Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Black Panthers: Revolutionaries, Not Thugs

Given academia's almost total failure to treat the theme of exploitation and injustice, one could be forgiven for despairing of ever encountering penetrating political commentary in American universities.   Happily, however, there are occasional exceptions to this dismal and habitual avoidance, such as Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr's Black Against Empire - The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, which rescues memory of that radical organization from  demonization and romanticization both.  

For those who value honesty and analytical rigor over impotent polemics, this book is a treasure.  Here, for once, intellectual life is not about other intellectuals, but about real life, in this case ordinary people attempting to overcome extraordinary oppression by taking up arms and dedicating themselves to revolutionary struggle.  The printed word counts, but only insofar as it contributes to liberation from empire, both at home and abroad.   The posturing and pontification so characteristic of thought-for-thought's-sake arguments are blessedly absent from these pages.  

The book chronicles the early life of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale growing up in Oakland, and how they came together to form the Panthers around the issue of armed self-defense against police violence, which stance resonated so strongly with angry young blacks that the party quickly became national, with thousands of members and a newspaper that reached a circulation of 150,000 at its peak, in addition to multi-racial support from a vast anti-war movement, and important international solidarity from Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, China, Algeria, students in Europe, guerrilla movements in the Middle East, and the African National Congress in South Africa.  

Armed self-defense drew enthusiastic support, especially from young urban blacks tired of being manhandled by police.  Black armed resistance meant that police could no longer practice brutal ghetto containment policies with impunity.  Furthermore, by framing armed self-defense as part of a global anti-imperialist struggle, the Panthers gained backing from other political organizations both black and non-black. These allies gave the Panthers the capacity to mount first-rate legal defenses against the many criminal charges they confronted, and they won many of their cases in court.  

Although remembered more for their clashes with police, the Panthers also instituted an astonishing range of community service programs that LBJ's "Great Society" had no intention of organizing, such as the  Free Breakfast For Children Program; liberation schools; free health clinics; the Free Food Distribution Program; the Free Clothing Program; child development centers; the Free Shoe Program; the Free Busing to Prison Program; the Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundation; free housing cooperatives; the Free Pest Control Program; the Free Plumbing and Maintenance Program; renter's assistance; legal aid; the Seniors Escorts Program; and the Free Ambulance Program.   These efforts, alongside the Panthers' immense courage in standing up to police brutality, helped the party become the most influential black political organization in the United States by December 1968. 

Although black power is typically described as an outgrowth of the civil rights movement, it actually pre-dates civil rights efforts.  In North Carolina, Robert Williams ("Negroes With Guns") armed his local chapter of the NAACP  and engaged in pitched battles with the KKK in the early 1960s, rejecting the option of non-violent moral witness.  Later, the Panthers rejected the facile rhetoric of black inclusion, pointing out that American blacks were not an overlooked minority, but a deliberately subjugated internal colony of U.S. empire. 

Moreover, Huey Newton's analysis of how to deal with U.S. race relations diverged sharply from both that of the establishment and the civil rights movement.  The Moynihan Report, issued in 1965 by the U.S. Department of Labor, blamed the social castration of the black man on the presumed pathology of black matriarchal culture.  The civil rights movement said unearned suffering was redemptive and urged blacks to turn the other cheek.  But Newton asserted a new revolutionary masculinity that blamed oppressive social structures for emasculating black men, and urged men and women alike to retrieve their full humanity by standing up against the oppressive system and destroying it, not by turning the other cheek, which was simply a recipe for a sore face.

However, Newton's message was not simply directed at his fellow blacks.  From the start the Panthers rejected black separatism, while maintaining a principled commitment to black liberation that precluded indulging the kind of meaningless multiculturalism that dominates the contemporary Democratic Party.  They clearly understood their need for multi-racial allies, especially progressive whites, and they forged alliances with the latter in opposition to conscription and the Vietnam war.  But they broke with patronizing whites, such as they found in the Communist Party and Socialist Workers Party, while deepening the ideological insight of their more open-minded white allies, pointing out that their opposition to the war was as much a declaration of independence from empire as the Vietnamese resistance was. 

While he was in prison, Huey Newton explained the role of white allies in building a global revolution:  "I personally think that there are many young white revolutionaries who are sincere in attempting to realign themselves with mankind, and to make a reality out of the high moral standards that their fathers and forefathers only expressed.  In pressing for new heroes the young white revolutionaries found their heroes in the black colony at home and in the colonies throughout the world.  The young white revolutionaries raised the cry for the troops to withdraw from Vietnam, hands off Latin America, withdraw from the Dominican Republic and also to withdraw from the black community or the black colony.  So you have a situation in which the young white revolutionaries are attempting to identify with the oppressed people of the colonies and against the exploiter."  Newton contended that because middle-class white revolutionaries had no direct experience of class exploitation or racial injustice, their oppression was "somewhat abstract."  But he insisted they had an important role to play in the global revolutionary struggle.

And white allies took up the struggle.  As the FBI unleashed COINTELPRO against the Panthers, a program of political murder designed to destroy the party,  Panther offices throughout the country were benevolently occupied by white allies, some of them attorneys, who held 24-7 vigils to prevent the Gestapo-style raids, some bringing their bedrolls and sleeping in Panther offices night after night.  Allan Brotsky, a lawyer, explained the tactic:  "We feel this will be a deterrent to lawless raids by the police on Panther headquarters." 

Had the Panthers really been "just criminals," they obviously never would have been the target of such state violence, nor would they have been able to mobilize such organizations as the NAACP and the Urban League to protest it on their behalf, which they did.  Ralph Abernathy actually joined hands with the Panthers, saying that the "racist justice" that drove MLK into the streets in the South "is now driving us to the streets of the North - New York, New Haven, Chicago, signaling the beginning of the end of the Mitchell-Nixon-Agnew-Thurmond era."  He denounced the jailing of David Hilliard and Emory Douglas, declaring "Southern-style justice has come to New Haven . . . . this is nothing more than legal lynching." And following the Fred Hampton and Mark Clark assassinations, the director of the Chicago Urban League offered a broadly felt sentiment in the black community: "Whatever the Panthers believe in, they shouldn't be shot down like dogs in the street."   Even Congressman Edward Koch of New York offered support, saying at an antiwar rally:  "I don't agree with the goals or methods of the Black Panthers, but civil liberties transcend the issue of the Panthers' goals."  

 As the authors peel away layers of myth about the Panthers, one realizes that they were not simply a group of thugs hiding behind a free breakfast program for kids in order to fulfill their penchant for violent crime, as so many people who ought to know better continue to believe to this day.   On the contrary, theirs was a genuinely revolutionary organization that achieved considerable popular support, especially among young blacks, based on its accurate perception that the U.S. was an empire whose superficial democratic features in no way altered its subjugating essence.  When they claimed common cause with anti-imperial struggles in Vietnam and with draft resisters in the U.S. , they set themselves apart from other black rebels of the underclass.  

Although the image of the Panthers as a drug-infested, violence-prone organization is widespread, the Party in fact banned the use of drugs, alcohol, or marijuana while conducting Party activities or bearing arms, while insisting that weapons be used only against "the enemy," not against other black groups.  William Brent, who allegedly pulled an $80 hold-up in a Panther distribution truck, was purged from the Party.

Furthermore, the Party's health care programs included efforts to fight drug addiction.  Often directed by former drug addicts who worked with the Panthers, the efforts focused on treatment and rehabilitation.  And, as the authors point out, whatever attraction drugs or undisciplined gun-play might have held for party members, political survival was incompatible with drug-beclouded minds and impulsive violence:  

"The Panthers could not raise funds, garner legal aid, mobilize political support, or even sell newspapers to many of their allies if they were perceived as criminals, separatists, or aggressive and undisciplined incompetents.  The survival of the Party depended on its political coherence and organizational discipline."  

Which is not to say the Panthers were without flaw or contradiction.  For example, in spite of its widely celebrated masculine public image, women pretty much ran the party.  The community programs of feeding and caring for people were and are largely seen as "women's work," and in the Party as in the rest of society women did in fact do most of this work.  Sexism was also obvious in the perceived duty of revolutionary women to bear children of revolutionary men, regardless of any other consideration.  And Panther communal living arrangements reflected patriarchal bias:  women were responsible for housework, birth control, and abortions in "open" relationships with men, as they were for pregnancy and child care.  

But the fact that so many women took up the Panther challenge of decolonizing the U.S. empire shows that the Panther mission did not speak only for men, just as it did not speak only for blacks.  In fact, it is a vision for all of us, and remains to be achieved forty years later.  

Thursday, December 26, 2013

American Punk Band Murdered!

“Obama is a faggot
 Hillary’s a dike
 Biden is a maggot
 And Jesus was a kike”

Shortly after singing these shocking lyrics from the altar of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, members of the topless tattooed female rightwing punk rock band “ Twat Rebellion” were savagely beaten by an angry mob of Catholics, Liberals and maintenance workers. Their brutalized bodies were then dragged to the Fifth Avenue Synagogue where a crowd of angry Zionists led by the Jewish Defense League finished stomping them to death while singing “Hava Nagila”.

The swastika wearing profanity spouting women had become a fixture at rallies for nazi, atheist and anti-tax causes but though all their performances involved disrespect directed at symbols of American virtue and charm, this was the first time they had taken over a religious venue to indulge in such hate speech attempts at corrupting liberal family values.

 The reaction was criticized by many who also deemed it forgivable under the circumstances. “Hate speech can never be tolerated and when it is used in a holy, sacred environment like a church or temple it is understandable that an angry crowd might exercise vigilant justice,” said a representative of Freedom of Speech Except For Some People In Special Circumstances. “We at FOSEFSPISC defend our cherished American values but when they are used to counter those cherished American values they become un-cherishable and un-American.”

Friday, December 20, 2013


BREAKING NEWS Friday, December 20, 2013 8:49 AM EST
Third-Quarter U.S. Growth Revised Up to 4.1% Rate
The United States economy grew at an astonishing 4.1 percent annual rate, the federal government said Friday in its third and final revision of gross domestic product for the third quarter.
The rate was the fastest in almost two years.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Obamas, Biden to Skip the Winter Olympics in Russia: World Rejoices

A spokesperson for the RIC (Real International Community) said " We will have much less fear of terrorist attack now that prime targets will not be attending."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Arrogance Defined

US, Chinese Warships Nearly Collide in S. China Sea
Agence France-Presse
Excerpt: "The USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, was forced to maneuver to avoid a collision with the Chinese ship that had crossed directly in front of it and halted, according to naval officers and defense officials."

The "South China Sea"? Doesn't the master race of chosen people of the exceptional USA own that? How dare these subhumans interfere with our peace-seeking missiles!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Will Handshake With Castro Lead to Headache for Obama?

President Obama's gesture to Raúl Castro of Cuba at the memorial for Nelson Mandela instantly raised questions about its deeper meaning.

Possible gay marriage ? Who gets the kids?

President Obama, Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush arrived in Johannesburg.

Obama, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton Share Flight to South Africa

A former president, a current president and a potential candidate for president shared Air Force One for the flight to South Africa.

In reaction,Mandelas body said to shiver, twitch and violently heave.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Nuclear Menace: Iran? Are You Serious? Or Delirious?

While alleged representatives of american democracy foam at the mouth over the fictional threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon, the real world existence of thousands of such weapons passes almost without notice, most especially those held by religious fanatics whose narrative leans heavily on potential doom coming at any moment and whose reality seems to work for just that end. But that’s only in the eyes, ears and forcibly emptied minds of many western consumer-citizens, occupied with going into debt for the holy days of shopping and left with little time to contemplate material reality, especially since it is rarely presented to them in an individually understandable and socially coherent form.

After wreaking havoc on the democratic process in Iran many years ago when the USA and Britain conspired to destroy an elected government and replace it with a royal puppet of the west, the Iranian revolution of 1979 placed that nation on a hate list on a par with the old Soviet Union. In fact, these Muslims were painted as possibly bigger threats to mindless consumption and earth raping than the evil commies since they were driven by faith in god, something the west only uses for political manipulation of its voting consumers.

Sincere belief in a religious moral code among a people with real grievances against the west was quite frightening. The attacks on Iran since 1979 have been ongoing and deadly, both in financing wars against that nation and organizing political economic crimes that can take as many lives as a war.

Any efforts by Iran to take its place among others in what passes for an international community, that is, to actually participate in the creation of a real global community of nations, has been met by furious opposition in the west. It should be understood that “the west” amounts to the USA, Israel and its few lapdogs in Europe. Israel is not physically located in the west but it plays a western role in the fading but still deadly neo-colonial control of international majorities by a minority deeming themselves chosen people-master race-exceptional nations, and this with no evidence to back their alleged superiority except their massive military power able to waste millions of lives.

This is like a 400 lb brute pillaging, raping and murdering while considering himself a god for pleasuring and having power over so many women and not noticing that they are now armed, their numbers have grown and that he is close to being surrounded by them. Unfortunately, once he does notice, his desperate irrational fear and wrath will cause him to rape and murder even more - while insisting he is spreading more joy - until he is finally subdued. That is a simple description of the global situation as imperial capital, threatened as never before, strives to survive not only in its usual bloody fashion but even more dangerously by increasingly couching its crimes in the language of democracy and diplomacy.

Humanity - not just Iranians - needs to maintain hope for a better future, but also to be far more careful and wary of the growing danger even as possibilities for success grow. The empire is under stress everywhere and it is straining to maintain itself at any cost, however cosmetic the language employed by its leadership and their puppets. There may never have been a time of greater hope for the human race but conversely, humanity has never been living under the threat represented by a dying system which could take all of us down with it. National identity, such as presently strived for in Iran and countless other places formerly entirely under the boot heel of capital may be an important short term step in the direction of salvation, but internationalism is the giant step we need to take towards a better future for all.

 The problem we confront is international and its solution will ultimately call for a democratic internationalism such as the world has never known before. Without it, we may face a future far more bleak than the worst forecasts of the present.

Problem: Climate Change Solution: System Change


As if there weren’t already more than enough evidence to convince thoughtful people of the problem, the recently concluded U.N. sponsored meetings on Climate Change made it crystal clear:

Political economic fossils fueled by the upper 1% give the 99%’s tax dollars to corporate fossil fuel polluters for amassing ever greater private profits at ever more threatening loss to the public. Mumbled acknowledgment of the problem while continuing to make it worse according to the dictates of a system they either knowingly protect or ignorantly support, made it clear to activists and many government officials who stormed out of the meeting that a life threatening political economy must be changed if humanity is to survive.

 That can be hard to understand among a population still consuming like there’s no tomorrow and doing so at the advertising developed lust dictated by a system for which there really is no tomorrow.

But when even the new pope adds a loud voice to the growing numbers of critical people already paying a heavy price for treating the environment like a profit making commodity for master race-chosen people-exceptional nation minority members of the human race, maybe a turning point in consciousness has been reached. You’d never know that if you just hear most government leaders and their stenographers in corporate media. Since that is what most people hear, the problem grows worse even as its solutions seem more obvious.

As increasing numbers of critics note, we cannot continue the commodity cult of capitalism that is wasting lives and the environment on which all life depends, in pursuit of increasing profits for a relative few while increasing losses leading to despair, suffering and possible doom for life itself.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Indoctrinated Is Not A Synonym For Stupid

Comedians regularly do street-side interviews of "average" Americans designed to get laughs at the expense of those interviewed, who are presumed to be witless fools.   But the information asked for, "What is the 'sequester'? and, "Can you name the president of various countries?" is generally of a trivial nature, and to call people "ignorant" for not knowing the "right" answer is grossly unfair. Granted, general information about history/society/politics/geography, you name it, is abysmally low in the U.S. and around the world. But that has a lot more to do with the effectiveness of propaganda than it does individual deficiencies in pursuing knowledge. Look at the media bombardment the U.S.public faces on a 24-7 basis. It's designed to destroy people's mental capacities so they will be mindless consumers. Trillions of dollars a year are allocated to that (i.e. marketing and public relations). So comedians who go out in the street looking to show how "dumb" the common people are, are simply cooperating with the elites who run the country in casting blame where it doesn't belong.  There's nothing funny about that.

Dogs Are People; Children Are "Investments"

We often hear the claim that government programs for the benefit of young children are sound because "The value of investment in these early childhood years has been well-documented."

It's certainly heartening to know that the "investments" in childhood have been shown to have a respectable yield, because if that were not the case, we'd be justified in letting our children starve and die on the streets, right? Framing the issue in this way - as an "investment" with a good payoff - is frankly sick. People spend loads of money on their adored pets, but it's unlikely anyone has justified such expenses on the grounds that they are good investments.

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK: The Real Story


"I don't want to die!"  ----- crying Los Angeles schoolchildren at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis

"I cut his balls off."
-----President Kennedy, exulting in what he took to be Premier Khrushchev’s humiliation in backing away from nuclear war

“End this madness,” Bertrand Russell cabled John Kennedy, imploring the American president to come to his senses while the world waited to discover if Kennedy’s game of “nuclear chicken” was destined to relegate Hiroshima and Nagasaki to footnotes of the atomic age.

In order to prevent Washington from staging a second Bay of Pigs (i.e., repeat invasion of Cuba) the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles on the island in the fall of 1962. Though a negotiated settlement carried the least risk of catastrophe, the Kennedy administration rejected diplomacy for allegedly carrying the taint of moral weakness. At a time when nuclear-armed Soviet submarines could hit U.S. territory from the ocean, Kennedy opted to blockade Cuba, and he did so (in violation the U.N. Charter), cutting off Soviet access to the island.

Soviet supply ships with submarine escorts steamed toward the American blockade while the largest U.S. invasion force since WWII prepared for war with 42,000 nuclear-armed Soviet troops awaiting them in Cuba. The Strategic Air Command deployed its bomber fleet to pre-selected airfields throughout the United States, and nuclear bombs were loaded aboard planes on SAC bases in Britain, Spain, and Morocco. Nuclear-equipped fighter-bombers went on alert in Europe, preparing to hit assigned targets in the Soviet bloc. Polaris submarines possessed of enough firepower to destroy every major city in the USSR left Scotland to patrol the North Atlantic.

At the height of the crisis, Khrushchev broadcast a letter to Kennedy on Radio Moscow offering removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba and a non-aggression pledge to Turkey in return for a U.S. withdrawal of nuclear missiles from Turkey (Washington had apparently already issued a withdrawal order for those missiles) and a non-aggression pledge to Cuba. But Kennedy ignored the offer, pressing for unconditional victory with millions of lives in the balance.

According to Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the official JFK historian of his White House years, this was “the most dangerous moment in human history.” How close did the world come to nuclear war? Participants in a 2002 conference between former Kennedy administration officials, former Soviet military officers, Cuban officials, and scholars from all three countries, concluded that nuclear war was averted only because a Soviet submarine commander countermanded an order to launch nuclear-armed torpedoes in response to U.S. destroyers firing depth charges to force Soviet submarines to the surface. “The lesson from this is that a guy called Vasili Arkhipov saved the world,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the (private) National Security Archive.

Among the documents pored over at the 2002 conference in Havana was a declassified 1961 Defense Department memo describing a three-step plan for the “US endeavor to cause the overthrow of the Castro government.” The strategy was to carry out intensive military exercises near Cuba to provoke a defensive reaction, which would then give the U.S. a pretext with which to “destroy Castro with speed, force and determination.” Robert McNamara, Kennedy’s defense secretary and a conference participant, conceded that Cuba’s fears that they were going to be attacked by the U.S. were justified. “If I were in Cuban or Soviet shoes, I would have thought so, too.”

Exulting in the lucky outcome, Kennedy did not renounce Washington’s ongoing terrorist war against Cuba, which included chemical and biological attacks against the island and numerous attempts on the life of Fidel Castro. In fact, he had already effectively declared war on all of Latin America in order to prevent a second Cuban-style revolution in the hemisphere. Robert McNamara had announced in early 1962 that Latin American states receiving U.S. military assistance would henceforth change their mission from “hemispheric defense” to “internal security,” i.e., making war on their own peoples. Through the Agency For International Development, Latin American police were promised training in the use of gas guns, helicopters, anti-riot equipment, and torture. As the numbers of mutilated and dead mounted, the U.S. School of the Americas, where Washington’s counterinsurgency training was carried out, became known in Latin America as “the school of coups.”

Kennedy’s jingoist politics shouldn’t have surprised anyone, as they were a matter of longstanding record. Elected to Congress in 1946 as a rich war hero, JFK spent his time in the House condemning the “betrayal” of Poland at Yalta, thundering against the Truman administration’s “loss” of China, and voting for the McCarran Act (the Patriot Act of its day) which required that organizations tainted by “Communism” register with a Subversive Activities Control Board. Members of such organizations lost their right to travel, to hold government jobs, and to work in defense plants. In 1952 Kennedy was elected to the Senate, where he avoided condemning Joe McCarthy, who was a close friend of the Kennedy family (Bobby named him godfather of one of his children). According to Kennedy speech-writer Theodore Sorenson, the Massachusetts senator believed that military force was “the bulk of diplomacy and disarmament only a dream.” Preoccupied with shaking his fist at the Communist world, Kennedy paid little attention to the 1954 Brown decision ordering desegregation of the nation’s apartheid school system, dismissing school integration as “a judicial problem, not a legislative one.”

As president, Kennedy appointed shrewd technocrats - almost all from the upper class - who were clueless about social justice, but well-practiced in the exercise of power. Dean Rusk, a John Foster Dulles protege and president of the Rockefeller Foundation, became Secretary of State. C. Douglas Dillon of Wall Street’s Dillon, Read and Company was named Secretary of the Treasury. Robert McNamara, president of the Ford Motor Company, was selected to be Secretary of Defense. Other top Kennedy officials were Averell Harriman of Brown Brothers Harriman, Paul Nitze, of Dillon-Read, Roswell Gilpatrick of another Wall Street firm, John McCone, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and William C. Foster. John J. McCloy, who Kennedy appointed to be his special adviser on disarmament, had a background, according to Arthur Schlesinger, that “combined the Republican party, the Pentagon, the Ford Foundation, the Chase Manhattan Bank, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the Brook and the Links.”

From such a cast progressive policy was hardly to be expected, and indeed, it was not forthcoming. In Southeast Asia Kennedy changed Washington’s Vietnam policy from support for state terror to outright aggression, which led to the disastrous U.S. engagement that claimed the lives of millions of Indochinese, as well as more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers. Contrary to much Camelot romanticism, Kennedy never considered any policy other than military victory. Just three weeks before his assassination, in the wake of the overthrow of the Diem regime, he remained hopeful about the prospects for an intensification of the war, telling the press that he thought there was a “new situation” in Vietnam, which would lead to, “we hope, an increased effort in the war” (emphasis added). He added that the U.S. policy should be to “intensify the struggle” so that “we can bring Americans out of there” - after U.S. forces had subjugated the country, a goal he never renounced.

The carnage involved in attempting to fulfill such an aspiration was, as might be expected, appalling. Children were burned alive with napalm. Fragmentation bombs ripped villagers to shreds. Charred bodies fertilized the fields of “free Vietnam” and bullet-riddled corpses of Buddhist demonstrators lay crumpled in the streets. When external support for state terrorism proved inadequate to the task, Kennedy sent the U.S. Air Force to bomb rural South Vietnam (October 1962), driving hundreds of thousands of peasants into “strategic hamlets,” where, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, they were “protected” from the guerrilla movement the Pentagon conceded they were voluntarily supporting. By the time of Kennedy’s death, over half the population of South Vietnam was engaged in forced labor in such “strategic hamlets,” with the Kennedy administration planning to incarcerate nearly the entire rural population of the country to prevent it from acting on its political convictions.

The human cost of U.S. policy in Vietnam was devastating. According to the Bertrand Russell war crimes commission, by 1963 the Vietnam war had already yielded 160,000 dead; 700,000 tortured and maimed; 400,000 imprisoned; 31,000 raped; 3000 disemboweled with their livers cut out while alive; 4000 people burned alive; 1000 destroyed temples; and 46 instances of villages attacked with poisonous chemicals.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front, Kennedy did little to aid the desegregation movement, which he considered a trivial affair until worldwide publicity forced him to pay attention (Arthur Schlesinger’s book on the Kennedy presidency treats the theme in the 35th of 37 chapters). While pacifist civil rights activists endured savage attacks at the hands of racist mobs in an attempt to topple Jim Crow, Kennedy dismissed them as “sons of bitches” (SNCC) who had “an investment in violence,” a harsh judgment he could never bring himself to make about the segregationist terrorists the SNCC activists were being beaten and killed by. He refused to back civil rights legislation until well into 1963. Among civil rights leaders, what the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins referred to as Kennedy’s “supercaution” evoked almost universal condemnation.

Embarrassed by the screaming headlines and distressed at the propaganda coup the Kremlin was reaping from his studied inaction in the face of horrifying brutality, Kennedy moved only belatedly and reluctantly to support the black freedom movement. While thousands were attacked and jailed throughout the South, and Medgar Evers was murdered on his front porch in Mississippi, FBI agents took notes and filed reports, but did not move to protect the lives of black people, or even properly investigate when white supremacists shot them dead. Worried about his support in Congress, Kennedy moved to shore up his Southern political base, appointing racist judges to the bench, including one in Georgia who sought to prevent “pinks, radicals and black voters” from overturning segregation, and another in Mississippi who saw no point in registering “a bunch of niggers on a voter drive.” And when the March on Washington threatened to include an indictment of federal government policy, Kennedy convinced black leaders to tone down their critical rhetoric and cancel plans for civil disobedience, provoking Malcolm X to dismiss the choreographed event as “the farce on Washington.”

In many ways Kennedy was Ronald Reagan. Although criticized for his participation in the McCarthy-led witch hunts (he was on a Senate committee that doggedly abused UAW leader Harold Christoffel for swearing he wasn’t a Communist, and also supported a bill that included concentration camps for heretics), he inspired admiration at home and abroad for his unwavering faith in American “democracy” (i.e., capitalism). Heir to a bootlegging fortune and helped into the White House by mob connections, he became president after besting Richard Nixon in televised campaign debates in which he promised to end the nation’s economic slump and pursue a more aggressive anti-Communist policy with Moscow once elected. While Nikita Khruschev radically cut back Soviet armaments and military forces - calling for reciprocal action by the U.S. - Kennedy ignored the plea in favor of a huge military build-up, warning repeatedly of the U.S.S.R.’s alleged “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy to take over the world.” He was obsessed with overthrowing the Cuban government (as Reagan later was with toppling the Nicaraguan Sandinistas), which he denounced as a Soviet proxy. To avoid the spread of the Cuban policy of nationalizing resources in order to raise the quality of life for the masses, he strongly supported military dictatorships throughout Latin America. He also supplied military advisors to Vietnam, enthusiastically backing their efforts to destroy popular organizations and terrorize the population into submission. To mobilize budgetary support for his massive increases in war spending, he warned the Congress and the public about a non-existent missile gap that supposedly favored the Soviets. On domestic policy, he advised restraint on social programs and a tax cut for business, which he argued would stimulate economic growth and lead to trickle down benefits for all Americans. (However, in the first five years of Kennedy-Johnson policy corporate profits increased 76.5%, but wages only 18 percent, demonstrating that JFK’s economic policies redistributed income from the poor to the rich.)

In short, an honest account of JFK’s legacy must include (1) an anti-Communist fanaticism that nearly blew up the world, (2) aggression in Vietnam that reached almost genocidal levels in subsequent years (3) contempt for civil liberties at crucial moments (4) equivocation in the face of K.K.K. terror (5) an invasion of the sovereign state of Cuba and years of terrorism against the island after the invasion failed (6) reverse Robin Hood economics.

The Sources:

Marion Lloyd, "Soviets Close to Using A-Bomb in 1962 Crisis," Boston Globe, October 13, 2002

Cedric Belfrage and James Aronson, "Something To Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian, 1948-1967,"(Columbia, 1978)

Kenneth, O'Reilly, "Racial Matters - The F.B.I.'s Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972," (Free Press, 1989)

Taylor Branch, "Parting the Waters - America in the King Years, 1954-1963," (Simon and Schuster, 1988)

Lawrence S. Wittner, "Cold War America - From Hiroshima to Watergate," (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1978)

Walter LaFeber, "Inevitable Revolutions - The United States in Central America" (Norton, 1984)

Cedric Belfrage, "The American Inquisition - A Profile of the 'McCarthy Era'" (Thunder's Mouth, 1989)

Arthur Schlesinger, "A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House," (Houghton Mifflin, 1965)

Todd Gitlin, "The Sixties - Years of Hope, Days of Rage," (Bantam, 1986)

Howard Zinn, Postwar America - 1945-1971," (Bobbs-Merrill, 1973)

Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the United States," (Harper, 1995)

Seymour Hersh, "The Dark Side of Camelot," (Little Brown, 1997)

Bertrand Russell, "War Crimes in Vietnam," (George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1966)

Noam Chomsky, "Rethinking Camelot - JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture," (Verso, 1993)

Noam Chomsky, "Year 501 - The Conquest Continues," (South End, 1993)

Noam Chomsky, "World Orders Old and New," (Columbia, 1994)

Noam Chomsky, "Hegemony or Survival - America's Quest For Global Dominance," (Holt, 2003)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Support Our Troops - Indict Their Leaders

As usual on Veteran's Day, we are urged to honor our "heroes" and salute their martial courage, while ignoring the murderous imperial role they play in "fighting for their country."

This really cannot be done.  A professional army is by definition an organized band that kills on command.  This can only be justified on the grounds that its mission is purely defensive, designed to repel invasion of the national territory the troops are sworn to protect and defend.

But this is hardly the role of the U.S. armed forces today, when Washington maintains hundreds of major military bases around the world, and thousands of smaller military installations, all of them dedicated to maintaining an economic and political status quo increasingly protested by popular majorities seeking a freer, more democratic world.  In short, in spite of its multicultural and bi-gender facade, the U.S. military is an anti-democratic force.  And there is nothing heroic about suppressing democracy.

Yes, our troops often display spectacular physical courage under fire.  But so did soldiers defending Nazism and Communism, Japanese soldiers defending a brutal empire, and Confederate soldiers fighting to preserve chattel slavery.  We do not ordinarily consider these soldiers heroes, no matter how great their martial courage, because we rate the missions they were sent on as illegitimate or evil.

We cannot have it both ways.  If military service is value neutral, then it does not matter what cause soldiers fight for, we must salute their courage under fire.  But if the value of physical courage is inextricably bound up with the legitimacy of the mission a soldier is sent on, then we must withhold hero status from imperial soldiers who fight - not to defend us from evil - but merely to preserve and extend the hegemony of empire.  In the latter case, their bravery is stained and diminished by the ignoble cause they have been commanded to serve.

Actually, these days a soldier does not even have to demonstrate physical courage to be designated a hero.  Cheap praise is heaped on our soldiers merely for being in the military, quite apart from anything they may do on a field of battle.  This is directly related to a steady decline in public support for imperial military missions, which the architects of empire resist by equating anti-war sentiment with hostility to soldiers.  "Support our troops" actually means "support the mission," no matter how illegitimate.

This we must not do.  The grotesque barbarity displayed at Abu Ghraib - hardly ancient history - was neither heroic, nor accidental.  In fact, it was deliberately sanctioned policy, extensively pre-tested by Israel, to associate all resistance to foreign invasion with sexual humiliation.  In short, it was an attempt to make legitimate heroism impossible for Iraqis, to stain public memory of resistance with images of utter disgrace.  To invoke "support our troops" in this context is to embrace complete moral degeneracy.

A better option would be to widely publicize and critique the civilian leaders who craft such policies, and degrade our troops in the name of honoring them.  "Support our troops - dispatch Donald Rumsfeld to jail," should have been a national slogan years ago.  Today, we have just as much reason to call for the same for Barack Obama - our first African-American president, who overthrew a Libyan government with the highest standard of living in Africa, leaving the country to the mercy of murderous and plundering gangs.

Service?  Honor?  Respect?  What have any of these words to do with the role of the U.S. military in the world today?  What is honorable about occupying Afghanistan in the service of a government so corrupt it makes the Taliban seem preferable?  How is respect cultivated by mass murder of civilians by drones?  What kind of "service" is involved in establishing an international network of torture centers in defiance of international law and basic morality?

Yes, let's honor our troops, not by continuing the atrocities that degrade them, but by abolishing the imperial military and developing a real national defense policy to replace it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Market Place For Everything: Especially Debt


“Debt is a relationship of power and inequality between the loan institution and the borrower.”

Want some health care? Need a place to live? Are you hungry? Need a gun? A politician? A drone missile? All those and more, much much more, are available all day and all night at the marketplace and you don’t even have to leave your home to go downtown or to the mall to do your shopping. It’s all there for your consuming convenience on your computer, iPod, smart phone, dumb phone or other products that can be used to charge purchases to your plastic for anything and everything, anytime all the time. Nice?

Until your credit runs out. Or you lose your job. Or you didn’t have a job or credit in the first place. In which case, none of those things will be available to you.

It might not be too painful going without a weapon or a missile or a rented if not fully owned politician but lacking food, clothing, shelter and health care make it really tough to survive. In fact, science, religion and numerous polls paid for by market researchers make it clear:

It’s impossible.

We are currently being told by some that the private insurance profit program called Obamacare has created a wonderful health care marketplace and is the greatest thing we’ve ever had, and by others that it will kill people, destroy the economy and bring attack from outer space or worse. Both arguments avoid the major question:

How come we have to go to a marketplace and purchase health care and everything else we need in life? And who, or what, decides how much money we need to have in order to get whatever it is we need and how deeply we go into debt once we no longer have that money? Where and when did that process start? At the Garden of Eden? During the American Revolution? At a Christmas sale? Who started it? God? The Iroquois? Morgan Guaranty No-Trust? More important, how can we control that process before it produces not only greater inequality than already exists, but worse, an end to the process of life itself?

Consumers – at one time called citizens but that was long ago – have run up personal debts in this marketplace that add up to hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars. And the nations and societies where they once were called citizens have debts equaling many trillions more. Does this mean everybody is leading a wonderful life with all the stuff we’ve purchased even if we don’t need it and don’t have the money to buy it?

Does a snake have wings?

If we’re so happy and content how come we have to spend hundreds of billions to protect ourselves from nazis, commies, terrorists, anti-Semites, Jews, burglars, street criminals, suite criminals, invaders from outer and inner space, vampires, sitcoms, the landlord, our in-laws, finance companies and so much else that has us constantly at our wits end, worried sick and living in fear?

Reminder for the arithmetically challenged among us: we are talking very very big numbers that have moved from millions to billions to trillions in a very short period of historic time. For example:

 A trillion has twelve zeros and is equal to a thousand billions, each of them having nine zeros. Got that? A billion seconds equal 32 years. In current media-speech, that’s more than three decades. Wow? But a trillion seconds are equal to 320 centuries. That’s 32,000 years. Huh? Again to put it into a form that might make it clear to those who can no longer say “ten years” but are compelled by custom, habit and/or language and logic disability to only use the word “decade”, those trillion seconds would take 3,200 “decades” to pass. However we say it, that is a very very very long time. And remember, we are speaking about very very very large dollar numbers, in most cases equally beyond our ability to comprehend except as abstractions with seemingly little meaning in everyday life.

Now back to our personal and collective-as-a-nation debts. Think of those numbers for a second or a minute or all day or, if you’re really slow and hung up on current media mind mash, a decade, and in the words of Ricky Ricardo, “‘splain to me Lucy how we gonna pay that money?” Or more realistically, whether we should even try, and when we should start canceling it, and whether to begin that cancellation at a personal, state, national or global level.

We should all know about our unfortunately massive global marketplace for garbage. We are burying our planet in layers of our economic species feces. How about seeing much if not all of debt for the garbage that it is, a putrid life threatening smelly dump for those of us who don’t have enough political power (guns, drones, etc.) to force its payment to us, but under the guns and drones of those with the political power to force our payments of it to them. Hmmm.

What would happen if a whole lot of us, not just one community but many in unity with many others, told “them”; we are cancelling the debt? If we did it in great enough numbers, like maybe close to the seemingly incalculable figures called national and accumulated personal debt, what would happen? Of course democracy would have to play a major role in getting us to take that step. Some think we are a democratic society already. Hmmm. Bring this subject up with your democratically elected representative and see what reaction you get. Disregard that reaction and begin working with your fellow citizens to stop consuming for just a while and begin planning to bring about a happier environment by first cancelling the debt and then seeing what it is we really need and where we should go to get it. We could save hundreds of trillions of dollars and our race as well. Who would be against such a sensible plan for humanity?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cancer, Polio or Good Health?

The elections are over and while many Demo-liberals are heartened by the results the rest of us should understand that we have a long way to go.

The DiBlasio victory in New York shows hopeful signs for a city that has been run for more than twenty years exclusively by Wall Street, banking and financial interests and their upper income servant class. Of course that’s true for the nation as a whole, so one victory for a candidate at least speaking to more humane values is a step in the right – as well as slightly left – direction. And more important than DiBlasio’s long time Democratic affiliation was the fact that the Working Peoples Party both endorsed and labored for his victory.

Alternative parties are not supposed to matter in our winner-take-all corporate imitation of democracy, but this New York group and the nationwide Greens and Libertarians are playing a greater role in moving people to bother at all with election days that usually offer a lesser evil choice of cancer or polio.

Considering the massive obstacles put in place by the wealthy national ownership of the political-economic-electoral process, even small gains can inspire but also offer further experience to activists on how to present issues and candidates to the public and then organize to get understandably disgusted voters to the polls.

Some initiatives were even more hopeful than individual candidates, especially a minimum wage increase in New Jersey and an even bigger one - $15 an hour – in Washington. What we really need are a $20 an hour minimum wage, a twenty hour work week to make full employment and family life possible, a national health care program covering all, public banks, an end to multi billion dollar military meddling in other nation’s affairs, vastly improved schools and infrastructure paid for in part by the savings of such a peaceful policy, a much higher tax rate on the corporate rich, and a full employment program for americans that ends our destruction of foreign economies in order to create cheap immigrant labor here that pits natives against immigrants strengthening the divide and conquer policy that keeps a minority in power and a majority squabbling over massive losses it carries so that the even more massive profits are gorged on by an ever richer minority at the top.

It will take more than the electoral process to accomplish those ends and more, but that process is necessary even in an imitation democracy like ours. But for a real one it is absolutely essential. This election saw some victories, some setbacks, and as such was like all others. “They” of the minority still control the process and while “we” of the majority made some small gains, for substantial change and not simply more moving around of the deck chairs on the Titanic, future elections will need to offer far more opportunities than this one. We need to see to that and we’d better or they will continue leading us to greater inequality, more wars and ecological breakdown of the planetary life support system.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Vicious Anti-Semitism:First Bernie Madoff, Now This

SAC to Plead Guilty and Pay $1.2 Billion for Insider Trading


SAC Capital Advisors, the hedge fund owned by Steven A. Cohen, has agreed to plead guilty to insider trading violations, becoming the first large Wall Street firm in a generation to confess to criminal conduct.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shutdown Over, Government Slowly Gets Back to Normal

Oh Oh..

A Garlic Exclusive: Nazi Billionare Finances Netanyahu!

An exclusive secret interview with a wealthy nazi working from international offices in Brazil, New Jersey, Wall Street, Berlin and Tel Aviv revealed a mind boggling financial plan to bring about the destruction of world Jewry. He claims to have financed the career of Benjamin Netanyahu in order to create more hatred for Jews than was ever possible under Hitler.

“I saw this crackpot as the answer to my, um, prayers” said the source of this exclusive story.

“ I lost my entire family in the Dresden firebombing and was barely able to escape that holocaust, salvaging only my multi-million dollar collection of art, tons of gold bullion and thousands of shares of stock in oil, uranium, diamond and coal mines. As an historic survivor I resolved to do all I could to destroy the Jews I held responsible for my and our incredible suffering and when I heard about this young Israeli I knew my, um, prayers had been answered.”

The anonymous nazi multi-billionaire proceeded to send millions of anonymous dollars to all of Netanyahu’s campaigns for public office, after paying for his education at synagogues and American universities.

“ I used Jewish groups as covers for many of my donations. I have been a major anonymous donor to Jewish groups like the ADL for ages, always claiming that my generous contributions came from prudent and profitable investments in the Holocaust Industry and insisting that they strengthen world Jewry by helping to finance Netanyahu’s rise to power. I knew he could eventually bring about the downfall of Israel and world Jewry. It was only a matter of time before his crackpot allegiance to irrationality and his treatment of the American government as his shvartze servants would earn him, and Judaism, the undying hatred of all gentiles and even many Jews ” said the anonymous global member of an anonymous ruling class.

 “That day finally draws nearer due to his idiotic and alienating behavior; Nazis the world over couldn’t be happier.”

For obvious reasons, neither The Garlic nor Legalienate can reveal the source for this interview.

Except to say that it was made possible by a grant from the 911 Truth Foundation.

Which is headquartered at Area 51, USA.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Holocaust Debate

Holocaust debate

An abridged version of an online discussion I had some years ago at Amazon.  Below, “Creepy History” by Jeffrey L. Thurston, an Amazon book review of Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?, a 2002 book by Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman.


Thurston wrote:
This book delves into a creepy subject but as usual with the subject of Holocaust Denial it does not seek to refute the Holocaust Deniers—rather it tries (again as usual) to make the Deniers the subject. There is little head on argument or discussion of the supposedly outlandish claims of Deniers. This book should have been all about the historiography of the Holocaust—this would have gone a long way to actually rebutting the points that Deniers always make (points about actual numbers and mechanics and historical sources). Instead it simply shows us how Official History is made and why it can’t be wrong.
In real life skeptics (of all people) should be skeptical of official politicized history. My research into Joe Stalin has shown me how the Official Version is often based on bizarre historiography. In making the book mostly about the Deniers nothing convincing is offered to counter the revisionist aspect of Holocaust “Denial”: those who say the Holocaust’s numbers have been exaggerated and those who question its mechanics.
Many people lumped in with Deniers have honest questions. The Official Version of Holocaust and the world’s reaction to Holocaust Denial have evolved into a very strange mix of fear and well—denial! It is illegal to deny the Holocaust in many supposedly “free” Western nations. If the subject were so open and shut then why do there have to be laws protecting free minds from it?
The rather simple arguments that Deniers (or revisionists) make are difficult to rebut—period. The Official Version must stand—period! On pain of the Law! And the Holocaust has morphed into the main casus belli of WWII and now of all world history—the sufferings of a tiny fraction of WWII’s victims are the subject of much of popular WWII history in the United States. I challenge people who are true skeptics to delve into this subject with an open mind. You might be surprised as I was.

Davros said…
I live in Britain, where there are no Holocaust Denial Laws and, in general, Holocaust Denial is not really a big issue. Indeed, you will find a lot of sympathy for the idea that Holocaust Denial Laws do indeed stifle freedom of speech and give Holocaust Deniers ammunition to say they are being repressed and their human rights denied.

Michael Smith said…
I have to agree that the book encourages readers to believe that official history is objective, self-correcting, and infallible. What a crock! The authors conflate skepticism about mass gassing chambers with outright denial of the Holocaust. That’s a sleight-of-hand job. So-called “deniers” are skeptical about mass gassing chambers, not about violent treatment of Jews per se.
David Irving is not a Holocaust “Denier.” He’s appeared at some of their gatherings but does not consider himself one of them, nor do they accept him as one of their own.
Flat earthers can be shown a picture of the round earth to demonstrate the error of their ways. Where can one get a picture of a mass gassing chamber that was used by the Nazis?
In the Irving-Lipstadt case defense attorneys specifically refused to present an affirmative case for homicidal gassing chambers. If one had existed, they’d have presented it. But there are no photographs to present, no material remains of a homicidal gas chamber, no documents that directly refer to mass extermination by gas. It’s all “proven” by inferential speculation, the same way 9/11 Truthers “prove” that the twin towers were brought down by controlled explosives.

DWD said…
“The sufferings of a tiny fraction of WWII’s victims are the subject of much of popular WWII history in the United States.” – Jeffrey L. Thurston
I’d hardly consider at least 10% of the total death toll of the war (50-70 million) coming from European Jews (5.1-5.9 million, more than 70% of all European Jews killed) to be a tiny fraction and something to be glossed over. These were not civilian deaths by battlefield accidents, friendly fire or even incidents of soldiers gone wild in a frenzy of killing. This was systematic, planned destruction, cold and methodical.

Michael Smith said…
Systematic planned destruction is what modern war is all about. And civilians routinely do most of the dying. The Nazis are far from the only ones guilty on this count.
There is a lot of ground between “glossing over” the killing of Jews in WWII, and elevating Jewish deaths to the prime concern. Why are Jewish deaths so often considered the prime concern? Because of the (alleged) homicidal gas chambers, the (alleged) assembly line of death, the (alleged) motive of total extermination. But all that has been called into question because of the lack of corroborating physical and documentary evidence, and Denying History fails to acknowledge that fact. Smearing the “Deniers” as racists is just a diversion.

Romeo said…
This is probably a dead thread, but I thought that I would ask. If the Holocaust never happened where did everyone go? How do you explain the disappearance of 6 million people? Some people say it was less that 6 million. Fine. How do you explain the disappearance of 4 million, 2 million, or even 500,000 people? Where did they all go? Or are all these people in on some grand conspiracy?

Michael Smith said…
Holocaust revisionism is basically related to two main questions: the gas chambers and the six million. So the question isn’t really “Did the Holocaust happen?,” but rather, “Were there homicidal gas chambers?” and “How many Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis?” No one denies outright that systematic and murderous brutality occurred, which is what is implied in the statement “the Holocaust didn’t happen.”
There is lots of dispute about the numbers. Many would not accept your assumption that millions are unaccounted for. Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial says it has the names of 3 million Jews who died in Europe (from all causes) during WWII. What about the other three million? In any case, how does it follow that if Jews are missing they must have been systematically exterminated in Nazi gas chambers? There are many ways to die, especially in a war zone.
Regarding the Holocaust as “the worst thing that ever happened” is directly related to the gas chamber question. If it were widely accepted that there were no homicidal gas chambers in WWII, there would be no credibility whatsoever to the idea that the Holocaust was the worst thing ever.

Davros said…
Ok, it’s quite clear that most of you haven’t actually read the book you are discussing. You keep making the same points all deniers make about the gas chambers but completely ignore many other aspects of the holocaust such as the activities of theEinsatzgruppen: mobile killing squads that killed over one million people. We know how many they killed because they documented it.
Oh, and about the numbers of people The Yad Vashem Archives (see here [link]). Say they currently have approximately 3.8 million people registered as murdered. I’m sure it was an innocent mistake but you accidentally left out 800,000 people. Furthermore, as I’m sure you know, the total number of dead is an estimate, not a certain number. There is a brief overview of the numbers here (link).
Finally about this “how does it follow that if Jews are missing they must have been systematically exterminated in Nazi gas chambers?” As already established, not all Jews were killed in camps. The evidence of atrocities at the camp liberations, the testimonies at Nuremberg, the reports coming out from Poland and Eastern Europe during and after the war, the information held in the German and Russian archives all point to a systematic destruction of Jews and others such as Roma, homosexuals, political activists, etc.
The main point that is made in the book that you clearly have not read is that there is a vast amount of evidence that converges on the inescapable conclusion that there was a widespread coordinated attempt to eradicate millions of people during the course of the Second World War.
Anybody attempting to deny this would have to have a similarly strong case that shows the evidence we have points inescapably to another conclusion. So far, none have been brought forward.
I confidently expect there never will be.

Michael Smith said…
I’ve read the book. I criticize it not out of ignorance but because it’s a bad book, based on the same “cumulative proof” reasoning as David Ray Griffin uses to establish that the Twin Towers were brought down by pre-planted explosives on 9/11. When you say that the evidence “converges” on the preferred conclusion, you are using Griffin-style reasoning. Evidence should logically require a conclusion, not merely “converge” on it.
Yad Vashem is still 2.2 million names short of the widely accepted 6 million figure, and this, only sixty-five years after the end of the war? The last time I checked they were 3 million names short, but the point remains that they haven’t got confirmation of six million Jews killed in WWII, much less in “the Holocaust,” however that clumsy term is interpreted. TheEinsatzgruppen existed, but the “gas vans” thesis is disputed.
“Systematic destruction” is what war is all about. Nobody denies that systematic destruction occurred at the hands of the Nazis in WWII. The issue is whether poison gas was used to exterminate 6 million Jews in accordance with a deliberate Nazi intention to produce this result using an industrial assembly-line of death. The latter thesis is very much disputed.
“Widespread attempt to eradicate millions of people during the course of the Second World War” doesn’t mean very much. Obviously, the Allies and the Axis both engaged in widespread atrocities, killing tens of millions of people. But that obvious fact carries with it no implications about the existence or non-existence of homicidal gas chambers.

Romeo said…
So for the deniers: my first question was if there was no Holocaust what happened to all the people? Didn’t get any convincing answers on that one. The only response that I got was that it was only 3 million. As if that was okay. “Oh they only killed 3 million people.”
Why are deniers denying the gas chambers? There are pictures of these gas chambers. There are records for purchases of Zyklon B. What is there to deny about the gas chambers?

Michael Smith said…
You don’t read very carefully. I didn’t say “it was only 3 million.” I said Yad Vashem (last time I checked) only had three million names of Jews who died in Europe during WWII. Given that the commonly accepted figure for “the Holocaust” is six million, I asked, what about the other half? And I never said it was OK to kill even one person, let alone three million.
What happened to all the people is a question that can’t be answered unless we know to which actual people the question refers. Without claiming to know what the exact figures are, my own guess is that large numbers of Jews perished in the camps as a result of the collapse of German power on the Eastern front. This need not imply an extermination plot, much less one that employed homicidal gas chambers. Revisionists question the existence of homicidal gas chambers because their presumed existence is based on inferential speculation of the David Ray Griffin variety.
You are mistaken. There are no photographs of homicidal gas chambers said to have been employed by the Nazis to kill upwards of two thousand Jews at a time. Records for the purchase of Zyklon B don’t prove for what purpose the Zyklon B was used. Both sides in the Holocaust non-debate agree that Zyklon B was used for fumigation purposes.
There is nothing to deny in the homicidal gas chambers, but there is plenty to question. Organized Jewry clearly puts a higher value on Jewish life than that of any other group. And the gas chamber/mass extermination story has been a major form of moral capital for Israel for decades.

Flim Buff said…
No documents that refer to mass extermination by gas? No material remains of gas chambers? Well, so far you are 0 for 2 in the truth and accuracy department.

Michael Smith said…
You omitted a crucial word. This is what I wrote: “no documents that directly refer to mass extermination by gas.” The Nazis made no direct reference to extermination by gas. The theory is that they employed euphemisms to disguise the extermination program, which was not planned in advance nor organized by any central agency. The Nazis were telepathic improvisers guided by no blueprint and supported by no budget for a plan of extermination involving millions of victims.
There are material remains for small fumigation chambers, but not for the homicidal gas chambers allegedly used to gas 2000 Jews at a time. Show me a picture of one of those.

Davros said…
A few points I want to raise about your arguments:
“There are material remains for small fumigation chambers, but not for the homicidal gas chambers allegedly used to gas 2000 Jews at a time. Show me a picture of one of those.”
Here you go:
Here are the material remains of one of the only 2 gas chambers that are known to have been able to hold up to 2000 people at a time. As you probably know, these chambers were blown up by the SS On January 20, 1945.
Here is a much better preserved chamber from the book you claim to have read. Alongside the pictures are reasons why we know it’s a killing gas chamber and not a delousing facility. One of those is also shown for comparison [Davros added a link to the reviewed book that presently only redirects to the main page of the book].
“When you say that the evidence ‘converges’ on the preferred conclusion, you are using Griffin-style reasoning. Evidence should logically require a conclusion, not merely ‘converge’ on it.”
Convergence was certainly good enough for Judge Charles Gray when dismissing the Irving v. Lipstadt libel case:
“Having considered the various arguments advanced by Irving to assail the effect of the convergent evidence relied on by the Defendants, it is my conclusion that no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews” (from Section 13 of the Judgment of the case).
It’s interesting that you claim that the authors use the same method of “cumulative proof” that David Ray Griffin uses. Now, you may have an advantage over me here—I’ve only read one of his books, A New Pearl Harbor. In that he has no theory to converge the evidence on. He merely states that his book is an attempt to clarify the dire need for an in-depth investigation into the events of the 11th of September whilst relying on evidence based on books by other Truthers. He looks at competing theories but sides with none of them nor provides his own.
You stated that “Yad Vashem is still 2.2 million names short of the widely accepted 6 million figure.” As you should know from the book you claim to have read, the six million number is arrived at using a variety of means as described on pages 176-178. Briefly, the addition method— totaling up the numbers known to have been killed, subtraction, taking pre-war demographics and subtracting emigrations, the numbers liberated from camps and the numbers left in areas after the war. Finally, recapitulation cross-checking these numbers.
The methods documented vary between 4.5 million and 6.2. The lower figure is from Reitlinger 1953, the highest is Benz 1991. “Moreover, as we can see in the most recent figures—those from Benz—revisions, based on more accurate data, have increased, rather than decreased, the estimate”, p. 178.
The method employed by Yad Vashem is not a systematic review of demographic data, rather a collation of victims names and stories—many submitted by survivors on their behalf.
In fact they state very clearly on their website that not everyone will be accounted for. This from their FAQ:
When will there be 6,000,000 names in the database?
Never. Some Jews left no trace. They were murdered with their entire families, so there was no one left to submit pages of testimony for them; or they left no documentary traces; or the traces they left were destroyed, either during the war, or afterwards. In the 1960s and 1970s, archivists sometimes burned entire collections of what were perceived, unfortunately, as documents with no lasting value.
You then go on to state “The Einsatzgruppen existed, but the “gas vans” thesis is disputed.” This is not even an argument. What part of the Holocaust is not disputed by someone? It’s interesting you mention the gas vans when mass shootings were much more common. See pages 182-186 of the book you claim to have read.
You seem to be fixated on gassings. A quote from Gitta Sereny on page 182 puts this into context:
“[F]or most of the world, including most Jews, the term ‘Final Solution’ has mainly or entirely been identified with gas chambers in occupied Poland, or even more narrowly, those in Auschwitz. For almost half a century, the murder by shooting of between one and a half million and two million Jews in the occupied Soviet territories has somehow been treated differently. Grotesquely, more often than not, these murders by shooting have been neatly classified as ‘acts of war,’ an extraordinary misconstruction of history which plays straight into the hands of revisionists.”
Which I think neatly sums up what you’re trying to do here when you state:
“Obviously, the Allies and the Axis both engaged in widespread atrocities, killing tens of millions of people. But that obvious fact carries with it no implications about the existence or non-existence of homicidal gas chambers.”
You also make this statement:
“The issue is whether poison gas was used to exterminate 6 million Jews in accordance with a deliberate Nazi intention to produce this result using an industrial assembly-line of death.”
The book explicitly states (p. 128) that approximately 3,062,000 people died in gas chambers. You appear to ignore the approximately 50% of people killed by other means. I can only think you are trying to assert the “No gas chambers, no holocaust” argument.
You may well have read the book but you seem to have ignored most of the evidence presented in it and bring none to support any of your arguments when you attempt to refute it.

Michael Smith said…
Those photos would only persuade someone who already believes in the homicidal gas chamber thesis. The sleight-of-hand of interchangeably referring to cremation ovens and gas chambers is particularly unconvincing. Cremation ovens do not carry with them implications of murder.
Charles Gray did indeed fall for the convergence style of reasoning. That in itself proves nothing, except perhaps his gullibility. (But he also said there is little real evidence for the homicidal gas chambers, which is why speculative reasoning is said to be necessary.) I’ve reviewed the Irving-Lipstadt case in an article on my blog: “Must We Loathe David Irving?” Atlegalienate.blogspot.com I’ve also reviewed the book we are here discussing. See “Gas Chambers, 911, and the Perils of Orthodoxy” on the same blog.
In Griffin’s Pearl Harbor book he outlines the difference between a convergence theory and a deductive proof. I think it’s in the beginning of the book. An indirect proof is useful for Grand Juries to decide whether there is a preponderance of evidence against someone with which to bring them to trial. However, once at trial, a higher standard of proof is needed to convict someone. That higher standard of proof is lacking in the Holocaust story vis-à-vis homicidal gas chambers.
There’s plenty of room for doubt about the six million figure, which your wide variation in educated guesses confirms.
I’ve never denied the shootings on the Eastern front. I merely mentioned in passing that revisionists question the gas vans thesis, as they do. However, mass shootings are common in Euro American history, extermination by gas is not. It is the gassing claim that gives the Holocaust its alleged uniqueness.
It wasn’t revisionists who invented the homicidal gassing claim. If this claim has led to an unfair de-emphasis on mass shootings in the East, it’s the fault of the proponents of Holocaust orthodoxy. But again, mass shootings are common. Look at what happened to the indigenous nations of North America, for example, also often misdescribed as “acts of war”—far more thorough destruction than what happened to the Jews of Europe, but there are no Holocaust memorials to them. Quite the contrary. It’s buried history and most of it is probably irrecoverable.
You seem fixated on regarding mass murder by the Allies as inherently good because the Axis powers were inherently bad. But liquidating whole cities with firebombs and atomizing hundreds of thousands of Japanese are no more “acts of war” than wholesale shootings of civilians by the Nazis. Get rid of the double standard if you want to understand history. Michael Shermer can’t do this, unfortunately.
I’m not ignoring the Jews who were killed by various other means, merely pointing out that the argument with the revisionists centers on the homicidal gas chamber question and the six million figure.
I’ve read the Shermer book and commented on its faulty approach at some length. He’s a true-believer in the-Allies-are-inherently-good approach to history, and it shows. He’s a cheerleader.

Marius Rowell said…
The “You’re as bad as I am” defense wouldn’t keep you off death row in any US court, even though you are perfectly right in pointing out how the extermination of native North and South Americans by European invaders is equally unacceptable. White Europeans really deserve the bad rap they get from the rest of the world, and I’m speaking as one of those white Europeans.

Michael Smith said…
It’s the job of historians to determine the facts and account for them, not denounce atrocities. This is very difficult to do when relevant historical documents derive from an occupying army intent on convicting its defeated enemy, and criminal penalties attached to those who publicly challenge the military court’s findings. This is what happened in post-WWII Germany.
It’s unacceptable to kill civilians under any circumstances, but all sides violated this moral standard during WWII. Why pretend that only the Nazis did?
The mass gassing thesis has never been properly substantiated. There is no forensic evidence of mass homicidal gassing chambers, no open discussion of extermination by gas in the Nazi archives, and no extermination order. The theory is that a bunch of telepathic improvisers spontaneously annihilated millions of Jews in gas chambers (whose physical remains somehow vanished into thin air).
Obviously, many atrocities were committed against Jews during WWII. But that does not necessarily mean they were physically exterminated in gas chambers.
An excellent treatment of the whole subject, drawing on revisionist and establishment Holocaust scholars, is Samuel Crowell’s The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes, just published by Nine Banded Books.
Definitely there is a religious ideology at work here—questioning the official view of the Holocaust is quite literally blasphemous in quite a few European countries.

K. Grimm said…
I have followed this fascinating discussion all the way from the original book review and it is obvious that the subject generates heated emotion. One thing does stand out clearly though. While those in support of Mr. Thurston are posting detailed and reasoned arguments, his opponents, with the notable exception of Davros, are responding emotionally often with sneering comments that add nothing useful to the discussion and fail to address the points being raised.
That being said, I am not convinced by Mr. Thurston’s assertion that the Holocaust has been over emphasized in order to justify modern Israel’s actions in defense of itself. I have no sympathy with those anti-Zionists who wish to portray Israel as some sort of criminal nation. Also, I still believe, until I see substantial and convincing evidence to the contrary, that the Nazis did engage in industrial-scale extermination of despised peoples (mostly Jews), whether by poison gas or not.
The treatment of the Holocaust as “the most evil act in the history of the world” perpetrated by “the most evil regime in the history of the world” led by “the most evil man in the history of the world” is a narrative that suits many vested interests other than Israel. These include those on the Left who wish to divert attention from the appalling atrocities committed by communist revolutionaries the world over. By defining Nazism as “extreme right wing” we obscure the fact that the Nazi movement was in fact both anti-capitalist and socialist. Nazism in the popular mind has become the opposite of socialism rather than a particular variety of socialism bound up with German nationalism. This “extreme right wing” definition also has the useful function of placing a toxic warning on all right wing politics—i.e. don’t take the road to the right because it will ultimately lead to genocide.
Then, of course, there is the question of the murderous brutality of the Allies aerial bombing strategy. This is more easily justified when it is portrayed as a desperate but necessary method to help bring down “the most evil regime in the history of the world.” As for the civilians targeted for slaughter, well they did put into power “the most evil man in the history of the world” and supported “the most evil regime in the history of the world” so they had a price to pay.

Michael Smith said…
Israel is not acting in defense of itself. It is attacking. It always has.
The Holocaust obsession has certainly been important political capital for Israel, whether or not one thinks it is “overemphasized” to justify specific policies.
Israel is a criminal nation. Reserving rights and rewards for Jews and “redeeming” the land by robbing it from its indigenous owners and giving it to Jews “ingathering” from all over the world is not merely incredibly unjust, but frankly insane.
“I still believe, until I see substantial and convincing evidence to the contrary, that the Nazis did engage in industrial scale extermination of despised peoples (mostly Jews)”
This is backwards. A rational man does not believe until he sees evidence to substantiate what he is asked to believe. He doesn’t adopt a belief lacking in such evidence and then demand that others dissuade him from believing it. The important question is always the state of the evidence, not our subjective preferences.
The Nazis engaged in wholesale killing. All sides did in WWII. But whether these killings were acts determined more by the state of war than by Nazi ideology is a debatable question. I don’t see anything to be gained by insisting that debate be stifled in favor of a preferred conclusion.
Appalling atrocities of communists? There is as much shrieking hysteria on that topic as there is on the alleged Nazi gas chambers. We need to develop the capacity to see that all kinds of governments engage in atrocities, not just Nazis and Communists. And we need to debunk the hysterical treatments that insist that enemies of our favored states are composed exclusively of bloodthirsty killers that live only to skewer babies on swords and throw grandmothers to the sharks. Atrocities abound, but the scale and nature of the killing is often suspect, and the idea that “democratic” states don’t engage in the most hideous atrocities is sheer bunk.
Your justification for mass killing of German civilians is the standard one. But it’s unconvincing. From the standpoint of the indigenous peoples of North America, U.S. citizens are as guilty of unforgivable atrocities as the German people were under Hitler. So that means it would be OK to engage in saturation bombing of U.S. cities?

K. Grimm said…
If Michael Smith imagines that I am justifying the mass killing of German civilians then he has misunderstood my comment. In my last paragraph I had intended to say that the victorious Allies focused on the evils of Nazism to help justify the “murderous brutality of the area bombing strategy.” I did not say that I thought this strategy was justified. I had hoped that putting “the most evil regime in the history of the world” in quotes would avoid any ambiguity. I have read a great deal about the bombing of Germany and have been astonished at cold calculating way in which civilian populations were deliberately targeted, even when the Bomber Command had, towards the end of the war, achieved a high enough level of accuracy to focus on military targets.
An example may be useful here: if the bombing strategy used against Dresden were to be viewed as though it were a Luftwaffe plan to wipe out a British city it would be condemned as pure evil. The plan: destroy a major city, known to be a haven for refugees fleeing the advancing armies and thus create terror in an already desperate population.
The first wave of bombers would set the city ablaze by focusing on the old town centre with its highly flammable buildings. The fire would be so extensive as to overwhelm the fire fighting abilities of the city and lead to firefighters being summoned from neighboring towns. As these were arriving in the city the second raid would begin, thus catching and destroying the fire services and eliminating the ability of the population to fight the fires. The result would be an unstoppable fire storm. Next day, daylight bombers would be sent in to “pound the rubble.”
Then, to ensure maximum terror, low level fighters would be sent in to strafe the city, shooting anyone they could see—man, woman or child.
It may be assumed that the Dresden story is well known but in my experience this is just not the case. Most people I have discussed this with believe that Dresden was just a bombing raid that got out of control because the Bomber Command did not realize just how powerful their weapons had become.
I am not aware of “shrieking hysteria” on the topic of communist atrocities. On the contrary, the subject seems to get far less publicity than the evils of the Third Reich.
I will re-emphasize my original assertion: socialists / communists / the liberal left have propagated (very successfully) the idea that Fascism & Nazism are the opposite of socialism. We are routinely made aware of their evils and given the idea that they represent the political right in its purist form. Mr. Smith’s casual dismissal of communist atrocities is one commonly expressed by left-wingers. It can be paraphrased thus: “Everybody is already well aware of the evils of communism. Lets move on. There is nothing to discuss here.” The trouble is that, in fact, there is very much to discuss here and people generally are nowhere near as aware of the evils of communism as they are of the evils of Nazism. My impression is that Michael Smith is offended and embarrassed by discussion of Communist atrocities and would like to suppress debate on this issue by pretending that no debate is necessary and that those who try to raise the matter are guilty of “shrieking hysteria.”
It is strange to assume that there has been no discussion of the atrocities committed by democratic states. For most of my adult life I have been hearing about the evils of American actions in Vietnam with very little publicity given to the evils perpetrated by the communist north. In fact the popular image of that war is the one the media have chosen to take from the movieApocalypse Now—i.e. the plucky Vietnamese, with minimum resources suffer the insane warmongering of the most technologically advanced nation on earth. I do hope Mr. Smith does not think that this is my view! For that matter, as I do not hold the childish opinion that our enemies are devils and we are fighting on the side of the angels I really don’t need to be “educated” out of this position by Mr. Smith.
Rather slyly, Mr. Smith states that Israel is a criminal nation. Surely, it would be more honest to say that he believes that Israel is a criminal nation. However, this would put his comment on a par with my own remark about Nazi extermination policies and would thus be open to equal criticism. Of course I have seen evidence of what I am asked to believe and have been (and still am) prepared to consider both sides of the argument. For the record, and I hope this is not so ambiguous as to be misunderstood, I am opposed to laws banning holocaust denial and loathe any attempts to “stifle debate in favor of a preferred conclusion.”

Michael Smith said…
Yes, I had assumed you were justifying the mass killing of Germans. My mistake. Sorry.


The above comments do not always match up well.  For example, some of Davros's claims are not always directly responded to, as I think I did in the original, longer version of this dialogue.  His complaint that Shermer and Grobman only claim a little over three million victims of the alleged homicidal gas chambers, not the six million I refer to at one point, is correct.  But the point remains that the entire numbers game is educated guesswork, not science, which should make it possible to question the numbers without being accused of allying oneself with Satan.  As soon as we move away from clear documentation of individuals known to have existed and known to have been killed by state policy, we invite major ideological distortion.  Population estimates are just that, while adding and subtracting figures in the aggregate is very likely to simply increase the distortion.

Many scholars dismiss the notion that the American Indians were subjected to genocide on the basis that infectious disease largely caused the radical decline in indigenous population numbers in the colonial era, not deliberate policy measures, yet they are not subject to professional ruin (and worse) as a result, as Holocaust revisionists routinely are.  The six million figure is particularly suspect, as it first arose at the end of WWI (!), when that number of Jews were said to face destruction due to hunger and disease.  Furthermore, for decades a plaque at Auschwitz claimed that 4 million Jews had perished there, later revised to one million plus, but without reducing the alleged overall death toll of 6 million!  This is flatly ridiculous, and should raise strong suspicions of data manipulation and ideological distortion, no matter what one's general attitude is towards Hitler and the Nazis.

On the matter of communist atrocities, in the United States at least it is simply not true that these are not heard of.  "K. Grimm's" comment that the atrocities committed by North Vietnam are far less well known than the American atrocities during the Vietnam War is flatly untrue.  The Winter Soldier investigation of 1971 featured U.S. troops talking extensively of horrendous atrocities that to this day are unknown outside of a very small circle of Americans.  Some years back Americans were polled as to how many Vietnamese were killed in the war and the common estimate of 100,000 was given.  This is off by a factor of at least ten, and possibly twenty or thirty, depending on whose educated guesses one believes.  But Americans were not accused of Vietnamese Holocaust Denial on this account, as they well might have been if the WWII Holocaust debate were allowed to serve as a model of some kind.

The shrieking hysteria about the Bolsheviks began immediately with the triumph of the revolution in October 1917.  Bolsheviks were allegedly killing everyone who dressed a certain way, "communizing" hapless Soviet women into participating in huge orgies under the control of "free love bureaus," roasting people alive in furnaces, scalding them to death with steam, dismembering them on racks, and hacking them to death with axes.  Any ridiculous claim made by anti-Bolshevik hysterics was instantly credited by the mass media and circulated widely.  This was several decades before the so-called "McCarthy" era (actually President Harry Truman and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover were the ones who got the hysteria rolling in the fifties), when another cycle of anti-Communist propaganda was initiated by the newly formed U.S. national security state.  Any honest person who reads the long list of alleged atrocities attributed to the leaders of the former USSR can't fail to be struck by the similarity with claims made about Hitler and the Nazis.  This does not mean, of course, that Nazi and Soviet leaders didn't commit any atrocities, but it does mean that distortion and fabrication have been heavily woven into virtually all "histories" of the two regimes.  The honest reader should proceed with caution.  A good place to start vis-a-vis Communism and the U.S. is Michael Parenti's "The Anti-Communist Impulse," written in the late 1960s, as well as his more recent, "Blackshirts and Reds - Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism."  Also see my "Dogma, Double Standards, and Doubt - The Bradley Smith Heresy and Beyond," October 19, 2009 here on the legalienate blog, which critiques Smith's uncritical anti-Communism, unfortunately a feature of all too much revisionist work.

On Israel being a "criminal state," I think this is not simply rhetorical excess on my part.  Israel's leaders knew Palestine was occupied by indigenous Arabs whom they regarded as sub-human, and they used their emerging state power to murder them and steal their land, a process that has continued with a vengeance for the subsequent 65 years.  Yes, the U.S. has a similar history and over a much larger land mass, but in the U.S. at least citizenship is not based on being a member of a certain race, religion, or ethnic group, while in Israel being a Jew is a prerequisite to having any rights the state need respect.  The Islamic republics have similar defects but they have not repeatedly pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war as Israel has.  An apartheid state that repeatedly attacks its neighbors and refuses to abide by international law in preference for its master race, chosen people ideology is almost by definition a criminal state.

On David Ray Griffin not having a theory to converge the evidence on at the time he wrote his first 911 book (The New Pearl Harbor), that's not really true.  He was clearly pushing an "inside job" thesis, using the method of  "cumulative proof," which dispenses with the  (for him) disliked necessity of showing a logical coherence between the argument's premise and conclusion.  Basically, it's a method of throwing a lot of mud at the wall to see if anything sticks.  It's hard to call that rational investigation with any credibility.