Thursday, October 30, 2008
For Hindu DJ Nerm, the swastika is a symbol of goodwill. Can he reclaim it from its indelible Nazi connotations - and how do people react to his swastika tattoo?
The swastika is perhaps the most vilified symbol in the world. It conjures up images of Nazi death camps and neo-fascists, and strikes fear into the hearts of those who "don't belong" - Blacks, Asians and anyone foreign.
And me? I have a swastika symbol tattooed on the inside of my lip. And I'm Asian. How could I do that? I'm of Indian origin and in my culture the swastika is a symbol of peace and goodwill. I only found out about Hitler's appropriation of it when I studied history at school. I was astounded.
While DJing on tour in Los Angeles in 2000, I decided I would reclaim the swastika for my culture with a tattoo on the inside of my lip. The tattooist was taken aback that I would want a "Nazi logo" on my body until I explained its true meaning.
But the tattoo has faded over time. To get it redone, I visit Naresh, a tattoo artist in Kentish Town. He is mixed race with an Indian parent, and knows the symbol well, having tattooed several Indian swastikas in his time.
When people see my retouched tattoo - even good friends - they reel. I find myself repeatedly explaining what the swastika means to me and my cultural heritage, and that the symbol had been one of peace and positivity for thousands of years before Hitler stole it.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Even as Jews wage genocide against the indigenous people of Palestine, Congress mandated the creation the Office of the Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. The Special Envoy and his office are sui generis in the US State Department.
So, what have the fruits of this federal largesse been? Well, one thing is a report on "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism" which contains this gem (emphasis added):
While the distinguishing features of new anti-Semitism are anti-Zionist rhetoric and opposition to Israel, it often incorporates some classic elements of traditional anti-Semitism, such as drawing on the age-old anti-Jewish theory of blood libel ... by depicting Israelis as bloodthirsty, or perpetuating the traditional conspiracy theory of undue and unseen Jewish influence ..., for example, by attributing U.S. policy to the influence of the "Zionist Lobby," "Jewish-Lobby," or "Pro-Israel Lobby"—terms that tend to be used interchangeably and to imply a Jewish conspiracy or disloyalty to their country. [p. 33]In the epigraph to the section entitled "COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM," we are told on page 62, "The new anti-Semitism threatens all of humanity. The Jew-haters must not pass." Who'd a thunk it? All of humanity is under threat but it's not global warming, famine, global corporatization, HIV/AIDS, war and nuclear proliferation, or the global 'credit crisis' that are the threats.
No, it's the new and improved "anti-Semitism," now with colorfast bleach and brightening agents. Where is SuperMensch when you need him? Fortunately, the same epigraph by a UK parliamentarian assures us: "A counterattack is being organized ...." We may yet be saved, folks. The first page of text in the "COMBATING ..." section helpfully reminds us that, "Laws can be among the most powerful tools for fighting anti-Semitism." Yes, indeedy.
But how does the US State Department know when one is an "anti-Semite"? More importantly, are you, dear reader, guilty of the "new anti-Semitism"? Just take a look at the handy excerpt from the State Dept. web site below and judge for yourself before you are judged. Astute readers will note the existence of some overlap with The Nine Commandments of the Holocaust Religion.
“Working Definition” of Anti-Semitism
In its 2004 report on anti-Semitism, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) called attention to the lack of a common definition of anti-Semitism and sought to obtain one. As a result, a working definition was written collaboratively by a small group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In light of the longstanding commitment of the U.S. to free speech and other individual freedoms as demonstrated within our Constitution, the Office of the Special Envoy believes that this definition provides an adequate initial guide by which anti-Semitism can eventually both be defined and combated, and therefore presents this "working definition" as a starting point in the fight against anti-Semitism.1
Working definition: "Anti-[S]emitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti[-S]emitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Anti-Semitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for "why things go wrong." It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.
Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers), or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor).
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
A popular yard sign in my community says, "Change We Can Believe In—Obama '08." I want to take seriously this notion of the presidential election as an act of faith, as a sort of religious exercise.
Richard A. Horsley has written extensively about "imperial religion." That is, "the construction and cultivation of religion primarily as individualistic spirituality, identity, and meaning [that] tends to leave the operations of political-economic power uncontested and acquiesces in the commodification of religious expressions" (see Religion and Empire (2003), p. 130). In this same vein, he talks about how Christmas "has become a central expression and embodiment of American imperial domination, an imperial religion" (Religion and Empire, p. 109).
So, here we have the related ideas of religion being reduced to private expression and the public expression of a religious holiday being turned to imperial ends. What of our secular political acts? Can they take on the trappings of religion? In "To Vote or Not to Vote," I wrote, "Politicians see voting as a means of granting legitimacy to the government." If that is correct then it would make sense to construct voting as, in some sense, a religious rite. I think that's the case but I am not going to develop that argument, for the present moment at least. Instead, I want share some illuminating remarks of others.
The two quotes below come from comments to "Ten Reasons Why I’m Not Voting" on Jesusmanifesto.com.
Voting is more rite than right. I see it as a participation in the cult of the empire, a symbolic bowing to the State's claims of sovereignty over this land. —Sara HardingAll right, there it is and I am going to just leave that hanging there. To close things out I want to share below "None of the Above," the recent video by the anarchist Celtic Hip Hop Fusion group, Beltaine's Fire with Emcee Lynx on lead vocals.
Voting is the central liturgical ritual of the false and idolatrous religion known as liberal democratic governance. In fact, voting is sacramental. The purpose of voting is not to choose government or alter policy (in liberal/industrial democratic government, that has already been done), but to mystically link those governed to those who govern, to make them one body, the body of the nation-state. —Charles Featherstone
See also: Tilly on the Nation-State as Racketeer
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I recently received a copy of a hoax chain e-mail with the subject line: "General Eisenhower Warned Us." Below, with some minor edits, is the response I sent to the more than two dozen e-mails addresses listed as having received or sent it before I received it.
The "General Eisenhower Warned Us" message below is a sad example of anti-Muslim fear-mongering. This hoax chain e-mail is based upon an earlier 2007 hoax chain e-mail that said, "Recently, this week, UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum ... " (see Snopes.com). The current version (below) says, "This week, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it 'offends' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred."
This sweeping generalization or stereotype, even, is absurd on its face. It claims: "[The Holocaust] 'offends' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred." As a press release for a 2006 scientific poll of UK Muslims noted: "There is no universal, monolithic Muslim opinion - there is as much variety as among non-Muslims." Regarding the holocaust and Muslims, it reported, "2% denied it happened entirely." The same poll found that a plurality of Muslim respondents believe the Holocaust happened "as History teaches".
Moreover, there is no evidence that the UK ever "debated" removing "The Holocaust" from its curriculum. The 2007 report that apparently elicited the Islamophobic frenzy, "Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19," is available online and you can read it yourself. Nowhere in it is there any debate about not teaching about the Nazi holocaust.
The report notes the holocaust is one of several controversial subjects for some students and references on page 15 "a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE [General Certificate of Secondary Education] coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils." The GCSEs apply only to students aged 14 to 16. So, what you have here is one department in one city not selecting one topic for students aged 14-16 because of an unfounded or founded (we do not know which) fear of confronting "anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial" (whatever these mean) among SOME "Muslim pupils." That's all.
When the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet is their online edition) covered the story in 2007, they reported:
" 'There is no evidence that schools are not teaching the Holocaust.' Orla Delegray of the Dept for Children, Schools and Families said.
" 'We have made clear there are certain, non-negotiable subjects which will be protected in schools and that includes the Holocaust,' she wrote. According to her, the British Education Ministry has even invested millions of pounds this year in subsidizing programs through which British students visit Auschwitz.
" 'The suggestion that the Holocaust is being dropped from the UK national curriculum is entirely false,' said Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust."
As for the bit about "Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' ..." that's a hoax, too. Calling the holocaust a myth is not Iranian state policy. The president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--who is second-in-command after the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei--has been accused in the West of holocaust denial but so has Norman Finkelstein, son of two holocaust survivors and the author of The Holocaust Industry. I've read several of Finkelstein's books, including The Holocaust Industry and he is no holocaust denier.
But to return to Ahmadinejad consider the testimony of Shiraz Dossa: "... Ahmadinejad has not denied the Holocaust or proposed Israel’s liquidation; he has never done so in any of his speeches on the subject (all delivered in Farsi/Persian). As an Iran specialist, I can attest that both accusations are false. U.S. Iran experts such as Juan Cole and UK journalists such as Jonathan Steele have come to the same conclusion."
So, now ask yourself with US troops occupying two predominantly Muslim countries, with Iran in the cross-hairs of Israel and US Neo-cons, and with predominantly Muslim Palestine under the thumb of US-backed Israel, who benefits from spreading lies and distortions that cast Muslims is such a very bad light. Who gets hurt?
If you are a Christian and you passed this "General Eisenhower Warned Us" garbage on to other people or failed to challenge it then shouldn't you ask yourself if you have sinned? Leviticus 19:16 says "You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbour: I am the Lord." Christians are not under the Law but that is no license to harm our neighbors or spread falsehoods.
According to Jesus: "It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles. ... what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person ..." They didn't have keyboards and computer mice in Jesus' day but it seems to me the principle is timeless and not restricted to one form of communication.
Perhaps the most offensive and most revealing part of this hoax is the closing. It says: "God Bless America!"
See also: Turning Muslim Children into Zionists
Sent: Mon, 20 Oct 2008 10:44 am
Subject: Fwd: [Fwd: Fwd: Fw: General Eisenhower Warned Us]
It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.
He did this because he said in words to this effect:
'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses -because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened'
This week, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it 'offends' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. It is not removed as yet. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.
It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the,6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests
Who were 'murdered, raped, burned, starved, beat, experimented on and humiliated' while the German people looked the other way!
Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.
This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people! Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.
How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center ...
...because it offends some Muslim in the U.S. ???
Do not just delete this message; it will take only a minute to pass this along.
FREEDOM ISN'T FREE...SOMEONE HAD TO PAY FOR IT
If you can read this...thank a teacher.
If you can read this in English...thank a veteran.
God Bless America !
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Truth and Falsehood
I WALKED one evening on a bank,
While musing in my mind,
I saw Envy spring from a bush,
With Falsehood him behind;
And Cruelty at his right hand,
With bow and arrow keen,
But Falsehood walked behind their back,
Her weapon was not seen.
Envy had armed his spouse and son,
With weapons most severe,
Gave Cruelty a bow and dart,
And Falsehood a sharp spear.
In a deep vale these three met Truth,
And wounded him full sore;
Falsehood put on Truth's graceful cloak,
Then she did walk before.
These tyrants three, did meet a man,
Of them he dread no ill;
He never knew they did intend,
That moment him to kill.
Falsehood, below the cloak of Truth,
Her fatal spear did hide,
Then she did come behind his back,
And wound him in the side;
Then Cruelty he drew his bow,
And wounded him again,
Then Envy greatly did rejoice,
To see his grief and pain.
Long and full sore his wounds did bleed,
Much pain did undergo;
By them he sore afflicted was,
While Truth was lying low.
For in below the cloak of Truth,
These tyrants did remain;
Time after time they wounded him,
Till Truth revived again.
When Truth revived, she was well armed,
And unto them drew nigh,
She took from them her graceful cloak,
Then they away did fly.