Friday, June 19, 2009

The Republican Party’s Racism Problem

Crystal Wright at New Majority has an interesting piece on an issue that the Republican Party still must address within its ranks.
Racism is alive and well and brewing in the Republican party. reported on its blog that Sherri Goforth, legislative aid to Tennessee State Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin), emailed this photo - “Historical Keepsake Photo” - to “the wrong list of people.”

Every white president in the image is depicted with a portrait or photo of himself until you get to our 44th and first black president Barack Obama. His picture is a caricature of the grossest, most racist sort: a black background with white eyes piercing through. This image is reminiscent of a spook, a racist term used for blacks to suggest because of their dark skin they can blend into the night and look like a ghost. The image also looks like a coon, another abhorrent caricature portraying blacks as lazy, inarticulate buffoons.

Either image is offensive and racist and particularly repugnant when applied to the President of the United States. It reminds us this country and more importantly the Republican party has a long way to go on race relations and living in reality. When a reporter with NIT news in Nashville asked Goforth about the email, she said she “felt bad about sending it to the wrong list of people” but never apologized to the President

The whole piece is worth your time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iranian Journalists Arrested

Jams at the Poor Mouth gives me the heads up to some info from Reporters Without Borders, bringing attention to some of the journalists who have been arrested in Iran since the start of the protests. Jams is right when he writes “the price of speaking out is high.”


There will be some personal and theme changes around here in the coming months. My time in Korea has finished for the time being, and I will be making a move to the UK later this summer. For the near future, I will be a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh in their International and European politics department. It should be enlightening, and provide a good opportunity to study and conduct research at the institution. I have never been to the city of Edinburgh, but I hear it is a great place to be.

So while this blog was never really Korea focused, I figured I would change the header and tagline to match my new situation. I will be making a number of physical changes on this site as well, so please mind the mess that will undoubtedly be created.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Should America Deal with Developments in Iran?

I happen to agree with Jonathan Chait of the New Republic, as well as Joe Lieberman, although their positions may appear to contradict. Chait brings up John Kerry’s campaign and the support it received from foreign dignitaries:
“When Kerry mentioned that numerous foreign leaders hoped he would win, the Republican Party produced a mocking video entitled "John Kerry, International Man of Mystery." Conservative pundits pounced with rhetoric like this, from Wes Pruden of the Washington Times:

Monsieur Kerry, the rage of Paris, the toast of Berlin, sprouting in Brussels and boffo in Brittany, continues to insist that a lot of world leaders have endorsed him, but only privately. ...

It’s not clear how French frenzy, German gaga, Belgian delirium or partisan hysteria in Luxembourg will help Monsieur Kerry and the Democrats at home. Taking solace in foreign approval when things go sour at home has become a Democratic disease.

John Fund of the Wall Street Journal gloated that the Kerry campaign was: doing what it can to bury the candidate's connections with France, where he spent many summers as a youth with a flock of French cousins in St.-Briac-sur-Mer, a resort town where his maternal grandfather had built an estate. ...

Mr. Kerry's larger problem is that his public career has been far more attuned to the sensibilities of foreign leaders and countries than Americans are used to seeing in a president.

And, indeed, Kerry's campaign was forced to announce:

"It is simply not appropriate for any foreign leader to endorse a candidate in America's presidential election. John Kerry does not seek, and will not accept, any such endorsements."

Perhaps Wehner thinks that the Iranian people are less suspetible to this sort of nationalist demagouery than the American people? Or maybe he thinks the Iranian mullahs have more intellectual integrity than, say, Karl Rove? Or else the question of how to support Iran's liberals is more than a simple matter of moral courage.
Joe Lieberman argues that US citizens and its politicans need to stand with the forces standing against the dictatorial character of the Iranian regime. Here is his interview on Fox News.

I judge Obama is right to remain fairly silent on this matter. Obama is the President and most recognizable American, and his words will carry weight. The last thing the opposition in Iran needs is to be tagged as stooges for the West (although there will surely be elements in the Iranian government who will do so regardless). Playing it safe at the top is smart at this moment, but that should not mean the average American follows suit. It is vital that we stand up with those struggling against the regime, and that their significance will not go unheard. If we as liberals and free people stand for nothing else, it is the right of a people to dissent.

The Iranian Uprising

A number of blogs have been doing some fine work collecting the various bits of information we have received in the West concerning the election turmoil in Iran.

Andrew Sullivan, who I am not a fan of, but who has been doing a stand up job following the Iranian opposition’s plight.

The Ordinary Gentlemen have rundowns here and here.

Michael Totten has hit on just how I feel about the events, and provides some excellent analysis.

Harry's Place has their share of coverage as well.

Jeff Weintraub and Juan Cole on this bogus election.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Boston Globe has some truly amazing photos of the unrest in Iran.

Is This Man Right or Left?

An American racist and domestic terrorist named Von Burnn, opened fire at the Holocaust Museum a few days back, killing a security guard working there. As soon as the smoke had cleared, pundits and media types looked to associate the man with larger political movements in the United States, and not surprisingly, it has been revealed that he was an anti-Semitic fascist, as well as a conspiracy theorist involved in a number of recent conspiracy theories floating about.
On December 7, 1981, a man named James W. Von Brunn pulled out a sawed-off shotgun at the Federal Reserve Board headquarters, claiming to have planted a bomb and threatening to take members of the Board hostage. That was 40 years to the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, though it's unclear whether that's a coincidence or not.

Years later, he'd describe the entire incident somewhat differently.

In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal.

At the time of his sentencing in March, 1983, he was 62 years old. He ultimately served six and a half years in prison, which seemingly did nothing to change his extreme views on race. Almost 20 years after he was released, police say, he stormed the secured entrance of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., with a shotgun and opened fire, wounding one guard. He was ultimately shot himself.

Von Brunn, apparently a World War II vet, has a long history of white supremacist writing. His book, "Kill The Best Gentiles," embraces Adolf Hitler's view that Jews concocted World War I as part of a scheme to stab Germany in the back -- a myth the Nazis used to justify the Holocaust.

He also wrote an internet posting complaining that Obama's birth certificate and other documents have not been made public.

In 2003, he claimed to have conducted an investigation into the ethnic and religious background of Tommy Franks, the CENTCOM commander at the time, after some US troops were placed under British command in Iraq
It also doesn’t surprise me that he was a 9/11 Truther who hated Bush and the “neocons.” It is his hatred for the “neocons” (or Zionists, or Jews, or whatever buzz word these folks use to spin their anti-Semitism. At least Brunn doesn’t hide his anti-Semitism behind politically correct terminology), and for the Bush government, that has given some conservatives the bizarre idea that this man is not a right wing extremist, but is in fact a left wing radical. Kathy Shaidle writes:
For example, he unleashed his hatred of both Presidents Bush and other "neo-conservatives" in online essays. As even some "progressives" such as the influential Adbusters magazine publicly admit, "neoconservative" is often used as a derogatory code word for "Jews". As well, even a cursory glance at "white supremacist" writings reveals a hatred of, say, big corporations that is virtually indistinguishable from that of anti-globalization activists.

James von Brunn's advocacy of 9/11 conspiracy theories also gives him an additional commonality with individuals on the far-left
Leon Wolf at RedState makes a similar argument.
This guy sounds waaay right-wing to me. I went back and tried to find some examples of RedState members/diarists posting similar material here, but it turns out that the few who were stupid enough to try it got banned and had their idiotic rantings replaced with amusing YouTube videos. Interesting. Wonder how it goes when people peddle anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, truther conspiracy theories, anti-Christian rants, anti-”neocon” rants, and other such fare at DailyKos? I imagine it goes something like this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. In other words, a smattering of disapproving comments, a roughly equal smattering of people agreeing with the tripe you are peddling, and no evidence whatsoever that the purveyors of the site disapprove in any way of you posting such material on their site. And folks, the hit parade goes on and on and on. (Dodds note: there were many links in the RedState piece to Daily Kos bits, which are worth a look, but that I didn't the patience to link to.)

So I guess the obvious question is this: if von Brunn were looking for a mainstream political activism site on which to broadcast his views to the largest number of likeminded individuals (or individuals susceptible to coming around to his point of view), would he find a warmer reception at RedState, or DailyKos? I submit that the answer to this question might be a far more useful metric of von Brunn’s political leanings than the baseless assumption propounded by unthinking leftists that because von Brunn is a racist, he must be a right-winger
Being an ex-radical and someone who still pays attention to various far left periodicals and websites, this argument over what constitutes “right” and “left” in the political sphere is an argument I am well versed in. Depending on one’s political position, calling an opponent a Stalinist, Trotskyite, liberal, or Zionist is an attempt to place them to the left or the right in a discussion (depending on the specific crowd in question, being to the right or left of those terms is either celebrated or berated). For those well versed in radical political lingo, the connotations of those terms are often quite clear. Even among organizations that have memberships smaller than most small town bowling leagues, there is a constant and suffocating effort to flush out those in the movement that are “real” lefties, and those who are nothing more than “fascists” in disguise.

Political positions do matter however: in the same way that I will not work with an organization like International ANSWER, I do not expect them to want the support of people like myself based on my political beliefs. I can call them Stalinists and totalitarians, and they can return in kind that I am a neocon supporting liberal, but those terms in and of themselves are somewhat meaningless if not put in historical context. Often in these types of debates, “Nazi” or “socialist” is used to describe a vast number of positions that may very well not represent their target’s views. Therefore, I often shy away from the whole argument over what is and what isn’t a left or right wing position. I am more interested in the actual position being professed, and not the terms used to depict it.

So I don’t really care if the various ideologues classify Burnn as a right wing crank or a left wing loon. In the last decade, both sides of the political divide have agreed on a number of disgusting and baffling conspiracies. The 9/11 Truth movement is not restricted to any specific ideology, but is common among idiots and nitwits across all walks of life. Holocaust denial, which used to be associated with neo-nazis and Jew haters on the right, has found its way into the left as well, with radicals placing their sympathies with right wing theocrats in the middle east, and carrying water for their arguments in the West. Neither side has a monopoly on dense ideas or individuals.

Having said that, I will now completely undermine my previous point about labeling, and contend that Burnn represents the traditional far right in the United States; one that we pay little attention until one of its members puts the movement’s ideas into action. But who cares what side of the political divide he is placed on? By putting him on the far right, I surely don’t believe he represents most conservatives or the average Republican voter. But Burnn’s actions should remind activists on the right that these people exist, and they surely bleed into their larger political movements (the Ron Paul crowd saw its fair share of these nut jobs, and it didn’t seem to bother its leadership much). Vigilance is necessary to guarantee these folks never gain a foothold in legitimate movements.

Von Burnn is a racist, jew hating, murderous, totalitarian shit bag. It matters very little whether he had a swastika or sickle and hammer hanging on his wall.