Multiculturalism is the acceptance or promotion of multiple ethnic cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this context, multiculturalists advocate extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central.
The editors of “Der Spiegel” have now apparently abandoned the multicultural paradigm, and have reverted to defining some cultures as “good” and others as “barbarous.” And who, you might ask, are the barbarians? Silly question! We are, of course. According to an article by Spiegel hatemonger-in-chief Marc Pitzke about the upcoming execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner for murder,
Double murderer Ronnie Lee Gardner is to be executed tonight in the state of Utah. He chose the method himself: death by firing squad. That is barbaric, but, in this case, completely legal – in spite of international protests.
One would thing the Germans, of all people, would have learned the dangers of cultural chauvinism. Be that as it may, it would seem that the term “barbarian” has now returned to their lexicon. According to the definition now current in the United States, “barbarous” means,
1. Primitive in culture and customs; uncivilized.
2. Lacking refinement or culture; coarse.
It would be edifying to learn what other cultures besides that of the United States are currently considered coarse and uncivilized. Be that as it may, it is encouraging that the Germans have so far recovered from the unfortunate events of 65 years ago that they once again feel confident in asserting their cultural superiority.
The BP debacle has spawned some previously untapped new variants of America bashing in the UK. Not that the British were remarkably behindhand in piling on during the worst of the latest climax in European anti-Americanism that reached its peak several years ago. It was so much the more surprising to learn in an article by Peter Hitchens that appeared on the website of the Daily Mail that his countrymen have been “fawning” on the United States. Of course, the citizens of our mother country are noted for their reserve, but I have visited many British websites and forums in recent years, and never discovered anything that it would ever occur to me to describe as “fawning.” Be that as it may, the Brits, like most Europeans, have remarkably thin skins. They have been dishing out abuse to America with the best of them for years, but, as their response to criticism over the BP affair demonstrates, they can’t take it.
Hitchens’ whining piece complaining about our “hostility” because our President dares to criticize a British company for unleashing the greatest environmental disaster in our history is a case in point. The author wears his paranoia on his sleeve. For example,
Americans may say they love our accents (I have been accused of sounding like Princess Di’) but the more thoughtful ones resent and rather dislike us as a nation and a people, as friends of mine have found out by being on the edge of conversations where Americans assumed no Englishmen were listening.
Perhaps it’s just that the “thoughtful” among my fellow countrymen have been hiding their opinions from me as well all these years, but I can honestly say that I can’t recall a single conversation in which the English were singled out for resentment and dislike, unless Hitchens is referring to George III. On the contrary, other than the occasional Irish Catholic with romantic notions about the IRA, Americans who pay any attention to the English at all tend to be Anglophiles.
Other than that, the article is filled with the usual bitching and moaning about America that we have long been accustomed to. There is one novelty that I haven’t seen elsewhere, perhaps because it is too far-fetched even for most Europeans. Quoting Hitchens,
It was American pressure that forced us out of the first rank of naval powers in the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which led to our defeat at Singapore 20 years later.
I had to laugh out loud when I read that bit. It assumes the reader is completely ignorant of the relevant history. In the first place, the treaty didn’t force Britain “out of the first rank of naval powers.” It established a ratio of 5-5-3 in fighting ships among the treaty powers England, the United States, and Japan, respectively. The British and U.S. navies were the most powerful in the world at the time. How, then, did the treaty force Britain “out of the first rank of naval powers?” In fact, the Naval Treaty of 1922 was one of the greatest triumphs of common sense over fear and hysteria in the annals of international relations. It ended a nascent arms race and was of great benefit to all the signatories, and not least to the British. At the time the Conference was called, the pound sterling was at its lowest point, British citizens were paying crippling taxes, and England was facing another period of naval expansion they could ill afford, forced on them by the building programs of the United States and Japan.
They owed the United States a massive debt, and every penny they paid would have directly benefited our building program. On paper, at least, we had already passed Britain in naval strength, and our superiority was only likely to increase. Recall that when countries such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and even Denmark had challenged British sea power in the past, it had led to war with an England which felt her life menaced by rival naval powers. In fact, war with the United States was seriously contemplated at the time by many Englishmen as the only alternative to a ruined England and a disintegrated Empire.
In the upshot, the British delegates were delighted by the agreement, as well they should have been. A crippling arms race was avoided, and taxes were lowered. The treaty was of such obvious advantage to England that the prevailing sentiment in the US media was that we had been hoodwinked. They had good reason to feel that way. In 1920 the United States already had an advantage over England in tonnage of capital ships of 1,117, 850 to 808,200. Our advantage in battle guns was 340 to 284. As provided by the treaty, tonnages were reduced to 525,850, 558,950, and 301,320 for the United States, Great Britain and Japan, respectively, giving a slight advantage to the British. The very real and serious potential causes for war among the signatories were removed for many years into the future.
As for the treaty causing the British defeat at Singapore 20 years later, that claim has to take the cake for the most ludicrous of all the ludicrous charges directed against us from Europe in recent years. How, exactly, would crippling her economy by charging ahead with the building of a fleet of obsolete battleships have helped the British 20 years later? As anyone who knows anything about her situation in the years immediately preceding World War II is aware, the economic burden of rearmament in the face of the German threat was painful enough for her to bear as it was. The cost of maintaining a massive navy in an arms race with Japan and the United States for the preceding 20 years would have made it well nigh impossible. When war did come, Japanese airpower made short work of the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, the two battleships that actually were on hand to defend Singapore. In the fighting that followed, a superior British force was defeated by a Japanese army perilously short of supplies in one of the greatest stains on the proud tradition of British arms ever recorded. We Americans don’t blame the Bladensburg Races on anything but the cowardice of our troops and the ineptitude of our commanders. I suggest that the British consider the possibility that they may bear some responsibility for their own abject defeats as well.
Well, we did have a difficult adolescence, and perhaps one can’t blame our dear old mother country for occasionally being a bit testy with us. The next time Hitchens directs his poison pen our way, however, he would probably do well to pick a more convincing grievance than the Naval Treaty of 1922.
As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use depleted uranium (DU) as ammunition because of its potential value as an energy source. Other than that, its substantial advantages as a penetrator for defeating armored targets are likely grossly outweighed by the value of the propaganda weapon we hand to our enemies when we use it, not to mention the massive cost of litigating cases brought by lawyers who are well aware of the potential value of DU hysteria for lining their pockets. That hysteria lost touch with reality long ago, and continues to grow. A glance at the facts should be enough to cure anyone of an overweening faith in the intelligence of human beings.
The basic propaganda line relating to DU weapons is that a) Great increases in cancer and other health problems are experienced in areas where they are used, and b) Most of these health problems are due to radioactivity from DU. The professionally pious have devoted a great deal of webspace to the subject, typically short on facts but with lots of pictures of terribly deformed infants and, as usual, featuring themselves as noble saviors of humanity. Those with strong stomachs can find examples here, here and here. It’s all completely bogus, but the truth has never been more than a minor inconvenience for ideological poseurs.
The World Health Organization, public health arm of the UN, an organization that has not been notably chummy with the US of late, debunked the DU hysteria in a report that appeared in 2001 (click on the link to see the document). Quoting from the report,
For the general population it is unlikely that the exposure to depleted uranium will significantly exceed the normal background uranium levels.
Measurements of depleted uranium at sites where depleted uranium munitions were used indicate only localized (within a few tens of metres of the impact site) contamination at the ground surface.
General screening or monitoring for possible depleted uranium-related health effects in populations living in conflict areas where depleted uranium has been used is not necessary. Individuals who believe they have been exposed to excessive amounts of depleted uranium should consult their medical practitioner for examination, appropriate treatment of any symptoms and follow-up.
The potential external dose received in the vicinity of a target following attack by DU munitions has been theoretically estimated to be in the order of 4 μSv/year (UNEP/UNCHS, 1999) based on gamma ray exposure. Such doses are small when compared to recommended guidelines for human exposure to ionizing radiation (20 mSv/annum for a worker for penetrating whole body radiation or 500 mSv/year for skin (BSS, 1996).
Of course, the poseurs dismiss such stuff with a wave of the hand, claiming that, for reasons known only to them, the authors of the report suppressed damning evidence, or didn’t consider certain miraculous processes whereby the DU can be transported into the bodies of its victims without showing up in urine samples. If one points out, for example, that natural background radiation in places such as Iran and India is much higher than any increase due to DU in the places where all the birth defects and illness is supposedly taking place, without ill effects to the local populations, they merely reply that the DU is carried on insoluble particles, that are infinitely more dangerous than natural uranium. If it is pointed out that, in that case, it would actually be much more difficult for DU to cause birth defects because the rate at which the body carries insoluble compounds to the vicinity of the reproductive organs is an order of magnitude less than for soluble uranium compounds, or that it is much more difficult for insoluble compounds to get into the food chain, they quickly change tack. Suddenly, the DU becomes soluble, and the circle is squared.
A moment’s rational consideration of the facts demolishes the DU hype. For example, it is claimed that 320 tons of DU were used in the Gulf War in 1991 and 1700 tons in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Those numbers pale in comparison to the approximately 9000 Tons of natural uranium and 22400 tons of thorium currently released each year from the burning of coal. Much of this material is pumped directly into the atmosphere in the form of particulates that easily enter the lungs. It is far more likely to contaminate nearby population centers in this form than the byproducts of DU munitions. Coal consumption in China alone is over 2 million metric tons per year, resulting in the yearly release of about 3000 tons of uranium and 7450 tons of thorium. There have certainly been health problems downwind of these plants, but they’ve been due to plain old-fashioned air pollution. There have been no massive increases in birth defects or radiation-related cancer, flying in the face of claims about DU’s supposedly demonic power to sicken and kill. Uranium absorbed in the body will show up in the urine, whether it is ingested in soluble or insoluble form. Yet, despite massive screening of military veterans, ongoing studies find no persistent elevation of U concentrations beyond that found in the general population other than in soldiers actually hit by DU fragments or involved in friendly fire accidents.
Studies of uranium miners confirm the absurdity of the inflated DU claims. Exposure to increased levels of uranium dust has not been associated with increases incidence of cancer, even in older miners. Increased levels of lung cancer in such workers certainly have been detected, but it is associated with the breathing of high concentrations of radon in confined spaces. The contribution of DU to radon gas concentrations in the atmosphere in Iraq is utterly insignificant compared to natural seepage from the earth and release by coal plant pollution. Meanwhile, massive use of chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war, the sabotage and burning of hundreds of oil wells after the first Gulf War, and the release of a host of carcinogenic chemicals in the process of oil production are somehow never considered as possible contributors to illness and birth defects, unless, of course, they happen to fit another narrative.
In a word, the DU propaganda is nonsense, but that doesn’t keep it from being effective. Other than that, because of DU’s potential value as a fuel in future breeder reactors that will be available to us without the environmental and health hazards of mining new uranium, we are almost literally shooting silver bullets. Under the circumstances, one wonders what possible justification there can be for the claim that the advantages of continued use of DU munitions outweigh the drawbacks. Why are we working so hard to confirm the familiar claim that “military intelligence” is an oxymoron?
Apropos “hate speech,” it’s interesting that none of those who are so active in promoting censorship as a means of fighting it even noticed the most extreme and potentially dangerous outburst of it in recent memory. I refer to the obsessive hatred of the United States promoted in the mass media of any number of countries around the world. It reached extreme levels in the final years of the Clinton and first years of the Bush adminstrations before apparently finally choking on its own excess. I speak German, and followed the development of the phenomenon there with interest and dismay. It became so extreme that it occasionally became difficult to find any news about Germany among the rants about the evils of the United States on the websites of such “news” outlets as that of Spiegel magazine.
We humans are characterized by “moral” behavior that distinguishes between “good” in-groups, and “evil” out-groups, a trait that I have elsewhere referred to as the Amity/Enmity Complex. No aspect of our nature could be so mind-bogglingly obvious, yet the neuroscientists and other experts who specialize in the workings of the human mind have yet to “discover” it. It happens to be in conflict with ideological myths, particularly prevalent in academia, about the universal brotherhood of mankind. Earlier generations of so-called experts willfully ignored the abundant evidence regarding the profound influence of innate, “hard-wired” predispositions on human behavior for decades on account of similar myths, until their faces were literally rubbed in the truth by advances in brain imaging techniques and other diagnostic tools. As long as research in the field is not suppressed, their faces will eventually be rubbed in the truth of the Amity/Enmity Complex as well. When that happens, I suspect they will see the question of hate speech in a rather different light.
Among other things, they are likely to notice that “hate speech” is only recognized as such when directed at an in-group. At the time when expressions of anti-American hate reached their most extreme levels in Germany and elsewhere, those who were most active in spewing that hate characterized their vicious diatribes as “objective criticism.” As one on the receiving end of their hate speech, I found their rationalizations absurd, and yet I don’t doubt they actually believed their own cant. Americans were an out-group, and therefore, at least in their minds, incapable of being victims of hate speech.
It is for that reason that attempts by government to censor hate speech, such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission or the “international organization” favored by French foreign minister Kouchner, as noted in an earlier post, are futile. As intrinsically political organizations they must inevitably be blind to hate speech directed at their political foes, or “out-groups.” I know of not a single instance of such an organization raising the least objection to the mindless demonization and villification of the United States, even when it was at its most extreme. The only real antidote to hate speech is free speech.
Given the number of links Instapundit posts every day, it should come as no surprise if he hits an occasional sour note. A recent specimen thereof turned up an article that convinced me that Prof. Reynolds made a good choice when he favored law over American literature in his choice of academic careers.
The article in question gathers up a batch of famous American authors, bowdlerizes them and strips off their individuality in the process of mashing them all together to create a strawman that they all are supposed to represent, and then uses the strawman to “demonstrate” that all these great thinkers were really just the intellectual forefathers of today’s “progressive” left. The author, Fred Siegel, represents the rather counter-intuitive point of view that this process of distorting the work and denying the individual relevance of a whole cohort of the greatest writers America has ever produced is to be understood under the rubric of fighting “anti-Americanism.”
Siegel cites a little known American critic, Bernard DeVoto, as the godfather of this notion that most of the great American authors of the early 20th century were really just a bunch of anti-Americans, as similar to each other as so many peas in a pod. As he puts it in the article,
Weaned on the work of H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw and their loathing for conventional mores, Lewis and his confreres became the dominant force in American letters, and their views went largely unchallenged in the literary world. It was left to a critic named Bernard DeVoto to issue the first serious and meaningful challenge to their worldview—the opening salvo in a brave and lonely battle that still resonates, even though DeVoto and the book in which he took up arms for the United States against its own intellectuals are both forgotten.
I won’t take issue with Mr. DeVoto here, because I’ve never read his work, but the sketch of the man presented by Prof. Siegel is unattractive enough. He condemns the authors in question for, among a host of other sins, claiming that “the prosperity of the 1920s had invalidated capitalism,” for presenting “the Puritan and the Pioneer,” as villains, “whom they believed were the source of America’s dreary commercial culture,” and whose “supposed individualism was one of the coterie’s bêtes noires,” for glorifying Europe as a utopia for writers, artists, and the rest of the gentry of culture, for portraying businessmen as “impotent, barely able to reproduce,” and even “inferior to animals,” and, in a word, being generally “vitriolic in their criticisms of the United States.”
The article concludes with the observation that,
Today that spirit can be found in precincts both high and low—from the hallways of academe to late-night infotainment comics such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who traffic in a knowing snarkiness that confers an unearned sense of superiority on their viewers. Now, as then, angered by the impertinence of the masses in their increasing rejection of the hope and change promised them in 2008, liberals, as in the title of a recent article in the online magazine Slate, raise themselves up by shouting, “Down with the People!”
With that, the process of rendering a whole generation of American authors into a uniform soup and serving them up as the precursors of today’s liberals is complete. Apparently we are to understand that we can simply dismiss them all without taking the trouble to read them because we already “know” where they stand, none of them had anything worthwhile to say, and, in any case, if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. By taking this attitude we demonstrate that we ourselves are just and good, and free of the taints of arrogance, impertinence, and “an unearned sense of superiority.”
Again, DeVoto may be an interesting and worthwhile writer in his own right. However, the notions Siegel ascribes to him are pure bunk. To see why, let’s take a closer look at Mencken and Sinclair Lewis, the two authors he singles out for special criticism as archetypes of the evil American authors of yesteryear. Both of them are well worth reading. They will certainly rub many modern readers the wrong way, but they were both interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking. Both of them were harsh in their criticisms of various aspects of American life, but to describe them as “anti-American” is ridiculous. I say that as one who has devoted considerable attention to the subject over the last decade or so. The phenomenon is certainly real. Do a web search and you can turn up some of the related comments I’ve left at Davids Medienkritik, a now inactive website that took issue with the recent remarkable eruption of anti-Americanism in the German media. The real thing is a blind, mindless hatred, entirely akin to such related phenomena as anti-Semitism and racism. However, reasoned criticism of America, however harsh, is not anti-Americanism. For that matter, to the extent that it inspires us to think about and deal with real problems, it’s pro-American. I hardly agree with everything Mencken and Lewis had to say on the subject, but to claim it was thoughtless or inspired by hate is nonsense.
As for DeVoto’s specific criticisms, he is supposed to have claimed that the authors on his literary blacklist believed that “the prosperity of the 1920s had invalidated capitalism.” In response to that claim in the case of Mencken and Lewis, I can only reply, “read their work.” Mencken was a libertarian to the core. Nothing could be more absurd than the claim that he somehow resembled the “progressive” liberals of today. He rejected anything associated with what he called the “Uplift,” and today’s liberals are quintessential representatives of what he meant by the term; those among us who are constantly engaged in striking ostentatious poses as saviors of mankind. Far from being in any way their intellectual precursor, his response to them would have surely been allergic. Mencken believed in Liberty, and specifically those liberties set forth in the Bill of Rights. In keeping with that belief, he opposed suppression of the points of view of Communists, anarchists, or anyone else. He was one of the greatest editors this country has produced, and the “American Mercury,” which he edited from 1924 to 1933, included essays by capitalists and anti-capitalists as well. However, Mencken himself finally rejected Communism at a time when many American intellectuals were embracing it, likening it to a form of religious fanaticism, whose leaders were akin to so many popes, bishops and priests. Coming from a staunch atheist, this hardly seems an “invalidation of capitalism.”
As for Lewis, I suggest the novel “Dodsworth” to the interested reader. It’s hero is one of the captains of American industry. Anyone who thinks that he was portrayed as “impotent and barely able to reproduce” or “inferior to the animals” is in for a big surprise.
Next let’s take up the charge that the two presented “the Puritan and the Pioneer” as villains. While Mencken may have been an atheist, he is often quoted as having said, “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” He generally took issue, not with religion or “Puritans” per se, but with those who exploited religion to justify the usurpation of the liberties of others, or to attempt to use the power of the state to police their morality, or to suppress freedom of thought. Therefore, he reserved his special ire for Methodist bishops, who he blamed for foisting Prohibition on the American people, figures like Anthony Comstock, who wanted the state to police morality, and evangelical politicians like William Jennings Bryan, who sought to suppress the teaching of evolution and other scientific theories. As for the notion that he harbored an animus against the pioneers, nothing could be more absurd. Just read a few copies of the American Mercury and you’ll generally find fulsome praise of the pioneers’ spirit of liberty, creativity, and resourcefulness. Mencken may not have written these articles, but he was a very careful editor, choosing, for example, pieces that lauded the founding fathers of old El Paso, the remarkable quality of the writing in some of the earliest periodicals to appear in San Francisco, and the spirit of freedom among the American loggers who worked the forests at the fringe of advancing civilization.
As for Lewis, the type he pilloried in “Elmer Gantry” might certainly be described as “religious,” but only in the sense that televangelists like Robert Tilton and Jim Bakker are “religious.” Where, exactly, in his work DeVoto finds any condemnation of pioneers as such I can’t imagine, unless one considers the citizens of Gopher Prairie in his novel Main Street “pioneers.”
Nothing could be more far-fetched than the idea that individualism was a bête noire for either Lewis or Mencken. The struggle of individuals to assert themselves against the social forces of conformity is a constant theme of Lewis’ novels. Whether Carroll Kennicott in Main Street asserting her right to organize parties and furnish her house as she pleases, regardless of how “everyone else” does it, Martin Arrowsmith pushing back against the medical and scientific establishment, or Dodsworth promoting automobile designs that stood out from the pack, individualism was always one of his highest virtues. As for Mencken, ultimate individual that he was, the idea that he rejected individualism doesn’t pass the “ho ho” test.
Prof. Siegel would have us believe that Devoto “issued the first serious and meaningful challenge to their worldview.” To the extent that he’s referring to Mencken and Lewis, anyone who takes the time to read the contemporary literary criticism will quickly realize this claim is nonsense. We are told that he fought “a brave and lonely battle” in opposing them, but whether Siegel is referring to the past or the present, that claim doesn’t hold water either. One of the most important biographies of Lewis, Mark Schorer’s “Sinclair Lewis; An American Life,” which appeared shortly after Devoto’s heyday, damned him with faint praise. The most significant reference I’ve seen to Mencken in the popular media in the last decade or so referred to the “racism” supposedly exposed in some newly discovered letters. Given the fact that Mencken was probably the most effective opponent of racism in this country in the first half of the 20th century, hardly ever failed to hammer the Ku Klux Klan and related excrescences in a single issue of the American Mercury, and provided a mainstream forum for W.E.B. Dubois and many other African American intellectuals that put him head and shoulders above the rest of the editors of his day, one can but shake one’s head when reading such stupidities.
There can be nothing more anti-American than gathering a host of America’s best authors, stripping them of their originality, and then accusing them of anti-Americanism, associating them in the process with a modern ideology with which they have nothing in common. Take a look at the list of best sellers, whether fiction or non-fiction, and it may occur to you, as it does to me, that it’s a wasteland out there. Do yourself a favor and read some of the authors on DeVoto’s blacklist. You may not agree with what they have to say, but they’ll make you think.
Historical revisionists abound in our day. From 911 Truthers to Holocaust deniers, they are out there busily plying their trade, re-crafting historical events to make them fit whatever narrative happens to tickle their fancy. Many of them end up actually believing their modified versions of reality. Instead of seeking the truth, they imagine they already “know” the truth before they start the search. As a result, they become victims of what philosopher Nassim Taleb calls “confirmation bias.” In his words, “By a mental mechanism I call naive empiricism, we have a natural tendency to look for instances that confirm our story and our vision of the world – these instances are always easy to find. Alas, with tools, and fools, anything can be easy to find. You take past instances that corroborate your theories and you treat them as evidence.”
The US Civil War must certainly rank near the top when it comes to “most revised” historical events. It has been sliced and diced to fit the narratives of everyone from southern schoolmarms in the 1920’s, whose continued employment depended on their ability to demonstrate to their students that their heroic granddads were fighting for a cause more noble than chattel slavery, to Marxist “historians,” eager to “corroborate their theories” regarding the nuances of class structure in the antebellum North and South. Like all recent historical revisionists, they have a problem; there are mounds of source material out there for anyone who cares to take the time to fact check their pet theories. I just ran across some telling examples thereof in an old copy of the “Edinburgh Review,” published in 1860. One appears in an article on the subject of serf emancipation in Russia, and reads as follows:
The subject of serf-emancipation in Russia is a very interesting one to the civilized world generally, and particularly those nations in Europe and America who have been or are vexed by the calamity of Negro slavery. Those who have abolished that slavery speak confidently of the practicability of emancipating the serfs of Russia; while, in the United States, where the very existence of the Republic now immediately depends on the approaching settlement of the slavery question, the two sections of the nation are respectively triumphing in the avowed intention of the Russian Emperor to emancipate the serfs, and in the obvious difficulty which attends the operation.
In a later article about the presidency of Mr. Buchanan, one finds much more in a similar vein. For example:
Buchanan was elected in the interest of the (slaveholding) minority; and he lost no time in intimating that his policy would be regulated in favour of that interest. If this appears astonishing, we can only remind our readers that the Republican Party of the present day was then in its infancy; and that of the 20,000,000 of non-slaveholders, the larger portion were politically paralyzed by fear; – fear of an explosion of the Union; fear for their commerce; fear of the disgrace of civil war.
On Mr. Buchanan’s accession to office, therefore, the struggles of many parties had just been converted into a distinct and circumscribed conflict between two, – the Northern and Southern or the Anti-slavery and Pro slavery parties.
Several Southern States had, throughout the Presidential election, propounded schemes of marching on Washington, in case of Colonel Fremont’s (Republican Presidential candidate in 1856) success, seizing the archives, and assuming the government and bringing the political quarrel to the issue of civil war.
By the testimony of all parties, the election orators of the South were answerable for the disorders of the autumn and winter of 1857. They had made speeches to multitudes throughout the Slave States, in which they had dwelt on the certainty of the abolition of slavery if Fremont were elected. They insisted on the menacing appearance of the Republican party, and the necessity of every Southern man exerting himself, if the planters would not see the property and their domestic authority wrenched from their grasp.
We see in Southern newspapers white and black lists of Northern mercantile firms, the members of which are set down by guess as pro or anti-slavery;… The mails are searched for matter of an incendiary (anti-slavery) character.
The North protests against the pro-slavery legislation of late years, and supplies an organisation to agitate for the dissolution and reconstitution of the Union; and at the same time several Southern States are openly proposing to secede from the Union.
Thus far, recent Presidents have lent their whole force to the attempt to spread the fatal institution of slavery over the whole Union; and the question now is whether this policy shall be pushed forward or reversed. This alternative has swallowed up all political subdivisions, and has left the stage clear for the conflict of the Democratic and Republican parties on a definite question.
It is universally known that the Democratic party, deeply divided before, gave way altogether at the Charleston Convention; and that the slaveholders who do not look beyond preserving slavery or perishing in the attempt to secede from the Union have nominated a candidate in the person of Mr. Breckinridge.
and finally, there are these prophetic words;
The “irrepressible conflict” indicated by Mr. Seward must be encountered and dealt with in one way or another. The Slave Statesmen persist in supposing this to mean civil war thrust upon the South by a tyrannical majority in the North; while the North always understood the expression to refer to the eternal opposition of the principles of free and despotic institutions. The man who might so preside over the struggle as to bring it to a favorable issue would be the true comrade of Washington. Such a man is nowhere recognised at present.
Now we recognize that man.
The Edinburgh Review was the premier “liberal” British journal of the first half of the 19th century, but one can find similar allusions to the possibility that the American Union may break apart over the issue of slavery in its “conservative” twin, the Quarterly Review. The Americans themselves were no more confused about the matter before the war than the Europeans. Read the texts of the state and county proclamations calling for secession in the South, and the decisive significance of slavery is obvious. Here’s an example from one Virginia county’s Call for Secession:
Owing to a spirit of pharasaical fanaticism prevailing in the North in reference to the institution of slavery, incited by foreign emissaries and fostered by corrupt political demagogues in search of power and place, a feeling has been aroused between the people of the two sections, of what was once a common country, which of itself would almost preclude the administration of a united government in harmony.
John C. Calhoun, perhaps the greatest southern politician of them all, began his final speech before the Senate in 1850 with the line, “I have, senators, believed from the first that the agitation of the subject of slavery would, if not prevented by some timely and effective measure, end in disunion.” When it came to the significance of slavery, politicians in the North were in cordial agreement with Calhoun. Read the northern newspapers of the time, and you’ll find they’re no more “confused” about the role of slavery in the breakup of the Union than their colleagues in the South. In short, then, European liberals believed the decisive issue was slavery, European conservatives believed the decisive issue was slavery, citizens in the North believed the decisive issue was slavery, citizens in the South believed the decisive issue was slavery, and virtually anyone else alive at the time who happened to take a passing interest in the subject believed the decisive issue was slavery, albeit southern planters occasionally embellished their pronunciamentos with references to such noble causes as “states’ rights” and “liberty,” perhaps with some perfunctory grumbling about the tariff thrown in for good measure.
One can but lament the fact that the southern schoolmarms and Marxist scholars of the 20th century were born too late to explain the “real” reasons for the Civil War to this benighted generation. The process goes on in our own day. Consider, for example, the periodic European outbursts of anti-Americanism, the most recent, and probably the most violent of which began metastasizing following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and reached a peak of almost incredible obsessiveness and fury at some point in the Bush Administration. To any nascent Ph.D. in sociology who cares to study the phenomena, I suggest finding all the references to US historical events in the top two or three news magazines or newspapers in a broad sample of western European states during the decade from, say, 1998 to 2008. Categorize them into the categories “negative” and “positive,” and see what you find. I rather suspect that all but a vanishingly small remnant will “confirm their story and their vision of the world” that the United States is an evil empire.
Would you study history? Don’t fail to look at the source material. If your history was written by a journalist, heaven help you.
There has, of course, always been an undercurrent of anti-Americanism in European society. Our rapid expansion across the continent and rise as a potential competitor, our form of government, our heterogeneous mixture of races and ethnic groups, and religious idiosyncrasies, our geographic distance, and many other factors have acted to reinforce the sense that Americans were “others.” Our brains are hard-wired to have a dual system of morality, which I have elsewhere referred to as the Amity/Enmity Complex. We reserve “good” moral behavior for those in our “in-group.” The “other,” however, is perceived as evil, unclean, and contemptible. Ask the European Jews who survived World War II how that works. The collapse of the Soviet Union reinforced the sense of our power and significance. Instead of just one among several others, for many Europeans we became “The Other.” Predictably, human nature took its course, and hatred of Americans reached new extremes.
As I happen to speak German, I was able to watch the phenomenon as it developed in that country firsthand. It became impossible to overlook when the German mass media, with Spiegel magazine in the forefront, began to discover just how lucrative it could be to feed the growing undercurrents of anti-American hate. The rest of the media soon caught on. Towards the end of the Clinton administration, the German media started becoming choked with expressions of rage, hatred, and denunciations for any number of trumped up claims of US “immorality.” Spiegel’s editors became positively obsessed with the game, to the point that it became difficult to find any news about Germany on their website mixed in with the daily dose of intemperate railing against the USA. This quasi-racist Amerika bashing went on well into the Bush administration, until a growing number of decent Germans, and the few Americans who were paying any attention, started pushing back. David of Davids Medienkritik was prominent among them, and one can find some of the more egregious and vicious attacks documented on his website.
Gradually, the word spread, and more Americans began to notice, including influential players in our own mass media. It became increasingly obvious to the “respectable” elements in the German media that, if they kept it up, they would soon enjoy reputations similar to that held by Julius Streicher and “Der Stürmer” during the Third Reich. This, of course would not do. It might seriously jeopardize their chances of raking in any future international prizes for “objective journalism.” They began moderating their tone, until today one only sees the occasional chunk of red meat still tossed out to the legions of Amerika haters.
Of course, this remarkable change in tone makes it quite obvious that the editors of Spiegel and the rest were quite conscious of the game they were playing all along. If not from that, one could detect it in the day and night difference between the occasional English articles on their site and the German stuff intended for domestic consumption. While the unabashed hatemongering was still going on unabated, however, they were quite disingenuous about it. One of their favorite phrases was “objective criticism.” Any slanted, half-baked attack on the US was fobbed off as “objective criticism.” I don’t doubt that many Germans still rationalize their hate as “objective criticism.” To them, I can only recommend that they take a look at the real thing. They need look no further than Niall Fergusons, “The War of the World.”
The book is anything but a pro-US panegyric. On the contrary, we come in for some harsh criticism touching such matters as our pervasive habit of shooting enemy prisoners of war, our bombing of civilians in World War II, our less than generous response to the European persecution of Jews and other minorities before the war, and any number of other real or perceived shortcomings. There’s more than enough to make the more thin-skinned of my countrymen squirm as they read it. To read it, however, is to learn the difference between the “objective criticism” of the hate mongers and the search for truth of a conscientious historian.
Balance is always one of the best tip offs. Ferguson is well aware of the opposing arguments on either side of the issues he discusses, and has a deep grasp of the relevant history. No one can be perfectly objective. Our world view is bound to mediate the way we perceive historical facts to a greater or lesser extent. However, Ferguson doesn’t ignore half of the facts because they conflict with a preferred narrative. History plays a much different role in the “objective criticism” of the Amerika haters. For them, it is just a sewer one wades through to pick up choice tidbits that fit the narrative. To them, its end is to villify. Facts that conflict with that end are ignored. As a result, the hater’s grasp of history is necessarily shallow. Challenge one of their choice tidbits, and it’s obvious. They never waste much time trying to defend the indefensible. They just hop ahead to the next tidbit. Read the book and you’ll see the difference.
There is another good reason for reading “The War of the World.” In the process of demonstrating the difference between a serious history and propaganda, Ferguson has created a virtual case study of the Amity/Enmity Complex in action. Of course, the manifestations of anti-American hate referred to earlier are an excellent example of a recent manifestation of this destructive aspect of human nature. “The War of the World” chronicles many more, although Ferguson himself hasn’t grasped the connection. The book cites instance after instance of slaughter and destruction inflicted on the “other” in recent history. The Jews are, of course, the quintessential “other” of our time, and Ferguson reveals the incredible and unforgivable misery they have suffered from the irrational hatred of their neighbors, not only in Germany, but in pogroms and murders that were every bit as vicious in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and a host of other countries. Read the litany of horror, and it may begin to dawn on you why the existence of Israel is necessary.
The Jews had plenty of company in the 20th century. Ferguson tells us of the Armenian genocide, the rape of Nanking, the slaughter of Serbs by Croats and of Moslems by Serbs, and countless other manifestations of the Complex. Read his book. Then read what Robert Ardrey, Arthur Keith, and many others have been trying to tell us since the time of Darwin about the dual system of human morality, and think about it. Unless you’re blind. You’ll see they were right. One day, perhaps in the not too distant future, they’ll be proved right. Wait and see.
In the ancient times before the blogosphere, when even Internet forums were still a novelty, and blogs nonexistent, one occasionally ran across mainstream media types who would hilariously claim, with a perfectly straight face, that their news reporting was “objective.” Nowadays such specimens have become a great rarity, seldom encountered outside of circus side shows. Even the lowliest of trolls are now well aware of the existence of what is referred to as the “narrative.” The narrative requires that reality be “adjusted” to conform to a particular ideological point of view. These adjustments are seldom applied in the form of blatant lies. In these days of instant Internet fact checking, it has simply become too risky. Rather, one only reports stories that conform to the narrative, perhaps after trimming them of certain “irrelevant details” and adding some “interpretation” by “experts” to make sure readers don’t miss the point. In other words, the story is massaged until, as the Germans put it, “Es passt in den Kram” (It fits in with the rest of the crap).
Sometimes events of such a shocking nature occur that even the most carefully crafted narratives must be adjusted to account for them. One such event was, of course, the demise of Communism. As one might expect, it left the narrative of the “progressive left” in a shambles. A new, somewhat ramshackle version had to be cobbled together, from such ideological flotsam and jetsam as bobbed to the surface after the Soviet Titanic slid beneath the waves, combined with some interesting new twists. One of the more amusing of these is the left’s increasingly steamy love affair with the more extreme Islamists. It seems odd on the face of it that ideologues who once posed as champions of women’s liberation and gay rights, and vehemently denounced the agenda of the Christian right, are now found in such a warm embrace with misogynistic, homophobe religious fanatics. However, Homo sapiens has never really been a rational animal. We are simply better than the other animals at using reason to satisfy our emotional needs. When it comes to emotional needs, there are those among us whose tastes run to “saving” the rest of us and making us all “happy” by stuffing the messianic world view du jour down our collective throats. These are the familiar types who love to strike heroic poses on the “moral high ground.” Marxism scratched their emotional itch admirably for many years, but has lately fallen out of fashion. When it did, it left something of a psychological vacuum in its wake. Mercifully, no brand new surefire prescription for saving humanity was waiting in the wings to take its place. Instead, radical Islamism has rushed in to fill the vacuum. When it comes to messianic world views, it is, for the time being at least, the only game in town. Incongruous successor to Marxism that it is, it still scratches that itch. The “progressive left” jumped on board. It should really come as no surprise. After all, back in the day, they managed to convince themselves that they were “saving the world” by collaborating in the mass murders of Pol Pot and Ho chi Minh, not to mention Stalin.
Artifacts of this Islamist – leftist love affair are not hard to find. When it comes to the European news media, for example, it takes the form of anti-Semitism Lite, often euphemistically referred to as “anti-Zionism.” It manifests itself in the form of obsessive, one-sided bashing of Israel for the slightest real or imagined infractions of the left’s version of “morality,” combined with a the turning of a blind eye to the far more egregious misdeeds of her enemies. For example, deliberate attempts by the Islamists to murder Israeli civilians with barrages of rockets are reported with as much emotional detachment as the next day’s weather, but grossly exaggerated accounts of atrocities in Gaza and “blood libel” fables about the harvesting of organs from Palestinian victims become the stuff of persistent propaganda campaigns without the slightest shred of proof.
The process is nicely illustrated by the manner in which the news about the recent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai has been reported in Europe. There, as in the US, the “progressive left” tends to be over-represented in the legacy media. It is overwhelmingly the case in Germany, where no equivalent of our talk radio or influential bloggers exists to restore a semblance of balance. Consider, for example, the coverage in Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine. A story about the assassination that appeared last week began with the ominous headline, “How Israel Covered Mossad’s Trail.” The opening blurb reads, “The Israeli secret service will neither ‘confirm nor deny’ its involvement in the murder of Hamas weapons dealer Mabhouh. However, the Dubai assassin who went by the cover name Michael Bodenheimer left a trail behind him: In Cologne and in Israeli Herzliya.” The rest of the article is a collection of circumstantial evidence combined with suggestions that the crime had all the earmarks of a Mossad hit.
The “news” here is hardly that Mossad wasn’t involved in the hit. It’s the disconnect between the way Spiegel reported on this story, which happened to fit its anti-Israel narrative, and the way it reports on similar stories that don’t. Take for example, the involvement of Al Qaeda in 911. This was a story that most decidedly did not fit Spiegel’s pro-Islamist narrative at the time. It also came at an inconvenient time, as Spiegel was in the forefront of a quasi-racist German jihad against the United States that reached levels of obsessive viciousness at about the time of 911 that would scarcely be credible to Americans who can’t read German. Nevertheless, all the same circumstantial evidence was there, complete with a trail leading back to Germany. In this case, however, instead of accepting the obvious, Spiegel’s editors dug in their heels, and tried to create an alternate version of reality. They began what I referred to at the time as the “Spielchen mit den Beweisen,” or “cute little game with the proofs,” coming up with ever more contrived reasons to dismiss the increasing mountain of evidence pointing to Al Qaeda’s guilt. Even when bin Laden appeared on tape, practically jumping up and down and screaming, “We did it! We did it!” the editors refused to throw in the towel. They were nothing if not stubborn. Reality was what they said it was, and the rest of the world be damned! They pointed out that (aha, oho), the translators of the videotape had been in the employ of the evil Americans. They produced their own “translators” from the enormous pool of experts they have constantly at their beck and call, ready to “prove” the most absurd concoctions. These came up with a “corrected” translation on demand which (surprise, surprise) exonerated bin Laden. Only after a chorus of native Arab speakers in countries that could hardly be portrayed as “friends” of the United States pointed out that Spiegel’s “translators” were sucking canal water, did the editors finally give over, muttering dark comments about the “exegesis of videotapes.”
In a word, then, as far as ideologues are concerned, be they on the left or the right of the political spectrum, the “real world” is what fits the narrative. When it comes to dishing out blame, let him beware whom the ideological shoe fits.
UPDATE: It’s odd that Spiegel didn’t pick up on this. Looks like prime material for another “Spielchen mit den Beweisen” to me.
In earlier posts, I have noted the remarkable paradigm shift that has recently occurred in acceptance of the fact that human behavior, including moral behavior, is highly dependent on predispositions that are hard-wired in the brain. It did not come easy. The concept of innate behavioral traits flew in the face of a good many cherished ideological myths, not the least of which was the myth of Marxism. We have made great progress, but we have not reached our journey’s end.
Not all the myths are dead. Legions of psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, philosophers, and other “experts” of every stripe are still fighting a delaying action. They will continue to insist until the bitter end, or, to put it more concretely, until the facts finally drag them back to reality, that, while some aspects of human behavior may be innate, we are only wired to be “good” and “moral.” Once upon a time they told us that, because the “gentle” chimpanzee was our closest relative in the animal kingdom, then, obviously, our nature was to be “gentle” and “unaggressive” as well. When it turned out that, after all, the chimpanzee is not as “gentle” and “unaggressive” as first imagined, and, in fact, displays some character traits that are distinctly politically incorrect, the hapless beast was tossed overboard in favor of today’s favorite, the lately fashionable bonobo. The bonobo, we are told, is a paragon of cooperative behavior, with sexual habits that are in perfect harmony with the most advanced views on the topic. In a word, we have made progress, but only partial progress. Instead of being fully buried, our heads are now only half buried in the sand.
All this gushing over bonobos ignores some hard facts. Among them is the Amity/Enmity Complex. As I noted in an earlier post, Robert Ardrey once described the Complex as
…the resolution of a paradox posed by Darwin, solved by Wallace, explored by Spencer and Sumner, revived and extended by Keith, and for the last twenty years cast aside under the pretense it does not exist. The paradox may be simply stated: If the evolutionary process is a merciless struggle among individuals to survive, with natural selection determining the fittest, then how could such human qualities as altruism, loyalty, charity, and mercy have ever come into existence? If Darwinian evolution presents a picture of dog eat dog, then how did dogs ever get together?
…What seems to have occurred to no one, excepting possibly (Arthur) Keith, is that the animal is a moral being, and that human morality is a simple evolutionary extension of a form of conduct which has existed in nature for many hundreds of millions of years. But unless we inspect both the history of the falsehood and the history of the truth, we shall not in least part grasp our contemporary predicament.
…Human nature has a dual constitution; to hate as well as to love are parts of it; and conscience may enforce hate as a duty just as it enforces the duty of love. Conscience has a two-fold role in the soldier: it is his duty to save and protect his own people and equally his duty to destroy their enemies… Thus conscience serves both codes of group behavior; it gives sanction to practices of the code of enmity as well as the code of amity.
It does not take a mental giant to figure out how the predisposition to acquire such a dual morality would have promoted the survival of ancestral humans. It served to spread populations out, optimizing their exploitation of available territory. Ardrey has included several interesting descriptions of related behavior in other primate species in his books. At a time when we possessed only crude weapons, the survival value of enmity between adjoining groups was enhanced by the fact that it was unlikely to have lethal consequences. Times have changed. Our weapons are no longer crude.
The complex is the fundamental human behavioral trait behind such “isms” and other related evils as racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, and religious bigotry. However, rather than admit something as unpleasant as an innate behavioral trait that might predispose us to be other than perfect angels, we have refused to accept the obvious. The obvious is that the enmity half of the Amity/Enmity Complex is the unifying fact that explains all these behaviors. Rather than accept it, we have instead experienced the devastating effects of each of these “isms” in turn, only giving them a name that associates them with “evil” after the fact. Would it not be better to understand the underlying phenomenon than to continue on this eternal treadmill, constantly closing the barn door after the animals have already fled? There have been many Cassandras among us since the time of Darwin, thinkers who pointed to the abundant evidence for the existence of the Complex, and the dangers of ignoring its existence. One would think that, if the preceding centuries of violence and warfare were not enough, the scales would surely have dropped from the eyes of even the most stubborn doubters after the genocide and mass slaughter of the 20th century. Alas, bonobos are still in fashion, and we’re still not quite there yet.
I remain optimistic, however. I have witnessed the paradigm shift referred to above in my lifetime. The other shoe will eventually fall. Facts are stubborn things. They don’t go away, and we continue to accumulate them. The Amity/Enmity complex is a fact. As long as we retain the freedom to inquire and to research the truth, it will become, like innate human behavior, a fact that is increasingly difficult, and finally, impossible to ignore. It may be that we will have to beat the last, recalcitrant, “progressive” psychologist over the head with the last quantum fluctuation in the last electron in the last molecule in the final neuron that proves, once and for all, that the Complex is real, but one day he, too, will be dragged kicking and screaming back into the real world.
Meanwhile, the manifestations of the Complex, countless as they are in our history, remain obvious to anyone with a mind open enough to look at them. Besides much else that recommends it to the interested reader, there are many interesting examples in Niall Ferguson’s book, “The War of the World.” For example, referring to anti-Semitic pogroms in pre-WWI Russia:
What happened between 1903 and 1906 was quite different in character… The catalyst was a classic “blood libel”, prompted by the discovery of the corpse of a young boy,…In the violence that ensued, hundreds of shops and homes were looted or burned. This time, however, many more people were killed… Between October 31 and November 11 there were pogroms in 660 different plances; more than 800 Jews were killed.
To the persecution of the “bourgeoisie” in the Russian Civil War:
The Bolshevik newspaper Krasnaya Gazeta declared: “Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds. let them be thousands, let them drown themselves in their own blood… let there be bloods of blood of the bourgeoisie – more blood, as much as possible.”… Between 1918 and 1920 as many as 300,000 such political executions were carried out.
and, finally, to the genocide committed against the Armenians by the Turks:
Like the Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, the Armenians were doubly vulnerable: not only a religious minority, but also a relatively wealthy group… In the mid-1890s irregular Kurdish troops had been unleashed against Armenian villages as the Ottoman authorities tried to reassert the Armenians’ subordinate status as infidel dhimmis, or non-Muslim citizens. The American ambassador estimated the number of people killed at more than 37,000… The murderous campaign launched against the Armenians from 1915 to 1918 was qualitatively different, however; so much so that it is now widely acknowledged to have been the first true genocide… the men and boys older than 10 were massacred… The number of Armenian men, women and children who were killed or died prematurely may have been even higher than a million, a huge proportion of a pre-war population that numbered, at the very most, 2.4 million.
Is it really so hard to see the common thread here? Is the truth really so difficult to recognize and accept? The damage we have done to ourselves boggles the mind. One day we will learn to understand ourselves, and grasp the reasons why we do these things. May that day come sooner rather than later.
Not all Germans are obsessed with hate – only enough of them to make a lucrative clientele for the peddlers of hate, such as the editors of Spiegel magazine. If you thought the haters didn’t learn anything from the Holocaust, you would be wrong. It goes without saying that it wasn’t the seemingly obvious lesson that hatred of entire peoples is a bad thing that can lead to mass murder and self-destruction. Rather, they learned that open expressions of hatred directed at the Jews were inappropriate, and should take the form of “anti-Zionism.” One could, on the other hand, hate Americans, not only openly, but with impunity.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” So it is with the German haters. They have never been behind hand in coming up with flimsy rationalizations for their hatred. For a while, they fobbed off their obsessive interest in anything negative about America as “objective criticism.” When that became too ludicrous, even for them, they seized on the hapless George W. Bush. Every mindless, bitter, frothing-at-the-mouth expression of anti-American hate, no matter that it was directed at the American people as a whole, and not at any specific sin of the Administration, was glibly passed off as “opposition to Bush.” I suspect many of the haters believed their own lies. German haters have never been adept at looking at themselves in the mirror. Now Bush is long gone, but their hatred remains.
The latest artifact thereof is a charming piece that appeared on Spiegel’s website today entitled, “United Nightmares of America.” It is essentially a “68er’s” wet dream. The 68ers are the German equivalent of the “New Left” of the late 60’s in the US. As those of us who were around at the time will recall, they were noble idealists who served the cause of social justice by collaborating with Pol Pot and Ho chi Minh. One of these 68ers, a Dane by the name of Jacob Holdt, happened to become side-tracked in the USA while on his way to South America to bring a brave new world to Chile after the fashion of Castro’s Cuba. While here, he wallowed in every cesspool he could find, snapping pictures all the while. This, of course, became the substance of the “nightmare” referred to by Spiegel. According to Spiegel, “These are pictures that bear witness to poverty, violence, and despair: a prostitute giving herself a fix, a grim, aged white woman guarding the entrance to her hovel with a revolver, a young black, cleaning his valuable gun in the midst of poverty.” You get the idea.
One would think that the citizens of a country guilty of one of the vilest episodes of mass murder, destruction, and racism the world has ever witnessed would have been chastened by the event. One would think that, instead of attempting to relieve themselves of that historic guilt by obsessing about the sins of others, they would look for the reasons for that debacle within themselves, and seek to root it out once and for all. However, far from seeking to root out the hatred that once manifested itself as the Third Reich, they continue to cultivate it today. In Germany today, hatred is not a reason for shame. Rather, it is given free reign, redirected at Americans and tarted up in such threadbare garb as a “fight for social justice.”
One would think that, if the legions of haters in Germany were honestly concerned about social justice, they would look at problems closer to home, problems that they could actually do something to solve. Instead of obsessing about racism in the US, one would think that they would seek to fight their own far more blatant and open racism. Comparable in its contempt for minorities with anything ever encountered in the old South, it bars them from access to decent housing, and keeps them in their own mini-ghettos, euphemistically referred to as “quarters for asylum seekers.” Instead of obsessing about poverty in the US, one would think that they would work to alleviate poverty in their own cities, where one can find beggars on any street corner. Instead of obsessing about social inequality in the US, one would think they would seek to eliminate it in Germany, a country stratified into classes according to wealth and social status beyond the imagination of anything ever seen by Americans.
Spiegel has posted a whole series of the photographs of the noble Jacob Holdt, their facilitator of hate du jour. In response, I will post only one.