Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 7:41 AM
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 3:13 PM
Alas, Mohammed Morsi seems fated to become a martyr for the cause of democracy in the Middle East.
He became Egypt’s first democratically elected president in June 2012. But army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed him in July 2013 – in a coup that was, ironically, almost as popular as the student protests that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
It is by no means certain that Morsi committed any high crime or misdemeanor that warranted a coup (no matter how popular), to say nothing of a death sentence. What is certain, however, is that this sentence also sounds the death knell for Egyptian democracy, which budded with so much hope and promise during the Arab Spring.
I’m sure neither the student protesters nor the Western leaders who championed their cause ever imagined events unfolding in Egypt as they have over the past four years. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find another Western commentator who expressed concerns about what the Arab Spring portended – as I did … in real time.
With all due respect to the protesters, the issue is not whether Mubarak will go, for he will. (The man is 82 and already looks half dead for Christ’s sake!) Rather, the issue is who will replace him. And it appears they have not given any thought whatsoever to this very critical question.
The devil Egyptians know might prove far preferable to the devil they don’t. Just ask the Iranians who got rid of the Mubarak-like Shah in 1979 only to end up with the Ayatollah — whose Islamic revolution they’ve regretted (and have longed to overturn) ever since….
(“Army Pledges No Force Against Protesters,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 1, 2011)
Sure enough, here – from “Egypt’s Arab Spring Spawns Military Dictatorship,” March 25, 2014 – is how Morsi’s sectarianism and Sisi’s authoritarianism have vindicated my concerns.
Recall that, even though democratically elected to succeed Mubarak, Mohammed Morsi proved such a bigger devil that the very pro-democracy protesters who ousted and imprisoned Mubarak returned to their protesting ways and soon ousted and imprisoned Morsi.
Except that getting rid of Morsi begat General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who is proving yet an even bigger devil. Not least because he’s using mass show trials and other more brutal measures to politically cleanse Egypt of all traces of the Muslim Brotherhood. Reports are that he has imprisoned over 19,000 members since seizing power last summer and is now systematically executing those who held leadership positions.
Frankly, Sisi is ruling Egypt in a manner that makes Mubarak and Morsi look like Boy Scouts. Which is why nothing vindicates my early criticism of pro-democracy protesters quite like the fact that, after commandeering Tahrir Square to get rid of Mubarak and Morsi, they are now conspicuously MIA. Granted, these erstwhile democratic revolutionaries are sensible enough to appreciate that Sisi would probably do to them what Chinese leaders did to pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.
Therefore, what I find most noteworthy about Morsi’s death sentence is the way it exposes the double standard, if not hypocrisy, inherent in the way Western governments deal with leaders in the Middle East.
In this case, you’d expect President Obama to be – not only leading a chorus of those condemning Sisi, but also marshaling support to impose coordinated sanctions against his regime. Indeed, it speaks volumes that Obama has his secretary of state, John Kerry, over in Asia today – not only condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for executing yet another member of his leadership team, but also marshaling support (most notably China’s) to impose even more sanctions against his regime.
‘(Kim’s) leadership (is) one of the most egregious examples of reckless disregard for human rights and human beings anywhere on the planet,’ [Kerry] said, citing what he called ‘grotesque, grisly, horrendous public displays of executions on a whim and a fancy by the leader’.
(Reuters, May 18, 2015)
To be fair, Obama has issued pro-forma statements condemning the mass trials and death sentences that have defined Sisi’s nascent rule. In fact, he made quite a public show in October 2013 of suspending military aid to Egypt to protest Sisi’s coup and the bloody crackdown that followed.
Unfortunately, Obama made a mockery of all that by quietly resuming military aid in March, despite there being no noticeable change in Sisi’s authoritarian rule.
The systematic use of rape, sexual violence and assault constituting torture has surged since the political coup led by President el-Sisi in Egypt, spreading beyond the confines of police stations and detention centres to officials openly assaulting people in the streets, at universities and people’s homes during raids, according to a new report.
The International Federation for Human Rights’ (IDFH) latest report, which focuses on sexual violence committed since the Egyptian military takeover in July 2013, claims the documented sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault, rape with objects, anal and vaginal ‘virginity tests’, electrocution of genitalia, sex-based defamation and blackmail by police, state and military personnel is being used to ‘eliminate public protest’.
(The Independent – UK, May 19, 2015)
In fact, Sisi has made quite a public show of fraternizing with presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia – both of whom seem all too willing and able to serve as more enabling patrons of his authoritarian regime.
Frankly, nothing indicates what little regard Sisi has for Obama’s political/democratic sensibilities quite like Sisi thanking Obama for resuming military aid by sentencing Morsi to death. What’s more, notwithstanding the alternatives Xi and Putin provide, Sisi can be forgiven thinking that Obama and other Western leaders will turn a blind eye to any reckless disregard he shows “for human rights and human beings” – just as they did with Mubarak throughout his 30-year dictatorship.
(It might seem contradictory, but given the utter chaos that followed the toppling of Hussein in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt, Kaddafi in Libya, and Saleh in Yemen, I clearly had/have just cause for conceding that “Perhaps Only Authoritarian Regimes Can Govern Arab Countries,” July 14, 2014.)
Of course, like his predecessors, Obama will rationalize his decision to help Sisi sustain his brutal dictatorship by spouting all kinds of specious ways military aid to Egypt serves America’s geostrategic interests. I submit, however, that the United States has no more to show for the tens of billions wasted propping up dictatorships in Egypt than it has to show for the hundreds of billions (to say nothing of thousands of lives) wasted nation building in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This record of fecklessness is especially poignant with respect to Afghanistan, where Obama surged thousands of troops in 2009 in a misguided attempt to impose national law and order. Not least because some of us warned back then that it would prove the deadly and costly blunder it has turned out to be — as I did in “With or Even Without more Troops, Failure in Afghanistan Is Likely,” September 23, 2009.
With respect to Iraq, I’m on record warning that ISIS poses no greater threat to the United States than the Viet Cong did. Further, that the media terrorize Americans more by broadcasting ISIS propaganda and threats than ISIS can ever do by actually attacking America.
Here, for example, is how I warned – in “Demystifying ISIS: Case against Obama’s Bush-lite War on Terrorism,” September 10, 2014 – against the fool’s mission of deploying American troops to take on ISIS, instead of leaving Afghan and Iraqi fighters to fight their own battles.
I urge you to listen carefully for anything that convinces you that his war on terrorism (against ISIS) will be any more successful than Bush’s ill-fated war on terrorism (against al-Qaeda). Just be mindful that JFK convinced the American people that his war on communism (in Vietnam) would be more successful than his predecessor Truman’s war on communism (in Korea). And beware that a stupid war by any other name (like ‘a counterterrorism operation’) would still prove as stupid…
Warmongers … have already goaded Obama into a Vietnam-style mission creep — given that the 300 troops he said in June were sufficient to protect embassy personnel in Iraq have already mushroomed to over 1000, not including an untold number of military ‘advisers.’
If the Afghans and Iraqis Americans spent over a decade training to govern themselves, defend themselves, and sustain themselves can’t stand on their own against a rag-tag bunch of Taliban fighters and rampaging ISIS terrorists, respectively, then they deserve whatever fate befalls them. To say nothing of the dreadful spectacle of so many of those the U.S. trained either turning their guns directly on U.S. troops — in now notorious ‘green-on-blue’ killings, or using that training to professionalize the ranks of terrorist groups like ISIS.
Incidentally, Obama is making quite a show of seeking congressional authorization to train ‘moderate’ Syrian fighters as part of his war on terrorism strategy. But, consistent with the foregoing, nothing betrays the wishful thinking inherent in this quite like the shameful (and ultimately sacrificial) way thousands of U.S.-trained Iraqi troops threw down their U.S.-made weapons, abandoned their U.S.-made military vehicles, and hightailed it from just a few hundred poorly equipped ISIS fighters.
Apropos of hightailing it, news is breaking as I write this that yet more U.S.-trained Iraqi troops are abandoning post. This time they are fleeing the city of Ramadi, with equally costly abandon, alongside tens of thousands of women and children, to escape advancing ISIS fighters. Their cowardly display of dereliction of duty even surpasses that of the captain of that sinking South Korean Ferry – who trampled over passengers a year ago to get on one of precious few life rafts to save his hide, while hundreds of women and children drowned right before his eyes.
Of course, that these Iraqi troops are fleeing is hardly surprising. Nor, alas, is the fact that U.S. politicians (mostly Republicans) are reacting to this news by decrying the loss of Ramadi as if it were Texas, insinuating that the duty is now for American, not Iraqi, troops to retake it.
All the more reason for Obama to reclaim a little of America’s moral high ground on the world stage … by letting China or Russia replace it: not only as the indulgent and long-suffering patron of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, but also as the compromised and self-sacrificing referee of sectarian/religious battles, which Muslims have been fighting amongst themselves for over a thousand years, and seem fated to continuing fighting for another thousand.
Especially given that oil-rich countries in that region now need to sell to America more than America needs to buy from them; and that aircraft carriers and other military assets (like drones) can protect and/or advance whatever strategic interest the United States has in that region (e.g., with targeted assassinations and by destroying terrorist training camps).
If Shia Iran fears ISIS establishing a regional Caliphate, let Iran stop ISIS! If either Jewish Israel or Sunni Saudi Arabia fears Shia Iran developing nuclear weapons, let Israel or Saudi Arabia stop Iran! God knows, if we can live with a nuclear North Korea, we can live with a nuclear Iran. Not to mention that, notwithstanding Israeli paranoia or American narcissism, if Iran ever developed nuclear weapons and dared to use them, it would probably nuke Saudi Arabia before even setting its sights on Israel or the United States. Such is the nature of the internecine struggle within Islam that is the root cause of so much that bedevils U.S. Middle East policy….
This is not the commentary to elaborate, but Jordan is the only country in that region that is worthy of the kind of aid the United States has been funneling to Egypt.
As for Israel, America’s long-standing security guarantees should suffice without having to give it billions in annual grants masquerading as “loan guarantees.” Especially given that Israel uses so many of those billions to expand illegal Jewish settlements and keep Palestinians walled in Apartheid-like territories – as I have lamented in such commentaries as “Instead of Peace, Israel Settling for Apartheid,” May 1, 2014. Hell, the United States is still doing penance for the Indian Removal Act and its “Trail of Tears.” Therefore, you’d think it would be morally averse to be touting an “unshakable bond” with Israel, which is doing to the Palestinians what it did to the Indians….
Trust me, America would be a lot safer if it limited its involvement with every other country in the Middle East to traditional diplomatic ties; instead of trying to navigate shifting alliances in religious/sectarian conflicts, to say nothing of fighting battles locals should be fighting for themselves.
America was foolish to follow Russia down the rabbit hole into the quagmire that is Afghanistan…. Therefore, if either China or Russia is foolish enough to follow America down the rabbit hole into the cauldron that is the Middle East, I say let it. Because nothing would signal the triumph of American foreign policy in this respect quite like jihadi chants of “Death to China [or] Death to Russia” replacing those of “Death to America” across the region.
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Monday, at 7:14 a.m. For technical reason, which I see no point in trying to explain, it never posted, and we could not sort things out until now (with one quote revised and updated ).
Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 4:33 PM
During the mid-1990s, I was one of many worker bees at the D.C. headquarters of the Clinton-Gore Re-Election ’96 campaign.
We all buzzed about trying, to no avail, to seem relevant to the political ambitions of the most powerful man in the world. Yet even I saw enough of the compromises and sacrifices (of self and others), which Bill and Hillary Clinton demanded of their staffers, to become irretrievably disillusioned and disaffected. Not just with the Clintons, but with the polarized spectacle Washington politics had become. This spectacle actually made it seem credible when Hillary blamed her husband’s open and notorious indiscretions on a vast right-wing conspiracy to ruin them….
Apropos of which, Vincent W. Foster Jr. was perhaps the closest of all friends of Bill (FOBs) who rode on the Clintons’ bandwagon from Arkansas to Washington in 1993. Yet, within six months, he had become so disillusioned and disaffected he shot himself. But he left a note with this suicidal lament that, within six days at campaign headquarters, I understood all too well:
Here, ruining people is considered sport.
(New York Times, August 11, 1993)
Not that I was ever suicidal, mind you…. It’s just that the irony inherent in Foster’s lament is that no two people played this sport better than Bill and Hillary. A fact many acclaimed writers – from Bob Woodward to Peggy Noonan and Richard A. Posner – have chronicled in comprehensive and salacious detail.
But no writer evoked the disillusionment and disaffection Foster must have felt quite like George Stephanopoulos did (in confessional and redemptive tone) in his memoir, All Too Human: A Political Education (1999).
He, of course, served as Bill’s right-hand man during his first presidential campaign and first term in office (1991-1996) … and survived. But the abuse he testified to, which I suspect only a battered woman could relate to, was such that Bill (the batterer) felt compelled to apologize to George in his memoir, My Life (2004).
I have referred to George’s memoir on many occasions over the years to explain/justify my abiding antipathy towards Bill – as I did in “Exposing the Real Bill Clinton,” October 7, 2007.
As his former trusted aide, George Stephanopoulos, chronicled in his memoir of disillusionment and disaffection with the former president, Bill Clinton is All Too Human. And, despite his good intentions (and good deeds), he is really just a petulant, spiteful, egocentric, greedy, manipulative, unfaithful, impeached and pathologically self-righteous redneck!
But don’t take my word for it. Read former FBI director Louis Freeh’s eyewitness account of this man’s treachery in his (rebuttal?) memoir, My FBI (2005)… And, for good measure, read Lani Guinier’s equally revealing memoir, Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback Into a New Vision of Social Justice (1998).
She, you may recall, is the personal friend and Black Ivy League law professor who Bill publicly stabbed in the back. And he did so just to pander to ‘right-wing conspirators’ who were smearing Lani as a quota queen (for recommending a voting system that would allow fairer representation of Blacks in government) to prevent Bill from appointing her to a key position in his Justice Department.
But, trust me folks, for every George, Louis, and Lani who can tell horror stories about Bill, there is a Tom, Dick, and Mary who can tell similar stories about Hillary – as Sally Bedell Smith documents in For Love of Politics: The Clintons In The White House (2007):
[S]he ‘frequently reduced her traveling aide to tears’ when the assistant failed to produce something Hillary needed.
She had a temper, but instead of ‘making nice’ afterwards, Hillary withdrew in cool silence…
[According to FOH Mary Mel French, who insists she cannot work for Hillary and keep their friendship], ‘That is why she has to have such a young [female] staff … they bow and scrape.’
The point is that, given George’s familiarity with both Bill and Hillary, he should have developed such allergic contempt that being associated with them again – even if only by ten degrees of separation – would cause him to break out in hives.
He could not have been surprised, for example, that they continued to be dogged by the same kinds of shady financial deals and extramarital affairs that dogged their years in the White House. Or that they showed their true primary colors in 2008 – after Barack Obama began posing a serious challenge to their plans for the restoration of their “2-for-1″ presidency. Perhaps you recall Bill venting such indignation (at what he dismissed as the uppity Obama’s “fairytale” campaign) that he came across more like a racist than the White man Toni Morrison once hailed as the “first Black president of the United States.”
You’d think they would’ve learned from 2008. But nobody knows better than George the congenital sense of entitlement that has Bill and Hillary now preparing for a coronation in 2016, instead of running a presidential campaign; or that causes them to see nothing wrong with spending more of the billions they solicit for their Clinton Global Initiative on travel and personal expenses than on charitable causes – as advertised.
Meanwhile, no former staffer has enjoyed more professional success since purportedly leaving/escaping the Clinton vortex than George. In fact, it was truly awe-inspiring to watch him transition over the past eighteen years from political hack to bona fide journalist – eventually working his way into the coveted anchor chair at not one but two of the most respectable news and current-affairs programs on TV, namely, ABC’s Good Morning America and This Week.
This is why I find reports that he waded back into the Clintons’ political cesspool in recent years so utterly stupefying. Especially because he did so in ways that gave a journalistic hack like Geraldo Rivera just cause to impugn not just his journalistic integrity but that of ABC News as well.
Geraldo Rivera sees a double standard at work in ABC News’ decision to stand by George Stephanopoulos after the network’s chief anchor apologized for failing to publicly disclose $75,000 in donations to the Clinton Foundation over the last three years.
In a Facebook post Friday morning, Rivera claimed he was fired by ABC News in 1985 for making a $200 political donation and wondered why Stephanopoulos isn’t getting the same treatment.
(Mediaite, May 15, 2015)
But, given that NBC News suspended anchor Brian Williams for lying about his journalistic exploits, ABC News must be feeling considerable pressure to suspend George for lying (by omission) about his donations, especially with this damning complaint by Peter Schweizer now a matter of public record:
I agreed to be interviewed, expecting a robust examination of my new book, Clinton Cash, and my reporting on the Clintons’ accumulation of massive personal wealth, cronyism and the lack of transparency surrounding the Clintons’ foundation.
I expected probing questions, similar to the ones I’ve received from Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, Chris Wallace on Fox News and Frank Sesno on CNN.
What I did not expect — what no one expected — was the sort of ‘hidden hand journalism’ that has contributed to America’s news media’s crisis of credibility in particular, and Americans’ distrust of the news media more broadly.
(USA Today, May 17, 2015)
In fact, as I watched this interview, I thought a clearly exasperated George might end up asking Schweizer if he’s part of that vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary famously complained about. Except that left-wing newspapers like the New York Times have reported similar misgivings about the Clintons’ foundation. So, despite all of the journalistic credibility and respect he has worked so hard to earn over the years, this one episode has exposed George as just a glorified Clinton political hack. He can’t quit them.
Of course, like New England standing by its hopelessly compromised quarterback Tom Brady, ABC News might decide it has too much invested in a hopelessly compromised George to suspend him. Indeed, pulling George from covering the presidential campaign really would be tantamount to pulling Brady from playing in the Super Bowl.
What’s more, George can be forgiven for thinking that, if Bill can get away with lying about extramarital affairs as president of the United States, he can get away with lying about charitable donations as anchor for ABC News.
But there’s no denying that this episode has made road kill of his journalistic reputation, as well as a mockery of all the principled reasons he delineated in his critically acclaimed memoir for cutting ties with the Clintons in the first place….
He may still have a job, but he’s now a journalistic joke. You know, like Bill Cosby still has a job, but he’s a comedic laughingstock.
Accordingly, we can add George’s name to the very long list of those who have sacrificed their professional integrity at the altar of the Clintons’ political ambitions and personal desires. Not surprisingly, Washington journalists can barely contain the schadenfreude as they make a sport of trying to ruin him too. I just hope he’s made of sterner stuff than Vince Foster….
NOTE: I fully intend to honor my pledge to write no commentaries on the 2016 presidential campaign. But, because enquiring minds want to know, I shall vote for anyone but Hillary in the Democratic primary. If she’s the nominee (and that’s no guarantee), I’ll hold my nose and vote for her. Because, as odious as she may be, she’s far more likely to pursue the progressive policies I favor (re: universal healthcare, living wages, more diplomacy less war, infrastructure development, progressive tax reform, appointments to the Supreme Court, et al.) than any Republican nominee.
And, by the way, only a Black fool, with too little regard for or knowledge of Black-American history, would buy into the canard about not voting being a form of enlightened political protest.
Exposing real Bill…
Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 12:23 PM
In an address at the opening of the memorial and cultural centre in Guadeloupe on Sunday, Hollande said Haiti’s debt of US$81.2 million will be cancelled…
Haiti, which became the world’s first black republic after winning its war of independence in 1804, agreed to pay the debt in exchange for official recognition from France in 1825.
(Jamaica Observer, May 11, 2015)
Mind you, the media also lauded his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy five years ago, in the immediate aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake, for announcing the same. Which compels me to reprise my abiding lament about as compassionate poseurs:
I just hope this outpouring of support is coordinated and sustained enough to help the Haitian people build a 21st century infrastructure, as well as the political and civic institutions to manage it. For, as pledges in the wake of the Indonesian Tsunami proved, governments that rush for the limelight to make grand pledges of financial aid often hide in the shadows when it comes to honoring them.
(“Haiti’s Catastrophic Earthquake,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 14, 2010)
Significantly, though, most news outlets are glossing over Hollande’s outright rejection of CARICOM’s quixotic demand for reparations. In fact, CARICOM has retained lawyers to sue former European colonial powers for untold billions (perhaps even trillions) in compensation for the crimes of slavery and colonialism.
As it happens, I have written many commentaries opposing reparations and supporting debt forgiveness.
Here are 10 points I’ve argued over the years – in such commentaries as “The Fatally Flawed Demand for Reparations for African Slavery,” Caribbean Net News, February 16, 2007. They alone should counter the claims in CARICOM’s “Ten Point Action Plan” for reparations.
- CARICOM leaders are banking on public shaming and political pressure to compensate for shortcomings in their legal arguments. Their craven strategy assumes that, just as corporations often settle cases (even frivolous ones) to avoid bad publicity, European governments will settle out of court, instead of forcing them to prove their case in court. Which, of course, would constitute a triumph of European paternalism and self-recrimination over Caribbean pride and self-responsibility – the “damning irony” be damned.
- The most sympathetic European and American leaders, most notably former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President Barack Obama, are on record opposing reparations. And it would strain credulity even for these two opportunistic politicians to “evolve” to the point of supporting reparations – if it became politically expedient to do so.
- CARICOM cannot establish proximate cause between the injustices complained of (i.e., slavery and colonialism) and any harm any living Caribbean native has suffered.
- The U.S. government paid reparations for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment precisely because claimants could establish this causal link. This is also why the UK government paid reparations for atrocities committed during colonial rule in Kenya; specifically, during its brutal suppression of the famous Mau Mau Rebellion.
- Apropos of proximate cause, it should be particularly instructive that Jews demanded and received reparations from Germany for “slave labor and persecution” suffered during the Holocaust. But they have not demanded reparations from Egypt for slave labor and persecution suffered during 400 years of slavery.
- Equitable justice would require CARICOM’s demand for reparations be offset by the objective benefits Blacks received during colonialism (most notably education and grounding in civil society), as well as post-colonialism (most notably foreign aid) – all of which might fairly be considered restitution payments.
- Even if politically incorrect, there’s probably no better argument against reparations than juxtaposing thriving development and good governance in former British colonies in the Caribbean with chronic strife and political skullduggery – not just in African countries where (European slavery) never existed, but also in those where European colonialism gave way to African nativism, which has manifested most despairingly in continual tribal/ethnic conflict.
- CARICOM claiming in its action plan that, almost 50 years after the end of colonialism, “Persistent racial victimization of the descendants of slavery and genocide as the root cause of their suffering today… [and] the primary cause of development failure in the Caribbean” is patently specious and makes a mockery of our regional pride as independent nations.
Most former slave colonies in the Caribbean are now fairly successful middle-income countries, or better. On a PPP basis, the Bahamas has a GDP per head close to that of Spain or Italy. Barbados scores higher on the UN Development Programme’s human-development index than any of its much larger South American neighbours.
(The Economist, October 5, 2013)
- President Obama has argued that the best form of reparations for slavery is government investment in education and employment opportunities that benefit poor Blacks. But the U.S. government could argue that the trillions it spent on social and welfare programs in Black communities, just since the 1960s, are more than enough to offset reparations for American slavery. The UK government could argue the same for British slavery – given the billions it spent during colonial rule and in foreign aid to CARICOM countries since then.
- Post-colonial Africa seems fated to loom amidst the continents of the world as a dark, destitute, diseased, desperate, disenfranchised, dishonest, disorganized, disassociated, dangerous and ultimately dysfunctional mess. So, notwithstanding slavery, every Black living in America and the Caribbean probably thanks his lucky stars that neither Abraham Lincoln nor Marcus Garvey succeeded in “repatriating” Blacks to Africa. In other words, thank God we are here and not there!
I just hope the damning irony is not lost on any proud African that, 50 years after decolonization, hundreds of Africans (men, women, and children) are risking their lives, practically every day, to subjugate themselves to the paternal mercies of their former colonial masters in Europe.
(“Lampedusa Tragedy Highlights Europe’s Haitian Problem,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 7, 2013)
With that, I rest my case on reparations.
ON DEBT FORGIVENESS
It speaks volumes that (without the “benefits” of colonialism) Haiti has loomed amidst the islands of the Caribbean since it became the world’s first Black republic, just as Africa has amidst the continents of the world since colonialism.
Which brings me to the fiendish gesture of the French forgiving what remains of the debt they imposed on Haitians for daring to fight for their independence. For, ironically, France is arguably the only former colonial power that still has legal obligation to pay reparations – not for slavery, but for debt restitution. After all:
Haiti’s current economic crisis and political turmoil have their roots in the ‘odious debt’ of 150 million gold francs (later reduced to 90 million), which France imposed on the newborn republic with gunboats in 1825.
The sum was supposed to compensate French planters for their losses of slaves and property during Haiti’s 1791-1804 revolution…
It took Haiti 122 years, until 1947, to pay off both the original ransom to France and the tens of millions more in interest payments borrowed from French banks to meet the deadlines.
(Haïti Liberté’s Statement for the European Parliament In Support of Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum (PASCF) Global Research, May 10, 2013)
I suppose CARICOM countries should be thankful that, instead of becoming republics after the abolition of slavery (in 1833), we remained colonial territories for another 125-plus years. No doubt this is why, unlike France, Britain compensated its slave owners for their losses directly (in 1834).
But nothing betrays the extortionate nature of this debt quite like the British never even asking Americans to pay reparations for daring to fight for their independence….
I am constrained to note, however, that France was able to extract payments from Haiti only because the entire world conspired to impose this “original debt.” I commented on this racist conspiracy in “Haitian: Returning to Africa; Blaming the U.S. and France?!” The iPINIONS Journal, February 12, 2010.
The U.S. and France led other nations in a conspiracy to ensure that Haiti would suffer crib death as a nation after winning independence in 1804:
On the one hand, the Americans participated in this infanticide because they deemed it too politically untenable to have a nation of Black revolutionaries enjoying democratic freedoms in their backyard, while their young nation was still so dependent on the institution of Black slavery. Their hypocrisy had to have been palpable; but it clearly paled in comparison to the fear these Americans had of embers from the fires of revolt that liberated France’s Haitian slaves eventually igniting similar fires among their American slaves.
On the other hand, the French participated merely to avenge their defeat by these Black revolutionaries – who, ironically, emulated the way American revolutionaries defeated the British with the help of the French.
America’s founding declaration holds that “all men are created equal,” and France’s hails “the rights of man.” Yet the institution of slavery continues to haunt and render both declarations hypocritical in so many ways.
In any event, far from forgiving what remains of interest payments on Haiti’s independence debt, France should be begging Haiti for forgiveness … and paying restitution.
With that I rest my case on debt forgiveness.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 7:21 AM
A ship carrying hundreds of Rohingya Muslims sent out a distress call asking to be rescued Tuesday, saying they were abandoned by their captain without fuel and have been without food or water for three days…
Most are trying to reach Malaysia… They have been prevented from disembarking, in some cases for two or more months, because a crackdown on human trafficking networks in Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh has sent agents and brokers into hiding. In some cases captains are abandoning their vessels, leaving men, women and children to fend for themselves.
(The Associated Press, May 12, 2015)
Unfortunately, the discrepancy in media coverage is such that most people have no idea that Asia has been grappling with a migration crisis that rivals the one Europe has been grappling with:
The latter has seen tens of thousands of African migrants wash up on European shores (most notably Lampedusa’s) and untold numbers drown in the Mediterranean Sea. But the former has seen almost as many Rohingya migrants wash up on Asian shores (most notably Malaysia’s) and untold numbers drown in the Bay of Bengal.
More to the point, like their African counterparts, the Rohingya are fleeing all manner of persecution and privation, which, in this case, can be summed up in two all too familiar words: religious cleansing.
Myanmar policy’s message to Muslims: get out…
The Rohingya have faced discrimination for decades. They have been denied citizenship and evicted from their homes, their land has been confiscated, and they have been attacked by the military. After one such attack in 1978, some 200,000 fled to Bangladesh.
(New York Times, November 6, 2014)
As it happens, I’ve been in the vanguard of those calling for Western media and governments alike to show as much interest in and concern about Rohingya migrants as they’ve been showing in and about African migrants.
Here, for example, is what I wrote in “Buddhist Monks Terrorizing Myanmar…,” August 14, 2013.
Reza Aslan I am not. But I believe I can assert without fear of contradiction that, more than any other religion, Buddhism has a reputation for inspiring peace, harmony, and non-violence.
This is why reports last year about Buddhist monks behaving like Islamic terrorists struck me as utterly surreal. So much so in fact that, instead of commenting on the contradictions inherent in their behavior, I commented on the failure of their de facto secular leader to condemn it:
Nothing demonstrates the extent to which she has been co-opted quite like Suu Kyi’s deafening silence about the ongoing religious cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Buddhists. Especially given that the UN has called Myanmar’s Muslims ‘the world’s most persecuted people.’
Yet when challenged to explain her silence, the Buddhist Suu Kyi demurred, saying self-righteously that she was not taking sides to preserve her impartiality to help them reconcile. But just imagine how much worse the religious cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Hindus in India would have been if the Hindu Gandhi had not been so vocal in condemning it?
(“Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” The iPINIONS Journal, November 12, 2012)
That was two and a half years ago folks. And I’m profoundly dismayed that, since then, Aung Suu Kyi has used her universally recognized moral authority more to seek political accommodation with the military leaders who still rule Myanmar, than to even give voice to the cause of the Rohingya Muslims.
I wonder what my critics have to say about viral pictures of Suu Kyi sitting quite comfortably yesterday as a solitary figure among hundreds of military men as they presided over the hallmark of all dictatorships, the annual military parade. For there can be no denying that these pictures provide clear vindication of my informed cynicism.
(“Aung San Suu Kyi Becoming Democratic Mascot of Myanmar’s Military Dictatorship,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 28, 2013)
Apropos of moral authority, I hasten to note that the Dalai Lama has been more forthright than Suu Kyi in condemning the religious cleansing Myanmar’s devilish monks have been and are still perpetrating.
Alas, it appears the Dalai Lama’s spiritual control over the behavior of Buddhist monks is no greater than his political control over the governing of Tibet (from where he has been exiled for over 50 years).
For, despite his entreaties, Buddhists are continuing their crusade of religious cleansing against Muslims.
(“Buddhist Monks Terrorizing Myanmar…,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 14, 2013)
Mind you, I would be sympathetic if these crusading monks were trying to cleanse Myanmar of members of the ruling military class, instead of members of this oppressed religious caste.
But Suu Kyi’s lack of common cause with the Rohingya is made all the more dismaying when one considers that her struggle against the deprivation of political rights in Myanmar won her a Nobel Peace Prize. After all, that struggle pales in comparison to the Rohingya’s struggle against the deprivation of human rights, which has forced them to flee en masse.
For a little perspective, just imagine the shock and dismay if, after his release from prison, Nelson Mandela had agreed to serve in a parliament still controlled by Apartheid leaders, then stood by as Nguni people (who compose the majority of South Africa’s Black population) went on a tribal-cleansing crusade to rid the country of tribes belonging to the Venda and Sotho people….
In any event, I continue to hope against hope that the klieg light of media coverage will finally shine on Myanmar’s unfolding genocide. Especially given all of the media coverage Myanmar’s military leaders are buying to advertise newly developed tourist enclaves, which must have Cuba’s military leaders salivating to emulate.
I am acutely mindful that African migrants are fleeing failing African states (most notably Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia), where leaders have no ability to enforce law and order, let alone prevent migrants taking to the Mediterranean Sea.
Therefore, continual media coverage of their plight has done little to improve living conditions at home.
But Rohingya migrants are fleeing this developing Asian nation, where leaders have the ability to prevent not only monks from waging their genocidal religious crusade, but also migrants from taking to the Bay of Bengal. What’s more, like China’s leaders, Myanmar’s would clearly prefer to rely more on economic growth (for which tourism is like water) than military force to sustain their authoritarian rule.
Therefore, a little more media coverage of their plight would force Myanmar’s military leaders to act – if only to prevent media images of Rohingya fleeing religious oppression from undermining media images of tourist sites, which are intended to entice foreigners to visit.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 6:49 AM
Women like Mary Roberts Rhinehart have been reporting from conflict zones since WWI (1914-1918). But it took women like Christiane Amanpour to finally shatter the glass ceiling among war correspondents during the Gulf War (1990-1991).
Now the archives of print and TV news organizations are replete with reports by female war correspondents, including Marie Colvin, Janine di Giovanni, Arwa Damon, Alex Crawford, and others, which prove they are (and always were) wholly equal to the task – in every respect.
Of course, the dangers inherent in reporting from conflict zones obtain whether the reporter is a man or woman….
All the same, there’s no denying that everything from cultural norms to universal chauvinism present unique challenges and vulnerabilities for women reporters.
In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers…
She is currently in the hospital recovering.
(CBS News, February 15, 2011)
Clearly I could not possibly relate to the trauma she experienced. But I could relate to her determination to return to work as soon as possible. Not least because, just as any woman could, any Black could empathize with her not wanting to give credence to gender stereotypes about female reporters not having what it takes to work in conflict zones. No woman in the vanguard of those debunking these stereotypes would want to be the first to let the side down.
Nonetheless, I feared Logan’s determination would not serve her well in this case. More to the point, when I read that she was returning within weeks to this conflict zone – where she stood out like a stranded gazelle in the midst of a pride of lions – I cautioned her against doing so.
But I was wrong to focus so much on her role as a mother:
[This] suggests that she is psychologically disassociated not just from her body, but from her maternal instincts as well… I just find it more than a little peculiar that a mother would be so eager to get so far away from her practically new-born child to cover this story with all of the obvious dangers it entails.
(“Egyptian Protesters Sexually Assault U.S. Reporter,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 18, 2011)
Whereas I should have equated the trauma of a woman being raped with that of a man being tortured, noting that both cause post-traumatic stress disorders that would make returning to a conflict zone untenable.
Alas, I later compounded my error with this, arguably, sexist suggestion:
Lara is a very good reporter. But she will do well to limit her reporting to more prosaic topics from the relatively safe confines of the United States – as she did last night with her report for 60 Minutes on African game hunting … in Texas.
(“’Sustained Sexual Assault’ on CBS Reporter by Egyptian Protesters,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 30, 2012)
I found it surprising because, just weeks ago, she was still suffering such debilitating PTSD that she had to be re-admitted to hospital.
CBS News 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan has been readmitted to a Washington, D.C., hospital, the network said on Tuesday, reportedly for complications stemming from the sexual assault she survived while covering Egypt’s political uprising in 2011.
(Reuters, March 24, 2015)
Incidentally, Logan made a widely reported return to work last June. This, after serving a nine-month mandatory leave – not for health reasons but for presenting a “faulty Benghazi report” in the fall of 2012 that gave the network a “black eye.” At the risk of claiming I told you so, many industry analysts attributed her ill-fated participation in that report to her determination to reclaim her enviable position on the team at 60 Minutes as soon as possible.
I found it ironic because she reported on precisely the kinds of “soft news” (i.e., free of stress and/or danger – unlike Benghazi), which, even though unwittingly sexist, I suggested would suit her best – given her PTSD.
Explorer Bob Ballard gives 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan a tour of the artifacts housed at the legendary Explorers Club in New York.
(60 Minutes, CBS News, May 10, 2015)
Incidentally, Ballard became famous for discovering the RMS Titanic in 1985. Logan reported on his seafaring adventures these days to find some of the reported $1 trillion in sunken treasure resting in waters off American shores.
Unfortunately, neither she nor 60 Minutes made any reference on Sunday to her hospital stay in March. Therefore, despite my efforts to find out, I don’t know if she recovered well enough to report this story, or if she taped it before suffering her (latest) relapse.
Whatever the case, consider this my belated get-well commentary to Lara.
Sexual assault on Logan…
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 2:25 PM
Putin unwittingly shows the only reason Russia retains any relevance on the world stage….
Having to resort to military force to win friends and influence neighbors makes Russia look more like a pathetic regional bully (akin to North Korea with more nukes) than a respected global power in league with the likes of China and the United States… The reputation Putin has manufactured as a strong leader is belied by the fact that, but for the Soviet-era nukes he commands, he’d be no stronger than the tin-pot dictators who lorded over kleptocracies throughout post-colonial Africa.
(“Berlin Wall 2014: Mr. Gorbachev, Take Back that Speech!” The iPINIONS Journal, November 10, 2014)
Far from instilling fear in its enemies, real and pretend, these military parades began evoking little more than Monty-Pythonesque laughter long ago….
Indeed, I wonder at what point it finally dawned on Putin that his guest of honor was not impressed with his ridiculously phallic display.
Russia flexing muscles…
Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 6:36 AM
The reason for the shock, of course, is that pollsters had everyone convinced that Labour would either win or, at the very least, end up in a photo finish with the Conservatives.
Truth be told, far too many politicians and reporters treat pollsters like soothsayers these days. And no pollster cultivates this treatment more than Nate Silver – whose FiveThirtyEight analytics attained crystal-ball status at no less a newspaper than the New York Times.
Which is why today’s FiveThirtyEight headline, which greeted those who rely on his prognostications so religiously, must have constituted the biggest humble pie Silver has ever had to eat:
What We Got Wrong In Our 2015 U.K. General Election Model
And, lest you dismiss this as just a presumptuous American pollster getting his just desserts, here is how the respected Guardian of London crystallized the prognostications of UK pollsters in a special report on January 28:
Exclusive Guardian analysis of current polling suggests main two parties [Conservatives and Labour] are neck-and-neck and would have to create a multi-party alliance to form a stable government.
Well, reality bites:
David Cameron has promised to lead a government for ‘one nation’ and make ‘Great Britain greater’ as he returned to Downing Street as prime minister…
Mr Cameron’s rivals Ed Miliband [Labour], Nick Clegg [LibDems] and Nigel Farage [Ukip] have all resigned after election disappointment…
With all 650 seats declared, the Conservatives have ended up with 331 seats in the House of Commons, 24 more than in 2010 [and 5 more than they needed to form a government outright]. Labour have 232, the LibDems 8, the SNP 56, Plaid Cymru 3, UKIP 1, the Greens 1 and others 19.
(BBC News, May 8, 2015)
Having said that, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that a number of you inquired why I wasn’t writing any commentaries on the campaign — complete with my own prognostications about the results. So let me take this opportunity to share the decision I made, after the 2012 U.S. presidential election, to stop writing such commentaries.
Perhaps the best way to explain this is to allude to a worker at a sausage factory deciding that, in order to retain any taste for hot dogs, he can no longer have anything to do with the grinding process of making them. I hope the image this conjures up is not too … distasteful; but you get the point.
Even so, I observed enough of the campaign to exchange text messages with a few friends, in which I predicted the Conservatives would win. Far more interesting, though, is what I predicted 10 years ago about David Cameron as the Conservatives’ answer to Labour’s Tony Blair.
This very English man has all the right stuff to be the next Prime Minister of England. His name is David Cameron. He was elected as the new leader of the opposition Conservative Party yesterday, primarily because he’s every bit as young (at 39), telegenic, impudent, and glib as current PM Tony Blair was when he was catapulted to the leadership of the Labour Party at the politically precocious age of 41.
And, if they stick to their let’s-emulate-Labour’s-1994-to-1997 playbook (1997 being the year Blair upset incumbent PM John Major to win his first election), it’s very likely that the Conservatives will be returned to government – with Cameron moving into the Prime Minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street – after the next general elections.
(“The Next British Prime Minister?” The iPINIONS Journal, December 7, 2005)
Sure enough, much of the hindsight analyses political commentators are offering today attributes this “shocking” UK election result as much to Cameron’s formative decision to emulate Blair as to Miliband’s formative decision to disown him.
As for what it all means (not just for the UK, but for the U.S. and EU as well), I suspect much of the same – notwithstanding the historic gains by the SNP or the looming referendum on the EU. After all, the reason the LibDems got so eviscerated is that they spent the past five years in coalition with the Conservatives acting as if there were no differences in policies between them.
By the way, apropos of that referendum, am I the only one who thinks it reeks of hypocrisy, that Eurosceptics in the UK are preparing to do to the EU, what they just begged and bribed Anglosceptics in Scotland not to do to the UK…? Which raises the existential question: will the EU be as desperate to keep the UK in its union, as the UK was to keep Scotland in its kingdom? I think not.
Others will have much more to say about all this, and you might think I do too. But, in light of my 2012 decision, I couldn’t possibly comment … any further.
Next British PM…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Friday, at 2:24 p.m.
Friday, May 8, 2015 at 9:44 AM
Ted Wells is the universally acclaimed attorney the NFL appointed to investigate the New England Patriots’ notorious Deflategate caper. It took Wells over 100 days, but he finally submitted his 243-page report this week.
It is ‘more probable than not’ that star quarterback Tom Brady was ‘at least generally aware’ two Patriots employees had intentionally deflated balls…
The report directly contradicts statements the former MVP made in a press conference on January 22, 2015. At the time Brady insisted, ‘I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing [and] I would never do anything to break the rules.’
(Sports Illustrated, May 6, 2015)
With due deference to Harvey Levin, I’m a lawyer. So trust me when I tell you that the plain meaning of these findings is that:
- Brady induced, directed, and paid off Patriots employees to deflate footballs to his liking.
- He knew that doing so constituted a flagrant violation of NFL rules.
- Not since Bill Clinton lied about having “sex with that woman” has a public figure stood up in front of the entire nation and lied through his teeth – as Brady did about Deflategate on the eve of the Super Bowl on January 22.
- Frenetic, anxious text messages between Brady and the two Patriots employees involved (one of whom they smugly referred to as “the Deflator”) leave no reasonable doubt that Brady was trying to ensure that they cover their asses and, above all, do not implicate him. These texts provide clear and convincing evidence of their consciousness of guilt; to say nothing of Brady’s refusal to grant Wells access to others that might prove even more incriminating.
- And, perhaps most damning, it is “more probable than not” that Brady has been orchestrating this Deflategate caper since the beginning of his NFL career.
Incidentally, bear in mind that Wells is presenting his report to a sports league, not a court of law. Therefore, any finding that it’s “more probable than not” that Brady is guilty as alleged is as damning as it gets.
Which brings me to my report.
It not only took me less than 100 hours to produce similar findings, but I recommended punishments for those involved that Wells’s report sustain, and which shall stand the test of time. Here, for your edification and future reference, is an excerpt from what I wrote – in “New England Patriots Caught in Deflategate,” January 21, 2015 – after officials caught Brady and his ball boys red-handed during the AFC Championship game on January 18.
The only question now is what penalties the NFL will impose for this latest act of cheating. This is the same team and personnel, after all, that the NFL penalized for illegally videotaping their opponents’ hand signals during a game in 2007.
Indeed, the NFL should be guided by the fact that stripping the team of one first-round draft pick, fining it $250,000, and fining Coach Belichick $500,000 in that case had no deterrent effect. Of course, it should also be guided by the notorious misstep it made last year by initially giving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice just a slap on the wrist for battering his then fiancée.
But, consistent with my assertion about the Patriots factoring in such penalties as the cost of doing business, I think the NFL should:
- Fire all support staff involved in deflating those game balls, immediately.
- Strip the team of three times as many draft picks, and fine it ten times as much, as the NFL stripped and fined the Patriots for cheating with those videotapes.
- Suspend Coach Belichick for one year without pay, immediately; despite his protestations that he knew nothing about it. He should have known, and his credibility is obviously suspect.
- Suspend quarterback Tom Brady for one year without pay, immediately; especially in light of the way he initially laughed off the allegation as utterly preposterous. He clearly knew or should have known, and he benefited more than any other player from this cheating caper.
- Place asterisks next to victories and quarterback stats this team accumulated during the Belichick-Brady era. This would consign them to the same kind of fate that will forever call into question the victories and stats associated with notorious cheaters like steroid-junkies Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez.
- Deny Belichick and Brady entry into the NFL Hall of Fame for the same reasons Bonds, Clemens, and Rodriguez will never make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not least because of the unavoidable deduction that Belichick and Brady got away with cheating in similar fashion during far too many other games to countenance.
Of course, immediate suspensions would bar Belichick and Brady from coaching and playing, respectively, in the forthcoming Super Bowl. But I can think of no better way for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to redeem his and the league’s reputation (after the Ray Rice debacle) than to impose immediate suspensions…
If these suspensions make it easier for the Seattle Seahawks to win, it would constitute only a fraction of the poetic justice required to compensate for all the games, to say nothing of the three Super Bowls, the New England Patriots have won under the cheating leadership of these two arrogant schmucks.
It’s time now for Commissioner Roger Goodell to put up or shut up about protecting the integrity of the game, especially by making NFL punishments fit player crimes. But he would be terribly misguided if he heeds the counsel of eminent commentators like “Bonnie” Bob Costas.
Because Costas appeared on the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt yesterday and declaimed that he’d be surprised if the NFL suspends Brady for a single game. This, even though Costas knows full well that the NFL would suspend a player for 10 games if he’s caught smoking weed.
Mind you, a player who smokes weed in private is clearly not seeking to gain any unfair competitive advantage and, more importantly, is not bringing in the NFL into any disrepute. Whereas, one (a quarterback no less) who not only conspires to deflate footballs is clearly seeking to gain an unfair competitive advantage, but then lies about it on national TV, is bringing the NFL into such disrepute that even a lifetime ban is, arguably, fair and proportionate punishment.
This is why it behooves the NFL to impose a punishment in this case that does not make a mockery of the NFL’s disciplinary rules. For nothing will bring the NFL into greater disrepute than giving Brady a slap on the wrist that smacks of the same kind of slap Goodell gave Ray Rice last year – before public outrage forced him to impose a harsher punishment.
I’m on record (in my related commentary on January 21) calling for the NFL to suspend Brady for one year. But I stressed that his suspension should take effect immediate. I was all too mindful, after all, that even one year without pay would be a small price for him to pay after winning a Super Bowl and being named MVP to boot. Now the NFL seems bound to emulate the spectacle the SEC sanctioned two years ago, when it fined hedge fund manager Steven Cohen $1 billion (and imposed no jail time) for insider trading in securities that raked in nearly $10 billion. Clearly any cheater would take that risk any day.
And, by the way, it hardly matters that Brady played even better in the second half of that AFC Championship game after the footballs were properly inflated. For this is rather like saying a Wall Street banker should not be punished for running a scheme to steal money – if he demonstrated later that he could make money the old fashioned way … by earning it.
In any event, at the very least, Tom Brady’s cheating should taint his accomplishments in the NFL just as Barry Bond’s cheating has tainted his in the MLB.
Not to mention what it says about Brady’s character that he’s allowing his Daddy to make a fool of himself by claiming that the NFL is framing his “good son.” Never mind that his Daddy was just parroting the plainly absurd defense Brady’s lawyer is proffering about the NFL perpetrating a sting to entrap him. But what they’re claiming makes Hillary’s claim – about a “vast right-wing conspiracy” entrapping Bill in flagrante delicto with Monica – seem credible….
The integrity of the game (or the ball, so to speak) is now in the NFL’s court (pardon the mixed metaphor). And, this time, it had better not punt….
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Thursday, at 11:44 a.m.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 4:34 PM
After tabloids exposed Tiger as a serial adulterer in November 2009, I wrote that he should let his game do the talking and limit public statements about his personal life to the minimum required to appease Nike, his most loyal and lucrative sponsor.
What’s the point [of holding this press event]?
I have to think that team Tiger has determined that it’s the least he can do to give his remaining sponsors, like Nike, as well as the organizers of the PGA Tour, the closure they need to welcome him back. Because it’s crystal clear that this outing will do nothing to rehabilitate his good name…
Winning tournaments in his inimitable fashion is the only way now to eradicate bacchanalian images of his private life from public consciousness – even if not from the tabloids.
(“Tiger Will Finally Speak, but What Will He Say?” The iPINIONS Journal, February 19, 2010)
This is why I was so stupefied when Tiger reacted to this scandal – by providing so much fodder, he seemed more interested in keeping up with Kimye on social media than in competing with golfers on the links.
Nothing was more misguided and sensational in this respect than Tiger announcing his withdrawal from tournaments to enter rehab … for sex addiction; exactly the opposite of what I wrote he should do. A close second, though, was announcing his new relationship with Lindsey Vonn – as if they were just another wannabe-famous couple desperately seeking Twitter followers and manufacturing Facebook “Likes.”
The point is that, since that fateful exposure in 2009, Tiger has made news far more for the goings on in his personal life than for the derring-dos that once defined his professional life.
I lamented his metamorphosis: from a player whose predatory and invincible spirit psyched out his competitors even before his first swing, to one who courts public sympathy for his continuing failure to beat players he once dominated – as this excerpt from “For Tiger, Bad Play Causes ‘Pain’, Not Vice Versa,” August 7, 2014, attests.
Don’t be surprised if bad play forces Tiger to withdraw … again. For his foolish and withering pride is such that he sees more glory in stories about how heroically he played before pain forced him to quit, than in stories about why a healthy Tiger can’t even buy a win these days.
But all he needs now to shatter any hope of ever regaining his professional swagger is for his rehabbing, Olympic-skiing girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, to dump him for not providing the [rehab and] redemptive inspiration she expected. Then, of course, there’s the simmering resentment he must be harboring as he watches the media hail Rory McIlroy the way they used to hail him.
In short, what we are witnessing folks is the proverbial warning:
Pride goeth before the fall….
Sure enough, nothing confirms that Tiger has lost all sense of personal (and professional) pride quite like him coordinating with Lindsey to issue virtually identical statements on Sunday about their inevitable breakup — as if his die-hard golfing fans even care.
They blamed the “hectic demands of our respective schedules,” which is laughable on its face. After all, they both knew from the outset that no two professional athletes have less in common, and more disparate demands on their time, than a golfer and a snow skier.
Frankly, the more credible reason is that Lindsey just got fed up with Tiger’s excuses for his performance anxiety, which make a mockery of Nike’s motto to “Just Do It.” In other words, far from providing the inspiration and reflected glow she bargained for, Tiger was adding too much psychological baggage to her life with his public blathering about why he can’t reclaim his title as the top golfer in the world….
Predictable media inquiries about their split brought this into stark relief just yesterday. For Lindsey, with countenance redolent of a relieved heart and triumphant spirit, left the media no choice but to report as follows:
Lindsey Vonn brushes off Tiger Woods split, targets gold…
‘I don’t really want to talk about my personal life,’ Vonn said when asked about the rift with Woods during a press briefing in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
(Agence France-Presse, May 6, 2015)
Tiger Woods Says He Hasn’t Slept Since Breakup With Lindsey Vonn.
‘It obviously does affect me,’ he told reporters ahead of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. ‘I’m not gonna lie about that … I haven’t slept.’
(Huffington Post, May 5, 2015)
This, folks, is the denouement to their feminist version of The Taming of the Shrew; call it The Taming of the Player. And it’s made all the more poignant by the fact that, since hooking up with Tiger, Lindsey has rehabbed and recovered from injuries – far worse than any Tiger has complained of – to not only reclaim her title as the top skier in the world, but also be named the honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Meanwhile, it’s plain to see that Tiger’s head remains so screwed up that he’s now courting public sympathy for losing even before his first swing at The Players Championship, the first round of which begins tomorrow.
What a friggin’ spectacle! I just he has learned from his last breakup to not compound the mess he’s made of his personal life by making Oprahesque confessions about his sins and Clintonian promises to atone for them: TMI Tiger!
Incidentally, the best thing that can happen to Tiger now is for his ex-wife Elin to give him a second chance. Because:
a. she shuns media attention as much as Lindsey craves it; and
b. she was the anchor in his life when he was winning all of those Major championships and giving the media nothing to report on but his spectacular play and boring talk … about golf.
Hope springs eternal.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 6:55 AM
White policemen beating (or even killing) minorities has become commonplace in the United States. But they would be loath to beat (and risk killing) a uniformed Black soldier here.
White policemen beating (or even killing) minorities has become commonplace in Israel too. But they appear to have no compunctions about beating (and risk killing) even a uniformed Black soldier there.
A first protest in Jerusalem on Thursday was triggered by the emergence of a video showing two policemen beating a uniformed Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin named Damas Pakada.
Ethiopian Israelis claim their community has long suffered from police brutality and widespread discrimination.
(Agence France-Presse, May 4, 2015)
In fact, U.S.-style racial protests have been erupting in Israel for days now – complete with rolling clashes between the police and destitute, disaffected, disenfranchised and disillusioned Israeli citizens of African descent.
But I hasten to clarify that these protests are separate and apart from the “intifadas” (and interregnum uprisings), which aggrieved Palestinians have been waging, for decades, in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
No less a person than former U.S. President Jimmy Carter likened this more notorious Palestinian struggle to that which Blacks waged in South Africa during Apartheid. I commented on racial protests in this Palestinian context in “Instead of Peace, Israel Settling for Apartheid,” May 1, 2014.
That said, the simmering grievances among Blacks in Israel, which finally boiled over last week, are all too familiar. I cannot overstate this point. Hell, reports about Ethiopian (Black) Jews representing just three percent of Israeli children, but twenty percent of those incarcerated in juvenile prisons, seem almost plagiarized from perennial reports about Black children incarcerated in juvenile prisons across the United States.
Of course, the reason these protests in Israel are so familiar is that, for decades, similar grievances have been simmering (and boiling over from time to time) among Blacks in the United States – as embering protests in Ferguson and Baltimore throw into stark relief. And, in recent years, similar grievances have been simmering (and boiling over from time to time) among Blacks in Europe – as the following excerpts attest.
- From “World Beware: French Riots Affect Us All,” November 8, 2005:
Reports are that young people in France’s African (Muslim) communities erupted in this nightmarish violence because they are fed up with chronic unemployment and feelings of (religious and racial) discrimination and social alienation. Indeed, just as young Blacks in America fought against the virulent racism their parents tolerated, it seems young Muslims in France are fighting against the caste-like presumption that they too will supply the cheap labor for rich Frenchmen their parents provided…
[T]he riots in France should serve notice on other developed nations that have relegated the poor to ghettos, where crime and every order of vice pervade… These riots demonstrate what little spark it takes for the simmering grievances that define ghetto life to set cities ablaze and terrorize an entire country…
There but for the grace of God….
- From “Now London Is Burning,” August 9, 2011:
[T]he police shot and killed a suspected Black ‘gangster’… This ignited a frenzy of rioting and looting the likes of which, alas, have become all too familiar.
Indeed, this seems an uncanny repeat of similar riots that broke out in this very neighborhood in 1985, after the police shot and killed a Black woman during a search of her home. And those riots occurred only one week after the more infamous Brixton riots, which broke out after the police shot and killed another Black woman under very similar circumstances.
Notwithstanding the alleged police brutality that triggers them, the reason riots continue to erupt in London is that political leaders fail to heed the categorical imperative to address the chronic unemployment, racial/religious discrimination, and social alienation that are the long-simmering sparks that give rise to these periodic combustions…
I fully recognize that these riots reflect a poverty of values as much as a poverty of needs. But this is what distinguishes middle-class anarchists and yobs, who riot for opportunistic fun, from poor kids, who do so to vent a lifetime of privation, victimization, alienation, and utter hopelessness…
This is why targeted and sustained socialization and assimilation programs in chronically poor neighborhoods (focusing on everything from mandatory extracurricular activities to mandatory job training) provide the only hope against these recurring riots. Or, in language UK political leaders will better understand, these amoral scavengers must be properly domesticated.
All the same, these protests in Israel are unique in at least one respect that is worthy of comment.
For, unlike Blacks in the United States, Blacks on the front lines there are not descendants of slaves Israel’s forefathers imported; and, unlike Blacks in Europe, they are not descendants of migrants from foreign countries Israel colonized.
Instead, they are the offspring of African Jews who Israel – the purported homeland of all Jews – airlifted from chronic privation and strife in Africa as an article of religious faith. In fact, Israel made such a Pharisaic show of airlifting them that it opened itself to ironic accusations of racism two years ago, when it began repatriating non-Jewish Africans.
Here, in part, is how I defended Israel back then:
Any insinuation of racism (or indeed unfair treatment) is belied by ‘Operation Moses’ – Israel’s covert evacuation of African Jews from Sudan for resettlement in Israel to escape famine in 1984; and ‘Operation Solomon’ – its equally covert evacuation of almost 15,000 African Jews from Ethiopia for resettlement in Israel to escape a looming civil war in 1991.
And let’s face it, the Israelis have enough of a challenge trying to prevent Palestinians (with their claim of a sacred ‘right of return’) from turning Israel into another Arab state, without having to worry about non-Jewish Africans creating demographic problems as well.
But frankly, given their tortured, itinerant history, who can blame these modern-day Israelites for doing everything humanly (and humanely) possible to ensure that nothing (think Iranian nukes) and nobody can threaten their ownership and control of their Promised Land.
(“Don’t Blame Israel for Repatriating Africans,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 17, 2013)
Therefore, imagine my dismay when I learned that Israel was treating these “chosen” Blacks (aka sons of the Cush) no differently than the United States treated its legacy Blacks, or Europe its colonial Blacks. A dismay that only became more acute when I read a May 3 editorial in the Jerusalem Post. For it highlighted that Black Jews demonstrate their gratitude and loyalty to Israel by enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a level of eighty-six percent, compared to White Jews – who enlist at just seventy-four percent.
Incidentally, I am also dismayed that the American media dedicated more coverage over the past few days to the inevitable breakup of Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn than to this story. To say nothing of the coverage they dedicated to the birth and naming of William and Kate’s daughter.
More importantly, though, White Israelis aping the racism of White Americans and White Europeans in this context smacks of a cardinal sin. I readily concede, however, that – if America’s founding fathers could codify their racism – Israel’s leaders might be forgiven their attempts to gentrify theirs.
To be fair, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the beating of the Black IDF soldier that triggered these protests, and assured Black Jews that those responsible will be held to account.
Except that this is the same prime minister who, just two months ago, was:
- exhorting White Jews to rush to the polls to prevent Israeli citizens of Arab descent from playing a pivotal role in national elections; and
- issuing a clarion call to European (White) Jews to come home – based on irrational fears of anti-Semitism in Europe and pursuant to his plan to offset the growth of citizens of Arab and African descent in Israel.
I duly condemned him on both accounts in “Netanyahu’s Call for Jewish Exodus more Sharpton than Moses,” February 23, 2015. More to the point, his exhortation and clarion call not only betray the institutional racism that gave rise to the beating of that uniformed Black soldier, but also explain why Black Jews are bound to regard his assurance in this case with existential skepticism.
Meanwhile, here is how the Jerusalem Post echoed (in a May 4 editorial) what I cited as the categorical imperative upon Israel to assimilate these Black Jews:
We brought Ethiopian Jews home, but now we must make them feel at home, for their sake as well as ours.
Blacks in Israel should not hold their breath, however. After all, editorials have been championing the categorical imperative of assimilating Blacks in the United States for nearly 150 years.
Therefore, until the next trigger sets off racial protests there … and over here….
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Tuesday, at 4:35 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 5:47 AM
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that purportedly celebrates the victory of a ragtag band of some 4,000 Mexicans fighters over 8,000 French soldiers on May 5, 1862.
But this historic feat seems lost on most people of Mexican heritage in the United States who mark the occasion by celebrating their culture — much in the drunken and carousing way people of Irish heritage celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Cinco de Mayo tops St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday with U.S. beer drinkers….
(Washington Times, May 4, 2015)
Alas, in recent years, the debate on illegal immigration (complete with street protests) has overshadowed all Mexican-Americans have to celebrate; not least because it invariably conjures up menacing images of swarms of poor Mexicans crossing the border.
Interestingly enough, according to an April 23, 2012, report in the Washington Post, for the first time since the Great Depression, more Mexicans are leaving the United States voluntarily than entering illegally.
So instead of continuing their indignant protests in support of their illegal brothers and sisters, perhaps my Mexican-American friends will now channel more of that energy towards celebrating their culture. And there’s no better way to do that than to use this holiday to remind Anglos of the things they all love about Mexico: tequila, Acapulco, tequila, Chichen Itza, tequila, los mariachis, tequila, Diego Rivera, tequila, Cancun, tequila, fajitas, and much more….
Monday, May 4, 2015 at 5:16 AM
Every time former VP Dick Cheney appears on TV criticizing President Obama, he comes across (unwittingly) like a condemned man pleading for political absolution. And, no time more so than when he’s criticizing Obama’s foreign policy on Iraq or Iran.
Never mind that his criticisms are invariably about as credible as those of an arsonist criticizing the way firemen are putting out the inferno he ignited.
I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president undermine a current president; I think it’s bad for the presidency for that matter.
(Washington Times, November 16, 2014)
His silence seemed a form of penance for the mortal sin of presidency, namely, the invasion of Iraq. And, maintaining it augured well for his political absolution … someday.
Not to mention reports that this silence was also Bush’s way of disassociating himself from the fiendishly unrepentant Cheney. In fact, they are reportedly no longer on speaking terms because Bush blames Cheney for misleading/goading him (Iago-like) into committing that mortal sin.
This is why it seems an act of incomprehensible recidivism (aka backsliding) for Bush to begin hurling monkey-see-monkey-do criticisms at Obama too.
Former President George W. Bush has delivered an unusual attack on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, arguing that Obama has demonstrated naiveté and bad judgment.
Bush, addressing Jewish Republican donors in Las Vegas Saturday night, said the United States needs to show it can keep its promises and he argued against lifting sanctions against Iran at this time.
(U.S. News & World Report, April 27, 2015)
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. It speaks volumes, though, that – even in his post-presidency – Bush seems unable to resist pandering to Zionist Jews and evangelical Christians. I’ll spare you my sermon on the “biblical” alliance between these two polarizing religious sects. Suffice it to consider the condescension/bigotry inherent in these Christians deeming it an article of their faith – not only to protect Jews (whom they hail as “God’s chosen people”), but also to convert them to (or religiously cleanse them for) Christianity to ensure they make it into Heaven….
In any event, the irony seems completely lost on Bush that, in criticizing Obama’s policies on Iran, he’s jumping in front of a warmongering parade composed of:
…the same coalition of crusading dunces (namely, Jewish Zionists, Christian fundamentalists, and new-world-order neo-cons) who goaded Bush into invading Iraq.
(“Obama Dissing Israeli PM Netanyahu?” The iPINIONS Journal, September 12, 2012)
Indeed, as if to remind us what a gullible political dunce he was (and still is), Bush decided to weigh in on Iran when most sane people were commemorating the twelfth anniversary of his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech on Iraq.
After all, in the years following that cruelly premature and misleading speech (on May 1, 2003):
- 149,053 civilians were killed, compared to about 7,412 prior to the speech;
- 4,637 coalition troops were killed, versus 172 prior; and
- $758 billion was wasted, versus $57 billion prior.
Incidentally, the figures above are courtesy of a Huffington Post report headlined, “‘Mission Accomplished’ Was 12 Years Ago Today,” on May 1, 2015. But, given what he accomplished in Iraq, it’s sad that Bush does not have enough sense to appreciate that he’s the last person on earth who should be advising Obama on what to do in Iran.
Except that I feel compelled to urge Bush to crawl back into his post-presidency hole to continue the penance of silence that was serving him so well; if not for his own sake, then for his brother Jeb’s.
Jeb, of course, is running to be elected president in 2016. More to the point, I suspect he’s doing so in a vain attempt to redeem the family name George W. tarnished so irreparably.
Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 9:30 AM
As the inquisitive, mischievous son of a preacher man, I was always testing my Daddy’s faith. Never more so than when I asked, with angelic sincerity, why God allows evil people to triumph over good people. He had no real answer for me back then, and I doubt he’d have one for me today.
Therefore, I’m hardly surprised that God did not answer my prayer for the good Pacquiao to triumph over the evil Mayweather in this fight:
Floyd Mayweather outboxed and outmaneuvered Manny Pacquiao to claim a unanimous points victory in the most lucrative boxing match in history Saturday, taking his unblemished professional record to 48-0 and cementing his place as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
‘I was a smart fighter, I outboxed him,’ said Mayweather, shaking off boos from the crowd which was unimpressed with his defensive style.
(CNN, May 3, 2015)
Of course, one can hardly blame so many in the arena for booing. After all, they paid a veritable fortune for what amounted to watching these fighters play a chess match.
Except that, by definition, the outcome of everything in the gambling mecca of the world is a crapshoot. Not to mention that these same suckers will be front and center for the next “fight of the century.”
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao…
Friday, May 1, 2015 at 7:19 AM
It’s hardly surprising that Saturday’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is being hyped as the biggest in Boxing history. But, to be fair, the reported $400-million purse they’ll be splitting between them justifies the hype.
Several readers have contacted me to inquire about my interest in, and pick for, this fight. This excerpt from “Márquez Knocks Out Pacquiao, ‘the Best Fighter Ever,’” December 12, 2012, should explain a lot in this regard.
I was not at all surprised when Pacquiao looked more like the journeyman fighter everyone thought Márquez was fated to be. Indeed, that Márquez knocked him out vindicates my suspicion that the one draw and two split decisions Pacquiao won in their three previous fights had more to do with judges buying into Arum’s promotional hype than with Pacquiao’s performance in the ring.
This humiliating loss was the second-consecutive one for Pacquiao. More importantly, though, it demonstrated why Pacquiao has ducked every opportunity to fight the undefeated (43-0) Mayweather – who, incidentally, dominated Márquez in their one fight in 2009.
Apropos of which, you can be forgiven for having no clue that there was (and perhaps still is) as great a demand in the Boxing world for a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight as there ever has been for any fight in history. But there can be no doubt now that Mayweather would put an even bigger ass whoopin’ on Pacquiao than Márquez did on Saturday night.
If I were Mayweather, though, I would not even dignify Pacquiao by stepping into the ring with him at this point. In fact, Pacquiao might want to have a heart-to-heart chat with Roberto Duran for insight on the ignominious fate that awaits him if he does not retire, immediately.
Meanwhile, does anybody know who the world heavyweight champion is these days? Does anybody care…?
Ironically, Wladimir Klitschko defended his heavyweight title for the eighteenth time on Saturday night at Madison Square against challenger Bryant Jennings.
But nothing indicates what little interest this fight generated quite like Sunday papers providing far more coverage of the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, to say nothing of the Nepalese earthquake, than of this fight. Did you even know about it…? I digress….
The point is that I would have been as excited as any Boxing fan if this Pacquiao-Mayweather fight were happening in 2009. But it’s years late … even if not dollars short.
Apropos of which, my disregard for Pacquiao’s boxing these days is surpassed only by my disrespect for Mayweather’s lifestyle. For chances are that the only thing most people know about Mayweather stems not from how he displays his Boxing skills in the ring, but from how he flaunts his personal wealth on social media.
Indeed, most of you — who probably know how many million-dollar mansions, exotic cars, and expensive watches Mayweather owns — probably have no clue how many fights he has won. For the record, he’s 47-0.
But it’s one thing for him to celebrate his first big payday by frolicking in millions of dollars on his bed. It’s quite another for him to not only continue doing so after every fight, but begin posting images of every indulgence of his look-at-me-I’m-so-rich life on social media for all the world to see. Never mind that he studiously avoids sharing images of the battered faces of the women he gets off on abusing, having been convicted five times for battering four different women.
This, of course, is far more damning of the voyeuristic/prurient interests of the millions who follow him than it is of Mayweather’s ostentatious/abusive lifestyle. To say nothing of the corporate sponsors and advisers who would countenance anything he does, as long as they can continue reaping profits as members of his The Money Team (TMT).
Mind you, I fully appreciate that, but for Mayweather’s postings on social media (complete with vine videos of him “making it rain” dollar bills at one strip club after another), there would probably be less interest in, and prize money for, his fights than Klitschko’s. And, like all of the Toms, Dicks, and Harrys thriving on reality TV theses days, Floyd knows this all too well.
Incidentally, some commentators are making quite a show of denouncing Mayweather as an abuser of women while doggedly lobbying for a ringside seat to watch this fight. By instructive contrast, I won’t even support this serial abuser by forking over the $100 to watch on pay per view, let alone the $10,000 or more to watch ringside. I’ll read about it the morning papers — just as I do every other overnight spectacle/tragedy.
In any event, and with all due respect to the promoters, I see this as a fight between “good” Pacquiao as the self-professed Christian crusader, and “evil” Mayweather as the self-styled mammon forager. And, in such a fight, what mortal dare root for mammon?
Accordingly, here’s to Pacquiao so humiliating him in the ring that Mayweather dare not show his smug face, to say nothing of his obscene and profligate wealth, on social media ever again. And may God help him, because – as I delineated in my excerpt above – Pacquiao will not stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of beating Mayweather on his own.
Márquez Knocks out…
* This commentary was originally published on Monday, April 27, at 3:33 p.m.
Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 5:19 AM
Here, in part, is what I wrote in “A Black James Bond? No, Hell No!” December 26, 2014, after leaked e-mails revealed that Sony executives were considering Black actor Idris Elba to play Bond after Daniel Craig ends his stint. And please note the alternatives I proffered.
Frankly, casting a Black actor would require too much suspension of disbelief for anyone who knows anything about the zeitgeist in which Bond was born, and still thrives; to say nothing of the wanton disrespect to Fleming’s oeuvre, or the insult to reasonable expectations of existing fans it would entail…
I prefer to emphasize my opposition by noting that Idris Elba playing James Bond would be every bit as ludicrous as Michael Fassbender playing John Shaft, despite rumors that he might be anatomically correct for the part in at least one respect.
What’s more, I refuse to believe, and Elba should be loath to affirm, that it is so untenable for Hollywood to create iconic Black characters that it has to cast Black actors to play firmly established White ones…
Instead of playing along, Elba should at least challenge Sony executives to greenlight a Bond-like character for him to play…
Indeed, if Hollywood has become so bereft of creativity, Sony executives could turn John Luther, the detective Elba popularized on TV, into a movie star to rival James Bond or Jason Bourne. Hell, they could even introduce him as John Luther 009, the mysterious, unnamed MI6 agent Fleming refers to in Thunderball. (Contrary to popular belief, agents 001 through 007 are already named characters.)
But Elba as Bond? No, hell no!
That established, Roger Moore is easily my least favorite James Bond. Yet I felt in sympatico with him last month when Twitter trolls laid siege to his octogenarian élan. They did so because Moore dared to assert that no Black actor should ever play 007:
Although James may have been played by a Scot, a Welshman and an Irishman, I think he should be English-English. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting idea, but unrealistic.
(The Guardian, March 30, 2015)
The obvious irony, of course, is that – even in saying this – Moore was too politically correct to say, “…he should be [White].” (English-English…?)
Anyway, Live and Let Die is my favorite of Moore’s Bond films. Not because of the derring-dos he performed (or the snarky one liners he delivered), mind you. Rather, because of the tantric appeal of the Bond girl it featured, namely, Jane Seymour as the very titillating ingénue Solitaire.
More to the point, though, this film also featured the most interesting of all of the villains Moore’s Bond faced, namely, Yaphet Kotto as the very menacing Mr. Big.
How ironic, therefore, that no less a person than Kotto, who happens to be Black, came to Moore’s defense.
Political correctness be damned, we have to stay with what is literally correct. [Bond] was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors…
Play 003 or 006 but you cannot be 007.
(The Independent, April 9, 2015)
I could not agree more with Kotto. Well, except that — as I duly noted in the excerpt above — Fleming established 003 and 006 as equally “English-English” characters.
If Bond producers have any sense, this really should settle the matter.
A black bond…
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at 6:02 AM
Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, seriously injuring several police officers and leaving a store and several vehicles in flames.
At least seven police officers were injured in a clash that began near Mondawmin Mall and spread toward downtown…
Demonstrators pelted officers with rocks, bricks and bottles and assaulted a photojournalist…
(The Baltimore Sun, April 27, 2015)
The above describes the still–unfolding fallout from the killing of Freddie Gray, a Black man who died last week, after having his spine “nearly severed,” while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland.
But I’ve written too many instructive commentaries on the fallout from the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to count. Therefore, I fear writing another on this latest outbreak of misguided violence would be tantamount to beating the proverbial dead horse.
No case of police brutality justifies looting and vandalism. Period. Not least because the anger and frustration among Blacks today pale in comparison to that which simmered among Blacks during the Civil Rights Movement. Yet the only barbarism on display during their protests came not from Black marchers looting and vandalizing stores, when they weren’t taunting the police, but from White cops willfully attacking them as they marched peacefully and non-violently.
Is there any wonder that people (Black and White) have as much contempt for these marauding Black protesters today as they had for those mauling White cops back then?
(“Killing of Michael Brown: as much about Resisting Arrest as about Police Brutality,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 12, 2014)
Not to mention that, far from having anything to do with outrage over police brutality, the violence in this case was orchestrated – through social-media clarion calls – to act out scenes from The Purge, a movie about what happens when people are given free reign to commit any crime without fear of arrest.
But imagine the mentality of knuckleheads using the menace of police brutality as a pretext to menace their own neighborhoods – by, among other things, looting and torching pharmacies and other businesses.
We gave those who wish to destroy space to do so.
(WJZ Baltimore, April 27, 2015)
This, believe it or not, is how Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake responded. Hell, one could be forgiven the suspicion that it was she who initiated that clarion call to “purge”. Talk about the insane running the asylum. Nothing indicates how surreal/absurd things have become in this respect quite like Black leaders propagating the fiction that it’s racist to refer to the thugs who looted stores and assaulted the police as … “thugs.”
I fear that the lesson most young Black men are learning from this tragedy is that they can resist arrest — so long as they shout the newfangled slogan, ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ while doing so. Clearly, this will only lead to more of them ending up like Michael…
Instead of doublespeak that would make him a saint, those eulogizing Michael would honor his death far more by admonishing young Black men against the deadly hazards of resisting arrest and defying authority … merely as a misguided badge of honor or rite of passage.
(“Why Chastise the Times for Describing Michael Brown as ‘No Angel’? The iPINIONS Journal, August 26, 2014)
But am I the only one who wonders how the parents of these wilding kids are going to feel when it dawns on them that their prescriptions – for hypertension and other stress-related maladies – went up in flames with that CVS Pharmacy…? I cannot lament too often this self-immolating feature of the violence and looting these so-called civil rights protesters are perpetrating.
In any event, God help Baltimore: save it from its lawless youth … and clueless mayor.
NOTE: Every time a White cop kills an unarmed Black man in the United States these days, the media stoke passions … to generate ratings. (Oh right, “Black lives matter!”) But it might help to bear in mind that, according statistics compiled by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, White cops kill many more unarmed White men than unarmed Black men on an annual basis. (So, White lives don’t matter?)
From Michael Brown to Walter Scott…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Monday, at 8:13 p.m.
Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 9:34 AM
A powerful earthquake struck Nepal Saturday, killing [2,200 people and counting] across four countries as the violently shaking earth collapsed houses, leveled centuries-old temples and triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest. It was the worst tremor to hit the poor South Asian nation in over 80 years.
(Al Jazeera, April 25, 2015)
This earthquake registered a 7.8 magnitude at its epicenter just northwest of Kathmandu. But, sadly, its aftershocks will continue far and wide for years. Not least because Nepal’s economy relies heavily on tourists trekking across and climbing up its affected Himalayan mountain range.
In the meantime, millions have been displaced or left homeless….
Earthquakes and other natural disasters should always remind us that there but for the grace of God… But there’s no denying that living in a relatively rich country increases one’s chance of surviving and recovering from such disasters tremendously…
It’s bad enough that accident of birth can consign one to a life of chronic poverty. It just seems unfair that even the wrath of Mother Nature affects the poor so disproportionately.
(“Killer earthquakes: First Haiti, now Chile,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 2, 2010)
Frankly, beyond urging you to donate to relief and recovery efforts here, I see no point in commenting any further.
My prayers and thoughts go out to all of the Godforsaken people affected … this time.
Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 2:37 PM
‘100 YEARS OF DENIAL’
Today is Armenian Remembrance Day. It commemorates the killing of approximately 1.5 million people in Turkey, by Young Turks, from 1915-23.
Despite Turkey’s impassioned insistence that there was no genocide, instead labeling the Armenians as casualties of warfare and traitors who tried to bring down the Ottoman Empire, Armenians are making sure the legacy of those killed lives on. With only a small number of genocide survivors still alive, their kin are passing on the history in hopes that such a massacre will never happen again.
(Huffington Post, April 21 2015)
In fact, here’s to Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation for not only ‘making audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses,” but also commemorating this 100th anniversary with “30 Days of Testimony to the Armenian Genocide” … beginning today.
But can you imagine the international outrage (and backlash) if Germany had premised much of its diplomatic relations on lobbying countries to deny the Jewish Holocaust. Yet that’s precisely what Turkey has done with respect to the Armenian Genocide. (Which makes China premising much of its diplomatic relations on lobbying countries to deny the Dalai Lama seem rather innocuous, no?)
What is almost as outrageous, though, is that, ever since Turkey joined NATO in 1952, every Turkish leader has used its geo-strategic importance to prevail upon every U.S. president to collude in efforts to deny this genocide. But the greater is Obama’s shame. After all, as a presidential candidate, he made quite a show of promising to recognize the Armenian Genocide, just as he promised to recognize the Cuban government.
This is why Obama’s collusion in this denial warrants as much condemnation as his initiative to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba deserves commendation.
That said, let me hasten to confess that I have evolved in my thinking on this issue. When I first wrote about it eight years ago, I distinguished between an American president using the word “genocide” to describe the atrocities, and a U.S. Congress passing a resolution to this effect – with all of the political and legal consequences that would entail.
Here, in part, is what I wrote in “U.S. Congress Set to Condemn Turkey for Disputed Armenian Genocide,” October 15, 2007.
For decades, the U.S. has lauded Turkey as a NATO ally (even more reliable than France), and as a decidedly pro-Western Muslim country that shares its democratic values…
But now Turkey’s political leaders and, more troubling, its military generals are warning of irreparable harm and dire consequences — if Congress passes a resolution condemning Turkey for the alleged genocide of 1.5 million Armenians during WWI. These could include disrupting critical operations at Incirlik and disregarding America’s standing request to refrain from engaging Kurdish ‘terrorists’ across the border in Northern Iraq…
[E]ven if the genocide at issue is an historical fact (and I’ve read enough to believe that it is), the U.S. has no compelling interest in passing this political resolution…
[D]espite longstanding resistance, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan insists that his government now welcomes a thorough examination of this festering historical wound. Moreover, that if the facts conclude that a genocide was committed, he is prepared to accept full responsibility on behalf of all Turks…
So why is Congress going ahead with this resolution, which is scheduled for a floor vote ‘sometime before November 15’, despite the clear and present damage it poses? (Not to mention the absurdity of its members making a proclamation about events that occurred during World War I, when the vast majority of the people they represent barely know what occurred during World War II.)
Alas, the reason is as venal and simplistic as the prime minister insinuated. After all, despite being ‘strongly urged’ against it by a bipartisan group of former Secretaries of State, including Madeleine K. Albright, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Alexander M. Haig Jr., Henry A. Kissinger, Colin L. Powell, and George P. Shultz, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful and influential member of Congress, is determined to whip up support amongst clueless Democrats to pass this resolution.
And she’s doing so merely to honor an old campaign pledge to the ‘persuasive’ Armenian lobby that represents a critical mass of Armenian-American voters in her home state of California.
Accordingly, as far as Pelosi is concerned, U.S. military interest in, and political goodwill towards, Turkey be damned. Because the undying will of California’s Armenians to settle this historic score, at least in the U.S. Congress, must be done…?
Incidentally, the Kardashians, arguably the most famous people in the Armenian diaspora, made a state visit to their homeland earlier this month. Pelosi’s political pandering/opportunism is such that I’m surprised she didn’t tag along to bask in their reflected glow. But I digress….
The point is that I now believe there’s only a specious difference in the distinction I drew between a president and Congress with respect to describing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide. Further, that – just as Germany duly acknowledged the Jewish Holocaust and suffered the political and legal consequences (including monetary reparations and property reclamations) – Turkey should duly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and suffer the political and legal consequences too … whatever they entail.
In any event, Obama should seize his last opportunity as president — on the occasion of the 101st commemoration in 2016 — to end this tail-wagging-the-dog-charade, and call this spade a spade. Not least because, with U.S. soldiers now playing a more advisory role in Afghanistan, Turkey no longer holds any significant leverage over their operations there. Never mind that the United States could have called Turkey’s bluff years ago — given that Turkey has always needed U.S.-led NATO more than vice versa.
Meanwhile, the United Nations passed a resolution in 1948 declaring the atrocities at issue a genocide. Alas, France and Russia are among far too few countries that have followed suit. No doubt most are waiting for the United States, which, despite Pelosi’s best efforts, has yet to do so.
I urge you to visit Shoah’s Armenian archive here.
U.S. Congress Armenian genocide…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Friday, at 3:49 pm
Friday, April 24, 2015 at 5:17 AM
We are surprised and dismayed that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons would permit Dr. Mehmet Oz to occupy a faculty appointment, let alone a senior administrative position in the Department of Surgery.
(CBS News, April 16, 2015)
I was not surprised last week when a group of prominent doctors called on Columbia University to fire Dr. Mehmet Oz. This opening quote is from the letter they sent to Dr. Lee Goldman, Columbia’s Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine. Most notably, they cite Oz’s mercenary “disdain for science and evidence-based medicine” as he peddles quack treatments and cures to hook TV viewers.
Nor was I surprised yesterday when Oz betrayed what an incorrigible quack he is by using his show to defend his quackery. For, instead of citing any scientific basis for the health benefits he touts, he presented himself as a victim of professional bullies trying to stifle his constitutional right to freedom of speech.
Except that, just last summer, Senator Claire McCaskill indicted Oz in similar fashion. Significantly, the occasion was a congressional hearing on protecting consumers from snake oil salesmen making false and misleading claims about weight-loss products.
Here is what was, perhaps, their most telling and damning exchange:
McCaskill: I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true… When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show?… The scientific community is almost monolithically against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles’.
Oz: My job, I feel on the show, is to be a cheerleader for the audience. And when they don’t think they have hope, when they don’t think they can make it happen, I want to look everywhere including alternative healing traditions for any evidence that might be supported to them (sic).
(Salon, June 18, 2014)
Now I ask you: Do you think anyone would be tuning in to his show if it were called The Mr. Oz Cheerleading Show for Fat People…? No, the reason he’s getting away with this brazen form of exploitation is that he holds himself out as a doctor on his Dr. Oz Show – with all the duties and expectations doing so entails. This, notwithstanding the disclaiming wizardry his name implies….
Frankly, Columbia should have fired Oz based solely on his congressional testimony. For Oz can say nothing to bring its Faculties of Health Science and Medicine into greater disrepute than the gibberish he muttered during this hearing.
More to the point, Oz is violating his Hippocratic Oath; to say nothing of ruining his professional reputation. And claiming that he passionately believes in the products he peddles only adds insult to the harm he’s causing.
But let me hasten to clarify that McCaskill’s righteous indignation had nothing to do with Oz’s commendable advocacy for better labeling of genetically modified organisms in food (aka GMO foods), which I fully support.
That said, I just happened to preempt the denunciations of his fellow doctors and McCaskill by denouncing Oz in “Dr. Oz in Fat Suit?! Why Not in Blackface, Doctor? February 5, 2014.
I expected better of Dr. Oz. Not least because he knows or should know that skinny people pretending to be fat for a few hours is probably even more insulting to fat people than skinny people hurling fat jokes at them. And the psychosocial harm done by having no less a person than this highly reputable doctor ape them like this is immeasurable…
What’s more, if he were truly interested in fat people’s real-life experiences, and not just in his TV ratings, Oz would’ve outfitted one of them with hidden cameras to garner authentic reactions from the public. Again, just imagine the public condemnation if he had donned blackface ‘to experience first-hand what it’s really like’ for Black people to be stopped and frisked on the streets or racially profiled in high-end stores.
Accordingly, I accuse Dr. Oz of violating his Hippocratic Oath with his fat-suit gimmick. Especially because one does not have to be a wizard to know that he was thinking far more about his TV ratings than about any patient’s health.
Meanwhile, you’d think Oz would have learned from the hit Dr. Phil took 10 years ago. Back then, disaffected fans sued him for misleading and defrauding them with his “Shape Up!” diet program – complete with the same kinds of useless weight-loss products Oz is now peddling. Dr. Phil ended up paying $10 million to settle all claims. And, to his credit, he never asserted any free-speech right to peddle his products.
Indeed, it speaks volumes that neither censure by the Senate nor excommunication by his colleagues has chastened Oz. In point of fact, he has become so enamored of his growing fame (and fortune), he probably thinks mere jealousy is motivating other doctors to ruin him.
This is why, just as it was with Dr. Phil, it will take a lawsuit by disaffected fans to get Oz to stop peddling weight-loss products that take more weight off their pocketbooks than their bodies.
In the meantime, here’s to more doctors coming out of the woodwork to accuse him of “disdain for science and evidence-based medicine” – as a group of his fellow members of the Columbia faculty did just yesterday. For this will likely have the same impact on his career as so many women coming out of the woodwork to accuse Bill Cosby of rape is having on his.