Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to the Real Issues

It has been a long week, and seeing as how a good chunk of my recent posts have had to do with politics and the like, it is about time I got back to what is important in life: comic books.

Ah that Superman, what an asshole.

And of course, the best panel in the history of comics:

I had always assumed Batman and Robin had something else going, but I didn’t know they would just put it all out there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Concerning International ANSWER

This is a response I have posted at Indymedia Watch explaining why I see International ANSWER as pushing an anti-Semitic agenda.

“ANSWER is a group whose main real point of unity is opposition to US backed wars. The IAC (which petty much is the same group as ANSWER) also stood solidly behind Serbia during the bombing of Belgrade and they had Serbian nationalist speakers who were pretty openly ant Muslim at those antiwar protests (and they demonized the KLA as terrorists).”

I agree that ANSWER is openly opposed to the United States and actions it takes, and has put them in bed with some of the more ruthless and totalitarian leaders in recent memory. But that may be a discussion for another day, since I want to get to this point:

“I think it’s very important to distinguish what is and isn’t anti-Semitic since the more false accusations are used the more people ignore real allegations.”

This is true, we do have to have the same understanding the term when discussing charges of anti-Semitism, but I believe out guidelines for applying it are going to differ. Which leads me into the reasons why I feel ANSWER put forth a number of anti-Semitic ideas and arguments, even though they may not be clearly evident:

ANSWER can argue that all of the speakers that they ask to speak at their rallies don’t express their personal opinions, but they continually recruit folks to speak who have very clear anti-Semitic views. Rabbi Lerner was banned from speaking at an ANSWER rally because he supported the right for Israel to exist and criticized anti-Semitism he saw developing within the anti-war movement. He was, none the less, an outspoken peace activist. His spokesperson said “we do not believe that had ANSWER been criticized by a major feminist or gay leader that the other coalition partners would have gone along with (the banning). So why should criticism of anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing be treated differently? ....So why should our voice of critique of ANSWER's anti-Israel policy serve as justification for excluding our rabbi from speaking?"

However, at a march in Washington, ANSWER had Abdul Malim Musa, a Muslim cleric. On October 31, 2001, Musa had appeared at a news conference at the National Press Club with other Muslim activists and members of the New Black Panther Party, where speakers asserted that Israel had launched the 9/11 attacks and that thousands of Jews had been warned that day not to go to work at the World Trade Center. At that press conference, Musa blasted the "Zionists in Hollywood, the Zionists in New York, and the Zionists in D.C." who "all collaborate" to put down blacks and Muslims. ANSWER has room in its antiwar coalition for Musa, but not Lerner. (David Corn - The Nation)

This leads into two points that reflect an anti-Semitic current within ANSWER. ANSWER clearly does work very hard to make sure that the speakers at its events reflect their main argument and do not deviate from it (as Lerner would). Simply bringing up the fact that there were racist activists working within the movement was unacceptable, but having a gentleman come on who claims the Jews were somehow responsible for 9/11. Speakers sharing the anti-Jew rhetoric of Hamas and Hezbollah unfortunately also appear quite often on ANSWER’s stages.

If ANSWER is concerned with American Wars abroad, they seem to spend a good chunk of their time criticizing Israel and its policies. Their speakers constantly assert that there should be “no war for Israel”. This is classic anti-Semitism. Strife and war in the world is equated with “Israeli” control of the United States government. The same way that Abdul Musa supported the claim that 9/11 was a “Zionist” conspiracy; ANSWER’s speakers often attack Israel for what they describe as the terror it brings on innocent people. While I am not arguing that it is unacceptable to criticize an action the Israeli government makes, when they are the sole receiver of any criticism it shows an extreme bias that has historical roots. We can not look past the fact that these arguments; this position where Jews (or Zionists, the term now used to shroud anti-Semitic rhetoric) have somehow been responsible for great tragedies and conflicts, are historically rooted in anti-Semitism. One who states that anti-Semitism has nothing to do with Israel or Zionism, merely turns the "crude equation" on its head, implying that no criticism of Israel can ever be anti-Semitic if you describe it as “Zionism”. When far too often, it is the same old game people have been using for centuries.

That Israel has also served as the obsession for so many leftist groups, including ANSWER, is a result of a similar consensus that has persisted since Stalin's time. Historically, elements of the left, including ANSWER, have defended thugs and dictators who cloaked themselves in leftist rhetoric. Apologizing for Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot derailed international social justice movements for decades, and ANSWER’s recent acceptance of Hamas and Hezbollah into this fold only goes to further erode any authority they had and put them closer to violent anti-Semites. Romanticization violence against Israelis and Jews worldwide has cost ANSWER and countless other groups a great deal of moral currency.

Thus, American Jews and rational middle of the road individuals like myself, have been forced to conclude that ANSWER and large portions of the left are not interested in distinguishing between critiquing Israel's government and being anti-Semitic. The draw militant and violent groups have is apparently too strong, and the classic anti-Semitism of the past is too easy to adapt into slightly more acceptable rhetoric for a new generation. While I don't believe that most leftists are anti-Semitic, I also don't believe that many of them care about the Israeli and American-Jewish side of the conflict. Thus, rightly or wrongly, the left has come to act exceptionally anti-Semitic.

I greatly appreciate your comments and for keeping them reasonable and civil.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ned Lamont's Gridlock

In the Connecticut Primary, a huge chunk of Lamont’s supporters said they voted for him because they believe he will “stand up to Bush”. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the logic to this position.

As our politics in this country became more divisive and partisan, all kinds of people from both sides of the political spectrum keep saying that the current situation was bad for the country. All those “common Joe” voters that they like to interview on local news programs claimed they just wanted government to work, and were tired of the partisan squabble that had become so menacing.

So why is it that when elections come around, voters return to candidates who clearly have no interest in making things run smoothly in Washington? People like Lamont and Delay don’t help the country one bit; a select set of their constituency may enjoy congratulating themselves for “standing up” to the other party, but their posturing and continued identification with adversarial politics hurts everyone. Government slows down and nothing gets done because these politicians have built their careers out of doing just that. And then, after a year of wasted time, they can run around the States raising money by claiming they accomplished a great deal by stopping Congress from achieving one damn thing.

So when Ned Lamont says he is going to “stand up to Bush”, let there be no mistaking his real intention: gridlock. It may empower his supporters, but we all pay for that type of recklessness and arrogance in the end.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Protesting: Let Out the Crazies!

Ever since the WTO summit in Seattle in 1999, protesting has returned with a vengeance across the States. For the last few years, large protests were predominately made up of a select group of individuals who often shared a similar socialistic and anti-American position. As of late however, a strong pro-Israel constituency has been organizing to counter protest pro-Hamas and Hezbollah events throughout the states. As the pro-Israel rallies got larger, a number of unsavory elements started to rear their heads.

On August 12th, International ANSWER had a rally that was originally advertised around San Francisco as an “anti-Israel” rally, but was changed at the last minute to an “anti-War” gathering for the sake of publicity. It was fortunately, one of the worst turnouts ANSWER has had. I would assume this has to do with ANSWER’s willingness to openly embrace more radical groups (like Hamas), but it may also have to do with the shear number of protests that go down in the Bay Area. Just about every weekend, one can find someplace to protest. Whether it is the war in Iraq, the actions of Israel, or capitalism in general, the Bay Area just loves to protest!

So as ANSWER began to organize more overtly anti-Israel demonstrations, a growing number of pro-Israel advocates began to hold counter demonstrations. In fact, I don’t think ANSWER has held an event as of late that did not bring about a significant counter-protest.

The left of the political divide does not have a monopoly on insane individuals, and recent counter protests have brought out a handful of folks carrying signs that were naive, unnecessarily provocative, and perhaps even racist.

Here are a couple of them posted at Indybay by an individual named “scary”.

I assume this one was meant to get ANSWER followers riled up, but hardly a positive message to send at an event intended to show that Israel has support from rational Americans. I don’t know the reasoning behind the comment, but I have a hard time seeing the logic in “nuking” any country. There were obviously plenty of folks carrying signs calling for the destruction of Israel, but that should not provoke counter protestors to take an equally absurd stance.

I am still confused by this poster, but the hat the sign holder wears gives me a little more insight into this individual’s mindset. His cap proudly adorns the name of San Francisco’s resident talk show idiot, Michael Savage. I don’t like to throw around the term fascist seeing as it is often overused and inaccurately applied, but Michael Savage clearly holds a number of pseudo-fascist opinions. He has, on more than one occasion, encouraged nuking Iran and laying large parts of Iraq to rubble. He compares anyone who doesn’t agree with his right wing fanaticism to sub-human vermin, and does so with great passion. In April of 2006, Savage said:
“They say, 'Oh, there’s a billion of them (Muslims) and 10 percent or so are radical (Muslims).' I said, 'So, kill 100 million of them, then there'd be 900 million peaceful Muslims left.”

How charming. Even for a conservative like myself, Michael Savage comes across as flaming moron, and makes other right wing radio hosts sound like left leaning socialists. The protestors standing with Israel should appeal to rational minded Americans who can see the need and responsibility Israel has to protect its people and boarders. Michael Savage, even when standing with Israel, is not an individual you want in your corner of the ring.

Yet another stupid poster. Islam is not the enemy of Israel. Israel’s enemy is radical terrorist organizations and governments that want it destroyed. This banner is not appealing to moderate minds, but radical groups who want to see a greater war with Muslim peoples across the globe.

Of course, these few instances of stupidity were but a small portion of the greater counter protest, which generally advocated peace for the region. Some folks have said that these signs were “planted” by ANSWER to discredit their opponents. I can’t comment on that conspiracy, although I find it highly unlikely. The truth is that there are extremists and idiots on all ends of the political spectrum. It is very convenient to blame “infiltrators” and “spooks” anytime something goes wrong. Heck, just about anytime violence occurs at a protest, or an individual does something stupid in the name of a political philosophy, it is blamed on some foreign force that was planted to discredit the protest or group as a whole. The reality is people say and do stupid things; outside assistance is rarely required.

As the pro-Israel protests get larger, we will see more signs like these. Rational minded citizens have a duty to confront these ideas the same way we would confront the gibberish coming from groups like ANSWER.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Toss Out the Political Parasites

Well, it is time for another entry into my “Know Your Communist Front Groups” thread. I am throwing my recent criticism of Ann Coulter into this category, not because she has said anything overtly Communistic, but because I did see her wear red once, and using her own line of reasoning, I think I can accurately say that she loves Joseph Stalin. But no time for that, on to World Can’t Wait!

I won’t go into the history of who pulls the string for World Cant Wait (WCW) since I have touched on that a few times previously. All you new readers just need to know that they are a front group for totalitarian communist figures who really don’t care much for peace or democracy. They may mention both of those terms on many of their flyers and banners, but when it comes down to supporting such principles, they fail to do so. Next to International ANSWER, they are one of the bigger ant-war organizations working with the States at this point in time.

So in Sacramento, a number of peace activists have been holding anti-war protests on a select street corner for a few years now. Being the political opportunists that they are, WCW shows up and slowly starts to “take control” by claiming to run and organize the events in that area. A pretty common tactic for front groups; find out where the action is happening and then latch on until you suck the thing dry and you become its sole representative.

At one point, non-WCW anti-war protestors agreed to stop attending this location to protest. Well that got WCW into quite a piffy mood:

“Sacramento progressives confirmed that “peace takes courage” by holding another anti-war demonstration at 16th and Broadway. Over three hours starting at 5:00 pm, about 150 people dedicated to the anti-war/anti-Bush regime cause rejected pressure to boycott the demonstration because the “wrong people” were sponsoring it.

The growth of the progressive community in Sacramento has been based on the unconditional, unqualified support among all the diverse groups from the Anarchists, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and the LaRouches, to Deaniac Democrats and Buchanan paleocons, coming together under the anti-war/anti-Bush banner. That’s what Sacramentans are accustomed to, and they’re not going to be intimidated into supporting anything that damages that solidarity. The strength of this movement is in its diversity.”

LaRouche supporters still exist? I thought they had crawled down into the center of the earth to live with mole people. My mistake. Anyhow, a number of folks called Gary Zimmerman (the author of the piece) on a number of his lies and misrepresentations.
“Only about 40 people came to this protest. I was there, and I counted 35 at the peak. Why overstate so much?

Really, there's no reason to grossly over-state the numbers, because there have been much larger groups here in the past. To say that 150 people were there really hurts your credibility as a publisher on this site, and it negatively impacts the credibility of the site itself.”

WCW loves to say that they have massive support, but the fools always post photographs of their own events to undercut this assertion! They should at least take a page out of Reuters playbook and doctor the photos! Steve Pearcy, one of the organizers to have apposed WCW involvement stated:
“The last thing we wanted was to see the 16th & Broadway protests take on the appearance of an assembly-line of people holding green and white corporate-like WCW posters (advertising for WCW's donation-seeking campaign).

Some of the leaders of WCW accused us of "red-baiting." They said that we really don't want WCW there because it was founded by members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. But we've always encouraged diverse attendance.”

The truth is that WCW does not want it to be made readably available that they are a violent communist organization. It just gets harder for people to buy their baloney when they are made aware. I would like to see WCW drop the charade and just call themselves by the name they use in private; the Revolutionary Communist Party. If they believe in their ideals and philosophy, why lie to people? This is a free country; each individual can decide for themselves whether to be associated with totalitarian groups like theirs. But stop trying to sucker in legitimate anti-war activists with your front congregation.

All political movements within the states need to wise up to the radicals that undermine their agenda. Sure, it may seem nice to have a march where you get a good turnout, but at the end of the day, if half of the crowd consists of people who have little interest in the real message you are trying to express, your objectives will be damaged significantly. Groups on the other side of the spectrum are experiencing the same problem. I don’t think the talking points made by boarder activists are racist, and I do think something needs to be done about the current immigration policies this Country has taken. I would argue that an overwhelming number of Americans, from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds, would agree that protecting our boarder is necessary. But when neo-Nazi and hate groups latched themselves onto to legitimate groups, the message was slowly corrupted. Like WCW, these Hate groups knew that they had an opportunity to push their separate agenda under the umbrella of a legitimate organization.

Rational and realistic individuals, regardless of where you lay on the political spectrum, need to distance themselves from the parasitic groups in their ranks, or your movements are doomed for the trash bin of history.