Friday, November 20, 2015 at 6:18 AM
Wednesday, November 18, 2015 at 8:58 AM
No doubt Russia needed to retaliate after ISIS blew up a Russian plane, killing 224.
No doubt France needed to do the same after ISIS terrorized Paris, killing 129.
The problem is that both Russia and France have retaliated in a manner that will do nothing to stop ISIS followers from launching similar attacks … or war-stricken Syrians from seeking refuge in Europe.
Russia pounds ISIS with biggest bomber raid in decades…
Putin’s air force just used its nuclear bombers to lay waste to the capital of the ‘Islamic State.’
The Tuesday mission, which launched under the cover of darkness from a base in Ossetia in southern Russia, signaled a significant escalation of Moscow’s air war in Syria…
(Daily Beast, November 17, 2015)
Frankly, this retaliation is too cynical, callous, and cowardly for narrative commentary. So here are just a few points to bear in mind, all of which I’ve been proselytizing, like John the Baptist, for years in such commentaries as “Demystifying ISIS: Case against Obama’s Bush-lite War on Terrorism,” September 10, 2014, and “Obama Amassing a Coalition of the Willing to Do in Syria What Bush Did in Afghanistan/Iraq,” September 30, 2015.
- Hailing Russia’s retaliation as “shock and awe — on steroids” ignores that it took hundreds of thousands of troops invading, not hundreds of jets bombing, for the United States to win its pyrrhic victory in Iraq.
- Criticizing the United States for having little to show after bombing ISIS for over a year ignores that the United States deems it as unconscionable as it is counterproductive to get off on killing thousands of women and children in a vain attempt to kill a few ISIS combatants.
- Presuming to take the fight to Muslim Jihadists by dropping bombs from 50,000 feet is every bit as cowardly as presuming to take the fight to Western infidels by attacking concert halls, sports stadiums, and restaurants.
- Bombing ISIS back to the medieval times its cult leaders seem to prefer will not stop followers from blowing up planes and/or opening fire in crowded venues. (If you see something, say something! Of course, you’d have to stop looking at your dumbphone for a second….) The best we can do is to continually kill those who assume leadership of the so-called Caliphate, thereby limiting the organizing and galvanizing role they play in getting others to execute the kinds of attacks we saw in Paris and Beirut last week.
- Retaliating in this indiscriminate fashion actually serves the interests of ISIS leaders — whose diabolical mission is to provoke a holy war between their followers and, well, everyone else in the world. But it also serves the interests of arms merchants — whose diabolical mission is to profit off the continual waging of war.
- Staking out safe zones in Syria and Iraq will not only stem the flow of refugees into Europe but also provide a base from which Western ground forces could launch strategic incursions – to kill ISIS leaders and enemy combatants instead of hapless Syrians unable to flee. Russia and France should join forces with the United States and its coalition partners to implement this strategy. All else is feckless folly, with all due respect to the heroic Kurds.
- Defending safe zones for these limited purposes should have nothing to do with never-ending sectarian wars for control of Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria, or with training and equipping any one sect to fight the others. We should leave warring Muslim sects, as well as their affiliated terrorist groups (from al-Qaeda to ISIS and all variations in between), to their own devices, intervening only when necessary to contain their menace. Just as we generally leave warring African tribes to theirs (whether they’re engaged in tribal/religious conflicts or terrorist insurgencies).
Beyond these points, it behooves France to consider what portends for its national character if it becomes to Russia in Syria the poodle Britain became to America in Iraq.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 7:56 AM
Mixed Martial Arts fighting (MMA) is arguably even more barbaric than cockfighting or dogfighting – as Michael Vick might contend. Therefore, only the animalistic part of my nature explains why I am such a big fan. (At least Boxing purports to be “the sweet science of bruising.”)
But, because of its barbarity, some might find it ironic that MMA’s biggest star is a woman, Ronda Rousey. In fact, the media hype surrounding her in recent years was such that Herodotusian tales of her fighting prowess rivaled Lachaisean images of Kim Kardashian’s butt.
More to the point, one could not help thinking of Rousey as being to MMA what Mike Tyson (in his heyday) was to Boxing. For, like Tyson’s back then, the only suspense her fights held was in the amount of time her opponents could survive before tapping out.
Then came Saturday:
Holly Holm scored a savage, utterly shocking headkick knockout over Ronda Rousey last night (Sat., Nov. 14, 2015) in the second round of the UFC 193 main event, which took place inside Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
It was a jaw-dropping finish…
Holm handed the unstoppable Rousey — UFC’s most dominant champion and its biggest star — the first professional loss of her fantastic career.
(MMA Mania, SB Nation, November 15, 2015)
Frankly, shocking is an understatement. But I hasten to note here that, even though her team rushed her to hospital after the fight, the wound to her pride turned out to be the deepest one of all.
Of course, the reason this knockout was so shocking is that media hype had even MMA analysts spouting nonsense about Rousey being so domineering she could beat any male MMA fighter in her weight class. Remarkably, even Rousey bought into her own hype. I, however, did not – as this excerpt from “Women in Combat: Hail ‘Woman Power’ Rangers,” August 19, 2015, attests.
I have celebrated every small step women have taken over the years towards integrating professions traditionally reserved for men. And I could not be more pleased to celebrate their latest. Not least because, with all due respect to Tysonesque MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, it demonstrates that women are just as capable of performing in armed combat as men…
I reference Rousey in this context because, as reported on the August 12 edition of ESPN’s Sports Center, she’s now claiming that she can beat any man, including reigning boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, in a ‘no-rules fight’ – whatever that means (knives allowed?).
But this makes a mockery of woman-power aspirations. After all, it’s one thing for a 29-year-old Billie Jean King to challenge a 55-year-old Bobby Riggs to a Tennis match in a ‘Battle of the Sexes.’ It’s quite another for Rousey to challenge Mayweather to a street fight. Especially given that her bull-in-China-shop style of fighting would be no match even for a female MMA fighter with just one half of Mayweather’s ability to stick and move and counterpunch; you know, the tactics journeyman Buster Douglas used to knock out invincible Mike Tyson.
Rousey clearly thinks she’s invincible too. But this one-trick pony will have to show me a lot more than ‘the armbar submission’ before I buy into her media hype.
Mind you, even though she too was undefeated going into this fight, I had no idea Holly Holm would be Ronda Rousey’s Buster Douglas. I just knew it was only a matter of time before a fighter with bona fide Boxing skills exposed her obvious weaknesses.
That said, my title alludes to ring announcer Howard Cosell’s famous exclamations in 1973, when George Foreman knocked out Joe Frazier. And my excerpt features Mayweather and Tyson. But I don’t mind admitting that I’m heavily invested in the hype about Muhammad Ali being the greatest boxer of all time.
Ali sealed his legendary status in 1964, when he shocked the world by knocking out Sonny Liston. I fear Rousey may have ceded hers on Saturday, when Holm shocked the world by knocking her out.
Meanwhile, Rousey could not have known what karma she triggered when she did this:
[Rousey], who was defeated for the first time in her career on Saturday, ignored the referee’s call to make the sporting gesture [of touching gloves with Holm] at the beginning of the encounter.
Instead the 28 year old turned away, put her fists up and prepared to fight.
(UK Daily Mail, November 16, 2015)
No doubt Rousey thought this opening stunt would enhance the badass image she has tried so hard to cultivate. But it only enhances my glee that Holm proceeded to knock her on her ass.
By the way, I fully appreciate that many of you probably don’t know your MMA from your HSA. But to get a sense of my schadenfreude over Rousey’s comeuppance, just imagine the glee you, or any sensible person, would feel if Donald Trump suddenly began polling dead last in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
As it happened, though, wall-to-wall media coverage of the terrorist attacks in Paris spared Rousey much of the public humiliation she should have suffered – her deeply wounded pride notwithstanding.
Monday, November 16, 2015 at 5:53 AM
Chances are very good that, like virtually everyone else, you found some way to express solidarity with and sympathy for the people of Paris after Islamic terrorists launched deadly attacks there on Friday, killing 129.
But chances are equally good that, like virtually everyone else, you did not do the same for the people of Beirut after Islamic terrorists launched deadly attacks there on Thursday, killing 40. And the New York Times wants to lay a guilt trip on you, and everyone else, for failing to do so.
Except that, no matter how well-intentioned, its article in yesterday’s edition – headlined “Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten” – reeks of the fallacy of emotional, ethical, and/or political equivalency.
Here is a poignant excerpt.
The consecutive rampages, both claimed by the Islamic State, inspired feelings of shared, even global vulnerability — especially in Lebanon, where many expressed shock that such chaos had reached France, a country they regarded as far safer than their own.
But for some in Beirut, that solidarity was mixed with anguish over the fact that just one of the stricken cities — Paris — received a global outpouring of sympathy akin to the one lavished on the United States after the 9/11 attacks…
‘When my people died, no country bothered to light up its landmarks in the colors of their flag,’ Elie Fares, a Lebanese doctor, wrote on his blog.
Of course, this disparate reaction stems from the fact that, not so long ago, terrorist attacks were as common in Beirut as they are in Baghdad today. Whereas 9/11 was the first time the United States had been attacked since WWII; and Friday’s attacks were the most deadly in France since, well, WWII too.
This is why Westerners could be forgiven for allowing concern for victims of the attacks in Paris to overwhelm whatever concern they had for victims of the attacks in Beirut – assuming they even knew about the latter. To be fair, the Times alludes to this forgiveness. But one can’t help but liken its take to specious complaints about Obama issuing presidential statements on occasional mass murders (in cities like Charleston), but not on daily single murders (in others like Chicago).
Clearly, with all due respect to Blacks in the vanguard of civil rights protests in America today, Arab lives matter … all lives matter. But I suspect even the people of Beirut would be hard-pressed to remember when, if ever, they expressed solidarity with and sympathy for the people of Baghdad, Kabul, or any of far too many stricken cities in Africa after terrorists launched deadly attacks there.
Incidentally, U2 headlined an A-list of entertainers who canceled performances over the weekend. Madonna was a notable exception. She insisted that she was not going to let terrorists stop her and her fans from having a good time.
Except that Bono would surely inform Madonna that his cancelation had nothing to do with the terrorists. It was just a way of expressing solidarity with and sympathy for the people of Paris, and of holding a grand moment of silence for the dead. Perhaps it’s too much to expect this egocentric material girl to relate to all that. But, just as Paris will return to business as usual this week, U2 and others will return to the stage.
In any event, please forgive us for overlooking you, Beirut. And please know that, the Times notwithstanding, to some of us, you are far from forgotten.
Attacks on Paris…
Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 7:03 AM
Islamic terrorists perpetrated a series of coordinated attacks in Paris tonight, in a manner eerily similar to attacks they perpetrated in January (in retaliation for French magazine Charlie Hebdo publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad).
The sites targeted include a soccer stadium, where President Hollande was among tens of thousands watching a match between France and Germany, two popular cafes, and a concert hall.
Reports are that as many as 60 are confirmed dead, and that the terrorists were yelling, “Allahu akbar, this is for Syria!”
A hostage situation is continuing at a concert hall [involving as many as 100 hostages]…
French President Francois Hollande, in an address to the nation, said he had declared a state of emergency, meaning borders will be closed.
(CNN, November 13, 2015)
Unsurprisingly, like moths to a flame, terrorism experts are all over TV providing pedestrian speculation about who these terrorists are and why they attacked. Never mind that knowing who and why, in this age of terrorism, will do nothing to stop the next attack. In fact, experts are merely repeating much of what they said after similar attacks in London in 2005 and Mumbai in 2008.
It must be understood that no matter their collective resolve, there’s absolutely nothing our governments can do to prevent such attacks. That Americans reacted yesterday as if those explosions went off in Washington or New York should compel Westerners to focus on calming our collective nerves, instead of fretting about (or worse, trying to figure out) the motivation for and timing of terrorist attacks by Islamic fanatics.
(“7/7 Terror Attacks in London,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 8, 2005)
Nothing demonstrates how spooked we all are these days quite like President Obama issuing a press statement on these attacks in Paris even before Hollande had a chance to.
Especially given that he did this while terrorists were still inside the concert hall slaughtering over 100 hostages in a manner that would make Jihadi John proud. And don’t get me started on the hundreds of Special Forces who were standing by, with their big guns cocked right outside the concert hall, as terrorist gunfire and hostage screams could be heard inside. What the hell were they waiting for … direct orders from Hollande?!
But imagine what it portends if just eight terrorists can force an entire country like France into a complete lockdown. Hell, you’d think they were the second coming of the German Luftwaffe….
Mind you, I warned it would be thus:
God help us if al-Qaeda ever decided to emulate this feat by coordinating 10 similar bombings, at 10 football stadiums, in the 10 biggest cities in America, all on a typical Saturday in the fall, when they’re packed with over 100,000 people watching college football games. Not only would the carnage be 1,000 times more devastating, but based on the reaction to this terrorist attack, law-enforcement authorities would have to lockdown not just the airports as they did on 9/11, but the entire friggin’ country, no?
(“Manhunt for Bombers Turning Boston into Theater of the Absurd,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 19, 2013)
Meanwhile, what, pray tell, is the point of deploying military troops on the streets of France to fight cells of jihadi suicide bombers you can’t identify, and who can strike at times and places entirely of their own choosing. Not to mention that such deployments always seem ass-backwards; you know, like closing the barn door after the horses have escaped.
Except of course that they seem to provide a little (misguided) comfort to terror-stricken people.
Whereas it should be self-evident, especially after bombing al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups for over a decade now, that our only hope is aggressive surveillance, including profiling, to short-circuit these terrorist cells before they detonate in the heart of our cities.
This, notwithstanding that useful idiot, Edward Snowden, still sounding false alarms about a “police state,” while living like a glorified fugitive in one (Russia); to say nothing of national leaders acting as if such surveillance is a greater threat to Western civilization than Islamic terrorism. I have decried this self-deluding and self-defeating fallacy in many commentaries, including most recently in “More Evidence Snowden Leaks Undermining Global Security,” June 16, 2015.
Indeed, these latest attacks in Paris should put into sobering, foreboding perspective the handwringing that forced the NSA to scale back its collection of bulk data. But I repeat my plea for you to consider the manifest absurdity of a social media company like Facebook conducting more intrusive surveillance to sell you stuff than a security agency like the NSA does to keep you safe.
Sadly, though, all that seems really worth saying after attacks like these is: There but for the grace of God go … we.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of those who perished, as well as to all the terrorized people of France.
NOTE: According to latest reports, this morning after, there are at least 129 dead and over 350 injured. After killing 80 at the concert hall while yelling, “Allahu akbar, this is for Syria!,” three terrorists blew themselves up when Special Forces finally stormed in.
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Friday, at 6:43 p.m.
Friday, November 13, 2015 at 6:51 AM
And it’s only a matter of time before they infect the other third….
More than 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 – or 67% of the population – are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) [which] is also an important cause of genital herpes…
[E]stimates reveal that over half a billion people between the ages of 15-49 years have genital infection caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2.
(World Health Organization, October 28, 2015)
Hollywood is ‘gripped with fear’ after a womanizing Tinseltown A-Lister has been diagnosed positive for HIV — panicking his long list of sexual partners, according to a published report…
The actor’s list of exes includes ‘an award-winning actress, a religious movie star, a top Hollywood personality with a controversial past, a TV star, a media personality and a glamour model.’
(New York Post, November 11, 2015)
Here, according to the WHO, is how frequently this scourge rears its ugly head in select regions around the world:
- Americas: 178 million women (49%), 142 million men (39%)
- Africa: 350 million women (87%), 355 million men (87%)
- Eastern Mediterranean: 188 million women (75%), 202 million men (75%)
- Europe: 207 million women (69%), 187 million men (61%)
- South-East Asia: 432 million women (59%), 458 million men (58%)
- Western Pacific: 488 million women (74%), 521 million men (73%)
So beware … take care!
Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 2:17 PM
Political dysfunction, economic stagnation, and civil strife on the Dark Continent are such that Africans will continue to risk life and limb to seek a better life. For, just as no legal barrier or risk of drowning in the Caribbean Sea has stemmed the tide of Haitian migrants setting off for America, no legal barrier or risk of drowning in the Mediterranean Sea will stem the tide of African migrants setting off for Europe.
(“Lampedusa Tragedy Highlights Europe’s ‘Haitian’ Problem,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 7, 2013)
The European Union has been forced to drop controversial plans to deport failed asylum seekers who do not have passports after African countries blocked the move.
European leaders offered more than £1billion in aid in a bid to persuade their African counterparts to take back tens of thousands of illegal migrants.
But a migration summit in Valletta, Malta, descended into farce after the Africans rejected the EU plan….
(UK Daily Mail, November 12, 2015)
Instead, African leaders insisted that they would use this aid to foster stability, promote economic opportunities, and manage migration, particularly in countries like Senegal, Eritrea, and Libya whence most African migrants are fleeing.
Except that this £1billion is on top of the £20 billion the EU wastes every year trying to help Africa redress the root causes of such chronic struggles as poverty, ethnic conflict, disease, and political dysfunction that compel migration. Which is why only a fool can believe this additional aid will do anything to stem the tide of African migrants washing up daily on European shores. Talk about throwing good money after bad!
That said, for a little context, it shall redound to America’s eternal shame that it refused entry to Jews seeking refuge from the Holocaust in Germany.
By instructive contrast, it shall redound to Europe’s eternal salvation that it is trying to assimilate Africans seeking refuge from all manner of strife in Africa. Especially considering the even more heroic efforts Europe is putting forth to assimilate Arabs seeking refuge from sectarian wars in the Middle East. And, this salvation is assured notwithstanding some eastern European countries (like Hungary) building walls of xenophobic resistance.
But it shall surely redound to Africa’s even greater shame that it is refusing re-entry to Africans needing resettlement. Never mind that shame is a corrective emotion Africa seems completely bereft of.
Apropos of which, I cannot overstate this:
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)
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 1:52 PM
A colleague astonished me yesterday when she asked, “What’s the deal with that red flower?” Specifically, she wanted to know why Prince William, Kate Middleton, and so many other Brits are wearing a poppy on their lapels these days.
For me, though, this was rather like a colleague asking, “What’s the deal with that pink ribbon?” You know, the one people wear throughout the month of October….
After all, for the edification of those of you who have no clue, people wear the poppy from late October to early November (primarily) to remember those who died in WWI, which began 100 years ago this year. The peace treaty to end this war was reportedly signed at 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
This is why 11:11/11 is generally observed as Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day).
That said, for a little appreciation of my (perhaps too parochial) astonishment over the fact that my colleague did not know what the poppy symbolizes, please consider this:
“In Flanders Fields”, which was inspired by the death of one soldier during WWI, has evolved over the years into an elegy on all war dead.
My primary school teacher taught me to recite it with the same reverence with which my Sunday school teacher taught me to recite “The Lord’s Prayer.”
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
(John McCrae, 1915)
NOTE: This commentary was originally published on November 11, 2012. I reprise it yearly not only to honor all war dead, but also to commend the UK for its awe-inspiring tribute: It features 888,246 long-stem ceramic poppies (one for each of the British and Colonial soldiers who died in that war, and all of them planted in moat formation around the Tower of London, row on row). The tribute is a poignant reminder of the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” that characterized the world wars.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 2:49 PM
I feel obliged to begin by acknowledging reports which indicate that most Whites think these shocking resignations reflect little more than political correctness run amok. No doubt some think they smack of the idiomatic spectacle of lunatics running the asylum.
Hours after a wave of student and faculty protests over racial tensions led to the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri [Mizzou] system on Monday, the chancellor of the campus here said he would step down and the governing board announced a series of steps aimed at improving the racial climate…
It was the football team that delivered what might have been the fatal blow to the tenures of the two officials, when players announced on Saturday that they would refuse to play as long as Mr. Wolfe remained in office, and their head coach, Gary Pinkel, said he supported them.
(New York Times, 9, 2015)
Meanwhile, protesters are still demanding, among other things, implementation of all kinds of diversity programs, the hiring of a new diversity, inclusion and equity czar (to enforce “a culture of respect”), and a say in the hiring of all future university presidents. They are making these demands under the rallying cry of #Concerned Student 1950 – in homage to the year the first Black student enrolled at Mizzou.
To be fair, though, it might be helpful to know that these protesters (Black and White) are trying to improve a racial climate that has been beset by dark clouds for years. Evidently, far too many Whites, who compose 77 percent of the total student body of 35,441, have been getting cheap thrills out of hurling racial epithets, scrawling swastikas of human feces on dorm walls, and otherwise harassing Blacks, who compose only 7 percent. And they have been doing this with impunity.
Indeed, it speaks volumes that, in tendering his resignation, Mizzou President Timothy M. Wolfe confessed his own insensitivity, and made the seemingly transformative admission that it should not have taken Black graduate student Jonathan Butler going on a hunger strike to get the university to hear and act upon the well-documented grievances of its Black students.
Except that Butler’s hunger strike did not force Wolfe to resign.
After all, Butler was already into the second week of his well-publicized strike. More to the point, I suspect Wolfe and other Mizzou administrators blithely ignored it as just a grandstanding, self-immolating stunt.
Instead, the triggering act was 30 Black Football players announcing on Saturday that they would not attend practice or play another game until he resigned. Their White coach and fellow White players made this act all the more challenging when they announced their intent to stand in solidarity with these Black players.
In fact, school administrators made no secret of their prevailing concern that forfeiting just this weekend’s game against Brigham Young would cost Mizzou over $1 million. And, since Wolfe made around $400,000 annually, he was clearly far more expendable than the Football players.
It was really that simple, folks. Nobody resigned. Mizzou’s Board of Curators threw the president and chancellor under the bus to protect its bottom line.
But I would be remiss not to acknowledge that the administrators might also have been a little concerned about Mizzou suffering irreparable reputational damage – given the way this racial conflict was beginning to trend on social media.
All the same, I am convinced that, more than any concession the university makes with respect to diversity initiatives, student athletes exercising the asymmetrical power they have at major American universities might be this racial conflict’s most significant legacy.
In which case I hope I can be forgiven for taking some credit for not only recognizing this power but urging Blacks to use it, judiciously.
For here, in part, is how I admonished student athletes to deal with the grievance of universities exploiting their talents to make hundreds of millions, while failing to give them a good education, let alone fair compensation.
I urge the star players on all NCAA Division 1 Football teams to organize a wildcat strike this fall and demand fair compensation for the services they provide. Then let the NCAA and university presidents make the unconscionable and utterly unsustainable argument that these kids should be forced to continue generating billions in revenues for them in exchange for nothing more than a college degree that, in most cases, is not worth the paper it’s written on.
(“Death Penalty for University of Miami Hurricanes,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 23, 2011)
Of course, Black Americans have a storied history of using civil disobedience, boycotts, and strikes to demand some measure of racial justice. These Football players going on strike is entirely consistent with that history. To say nothing of the instructive message their strike sends to aggrieved Black students around the country about forcing change without resorting to wanton, self-destructive and self-defeating violence.
My concern, however, is that no resignation or diversity initiative will stop a White fool from hurling racial epithets at a Black student, especially if his target is an isolated female. What’s more, chances are very good that such assaults would never be caught on tape. Therefore, holding perpetrators to account would amount, in most cases, to little more than a she said, he said farce.
And yes, these fools are invariably White males. Moreover, I can well imagine some of them being hell-bent now on striking back against these diversity initiatives the only way they know how; namely, by cowardly hurling racial epithets and defacing buildings with racist graffiti. Never mind the mockery such incidents make of prevailing assumptions about Millennials being so racially progressive as to be colorblind. Hell you’d think we were back in the heyday of “Bigotry and Violence on American College Campuses” during the late 1970s and 1980s – as documented by the United States Commission on Civil Right 1990….
Again, facts indicate that the protests in this case were wholly warranted. But I fear Black students going down a race-grievance rabbit hole by mounting protests in a futile attempt to change racist hearts and minds.
For example, I’ve read enough to appreciate that Black students at Yale University have been subjected for years to the same kinds of institutional racism that provoked Black students at Mizzou to protest – complete with a Yale president who apparently couldn’t care less about their grievances. Yet, somehow, these Ivy Leaguers have allowed the media to frame their protests as borne of racial grievances over a “White girls only” Halloween party and White students wearing “racially insensitive Halloween costumes.”
(Perhaps this media narrative would change if a Black student went on a hunger strike. But I doubt Yale’s Football players refusing to play until its president resigned would have the same impact.)
Whatever the case, students should aim such protests primarily at changing institutional practices and policies they deem racist. Their objectives should be things like ensuring greater diversity in faculty hiring (faculty at Mizzou is 75 percent White; 3 percent Black) and in student enrollment, as well as, apropos of my bête noire, in getting colleges to pay student athletes commensurate with the revenues they generate.
Protesting to get colleges to stop White students from calling Black students the n-word, or to force White Students to allow Black girls to attend their Halloween parties, hardly seems worthy.
Of course, I’m on record lamenting the way the baby-boomer parents of these kids have raised them with sense and sensibilities that make them feel entitled to all kinds of presumptions, deference, and privileges. And, if school administrators think helicopter parenting has made these college kids too sensitive and defenseless, they’re in for a rude awakening with the next generation of coeds, half of whom will have grown up “suffering” some form of autism — with all of the expectations of coddling that entails.
But this is not the commentary to delve any further into that.
Monday, November 9, 2015 at 3:38 PM
Putin and his cronies used the $51-billion Sochi Olympics as an egregious kickback scheme. Nothing betrays this fact quite like Sochi already looking like a crumbling, desolate North Korean settlement just weeks after the end of the Games.
(“Prokhorov, Russian Owner of NBA Nets, Exposed,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 26, 2014)
I wrote the above in part to vindicate my abiding assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin lords over a kleptocracy that has fleeced public funds on such unprecedented scale, it makes the kleptocracies African despots lord over seem petty.
Little did I know, however, that Russia’s cover-up of kickbacks going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics paled in comparison to the cover-up of doping during them.
In a devastatingly critical report, a World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] panel accused the Russian government on Monday of complicity in widespread doping and cover-ups by its track and field athletes and said they should all be banned from competition until the country cleans up its act.
The report from a WADA commission that has been probing media allegations of widespread doping and deception in Russia said even the country’s intelligence service, the FSB, was involved, spying on Moscow’s anti-doping lab, including during last year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi…
It also said the International Olympic Committee [IOC] should not accept any entries from the Russian federation until the body has been declared complaint with the code and the suspension has been lifted [which] could keep Russian athletes out of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
(Associated Press, November 9, 2015)
Frankly, not since Adolph Hitler presided over the 1936 Berlin Olympics has a leader been so determined to see his country win the overall medal count. Only this fanatical nationalism explains Putin dispatching members of his special police to ensure that no Russian athlete tests positive – no matter how dedicated that athlete’s doping for Sochi.
Incidentally, in 1936, Hitler’s Germany won with 89 medals – notwithstanding the black mark Jesse Owens inflicted with his gold-medal performances, especially in the Men’s 100m; the United States was second with 56. In 2014, Putin’s Russia won with 33; the United States was second with 28.
Granted, there is no evidence indicating that governments in other top-performing countries (e.g., Jamaica for Summer Games or the United States for Winter Games) have aided and abetted doping the way the Russian government did. But there is more than sufficient prima facie evidence to suspect that athletes from those countries engage in doping just as much as athletes from Russia do.
USA Today reported on Sunday that America’s fastest man, Tyson Gay, and virtually everyone on Jamaica’s Track team (except the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt) have tested positive for banned substances.
But, after Marion Jones, if you’re still shocked to learn that any Track star is a cheat, you’d probably also be shocked to learn that Santa Claus is a fake.
(“Now Tyson Gay et al: Drugs as Rampant in Track as in Cycling,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 16, 2013)
This is why, instead of banning Russian athletes, WADA should enlist the governing bodies of all major sports to ban Russia from hosting any sanctioned competition, so long as Putin remains in power. For example, nothing would signal FIFA’s determination to clean up corruption in soccer quite like withdrawing Russia’s hosting gig for the 2018 World Cup. I duly commented on this corruption just months ago in “FIFA – Soccer’s Federation of Imbeciles, Fraudsters, and Autocrats,” May 29, 2015.
Moreover, banning athletes would betray my enlightened plea to decriminalize all performance-enhancing drugs. Here is how I offered it almost ten years ago in “A Plea for Landis, Gatlin, et al: Decriminalize Drugs … Especially in Sports,” August 3, 2006.
I wholly endorse the libertarian view that adults should be allowed to use any recreational drug they desire without fear of prosecution – so long as that use does not harm innocent third parties. And I have no patience for trite and inherently flawed moral arguments to the contrary, unless proffered by a bona fide puritan who would also criminalize alcohol, cigarettes, pre-marital sex, etc. …
It follows therefore that I believe policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian but also utterly futile. After all … there’s no denying that athletes have always done or taken, and will always do or take, anything to gain a competitive advantage. And, if what they do or take in this respect poses no harm to anyone except themselves, then who cares!
Not to mention that even more sophisticated and trustworthy labs (i.e., those not operating under duress from the secret police) have failed to catch doping fiends in their tracks. As alluded to above, Exhibit A for this argument is the Olympian performance Marion Jones got away with at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But there’s also this damning WADA admission:
The World Anti-Doping Agency commission said the London Olympics were more or less sabotaged by allowing Russian athletes to compete when they should have been suspended for doping violations.
(Associated Press, November 9, 2015)
Indeed, that it’s virtually impossible to prevent most athletes from duping in-competition doping tests clearly vindicates/supports my plea. After all, even though WADA accuses Russian athletes of sabotaging the London Olympics, only seven of the thirty-eight athletes disqualified for doping were Russians.
Accordingly, I reiterate that:
Jones is only the latest, though admittedly the most famous, professional athlete to be caught in a web of lies about steroid use. Unfortunately, her fall from grace will leave fans of every Olympic sport wondering, quite rightly, if Marion wasn’t clean, then who is…?
(“Jones Admits Using Steroids…,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 12, 2007)
Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 10:39 AM
The Queen has led tributes to the UK’s war dead at the annual Remembrance Sunday service in central London.
Thousands gathered at the Cenotaph memorial in Whitehall for a two-minute silence to honour those killed in World Wars One and Two and later conflicts.
The monarch, Prime Minister David Cameron and the other main political party leaders all laid wreaths.
(BBC, November 8, 2015)
Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 10:08 AM
Hell, to listen to American politicians swooning over his leadership, you could be forgiven for thinking they wish Putin were president of the United States. (Granted, this swooning probably reflects their partisan/racial hatred of Obama more than their admiration of Putin.)
Mind you, his reputed power is based on little more than using Russia’s military might to bully neighbors in Georgia and Ukraine, and state-owned media to indoctrinate Russians with a streaming diet of PR stunts, including his unwittingly homoerotic penchant for riding bareback….
All of which makes one wonder why a purportedly sophisticated magazine like Forbes has so bought into his image that it has just ranked Putin the most powerful person in the world for the third consecutive year:
Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged as the world’s most powerful person for the third year running. Putin continues to prove he’s one of the few men in the world powerful enough to do what he wants – and get away with it. International sanctions set in place after he seized Crimea and waged war-by-proxy in Ukraine have kneecapped the Ruble and driven Russia into deepening recession, but haven’t hurt Putin one bit: In June his approval ratings reached an all-time high of 89%.
(Forbes, November 4, 2015)
Except that nothing betrayed the obvious chinks in Putin’s PR armor quite like a ragtag bunch of Islamic terrorists teaching him a very deadly lesson for trying to bully his way into their sectarian battles.
New intelligence suggests that ISIS may have planted a bomb on the Russian passenger jet that crashed in Egypt on Saturday…
British and U.S. officials said Wednesday they have information suggesting the Russian jetliner that crashed in the Egyptian desert may have been brought down by a bomb, and Britain said it was suspending flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula as a precaution.
(Huffington Post, November 4, 2015)
It speaks volumes that, less than 24 hours after dispatching his PR flaks to denounce British officials as hysterical cowards for suspending British flights to the Sinai region of Egypt, Putin followed suit by suspending Russian flights to the entire country.
Of course, the irony is not lost on me that the timing of this terrorist strike, the worst since 9/11, put paid to the spectacle of Forbes hailing Putin as the most powerful person in the World. Not least because ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could claim that this strike is tantamount to the holy parable of David slaying Goliath.
ISIS affiliates in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula insist that they took down a plane carrying 224 people as an attack on ‘Russian crusaders,’ experts say Putin might have little choice but to get even more deeply involved in the Middle East…
But Putin might be reluctant to give ISIS credit for this attack, knowing that it would drag him even further into the fight.
(Business Insider, November 5, 2015)
No doubt al-Baghdadi would like nothing more than to force this self-styled macho man into a 1970s, Afghanistan-style quagmire – all in a vain attempt to live up to his own manufactured image.
Putin has proved himself such a spiteful, bullying, rabble-rousing strategist that I fear he may have blustered and boxed himself into a corner, leaving him no choice but to invade Ukraine [and now Syria] to save face.
(“The Russians Strike Back … with Fruits and Vegetables?!” The iPINIONS Journal, August 8, 2014)
More to the point, though, here’s to Russians finally questioning the value of Putin’s much vaunted power – given that he was powerless to stop ISIS from blowing up 224 of their compatriots on board a Russian plane a week ago today.
In the meantime, my prayers and thoughts go out to the loved ones of those who perished.
But they also go out to the Russian people who continue to cower, suffer, and die under Putin’s Stalinesque dictatorship.
Friday, November 6, 2015 at 8:11 AM
Shockingly, President Obama is channeling President Nixon with his justification for deploying Special Forces to help combat ISIS. Perhaps you recall Nixon’s justification for deploying the FBI and other intelligence agencies to illegally wiretap, entrap, and otherwise undermine anti-Vietnam protesters:
Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.
(“Nixon-Frost Interview,” New York Times, May 20, 1977)
Well, only such tortured, imperial logic explains this:
President Obama announced on Friday that he had ordered several dozen Special Operations troops into Syria for the first open-ended mission by United States ground forces in that country, deepening American involvement in a war he has tried to avoid for more than four years…
‘The responsibility that they have is not to lead the charge to take a hill, but rather to offer advice and assistance to those local forces about the best way they can organize their efforts to take the fight to ISIL or to take the hill inside of Syria,’ [White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest] said.
(New York Times, October 30, 2015)
Especially given this:
The Obama administration on Friday abandoned its efforts to build up a new rebel force inside Syria to combat the Islamic State, acknowledging the failure of its $500 million campaign to train thousands of fighters and announcing that it will instead use the money to provide ammunition and some weapons for groups already engaged in the battle.
(New York Times, October 9, 2015)
In other words, having abandoned similar efforts just weeks ago, deploying U.S. troops now to “train, advise, and assist” local forces clearly defies logic. Which is why Obama’s explanation can only be a Nixonian pretext for their real mission to engage in the very “frontline” combat he steadfastly denies.
More to the point, his doublespeak about the nature of U.S. involvement in the fight against ISIS is eerily similar to that which Nixon propagated about its involvement in the fight against the Viet Cong. Watergate journalist Bob Woodward documents Nixon’s willful perfidy in this respect in his latest book, The Last of the President’s Men:
President Richard Nixon believed that years of aerial bombing in Southeast Asia to pressure North Vietnam achieved ‘zilch’ even as he publicly declared it was effective and ordered more bombing while running for reelection in 1972.
(Washington Post, October 11, 2015)
Sure enough, Obama has publicly declared that his aerial bombing in Syria and Iraq to destroy ISIS is effective and has ordered more bombing. Yet I suspect he believes it is achieving zilch. I suspected his willful perfidy in this respect from the moment he surged tens of thousands of troops into Afghanistan in 2009, in a plainly vain attempt to win that unwinnable war, which Bush wasted seven years, thousands of lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to win.
Not to mention the manifest futility of deploying 300 advisers just last year to train, advise, and assist local forces in Iraq, which I lampooned, rather presciently, in “Why Have 3,000 Troops When 300 Will Do?” June 20, 2014. I say presciently because those 300 advisers have already grown (in mission creep reminiscent of Vietnam) to 3,500.
The Obama administration announced Wednesday the deployment of up to 450 additional military advisers to Iraq, deepening U.S. involvement in the war against the Islamic State and underscoring the fragility of a U.S. strategy that rests on the abilities of local forces.
The new troops, once in place, will bring the number of American service members in Iraq to around 3,500…
‘This train, advise, and assist mission builds on lessons learned during the past several months,’ the White House said in a statement.
(Washington Post, June 10, 2015)
I cannot make this stuff up, folks.
I’m no Woodward, but even I decried Obama’s Vietnamization of America’s involvement in the Middle East in such commentaries as “Obama Escalates Afghan War; the ‘Die’ Is Cast on His Presidency,” December 2, 2009, which includes this ominous observation on his ill-fated surge:
I do not see how Obama can possibly justify the loss of life and waste of money that will occur over this period just for him to end up doing what President Nixon did in Vietnam: i.e., declaring victory and going home….
Nothing is more damning in this context than the fact that more U.S. troops died in Afghanistan after Obama promised to end that war than those who died during all of the feckless years Bush spent waging it.
Seventy-four percent of the U.S. military personnel who have given their lives serving in the Afghan War died after Feb. 17, 2009, when President Barack Obama announced his first increase in the number of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan…
1,593 of those 2,162 U.S. casualties — or 73.7 percent — have occurred since Feb. 17, 2009, when Obama announced the first of his multiple increases in U.S. military personnel deployed to Afghanistan.
(CNS News, January 9, 2014)
And what does Obama have to show for all of this American blood he now has on his hands? A resurgent Taliban that is more powerful and influential today than it was at any time during the Bush administration.
In the group’s biggest victory in 15 years, the Taliban this week seized parts of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth largest city and a major strategic hub between Kabul and Tajikistan…
The group also claimed control of the Warduj district of Badakshan, east of Kunduz province, according to Fawzia Koofi, one of the first women to be elected to the Afghan parliament after the U.S. invasion of the country.
(CNN, October 2, 2015)
No doubt, if the American people knew then what Woodward is revealing about his war deception now, Nixon would have been impeached for Vietnam long before Watergate. But we know about Obama’s war deception now.
Therefore, what does it say about the American people today that the only ones calling for impeachment are right-wing Republicans? Especially given that these nutjobs want to impeach Obama for implementing immigration and healthcare reforms, not for sending American troops to die in wars he knew were achieving zilch.
Truth be told, I have written too many commentaries to count on Obama’s march of folly in the Middle East, including most recently “Obama Amassing Coalition of the Willing to Do in Syria What Bush Did in Afghanistan/Iraq,” September 30, 2015.
But this excerpt from “Demystifying ISIS: Case against Obama’s Bush-lite War on Terrorism,” September 10, 2014, should explain why commenting any further would amount to the proverbial beating a dead horse.
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.
Except that I feel compelled to confess how much political pain these commentaries cause me. Not least because my ardent support for Obama’s presidency stems back to a time when other johnnies-come-lately supports were still joining Bill and Hillary Clinton in dismissing his candidacy as a ‘fairytale” – as my commentary “It’s Time: Run Obama, Run!” October 24, 2006, attests.
I am still a big fan. Obama has had a remarkably successful, transformative presidency in many respects – especially given the Republicans’ politically/racially motivated efforts, from day one, to “make him a failed president.”
All the same, my commentaries delineate my profound disappointment in his conduct of foreign policy in the Middle East – from the Arab Spring to this creeping combat against ISIS.
Just as ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ combat by any other name would spell defeat. In fact, the other name for Obama’s new mission of ‘train, advise, and assist’ is mission creep … with all of the horrors of Vietnam that entails.
(“Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Barack Obama, Wins Landslide Victory,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 24, 2015)
Thursday, November 5, 2015 at 6:33 AM
Michael Brown was a Black 18-year-old who a White police officer, Darren Wilson, shot in Ferguson last year, when he resisted arrest after allegedly perpetrating a strong-arm robbery. This killing triggered outrage that is still reverberating.
Tyshawn Lee was a Black 9-year-old who a Black gang member, unnamed, shot in Chicago this week, when he was just playing near his grandmother’s home. This killing triggered silence that is still deafening.
Where’s the outrage?!
Police investigating the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee in a South Side alley believe that the boy was targeted as part of an ongoing gang feud involving his relatives.
Police said they believe the child’s father has information about the possible retaliation, but is not being forthcoming…
Tyshawn was shot several times in the upper body, including in the head and back.
(ABC Chicago WLS, November 3, 2015)
Frankly, all I can say about this is, God help the city where residents fear gang members more than they trust police officers. But, given the scourge of Black-on-Black crime, the irony is that Blacks predominate in areas of far too many cities where this is the case.
Which brings me to the unwitting spectre of the “Ferguson effect.”
Chuck Rosenberg, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, said Wednesday that he agrees with FBI Director James Comey that police officers are reluctant to aggressively enforce laws in the post-Ferguson era of capturing police activity on smartphones and YouTube…
The comments offer more support for the theory that, faced with increased scrutiny, the nation’s police officers are pulling back.
(Washington Post, November 4, 2015)
For example, on Monday’s edition of The Daily Show, new host Trevor Noah quipped that:
Police now live in fear of someone whipping out their phone and brutally filming them.
No doubt, because it went viral, he considers this joke his crowning achievement to date.
Never mind that nothing demonstrated the deadly impact of the Ferguson effect quite like police officers being reluctant to intervene as (Black) rioters looted, pillaged, and burned their own areas of Baltimore earlier this year. To say nothing of the fact that no less a paper of record than the New York Times affirmed this effect in a June 15, 2015, report headlined, “West Baltimore’s Police Presence Drops, and Murder Soars” (the Baltimore effect?).
Meanwhile, Noah and others willfully ignore the obvious and understandable truth that police officers (White and Black) have always been reluctant to police high-crime areas, like the South Side of Chicago. Only this explains the despairing resonance of Spike Lee’s forthcoming movie, Chiraq, about violence so wanton and unchecked in Black areas of Chicago, residents might as well be living in Iraq.
The more troubling irony, though, is that police officers fear vigilant(e) public scrutiny that could end their careers (a la Darren Wilson) more than gangland violence that could end their lives.
Such is the seemingly inexorable and irreconcilable breakdown in trust between those who wear blue and those who are Black in America today.
Rich, cloistered Blacks, like Noah and Lee, can crack jokes and make movies about this increasingly violent malaise, respectively. But poor, exposed Blacks, like Tyshawn and honors student Hadiya Pindleton (Remember her!), will suffer most because of it.
Ferguson to Baltimore…
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Wednesday, at 5:23 p.m.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 9:42 AM
A selfie is not just about adoring one’s own reflection like Narcissus; it’s also about taking a picture of that reflection to publish for all the world to see. But am I the only one who rues the cognitive dissonance that has turned self-obsessed showoffs from laughingstocks into standard-bearers of what is now not only acceptable but required public behavior?
You’d never know, for example, that just years ago any self-respecting man would be mortified if he were caught checking himself out in the mirror. Now the Internet is littered with as many selfies of preening men as women. But nothing irritates me in this context quite like the way people convey every private sentiment—from condolences to birthday greetings and romantic love—only by tweeting, facebooking, or instagramming it for everyone to read/see.
(“Introduction,” The iPINIONS Journal, Vol. IX, p. xxi, 2014)
But nothing betrays its true nature quite like an Instagram superstar making quite a show this week of declaring her intent to quit. Because, after getting the attention (and additional followers) she knew doing so would attract, she used that attention to plead for money … to help her cope with the “real life” she was daring to pursue.
Here is the apparent epiphany she shared on Monday:
Without realising, I’ve spent majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance.
It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self absorbed judgement.
(UK Daily Mail, November 2, 2015)
In a teary 17 minute long video posted to her new website, [this lost girl] – who used to spend more than 50 hours a week strategically constructing an image of a beautiful, happy and carefree teen – explains why she abandoned her ‘celebrity’ social media status and says that without her online income she is no longer able to support herself.
‘I can’t afford rent right now… It’s like I am embarrassed to admit that I need help… if this [website] is of value to you then please support me because I can’t afford my own real life.’
Evidently, girls (and they are mostly girls) on social media have no clue that girls afford their own real lives by getting real jobs – even if that means working at fast-food joints.
Ironically, the unsurprising backlash her plea incited forced her to delete all of her social media accounts … in a self-righteous and petulant huff. But, like crack cocaine, social-media addiction is such that I fully expect her to return for the quick high and easy money girls like her get from their simple (fake) lives.
Moreover, instead of inspiring other Instagram twits to quit, I fear she only provided fodder for them to peddle gossip. Not to mention the opportunity to lure away the gullible fools who followed her.
Hence this illustrative selfie of Kylie Jenner, the poster girl for all that is so wrong with social media. Her permanent pout, siliconed tits and fake ass are the signature traits of what passes for beauty these days. But her doe eyes betray how hollow she must feel inside.
I pity Kylie, and her ilk. And, by the way, you are of that ilk if you’ve ever stared adoringly at the image on your smart phone as you snapped selfies to photoshop for social media. Just know that, like her, you are not impressing anyone … in real life.
Personal tweet is oxymoron…
Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 7:28 AM
I am a despairing anti-monarchist. This is why I was so encouraged yesterday when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull explained his government’s decision to ban British honours as follows:
This reflects modern Australia. The knights and dames are titles that are really anachronistic; they’re out of date; they’re not appropriate in 2015 in Australia.
(BBC, November 2, 2015)
Turnbull made no effort to disguise his republican disdain for royal practices and pretensions. Indeed, one got the sense that his tone and countenance would have been the same if he were announcing a ban on the frivolous etiquette of curtseying to members of the British royal family.
Of course, I not only share his disdain; I’ve been pouring scorn on British royalty and its “gold-plated scroungers” for years.
Here, for example, is how I vented my principled opposition to royalty in “The Problem Is Not Kate’s Weight, It’s Williams Title,” February 16, 2011.
What concerns me is that people around the world seem even more vested in this anachronistic institution today than they were when William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana, got married 30 years ago (on July 29, 1981)…
I have long maintained that royalty makes a mockery of the universal principle that all people are created equal. Moreover, that a democracy that perpetuates royalty in the twenty-first century is almost as cancerous (and oxymoronic) as one that perpetuated slavery in the nineteenth.
And here is how I prefigured Turnbull’s announcement in “Sir Becks and Lady Posh?! God Help the British,” November 15, 2013.
Even more dumbfounding is the mockery countries like Canada, Australia, and Jamaica are making of their independence by retaining Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. This would only make sense if, like Britain, Commonwealth Countries were using her as a tourist attraction; you know, the way Disney World uses Mickey Mouse…
I hope I can be forgiven for grasping for republican solidarity in a column the UK Daily Mail published on Monday under the provocative but unassailable title, “Sir Becks and Lady Posh? I admire them both, but this would be final proof the honours system has lost all reason.”
But, in fairness to Becks and Posh, nothing demonstrates how unreasonable this system has become quite like even proud citizens of former British colonies still coveting British honours every bit as much as British commoners do.
Is there any wonder we despair for our republics…?
I despair because I have yet to meet a fellow native of any former British colony who shares my antipathy to monarchy. Admittedly, there’s probably something Freudian in my antipathy, stemming from the childhood trauma of having my English teacher in The Bahamas disabuse me of my pining to learn French (creole). I remember well her admonishing the entire class that, “You belong to England, not France;” and that was that.
Incidentally, I developed this pining after hearing a Haitian family friend speak “broken” French, which sounded far more interesting, even to my adolescent ears, than the “proper” English she was teaching us.
For only this syndrome explains no less a person than Lynden O. Pindling, the founding father who led The Bahamas to independence in 1973, proudly kneeling before the queen in 1983 to be knighted with the apocryphal words, “Arise, Sir Lynden!”
Never mind other British customs that are wholly unsuited for former colonies. Here, for example, here is how I pleaded for change in this respect in “Hey, Tony, What’s Up with the Brothers Wearing White Wigs,” Caribbean Net News, March 2, 2007.
I am on record entreating regional governments to abolish the (inherently superficial and corrupt) British honours system, which only perpetuates a slavish devotion to royal pretensions amongst our people…
These legal accoutrements are more suited to the stuffy, dank, and frigid climes of the British Isles, not the liberating tropical weather of the Caribbean. Granted, blue-blooded British lawyers might find the itchy discomfort wigs of horsehair inflict perfectly amenable to their sadomasochistic nature. But we red-blooded Caribbean lawyers wear them under duress, as prickly and unsightly wigs of thorns.
Not to mention the sweat this quaint, effete and anachronistic attire produces, which I can personally attest poses a formidable challenge even to the most fragrant antiperspirant.
Accordingly I plead: free us from British wigs and gowns!
Beyond wigs and gowns, I am also on record entreating regional governments to stop referring local citizens to the British Privy Council as their court of last resort, a neocolonial subjugation I decried in such commentaries as “No More Privy Council. Take Care of Your Own Judicial Mess,” October 8, 2009.
That said, the UK government claims that honours are awarded on merit for public service. But rich people buying titles have always dishonored the British honours system, much as rich people buying papal indulgences have always perverted the Catholic penitential system:
Think of the ‘Cash for Honours’ furor as England’s version of the Rod Blagojevich scandal writ large – and perhaps with white wigs replacing the Illinois governor’s famous hairdo.
Although the British government has over time tried to divorce money from title and privilege, it’s a rather quixotic enterprise. After all, James I created the title of baronet strictly as a way of raising money – he sold baronetcies for £1500 each.
(BBC, January 4, 2012)
In any event, thanks to Turnbull, these are encouraging times – at least for anti-monarchists in Australia. Hope springs eternal that other leaders from the “15 Commonwealth realms” will follow his lead….
To that end, I repeat this abiding plea, which I first published in “Pardon Me, Sir, but How Much Did You Pay for Your Knighthood,” July 14, 2006:
I urge citizens throughout the Caribbean Commonwealth to prevail upon our national leaders to stop nominating our citizens for these fairytale British honours, if not to perfect our sovereignty (as independent republics), then as a matter of national pride.
Monday, November 2, 2015 at 6:33 AM
The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets 7-2 in New York on Sunday, thereby clinching the 2015 World Series in a veritable rout, four games to one. This, you might think, is the sporting event most worthy of comment. And you’d be right if, instead of the Royals, the Cubs were crowned World Series champions, thereby making that famous scene from Back to the Future II a reality.
But, with all due respect to the “fall classic,” the first head-to-head meeting in major gymnastic competition between a reigning World all-around champion (Simone Biles) and a reigning Olympic all-around champion (Gabby Douglas), which culminated in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday, is far more worthy of comment.
Friends can attest that I predicted Gabby Douglas of the USA would win the women’s all-around competition. I reasoned that, even though there are specialists at these Games who might be slightly better on an individual apparatus, no gymnast is as talented as she is on all of them combined.
Gabby proved this on Tuesday when she led the USA to gold in the women’s team by being the only member whose results were good enough to count on all four apparatuses. And she punctuated this fact today by winning the highly coveted women’s all-around in convincing fashion…
I feel constrained to repeat that I hope the media and corporate advertisers do for Gabby what they did for Mary Lou Retton. General Mills can begin by featuring her adorable face on the cover of a Wheaties cereal box.
(“London Olympics: Day 6,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 2, 2012)
As it happened, Gabby followed the precedent Michael Phelps set after his olympian feat of winning eight gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. She endorsed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, instead of General Mills’ Wheaties, as “The breakfast of champions.”
But so much has happened in the Wide World of Sports since then, you could be forgiven for thinking that Gabby succeeded Mary Lou Retton, the first American to win the coveted women’s all-around … in 1984. In fact, Gabby was the fourth American to do so, and that was just three years ago, folks.
More to the point, she was so dominant at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, I would’ve bet good money that Gabby would surpass Mary Lou by becoming the first gymnast to repeat as all-around champion since Vera Caslavska of Czechoslovakia won in 1964 and repeated in 1968.
Thank God I didn’t because, even before Gabby could fully recover from her historic feat, Simone embarked on a course that has already seen her become the most decorated gymnast of all time – and she has yet to compete in the Olympics.
It was a perfect ten finish for Simone Biles … on Sunday as the young American became the most decorated woman gymnast of all time on the final day of competition.
The 18-year-old cooly added gold on the balance beam and the floor to the record third all-around and team titles she had already claimed at the Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
Biles’ four world titles brought her tally to ten as the tiny Texan becomes the most-titled female gymnast in history.
And even though she showed great sportsmanship, one can just imagine her looking on in awe and dismay as Simone quashed any hope she had of repeating as Olympic champion. Indeed, I’d bet good money that the result in Rio next year will be the same as it was in Glasgow last week.
Sorry, Gabby; but I for one can’t wait.
Friday, October 30, 2015 at 3:53 PM
Here is a surprising twist in the developing story of the White student resource officer who lost his job after forcibly removing a Black female student from her classroom at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina earlier this week:
The local NBC affiliate WIS reported that hundreds of students participated in Friday’s walkout at 10 a.m., before a school administrator told them to return to class…
Some of the students responded by yelling ‘Free Fields.’
[School senior John Cassibry — who published video of the protest] estimated that Black students accounted for a majority of the protesters on Friday.
(Huffington Post, October 30, 2015)
But, given the intra-racial flak I’ve taken, I hope I can be forgiven for also noting that, in mounting this protest, these students vindicated my take on this incident below in “White Male Cop ‘Brutalized’ Black Female Student? I Beg To Differ,” October 28, 2015.
They made fools of the political opportunists who propagated the notion that the officer in this case is just another racist, rogue cop, and undermined media portrayals of the female student he arrested as an innocent victim.
White male cop, black female student…
Friday, October 30, 2015 at 6:24 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 7:51 AM
For important context on this grazing tragedy, here is an excerpt from “South Sudan Descending into the Heart of Darkness,” December 30, 2013.
I joined the chorus of those heralding the birth of South Sudan as a new nation in Africa – fathered not by colonial masters but by Africans themselves. But I felt constrained to sound this cautionary note:
What looms, however, may cause the southerners’ Independence Day, which they will mark on July 9, to turn into a pyrrhic celebration…
I just hope and pray these southerners – who are comprised of all kinds of Black tribes – can avoid the kind of tribal conflicts that continue to beset so many other countries in Africa.
(“South Sudan Secedes,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 9, 2011)
Sure enough, their celebration was pyrrhic. Because here I am, less than three years later, feeling obliged to comment on South Sudanese cannibalizing each other:
South Sudan’s army fought on Sunday with ‘White Army’ ethnic militia, accusing rebels of mobilizing the force despite its offer of a truce to end the conflict in the new country.
Two weeks of fighting have left at least 1,000 dead and split the oil-producing country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. It has also raised fears of an all-out civil war between the main Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups, which could destabilize fragile East Africa.
(Reuters, December 29, 2013)
Clearly there’s farcical irony (or is that tragicomedy?) in calling a bunch of Black militiamen – who cover their faces with ash as insect repellant – a “White Army.” Given their look and haunting tactics, one would’ve thought “ghost army” would be more fitting. But I shall leave it to experts to comment on the socio-psychological legacy of colonialism their curious appellation reinforces.
Instead, I shall suffice to bemoan this prescient/foreboding lament I sounded six years ago – in “Politics of Corruption in Kenya,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 31, 2007 – when Kenya was on the precipice on a similar tribal/ethnic conflict:
This sets up the all-too-familiar prospect of Africans resorting to tribal warfare to settle their political disputes… And those of us who are still hoping against hope for a political awakening in Africa cannot help but look on in despair as Kenya … descends back into the heart of darkness – where bloodlust gives rise to Idi Amins and Rwandan genocides.
That was two years ago, folks. And I’ve written several commentaries bemoaning the same since then, including “South Sudan Continues Descent into the Heart of Darkness,” April 25, 2014, and “’Another African Famine?! Nobody Cares!’ Then Call Me Nobody,” May 2, 2014. Significantly, I ended the latter with this abiding plea:
I am truly humbled by the thousands of foreign aid workers (mostly White Americans) who, despite all of the challenges and frustrations, continue to march to the front lines to help combat everything from chronic poverty to the vicious cycle of tribal warfare.
Hence, I can never tire of doing what little I can to support them and keep the humanitarian work they do in public consciousness. And, in doing so, I hope you don’t mind my taking a page from my Mummy’s playbook by trying to guilt you into donating (as I do) to their organizations, like UNICEF, USAID, Doctors Without Borders, UN World Food Programme, and CARE.
Therefore, it truly pains me that South Sudan continues to vindicate my worst fears – as this excerpt from a BBC Documentary “South Sudan’s Shattered Dream,” October 28, 2015, attests.
According to a report published in October 2015, if immediate action is not taken, the country could face famine in a matter of weeks. Aid agencies are pleading with both government and opposition forces to respect the current ceasefire and give unrestricted access to the areas most in need…
It’s evening time, and Regina is busily preparing dinner for her family. I look into the pot to see what it is she is cooking and am astounded and shocked to find she is just using grass and leaves to feed her six children. It’s all she has.
Not to mention that an international commission of inquiry into alleged war crimes found that both government and rebel forces are perpetrating systematic torture, mutilations, rape, and forced cannibalism against the country’s hapless, starving civilians.
The media are making much ado about the exodus of thousands of Syrians fleeing sectarian conflict. But they would have cause to make much more ado about the exodus of millions of South Sudanese fleeing ethnic conflict … if chronic starvation did not prevent the South Sudanese from walking like the Syrians.
In truth, all I can say at this point is: God help the godforsaken people of South Sudan.