successful candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives“.

Hanania boasts particular expertise in „crisis management“ for „those with serious public relation [sic] challenges“. One imagines that such expertise was quite useful during his stint providing „basic media training“ to the propaganda agency of Israel’s „Palestinian Authority“. Nor could it have hurt when he was called upon by the U.S. State Department and U.S. „Information“ Agency to „provide media training sessions, meetings and presentations…to foreign media and government officials.“ Continue reading →

Plumbing the Depths of Greta Berlin’s „Secret Group“

Part I of a Series on Racism and Infiltration

In the aftermath of the racist tweet and multiple, contradictory „explanations“ by Greta Berlin, much attention has been focussed on the letter published as an appendix to Larry Derfner’s second article on the subject, in which a number of purported members of the „secret group“ corroborate Berlin’s claim that nothing untoward or anti-Semitic was going on in the group in question. Benjamin Doherty revealed, in successive articles on Electronic Intifada, that a number of the signatories were in fact sockpuppets controlled by one Ofer Engel. Another central figure, however, has largely avoided the spotlight.

Before we proceed, however, it is important to keep in mind that the following is not about any one individual, though a number of individuals will be given their time to shine. No, this is about the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole: What we are and seek to do as a movement, and those who would hijack us for their own purposes.

Yani Haigh and The Trollpen

Jon "Yani" Haigh: Not One for Subtlety

Jon „Yani“ Haigh: Not One for Subtlety

The final signatory on the „nothing to see here“ letter is a Queensland web designer and photographer by the name of Jon „Yani“ Haigh. He is, in Facebook terminology, the „owner“ of the „secret group“ Any Topic NOT Israel (and a regular in a number of related groups), and operates a number of anonymous and aesthetically nondescript websites, including thebestplans.org and peacearchitects.org.

This article, the first in a series dealing with the activities and associates of Jon „Yani“ Haigh, will seek to provide a brief introduction to Haigh himself, and his close associate Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. In future articles, we will look at other figures on the „Free Muslims“ Board, including the inimitable Ray Hanania, and other organisations and agencies with which Haigh and his associates collaborate.

Jon "Yani" Haigh: Jews suck

Jon „Yani“ Haigh: Jews suck

A recurring theme in his posts is that „Jews suck“, and can only redeem themselves by being baptised Christian, and by boycotting Jewish community institutions and events (along the lines of Herskowitz‘ schul picket). Alternatively, repentant Jews may simply send money to peacearchitects.org. Conflict, unsurprisingly, follows Haigh like the CIA follows Julian Assange.

The same can be said of other regulars of the „secret group“ and affiliated groups, such as fellow signatory Kyle O’Laughlin, who divides his time in Any Topic NOT Israel fairly evenly between complaining that African-American pride is welcomed whilst „White Pride“ is – shockingly enough – considered racist and posting links together with his comrade James Linden Rose on how the KKK and other white supremacist groups are in fact Jewish front groups designed to make white people look bad and thwart Ron Paul’s perennial presidential run.

"KKKyle" O'Laughlin Laments That "White Pride" is Considered Racist

„KKKyle“ O’Laughlin Laments That „White Pride“ is Considered Racist

Whilst the groups Any Topic NOT Israel, Our Land, and Free Muslims all have anodyne descriptions about getting to know each other and coming up with plans for peace, etc., and mission statements banning racism and flaming, the groups themselves bear little resemblance to these noble sentiments. In point of fact, the groups operate as a breeding and training ground for trolls, particularly those (like O’Laughlin, Linden Rose, and Haigh) of the white supremacist variety, mixed together with a few of the more vocal Zionist trolls. There, they engage in their preferred versions of racism, and hurl accusations back and forth about collaboration, snitching, and participation in world conspiracies of one sort or another, with little to no moderation in sight. One does have to wonder what the purpose of creating and administering a network of racist trollpens would be.

Greta Berlin, as luck would have it, is a member in several of these groups, though the exact

James Linden Rose on "Rule By Jew"

James Linden Rose on „Rule By Jew“

circumstances of her joining them will likely remain unclear, given the fog of bullshit that surrounds her and her cohorts‘ descriptions of the groups.

 The Company He Keeps

             Yani Haigh, it must be said, is a rather embarrassing person to have vouch for one’s anti-racist credentials. Indeed, were it not for his signature on the „nothing to see here“ letter and the creepily detailed set of mindmaps with which, by his own account, he monitors over 200 Facebook groups „to track troublemakers“, he would be an annoying boor of little consequence; he would merely be someone to avoid sitting in front of at the Gabba when the footie’s on, but would not merit much attention beyond that.

However, over the course of the past week, facts have emerged to place Haigh’s combination of racist boorishness and meticulous surveillance into a broader context. One of the websites Haigh designed and operates, thebestplans.org, is that of an organisation founded by one Kamal Nawash, Esq., Haigh’s employer and fellow member of the groups in question.

Kamal Nawash is a Palestinian-American lawyer, with an LL.M. from American University’s Washington College of Law.

After a stint as counsel for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in 2003, apparently with the support of hard-right Republican activist Grover Norquist, Nawash stood for election to a seat in the Virginia state Senate. His Senate run was ultimately unsuccessful due to the general climate of scapegoating and criminalisation of Muslim and Arab life in the US.

Some might be led by such an experience to campaign against racism and bigotry. Not Kamal Nawash. Shortly after his electoral defeat, Nawash founded the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terror (and later, its Facebook counterpart, the group „Free Muslims“), an organisation largely dedicated to providing public relations cover to US government repression of the Arab and Muslim community. One view one finds repeated throughout the autobiographies of the Free Muslims Board members is that it is Muslim ideology – and not, say, decades of murderous US and US-sponsored violence against them and their countries – that is at fault for any problems in the Muslim community and the Middle East.

In 2004, the Free Muslims organised a March Against Terror, which was endorsed by a diverse cross-section of people and organisations dedicated to bigotry against Arabs and Muslims (such as Daniel Pipes), to organisations and people dedicated to more general bigotry (RIGHTALK.com), to fellow alibi Muslims such as Zuhdi Jasser of the „American Islamic Forum for Democracy“, to a wide assortment of right-wing organisations that no one had ever heard of and/or offer no proof that they actually exist (such as the „Government of Free Vietnam“, made up of former officials from the US puppet dictatorship who claim to be the legitimate government on account of having been elected fair and square to the position by four US presidents in a row).

Apparently, Nawash’s March Against Terror (and explicitly in support of Bush) caught a few eyes in Washington, because, in 2005, he was rewarded by the Bush White House with an appointment as US envoy to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Around the same time (2003-2007), Nawash began contributing to FrontPagemag.com, the far-right blog run by Stalinist-turned-fascist David Horowitz, who also operates the neo-McCarthyite campus group CampusWatch and the right-wing private intelligence organisation Discover The Networks. Nawash’s articles include titles such as We Are So Sorry for 9-11, French Riots: A Gift from the Open Borders Lobby, and the KCNA-esque Free Muslims Congratulate President George Bush.

This period in the life of Kamal Nawash has been very helpfully chronicled by none other than Daniel Pipes himself. As of 11 September 2003, Nawash earned a strong blast of scorn from the Pipes for suggesting that the Bush administration’s „anti-terrorism“ (i.e., pro-repression) plan raised concerns about „basic Constitutional rights“:

Of particular interest (given that several 9/11 hijackers used a student cover), is Nawash’s objection to the U.S. government tracking foreign students, protesting (nonsensically) that this step would indicate „a willingness to restrict scientific knowledge and scholarship to certain classes of people and to flout, basically, principles of academic freedom.“ Sounds like this man opposes the war on terrorism; in any case, he sure makes for a strange Republican candidate.

Throughout 2003, Pipes had nothing but contempt for Nawash, who was raising objections to the Clinton-era Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allows the executive branch unilaterally to ban organisations as „terrorist organisations“, and criminalises anyone associated with them, criticising the designation of Palestinian groups disfavoured by the US regime as „terrorist“, and generally raising fairly mild questions about the human rights implications of the „war on terror“. Of US Senator John Warner (R-VA), who had endorsed Nawash’s candidacy for the Virginia state Senate, Pipes wrote: „Virginians might wish to inform their senior senator that he is, to put it mildly, going out on a limb on this one.“

By 2004, however, another tune began to be blown on the Pipes. In noting Nawash’s formation of the Free Muslims group, Pipes writes:

It sounds good and it has been getting lots of good publicity, but given Nawash’s record on terrorism, as established here (his dismissing the concept, his close ties to a person alleged to fund terrorism), I need to be convinced that this leopard has changed his spots.

By 2005, we find Pipes explicitly endorsing the Free Muslims March Against Terror, particularly chuffed that one Khaleel Mohammed „denounc[ed] CAIR“.

Whilst Pipes begins expressing sceptical endorsement (and Pipes has no other kind of endorsement on offer for Arabs and Muslims), by 2006, some within the exceedingly mild-mannered antidiscrimination group CAIR were expressing concern with Nawash and the way in which his remarks were eagerly snapped up by the likes of Daniel Pipes.

In two short years, Kamal Nawash went, in the mind of racist „smearcaster“ Daniel Pipes, from something akin to the 20th hijacker to one of the Good Muslims. A remarkable transformation, to say the least.

Pipes‘ timeline ends in 2008, but one can imagine that he would see no reason to reconsider his assessment in the light of subsequent events. In 2011, Nawash endorsed the neo-McCarthyite hearings chaired by Rep. Peter King on the „radicalisation of American Muslims“, and condemned the Muslim and Arab-American antidiscrimination organisations for their opposition to King’s efforts to further scapegoat and criminalise the Muslim community. When it was revealed this year that the NYPD had, for years, been carrying out a massive, illegal programme of spying on virtually the entire Muslim community of the Five Boroughs, Nawash, along with representatives of other Muslim astroturf groups organised a joint rally in support of the NYPD spying effort with none other than Rep. King himself.

Looking at this trajectory, one might be excused for speculating that Nawash’s conversion from moderate Republican and defender of Muslim and Arab-American rights to Pipes pet was not entirely free of opportunism.

Opportunism, as we will see as this series progresses, is something of an overarching theme.

*    *     *    *    *   *    *

UPDATE: In the twelve hours since this post went live, someone temporarily shut down my Facebook account, and there was an attempt to hack this blog. It appears someone might have succeeded in changing my blog password, thus preventing me getting in. All appears well now, but it does seem that someone is not exactly chuffed to bits that this article was published. They will be positively unecstatic about the subsequent parts of this series.

Meanwhile, Ali Abunimah has published his „final word“ on the debacle that gave rise to this series:

Should I have been more explicit about what I saw? Perhaps, but I had my reasons to take a more restrained approach. I had hoped that by sounding the alarm, and signaling that Berlin’s explanations were not credible, Berlin herself would begin to take the issue seriously, and that the new Free Gaza board would do the same. Sadly that did not happen.

The most dispiriting spectacle over the past two weeks was seeing Berlin disseminating, and a small group of people embellishing, outlandish stories intended to distract and shift the blame on to those who were asking for accountability.

Almost every day, I’ve received emails alleging, among other things, that I am a “Zionist agent,” that I’ve been “conned” by Israel into attacking Berlin so that Israel can steal Gaza’s natural gas, that I am engaged in a “vendetta” because Berlin endorsed a book I didn’t like, and so on. A few of these messages came from people I had previously believed to be reasonable and sensible, which added to the disappointment.

Read the full article here.

Bekah Wolf of Mondoweiss has also come out with a piece very germane to the topic of this series, documenting what some of us had been saying since this began: This wasn’t just one accidental tweet. Alas, Greta Berlin has form.

Some people have come to Greta’s defense, accepting her assertion that this was a technical mistake, that she did not support the content of the video, and that those who have criticized her response to the “mistake” are on a witch hunt. I’d like to acknowledge that the Free Gaza Movement was not synonymous with Greta Berlin; some of my good friends and people I deeply respect were leaders of that movement and their work and commitment should in no way be minimized by this.

Setting aside Greta’s woefully inadequate explanations for the tweet (of which there were several), the fact remains: Greta is an active administrator of a Facebook group that is full of unabashedly anti-Semitic rhetoric and has been called out before by activists for it but has never done anything to challenge or stop it. Since the controversy broke, the “Our Land” group has attempted to cover some of its tracks. The fact that Greta remains an active administrator of a Facebook group that accommodates this kind of bigotry raises serious issues about her commitment to building an anti-racist movement committed to justice and equality. Moreover, her unprincipled, vicious andIslamophobic attacks on the Palestinians who have called her to task for her behavior should alarm all of us who are committed to Palestine solidarity work.

The full article can be found here.

The „B“ in Obama Stands for „Balls“

Almost four years into the carnival of horrors that is the Obama administration, there are still delusional people out there who think Obama just needs to „grow a pair“.

There are a lot of things that can be said about Obama, but to say that he lacks balls is to announce that one lacks contact with reality. We’re talking about the guy who ran on „protect whistleblowers“ only to declare an unprecedented war on whistleblowers the minute he was elected. The guy who ran on „protect civil liberties“ only to make Bush II’s human rights record look good. The guy who brazenly claims to have outlawed torture despite the fact that torture was already outlawed and his own executive order explicitly allows torture. This is the guy who accepted the Nobel Peace prize with a speech on how important it was to him to keep killing lots of people.

This is the guy who is so openly laughing at all of us that he rammed an attack on Social Security through as a „Jobs Bill“, and then followed it up by championing a law that legalised securities fraud by calling it the „JOBS ACT„. This is the guy whose administration helped coordinate the violent nationwide crackdown on Occupy.

From the minute he started choosing the cabinet to the minute his administration announced that it has the right to execute any of us without trial, Obama has been running around the globe screaming „FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! BOW DOWN, MOTHERFUCKERS! I’M YOUR GOD NOW!“

Grow a pair? The man has balls as big as all outdoors.

Ron Paul and the Dysfunction of the American Left

(Deutsche Übersetzung)

One of the most disturbing aspects of the fragmentary American Left today is the tendency of many leftists in the US (though, obviously, not just in the US) to make decidedly poor choices when it comes to selecting allies. One well-known example of this – tirelessly pointed out by Paul Street, Glenn Ford, and many others – was the combination of wishful thinking and denial that led so many progressives and leftists to hitch their wagons to the star of centre-right neoliberal Barack Obama, the darling of such classic Left institutions as Wall Street and the nuclear power industry.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a dawning realisation that this was a very bad idea indeed, and that many on the Left had fallen for a product of the PR industry specifically designed for them to fall for. It certainly was one of Madison Avenue’s great successes, so much so, in fact, that the Obama campaign beat out Apple in 2008 for the industry’s coveted award for best ad campaign. However, Obama’s PR makeover, which transformed a centre-right, neoliberal militarist only Citigroup could love into the darling of the anti-war movement, can’t hold a candle to the image makeover enjoyed by one Ron Paul. While Madison Avenue managed to transmogrify the centre-right Obama into a supposed stealth leftist, Ron Paul’s PR has managed to make a potential Left ally out of a far-right white supremacist who courts the favour of the sort of people Trotsky once suggested should be ‘acquainted with the pavement’. However, much less has been written about this continuing strategic cockup than the subject deserves.

In the following, I will briefly sketch the actual views of Ron Paul, to show what sort of person so many on the anti-war left have hopped into bed with. I will then propose an explanation for why this sort of thing happens, and keeps happening. The Ron Paul readers will encounter in the following will bear little resemblance to the sanitised Ron Paul who courageously rails against the current wars and declares himself to be against empire and the National Security State, and for personal liberty.

The Real Ron Paul

(Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-Communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressmen [sic]. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan Approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day.)

Listen to a black radio talk show in any major city. The Racial Hatred makes a KKK rally look tame. The blacks talk about their own racial superiority, how the whites have a conspiracy to wipe them out, and how they are going to take over the country and enact retribution. They only differ over whether they should use King’s non-violent approach (i.e., state violence), or use private violence.

– Ron Paul on the Civil Rights Movement

 

When, on occasion, I have attempted to discuss Ron Paul’s views with his fans on the Left, I have regularly been accused of ‘smearing’ him. The accusation is understandable, because Ron Paul espouses views with which no decent person would willingly be associated. As we will see below, Ron Paul, far from being an ‘almost unique’ politician who ‘transcends the left-right pseudo-divide,’  and ‘doesn’t want to make a country of the left or a country of the right”, can in fact be quite easily located on the far-right end of the ‘left-right pseudo-divide’, alongside such ‘almost unique’ politicians as David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Craig Roberts. All that is true in the laudatio quoted above is that Ron Paul most definitely ‘doesn’t want to make a country of the left’.

Before he rose to national prominence, Paul was a little less cautious about publicising his views. In 1996, the year Adolph Reed, Jr. became the first on the Left to call out ‘vacuous to repressive neoliberal’ politician Barack Obama, left-progressive Texan commentator Molly Ivins wrote:

Dallas‘ 5th District, East Texas‘ 2nd District and the amazing 14th District,which runs all over everywhere, are also in play. In the amazing 14th, Democrat Lefty Morris (his slogan is “Lefty is Right!“) faces the Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul, who is himself so far right that he’s sometimes left, as happens with your Libertarians. I think my favorite issue here is Paul’s 1993 newsletter advising “Frightened Americans“ on how to get their money out of the country. He advised that Peruvian citizenship could be purchased for a mere 25 grand. That we should all become Peruvians is one of the more innovative suggestions of this festive campaign season. But what will the Peruvians think of it?

This, it should be noted, is one of the relatively innocuous passages from the newsletters Ron Paul has sent out since 1978.

‘The criminals who terrorize our cities — in riots and on every non-riot day –‘, Paul’s newsletter proclaimed on one occasion, ‘are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are. As children, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppression is responsible for all black ills, to ‚fight the power,‘ to steal and loot as much money from the white enemy as possible.’ Carjacking, we learn from a 1992 Ron Paul Newsletter, is the ‘hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos.’ This they may have learned by following the example of the ‘pro-Communist philanderer’ Martin Luther King, Jr., who ‘seduced underage girls and boys’, and ‘replaced the evil of forced segregation with the evil of forced integration.’ Not unsurprisingly, Paul’s newsletter described Martin Luther King Day as ‘our annual Hate Whitey Day’.

In another story, Paul regales us with tales of ‘needlin’, a new form of racial terrorism’. ‘At least 39 white women’, he claims, ‘have been struck with used hypodermic needles –-perhaps infected with AIDS—by gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14.’ Against this background, it is probably not terribly surprising that Paul’s newsletter refers to African Americans as ‘the animals’, and suggests that a more appropriate name for New York would be ‘Zooville’.

Much has been made of Paul’s attempts to deny any connection to the statements above, and many, many more like them, attempts that he only began making when it became clear that he had a shot at national prominence. Back in 1996, when his opponent for a Texas congressional seat distributed Paul’s newsletters to the voting public, he was not as coy:

Dr. Paul, who served in Congress in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said Tuesday that he has produced the newsletter since 1985 and distributes it to an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 subscribers. A phone call to the newsletter’s toll-free number was answered by his campaign staff. […]

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation. […]

–Dallas Daily News, 22 May 1996

A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has decried the spread of urban crime.

Paul continues to write the newsletter for an undisclosed number of subscribers, the spokesman said.

Houston Chronicle, 23 May 1996

Essentially, then, Paul’s argument back in 1996 was that his writings – which he publicly admitted were his – were being taken out of context, a symptom of ‘The Coming Race War’, no doubt.

Twelve years later, however, Ron Paul had apparently realised that his ‘Sure, I called black people a bunch of criminal animals who want to rob you of everything you have and give you AIDS, but I didn’t mean it in a bad way’ defence probably would not cut it with his new, left-leaning national audience:

The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.

In fact, I have always agreed with Martin Luther King, Jr. that we should only be concerned with the content of a person’s character, not the color of their skin. As I stated on the floor of the U.S. House on April 20, 1999: ‚I rise in great respect for the courage and high ideals of Rosa Parks who stood steadfastly for the rights of individuals against unjust laws and oppressive governmental policies.‘

However, in Paul’s view, African American ‘animals’ are not the only threat we must face. As he explained in a 2007 interview with the white-supremacist website VDare.com (co-edited by none other than Paul Craig Roberts, another strange bedfellow), we face two other great dangers: undocumented workers, the social safety net, and the looming ‘United Nations government’:

Well, I start off with saying that [immigration is] a big problem. I don’t like to get involved with the Federal Government very much, but I do think it is a federal responsibility to protect our borders. This mess has come about for various reasons. One, the laws aren’t enforced. Another, the welfare state. We have a need for workers in this country because our welfare system literally encourages people not to work. Therefore, a lot of jobs go begging. This is an incentive for immigrants to come in and take those jobs.

It is compounded because of federal mandates on the states to provide free medical care—that’s literally bankrupting the hospitals in Texas—and free education.

So my main point is to get rid of incentives that cause people to break the law—entitlements as well as the promise of amnesty, citizenship.

I also want to revisit the whole idea of birthright citizenship. I don’t think many countries have that. I don’t think it was the intention of the Fourteenth Amendment. I personally think it could be fixed by legislation. But some people argue otherwise, so I’ve covered myself by introducing a constitutional amendment.

(emphasis supplied) The problem of undocumented workers taking our jobs is apparently compounded by something Paul calls ‘the racial component’. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

In the same interview, Paul also announced that ‘I don’t think we should have minimum wages to protect the price of labor. I want the market to determine this. At the upper level as well.’ The Haitian approach to labour law.

As a professed ‘libertarian’ (in the appropriated, right-wing sense of the word, not the traditional sense), Paul loves words like ‘freedom’ and liberty’. Indeed, he has said that: “On the right-to-life issue, I believe, I’m a real stickler for civil liberties,’ except those of women:

It’s academic to talk about civil liberties if you don’t talk about the true protection of all life. So if you are going to protect liberty, you have to protect the life of the unborn just as well.

I have a Bill in congress I certainly would promote and push as president, called the Sanctity of Life Amendment. We establish the principle that life begins at conception. And someone says, ‘oh why are you saying that?’ and I say, ‘well, that’s not a political statement — that’s a scientific statement that I’m making!“

I know we’re all interested in a better court system and amending the constitution to protect life. But sometimes I think that is dismissing the way we can handle this much quicker, and my bill removes the jurisdiction of the federal courts from the issue of abortion, if a state law says no abortion, it doesn’t go to the supreme court to be ruled out of order.

(emphasis supplied)

I’ve heard his Left (yes, Left!) defenders respond to me that Paul merely wants limited government on the issue of abortion, to get the federal courts and government out of the matter so that the states can decide. I wonder how they square that with his vote in favour of the federal ban on the life-saving dilation and extraction (D&X) procedure, upheld by the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Gonzales v. Carhart.

Not surprisingly, then, Ron Paul generates enthusiasm in the sort of people the Left generally do not like to be associated with. The Neo-Nazi website Stormfront donated $500 to his campaign, which Paul pointedly refused to return. For their support, Stormfront leaders were rewarded with a photo-op. As a Stormfronter with the evocative handle ‘Wolfsnarl’ noted:

If we can get them to defend their race without them actively thinking they are doing so in those terms-through mainstream anti-immigration groups like NumbersUSA or Ron Paul activism for example. After all, how many foot soldiers of the jewish [sic]/communist takeover actively thought of themselves as communists or whatever?

Klan leader David Duke, too, ‘like[s] Ron Paul’s campaign’ enough to offer him some free advice on What Ron Paul Must Do to Win, even though ‘Ron Paul does not do enough to defend the heritage and interests of European Americans.’ Note that Duke’s criticism is not that Paul isn’t a white supremacist, but that he isn’t enough of one.

Now, it’s true that a person can’t entirely be faulted for the fans they accumulate. Anyone with any public persona at all will probably acquire a few fans whose views they do not share. Barack Obama, for example, still has quite a few left-progressive, antiwar fans.

However, a person can be faulted for how she deals with those fans. Barack Obama has made valiant efforts to show that left-progressives’ Obama admiration is not mutual. He has ridiculed and disparaged them on numerous occasions, and has pursued an agenda that stands for everything they stand against. Clearly, then, Obama cannot be faulted for the fact that some people just can’t take a fucking hint.

Not so Ron Paul. First of all, as we’ve seen above, Ron Paul does share the views of the Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in his cheering section. Indeed, he has long actively courted them, through his newsletter, by appearing at their meetings, by talking to their media (e.g., VDare), by taking their money, and by grinning into the camera at photo-ops with some of their leaders. This does not sound like the behaviour of a man who opposes everything the swastika-wearing Right stands for; this is the behaviour of someone who considers their views at least palatable, and who values their support. At the very least, Paul is a little too comfortable in the presence of people who would like to beat his Left supporters to a bloody pulp.

Ron Paul: A Symptom of Left Dysfunction

Despite a consistent, decades-long record of public pronouncements that, in any other country, would have anti-fascist activists shouting him down at every public appearance, quite a few left-leaning people in the US will defend Ron Paul to the death, attacking any critic who points out the niggling little matter of his positions on the issues. Why?

Most Left Paul supporters I’ve encountered sum up their support for him more or less as follows: He is anti-war, anti-USA PATRIOT Act, anti-empire, and for the legalisation of drugs. Any reference to the fact that he is also a misogynistic white supremacist who is virulently anti-labour is dismissed either as ‘smears’ or ‘fear-mongering’.

In other words: ‘He’s with us on one or two issues, so we have to support him. Who cares what kind of society he wants to build. You can’t have everything!’

This is the same thinking that has people in the Palestine solidarity movement approvingly quoting the likes of Jeff Blankfort, Paul Craig Roberts, and Gilad Atzmon.

Overall, the idea seems to be that we on the Left are alone in a corner, and can’t be choosy about our friends. ‘Well, if you don’t like Ron Paul’, I’ve often been asked, ‘name a politician you do like.’ The idea that there is no need to limit ourselves, in our search for ‘friends’, to the narrow-spectrum, ‘one-and-a-half-party’ political class, it seems, doesn’t even occur to them. No grass-roots movement building, no eschewing the corporate-managed electoral system in favour of exerting pressure from below and without – You picks yer candidate, and you tries yer luck. You can’t have everything. This is the thinking that allowed the Barack Obama campaign to sedate all of the grass-roots activism of the Bush years.

This is compounded by the often stunning political illiteracy one encounters in the American Left, where conspiracy theories from the far right have a disturbing tendency to migrate leftward (with certain modifications).

Witness the Fed conspiracy theories. The first time I heard someone (falsely) claim that ‘no one knows who owns the Fed’, and go on to (falsely) claim that the Fed is privately owned, it was in a ‘documentary’ called Freedom to Fascism. In this ‘documentary’, we hear that American workers enjoyed an almost utopian degree of freedom and prosperity until 1916, when the income tax was passed into law (women were free to not vote, all working people were free to not join a union or get shot, workers were free to be paid in company scrip instead of real money, African Americans were free to be photographed amongst grinning psychos whilst being burned at the stake, you know the drill). Luckily, the ‘documentary’ informed us that there was no law actually requiring us to pay income tax, quoting a number of notorious hucksters to this effect. Other examples of the looming ‘fascism’ cited by the film included the fact that, during Hurricane Katrina, white Louisiana residents were actually being investigated for opening fire on un-armed black Louisiana residents who made the fatal mistake of crossing a bridge into their neighbourhood in hopes of finding safety.

Two years later, I discovered that this Coughlinesque nonsense about an ‘international (Jewish) bankers’ conspiracy in the form of the ‘privately-owned’ Fed had been lapped up by quite a few left-progressives. Of course, the original narrative of the pre-union rights, pre-income tax, pre-women’s suffrage utopia wouldn’t sell in this crowd. Luckily, someone has come up with an alternate Utopia Lost narrative, using everyone’s favourite war criminal, JFK. JFK had long been the subject of misguided adulation on the American Left based on the idea that he had super-secret plans (so secret that they find not even the slightest hint of support in the declassified record) to end the war that he started and wholeheartedly supported. Now, not only was inveterate red-baiter John Fitzgerald Kennedy secretly going to end the occupation of Vietnam – he was going to take on the Fed by issuing silver certificates.

My intention in bringing this up is not to refute this or any other right-wing conspiracy theory that has made its way leftward – others more masochistic than I have already done an excellent job of that. Instead, my interest in this is that it parallels the dysfunctional choice of ‘friends’ we see in so many people on the fragmentary American Left. The appeal of these theories is not their veracity – they are so false as to be insulting. Their appeal – like that of Ron Paul and those like him – is that they appear, at least superficially, to be challenging powerful capitalist institutions. Moreover, they do so in a way that justifies inaction (they’re all-powerful, the ‘Sheeple’ just won’t listen, etc.), and appears to explain why we have no functional Left in this country without ever assigning any blame to the failure to engage in any sustained organising effort, the failure to distinguish healthy pluralism from dysfunctional opportunism (witness Ron Paul), and the failure to distinguish insistence on principle from insular sectarianism.

To be sure, there is plenty of blame to go around. We have decades-long attempts to infiltrate and undermine Left organisations by the FBI and local red squads, a propaganda system that convinces 80% of the population that they’re in the minority with their views, a Democratic Party that pretends to be progressive when they’re not in office, a Republican Party so scary that the Democratic Party looks good, and any number of other obstacles. However, those external obstacles do not absolve us from the responsibility to take a serious look at our internal dysfunction. There is little that a weak, fragmented, insular Left can do right now about the massive structural obstacles we face, but we can certainly do something about the mess in our own house.

South Dakota and the „War on Terror“

In the age of the re-declared War on Terrorism, one state legislature has decided to buck the system, placing itself in the vanguard of those who wish to end this war, which was declared by Reagan in 1980, re-declared by Bush in 2001, and is currently being enthusiastically prosecuted by “Dove”-in-Chief Barack Obama. And they’re not taking some wishy-washy, bourgeois civil libertarian stance, either – if a bill currently in the South Dakota state legislature is passed, South Dakota will have officially taken the most radical stance against the War on Terrorism that one can imagine: South Dakota will have officially legalised terrorism.

I’m sure that some readers may be a bit surprised, to put it mildly, to hear this. A crazy, right-wing state legislature like South Dakota’s taking a stand against the bipartisan US Right’s favourite war?

It seems inconceivable, I know, but it is true. South Dakota is considering a bill that would make it justifiable for religious fanatics, egged on by foamy-mouthed fundamentalist clerics seeking to establish a misogynist, homophobic, transphobic theocracy right on US soil, to murder civilians in furtherance of that goal. That, it’s worth recalling, is the definition of terrorism Congress itself enacted in Title 18 of the United States Code: targeted attacks on civilians and civilian objects in order to intimidate a civilian population or otherwise in pursuit of political or religious ideological goals.

Assuming you heard the news at all, you probably heard things a bit differently. Most likely, you heard that South Dakota is considering making it justifiable homicide to kill abortion providers. The word “terrorism” was almost certainly not used, even though this bill would legalise precisely what we are constantly told that that the US trying to stop in Afghanistan: religious fanatics murdering anyone who dares to provide needed health care to women (yes, it’s bullshit, but it’s the official justification, and if that’s good enough for ‘progressive’ intellectuals to justify blowing up Libyan civilians, it’s certainly good enough for argument’s sake).

The federal government, and the US political class and media generally, take a more nuanced position, to be sure. To use the words of US State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley’s attempt to explain the US position on the Mubarak dictatorship on Al-Jazeera English, our political class doesn’t see this as an “either-or proposition”. To them, “terrorism” is a feeling, a vibe, like abstract art. You can’t just go around applying rigid legal definitions to a thing like terrorism or you miss the whole point of having the term.

Thus, it isn’t automatically “terrorism” just because religious fanatics commit cowardly murders against defenceless civilians in order to intimidate women and those who support their rights. It all depends on context. When it happens in Afghanistan, and is done by the Taliban (rather than our even more misogynistic collaborators there), it’s terrorism. Indeed, it’s even terrorism when the Afghan resistance (some of whom are Taliban as we understand the term, and many of whom are not) launch attacks on the military personnel who are illegally occupying their territory, even though that clearly does not constitute an attack on civilians.

But when enraged and deluded white men decide to kill gynaecologists, it’s not terrorism. When one of them opens fire at a member of Congress, it’s not terrorism. Indeed, even firebombing a mosque doesn’t count as terrorism (though, judging from the FBI’s surveillance practises, attending one does). And blowing hundreds of thousands of defenceless civilians to bits in an effort to “liberate” them from the idea that they should be the ones choosing their government, when that’s clearly our job, certainly isn’t terrorism. That goes without saying.

Clearly, then, this “terrorism” business is much more complex than it seems, if an act is generally agreed to constitute terrorism in one case, when identical – or sometimes much worse – acts cannot be considered terrorism in other cases.

This apparent paradox quickly evaporates once we abandon our prescriptive approach and acknowledge that the operative usage of “terrorism” bears only a faint resemblance to the actual definition of the term. Implicit in the actual usage of the term is an unspoken requirement: “…if and to the extent that such attacks harm the interests of the powerful.”

This requirement is clearly met in the case of attacks on major US financial and commercial hubs, and just as clearly met in the case of attacks on foreign governments installed or propped up by, or otherwise subservient or useful to the US. Indeed, if the requirement of harm to powerful interests is met, even clear definitional requirements – such as the requirement that the attack be directed against civilians or civilian objects – are superseded, as in the case of an attack by indigenous resistance fighters against a US military occupation, or the revelation by a journalist of documents conclusively proving US war crimes and showing US policy in general in an excessively realistic light.

However, when the paramilitary wing of the openly theocratic fundamentalist Christian movement in the US bombs a gynaecologist’s office, and/or murders doctors, nurses, and patients, the power structure is not harmed. Therefore, it is not terrorism, and those who commit these crimes need not worry about drone attacks on their homes and offices or the prospect of being abducted in the dead of night to be tortured at a clandestine concentration camp. They are not terrorists; their crimes are just deplorable excesses to some – or, to others, laudable contributions – in the ongoing public debate on whether or not women are human beings with human rights, a matter on which “reasonable” minds can clearly differ.