The iPINIONS Journal


  • Friday, January 19, 2018 at 7:18 AM

    United Nations a Haven for Sexual Predators…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Yes, it is as much a haven for them as offshore nations are for tax dodgers.

    The United Nations has allowed sexual harassment and assault to flourish in its offices around the world, with accusers ignored and perpetrators free to act with impunity

    Dozens of current and former UN employees described a culture of silence across the organisation and a flawed grievance system that is stacked against victims.

    (The Guardian US, January 18, 2018)

    The following excerpt is from “The Whistleblower,” August 5, 2011.  It explains why this latest news about the rotten state of affairs at the United Nations vindicates commentaries like “The United Nations: Corrupt from Head to Toe,” June 17, 2005, “UN Peacekeepers Preying on Helpless Haitians?! Yes,” June 23, 2015, and “UN Peacekeepers like Foxes Guarding Henhouse,” April 4, 2016.

    ____________________

    The woman being portrayed is Kathryn Bolkovac, an ordinary Nebraska cop who signs up to serve as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia. (For spoiler reasons, I won’t say why.)

    Alas, what she found was that many of the people committing crimes against humanity were men of all ranks in her own peacekeeping mission. Only instead of ethnic cleansing, they were involved in the sexual exploitation and trafficking of helpless teenage girls.

    As it happens, I’ve been doing what little I can for years to draw attention to these despicable crimes:

    Disgusted officials leaked an internal UN report which found that peacekeepers had sexually molested and abused African refugees in the DR Congo. These leaks forced Secretary General Kofi Annan to admit that he had known all along about his staff’s criminal conduct – including pedophilia, rape and prostitution (some of which was caught on tape).

    (“Kofi Annan’s UN Malaise,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 20, 2005)

    ____________________

    Frankly, the sexual predators who prey under the banner of the United Nations make those who prey behind the scenes in Hollywood look like teenage pests.

    Even worse, though, UN predators can be forgiven for thinking they enjoy the same immunity for sexual assaults that diplomats enjoy for parking tickets:

    In New York, UN officials have racked up $16m in unpaid parking tickets, while London is owed £100m in congestion charge fees. …

    Yet, like mice, noise and traffic jams, there seems to be little any city can do to protect itself from diplomats.

    (The Guardian US, September 23, 2016)

    In any event, we now understand why UN peacekeepers prey with such abandon on women and girls in their charge. They clearly know they’re just aping the impunity with which UN officials prey on co-workers in their offices.

    A pouting, petulant President Trump threatened to withdraw funding after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to reject his unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But this systemic scourge of sexual harassment gives him just cause to do so.

    Related commentaries:
    Whistleblower
    UN peacekeepers
    Trump threatens world over Jerusalem

  • Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 7:48 AM

    Simone Biles Joins USA Gymnastics’ #MeToo Moment

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Simone Biles were members of the US women’s gymnastics team that won gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. But sadly, they got into a dispiriting Twitter spat two months ago.

    It stemmed from Raisman speaking about her sexual abuse at the hand of their team doctor on 60 Minutes. No doubt she expected all of her former teammates to offer sympathy and support.

    Instead, Douglas victim-blamed Raisman, tweeting in effect that sexual abuse is what happens when women/girls dress seductively. This provoked Biles to chastise Douglas for doing so.

    Their tweets are not worth republishing. The point is that I commented on them as follows in “USA Gymnastics Sex-Abuse Shame: Gabby Victim-Blames Aly and Outrages Simone,” November 20, 2017.

    ____________________

    There’s no denying the indiscriminate and prolific nature of Nassar’s sexual abuse. Therefore, I have to wonder if Douglas and Biles reacted to Raisman’s testimonial based on similar experiences:

    • Douglas exhibiting a form of Stockholm syndrome by blaming the victim and siding with her and their abuser; and
    • Biles defending Raisman as much as fellow teammate as fellow victim of Nassar’s sexual abuse.

    ____________________

    Sure enough, the very next day, Douglas claimed #MeToo:

    Gabby issued a statement Tuesday which started out by apologizing for her perceived victim shaming of ex-teammate Aly Raisman … and then dropped the bombshell that she, too, was a victim.

    (TMZ, November 21, 2017)

    Alas, it’s debatable whether she came forward in solidarity with her former teammate or out of shame from the backlash her victim-blaming provoked.

    In any event, just as I also reasoned, Biles is now claiming #MeToo … too:

    On the eve of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar’s sentencing for sexually abusing girls in his care, American gymnast Simone Biles has come forward to say me, too.

    ‘I, too, am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,’ she said Monday afternoon in a Twitter post.

    (CNN, January 16, 2018)

    Reports are that nearly 100 of Nassar’s 140 victims signed up to give impact statements at his sentencing, which got underway yesterday in Lansing, Michigan. Their statements will run through Friday, at which point the judge is expected to add dozens of years to the 60 he’s already serving on child pornography charges.

    As of this writing, it’s unclear if any of the “Fierce Five” Olympic champions from 2012 or the “Final Five” Olympic champions from 2016 will be making statements. Rumor has it that non-disclosure agreements with USA Gymnastics might prevent some of them from doing so. But no court would enforce such agreements in the circumstances.

    Actually, I’d like to think these Olympic champions appreciate that this might be an occasion to let these relatively unknown gymnasts have the floor. After all, if one Olympian shows up, everyone in the media, perhaps even everyone in Court, might act as if all of the other victims are mere bystanders.

    Related commentaries:
    Sex-abuse shame

  • Monday, January 15, 2018 at 8:06 AM

    Observing MLK Day 2018

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would be the first to bemoan that America remains so far from the Promised Land that inspired his famous dream. It speaks volumes in this respect that President-elect Trump began observations of this holiday last year with a racist rant on Twitter against MLK protégé John Lewis.

    I commented in “Observing MLK Day,” January 16, 2017.

    ____________________

    After Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said that Russian interference undermined the legitimacy of his election, the preternaturally thin-skinned Trump reacted by impugning Lewis’s character and life’s work:

    Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to…mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14,  2017

    This he said of a man who bears well-known scars from marching with MLK for civil rights. Lewis also happens to be the most revered black man in America today – as Obama himself would concede.

    As for his district, far from ‘falling apart [and being] crime infested,’ Atlanta is the very manifestation of that ‘shining city upon a hill’ former President Ronald Reagan envisioned in his farewell address. Moreover, no less a Republican bible than Forbes named his district ‘the ninth best place in America for businesses and career development, and among the best for job growth and education.’

    ____________________

    Yet, remarkably, President Trump began observations this year with a racist rant inside the White House against “shithole countries” like Haiti and all those in Africa.

    Evidently, when it comes to immigration, he wants people to be judged by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character. This is why he reportedly huffed that too many are coming from those black countries and not enough from white ones … like Norway.

    I commented in “Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes,” January 12, 2018, and “Are the Caribbean Leaders Condemning Trump Living in Glass Houses?” January 12, 2018. I trust you’re still digesting what I wrote. Therefore, I see no point in quoting from either one.

    Incidentally, it’s arguable that this latest rant vindicates Lewis’s declared intent to boycott Trump’s presidency. He did not attend Trump’s signing of a Proclamation to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the White House on Friday. And he said just yesterday – on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos – that he will not attend Trump’s State of the Union Address on January 30.

    But, hey, this is MLK’s day.

    It is most noteworthy that he is the only private citizen (black or white) to have a federal holiday declared in his honor.

    Hell, even Washington and Lincoln have to share one holiday on Presidents’ Day. And, with the August 2013 dedication of his memorial, MLK is now perched on the Mall alongside them in perpetuity. All of which might explain why Washington’s monument is glaring down on MLK’s …

    Seriously, though, am I the only one who thinks the Washington Monument looks eerily like a stonemason’s homage to the KKK …?

    There was considerable media coverage last week of workers rappelling down the Washington Monument to inspect damage caused by the recent earthquake. However, while most people seemed mesmerized by the acrobatic feat this entailed, I could not help noticing how much up-close images of the cone of the Monument resemble the hood of a Klansman.

    Is it not a curious thing that this everlasting monument to the slave-holding Washington pays unwitting homage to this everlasting symbol of white supremacy?

    (“Washington Monument’s KKK Imagery,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 11, 2011)

    Whatever the case, this holiday is not just a testament to MLK’s greatness. It’s a symbolic down payment on the promissory note, which represents the unpaid, if not unpayable, debt America owes descendants of the blacks it enslaved.

    That said:

    This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

    Related commentaries:
    MLK Day 2017
    Only an asshole

  • Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    Trump takes victory lap after (latest) racist remarks

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    After making his ‘shithole’ comment about Haiti and Africa during an Oval Office meeting, President Trump phoned aides, allies and friends to ask how they thought the slur played out in the press, according to a report.

    One White House official described the president’s actions as a ‘victory lap.’

    (New York Post, January 12, 2018)

    And here he is, taking that victory lap wearing not only his doofus look but his dunce cap too.

    Related commentaries:
    Trump’s racist remarks

  • Friday, January 12, 2018 at 6:13 PM

    Are the Caribbean Leaders Condemning Trump on Haiti Living in Glass Houses?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I am dismayed that so many readers are questioning why I did not mention, let alone criticize, Caribbean leaders in my original commentary — “Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes’.” After all, the reason for not doing so strikes me as self-evident.

    I will get to it below. But this questioning constrains to me to share a little context.

    I have been expressing compassion for Haitian migrants for years. Here is how I framed the categorical imperative to do so in “Compassion Fatigue for Haitian Migrants,” July 31, 2009.

    ____________________

    I do not blame Haitians for taking to the sea. Frankly, if I were living their lives of such oppressive desperation, I would do the same. Unfortunately, every Caribbean country is now following U.S. practice by aggressively repatriating them.

    Therefore, improving living conditions in Haiti offers the only hope for a better life for the vast majority of these would-be immigrants. And, the United States bears far greater responsibility to help improve those conditions than all Caribbean countries combined.

    This, not only because of its vast resources, but also because of its de facto colonial legacy in Haiti:

    American presidents are almost as responsible for creating the nightmarish living conditions in Haiti as the succession of incompetent, corrupt and ruthless leaders they’ve sponsored throughout Haiti’s modern History. …

    The American government must honor its unfulfilled obligations to help build a Haiti than can sustain, govern and police itself.

    (“The Plague of Haitian Migrants in the Caribbean,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 31, 2005)

    In the meantime, I urge President Obama to reform U.S. immigration laws consistent with these obligations. He can begin by granting Haitians the same protected status Cuban migrants have always enjoyed.

    ____________________

    In fact, I have an unimpeachable record of championing the sustainable development of Haiti (and Africa). Yet even I was moved to lament their shortcomings as follows:

    Haiti is fated to loom amidst the islands of the Caribbean — just as Africa is amidst the continents of the world — as a dark, destitute, diseased, desperate, disenfranchised, dishonest, disorganized, disassociated, dangerous and, ultimately, dysfunctional mess. …

    And, even though white foreign faces appear as evil forces from time to time, black indigenous faces (like those of the Tonton Macoutes, FRAPH, and even Catholic Lavalas devotees) are the constant, central, and catalytic characters in Haiti’s purgatory.

    (“Haiti’s Living Nightmare Continues,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 7, 2005)

    But I trust all can see how my compassionate lament is a far cry from President Trump’s racist rant. Recall that he denigrated Haiti and all countries in Africa as “shitholes” whose people are not good enough to immigrate to the United States.

    It came as no surprise that his remarks incited outrage across every continent. But it should also come as no surprise that Trump would spew such contempt on the chronic poverty that compels so many to flee these countries. After all, this billionaire buffoon has shown time and again that he is as ignorant about the root causes of that poverty as he is arrogant about the hereditary entitlements that made that wealthy.

    All the same, one cannot overstate the recurring role the United States has played in sustaining those causes — with respect to Haiti. But I shall suffice here to share how I framed the origins of the racist conspiracy to keep Haiti shackled in poverty. I did so in “Haitians: Returning to Africa; Blaming the US and France?!” 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.

    And here is the pretext they used to justify it:

    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)

    The Americans [helped the French enforce the suffocating terms of this debt]. They did so because they deemed it politically untenable to have a nation of black revolutionaries enjoying democratic freedoms in their backyard. No doubt they feared the embers from the revolutionary fires that liberated black slaves in Haiti might ignite similar fires to liberate black slaves in America.

    Of course, imposing this debt was all the French could do to avenge their humiliating defeat. Never mind the irony that these Haitian revolutionaries merely emulated the way American revolutionaries defeated the British … with the help of the French. Which only compounds the racism and hypocrisy inherent in the United States and France treating Haiti this way.

    ____________________

    The prevailing point is that, after centuries of mercantile pillaging, the French launched a deliberate campaign to sabotage the economic development of its former colony. By contrast, the way the Spanish treated the Dominican Republic is instructive.

    It of course is the side of the island of Hispaniola the Spanish retained after ceding “Saint-Domingue” (Haiti) to the French – who at the time were mostly rampaging pirates. But, unlike the French, the Spanish did not treat the DR as a natural resource to be exploited – like an African mine. Instead, they treated it as one to be cultivated for sustainable use … and as a source of imperial pride.

    There is no denying that the legacy of that infamous sabotage is partly to blame for Haiti’s chronic state of poverty and privation. I hasten to stress, however, that one cannot overstate the recurring role Haitian leaders have played in keeping their own people mired in poverty. As indicated above, I have duly denounced them for doing so.

    In a similar vein, my commentaries make clear why I think Caribbean leaders would do well to check their moral compass before hurling rocks at Trump’s house. In short, they clearly could do more to assimilate Haitian migrants.

    I’m all too mindful, however, that no less a person than President Obama failed in this regard. Notably, I called on him — in the 2009 commentary excerpted above — to either grant Haitians the same “wet foot, dry foot” privilege President Clinton granted Cubans, or end it. He ended it. I hailed his executive action with mixed emotions in “Obama Ends Discriminatory ‘Wet Foot, Dry Foot’ Cuba Policy,” January 13, 2017.

    This brings me to readers upbraiding me for not denouncing Caribbean leaders with the same indignation with which I denounced Trump. The simple fact is that Trump has repeatedly spewed the kind of racist bile at issue. I challenge anyone to cite any Caribbean leader who has ever once spewed the same.

    Again, Haitian migrants pose a heavy, unsustainable burden for the relatively small and poor countries of the Caribbean. This explains why, even though none have called Haiti a shithole, some Caribbean leaders have treated Haitians like shit.

    The point, though, is that Haitian migrants do not pose the same for the big and rich country of the United States. This is why I am loath to draw a comparison between the way Caribbean leaders struggle with this burden and the way Trump is attempting to disown it. Such a comparison smacks of a reductio ad absurdum of moral relativism (pardon my Latin).

    Then, of course, there’s the insult to injury inherent in Trump calling all Haitians AIDS-infected to justify shirking of America’s prevailing responsibility — as chronicled above. Not to mention that this insult is all too consistent with his plainly racist immigration policies. They, you may recall, have seen him attempt to

    • build a wall to keep out brown people from Central and South America; and
    • implement a travel ban on all Muslims and blacks from several African countries.

    And all this while reportedly declaring

    We should have more people from places like Norway.

    — NBCNews, January 11,  2018

    President Trump is a racist. Caribbean leaders are not.

    Related commentaries:
    compassion fatigue
    Haitians: returning
    Haiti lament
    Wet foot, dry foot
    Asshole Trump calling black countries shitholes

  • Friday, January 12, 2018 at 7:38 AM

    Only an Asshole like Trump Would Call Caribbean and African Countries ‘Shitholes’

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President Trump’s dismissal of Haiti, El Salvador and all of Africa as ‘shithole countries’ whose inhabitants are not desirable for U.S. immigration shocked people around the world and provoked swift condemnation.

    The president made the remarks Thursday during a White House meeting with lawmakers and suggested immigrants from Norway or Asia would be preferable.

    (Washington Post, January 12, 2018)

    If you are shocked or even disappointed by this, you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years.

    After all, Trump showed he’s a racist in 2011 when he appointed himself the Grand Wizard of Birtherism. That of course is the movement that has white nationalists (still) peddling the demonstrable lie that Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, is an African fraud.

    He then reinforced his true colors in 2015 when he launched his presidential campaign. Because he did so by scapegoating Mexicans as rapists, insisting that he had to build a wall to keep them out of the country.

    Yet, despite all this, Americans elected him president.  And so, ask not if Trump is a racist – ask why so many Americans continue to defend and support him.

    Alas, this represents the triumph of white nationalism over multiculturalism/globalism. … Trump’s victory says far more about white racism than white anger. …

    I urge those of you who cannot even countenance a Trump presidency to resist mounting feckless street protests. …

    I’m on record stating my suspicion that many whites voted for Obama in 2008 more as a gesture of racial absolution than of political faith. These AP findings bear that out. And having thusly absolved themselves of their sins of racism (with this one, historic act), many of them now feel liberated to give way to their racial prejudices without fear of being called racists. …

    The only consolation I can offer is that America has survived far worse than anything a Trump presidency portends.

    (“WTF: President-elect Donald J. Trump?! America. What. Have. You. Done.” The iPINIONS Journal, November 9, 2016)

    Meanwhile, the Post ran what seems a clever cartoon showing Trump sticking out his tongue for his physical, which is scheduled for today. The cartoon is captioned

    Trump’s ‘shithole’ slip of the tongue.

    The kicker is that it shows KKK hoodies popping up like racist warts all over his tongue as the doctor examines it.

    The problem, however, is that this was no slip. It was just another symptom of the racism that afflicts Trump to the core. This is why, instead of Make America Great Again (#MAGA), his presidential slogan should be Make America White Again (#MAWA); you know, like it was during the 1950s.

    But the remedy is not feckless outrage – complete with politicians tweeting platitudes about diversity. It’s either Congress impeaching him or voters rejecting him.

    Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Congress seems determined to enable even his racist vices. Therefore, the only way to excise the cancer Trump represents on the body politic is for voters to

    • vote Republicans out in Congressional mid-term elections this year; and
    • vote him out in the 2020 presidential election, punctuating their disgust by handing him the most humiliating defeat in history.

    So here’s to Democrats, Independents, and (conscientious) Republicans – who together compose at least 75 percent of the electorate – marching to the polls to do just that!

    In the meantime, though, I feel constrained to reiterate what I urged all self-respecting blacks and conscientious whites to do years ago. I did so in “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker!” April 8, 2011.

    ____________________

    We all knew that Trump was a self-aggrandizing buffoon. But he has now exposed himself as a self-deluding racist as well.

    This is why I urge the rich folks he depends on to patronize his eponymous resorts and buy up his eponymous condominiums to begin shunning him — just as they would a half-baked racist like David Duke. I urge this especially of the black Hollywood and sports stars he likes to feature as extras in his one-man freak show.

    Trump is entitled to say whatever he likes. But, at the very least, he should suffer truth and consequences for accusing this country’s first black president of being a Kenyan Muslim who has perpetrated ‘the biggest scam in US history.’ …

    So, here’s to this fiendishly thin-skinned huckster having his trademark words thrown back in his face: Trump, you’re fired!

    ____________________

    NOTE: Kudos to my friend Mary for sharing the drop-the-mic joke about the biggest shithole on this planet being Donald Trump’s mouth.

    Related commentaries:
    WTF! Trump president-elect
    Trump gets physical
    Trump’s racist warts
    Charlottesville
    Trump for pres? Don’t be a sucker

  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 6:43 PM

    Trump Gets Physical

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Donald Trump is scheduled to get his first physical exam as president tomorrow. And, Americans are waiting for the results with such baited breath, it rivals their waiting for the verdict in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson.

    But I find the interest in this exam stupefying. After all, it is self-evident that Trump’s physical shape is almost as bad as his mental state, which, as his daily tweets manifest, meanders between psychotic and demented.

    As it happens, psychiatrists have been all over TV recently trying to explain, among other things, his pathological lying, narcissism, xenophobia, and racism. Their explanations have become so fevered, and troubling, that the New York Times felt moved to publish an editorial just yesterday under the headline “Is Mr. Trump Nuts? It included the following:

    Is Donald Trump mentally fit to be president of the United States? It’s an understandable question, and it’s also beside the point. …

    We don’t need a medical degree or a psychiatric diagnosis to tell us what is wrong with Mr. Trump. It’s obvious to anyone who listens to him speak, reads his tweets and sees the effects of his behavior — on the presidency, on the nation and its most important institutions, and on the integrity of the global order.

    The Times duly noted that the only question Trump’s fitness raises is which will come first:

    • his Cabinet will declare him unfit;
    • Congress will impeach him; or
    • voters will reject him.

    Granted, tomorrow’s exam will not include a psychiatric evaluation. But the point is that the Times could easily include very similar language in an editorial about his physical shape under the headline “Is Mr. Trump Fat?

    That said, it would constitute political malpractice – even for Trump’s hapless advisers – if they allow him to take this exam without a clear indication of what the result will be.

    Frankly, I suspect they had a reputable doctor perform a private exam recently. Therefore, they probably know full well what to expect.

    One of the doctors from the White House Medical Unit who performed Obama’s annual exam will perform Trump’s. And, like Obama, Trump can forbid the release of any result.

    This raises the question: which results will be so embarrassing that he will forbid their release?

    Whatever the case, I would bet my life savings that his results will not show that “he’s the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” That you might recall was the laughable assessment his longtime doctor made in a December 2015 letter, which Trump’s campaign could not wait to release.

    NOTE: Obama routinely released all vital statistics (e.g., weight and blood pressure), lab results (e.g., cholesterol and PSA numbers), and medications (e.g., vitamins and statins).

  • Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 6:49 AM

    (Real) Black Face a Hit in … Romania

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    During a 2007 “pilgrimage” to Serbia, I visited several towns on the outskirts of Belgrade. In each one, I got the impression that mine was the first (real) black face people living there had ever seen.

    They invariably greeted me with stares, which made me feel like a Martian visiting Earth for the first time. But, on one occasion, a few schoolgirls completely disarmed me. They giddily approached and asked if I was some famous black guy they had seen on TV.

    Naturally, I disabused them of that impression. Yet their curiosity was such that they proceeded to ask if they could take pictures with me, which led to them asking if they could touch my hair and skin. I happily obliged, which I think provided some consolation for the fact that I was not that famous black guy.

    I recounted this and other experiences in “My Serbian ‘Pilgrimage,’” May 30, 2007. I’m sharing it today because it helps me (and might help you) relate to a report the BBC published yesterday. It was headlined “How Nigerian singers are winning the hearts of Romanians,” and included the following:

    The stares are from people trying to work out if he really is the Tobi Ibitoye who shot to fame, coming third on The Voice of Romania talent show in 2015. …

    But Romania only has a very small African community, as most of those leaving the continent tend to head to Western European countries – generally to those with a colonial link.

    It is estimated that over 90% of Nigerians living in Romania are university students, many of whom have come to study medicine, computer engineering or maritime engineering.

    Interestingly enough, I’ve read many accounts of the Soviet Union treating Africans during the Cold War the way Romania seems inclined to treat them today.

    The Soviet officials had clearly hoped that by bringing thousands of African students to the USSR they would score a major propaganda victory against their cold war rivals in the West and also consolidate their country’s prestige in the Third World.

    However, they had failed to foresee the impact of African students on the Soviet society. Instead of serving as symbolic ideological allies of the regime, once in the Soviet Union, Africans often functioned as its opponents.

    (Encyclopedia of Afroeuropean Studies)

    This is why I wonder how long the infatuation between these Romanians and Nigerians will last.

    After all, the novelty of a few black faces is bound to grow into a migration of many. At which point I fear the kind of disaffection and disillusionment African migrants are now experiencing in Russia:

    In the Nov. 2 Section A, an article about hostility against African blacks in Russia said there had been 177 reported acts of violence against blacks in Russia since 2010, according to the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis. …

    ‘Most of the time I’m harassed, but this was the worst experience,’ Bazie, 28, said recently as he sat at a parish community center in Moscow where African migrants often seek refuge.

    His story is not uncommon … African migrants face widespread hostility and racism that usually go unpunished.

    (Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2014)

    This constrains me to clarify that there’s nothing novel about Nigerian singers enjoying some measure of celebrity among Romanians (notably young women). For I’m reminded of the celebrity black singers like Sammy Davis Jr. enjoyed among whites Americans during the 1950s. That was the height of Jim Crowism when, as we all know, 99 percent of blacks were being treated more like Bazie than Ibotoye.

    This is why it’s very likely that things are not all that rosy even for the small number of unsung Nigerians who are just trying to get an education in Romania today.

    What’s more, it’s worth reiterating that the Soviet Union recruited Africans for propaganda purposes, the fallout notwithstanding. Significantly, the USSR was the biggest benefactor of the African National Congress, and trained thousands of the ANC’s militant members to fight the Apartheid regime of South Africa.

    By contrast, these Africans are in Romania today only because no Western European country wants them. This stems from the fact that, because so many African migrants preceded them, the influx of more became an untenable burden.

    Europe is trying to cut the flow of migrants from Africa. …

    Just as the European Union appeared to be stemming the flood of Syrian refugees last year, it realized that it had another, even more complicated problem on its hands: Migration from Africa was continuing to surge. …

    Unlike Syrians, most of whom have viable claims to refugee status because of the war in their country, a large portion of Africans moving to Europe are economic migrants seeking better jobs.

    (Washington Post, August 31, 2017)

    This constrains me to end by noting that Africans ending up in Romania only compounds the continental shame I lamented in African Migrants Turning Mediterranean Sea into Vast Cemetery,” February 12, 2015:

    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.

    Related commentaries:
    Serbian pilgrimage
    African migrants

  • Monday, January 8, 2018 at 6:44 AM

    Golden Globes: Forget Who Wore, Said, or Won What. It Was All About Oprah, Fool!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    In late December, rumors began circulating that the Golden Globes red carpet would be experiencing a blackout: Many stars were banding together in search of all-black dresses and outfits to make a statement against the epidemic of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and beyond.

    At first, there were just hints here and there on social media, but buzz began to build, and on Jan. 2, it was revealed in the New York Times that the coordinated wardrobe effort was part of a bigger, organized campaign called Time’s Up.

    (People, January 7, 2018)

    Time’s Up is an evolution of the #MeToo … moment. This slogan and the black dresses are meant to signal the day of reckoning for sexual harassers in Hollywood. But I fear they will force no greater reckoning than #BringBackOurGirls did for kidnappers of schoolgirls in Africa. Remember that moment?

    Nothing justifies my cynicism quite like this:

    Three months to the day after the New York Times first published its detailed exposé alleging decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, a female producer, agent, actress, and a showrunner all told Deadline they fear a backlash against women who initiate allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault against A-list men — especially at the studios, networks and uber-agencies.

    Indicative of that fear and despite the rising #MeToo movement, each woman in the quartet would only speak anonymously about the matter.

    ‘Hollywood’s a boys’ town and they will do what they have to do to keep their power, even if that means paying lip service for a while to stamping out misogyny,’ the award-winning showrunner tells Deadline.

    (Deadline Hollywood, January 5, 2018)

    So, yeah, A-list women will be fine — as they’ve always been. After all, sexual predators only prey on starry-eyed ingénues and desperately seeking B-list women (and men).

    Meanwhile, apropos of “beyond,” titans in Silicon Valley make honchos in Hollywood look like choir boys when it comes to the festering antics of misogyny. I refer you to Emily Chang’s “‘Oh My God, This Is So F**ked Up’: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side,” Vanity Fair, January 2, 2018. But here’s a teaser:

    The sexual harassment women face on the proverbial casting couch in Hollywood pales in comparison to the sexual harassment women face while interviewing for start-up jobs (or venture capital) in Silicon Valley. Even worse, the prevailing sense of entitlement among nouveau-riche geeks is such that the sexual culture in the Valley rivals the dystopian one depicted in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

    In any event, last night’s show featured host Seth Myers and everyone else trying to say something worthy of the moment. No doubt each was hoping to emulate the moving speech Meryl Streep gave at last year’s Golden Globes, during which she cauterized metastasizing angst from the shock election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

    Never mind the irony that it was none other than Streep who paid this now-cringeworthy tribute to Weinstein at this very show six years ago:

    I just wanna thank my agent Kevin Huvane and God, Harvey Weinstein.

    (SimplyStreep.com, January 16, 2012)

    That she said this is as much an indication of how far Weinstein has fallen from grace as it is an indictment of how much even Streep was beholden to him. Sure enough, he moved heaven and earth in the weeks following that show to help Streep win her third Oscar for her starring role in The Iron Lady – a film he produced.

    Incidentally, if everyone thought he was God, is it any wonder Weinstein thought he could do no wrong, especially when it came to having his way with starlets?

    That said, I feel constrained to share this about the Oscars, which now applies to all awards shows:

    I have little regard for preening, pampered poseurs showing off their borrowed frocks and bling-bling as a prelude to a [nearly four-hour] show — only six minutes of which anyone really cares about (i.e., the time it takes to present Oscars for actor and actress in a leading role, actor and actress in a supporting role, best director, and best picture). …

    And, remarkably enough, the host comedians do little to relieve the boredom of the interludes between these carefully spread-out moments.

    (“My Review of the 2008 Oscars,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 25, 2008)

    So here’s the only reason I tuned in to this one:

    Media icon Oprah Winfrey is set to be feted at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

    She will be honored with the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award, which is given ‘to a talented individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.’

    Past honorees include Barbra Streisand, Denzel Washington, Sidney Poitier, George Clooney, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Steven Spielberg.

    (CNN, December 14, 2017)

    We all know Oprah well enough to suffice to say she did not disappoint. As the New York Times reports today, she delivered

    A gorgeous speech about how a yesterday of discrimination becomes a tomorrow of hope: one of the best routes, she noted, are role models. She recalled what it meant to her, when she was younger, to see Sidney Poitier receive Hollywood’s highest accolades. And she wondered aloud what it might mean for little girls Sunday night to see her getting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.

    Mind you, I don’t know what “incredible impact on the world of entertainment” makes her deserving of this award. Granted, she has given some critically acclaimed performances (e.g., in The Color Purple, Beloved, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). She has also produced some box-office hits (e.g., Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Precious, and Selma).

    But she has never given a Globe-winning performance, let alone an Oscar-winning one, like Barbra or Denzel. Nor has she ever directed or produced a Globe-winning movie, let alone an Oscar-winning one, like Spielberg or Scorsese.

    In fact, she has had an incredible impact not on the world of entertainment, but on the world of ordinary people. To be fair, she always says that her signature medium, The Oprah Winfrey Show, was all about helping people find their calling, purpose, authentic selves … to follow their bliss. In a similar vein, her Master Classes and “The Life You Want” seminars do more to educate and empower (women especially) than entertain.

    [There] is a commonality in human experience. … Our shows are hour-long life lessons. My mission is to use this position, power and money to create opportunities for other people.

    (TIME, June 24, 2001)

    Sure enough, she has created opportunities for countless people through her various charities. Most notable are the college scholarships she funds in America every year and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls she founded in South Africa in 2007.

    Clearly, her greatest accomplishments have little to do with the world of entertainment. But, given recent revelations about the seedy underbelly of that world, one can hardly blame its bestowers of awards for wanting to hail Oprah as their standard bearer.

    More to the point, I am happy to cheer any recognition Oprah gets for all the good she has done, and continues to do.

    Which brings me to Oprah for president?

    I say yes! Not least because the only redeeming thing about the election of Donald Trump is that it makes the election of Oprah Winfrey a no-brainer.

    Except that she and Gayle (and Stedman) would have some ‘splainin’ to do (i.e., about being their authentic selves). I commented on this prohibitive spectre of hypocrisy in “Oprah Protests ‘I’m Not Gay’ (Too Much, Me Thinks),” July 19, 2006. This is why, as tempted as she might be, I don’t think she’s going to run.

    But nobody can deny that Stedman has been as impressive a consort to Oprah as Prince Philip has been to Queen Elizabeth II.

    Moreover, I cannot resist noting the prospect of Oprah providing even greater redemption for America after Trump than Obama provided after Bush. Alas, this racial symmetry would constitute just another way of blacks cleaning up after whites the way they have done throughout American history.

    Hail, Oprah!

    NOTE: Not for nothing, Oprah, but that Weight Watchers gig is working, girl!

    Related commentaries:
    #bringbackourgirls
    Sexual harassment in entertainment
    Selma
    Oprah ‘I’m not gay’

  • Sunday, January 7, 2018 at 7:50 AM

    Happy (Orthodox) Christmas!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

     

    January 7 is Christmas day for Orthodox Christians in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia.  The holiday also is commemorated January 7 in Syria, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Albania, Cyprus, Finland and by the Orthodox Church in America.

    The Assyrian and Ethiopian churches also celebrate Christmas on the seventh, according to the Julian calendar.

    (Voice of America)  

    Hristos se rodi.

    Srecan Božic !

  • Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 8:12 AM

    Competitive sports prove yet again the antidote for fractious politics

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    North Korea has accepted an offer to attend high-level talks next week, South Korean officials have said.

    The meeting, on 9 January, will focus on finding a way for North Korean athletes to attend the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in February.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said this week that sending a delegation to the Games would be ‘a good opportunity to show unity of the people’.

    (BBC, January 5, 2018)

    Related commentaries:
    Trump vs. Jong-un

  • Friday, January 5, 2018 at 8:26 AM

    Turns Out Trump’s ‘Fire and Fury’ Is Just an Explosive Book about Him

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    President Trump famously threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if it continued testing nuclear weapons and threatening to annihilate the United States. But North Korea called his bluff … repeatedly. Therefore, the irony cannot be lost even on this blowhard that he’s the one now wilting under Fire and Fury.

    What’s more, this only validates prevailing criticisms about his thin skin. Because the fire and fury in this case stems not from the nuclear war Trump threatened but from a hit piece some author wrote.

    Amidst the daily din of Donald Trump’s White House comes Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff’s tell-all, just in time for the first anniversary of the Trump inaugural. Like the ‘burn book’ in the movie ‘Mean Girls,’ Fire and Fury contains a toxic tale that singes all.

    In Wolff’s telling, Trump World is cacophonous and dysfunctional.

    (London Guardian, January 5, 2018)

    Duh …

    Yesterday, keeping true to form, Trump had his lawyers threaten the publisher with, well, fire and fury if it proceeded with publication. Therefore, it can only add insult to his injured feelings that, despite this threat (or probably because of it), the publisher moved up the original publication date.

    ‘Due to unprecedented demand, we are moving the on-sale date for all formats of Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, to Friday, January 5, at 9 a.m. ET, from the current on-sale date of Tuesday, January 9,’ a Henry Holt spokeswoman told CNN Thursday afternoon.

    (CNN, January 4, 2018)

    As indicated above, this is just the latest in a litany of instances where someone called Trump’s bluff, showing time and again that his wuff is far worse than his bite.

    He habitually ridicules other politicians as laughingstocks, and has even insinuated that every one of his predecessors made the country look foolish at one time or another. But this is just another manifestation of his psychopathology of projection, which I originally diagnosed in “Forget the Clinton Foundation. Shut Down the Trump Organization!” August 26, 2016. Because, frankly, Trump is the biggest laughingstock in the history of American politics, and no president ever made the country look more foolish than he does every day.

    It’s certainly fair to call him a laughingstock for the ham-handed way he tried to stop the publication of this book. After all, not only did the publisher defy him in mocking fashion but the book has already become a #1 national bestseller to boot. Which is why you can bet your bottom dollar that not just other journalists but former aides are rushing to publish their equally explosive tell-all about the goings-on “Inside the Trump White House.”

    In any event, here, in my own words, are 10 of the many salacious tidbits Wolff shares:

    1. Nobody in Trump world, not even Trump himself, expected him to win. They all treated his presidential campaign as nothing more than a brand-building reality TV show, which could lead to other more lucrative TV and business opportunities.
    2. Never mind his infamous seething over the size of his crowd, he spent his inauguration day pouting over the refusal of any notable celebrity to attend his inauguration.
    3. Trump has the intellectual curiosity of a donkey and the attention span of a gnat. His aides say he’s only semi-literate and is like a child who craves constant attention and needs immediate gratification.
    4. Trump not only has a penchant for grabbing women by the pussy, he gets his kicks out of entrapping his friends’ wives to have sex with him.
    5. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared have struck a two-for-one, Bill and Hillary-type bargain, which calls for Ivanka to become the first female president with Jared to follow. This clearly shows that Trump is not the only one in that family who suffers laughable delusions of grandeur. (To be fair, though, one can hardly blame them. After all, if Americans are stupid enough to elect him, why not them?)
    6. Everyone in Trump’s administration thinks he’s a fool. Wolff documents “100 percent them” calling him things like a “moron,” a “f*cking idiot,” “dumb as sh!t,” and “not only crazy … but stupid.”
    7. Gary Cohn, head of the president’s National Economic Council, has a viral e-mail in which he says of Trump and his White House, among other things, that: “It’s worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. …Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits.”
    8. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief political strategist, says that famous meeting Donald Jr and Kushner had with Russians in Trump Tower to get dirt on Hillary was not only “unpatriotic” but “treasonous.”
    9. Trump is showing clear signs of early-stage dementia.
    10. Melania is sensible enough to sleep in a separate bedroom from Trump. Rumor has it that this prick has a peanut for a dick. But it makes sense that she wouldn’t touch him even if he had a 10-inch pole

    Incidentally, that tidbit about Melania might be this “explosive” book’s only redeeming revelation.

    Meanwhile, it’s causing the kind of shock and awe in Washington today that Iraq must have felt when George W. Bush started raining real fire and fury down on it in March 2003. This, despite the fact that Trump demonstrated on a daily basis throughout his presidential campaign that he is as ignorant and arrogant as he is lecherous and mendacious.

    Nothing is more disingenuous in this respect than reporters and politicians pretending to be “shocked, shocked” by Wolff’s revelations. As it happens, I’m on record imploring them to prevent Trump – by any means necessary – from ever getting within a mile of the White House.

    Here, for example, is what I wrote in “Humping Trump Exposes News Anchormen as Worse than Car Salesmen,” May 2, 2016.

    ____________________

    Remarkably, they report every thing he says as ‘Breaking News,’ especially the Tourrete-like insults he hurls at other candidates. In fact, you had to have been living on Mars over the past year not to have his boorish punch lines ringing in your ear. …

    The news media have become so focused on chasing profits that chasing news has become a distraction. …

    Trump was probably right when he boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, in broad daylight, and still get enough votes to win this nomination. … People, it seems, just want to be entertained — even in politics; and, the more gauche and scandalous the better. Hence the popularity of reality TV, the tabloidization of the news, and the rise of Trump — the impact on cultural development, or even the welfare of the country, be damned.

    Accordingly …  I am challenging prominent Republicans like Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, and members of the #NeverTrump movement — who have publicly damned Trump as dangerous and utterly unfit to be president — to make a public show of endorsing Hillary, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

    For, if ever there were a time to put love of country above loyalty to party, this is it; especially given reports that Trump’s signature trait is that he prizes loyalty not to country or party but to himself above all else.

    ____________________

    Still, I suppose there’s something to be said for having all of these concerns about Trump’s fitness to serve as president catalogued so comprehensively in one tabloid-style book.

    I cannot overstate my disgust at watching so many Republican leaders betray their own principles to help Trump get elected. But they could find redemption in getting him out of that White House ASAP. I urge them to do so – by any means necessary – before he inflicts any more irreparable harm, not just on the United States but the entire world.

    Related commentaries:
    Fire and fury
    Trump projecting
    Trump’s peanut
    Humping Trump

  • Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 8:39 AM

    Israel Deporting Blacks to Preserve White Character of Jewish State

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    I took a lot of flak for characterizing Netanyahu’s Israel as follows in “Israel Votes to Become More Like (old) Apartheid South Africa,” March 18, 2015.

    ____________________

    Election Day in Israel yesterday was full of surprises; none more so than the desperate declarations and exhortations Bibi Netanyahu made to get his supporters to the polls.

    He not only declared that there will never be a Palestinian state as long as he’s prime minister, but also exhorted right-wing Jews to help him stay in power to honor this declaration:

    The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going in droves to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses.

    (The Jerusalem Post, March 18, 2015)

    Imagine the outrage (national and international) if Mitt Romney had done something like this on Election Day in 2012 (i.e., exhorted white voters to get to the polls because black voters were going in droves, putting his plan to’ take back our [white] government’ in danger…).

    ____________________

    Well, I hope this vindicates my characterization:

    Israel said on Wednesday it would pay thousands of African migrants living illegally in the country to leave, threatening them with jail if they are caught after the end of March.

    The vast majority came from Eritrea and Sudan and many said they fled war and persecution as well as economic hardship, but Israel treats them as economic migrants.

    Netanyahu has called the migrants’ presence a threat to Israel’s social fabric and Jewish character, and one government minister has referred to them as ‘a cancer’.

    (Reuters, January 3, 2018)

    In other words, it appears Netanyahu believes Israel should be not only a Jewish state free of Arabs, but a white one free of blacks as well. This excerpt from “American-Style Racial Protests Erupt in Israel,” May 6, 2015, explains why I find the latter prospect especially disheartening.

    ____________________

    American-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. …

    Simmering grievances among blacks in Israel, which finally boiled over last week, are all too familiar. After all, similar grievances have been simmering (and boiling over from time to time) among blacks in America for decades – as embering protests in Ferguson and Baltimore throw into stark relief. What’s more, similar grievances have been simmering (and boiling over from time to time) among blacks in Europe in recent years.

    All the same, these protests in Israel are unique in at least one respect.

    For, unlike blacks in America, blacks in Israel 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. …

    This is why it damns Israel’s soul that it is treating these ‘chosen’ blacks (a.k.a. sons of the Cush) no differently than America treated its legacy blacks, or Europe its colonial blacks. A May 3 editorial in the Jerusalem Post put this treatment into particularly dismaying context. 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 86 percent, compared to white Jews – who enlist at just 74 percent. …

    To be fair, a May 4 editorial hinted at national redemption. Because it charged rather indignantly that Israel has a moral obligation 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 charging for nearly 150 years that America has a moral obligation to fully and fairly assimilate its black citizens.

    ____________________

    That said, Netanyahu’s declared intent to excise this “cancer” from Israel is troubling. Even more so is that President Trump has emboldened him. Netanyahu is trying to ensure that Africans and Arabs compose no more than a negligible percentage of Israel’s immigrant population. But he is only aping the open and notorious way Trump is trying to ensure that Mexicans, Muslims, and Africans compose a decreasing percentage of America’s immigrant population.

    I have lamented the latter in such commentaries as “Trump’s America Showing ‘Shades’ of Hitler’s Germany…?” August 25, 2017, and “Obama Joins Chorus Warning about Trump’s America Aping Hitler’s Germany,” December 11, 2017.

    Sure enough, their common cause became manifest when Trump announced that America would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I decried their racist folly in “Recognizing Jerusalem: Trump’s America and Netanyahu’s Israel against the World,” December 7, 2017.

    Related commentaries:
    Israel apartheid south Africa
    American-style protests in Israel
    Recognizing Jerusalem

  • Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 8:10 AM

    American-Style Protests Erupt in Iran…

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Which shows that Iran is more like America than most Americans, including President Donald J. Trump, realize.

    I was among far too few Western commentators who hailed Iranians for electing the moderate Hassan Rouhani as president in August 2013. But nothing vindicated our praise quite like Rouhani accepting President Obama’s overtures to strike a landmark nuclear deal.

    Here in part is how I framed that deal in “One Small Step Towards De-Nuking Iran,” November 25, 2013.

    ___________________

    Bear in mind that, notwithstanding Netanyahu’s reckless protestations about American appeasement, no American president has done more to halt Iran’s march towards acquiring nuclear weapons than Obama has with this (temporary) agreement.

    Not to mention that George W. Bush had more credibility when he was warmongering about Iraq’s WMDs than Netanyahu’s has with his warmongering about Iran’s nuclear weapons.  After all, Netanyahu has been beating this drum for decades. What’s more, he has been trying every step of the way to get the United States to do his dirty work.

    Here, for example, is how the Jerusalem Post reported his dire warning about Iran’s nuclear program way back on January 12, 1995:

    A SERIOUS (sic) threat of nuclear war hangs over Israel, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset plenum yesterday…

    ‘Within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material,’ Netanyahu said. ‘[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the US.’

    This is why I am constrained to reiterate that Netanyahu has given Obama just cause to be far more wary of him than the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

    ___________________

    It follows, therefore, that I was as heartened when Iranians reelected Rouhani in 2017 as I was when Americans reelected Obama in 2012.

    I am mindful, though, that Obama promised a “post-racial” America. Yet Americans blotted his presidency by taking to the streets to protest all manner of racial injustice – not least the menace of white police killing black men.

    In a similar vein, Rouhani promised a less-sanctioned, thriving economy and greater political freedoms. Yet Iranians are now blotting his presidency by taking to the streets to protest all manner of economic hardship and political frustration.

    To be fair, Rouhani has granted greater freedoms. Notably, he has allowed virtually unfettered access to the social media protesters are using to galvanize their protests; and he has gotten rid of the dreaded morals police. But this restiveness stems primarily from the fact that youth unemployment remains as high as 40 percent.

    Iranian security forces clamped down on Tehran on Monday after demonstrators across the country ignored calls for calm by President Hassan Rouhani in the most significant venting of pent-up economic and political frustrations in years.

    Since the protests began on Thursday, at least 12 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, according to the state television. …

    On Sunday, protesters tried to storm police stations, military installations, and also attacked a seminary, the state television reported, showing footage of burned cars and fires.

    (New York Times, January 1, 2018)

    Reports are that an additional nine people died overnight as these anti-government protests enter a sixth day.

    But I am heartened that Rouhani is reacting there much as Obama reacted here. Specifically, Rouhani is

    • acknowledging that protesters have legitimate grievances;
    • defending their right to protest; and
    • calling on them to vent their frustrations without recourse to violence (i.e., of the kind that attended protests in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland).

    Moreover, his enlightened reaction stands in commendable contrast to the repressive way government officials reacted in 2009. Back then, Iranians mounted similar protests over the reelection of Islamic hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I duly commented in “Iranians Protest Ahmadinejad’s Re-ordination,” June 15, 2009.

    No doubt Ahmadinejad was a religious zealot. In fact, he took perverse pride in hurling hollow threats about wiping Israel off the map (you know, the way Trump takes similar pride in hurling hollow threats about raining fire and fury down on North Korea). But a fair reading of that commentary makes clear that the reelection of Ahmadinejad in Iran was every bit as democratic as the election of Trump in America.

    Not to mention this:

    The Islamic Republic of Iran elected a new president in democratic elections that would’ve made even George Washington, the father of American democracy, proud. Unfortunately, it did not please his presidential heir and namesake, George W. Bush. After all, this curious George only likes democratic elections when those elected share his political views and religious values. And, Iran’s president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clearly shares neither.

    (“New Iranian Pres: We Shall Have Nukes! vs. President Bush: Over My Dead Body!” The iPINIONS Journal, July 14, 2005)

    This is why, with all due respect to the dead, the most disheartening thing about these American-style protests is the way Trump is exhorting Iranians to overthrow their democratically elected government.

    President Donald Trump on Monday morning continued his daily tweets on the deadly protests in Iran, calling for change to an autocratic system there that he says is rife with repression and corruption.

    ‘Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration,’ Trump wrote. ‘The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years … are hungry for food & for freedom … TIME FOR CHANGE!’

    (CNN, January 1, 2018)

    Of course, Trump has blotted his own presidency by showing utter contempt for America’s democratic values, norms, and institutions. Therefore, nobody should be surprised that he is showing similar contempt for Iran’s democratically elected government.

    Unfortunately, his ignorance and arrogance are such that he couldn’t care less that he’s playing right into the hands of Iran’s “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his kitchen cabinet of hard-line clerics. Because they would like nothing more than to blame him for inciting these protests. #IDIOT!

    Still, it is noteworthy that even Khamenei had enough respect for democratic elections to resist exhorting protesters in America (think Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter) to overthrow their democratically elected government.

    No less noteworthy, though, is that Trump is trying his damnedest to rule America in the autocratic way he’s accusing Khamenei of ruling Iran. Delusional and impeachable declarations like this betray his autocratic intent:

    I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.

    (CBS News, December 29, 2017)

    The hypocrisy this shows is brazen even for Trump. Which is why there is projection inherent in him tweeting Iranians to do to their leader what he probably fears Americans might do to him.

    The psychopathology afoot here is called projection. It is defined by people attributing to others traits, faults, and blame that inhere in themselves. And it explains almost every insult Trump has hurled at his opponents throughout this presidential campaign.

    So when you hear him calling other people crooked, insecure, weak, beholding to special interests, liars, etc., be mindful that he’s revealing self-conscious truths about himself, unwittingly.

    (“Forget the Clinton Foundation. Shut Down the Trump Organization!” The iPINIONS Journal, August 26, 2016)

    Even worse, though, Trump is making America an international laughingstock again. #MAILA. After all, just a month ago, the UN Security Council rejected his call for international recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I commented in “Recognizing Jerusalem: Trump’s America and Netanyahu’s Israel against the World,” December 7, 2017.

    Now the Council seems bound to reject his call for international censure against Iran for these protests. After all, as indicated above, every member can fairly dismiss this latest call as a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    For the record, these protests have even less chance of changing this Iranian government than the Black Lives Matter protests had of changing the American government. Actually, these protests will end up essentially the way the 2009 protests did: the Mullahs will remain firmly in control of Iran, and the protesters will see little, if any, change in the frustrating political and economic conditions that provoked their protests.

    In this sense, these protests remind me of the epic futility of the Arab Spring protests in Egypt. The titles to just a few of my commentaries on those protests speak volumes: “Egypt: Military Savior a Bigger Devil than Mubarak?” November 22, 2011, “Protesters Return to Tahrir’s Square,” June 6, 2012, and “Egypt’s Arab Spring Spawns Brutal Military Dictatorship,” March 25, 2014.

    That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that black Americans are still protesting for the civil and equal rights that should have come with the end of slavery more than 150 years ago; whereas Iranians are protesting for similar rights that should have come with end of the Shah’s reign less than 40 years ago.

    And so, abidingly I say to my Iranian brothers and sisters: you shall overcome, change gonna come, keep hope alive….

    Related commentaries:
    Iran nuclear deal
    Ahmadinejad
    police shootings trigger violence
    New Iranian president
    Trump projecting
    Military bigger devil than Mubarak
    Protesters return
    Arab Spring spawns

  • Monday, January 1, 2018 at 8:39 AM

    Happy New Year…?

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 11:31 AM

    Trump to disappointed supporter: No, I said stocks, not stockings, fool

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Perhaps he should check his 401k and Bitcoin statements, no?  Oh right, the only ones who have those are rich folks who didn’t even vote for Trump. #Sucker!

  • Wednesday, December 27, 2017 at 7:09 AM

    Happy Kwanzaa!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Traditional Kwanzaa BookIt’s a curious thing that so many black Americans – who insist on calling themselves African Americans – know so little about their American heritage, and even less about their African ancestry. But this is probably because “black pride” is about as ethereal and subjective as religious faith….

    Martin Luther King Jr. taught us the objective value of judging people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In a similar vein, I humbly suggest that racial pride should be based not on the assumption of things unseen but on substance of deeds done.

    It is in this spirit of racial enlightenment that I celebrate Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1).

    In so doing, I pay homage to the Afrocentric Dr Maulana Kerenga who founded this holiday in 1966 “not to substitute for Christmas” but to reaffirm what it is to be of African ancestry.

    Family Celebrating KwanzaaMore important, though, if all black people endeavored to live according to the seven guiding principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa, then having black pride would entail far more than spouting off hollow rhetoric:

    1. Umoja: (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We” or “I am because We are.”

    2. Kujichagulia: (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

    3. Ujima: (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility remind us of our obligation to the past, present, and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.

    4. Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

    5. Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

    6. Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

    7. Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

    In fact, with these guiding principles, blacks should come to celebrate Kwanzaa the way Jews celebrate Hanukkah….

    Happy Kwanzaa!

  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017 at 8:07 AM

    Happy Boxing Day!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall


    Boxing Day is a Christmas-hangover holiday that is observed throughout the British Commonwealth on December 26. However, like most British (“bank”) holidays, it has no modern significance beyond providing lazy Englishmen (and the people they “colonized”) a pretext for another day off from work.

    Nonetheless, if you’re interested in Boxing Day folklore, including how it relates to boxes that contained Christmas Day presents, click here.

  • Monday, December 25, 2017 at 8:12 AM

    Merry Christmas!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

  • Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 8:02 AM

    Happy Festivus!

    Posted by Anthony L. Hall

    Playwrights used Jesters to highlight the folly in prevailing thoughts and customs of the day long before William Shakespeare patented this literary device.

    Therefore, it’s entirely fitting that Jerry Seinfeld used jesters to highlight the folly of celebrating Christmas more as an homage to crass commercialism than the birth of Jesus Christ. He did so by making “Festivus for the rest of us” the theme of an episode of his hit show, Seinfeld.

    Festivus, which is celebrated on December 23, began in 1965 as a family ritual in the home of writer Dan O’Keefe. His son Daniel, a writer on Seinfeld, wove the entire history and meaning of Festivus into that episode, which aired on the December 18, 1997.

    I watched it. And, trust me, the uproarious laughter all references to Festivus evoked was surpassed only by the cunning message about the real meaning of Christmas, which I felt compelled to ponder long after the credits rolled.

    Ironically, Festivus is a wholly secular attempt to remind us that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Accordingly, it encourages us to utterly shun not only the indulgent ritual of shopping, but all of the other hedonistic activities Christians engage in this time of year.

    The O’Keefes do this by having an “Airing of Grievances” meal. It features each person telling other family members all the ways they disappointed him or her over the past year. They follow this meal with a “Feats of Strength” performance. It features family members wrestling and pinning the head of household to the floor to end the celebration of Festivus….

    Of course, because there’s no religious dogma associated with this holiday, you do not have to follow the O’Keefes’ fashion. Choose whatever non-commercial activity you wish. My choice is a family walk to commune with nature.

    I suspect many of you will be joining the madding crowd doing last-minute shopping – all in a perverse effort to celebrate His birth. But take a moment to think: “What would Jesus do?”

    Happy Festivus!

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