Houston we have a problem

By 2353NM  This blog site traditionally has a look back at what we…

A couple of quick take-outs from MYEFO

Josh Frydenberg keeps telling us that, now that the budget is back…

Climate Change Accounting: The Failure of COP25

Prior to the UN Convention on Climate Change talks held in Madrid,…

Climate Change, Beyond the Capacity of Politicians

By Keith Antonysen  I'm absolutely fed-up with politicians not doing anything in relation…

El Paso - the United States' descent into…

By Europaeus *Continued from Part 6Is Trump a Racist?Some details of his early…

Morrison's credibility as leader goes up in a…

I've looked at clouds from both sides nowFrom up and down…

Australian workers are 'standing on the outside looking…

Monday’s MYEFO will apparently include yet another downgrade to forecast wage growth.According…

El Paso - the United States' descent into…

By Europaeus *Continued from Part 5In her 2018 book, Bring the War Home:…

«
»
Facebook

Houston we have a problem

By 2353NM  

This blog site traditionally has a look back at what we commented on in the past year as our last article come December. This year, we’re going to break the cycle and look at what Prime Minister Morrison should be considering over the next month or so instead of asking ‘how good is the cricket?’. That’s not saying for a second that we published nothing of worth this year because if you go to the top right of your screen and click on the ‘Archive’ link, you will not only see the articles for 2019, but the 860 or so articles published by The Political Sword since 2008.

The mythology is that when American astronauts have a problem in space, they alert Mission Control in Houston Texas with the phrase ‘Houston — we have a problem’. Going into the festive season this year, Prime Minister Morrison has a few problems where perhaps a shout out to ‘Houston’ might be in order.

Morrison won the ‘unwinnable’ election in May. Subsequently, all the polling organisations went into damage control while they looked at their methodology. Most made some admission that they had errors in their process and the world moved on. One benefit is that the current polling numbers are not front-page news every week or fortnight as there is a general understanding now that statistics and probability are only a guide based on a set of assumptions.

Morrison’s election ‘victory lap’ included a trip to meet President Trump in Washington in September. Trump gave Morrison the honour of a State Dinner. The Wall Street Journal wrote that Brian Houston, the founder of the ‘Pentecostal’ Hillsong Church, was placed on the guest list by Morrison’s people and removed by the Americans as:

In 2015, Mr Houston was censured by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse for failing to alert authorities to paedophile father Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of children in his church.

Australia was still talking about it at the end of November, with The Guardian reporting

It has been dismissed as “gossip” by the prime minister, but in the two months since the White House state dinner, the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to avoid answering the simple question: Did Scott Morrison ask the Trump administration to invite the Hillsong founder, Pastor Brian Houston, to the dinner?

If the answer is no, just say it and move on. Assuming the answer is yes (a pretty good bet since it hasn’t been denied), it’s interesting that the Americans can see the reputational risks that Morrison and his minders can’t.

Morrison has also spent a considerable amount of political capital defending Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Apart from being implicated in a scheme when the government paid $80 million for water rights without receiving any water, meeting with the then Environment Minister to discuss why no action should be taken when 30 hectares of protected grasslands in the Monaro region of New South Wales was poisoned by a company in which Taylor has a beneficial interest and claiming an increase in carbon emissions over the past three years is good news, Taylor is also under investigation by the Parliament for an ongoing argument with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Taylor wrote to the Lord Mayor in his Energy Minister role suggesting $14 million spent on international travel was inconsistent with the Mayor’s public position on emissions reduction, as well as leaking the letter to the media. It’s a pity the real figure was a somewhat more palatable $15893.29 (and $5308.88 on domestic travel). Taylor claims the fault wasn’t his; regardless Australia is still talking about it coming into December (a month later).

However, when One Nation votes against his ‘signature piece Union-busting’ legislation as they did in the last week of November, Morrison really has a problem. Hanson is quoted as suggesting

the bill [was] a “sledgehammer against the unions” – and compared it to the government’s response to allegations of illegality from the country’s major banks.

“The Prime Minister says ‘oh well, it’s not up to us, the government, to deal with the banks, it’s up to the boards to do it’,” she said.

“But they’re coming out with a sledgehammer against the unions and doing what they’re doing, so I think there is a double standard there.”

Rather than wrapping up the year on a high, as the ALP are still working out what went wrong, Morrison has maxed out the ‘political capital’ credit card this festive season. Some in the Liberal Party are concerned about the future as discussed in the publicly released results of their election review. It warns

the Coalition’s future chances of forming government will remain “worryingly narrow” unless it improves its standing in Victoria and parts of NSW.

The review warns there is “no room for any complacency” within the party following the 2019 election campaign, recommending a “comprehensive impartial candidate vetting process” for candidates to avoid a similar situation where 10 Liberals were disendorsed during the campaign.

If Morrison is considering whether he should call out ‘Houston – we have a problem’, would the cry for help be meant for Mission Control (AKA Liberal Party head office) or Brian Houston? Will his minders be working overtime this festive season? Recent history tells us the knives won’t stay in the cutlery drawer if they don’t. Pass the popcorn; 2020 could be interesting to watch.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword – ‘Like’ this page to receive notification on your timeline of anything they post.

There is also a personal Facebook page:
Ad Astra’s page – Send a friend request to interact there.

The Political Sword also has Twitter accounts where they can notify followers of new posts:
@1TPSTeam (The TPS Team account)
@Adastra5 (Ad Astra’s account)

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Climate Change, Beyond the Capacity of Politicians

By Keith Antonysen  

I’m absolutely fed-up with politicians not doing anything in relation to climate change; their policies make them more dangerous than the terrorists we are meant to be worried about.

They lie, they cheat and obfuscate. It has been recognised at COP25, Madrid, that the Australian government has not been reducing fossil fuel emissions as they claim. The Umpire has caught them out. Volunteer firefighters are not even being equipped properly, arguably they are the most important people in Australia at present. Firies around the world through first-hand experience regard climate change as having an impact on the severity of fires. Politicians, on the other hand, are driven by their ideology which sifts through information from experts and cast it aside.

Exporting fossil fuels from Australia has global consequences through extending the strength of extreme natural events.

The Australian government promotes self-regulation; an irony, as they are unable to regulate fossil fuels themselves.

If you wish to commit crimes against humanity you take the Morrison and Albanese policy of business as usual. Currently, we are at a state where we are playing Russian Roulette. Here in Australia, we have had huge floods, huge bushfires, the largest river system breaking down, and drought. The greenhouse gases created by the bushfires has been estimated to be almost half of Australia’s budget and we are only just into summer.

The science informs us it is not going to get better in the future should we continue with a business as usual paradigm.

Our children are expendable, making dollars in the short term is more important than our children. Politicians and fossil fuel executives are showing a careless attitude towards their own children.

Think that’s hyperbole … just take notice of what’s happening in other parts of the world. For example, think about what has happened to Victoria Falls, it now runs at a trickle. Greenland is another example of what is happening to the environment, humungous amounts of ice is melting. Or, you could take notice of permafrost breaking down and what that entails.

Taking into account what is happening in Australia and every other continent, it is very hard to argue against anthropogenic climate change. If you disagree, then please provide data that contradicts what is being picked up on a daily basis by satellites showing the effect of greenhouse gases on the atmosphere. If you still disagree then get drunk and addle your brain further.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 7)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 6

Is Trump a Racist?

Some details of his early life may help to answer the question. Donald Trump’s language is essentially violent. Like many past agitators, he presents himself as a prophet incapable of being wrong. As professor Henry A. Giroux noted in his America at war with itself (City Lights books, San Francisco, Ca. 2016), Trump “disdains any sense of nuance and uses a discourse of intolerance populated by words such as ‘hate’, ‘kill’, ‘destroy’, ‘attack’, ‘fight’, and ‘smack’, showcasing a strongman mentality characteristic of the style of demagogues such as Mussolini, Hitler, Pinochet – and the like. Trump is essentially an anti-intellectual; who appeals to anxiety, not possibility. He prioritises insults and emotions over facts, evidence, or analysis.” Giroux, op. cit. at 49-50) In reference to journalists, he said at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on 21 December 2015: “I hate some of these people but I’d never kill them.”(G. Richter, ‘Trump: I hate the press, but I’d never kill them’, newsmax.com, 21 December 2015).

“But would he violate international human rights agreements and torture them if the accusations against them cold be framed as a threat to national security?”

Trump trades in insults and uses the punitive rhetoric of humiliation as a weapon to deflect any criticism of his ideas and policies.

At a rally in Bluffton South Carolina in 2015, Trump stated that he would use not only waterboarding but also similar interrogation techniques which “are much worse”, and that waterboarding is “not nearly enough.” (J. Johnson, ‘Torture works’ and waterboarding doesn’t go far enough, Trump says’, bostonglobe.com, 17 February 2015).

Trump call to implement torture as needed burnishes his self-imageas an uncompromising strongman.

As Heather Digby Parton put it in her ‘The unprecedented nightmare of Donald Trump’, “he is actually a fascist.” Trump “maybe the first openly fascistic frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination but the ground was prepared and the seeds of his success sowed over the course of many years. As I have pointed out earlier, we’ve had fascism flowing through the American bloodstream for quite some time.” (H. Digby Parton, ‘The unprecedented nightmare of Donald Trump’s campaign: We’ve openly begun using the F-word in American politics, Salon, 26 November 2015).

That was said of Trump the candidate; Trump the president delivered beyond any warning and expectation.

When he announced his presidential candidacy Trump said the following: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime, the’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” The remark is both factually untrue and racist (S. Chapman, ‘Trump and the myth of immigrant crime’, Reason, 6 July 2015). Is it any wonder that the charge of racism has plagued the entire duration of the Trump presidency – thus far? Rather broadly speaking, Trump’s adversary in Florida during the presidential campaign, John Ellis ‘Jeb’ Bush, a prominent Republican and former governor of Florida, might have been much closer to the truth when he branded Trump as ‘unhinged’.

On 16 July 2019 The U. S. House of Representatives voted 240-187 to condemn Trump’s tweets as racist. The vote largely followed party lines with the exception of four Republicans who voted against their president.

In the supposed ‘land of the free’, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids are being carried out to apprehend any undocumented people. And migrants/asylum seekers are being detained in what are likened to concentration camps.

The charge of racism has plagued the entire duration of the Trump presidency.

In the run up to the 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton described half of Donald Trump’s base as “deplorables” holding racist attitudes. Indeed, many of Trump’s policies do negatively target people of colour and leave working Americans worse off. But is the question of whether Trump is a racist not a distraction for a bigger elephant in the room?

As Trump’s campaign gained support and his commentaries became more vulgar, it became clear that he would win the Republican nomination. Commentators of different cue became increasingly alarmed over Trump’s endorsement of torture, his taste for bulling protesters, and his unwillingness to denounce support from David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, making I clear that he was “a magnet for authoritarian desires” and could pave the way for what Mike Lofgren termed “a fascist political system”. (Giroux, op. cit. at 31).

On 11 January 2018 while discussing immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries President Trump was quoted as asking: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville was quick to denounce President Trump: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

Democratic senator Dick Durbin – who was at the meeting with Trump – affirmed the quotation: “Shithole was the exact word used not once not twice but repeatedly.” President Trump denied the expression attributed to him, and he denied being a racist. Republican senator David Perdue, who was also at the meeting, called Durbin’s claim “a gross misrepresentation.”

The fundamental question remains, though “Why have Americans flocked to his rallies and roared in support for his bigoted epithets and militant intolerance? Given how the legacies of white colonialism, enslavement, and Jim Crow politics have influenced the nation for generations – influences that scholars like Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, and Mumia Abu-Jamal relentlessly critique – Trump is just the latest manifestation of a social order that has always been dominated by whites and that has always been deeply racist. Trump exemplifies a no-holds-barred form of intolerance that shares the ideology of hate espoused by armed vigilante groups that bomb Planned Parenthood offices, ambush immigrants on the border, and burn mosques. How else to explain that extremists such as Christian nationalists, the Ku Klux Klan, and white militia groups are flocking to support Trump? The national approval ratings that soar following Donald Trump’s most outrageous statements offer clear testimony to the degree to which forces of intolerance are seething just beneath the glittering corporate surface of a democracy in deep decline. In addition, Trump provides a more direct and arrogant frontman for a society operating increasingly as a plutocracy – a society that glorifies money, excess, and celebrity, and that denigrates kindness, community, justice and equality.” (Giroux, op. cit., 32-33).

Nonetheless, criticism of President Trump is rather widespread. The effect will be minimal as Trump appeals to a different base. He plays the patriot’s card to curry favour with the working masses. Hence his nostalgic campaign slogan was “Making America Great, Again?” (see K. Petersen, ‘Making America Great, Again?, Racism, poverty, violence …,’ Global Research, 23 July 2017).

And, what was Trump’s plan to re-establish the greatness of America? PolitiFact noted that Trump’s campaign promises were targeted at changes to immigration, trade, taxes and foreign policy. Of the top 10 campaign promises, five were clearly aimed against non-white countries.

The pledge to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border hearkens to keeping ‘brown-skinned’ Mexicans out; absurdly, Trump stated he would even make Mexico pay for the wall. Mexico is a country that the United States fought, defeated, and forced to cede over half its territory. It remains no friendly neighbour !

A second promise was temporarily to ban Muslims from entering the United States. So, on 27 January 2017, Trump signed an executive order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. All are countries that the United States has attacked militarily in recent times.

President Trump then called for tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico. China represents the largest trade deficit for the United States. But why Mexico? The United States’ trade deficit with Mexico is smaller than that with the European Union – or even just Germany.

While honouring Navajo veterans of the second world war at the White House, President Trump caused a brouhaha by referring to “Pocahontas.” An op-ed in The New York Times excoriated Trump who “once again underscored the degree to which he is openly hostile to people of color – I call that racism and bigotry” … “The Trump doctrine is white supremacy.” (C. M. Blow, ‘Trump, proxy of racism,’ The New York Times, 30 November 2017).

Is “Pocahontas” a racial slur? For a word to be a slur, then there must be intent. At worst, President Trump is an open racist; at best, Trump comes across as blithely ignorant.

That ‘white supremacism’ flourishes among a segment of Americans was attested to by the violence which flared between the extreme right and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. That violence led to the killing of Ms. Heather Heyer and injury of 19 people. President Trump condemned the murder saying: “I thought what took place was a horrible moment for the country, but there are two sides to a story.” [Emphasis added] Two days later he repeated his condemnation of “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Likeliest there was violence on both sides; seldom will one side remain completely passive in the face of violence against it. However, what critics were seeking was a clear-cut denunciation of racism by President Trump without the obfuscation of which sides were involved in the violence.

In Giroux’ words: “Trump is the symbol of a new authoritarianism, which is to say, the sign of a democracy unable to protect and sustain itself. Trump represent corporate domination set free, a political and economic engine that both fuels and feeds on fear and intolerance. (Giroux, op. cit. at 33) He is also the endpoint of a longstanding political system which is “part bread-and-circuses spectacle, part celebrity obsession, and part media money machine.” (T. Engelhardt, ‘Don’t blame all on Donald Trump’, tomdispach.com, 27 March 2018) Trump is the symbol of a frightened society which is increasingly seduced to choose the swagger of a vigilante strongman over the process of collective sovereignty, the gun over diplomacy, and the wall instead of the bridge. Trump’s public rants and humiliating snipes make for great TV, and re, as Frank Rich once argued, “another symptom of a political virus that can’t be quarantined and whose cure is as yet unknown.” (F. Rich, ‘If only Arizona were the real problem’, nytimes.com, 2 May 2010). What the American public needs is an ongoing analysis of Trump’s messaging in the context of the historical legacies of white bigotry and intolerance, and an analysis of how right-wing politics have tapped such bigotry to further the self-serving interests of a small economic elite.” (Giroux, op. cit, at 33).

Aside from being ineloquent, is President Trump appreciably worse than previous American presidents? A dozen of American presidents, including so-called founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were slave owners.

Moreover, is the United States not a nation state established through warring against the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and depriving them of their territories?

The first American president George Washington regarded Indigenous peoples as wolves: “both being beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.” (D. E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The conquest of the New World, London, Oxford University Press 1992 at 119).

The Haudenosaunee called Washington the “town destroyer” for demolishing their villages. From R. Bainton, Early Christianity (Princeton, D. Van Nostrand Co., 1960, cited in Stannard, at 120).

Thomas Jefferson boasted: “in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them.” (R. Bainton, Early Christianity (Princeton, D. Van Nostrand Co.,1960), cited in Stannard, at 120.

Andrew Jackson – apparently Trump’s favourite – referred to the Indigenous peoples as “savage dogs” and bragged of preserving a scalp collection. (R. Bainton, Early Christianity, Princeton, D. Van Nostrand Co., 1960, cited in Stannard, at 121).

Theodore Roosevelt’s racism was unabashed: “I suppose I should be ashamed to say that I take the western view of the Indian. I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indian is the dead Indian, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.” (H. Hagedorn, Roosevelt in the Bad Lands, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1921, at 355).

President Trump, of course, denies being a racist.

President Trump’s policy plank seems to indicate a racially motivated policy. And does the policy substantially differ from that which the Democrats pursued during their days in political office?

The present Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids hearken back to the Palmer Raids to round up ‘dangerous’ immigrants in the early 20th century. A. Michell Palmer was then U.S. Attorney General. The raids took place in November 1919 and January 1920 during the First Red Scare by the United States Department of Justice under the administration of President Woodrow Wilson to capture and arrest suspected radical leftists, mostly Italian and Eastern European Jewish immigrants – and especially anarchists and communists, and to deport them from the United States. (A. Hochschild, ‘When America tried to deport its radicals’, The New Yorker, 4 November 2019).

Concentration camps are also not new to the United States as Indigenous peoples and Japanese Americans found themselves interred in such facilities. The point on whether President Trump is racist, and whether he has genuine concern for American workers, amounts to a distraction. A spotlight is usually shone on American leaders who will invariably claim that the United States is a beacon on the hill, an indispensable nation, an exceptional nation. Leaders have a role, but they function within a system.

President Trump is having an embattled presidency. A section of the system is fighting Trump  – who is also a part of the system. Removing Trump would change the face in the Oval Office, but the system would continue. Deplorable as President Trump is, the biggest enemy of a moral universe is the system of militarist-capitalism. (K. Petersen, ‘Is Trump a racist? – A distraction from the big issue’, Global research, 19 July 2019).

The El Paso massacre has drawn attention to President Trump’s own rhetorical affinity for ‘white supremacy’. Trump has consistently insulted Mexicans, African Americans, and other people of colour. In July 2019 he told four new members of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, “to go back” to where they came from. All four Congresswomen are, of course, American citizens. All but one – Omar – were born in the United States.

Trump’s Republican supporters deny that he is a racist. Who knows? But he is clearly appealing to his followers’ darkest instincts, which are angry, vengeful, bigoted, and prejudiced in ways which can only be described as racist. By stirring up hatred, Trump hopes to mobilise enough voters to be reelected next year.

The President is careful not to incite people openly to commit violence. But many violent people feel licensed by his words to do so. This makes Trump’s behaviour dangerous and contemptible, and he deserves to be called a racist. Some of his critics go further than that. They argue that race should be the central issue of the 2020 elections. Because Trump relies on angry white voters, diversity, anti-racism, and the elevation of people of colour should be the counter-strategy.

This course would be morally justified. The question is whether it would be the most effective way to vote the President out, which should be the main aim of anyone who sees Trump as a danger to the Republic, let alone to people who are targeted by angry racists.

President Trump supporters do not think of themselves as racists and resent the accusation. Quite a number of these people, often from the white working class, voted twice for Barack Obama. The Democrats need to regain some of these voters, especially in pivotal Midwestern states.

But fear of offending Trump supporters who do not regard themselves as bigots is not the only reason to be careful about ‘racialising’ politics even more than it already is. The fact that President Trump plays that game is no reason for his opponents to follow his example. (I. Buruma, ‘The race card in America’, Project Syndicate, 5 August 2019).

President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as “an invasion of our country.” He has demonised undocumented immigrants as “thugs” and “animals.” He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America.

“How do you stop these people? You can’t,” President Trump lamented at a 9 May 2019 rally in Panama City Beach, Florida. Someone in the crowd yelled back one idea: “Shoot them.” The audience of thousands cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, the president quipped: “Only in the Panhandle [the norhwestern part of Florida] can you get away with that statement.”

This is the kind of humour preferred by Trump. In that atmosphere, the racist invectives aimed at President Obama by a number of Republicans are legion. When a gorilla escaped from a zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, a long time Republican activist, Rusty DePass, described it on his Facebook page as one of Michelle Obama’s ancestors. Among the signs at a gathering of conservative protesters in Washington was one which said: “The zoo has an African lion and the White House has a lyin’ African.” – with reference to President Obama, of course. (B. Herbert, ‘The scourge persists’, The New York Times, 19 September 2009) It is well known that Trump was the leader of the John Birch Society’s campaign ‘to establish’ that President Obama had not been born in the United States – hence was not qualified to hold the position.

Portions of Crusius’ 2,300-word manifesto closely mirror Trump’s rhetoric, as well as the language of the ‘white nationalist movement’, including a warning about the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Crusius’ ideology is so aligned with that of the President’s that he decided to conclude the manifesto by clarifying that his views predate Trump’s 2016 campaign and arguing that blaming him would amount to “fake news” – another Trump expression.

The extent to which the El Paso shooter was motivated by the President’s words would be fiercely debated in the subsequent days. But some Democrat leaders promptly said that Trump’s demagoguery makes him plainly culpable. Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso until recently running for president, said it was appropriate to label Trump a ‘white nationalist’ and that his rhetoric is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. “He doesn’t just tolerate it; he encourages it, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, warning of an invasion at our border, seeking to ban all people of one religion. Folks are responding to this.” O’Rourke said on C.N.N. He added: “He is saying that some people are inherently defective or dangerous, reminiscent of something that you might hear in the Third Reich, not something that you expect in the United States of America.” On 4 August, in the afternoon, President Trump announced that he had ordered federal government flags flown at half-staff in honour of the El Paso victims and of the victims of another shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it.” President Trump said in Morristown, New Jersey, just before flying home to Washington. He did not respond to questions from reporters about the El Paso shooter’s manifesto, but said generally that “this has been going on for years” and acknowledged that “perhaps more has to be done.”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted that O’Rourke’s comments on C.N.N. were “disgusting and wrong” adding, “A tragedy like this is not an opportunity to reboot your failing presidential campaign.”

Regardless of the El Paso shooter’s motivations, Trump throughout his presidency has stoked fear and hatred of ‘the Other’, whether Latino immigrants or black people living in cities or Muslims. Yes, he has not directly espoused ‘the great replacement’ theory of ‘white supremacists’, but he has openly questioned America’s identity as a multiethnic nation, such as by encouraging migration from Nordic states as opposed to Latin America.

Continued tomorrow …

 

* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 6)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 5

In her 2018 book, Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and paramilitary America (Harvard University Press 2018) professor Kathleen Belew links the rise in white power paramilitary violence in the decades preceding the Oklahoma City bombing to the Vietnam war, arguing that foreign militarism played a more significant role in driving domestic terror campaigns than any other factor. In tracing this history, Belew returns to the border repeatedly, telling the story of groups like the Klan Border Watch and the C.I.A.-linked Civilian Materiel Assistance, or C.M.A., which saw themselves as a bulwark against immigrants and communists making their way north.

While Belew’s period of study ended before the 11 September attacks, the ‘white power movement’ ’s relationship to the border did not. In the mid-2000s, with the Iraq war spinning wildly out of control and the economy collapsing, vigilante groups began cropping up along the U.S.-Mexico divide. They were driven by the emerging, post-9/11 Islamophobia lobby to which Mr. German referred, as well as conspiracy theories claiming that terrorists were sneaking across the border and Mexicans were plotting to regain control of the southwest through a mass migration campaign known as “reconquista.”

Daniel Denvir, a visiting fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute and author of the forthcoming book All-American nativism: How the bipartisan war on immigrants explains politics as we know it (Verso 2020) argues that reconquista fearmongering was the notion at the core of Trump’s announcement that he was running for president – claiming that the people Mexico was “sending” were dangerous criminals – and has undergirded his approach to immigration ever since.

In building his administration, President Trump surrounded himself with the most hard-right figures in American politics. Stephen Kevin Bannon, the American media executive, political figure, strategist, former investment banker, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, became the White House Chief Strategist in the administration of President Trump during the first seven months of his term. Steve Bannon sources his views on migration to a racist novel beloved by ‘white nationalists’. It is: The camp of the saints – Le camp des saints, a 1973 French dystopian fiction novel by author and explorer Jean Raspail. It is a speculative fictional account which depicts the destruction of Western civilisation through Third World mass immigration to France and the West. Jeff Sessions, the former Alabama senator devoted to returning American law and immigration enforcement to a pre-civil rights era, was made attorney general. Sessions’ former aide, Stephen Miller, a college associate of the ethno-nationalist Richard Bertrand Spencer, became the powerful doctrinaire of the White House’s most aggressive immigration policies: author of President Trump’s travel ban, the administration’s reduction of refugees accepted to the United States, and President Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents. Miller remains to this day at his place. Throughout the government, former employees of a handful of think tanks that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as Washington’s “nativist lobby” took up key immigration posts.

This ultra-conservative collective has worked for more than two years to combat the “invasion” on the southern border, promoting the most aggressive anti-immigration agenda in recent history. But it is not just the far-right talking in terms of ‘migrant invasions’ and ‘immigrant criminals’. While national attention has rightfully focused on the link between President Trump’s words and the tragedy in El Paso – Denvir said – “what’s also very important and seldom mentioned is how mainstream, bipartisan politicians have for decades normalized this rhetoric.”

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, Mr. German worries about the possibility of dark days ahead. “If you look through history, levels of political violence tend to rise around election time,” he said. Professor Muñoz Martínez is similarly concerned.

A handful of whistleblowers, a congressional investigation, and efforts to pass anti-lynching legislation helped to stem the bloodshed on the border a century ago, but the operation was incomplete. “People weren’t prosecuted.” Muñoz Martínez said. The lack of accountability and closure – she argued – “shaped how people think about Mexicans as being perpetually foreign, as being undeserving of rights.” These ideas were repeated by lawmakers, historians, and members of the press in the decades which followed, “laying the foundation for the ‘draconian policies’ and ‘horrific forms of violence’ that the United States is now witnessing.

“I am deeply troubled that this won’t be curbed soon,” professor Muñoz Martínez said. (R. Devereaux, ‘From El Paso to the war on terror, the danger of historical amnesia’, The Intercept, 7 August 2019).

There appears to be one further problem: the far right in the United States changes its look every few years, cycling through hoods, shaved heads and boots, polo shirts, fashy haircuts and even three-piece suits. But one thing remains constant: its bigotry and scapegoating drive its followers to kill. And they do so again and again.

The El Paso manifesto is a stark example of a mass shooter making his ‘white nationalist’ ideology clear. He specifically said he was targeting “Hispanic” non-citizens. He started out saying: “I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto,” and making a reference to the same book, The Great Replacement, (Le Grand Remplacement, Paris, David Reinharc 2011) a work by the French writer Jean Renaud Gabriel Camus. The book argues that European élites are intentionally trying “to replace” the white European population by promoting immigration by people of colour. This conspiracy theory has become combined with a similar ‘white nationalist’ conspiracy theory about ‘white genocide.’ Its adherents believe that white people are facing extinction because of non-white small birth rates.

The El Paso manifesto is all about the shooter’s fears of the future. And though it does centre on immigration, it is not limited to this. Crusius is concerned that automation will make most jobs obsolete. And he bemoans that his generation of students will have high student loans, while only low-paying jobs await them – something for which he only partly blames immigrants.

Just as with the Christchurch shooter, Crusius has environmental concerns, and denounces urban sprawl and consumer waste. He accuses “corporations” of promoting immigration to have bigger markets. And he spends a long time on a conspiracy theory which can also be heard in the mainstream conservative circles – that the Democratic Party wants to open the borders and lure immigrants in with free health care, and thereby draw them into the party. In this way, according to the conspiracy theory, Democrats will supposedly turn Red states Blue. Last, like all ‘white nationalists’, Crusius denounces “race mixing“ and insists that racial homogeneity is an absolute necessity. He advocates that the United States be broken up into separate racial states, which would stop “race mixing” and grant all groups racial “self-determination.”

Dividing the county up into different ‘ethno-states’ has been a favourite proposal of American ‘white nationalists’ since at least the 1980s and is a clear sign of their ideological influence. Crusius’ anti-corporate and environmental concerns are also more common among ‘white nationalists’ than among more mainstream Republicans; but his other talking points reflect nothing more than a worldview happily at home in Trump’s Republican Party. A Twitter account which was suspected to be his contains posts supporting Trump, MAGA and building a border wall.

Crusius does not have any immediately apparent direct connections to ‘white nationalist’ groups. And unlike Dylann Roof, the racist perpetrator of the 17 June 2015 Charleston massacre, the El Paso manifesto is not a treatise concerning various points of debate among ‘white nationalists’; it sounds like what could come out the mouth of many Generation Y conservatives.

So, if that is the case, why express these views in a brutal mass murder ? Scholars of right-wing violence point to what is called “stochastic terrorism,” – also known as “random process” and as “scripted violence.” Here, a narrative is disseminated – often by public figures with large platforms – whose logical conclusion can be to commit murder in order to portray oneself as a redeeming hero in the face of an impending disaster.

As Dr. Spencer Sunshine wrote for Truthout in June 2017 (Writings on Antisemitism Spencer Sunshine) the use of scapegoating in political narratives often leads to attacks on the groups blamed for the society’s problems. John Foster ‘Chip’ Berlet, an American investigative journalist, research analyst, co-author with Matthew N. Lyons of Right-Wing Populism in America (New York, N.Y., The Guilford Press 2000), explains this dynamic in one essay by saying: “The leaders of organized political or social movements sometimes tell their followers that a specific group of ‘Others’ is plotting to destroy civilized society” and that “history tells us that if this message is repeated vividly enough, loudly enough, often enough, and long enough – it is only a matter of time before the bodies from the named scapegoated groups start to turn up.” So no direct call to violence is needed. Dramatic claims of impending disaster lead listeners to attack members of the scapegoating group. In this way, they see themselves as heroes who are helping to rescue society.

The use of scapegoating in political narratives often leads to attacks on the groups blamed for the society’s problems.

The El Paso shooter obviously was familiar with the prior mass shooters and their modus operandi , of writing a manifesto and posting it on 8chan. 8chan is an online messaging board which has been used by anonymous accounts to share extremist messages and cheer on mass shooters. It is rife with racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But Crusius’ manifesto reeks with social anxiety about the future – his own future. He says he can see no future for himself because automation will destroy jobs, and he is terrified of people of color running the Texas government. He tries to position himself as the selfless hero of this scenario, saying, “I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.”

In the end President Trump acts as the gasoline for this explosion of murder, while 8chan – and other ideological ‘white nationalists’ – are merely the match.

So far 74 people have been killed in the three attacks the manifesti of which were all first posted on 8chan. Dealing with this fad is not going to be easy. President Trump and his consiglieri are clearly not going to help. In fact, they are doing quite the opposite. Recent attacks and President Trump’s tweet that antifa is a “major organization of terror” show that the administration is actually seeking to do the opposite: to enable the ‘white nationalist movement’.

Quite likely Crusius was not a card-carrying member of a ‘white nationalist’ organisation. But in the digital age, where racist propaganda is available at the click of a button, and discussion groups about the merits of ‘white supremacy’ are two clicks away, it no longer matters if the person was indoctrinated and trained in person by other far right activists.

Still, the digital platforms that ‘white nationalists’ use are overseen by human administrators and these platforms have bank accounts, social circles and legal obligations. The ‘white nationalist movement’ consists of writers, propagandists, artists and fundraisers who all have lives: homes, jobs, and friends. All of these are weak points where pressure can be applied to remove resources, and to try and get these people to move out of their current white nationalist political circles. In the end, when Twitter allows President Trump to use its platform to spread racism, these platforms enable violently toxic attitudes to fester. (S. Sunshine, ‘El Paso blood is on the hands of everyone who has scapegoated migrants’, Truthout, 5 August 2019).

The El Paso massacre is at least the third atrocity this year where a suspect is believed to have posted to 8chan in advance of an attack.

Before the mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019, an account believed to belong to the gunman posted a link to an 87-page ‘white nationalist’ manifesto on Twitter and 8chan. The unsigned manifesto was filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments, as well as explanations for an attack.

Crusius expressed support for the shootings of two mosques in Christchurch.

Seventy-three minutes before the deadly shooting at Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, on 27 April 2019, someone identifying himself as the suspect in that attack posted a link to a hate-speech-filled manifesto hyperlinked on 8chan. Tipsters alerted the F.B.I. about the 8chan post approximately five minutes before the gunman began shooting, an F.B.I. official confirmed to C.N.N.

The manifesto talks about killing Jewish people without making reference to Poway or Congregation Chabad. Just like the El Paso-linked post, the person identifying himself as John T. Earnest said he was inspired by the Christchurch attacks. (G. Mezzofiore and D. O’Sullivan, ‘El Paso mass shooting is at least the third atrocity linked to 8chan this year’, C.N.N., 5 August 2019).

On 16 March 2019 a 28-year-old Australian-born man, Brenton Tarrant, appeared in Christchurch District Court, charged with murder for killing 49 people at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attack is the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history.

When ‘white nationalists’ gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, on 12 August 2017 chanting “they will not replace us” and “the Jews will not replace us”, few of the assembled extremists knew where those slogans came from. By contrast, Brenton Tarrant was more explicit when it came to his intellectual inspirations. In the 74-page manifesto he posted before the rampage, he praises the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and drew on his work while noting his admiration for the interwar British fascist leader Oswald Mosley. Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian far-right terrorist who committed the 2011 Norway attacks. On 22 July 2011, he killed eight people by detonating a van bomb amid Regjeringskvartalet in Oslo, then shot dead 69 participants of a Workers’ Youth League summer camp on the island of Utøya. In July 2012, he was convicted of mass murder, causing a fatal explosion, and terrorism.

But French ‘ideas’ figure most prominently in Tarrant’s thinking. He cited watching “invaders” at a shopping mall during a visit to an eastern French town as the moment of epiphany when he realised he would resort to violence. His manifesto appears to draw on the work of Renaud Camus, including plagiarising the title of his book Le grand remplacement – The Great Replacement, words which have become commonplace in European immigration debates and a favourite of far-right politicians across Europe, including the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders and a group of younger far-right activists who call themselves “identitarians.” Tarrant wrote of initially dismissing stories of an invasion of France by non-whites whom he had encountered while still at home, but, once in France, he adds: “I found my emotions swinging between fuming rage and suffocating despair at the indignity of the invasion of France, the pessimism of the french [sic] people, the loss of culture and identity and the farce of the political solutions offered.”

Although Tarrant seemed eager to give Camus credit, the French writer was reluctant to concede that his ideas may have inspired carnage. Facing a barrage of criticism on Twitter, Camus himself responded by denouncing the attack. “I find it criminal, idiotic, and awful,” he wrote, while accusing the perpetrator of “abusive use of a phrase that is not his and that he plainly does not understand.” 

But Tarrant’s manifesto echoes Camus’s writing in many ways – most notably in the fear of demographic erasure by which a new population replaces an existing one, a process Camus insists is akin to colonialism. In his essay “Pegida, mon amour,” Camus praises the overtly anti-Islam German group Pegida as a “great hope rising in the East” and a “liberation front” that is fighting the “anti-colonialist struggle.” (Pegida stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, abbreviated Pegida, is a German nationalist, anti-Islam, far-right political movement. Founded in Dresden in October 2014). For Camus there is no hope of living together in Europe when “there is a colonial conquest in progress, in which we are the colonized indigenous people” and the weapons of sheer numbers and demographic substitution are used to subjugate the natives.

Tarrant echoed these ideas. “Millions of people [are] pouring across our borders … [i]nvited by the state and corporate entities to replace the White people who have failed to reproduce, failed to create the cheap labour, new consumers and tax base that the corporations and states need to thrive.” he argues in his manifesto. “This crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility is an assault on the European people that, if not combated, will ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”

Tarrant claimed that his goal was to “show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands.” He chose the mosques because the worshippers were a “large group of invaders, from a culture with higher fertility rates, higher social trust and strong, robust traditions that seek to occupy my peoples lands and ethnically replace my own people.”

As the world recoiled in horror from the carnage carried out in yet another house of worship, Camus spent much of the day distancing himself from the terror and defending his innocence. To be sure, he has never advocated murder. In a 2017 interview Camus elaborated on his theories, which are often cryptic in his writings. “Of course, if you change populations, you can’t expect the same civilization to hold on.” he said at the time. “The refusal to be replaced is a very strong feeling in man. … The will not to be replaced was at the center of resistance to colonialism. … People don’t want other people to come in their territory, in their country, and change their cultures and their religions, their way of living, their way of eating, their way of dressing.”

Camus also took great pains to distinguish between Nazism, that he deplores, and the ideas supporting ‘white nationalism’, for which he appeared to have greater sympathy. “I think races do exist and that they are infinitely precious. … I pray for the conservation of all races, beginning with those which are the most under menace.” When asked which race was most threatened, he replied: “Well, probably the white one, which is by far the least numerous of the old major classical ‘races.’” France, too, he insisted, “is fast losing its own territory, where its own culture and civilization is quickly becoming just one among others, and not the most dynamic, and which is rapidly being colonized.” While vigorously rejecting the use of violence as in Charlottesville, Camus maintained: “I totally sympathize with the slogan: ‘We will not be replaced.’ And I think Americans have every good reason to be worried about their country.”

In the 20th century, this fear can be traced to the apocalyptic visions of John Enoch Powell M.B.E., the British conservative politician, classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist and poet, better known for his anti-immigrant position. In the 1960s he famously envisioned rivers of blood in Britain brought on by immigration, and of the French author, traveller and explorer Jean Raspail – the two men whom Camus cites as “prophets” in an epigraph to Le grand remplacement.

Jean-Yves Camus – no relation to Renaud – a French scholar of the far-right, sees Tarrant’s ideas as more firmly rooted in Raspail’s thinking than in ‘great replacement’ theory. “The shooter is much more extreme than Renaud Camus,” he said. “Camus coined the term ‘grand remplacement’ to show his belief that the native European population is being uprooted by the non-Caucasian immigrants, especially the Muslims. Renaud Camus never condoned violence, much less terrorism.” And he added: “Raspail is another thing.”

Raspail’s dystopian 1973 novel, The camp of the saints, has become a beacon for far-right figures – from French politician Marine Le Pen to President Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon and ‘white supremacist’ Iowa Rep. Steve King. In 2015, during one of the Syrian refugee crises, Ms. Le Pen, who has known Raspail from her childhood, urged her millions of social media followers to read his novel in order to stop France from being “submerged.”

Raspail foresaw a Europe in which the arrival of refugees “would empty out all our hospital beds so that cholera-ridden and leprous wretches could sprawl between their clean white sheets. Another would cram our brightest, cheeriest nurseries full of monster children.” He was particularly afraid of miscegenation: “Another would preach unlimited sex, in the name of the one, single race of the future.”

At the time, Raspail was full of praise for the ‘white’ nations of the South Pacific [Australia?, New Zealand?], lauding them and their historically strict and racially-based immigration policies as “champions of the Western World stuck away in the far-flung hinterlands of Asia.”

Recent Australian Coalition governments have enthusiastically endorsed similar toughness. In October 2015, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott denounced Europe’s “misguided altruism” and warned that rescuing capsizing migrants at sea was “a facilitator rather than a deterrent” for mass immigration and that while a cold-hearted policy might “gnaw at our consciences … it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever” – a warning that cultural replacement might await. (M. Clarke, ‘Tony Abbott tells European leaders to turn back asylum seekers or risk ‘catastrophic error’, Tony Abbott tells European leaders to turn back asylum seekers or risk ‘catastrophic error’, A.B.C., 28 October 2015). Two Coalition prime ministers after Abbott, the situation remains the same.

Nearly five decades after he wrote the novel, Raspail has not changed his views. In an interview at his Paris apartment in 2016, he told interviewers that he saw a movement taking shape, much like the small band of men who face down the refugees at the end of his novel, gathering in an old stone house to keep a tally of the body count as they shoot down the “invaders.” “We’re fed up. We’ve seen enough. … There is going to be a resistance movement, and it has begun,” Raspail said. “If the situation becomes the one I predict – catastrophic – there will certainly be resistance that is both tough and armed.” he added. “People will want to liberate their city.” The simple fact, Raspail said bluntly, is that “without the use of force, we will never stop the invasion.”

Tarrant took that worldview to heart, while attempting to couch his racially inspired terrorism by drawing on the more palatable language of ethno-pluralism, a concept now popular in far-right circles as a method of deflecting charges of racism. “[T]he attack was not an attack on diversity, but an attack in the name of diversity,” Tarrant wrote in his manifesto. “To ensure diverse peoples remain diverse, separate, unique, undiluted [sic] in unrestrained in cultural or ethnic expression and autonomy.”

This concept reached its political apogee in a country that Camus and many ‘white nationalists’ are fond of citing as a warning of what is likely to come for the beleaguered ‘white race’: South Africa. From 1948 to 1994, the idea of autonomy for different races in different places was central to Pretoria’s policy of apartheid – literally, “separateness” – and was presented to the world under the name “separate development.”

It was the brainchild of Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, a Nazi-sympathising Afrikaner nationalist during the second world war who served as South Africa’s prime minister from 1958 until he was assassinated in 1966. After his death, the usually unsympathetic opposition newspaper Rand Daily Mail praised him for refining a crude ideology of white supremacy “into a sophisticated and rationalised philosophy of separate development.” Indeed, in the waning days of apartheid, the government sought to establish ‘independent’ black puppet states based on tribe and language in distant and undesirable locations. By so doing, the apartheid intelligentsia had hoped to externalise its race problem by stripping blacks of South African nationality.

Like Tarrant’s ideological smörgåsbord, the idea of a great replacement is not an original one. The concept has a long pedigree in France, dating back to the late 19th century, when nationalist authors such as Auguste-Maurice Barrès lamented rootless cosmopolitans and celebrated a France rooted in identity and lineage. He was a leading voice among the anti-Semitic propagandists during the ‘Dreyfus affair and warned of new French citizens who wanted to impose their way of life. At the time, the “invaders” he feared were Jews – not Muslims. “They are in contradiction to our civilization.” he wrote of the immigrants becoming French. “The triumph of their worldview will coincide with the real ruin of our fatherland. The name France may well survive; the special character of our country will be destroyed.”

In the 1920s, the businessman François Coty, who owned the right-wing newspaper Le Figaro, presented ‘the great replacement’ in more concrete terms. The internationalists had decided – he wrote in the paper – “to replace the French race with another race.”

Camus is not alone – for sure.

It is an odd argument for Camus to uphold – a man who, for all his faults, appreciates the power of ideas. Indeed, his writings are peppered with references to Bertolt Brecht, Sigmund Freud, and the French philosopher Ernest Renan while decrying “the disappearance of culture and identity” and railing against the “endless propaganda” of the “immigrationist and multiculturalist” system. Alain de Benoist de Gentissart – another French political philosopher who has long been a prominent figure in right-wing circles and who is, like Camus, linked with today’s ‘identitarian’ movement – has been more explicit and honest about the relationship between philosophical thought and action. De Benoist argues that white Europeans should not just support restrictive immigration policies; they should oppose such diluting ideologies as multiculturalism and globalism, taking seriously the premise that ideas play a fundamental role in the collective consciousness. For, if they do, then no matter how vociferously he condemns violence, Camus cannot easily walk away from the terror his ideas have now inspired. (S. Polakow-Suransky and S. Wildman, ‘The inspiration for terrorism in New Zealand came from France. The guman who massacred Muslims was inspired by ideas that have circulated for decades on the French far-right’, foreignpolicy.com, 16 March 2019).

Continued tomorrow … (Part 7)

 

* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

 

Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (part 2)

By Dr George Venturini  

Now it is time to progress to the libretto. That will show how little questions of morality matter with Howard and how much Howard and his ministerial cabal should be trusted over the cosy relationship they had with Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti.

Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations imposed a financial and trade embargo on Iraq. It was intended to weaken the Iraqi economy so that Saddam could not build up weapons for further wars. What it did weaken was the health of Iraqi children: it is estimated that about 150 children were starving to death every day because of the embargo. Throughout the 1990s Australian ships, aircraft and troops helped enforce the sanctions which caused widespread starvation in Iraq, leading to an estimated two million deaths. After 1996, once these sanctions were modified to permit profitable ‘Oil-for-Food’ deals, the Howard Government was among the first in line to collaborate with the Saddam Hussein government, through the Australian Wheat Board – A.W.B., even as it prepared to go to war against Iraq. U.N. Security Council Resolution 661 prevented all states and their nationals from making funds available to Iraq. These sanctions were widely effective, leading to food shortages and international condemnation as the humanitarian crisis became clear.

In response to this, the Oil-for-Food programme was begun. It allowed Iraq to sell oil to the rest of the world, provided the returns from this were kept in a U.N. bank account. This money could then be used by Iraq, with U.N. oversight, to purchase a strict list of humanitarian supplies.

The Oil-for-Food programme however in itself faced criticism, with many alleging that it was too expensive to administer and liable to abuse. The programme was discontinued on the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Since 1948 an Australian statutory authority established in 1939 had been supplying Iraq with wheat. During the Oil-for-Food programme it became the single, largest supplier of humanitarian goods to Iraq. The authority was Australian Wheat Board, A.W.B. It was a veritable monopoly to control and prevent competition among wheat growers by purchasing and selling at a single price.

Beginning at mid-1999 officials of the cartel were informed that they would have to pay US$ 12 for each imported tonne, the resulting sum to be passed onto as ‘trucking fee’ to a bogus trucking company, Alia Transportation & Trading Co. of Amman, Jordan, purportedly as fees for transporting inland 8 million tonnes of Australian wheat. In fact, Alia did not cart a single grain of wheat. Alia, a front company majority-owned by the Khawam family – a powerful Iraqi clan living in Jordan – was established with 49 per cent of the shares owned by the Iraqi Transportation Ministry, and it simply took a cut and passed on the rest of A.W.B.’s payments to Saddam’s bankers. The odd thing was that Alia had no trucks.

A.W.B. accepted the condition, increased contract prices and began to send fraudulent information to the Office of the United Nations charged with supervising the enforcement of the sanctions. Under the sanctions regime third parties were prohibited from engaging with the Iraq Government unless they had Security Council approval. By having the party exporting goods – the ‘humanitarian’ supplier – to be the one to pay Alia, the Iraqi government was able to disguise the operation. Naturally, the U.N. Office expected that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade certify that the contracts were not in breach of the sanctions. The Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs was the Hon. Alexander John Gosse Downer, AC, with the co-operation of the Minister for Trade and Investment who was the Hon. Mark Anthony James Vaile AO – also Deputy Prime Minister. They both complied with numerous requests.

The ‘arrangement’ for paying extra money – by all definitions a bribe – went on for two years. The rate was increased, first by up to 50 per cent, until just before the invasion, when it was between US$45 and US$56 per metric tonne. The Australian Government was duty bound not to make any payment to Iraq. The bribes also breached the O.E.C.D Convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, the Anti-Bribery Convention of 1997.

Under Australian law, all shipments to Iraq were banned unless the Foreign Minister – that is Downer – was “satisfied that permitting the exportation will not infringe the international obligations of Australia.” The contracts were never checked even though an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had rung an alarm bell as to possible breaches of sanctions. Satisfaction was continuously guaranteed – in “the national interest”? During a period of about four years A.W.B. ‘passed on’ to Iraq something like AU$290 million.

In April 2001 an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade attached to the United Nations in New York sent a cable informing that A.W.B. had been asked by Iraq to pay ‘port fees’ of US 50 cents per tonne as ‘port fees’ and alerting that that was in breach of the U.N. sanctions. The addressees of the cable, Howard, Downer and Vaile would later declare that they had not seen the cable; senior ‘public servants’ in several other departments of the Howard Government were instructed to comply.

Howard would later insist that the cable did not actually prove that the government knew illicit payments were being made. In fact, Howard and his ministers had no intention of doing anything which could jeopardise lucrative Australian wheat sales to Iraq: again, “the national interest”?

“The national interest” – that is the fixing of the market – was the Howard Government’s paramount consideration in joining the Iraq war: securing the commercial, diplomatic and strategic interests of the Australian corporate élite which controlled it. And that could be done, first and foremost, by lining up closely with the United States. It meant taking advantage of the Operation Iraqi Freedom and in the process getting as close as possible to oil rights, construction contracts and agricultural markets. But the United States had similar undeclared interests, and more clout! When they got to Baghdad their XTF-75, Iraq Survey Group and similar organisations got down to work with a view – amongst others – to retrieve and preserve valuable contracts and commercial opportunities. The phony contracts guaranteeing the bribes fell into the hand of the pullulating American organisations.

Documents unearthed in the Iraqi ministries after the invasion had confirmed in detail the bribes paid to the Iraqi government and disguised as “trucking fees”, “port charges”, “after sales service fees” and “surcharges.”

In late May 2003 the Minister for Trade and Investment, Mark Vaile went to the United States at the head of a delegation of executives from ten major Australian construction, engineering, and oil and gas companies for talks with American officials and corporate executives.

Senior executives of the companies: Australian Power and Water, B.H.P., Clough Engineering, Multiplex, Santos, Woodside Petroleum and others, held discussions with American firms awarded reconstruction contracts from U.S.A.I.D., the United States Agency for International Development.

There could be agreement on many fields, but the Howard Government could not resist the pressure from Australian farming groups to ensure that the valuable Iraqi market was not lost to the United States. Before the first Gulf war, the United States exported almost one million tonnes of wheat annually to Iraq, but these shipments were cut off under the sanctions imposed on Baghdad. Australian growers then took advantage of the 1996 Oil-for-Food programme to recapture two-thirds of the Iraqi market, worth AU$839 million to Australia in 2002.

Behind the high-sounding words of ‘liberating Iraq’ and ‘exporting democracy’ the reality was brought to light with the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority. When words came to action, the American Administration nominated Daniel Gordon Amstutz, a government official and grain-trading industry senior executive of Cargill Corporation, the largest grain exporter in the world, and former president of the North American Grain Export Association, to lead the Authority’s agricultural section.

The Howard Government nominated two senior A.W.B. executives: chairman Trevor Flugge and senior executive Michael Long. They had both been compromised in the bribes paid to the Iraqi Government. Their view of “the national interest” was to guarantee contracts worth more than US$250 million which had been signed by A.W.B. before the invasion and to keep A.W.B.’s position in the Iraqi wheat market.

The last two contracts that A.W.B. signed before the invasion contained the biggest bribe of all, worth a total of about US$73 million on the basis of US$45.50 per metric tonne for “trucking fees” and another ten per cent “surcharge” of the whole value of the contract. In part, these contracts were designed to divert a further US$ 8.8 million from the U.N.-held funds, to be delivered to Tigris Petroleum, a company linked to B.H.P. and headed by Richard Baker, “a thoroughly disreputable man with no commercial morality.” (‘Tigris oil chief a ‘disreputable man’, The Age, 28 November  2006). The company had sent wheat shipments to Iraq in breach of U.N. sanctions in 1995, seeking to secure oil drilling concessions.

In September 2003 a report by the U.S. Defence Contract Audit Agency cited evidence that “illicit surcharges/kickbacks were standard practice for oil-for-food contracts.” The report named Australia and estimated “overpricing” in one A.W.B. contract at nearly US$15 million. The American wheat lobby then launched a letter-writing campaign to President Bush and other politicians, charging that “A.W.B. reaped an additional US$56 million gold mine at the expense of the Iraqi people, on top of their already excessive prices.”

Nevertheless, with the help of the Howard Government and its representatives in Baghdad, the A.W.B. managed to salvage its contracts.

In 2004 Iraqi daily Al Mada published a list of 270 persons and entities who were given oil vouchers for helping Saddam Hussein. The report alleged clear violation of the agreements of the Oil-for-Food programme established fourteen years earlier and ending the year before.

In response to this, the United Nations launched an independent inquiry into the programme, headed by former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Its terms of enquiry were “to collect and examine information relating to the administration and management of the Oil-for-Food Programme … including entities that have entered into contracts with the United Nations or with Iraq under the Programme”.

The final report was released on 27 October 2005. (Volcker Report: Manipulation of the Oil-For-Food Programme by the Iraqi Regime, Independent Inquiry Committee into the Oil-for-Food Programme).

The Volker Committee identified more than 2,200 international firms which, knowingly or unwittingly, paid a total of more than a billion dollars in ‘kickbacks’ to Saddam Hussein’s régime.

While the rollcall of global corporations included pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, other well-known such as DaimlerChrysler, Volvo, Siemens and the Chinese state-owned industrial conglomerate SinoChem., were right near the top of the list, along with Australian Wheat Board. That was so not just a consequence of A.W.B. starting with an A. Sorting the list by the amount of money which made its way back into Saddam Hussein’s pocket one would find A.W.B. right at the top of the list.

The Volker Report disclosed that A.W.B. was responsible for ‘kickbacks’ totalling over US$250 million out of an estimated US$1.8 billion of illicit payments to Saddam Hussein’s régime during the US$35 billion U.N. Oil-for-Food programme in 1997-2003.

The Report accused almost half of the companies operating in Iraq during the time of the Oil-for-Food programme to have paid either bribes or illegal surcharges to secure Iraqi business. In special reference to A.W.B., it stated that “little doubt remains that A.W.B. made large numbers of payments to Alia, and these payments in turn were channelled to the Iraqi regime.” The Report named A.W.B. as the major abuser. It said that A.W.B. had covered 90 per cent of the Iraqi market before its practices were questioned in 2005, had sold 6.8 tonnes of wheat to Iraq for US$2.3 billion and had paid US$221.7 million – AU$290 million – in trucking fees, during the U.N. Oil-for-Food programme in 1997-2003. (http://www.iic-offp.org/story27oct05.htm).

The Australian Government repeatedly said “we knew nothing” but expert whistleblowers said that competent officials must have known.

From 2000 to 2005 Michael Joseph Thawley was Australian Ambassador to the United States of America. While Thawley was in the role, the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement was established, ensuring greater access to the U.S. market for Australian products In 2004 he successfully lobbied to convince a U.S. Senate Committee to drop investigations into allegations that A.W.B. had paid ‘kickbacks’ to the Saddam Hussein régime in Iraq. (G. Polya , ‘Australian Corruption And 20,000 Iraqi Infant Deaths’, Countercurrents, 15 February, 2006).

The successor to Mr. Thawley, Mr. Dennis James Richardson – former head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, would reassure the Americans that the Australian Government was not previously aware of the scandal. The Australian Government would insist that it simply did not know about the ‘kickback’ scandal.

In response to the U.N. Report, on 31 October 2005 the Howard Government appointed an Inquiry – not quite a Royal Commission – into the allegations, headed by the Hon. Terence Cole, Q.C., a former Judge of Appeal of the New South Wales Supreme Court.

Terence Rhoderic Hudson Cole and John Winston Howard had been together at the Law School of Sydney University in the 1950s. They both graduated in 1961. There, they had not been very close; they were both keen debaters. But while Cole captained the debating team with considerable enthusiasm, Howard was in the second-string line-up, cultivating in the process a sense of ordinariness which would characterise his life and define his public figure.

Even though the two men were not close, still they could be regarded as two tributaries of the same great river – pond? – which is the Westminster System, albeit of the sub-tropical version.

The Prime Minister’s oratory skills have improved since university, and he would have  needed them if he were to be called and  examined by counsel assisting the Inquiry, John Agius, S.C.

Cole was a ‘politically safe’ appointment. He had already been chosen  as Commissioner of the 2000-2003 Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry.

This time the appointment was slightly different – perhaps a sign that a more confident Howard wanted to keep an eye on the proceedings.

This time it was Mr. Cole, not Commissioner Cole. The Inquiry was given very limited terms, exclusively to A.W.B.

It is said – with a considerable degree of certainty – that Prime Minister Howard himself had a hand in narrowly drafting the terms of reference.

By Letters Patent issued on 10 November 2005 Mr. Cole was asked to inquire into and report on “1) whether any decision, action, conduct, payment or writing of any of the three Australian companies mentioned in the Final Report (“Manipulation of the Oil-for-Food Programme by the Iraqi Regime”) of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme, or any person associated with one of those companies, might have constituted a breach of any law of the Commonwealth, a State or Territory; and 2) if so, whether the question of criminal or other legal proceedings should be referred to the relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory agency.”

The stage was set.

The Inquiry would in time call to the stand many prominent members of the Government, including Howard – the first Australian prime minister to face a judicial inquiry in more than twenty years. Testimony and documents presented to the Inquiry revealed that in nearly twenty occasions A.W.B. executives had informed government ministers and/or their advisers about the payments. Silence!

On 16 January 2006 former A.W.B. chief executive Murray Rogers was the first witness at the Inquiry. Mr. Rogers denied any knowledge of how the ‘kickback’ payments were arranged or where the Iraq money was going.

But the Inquiry was told it was impossible to believe A.W.B.’s claims that it did not know that some AU$300 million of its money was being funnelled to Saddam.

A.W.B. was maintaining that it was the unwitting victim of an elaborate ruse and had no idea that inflated trucking fees it paid to a Jordanian company, Alia, were ending up with the dictator.

The Inquiry senior counsel John Agius, S.C. said that A.W.B.’s claims that its payments to Alia were for genuine transport costs were contradicted by evidence including documents. “Evidence will be called to the effect that A.W.B. always knew that Alia was a conduit for the payment of money to Iraq,” Mr. Agius told the Inquiry. “These matters were always known to A.W.B. to be in breach of the U.N. sanctions on Iraq.”

Mr. Agius repeatedly asked Mr. Rogers why no A.W.B. board minutes or financial reports spelt out the fees in the Iraq contracts and asked whether this was done deliberately. Mr. Rogers repeatedly answered “I cannot remember” or “I cannot recall.”

But Mr. Rogers confirmed that the first contracts containing the inflated transport fees – the ‘kickbacks’ – were discussed with Foreign Affairs officials in Canberra. He recalled that A.W.B. official Mark Emons and others “went to Canberra to talk to DFAT, and that’s about the only thing I can ever remember.”

Documents and witnesses uncovered by the Inquiry would clearly reveal that A.W.B. executives had misled the U.N.’s investigation into the Oil-for-Food scandal by suppressing documents.

Evidence had also emerged that officials from Austrade in Washington and the Australian U.N. mission in New York discussed with A.W.B. executives complaints by Canada’s wheat board that A.W.B. was paying ‘kickbacks’ in Iraq. The Australian Trade and Investment Commission, or Austrade, is the Australian Government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency. It is a statutory agency within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio, with offices in overseas embassies and consulates, and representative arrangements in some other locations.

Mr. Agius also questioned Mr. Rogers on A.W.B.’s dealing with a company called Ronly. He produced a letter from an A.W.B. chartering manager, Michael Watson, to Ronly’s London office arranging for it to pay a fee directly to the Iraqi régime in violation of U.N. sanctions. In turn, A.W.B. agreed to pay Ronly US$300,000.

Mr. Rogers said that he was “very disappointed” by the letter but that he had never seen it before.

The Inquiry also raised fresh evidence about a deal between B.H.P. and A.W.B. over the sale of AU$ 5 million worth of wheat to Iraq on credit in 1995.

While B.H.P. was able to say that it was a ‘humanitarian gesture’, Mr. Agius indicated that the Inquiry would explore the deal because the credit was repaid to a B.H.P.-related company, Tigris Petroleum, through an inflated wheat contract between Iraq and A.W.B (M. Wilkinson, ‘Iraq scandal: heat shifts to Canberra’, The (Melbourne) Age, 17 January 2006).

Before the Inquiry, an A.W.B. spokesman in Melbourne, Peter McBride, said that the Wheat Board was “completely unaware of any corruption. Our contracts were completely under the terms provided by the UN.”

Mr. McBride said that the U.N. insisted that the Wheat Board’s contracts with Iraq include the use of a third party to provide “inland transport” – that is, trucks to get the wheat around Iraq.

Saddam’s Iraqi Grains Board provided the A.W.B. with the name of its “preferred company” and the A.W.B. used that company – a Jordanian trucking company – for all its contracts. Mr. McBride said that questions about the legitimacy of this company were “questions for the UN.”

The U.N. Security Council had named a three-person independent panel to investigate allegations that U.N. officials mishandled the Oil-for-Food programme, allowing Saddam to pocket billions of dollars illegally.

The allegation is that Saddam’s government used the programme to extract billions of dollars from companies which wanted to do business with Iraq, leaving his people short of food and medicines, while blaming the U.N. sanctions for those shortages.

One of Saddam’s schemes was to order vendors to inflate their prices by 10 per cent and ‘kickback’ the excess to his government.

One of the contracts which became available to Australian newspapers showed that, three months before the war, the A.W.B. signed a deal to provide 525,000 tonnes of wheat to Iraq for €280 (then A$455) a tonne.

U.S. wheat industry sources who examined the contract said that, in 2006, the price was about US$30 – equivalent to A$41 – a tonne higher than world wheat prices at the time.

Mr. McBride explained that  the price “might [have] seem[ed]” high because it included the cost of paying a third party – the unnamed Jordanian trucking company – to transport the wheat to mills around Iraq.

Contracts which involved third parties were of particular interest to the Oil-for-food programme investigators, since an Iraqi Oil Ministry official, Faleh Khawaji, had told The New York Times that Iraq would make a deal with a supplier, then say: “Give us another 10 per cent.”

“The Western companies would say: “I can’t do it. I’ve got a board, how do I get around the auditors?” Mr. Khawaji said. “And somebody would tell them there are companies in Jordan willing to do this for you.”

Mr. McBride said that the A.W.B. had never agreed to ‘kickback’ money to Saddam’s régime, directly or indirectly. “We used a Jordanian trucking company to do that (transport wheat) on our behalf.” He said that he was “unaware of any relationship between them and the Saddam régime. I actually do not know what their relationship was. All we did was pay them a reasonable fee to transport the grain in Iraq.”

He said that the trucking company had “the approval of the UN.”

After Saddam was deposed, coalition forces examined outstanding Oil-for-Food contracts and asked many vendors to take 10 per cent off their prices.

Mr. McBride said that Australia had been asked to renegotiate some of its wheat contracts, “but they are commercial in confidence, so we don’t discuss (what happened to the) price.”

A.W.B. whistleblower Dominic Hogan, testified about A.W.B. corruption and that the Australian Government could have spotted the ‘kickbacks’ five years before simply by checking the price of wheat in any daily newspaper. The United States was charging US$140 a tonne, with freight bringing this up to US$170 a tonne – but Australia was receiving US$214 a tonne from the Iraqis (The (Melbourne) Age, 7 February 2006).

On 10 February 2006 on A.B.C. TV’s Asia Pacific Focus programme, Warren Reed – a former Australian Security and Intelligence Service, A.S.I.S. agent – and others were interviewed over the A.W.B. scandal (for the transcript of ‘Australian wheat exporter goes against the grain’ see: http://abcasiapacific.com/focus/).

Asked about the A.W.B. scandal, Prime Minister Howard’s fixed line would be: “I did not know. Mr. Downer [the Foreign Minister] did not know. Mr. Vaile [the Deputy PM and Trade Minister] did not know. And on the information that I have and based on the advice that I have received, I do not believe that anybody in the departments were told.” [Emphasis added]

However, when Warren Reed was asked whether it was possible that Australian ‘intelligence’ would not have known about the A.W.B. ‘kickbacks’ to Saddam Hussein, Reed replied: “Absolutely impossible … that they did not know. In fact, if you look at the core part of the governmental system in Canberra that has to do with our international survival, our role on the global stage, particularly trade-wise, Foreign Affairs, even eaves-dropping, the whole intelligence apparatus, that’s geared to knowing these things. There is no way, absolutely no way, those sorts of people didn’t know … So the Government did know. And I would defy the Prime Minister on oath to say he’d never heard anything about it, he had no knowledge at all that this could occur. If Mr. Downer [Foreign Minister], and Mr. Vaile [Deputy P.M. and Trade Minister] and our Prime Minister had not an inkling that this sort of thing was going on, then they should be shot at dawn. They are unfit to hold these positions. That’s the extent to which everybody would know about it.”

Warren Reed was further asked: “the Cole Inquiry has implicated the [Australian] Wheat Board … there has been talk of ‘kickbacks’ not only to Iraq but to Pakistan, to Indonesia, to Bangladesh… in your experience, 10 years out in the field, how widespread is the payment of kickbacks in the region?”

Warren Reed replied: “Oh, so widespread … I couldn’t think of one circumstance where they would not pay … It’s expected.”

While Australian politicians and media were concerned with the corruption aspects of the scandal – who did what, who knew what, who said what to whom – there had been very little concern expressed over the human cost of the potential diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from humanitarian purposes in Iraq. Of course, Australian media and politicians would simply not report or acknowledge the horrendous civilian excess mortality in post-invasion Iraq.

Upper estimate of the human cost of Australian corruption in Iraq was 20,000 Iraqi infant deaths.

Using the widely-quoted Australian estimate of about US$225 million for the money diverted by Australians from the U.N. Oil-for-Food programme, one can estimate that the maximum amount of money diverted from medical expenditure would have been US$225 million/26.9 million Iraqis in 2003 = US$8.4 per capita.

Continued Wednesday – Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (part 3)

Previous instalment – Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (part 1)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 5)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 4

In the United States, the Immigration Act of 1924 – which established the Border Patrol  – was another piece of legislation based on the principles of ‘racial purity’ and ‘white supremacy’. Hitler praised this law when he said: “Compared to old Europe, which had lost an infinite amount of its best blood through war and emigration, the American nation appears as a young and racially select people. The American union itself, motivated by the theories of its own racial researchers, has established specific criteria for immigration … making an immigrant’s ability to set foot on American soil dependent on specific racial requirements.”

Eugenics was the only way in which ‘real Americans’ exerted control over fronterizos, meaning ‘border’ communities. Around the same time, vigilante lynch mobs and extrajudicial murders by the Texas Rangers took hundreds of lives. Scholars have identified at least 600 lynchings in the United States of persons of Mexican descent by white mobs between 1848 and 1928. But these numbers do not include the murder of ethnic Mexicans by the Texas Rangers. The 28 January 1918 massacre outside the village of Porvenir in Presidio County, Texas, when Texas Rangers, Cavalry soldiers, and local ranchers marched 15 men and boys out of town and shot them in cold blood, was one of many acts of state-sanctioned terrorism against people of Mexican origin along the Rio Grande Valley during the early 20th century. As Benjamin Heber Johnson writes in Revolution in Texas (Yale University Press, 2003): “Even observers hesitant to acknowledge Anglo brutality recognize that the death toll was at least three hundred. Some of those who found human remains with skulls marked by execution-type bullet holes in the years to come were sure that the toll had been much, much higher, perhaps five thousand.”

Low-intensity warfare against people of Mexican descent has been going on for a long time on the border. Some of the current policies by the Trump Administration echo the practices at the border a century ago. For instance, just not long before the El Paso massacre U.S. customs agents began publicly to inspect the heads and bodies of border crossers for lice at the Santa Fe International Bridge.

But not everything is repetition. What is new is the staggering acceleration of events currently aimed at fronterizo communities. El Paso has now become ground zero for a lighting-speed war waged by the Trump government against fronterizos. It seems every week, sometimes every day, Americans are bombarded with new twists and turns to the ruthless measures aimed to prevent ‘the browning of America’: detention camps for children, mass deportations, threats to revoke birthright citizenship, calls for “sending back” American citizens of colour who speak out against Trump’s policies, threats to shut down all traffic at the border as a form of political blackmail. Some of these strategies are reminiscent of psychological warfare operations which are meant to keep besieged communities feeling confused, fearful, overwhelmed, and in a constant state of shock. Things are moving so fast it is hard for fronterizo populations to know how to respond. (D.D. Romo, ‘To understand the El Paso massacre, look to the long legacy of anti-Mexican violence at the border’, The Texas Observer, 9 August 2019).

According to The New York Times, the Christchurch mass murderer referenced: “a white supremacist theory called ‘the great replacement.” The theory has been promoted by a French writer named Renaud Camus, and argues that elites in Europe have been working to replace white Europeans with immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa.” 

It is obvious that this ‘theory’ is framed around stoking the fears of ‘white nationalists’. But psychologically, on what factors do those fears play?

First comes to mind narcissism/tribalism. Clearly, a mass murderer has crossed into sociopathic/psychopathic territory in terms of an extreme lack of remorse and empathy, but the root of the problem can be found in narcissism.

At its core, narcissism is an overvaluation of self and a devaluation of others. It runs along a spectrum. There is a great deal of overlap among the following categories, though, and unclear boundaries clinically speaking. And conditions can push the examination around the spectrum. What is absolutely true is that one knows to be with a narcissist by how one makes one feel.

Grandiose narcissists, malignant/oblivious as they may present, have a very firmed belief in their superiority. This makes the narcissist envious, competitive, and antagonistic to anyone who threatens their sense of superior self. They are routinely stuck in cycles of social comparison. They are likely to twist reality in pursuit of ‘power’ over others; they are manipulative, and they feel privileged/entitled. They inherently feel that all relationships are competitive and ‘win-lose’ instead of mutual or interdependent. They have a problematic view of relationships and can act on it by taking advantage of others.

Vulnerable or fragile narcissists are insecure, thin-skinned, and likely to lash out if criticised. They have a turbulent inner life with powerful “undercurrents of inadequate feelings, negative affect states, and loneliness.” They can also feel that relationships are inherently competitive and antagonistic.

Highly functioning, charming or exhibitionistic narcissists also have an exaggerated sense of self-importance, but these individuals are also outgoing, energetic and articulate. They apparently use their narcissism as strong motivation to succeed, and are interpersonally adept and achievement-oriented. But these narcissists can, like other narcissists, exhibit low empathy, and can also view relationships as utilitarian.

A person provided with healthy narcissism has a healthy sense of self-worth, combined with empathy and concern for others’ feelings and well-being.

Narcissism leaves a wake of damaged relationships, because “narcissists are extraordinarily insecure about their capacity to love and be loved and are frantic in their search for others who will admire them, be impressed by them, empathize with their needs, validate their specialness, and/or serve as an idealized object who will never shame them or humiliate them.” (Definitions and quotes from G. O. Gabbard and H. Crisp-Han, Narcissism and its discontents, American Psychiatric Association Publishing 2018).

Fundamentally, narcissists do not really appreciate the mutuality of relatedness, and this can lead to their ‘frantic search’ and feeling like they can only be valued for their attributes. They may not believe they are acceptable as they are, in their basic humanity. Narcissists suffer and cause suffering.

The ‘white nationalist’ has, by definition, grandiosely overvalued her/himself and devalued others in pursuit of power or security. They may also be overcompensating for feeling shamed or, as s/he might frame it, ‘losing their honour and privilege,’ or what others might call their ‘entitlement.’

The logical outcome of a deep-seated lack of relatedness and security in the relational world is nihilism. Existential nihilists argue that life is without objective meaning, purpose or value. Moral nihilists assert that ‘there is no inherent morality’ in life, and that ‘accepted moral values are contrived.’

It is understandable that during times of social change and upheaval, traditional meanings and concerns fall into doubt, and some go ‘into their heads’ to deconstruct meaning. Without being grounded in relationships, nihilism – some times to the point of sociopathy – results. The nihilist ignores or abandons a hundred thousand years of human history, and millions of years of mammalian and primate evolution.

Unfortunately, the Internet is a profoundly disturbing catalyst for disconnecting from real world relatedness and the real world search for belonging, diverting some into a self-radicalizing spiral of hatred and ungrounded fear and hatred. Yoda, the fictional character in the Star wars franchise created by George Lucas, and first appearing in the 1980 film The empire strikes back, might say of 8chan and the like “path to the dark side this is.”(See K. Roose, 8chan,megaphone for gunmen, has gone dark. ‘Shut the site down,’ says its creator’, The New York Times, 4 August 2019; R. Chandra M.D., D.F.A.P.A., ‘El Paso massacre: nihilism, narcissism and white nationalism – What psychological and philosophical factors underpin white nationalism?,’ psychologytoday.com, 4 August 2019; see also: L. Charlton, ‘What is The Great Replacement?, The New York Times, 6 August 2019).

And who would at this point think of Donald John Trump?

President Trump was embarrassed online for refusing to call the El Paso massacre an act of ‘white supremacist terrorism’. He could only say this: “Today’s shooting in El Paso, Texas was not only tragic, it was an act of cowardice. I know that I stand with everyone in this country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people,” and then: “Melania and I send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the great people of Texas.” (B. Brigham, ‘Trump ripped for calling El Paso massacre ‘act o cowardice’ instead of white supremacist terrorism’, rawstory.com, 3 August 2019).

An entire paragraph of the manifesto is dedicated to environmental degradation and Malthusian claims about the need to “get rid of enough people” to protect ever dwindling resources.

Crusius’ manifesto abounds with Trumpian racist nationalism. “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” notes the text, published shortly before the massacre. The manifesto, which decries “race-mixing,” states: “some people will blame the president or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. “noting that the author’s convictions “predate Trump.” One would be correct to place blame at the feet of President Trump, whose lurid anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies have emboldened violent ‘white supremacists’.

Yet a number of motivations cited by the attacker sit outside the typical remit of racist MAGA fear-mongering. An entire paragraph of the manifesto is dedicated to environmental degradation and Malthusian claims about the need to “get rid of enough people” to protect ever dwindling resources. The author cites the Christchurch shooter’s lengthy manifesto, titled ‘The Great Replacement’, as an inspiration, reiterating the paranoid fears of demographic shift and white decline. The Christchurch shooter self-identified as an “eco-fascist,” writing, “there is no nationalism without environmentalism.”

Against the perilous climate change denialism typical of Australian as well as of American conservatives, environmental decimation is broadly seen as a liberal and left concern. But eco-fascism has seen a notable re-emergence among far-right groups and festering corners online in the United States and in Europe. While campaigning for the European elections, Ms. Marine Le Pen of France’s far-right National Rally party promised to make the “first ecological civilisation” of a “Europe of nations,” claiming that “nomadic” people with “no homeland” do not care about the environment. Neo-Nazi Richard Bertrand Spencer, a ‘white supremacist’ and the president of the National Policy Institute, a ‘white supremacist’ think tank, as well as Washington Summit Publishers, wrote in a 2017 manifesto: “We have the potential to become nature’s steward or its destroyer.”

It is beholden on those fighting for climate justice to ensure that not a centimetre be given to those who would use environmental degradation as grounds for racist nationalism and, as the El Paso and Christchurch shooters encouraged, genocide. This means maintaining a vigilance not only against the most explicit eco-fascists and their Blut und Boden – ‘blood and soil’ sentiments, but also against arguments around population control and the threat of mass migration to resources both economic and environmental.

“The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country,” the El Paso manifesto notes, adding: “Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. … So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources.” For Crusius non-white immigrants are not the cause of resource depletion, but their demise en masse is the solution.

Eco-fascism is not new and finds its origins in Progressive-era linking of environmental preservation and eugenics. Eco-fascism’s founding father, the previously mentioned Madison Grant – an American lawyer, writer, and zoologist known primarily for his work as a eugenicist/racist and conservationist, bestselling author – was a renowned preservationist, friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and an inspiration to Hitler. He was director of the American Eugenics Society and vice president of the Immigration Restriction League, while also credited as the creator of modern wildlife management. Claims of a people’s mythic connection to their land combined with bunk race science form the basis of eco-fascism, which can today call upon the very real threat of climate change to double down on its racist, nationalist agenda.

The so-called deep ecology movement, claiming to argue for the intrinsic value of all living things, insists that the flourishing of non-human life is impossible without decreasing the human population. Deep ecologists like David Foreman – an American environmentalist and co-founder of the radical environmental movement Earth First! – in the 1980s welcomed famine as a means of depopulation; his fellow eco-fascist contemporaries saw a similar boon in the AIDS crisis. Pentti Linkola – a radical Finnish deep ecologist, ornithologist, polemicist, naturalist, writer – deploys perverse “lifeboat ethics” to argue for eco-fascist measures, including an end to all immigration. “What to do when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat?” Linkola wrote. “When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides.” Yet such cheap metaphors for preservation through decreased population leave unsaid the profound ‘white supremacist’ undergirding of all such eco-fascist positions. Marginalised, colonised, impoverished, and displaced populations are always the last on the lifeboat.

According to new statistics from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the population of people on Earth displaced by conflict or persecution reached 70.8 million in 2018 – more than double the number recorded in 2012. Disasters fuelled by climate change were responsible for at least 18.8 million internal displacements in 2017, as well as bolstering cross-border migration, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. In another recent report ‘Climate change and poverty – Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights’, 25 June 2019A/HRC/41/39, prepared by the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, an Australian law professor, warned of a “climate apartheid” in which “even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to widespread displacement and hunger.” (N. Lennard, ‘Don’t let the Far-Right co-opt the environmental struggle,’ theintercept.com, 5 August 2019).

Much of the rhetoric about ‘Mexican invaders’ may aid at diverting one’s attention from the memory of that critically important facet of United States history: the systematic lynching and murder of Mexicans by white border vigilantes and law enforcement a century ago.

The pretexts for the atrocities varied, professor Monica Muñoz Martínez, a native Texan, explained in an interview after the massacre, but the underlying motives for the Texas terror campaign were bound up in white settlers’ longing for power and control over a population they deemed inferior. The killers sought to break apart and divide communities like El Paso through violence, to disenfranchise Mexican American voters, and to relegate them to manual labour.

A century later, the forces of violent displacement and division are again at work in the borderlands.

When historians will look back on the Trump years, El Paso will stand out.

Dr. Stephen Flaherty, director of trauma at Del Sol Medical Center, would liken the injuries he saw during the weekend to wounds he treated as a medical surgeon in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. Details about the 22 people who died in the attack, and the lives they lived, continued to emerge. So far, the youngest reported victim was 15-year-old Javier Amir Rodriguez. The oldest was 90-year-old Luis Juárez. Two dozen others were wounded, including two-month-old Paul Gilbert Anchondo, whose parents, Andre and Jordan, were killed shielding their baby boy from the gunfire.

At least eight Mexican nationals lost their lives. “We consider this an act of terrorism against the Mexican-American community and the Mexicans living in the United States,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, said in a statement.

When historians will look back on the Trump years, El Paso will stand out. It was the place where the government first tested its family separation policy and, more recently, it has been the focus of outrage and horror directed at ghastly conditions experienced by immigrants, including children, held in federal detention facilities. But El Paso is more than that. In the face of the Trump Administration’s border crackdown, the city has provided a model of compassion and empathy toward migrants. That those features made it a target for a ‘white supremacist’ attack, one of the deadliest massacres of Mexicans the state has ever seen, is particularly devastating, professor Monica Muñoz Martínez said.

“People in El Paso have had to do the work of trying to pick up the pieces of the violence of these policies,” she said. “When hundreds of people are released overnight at bus stations in places like El Paso … it’s the local residents that mobilize to provide support for recent arrivals, and for refugees, and for children. They not only have carried the burden of trying to provide humanitarian aid,” she said, “but now they’re also being targeted with violence.”

In the wake of the El Paso’s attack, there were calls to reorder and expand the government’s long-running war on terrorism. Six former National Security Council counter-terrorism directors added their names to a statement calling on the Trump Administration to approach domestic terrorism with the same urgency, resources, and strategic vision as the post-9/11 effort to combat international terrorism.

Well-intentioned though they might be, a dangerous bit of historical amnesia undermines demands to replicate the war on terror on U.S. soil. For one, there has been a war on terror at home for nearly two decades. It has been felt in Muslim communities infiltrated by undercover informants, and it has been expressed in the militarisation of police departments across the country. Second, the existing war on terror shattered entire regions of the world, fuelled the growth of the very groups it sought to eliminate, killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, created black sites where Americans – and their allies, such as Australians – engaged in torture, resulted in the creation of a perpetually troubled constellation of agencies known in the United States as the Department of Homeland Security, spawned secret watchlists used overwhelmingly against Muslims, and paved the way for the president of the United States to execute an American citizen without trial. (G. Venturini, ‘No more due process – Just ‘targeted killings’, countercurrents.org, 13 October 2011).

“The last 18 years have shown us that existing terrorism authorities have been and are used to target communities of color and other marginalized communities,” Ms. Hina Shamsi, director of the A.C.L.U.’s National Security Project, said in an interview. “They’ve resulted in bias-based, over-broad suspicion that infringes on the fundamental rights of minority communities, who have asked for safeguards and reform without getting them. Policymakers must learn the right lessons from ongoing abuses and not entrench or enhance authorities that have resulted in the violation of First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights of communities they want to protect. There’s something so profoundly bleak about the idea of using the terror frame and the war on terror, that is still going on and is clearly a failure and disaster, as a positive template for dealing with this.”

The impulse to call for an expanded war on terror in response to mass killings is an extension of the United States’s entrenched relationship to guns, says Dr. Patrick Blanchfield, an academic, journalist, and an associate faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. He is the author of the forthcoming Verso pamphlet Gunpower: The system of American violence. “People really like to think that there will always be a good person with a gun,” Blanchfield explains. “That, in essence, is the national security framework.” It is a process of self-soothing – he said – as expressed by a population which feels, on an individual level, helpless in the face of ongoing gun violence: “Because no one individually feels that they can do something, then it must be the authorities who have to do everything.”

The problem is not just rhetorical. When American current and former federal law enforcement officials are asked about their approach to policing the kind of violence seen in El Paso, they sometimes suggest that they lack the authorities to address the problem, often pointing to the absence of a federal law against domestic terrorism. But the problem is more seriously complex.

What the F.B.I. lacks, Mr. Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent who is now a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice maintains, is the will to target and investigate the ‘far-right’ with anywhere near the zeal it has historically reserved for Muslims, leftist dissidents, and environmental activists. If the F.B.I. made a genuine effort to apply the ample authorities it already has to investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism crimes – rather than attempt to predict them – they could confront a truly violent and dangerous movement, Mr. German said. He is the author, with Ms. Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington News Correspondent, of Disrupt, discredit, and divide: How the new F.B.I. damages democracy, New York, N.Y., The new press 2019).

“Unfortunately, I think the war on terror itself was a failed methodology that has driven a lot of the fear and anger and xenophobia that is crystalized in white nationalism.” he reflected. “What you saw was the growth of this anti-Muslim lobby that eventually merged with the white supremacist movement, which was focused on the border already. … It’s not surprising that when a right-wing populist comes along that he can stoke them up in way that is quite dangerous.”

What the former F.B.I. agent today would find ‘far more scary’ is seeing the ‘white power’ movement’s goals and ideology reflected in government policies.

“All you have to do is look down on the southern border now to see it,” Mr. German said, explaining that a government built around an ideology of racist power, one seeking to change the country’s demographics by force, can do more harm to more people than the white power movement could ever dream to. “It’s a very different kind of a problem.”

“This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” reads the four-page manifesto Crusius posted online shortly before his attack in El Paso.

The idea is not new. President Trump himself has repeatedly used the word “invasion” to rally his base around policies aimed at curtailing non-white immigration, both legal and illegal. Fox News has done the same.

Continued tomorrow … (Part 6)

 

* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Indigenous Discovery project among prestigious ARC grants announced for Southern Cross University

Southern Cross University Media Release

New research into the impact of environmental changes on freshwater and marine animals aims to help safeguard natural populations and aquatic habitats integral to Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

The interdisciplinary project, led by Dr Ben Mos, an Aboriginal person of Turrbal descent, marks the first time Southern Cross University has received a funded Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (worth $577,000).

The Australian Research Council recently announced the prestigious 2020 Discovery Indigenous and Discovery Projects awards, with Southern Cross University also picking up two in the Discovery Project category, including the ‘Effect of elevated nutrients on carbon and nitrogen cycles in seagrass beds’ project ($322,487) led by Dr Joanne Oakes in partnership with Utrecht University, and the ‘Unravelling hexavalent chromium formation and fate in fire-impacted soil’ project ($390,000) led by Professor Edward Burton in partnership with Stanford University.

Southern Cross University Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research Professor Mary Spongberg congratulated the research teams successful in securing almost $1.3m in competitive funding for these innovative projects.

“The Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award covers all three years of the project for Dr Ben Mos – and we are very proud as this is the first time Southern Cross University has received this award,” Professor Spongberg said.

Dr Mos is based at the National Marine Science Centre in Coffs Harbour on Australia’s Mid North Coast, and will work with his Southern Cross University colleague Professor Symon Dworjanyn on the project titled ‘Does larval environment dictate resilience in a changing ocean?’.

The project will investigate the impact of ocean warming and ocean acidification on key marine and freshwater invertebrates.

Dr Mos said he was looking forward to working with local species that are likely familiar to the Coffs Harbour community and the traditional owners, the Gumbaynggirr people, who have very strong connections to the ocean and estuaries.

“Shrimp and other aquatic invertebrates have provided an important food source for thousands of years, and continue to do so today. It is important to find out how ocean change is affecting them,” Dr Mos said.

“The research aims to help inform decisions about the best ways to manage the culturally and economically important ecosystems where these animals live.”

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 4)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 3

The El Paso shooter (Patrick Crusius) performed with words to justify his actions, a split performance prefacing his deed: a reactionary rant against migrants which is patched with comments on important issues of the day. Then he has fifteen minutes of a Reality TV star. His ‘hero’ is Trump – essentially a TV man as defined by Sean Illing: “Trump’s a TV man; he understands the landscape. He knows interesting is preferable to informed or reasonable or lucid. Which is why he eschews talking points or scripts and instead riffs on stage like a stand-up. Trump’s free-wheeling approach means he could say literally anything at any moment, and that’s the kind people want to watch.”(S. Illing, ‘Donald Trump is a fraud: Report confirms the billionaire’s presidential bid is a long and calculated con job’, salon.com, 02 February 2016).

Crusius is white and his manifesto reveals that he is an ‘America First’ nationalist. His rant is against recent Hispanic “invaders,” though curiously not long time legal residents. The non-whites who have helped build America are not his target. His allegiance is with the Christchurch shooter’s notion of “replacement,” the threat of ethnic cultures from elsewhere overcoming and weakening the existing, ‘real-American’ residents. So something went wrong when the Europeans invaded and destroyed Native American culture and he sides with it against the white “invaders.” These “invaders” of course are now the privileged, locally-born residents! But he does not want this to repeat since he is against “race-mixing,” which destroys genetic diversity, creates identity problems, and invites the stronger cultures to overtake the weaker. He therefore supports a confederation of ethnic tribes into some mysterious formula of segregated coexistence.

Crusius echoes President Trump’s language, itself an echo of a long trail of screeds. The invaders need to be “removed,” and ‘whites’ need to “get rid of” the illegals already in the United States so that “our way of life can become more sustainable.” There are too many bodies to be absorbed into the mix, a problem compounded by the oncoming displacement from automation. He contends that if there were fewer people in the United States there would be a better market for workers – a tangent from President Trump’s “America First” imaginary. Crusius is also a fan of the “fake news” concept, claiming that the media will blame him for being influenced by Trump and racism, even though he is not. But his pre-processed answers are perhaps the equivalent of tweeting a welter of conflicting claims which finally only question the sender’s motives.

A significant segment of the media has reported endlessly about the dreadful border conditions and how people are treated so horrifically as virtual prisoners, but the drumbeat of “invasion” from many conservative outlets transforms this problem into something different. “Invasion” can certainly inspire a call to arms. During the last nine months the Trump campaign has “posted more than 2,000 ads on Facebook that include the word ‘invasion’.” These were specifically targeted immigration spots, costing $1.25 million (J. St. Clair, ‘Roaming charges,’ CounterPunch, 8 August 2019).

Crusius said that he is no fan of either the Democrats or Republicans. The former swell their base with the invading hordes of migrants – which have close to the highest birth rate – to secure a permanent “one party state” while evading the ‘real-Americans’ real problems. The latter are too friendly with corporations which willingly absorb migrants to the detriment of those already in the United States who have a difficult time competing. He seems to be suggesting that the two are in a secret agreement. And clearly the Democrats are hardly super-critical of corporate America. The Republicans bring in the unskilled and flood the market with new bodies to the detriment of those already in the United States and their progeny, who will go to college and secure the means to succeed in corporate America. These unskilled newcomers and their skilled successors will “replace” those already in the United States, the previously migrated, those struggling to pay back student loans and facing a struggle for survival. Poverty and displacement will be the result, even civil unrest.

The takeover of America by “unchecked” corporations is a strong theme in Crusius’ document. In his view their over-expansion of consumer culture is responsible for urban sprawl and excessive waste, as well as environmental degradation. Regarding the latter, one can perhaps see the influence of eco-fascism. (N. Lennard, ‘The El Paso Shooter Embraced Eco-Fascism,’ The Intercept, 5 August 2019; see also: J. Sparrow, ‘El Paso shooting and the rise of eco-fascism’, Eureka Street, 7 August 2019). Crusius sounds like a progressive, but then claims that this expansion is integrally related to the self-propelling increase in migrants. The corporations need them for markets. So he justifies targeting innocent people in 81 per cent Hispanic El Paso to start the removal as if this might reverse some sort of chain migration.

Is Crusius a ‘white male’ who believes that he is supreme or one who imagines a kind of perverse catch up through a symbolic levelling of competition? Is he merely suffering from a crippling inferiority complex and lashing out with simple, sub-premacy speculations, particularly a Malthusian misread of demographics? Crusius heard everywhere that ‘white supremacy’ is everywhere, so he wanted to join the parade, borrowing whatever snips of ideology which worked.

Crusius would not likely be a candidate for writing the next serious manifesto for the ‘white nationalists’ who have been shadowing the system since they took the baton from the terrorists of the 1970s, groups which mimicked the Weather Underground, rainbow internationalists reigning supreme over the values of community, equality and anti-capitalism. The right wing groups thrived in the 1980s, especially in the late decade, and most prominently in the President Clinton 1990s. But the biggest spike was between 2000 and 2010 when they grew from 602 to well over 1,000 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. And they have been growing ever since, spiking again at the end of the Obama Administration, from late 2014 into 2015 (M. Potok, Intelligence Report, 4 March 2013, and 17 February 2016). They have become a mainstream presence since President Trump’s emergence, many seeing him as their “glorious leader.” (Y. Bayoumy and K. Gilsinan, ‘A reformed white nationalist says the worst is yet to come,” The Atlantic, 8 August 2019).

The persistence and growth of these groups can be correlated with the steady decline of liberalism – underway for some time now – as a countervailing force. And right-wing extremism is on the rise internationally. However one values the elements of Crusius’ conflicting script, the tragedy is that his actions and notoriety will likely help recruit more for the ‘white nationalist’ cause, especially given the media publicity that he received.

If one can isolate parts of the manifesto which make some sense in the present, chaotic, socio-economic and political climate and suspend the migrant rant for a moment, it is difficult not to see this truncated critic as a stand-in for the population disenfranchised in the wake of the so-calle Global Financial Crisis of 2008. Crusius was perhaps ‘a loser’ even before he crossed the line, but he is very concerned about his generation, expressing the fears of many millennials over the past several years about employment and their future prospects. The rural Neo-Nazi skinheads in the 1990s expressed similar fears of being left behind in the march of progress. Is Crusius’ imagined group made up by those forgotten by the Democrats, part of their long-term abandonment of whites and the white working class? One of the big reasons why Trump won in 2016 is because he captured this group. Has Crusius perhaps now melted down from a disillusioned Trump supporter?

Severe inequities can transform victims into supporters who blindly follow leaders or, “a carapace, a flag of convenience,” as the columnist Ross Douthat suggests, since Crusius seems to pay allegiance to few. He is apparently his own leader, and on par with governments. If government can commit mass murder so easily, he claims, then why not he ? After all, he has been endowed with authority to save America by the Founding Fathers ! This is megalomania to the extreme.

To red-flag these looming threats will involve much more than monitoring groups from the far right fringe. One needs to seek out the pockets of perverse socialisation which are producing these scavengers and learn what transforms them from simmering anti-social victims of something amiss in American society into causes. As Dr. Cornel Ronald West, the American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual, claims, the racism one is seeing expressed is a horror in itself but one needs to grasp how it is produced and amplified through various institutions in order to eventually root it out (Democracy Now!, 2 August 2019).

And above all one needs to find out what vaults these loners onto the stage of history to validate their fantasies instead of conversing with the stream of difference. If only Crusius had perfected his writing skills and been more active to expand and improve society. (J. O’ Kane, ‘Supreme nihilism: The El Paso shooter’s manifesto,’ Information Clearing House, 20 August 2019).

In the immediate aftermath of the El Paso shooting – the largest massacre of Latino people in the history of the United States – politicians of all stripes stood before the cameras and offered their diagnosis of what just happened. They sounded like the proverbial blind men who touched one part of the elephant and confused the different fragments for the whole. El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a Republican who once praised the ‘freedom fence’ for keeping out ‘riff raff’’, emphasised that the atrocity was committed by an outsider. Other voices blamed mental health, video games, and the lack of gun control laws.

But these diagnoses went looking only at the symptoms. Before one knows how to fight back effectively against ‘white supremacist’ terrorism one must know exactly what one is up against. History offers an important instrument to determine the root causes of what one may characterise as a deadly epidemic.

Crusius’ chilling manifesto tapped into entrenched narratives with deep roots in the history of the United States-Mexico border. It is unlikely that the 21-year-old from Allen, Texas knew just how utterly repetitive his words and actions were. Crusius most likely would not know that the height of Texas Ranger violence against Mexicans occurred from 1915 to 1919, with some 300 ethnic Mexicans murdered between 1915 and 1916 alone.

Crusius wrote that he was protecting ‘whites’ in America from “cultural and ethnic replacement” brought on by “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He claimed that “Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs.”

According to one witness, as Crusius gunned down people in each aisle he allowed anyone who “didn’t look Mexican” to walk away unharmed. Individuals with brown skin had no such pass. It did not matter to Crusius whether his targeted victims had legal papers or on what side of the barbed-wire fence they were born. He could not have cared less whether the Mexican nationals among the 22 people he murdered had permits to shop in the United States.

The manifesto explains why distinctions of legal status were irrelevant to him: “Even though new migrants do the dirty work, their kids typically don’t. They want to live the American Dream which is why they get college degrees and fill higher-paying skilled positions.” In other words, brown people with college degrees threaten the racial purity of white America.

Crusius would not know that, during the American eugenics movement of the early 20th century, more than 60,000 people were forcibly sterilised in government-run programmes.

Crusius’ manifesto is fully immersed in ‘alt-right’ writings of individuals and groups who claim to be fighting against The Great Replacement, as one of their leaders calls the purported threat of ‘white genocide’ ‘around the world. Followers of this conspiracy theory aim to create a neo-fascist ‘ethno-state’ where at least 90 per cent of inhabitants are ‘white’. Their proposed programme is to be carried out by draconian border enforcement measures which will deter future migration, mass deportations, the revocation of birthright citizenship, and the purging of non-white children – who represent the greatest threat to the disappearance of the ‘white race’. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, massacres like the one in El Paso are part of a strategy these extremist groups call ‘accelerationism’: the idea that the deliberate spread of terror is necessary for the elimination of non-whites from the United States.

But historians know that these proposed measures for the racial purification of the nation, enforced by violence, are by no means new. In the early 20th century, the American eugenics movement called for the exclusion and elimination of ‘non-whites’, undesirable ‘aliens’, and those deemed genetically inferior from the United States through draconian immigration restrictions, incarceration, urban removal, miscegenation laws, and scientific baby contests. More than 60,000 people were forcibly sterilised in government-run programmes. These calls for the creation of a genetically superior race were by no means part of a fringe movement. They were prevalent among the American élite. (See, for instance: A. DenHoed, The Forgotten Lessons of the American Eugenics Movement,’ The New Yorker, 27 April 2016).

One of the most influential American racial hygienists was Madison Grant, author of the 1916 book Passing of the Great Race: Or the racial basis of European history, New York, N.Y., C. Scribner’s Sons). He wrote: “The Mexican Indian has no racial qualities to contribute to the United States population that are now needed.” He recommended that Mexicans “should be deported as fast as they can be located and funds made available” despite the likelihood that “a storm of protest will arise from the radicals and half-breeds claiming to be Americans, who will all rush to the defense of their kind.”

Along the United States-Mexico border, these proposals to exclude people deemed ‘genetically unfit’ left a long and pernicious legacy. In 1917 U.S. public health officials began disinfecting all Mexican border crossers at the Santa Fe International Bridge at the El Paso-Juárez border with highly noxious pesticides including kerosene, and during the next decades, D.D.T. and Zyklon B.

In 1937, the use of Zyklon B, or hydrogen cyanide, as a fumigation agent on the southern border inspired Dr. Gerhard Friedrich Peters to call for its use in Nazi Germany. Peters wrote an article for the German pest science journal  Anzeiger für Schädlinskunde, which included two photographs of El Paso delousing chambers. He used the El Paso example to demonstrate how effective Zyklon B was as an agent for killing unwanted pests. Dr. Peters became the managing director of Degesch, one of two German firms which acquired the patent to mass-produce Zyklon B in 1940. During the second world war, the Germans would use Zyklon B in concentrated doses in the gas chamber to exterminate millions of people the Nazis considered subhuman ‘pests’, literally Ungeziefer = vermin.

Nazi eugenicists paid close attention to other American practices as well. One of them was the forced sterilisation laws in California which were applied against an estimated 20,000 women of Mexican and Native American descent and other ethnic minorities between 1920 and 1964. These served as models for Germany’s forced sterilisation law, which went into effect on 1 January 1934.

Continued tomorrow … (Part 5)

 

* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Richard Muller and the conversion of a climate change sceptic

By RosemaryJ36  

I had lunch with my younger son (in his early 50s!) today and, as nearly always, the issue of climate change came up. Getting other people’s perspective is important when you are concerned about a serious issue, and this conversation really proved that point.

He alerted me to a physics Professor at University of California, Berkeley, called Richard Muller, so after I came home, I looked him up.

This video – “Richard Muller: I was wrong on Climate Change” – covers the significant part of the conversion process.

And there were additionally two areas which my son drew to my attention, which had arisen from Professor Muller’s research, which were a new look at the place of nuclear energy and the role of prediction.

What follows is my personal summary of the gist of the conversation and you are welcome to fact check and correct!

Firstly, we start from the fact that we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, since the continuing release of CO2, in increasing quantities, guarantees rising global temperatures.

Clearly two of the greatest emitters are China and India – both of which were allowed more latitude over their rate of emission reduction, because their economies, while catching up fast, are less advanced than are most others in the developed world.

Muller’s research indicated that safe storage of plutonium might be more readily practicable than has been thought, which would provide these two countries with a viable alternative to coal, with sufficient nuclear energy resources without the accompanying pollution.

As an aside, nuclear energy has always been linked to nuclear bombs, which has led to the reluctance of those countries which already have a nuclear arsenal to allow others to have access to nuclear capacity – witness the stoush USA and Syria, for example. In my view, the rate at which our emissions are increasing puts us at considerable risk of annihilating ourselves quite successfully, without waiting for a nuclear bomb to do the trick!

So – introducing the currently excluded nuclear source – while not providing an overnight solution – would reduce the need to develop more coal-fired power stations.

The second issue raised was the reliability of predictions.

Certainly, the early research done by Exxon and Shell carried predictions as to the extent of the rise of carbon levels, which have been shown to be accurate.

To some extent, predictions about changing weather patterns have also appeared to be borne out. The point is not so much that climate change will cause certain weather phenomena but that the change will facilitate more severe outcomes. The jury is still out on that, although the bush-fires appear to support the argument.

While we ought not to cause alarm – because, like a startled rabbit, frozen in the headlights, alarm can lead to inaction! – we do need to take far more action to reduce emissions than we are doing.

And the first step to reducing emissions is to stop digging up coal, drilling for oil and fracking for gas!

Whether we use or export the resulting product, it is the shared atmosphere of our planet which is polluted. The east coast of Australia is currently enduring the results of the catastrophic bush-fires!

And it is not a good look, Scott Morrison, to say the volunteer firies want to be out there doing their job, so you would not consider paying them – while you go off to enjoy all the Christmas parties to which you have been invited and they grab a few more hours sleep and go out in the heat and the polluted air for another long day of saving others!

You are failing to do your job, while they are putting their own lives and livelihoods (for how long will their employers grant them leave?) at risk. Thoughts and prayers are of no use if not backed up by actions!

Australia is a relatively wealthy country – although that wealth is very unevenly distributed! – and we should be doing more to pull our weight and make up the shortfall in emissions reductions by other less well-endowed countries, not asking for special accounting tricks!

And just one last point to be stressed – pollution in general.

Our oceans are sick, our landfills are overflowing and yet efficient recycling methods are available but not being established. Why?

We have lots of unnecessary over-use of resources for packaging and too much use of non-reusable plastic. These are issues that could be addressed by governments in planning, policy-making and legislation.

I hope out politicians will come back from their Christmas break, brimming with clear ideas on these issues!

Forget protecting religion.

Start protecting the planet!

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR ALL:

Reduce waste and pollution, recycle all that can be re-purposed and work with others to ensure a future for generations to come!

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

2019 Loogy Awards for Excellence in Feculence

By Grumpy Geezer  

2019 is coming to a flaming close swathed in smoke and ash, a suitable allegory for this past year in politics and a harbinger of our future. While the east coast burns, homes and lives are destroyed, wildlife is exterminated and entire ecosystems are endangered across an area the size of the UK the Liberal/National Party kakocracy responds by expunging the term “climate change” from the government vocabulary and pretends that nothing untoward is happening. And conversely but less overtly, they whisper between themselves that it is a sign of the pending Armageddon.

The explanations for their odious behaviour can only be:

1. The Coalition is in the pocket of the rapacious mining lobby, and/or

2. They believe this is god’s will. A wan, pink sun filtering through thick, yellow palls of drifting smoke, sheets of flame, blackened homes, charred landscapes and the screams of incinerating animals are signs of the end times. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord.” – Acts 2:20.

While their messaging is contradictory (business as usual vs divine obliteration) these two excuses are not mutually exclusive – they are symbiotic. They allow the grifters and the nutters to co-exist in the same body – be it party or persona. Monetising the environment can help fund the comfortable lifestyles that the righteous types believe is their due while awaiting the rapture; in return the end-of-times beliefs of these colander-hatted religious wing-nuts gives licence to the environment rapers to plunder at will. Win-win.

The Loogy Awards have been initiated to recognise the political mucus and nose pickers who’ve done the most to ensure that members of parliament are regarded with the respect and trust afforded to pimps, phone scammers, card sharps, porn show spruikers and bank executives. The Loogys lob a gobby in their direction.

The Gold Loogy

Due to their unstinting efforts to enrich themselves and their pals while fucking our environment the entire L/NP are the joint winners of the inaugural Gold Loogy. 

They have treated our precious water, the source of all life, as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder and to mining interests who ship their profits to offshore tax havens.

They have approved massive land clearing, logging of old growth forests and have targeted the magnificent Murray River Red Gums for harvesting as vast swathes of bush are charred to blackened skeletons. Our trees, carbon sinks and producers of oxygen, are being neglected and wilfully destroyed.

The creeping death of the Great Barrier Reef, the extinction of species including the iconic koala are of no concern to them.

They distract, dissemble, obfuscate and dodge accountability. They offer thoughts and prayers FFS as Australia gets ranked 57th on the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index.

They are risible, contemptible criminals whose deliberate vandalism deserves appropriate recognition.

(A late withdrawal from contention is NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean whose acknowledgement of climate change as a contributing factor to the wildfires will no doubt be subject to retribution from the rest of the L/NP criminal cartel).

The Yellow Loogy

The Labor Party has nominated itself for a Loogy through the complicity of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Albo and member for the Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon. No long term vision ala Whitlam, Hawke and Keating, no eloquent proposal for transitioning away from fossil fuels, no exposure of the Tory’s malfeasance. They’ve meekly surrendered to the wedge and the dog whistle of coal mining and left otherwise loyal voters like me in WTF confusion and with a likely defection to The Greens as a desperate attempt to get the message through their blinkered short-termism.

The Green Loogy

Nominative determinism, The Greens attack Labor instead of the L/NP climate criminals. Dick Di Natale, the Black Wiggle, forges ahead with his ambition to replace Labor as the major party of the left, dividing opposition to the environmental vandals. The Tories are delighted.

Individual Awards

Expectorant Of The Year. Despite the rigorous competition from a toffee bus load of leaded petrol sniffers there was one clear winner. Smoko, Schmo, SloMo, FauxMo, StuntMo, Nero, the Liar from the Shire, Skiddy – he’s left his mark. On politics and on Engadine Maccas.

Armageddonist, Mammonite, theocrat, megolamaniac, spiv, shonk, treacherous political assassin, humbug, gobshite, racketeer, urger, failed marketeer, spruiker, snake, crony – the man has spread his devious talents across all of politics to ensure Australia’s continued decline in all measures of all things decent and worthwhile. An outstanding effort by an utterly wretched bastard.

The Silver Spittoon. The winner wishes to remain anonymous so that he can continue his behind the scenes work untroubled by scrutiny.

“Doctor LeNumbers” has mastered the dark arts of manipulating data, self-enrichment, monetising of our water and poisoning of our native vegetation. Dr LeNumbers was nominated for the Loogy by “a farmer from Yass” in a back-dated e.mail originating from his own office but he was a walk-up for the award regardless.

Weatherboard Nine laminated PowerPoint certificate for wanton idiocy. Rather than fade into obscurity to focus on his upcoming, somewhat risqué book on his sexual exploits (Sticking To Barnaby) the purple-headed member from New England, Barnyard Juice, has been popping up to pontificate on the issues du jour as a reminder to Bobblehead McCormack that he’s not going away. It’s rumoured that Bobblehead is drafting his own book “Fifty Shades Of Beige” as a counter-measure.

Full Mental Straightjacket – Craig Kelly, a lesson for all non-entities on how to raise their profiles by highlighting what complete arseholes they can be. The only value offered to the country by Kelly is that he, on his own, forms a huge, blobulous carbon sink – albeit offset by his constant emissions of toxic gases.

Bearded Clam Award for Services to Adult Entertainment. The perpetually clammy, ten pin shaped Georgie Porgie Christensen’s commitment to lap-dancing and S.E. Asian slum tourism gets deserved recognition. The Bearded Clam comes bundled with 500 frequent perver points.

Stuffed Koala. Consonant abuser Susssan Ley’s services to accelerated species extinction and fracking is rewarded with a dead marsupial mounted on a bleached coral & charred Wollomi Pine base. We look forward to Susssan’s eventual bodily return to the environment.

Dishonourable Mentions

Melissa Price – A face like a badly packed kebab with high high heels stopping her arse dragging along the pavement, Price has done the country a favour by being totally useless and forgettable. Price has been hidden away in the Pilabara with a jar of mayonnaise and a family pack of Mars bars.

Michael McWhosis? – awarded Bobblehead Of The Year, Mickey Mac, as FauxMo’s Noddy In Chief, actually stated in an ABC interview that praying for rain is a part of the Fracker Party’s drought policy. Fuckwittedness at a heretofore unthinkable level.

The Re-polished Coprolite

The Loogies are open to non-politicians whose notable acts of debasement have impacted the political sphere. Nominees for the Re-polished Corpolite are:

Mickey Wheeliebins. Being falsely fingered as a bin pal by FauxMo was not a factor in NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s nomination. Taking out FauxMo’s garbage is the AFP’s responsibility – abrogated as that may be, eh Michaelia?

Rather, Mickey’s insistence that the population should be scared into obedience and that children need to be strip searched are stand out efforts worthy of recognition. “Oh Mickey, what a pity you don’t understand.”

Barclay McGain – toffee-nosed, entitled Tory twat who is exhibiting all of the traits necessary for high office in the Libs. A real up & comer is this cloistered little munt and candidate for Cock Pocket Of The Year.

* * * * *

What sterling efforts we’ve seen this year. If we survive the Loogies may become an annual fixture. Can the pollies sink to even further depths of mendacity, greed and ruthlessness? I think we all know the answer to that.

“Do you think because Jesus is coming soon that the environment doesn’t matter?” I eventually ask.

“Alex, the Earth is going to be all burned up anyway,” my aunt says quietly. “It’s in the Bible.”

False Idol — Why the Christian Right Worships Donald Trump. Alex Morris, Rolling Stone.

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

710 corporations paid $0 tax on almost half a trillion revenue

GetUp! Media Release

One third of the largest corporations in Australia paid $0 tax in 2017-18, stunning new data released by the Australian Tax Office reveals.

This year’s data revealed 710 tax avoiding corporations had a combined total revenue of $458,632,686,428, and taxable incomes of $10,617,889,645.00. They include:

  • Woodside Petroleum: $0 tax on $6.3 billion revenue, $1.2 billion taxable income
  • Shell Energy Holdings: $0 tax on $4.5 billion revenue, $200 million taxable income
  • Atlassian: $0 tax on $1 billion in revenue, $138 million taxable income
  • Goldman Sachs: $0 tax on $480 million revenue, $14 million taxable income
  • Chevron: $0 tax on $5.2 billion revenue
  • Santos: $0 tax on 3.4 billion revenue

It’s clear that the government has had little success in cracking down on corporate tax dodgers, as 100 companies have paid $0 in tax over the last five years.

GetUp Campaigns Director Ed Miller said the ATO data shows successive governments have failed to deal with corporate tax cheats:

“People are sick of waking up each December to find out they’ve personally contributed more tax than massive corporations like Exxonmobil and Goldman Sachs.

“Wages have flatlined, everyday people are feeling the brunt of a stagnating economy and still paying more tax than some of the worlds biggest corporations. It’s just not fair.

“There are people working part time on Newstart who are contributing more tax than these corporate tax cheats. The Morrison Government should be ashamed.”

“Our broken tax system is one of the main reasons inequality is skyrocketing and more than three million people in this country are forced to live in poverty.

“When a third of the biggest corporations are getting away with not paying a single cent of tax, it’s clear something in the system is seriously broken.

“It’s time for the Morrison Government to step up and force these corporations to contribute their fair share.”

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 3)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 2

‘White America’ Manifesti

Reading El Paso’s manifesto may help to understand ‘the reasoning’ behind the attack. This is what Crusius wrote:

The Inconvenient Truth About Me

In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto. This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. [Emphasis added]

I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion. Some people will think this statement is hypocritical because of the nearly complete ethnic and cultural destruction brought to the Native Americans by our European ancestors, but this just reinforces my point.

The natives didn’t take the invasion of Europeans seriously, and now what’s left is just a shadow of what was. My motives for this attack are not at all personal. Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read The Great Replacement.

This manifesto will cover the political and economic reasons behind the attack, my gear, my expectations of what response this will generate and my personal motivations and thoughts.

Political Reasons

In short, America is rotting from the inside out, and peaceful means to stop this seem to be nearly impossible. The inconvenient truth is that our leaders, both Democrat AND Republican, have been failing us for decades.

They are either complacent or involved in one of the biggest betrayals of the American public in our history. The takeover of the United States government by unchecked corporations. I could write a ten page essay on all the damage these corporations have caused, but here is what is important.

Due to the death of the baby boomers, the increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric of the right and the ever increasing Hispanic population, America will soon become a one party-state. The Democrat party will own America and they know it. [Emphasis added]

They have already begun the transition by pandering heavily to the Hispanic voting bloc in the 1st Democratic Debate. They intend to use open borders, free healthcare for illegals, citizenship and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters.

With policies like these, the Hispanic support for Democrats will likely become nearly unanimous in the future. The heavy Hispanic population in Texas will make us a Democrat stronghold. Losing Texas and a few other states with heavy Hispanic population to the Democrats is all it would take for them to win nearly every presidential election.

Although the Republican Party is also terrible. Many factions within the Republican Party are pro-corporation. Pro-corporation = pro-immigration. But some factions within the Republican Party don’t prioritize corporations over our future.

So the Democrats are nearly unanimous with their support of immigration while the Republicans are divided over it. At least with Republicans, the process of mass immigration and citizenship can be greatly reduced.

Economic Reasons

In short, immigration can only be detrimental to the future of America. Continued immigration will make one of the biggest issues of our time, automation, so much worse. Some sources say that in under two decades, half of American jobs will be lost to it.

Of course some people will be retrained, but most will not. So it makes no sense to keep on letting millions of illegal or legal immigrants flood into the United States, and to keep the tens of millions that are already here. Invaders who also have close to the highest birthrate of all ethnicities in America.

In the near future, America will have to initiate a basic universal income to prevent widespread poverty and civil unrest as people lose their jobs. Joblessness in itself is a source of civil unrest.

The less dependents on a government welfare system, the better. The lower the unemployment rate, the better. Achieving ambitions social projects like universal healthcare and UBI would become far more likely to succeed if tens of millions of dependents are removed.

Even though new migrants do the dirty work, their kids typically don’t. They want to live the American Dream which is why they get college degrees and fill higher-paying skilled positions. [Emphasis added]

This is why corporations lobby for even more illegal immigration even after decades of it of happening. They need to keep replenishing the low-skilled labor pool. Even as migrant children flood skilled jobs, Corporations make this worse by lobbying for even more work visa s to be issued for skilled foreign workers to come here.

Recently, the senate under a REPUBLICAN administration has greatly increased the number of foreign workers that will take American jobs. Remember that both Democrats and Republicans support immigration and work visas. Corporations need to keep replenishing the labor pool for both skilled and unskilled jobs to keep wages down.

So Automation is a good thing as it will eliminate the need for new migrants to fill unskilled jobs. Jobs that American s can’t survive on anyway. Automation can and would replace millions of low-skilled jobs if immigrants were deported. This source of competition for skilled labor from immigrants and visa holders around the world has made a very difficult situation even worse for natives as they compete in the skilled job market.

To compete, people have to get better credentials by spending more time in college. It used to be that a high school degree was worth something. Now a bachelor’s degree is what’s recommended to be competitive in the job market.

The cost of college degrees has exploded as their value has plummeted. This has led to a generation of indebted, overqualified students filling menial, low paying and unfulfilling jobs.

Of course these migrants and their children have contributed to the problem, but are not the sole cause of it.

The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations.

Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly over harvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax”.

Water sheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent.

Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just [to] wipe water off our hands.

Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn’t willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations.

Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people of this country, but god damn most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle.

So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.

Gear

Main gun: AK47 (WASR 10) – I realized pretty quickly that this isn’t a great choice since it’s the civilian version of the AK47. It’s not designed to shoot rounds quickly, so it overheats massively after about 100 shots fired in quick succession. I’ll have to use a heat-resistant glove to get around this.

8m3 bullet: This bullet, unlike pretty much any other 7.62×39 bullet, actually fragments like a pistol hollow point when shot out of an AK47 at the cost of penetration. Penetration is still reasonable, but not nearly as high as a normal AK47 bullet. The AK47 is definitely a bad choice without this bullet design, and may still be with it.

Other gun (if I get one): Ar15 – Pretty much any variation of this gun doesn’t heat up nearly as fast as the AK47. The round of this gun isn’t designed to frag meant, but instead tumbles inside a target causing lethal wounding.

This gun is probably better, but I wanted to explore different options. The AR15 is probably the best gun for military applications but this isn’t a military application.

This will be a test of which is more lethal, either it’s fragmentation or tumbling.

I didn’t spend much time at all preparing for this attack. Maybe a month, probably less. I have to do this before I lose my nerve. I figured that an under-prepared attack and a manifesto is better than no attack and no manifesto.

Reaction

Statistically, millions of migrants have returned to their home countries to reunite with the family they lost contact with when they moved to America. They come here as economic immigrants, not for asylum reasons.

This is an encouraging sign that the Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide.

This will remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc which will make up for the loss of millions of baby boomers. This will also make the elites that run corporations realize that it’s not in their interest to continue piss off Americans.

Corporate America doesn’t need to be destroyed, but just shown that they are on the wrong side of history. That if they don’t bend, they will break.

Personal Reasons and Thoughts

My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn’t exist. The job of my dreams will likely be automated. Hispanics will take control of the local and state government of my beloved Texas, changing policy to better suit their needs.

They will turn Texas into an instrument of a political coup which will hasten the destruction of our country. The environment is getting worse by the year. [Emphasis added]

If you take nothing else from this document, remember this: INACTION IS [NOT ?] A CHOICE. I can no longer bear the shame of inaction knowing that our founding fathers have endowed me with the rights needed to save our country from the brink destruction.

Our European comrades don’t have the gun rights needed to repel the millions of invaders that plaque their country. They have no choice but to sit by and watch their countries burn.

America can only be destroyed from the inside-out.

If our country falls, it will be the fault of traitors. This is why I see my actions as faultless. Because this isn’t an act of imperialism but an act of preservation. America is full of hypocrites who will blast my actions as the sole result of racism and hatred of other countries, despite the extensive evidence of all the problems these invaders cause and will cause.

People who are hypocrites because they support imperialistic wars that have caused the loss of tens of thousands of American lives and untold numbers of civilian lives. The argument that mass murder is okay when it is state sanctioned is absurd.

Our government has killed a whole lot more people for a whole lot less. Even if other non-immigrant targets would have a greater impact, I can’t bring myself to kill my fellow Americans. Even the Americans that seem hell-bent on destroying our country.

Even if they are shameless race mixers, massive polluters, haters of our collective values, etc. One day they will see error of their ways. Either when American patriots fail to reform our country and it collapses or when we save it. But they will see the error of their ways. I promise y’all that.

I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems. Also because it’s completely unnecessary and selfish. 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics form interracial unions at much higher rates than average. [Emphasis added]

Yet another reason to send them back. Cultural and racial diversity is largely temporary. Cultural diversity diminishes as stronger and/or more appealing cultures overtake weaker and/or undesirable ones.

Racial diversity will disappear as either race mixing or genocide will take place. But the idea of deporting or murdering all non-white Americans is horrific. Many have been here at least as long as the whites, and have done as much to build our country.

The best solution to this for now would be to divide America into a confederacy of territories with at least 1 territory for each race. This physical separation would nearly eliminate race mixing and improve social unity by granting each race self-determination within their respective territory(s).

My death is likely inevitable.

If I’m not killed by the police, then I’ll probably be gunned down by one of the invaders. Capture in this case [is] far worse than dying during the shooting because I’ll get the death penalty anyway. Worse still is that I would live knowing that my family despises me.

This is why I’m not going to surrender even if I run out of ammo. If I’m captured, it will be because I was subdued somehow.

Remember: it is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit. AKA Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets.

Even though you might out gun a security guard or police man, they likely beat you in armor, training and numbers. Do not throw away your life on an unnecessarily dangerous target. If a target seems too hot, live to fight another day.

My ideology has not changed for several years. My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I [am] putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack.

This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist anyway and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that. [Emphasis added]

Many people think that the fight for America is already lost. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is just the beginning of the fight for America and Europe. I am honored to head the fight to reclaim my country from destruction.” (Information Clearing House: Walmart Shooter Manifesto).

The El Paso massacre provided a stark reminder of a looming crisis in America: the threat of ‘white nationalist terrorism’. And yet the United States lacks the legal tools to fight it. The U.S. has no specific domestic counterterrorism statute, with federal laws written after 9/11 targeting international groups like al-Qaeda. As home-grown extremists wreak increasing havoc, the legislature has left a gap between threats of violence and avenues for prosecution. However, the federal authorities are taking the rare step of treating Crusius as a domestic terrorist. “We are treating this case as a domestic terrorism case”, John Bash, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said. “And we’re going to do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice.”

In the manifesto there is the rhetoric and then there is the ideology of ‘white supremacy.’ Several Democrats vying for the presidential nomination have said flatly that President Trump is a white supremacist, reinforced by a media chorus which included the shooters as well, especially the El Paso shooter. The Democrats as a whole tend to accuse Republicans and conservatives of having strong racist leanings if not ‘white supremacist’ ones. It makes sense that if President Trump is a white supremacist his loose tongue would inspire the like-minded.

Ross Douthat, a columnist at The New York Times, claimed that the political motivations of the shooters are less important than the personal ones, that the white nationalism of these “internet failsons is like the allegiance to an imaginary caliphate that motivated the terrorists whose depredations helped get Trump elected in the first place. It’s often just a carapace, a flag of convenience, a performance for the vast TV-and-online audience that now attends these grisly spectacles, with a malignant narcissism and nihilism underneath.” (‘The Nihilist in Chief’, The New York Times, 6 August 2019).

Continued tomorrow … (Part 4)

 

* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (part 1)

By Dr George Venturini  

5. Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti

The play

From the mid-1990s to around 2006 the Australian Government, some statutory authorities and public service were implicated in attempts to subvert the United Nations Oil-for-Food programme. Australia’s major involvement revolved around a former statutory body – The Australian Wheat Board and eventually the offspring A.W.B. Ltd. Here are the ever-changing libretto and some of the major players in the A.W.B. scandal.

The performers and some extras:

John Howard: Australian Prime Minister since March 1996, Leader of the Australian Liberal Party which governed federally in coalition with the National Party until 2007. (Counter – tenor).

Alexander Downer: Australian Foreign Minister who, jointly with Mark Vaille, administered the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, D.F.A.T. (Mezzo soprano).

Mark Vaile: Minister for Trade and Investment who, jointly with Alexander Downer, administered the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. (Basso – shallow).

Others in the cast (in alphabetical order, but not of appearance or importance).

Robert Bowker: Dr. Bowker is a specialist on Middle East and Islamic issues. In Canberra, Dr. Bowker has been the Director of the Middle East Section of DFAT three times, most recently in 1999-2000. From 2001-2003 he was seconded from DFAT to the Directing Staff of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies at the Australian Defence College, Canberra. He served as Ambassador to Egypt. He also denied removing a crucial A.W.B. letter on Jordanian trucking firms from the department’s files.

Jane Drake-Brockman: Ms. Drake-Brockman was a senior DFAT head. She denied removing a crucial A.W.B. letter on Jordanian trucking firms from the department’s files and lying about it. The faxed letter, signed by an A.W.B. executive, Charles Stott, disappeared despite an official search for it. The fax was sent to the department on 30 October 2000, three days before Ms. Drake-Brockman signed a reply granting A.W.B. permission to enter into “a commercial arrangement” with a Jordanian trucking firm.

Mark Emons: Mr. Emons, a former A.W.B. executive who told the Cole Inquiry that illicit payments had been going to Iraq to facilitate Australian wheat sales for years, even back to when it was still a statutory Australian Government authority in 1999.

Trevor Flugge: Mr. Flugge, a former chairman of the Australian Wheat Board then A.W.B. Ltd. following the privatisation of the government corporation. Flugge was paid almost a million dollars for his work as a consultant marketing grain in Iraq. He was a director of a number of companies, including Woolmark and Wesfarmers. Several A.W.B. executives, including senior managers Mark Emons, Nigel Officer and Tim Snowball, gave evidence to the Inquiry that Flugge, who was voted out as chairman in 2002, knew that irregular payments were being made to Iraq and allowed it to happen because he did not want to lose valuable contracts to competitors.

Dominic Hogan: Former sales executive for A.W.B., Dominic Hogan gave detailed evidence about exorbitant fees being paid to secure wheat deals, including a four million American dollars payment to a Pakistani agent for a one million tonne shipment of wheat.

Andrew Lindberg: From 2000 until February 2006 he held the positions of managing director and board member of A.W.B. Ltd. He resigned from these positions in the wake of his appearance at the Cole Inquiry.

Michael Long: Former A.W.B. executive who told the Inquiry that he had discovered, when he was in Baghdad for the Howard Government immediately after the war in June 2003, that the A.W.B. had been involved in ‘kickbacks’ to Iraq.

Mohammed Medi-Saleh: Iraqi trade minister under Saddam Hussein. Medi-Saleh claimed seven years of sanctions had cost the Iraqi Government more than US$100bn from oil sales and had led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Alistair Nicholas: Austrade commissioner in Washington during 2000.

Brendan Stewart: Mr. Stewart was elected by the directors as chairman on 14 March 2002 and re-elected chairman on 13 March 2003. He was also a non-executive director of A.W.B. (International) Ltd. Stewart operated a 3,200-hectare property which produces grain, cotton and cattle at Chinchilla, Queensland. He is a former President of Queensland Graingrowers Association and Grains Council of Australia and was Chair of the Joint Ministerial Working Group on the Australian Wheat Board Restructure and Vice President of National Farmers Federation.

Michael Thawley: Former Australian ambassador to the United States, he lobbied Congress to drop an investigation into allegations that Australia’s wheat exporter paid ‘kickbacks’ to Saddam Hussein’s régime.

Ouverture

The Iraq Inquiry Report (2009-2016) documented how Prime Minister Tony Blair committed Great Britain to war early in 2002, lying to the United Nations, to Parliament, and to the British people, in order to follow President George W. Bush, who had planned an aggression on Iraq well before September 2001.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard conspired with both reckless adventurers, purported ‘to advise’ both buccaneers, sent troops to Iraq before the war started, then lied to Parliament and to the Australian people. He continues to do so. And the evidence? And, should he and his cabal be charged with war crimes?

The ‘official’ view is this: in mid-April 2003 the United States invited the United Kingdom and Australia to participate in the setting up of an Iraq Survey Group.

The Iraq Survey Group was to be a fact-finding mission, mainly interested in weapons, ostensibly sent by the multinational force, but in fact directly responsible to Donald Rumsfeld, then United States Secretary of Defense. The Group was to find the weapons of mass destruction alleged to be possessed by Iraq and which had been the main apparent reason for the invasion, but also to seek for evidence of ‘war crimes’ and ‘terrorism’. The Group consisted of a 1,400-member international team organised by the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency to hunt for the alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological agents, and any supporting research programmes and infrastructure which could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The Group’s final report, commonly referred to as the Duelfer Report (Charles A. Duelfer is Chairman of Omnis, Inc., a consulting firm in aerospace, defence, intelligence, training, and finance, and the author of Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq), acknowledged that only small stockpiles of chemical and biological agents which might have been used for the weapons were found, the numbers being inadequate to pose a militarily significant threat. (paras. 91-95, at 443-444).

And now a little exercise for the reader: please, open The Iraq Inquiry and go to the Report and choose Evidence, search the website under Australia, click and the first two entries will be: http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/231498/2003-03-18-telegram-34-canberra-to-fco-london-iraq-australia-commits.pdf#search=australia and http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/235986/2003-01-18-minute-miller-to-ps-secretary-of-state-dfid-uk-us-australia-talks-in-washington-22-january.pdf.

The latter document, dated 18 January 2003 is interesting: it points to a meeting to be had in Washington amongst U.K.-U.S.-Australia on 22 January 2003, following up to the first of U.K.-U.S. talks on the subject held on November 2002. Introduced by a high functionary of the Department of International Development, with copy to Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw, it attaches a paper which deals with a number of issues, and was produced by the Middle East Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 15 January 2003.

They are to be dealt with as at the ‘day-after’, meaning by that “that military action will have taken place to enforce Iraq’s compliance with its U.N. Security Council’s obligations and that Saddam Hussein’s regime will have been removed from power (see U.K. paper on ‘Scenarios for the future of Iraq post Saddam’).”

The points touched by the four-page paper are:

1) security “to facilitate humanitarian operations and to provide the foundation for a normal society to flourish and self-sufficient development to begin.” That required: dismantling the secret security agencies; providing “legitimate and transparent law and order and the necessary civil structures”; preventing “internecine violence.”

2) relief and reconstruction, keeping in mind that “over 60 per cent of Iraqi population depend for their food on Oil-For-Food.” [Emphasis added] And the main humanitarian issues were: 1) How will the basic needs of the Iraqi people – food, medicine, shelter, power, emergency reconstruction and protection/personal security – be met?; 2) Who will pay for humanitarian operations?  What is the future of Oil-For-Food?; 3) The danger that Saddam Hussein will use chemical and biological weapons to create a diversionary, humanitarian catastrophe; 4) There will be a need to move quickly from relief towards reconstruction and to generate local Iraqi economic activity.

3) political aspects. “We want to replace Saddam Hussein with something much better. How big should our level of ambition be in promoting political reform? To what extent should we commit ourselves publicly to this?”

The paper went on to present issues such as Kurdish and Shia aspirations, the matter of international legitimacy and the problems of an interim administration under U.N. auspices. Some of these issues had already been discussed in the U.K. paper: ‘Interim administration for Iraq: what, who and how’ of October 2002. For instance: “to what extent should we root out Ba’ath party elements?” a question already considered in another U.K. paper: “Interim administration in Iraq” of 12 December 2002. The interim administration would have “to set in hand a process to allow new political structures to emerge.”

4) economics matters. “One of the keys to [economic reconstruction and reform] will be ensuring that Iraq’s oil revenues are maintained consistent with the effect on the global oil market, particularly with reference to contracts signed by Saddam Hussein with foreign companies. “The UK preference would be to suspend/lift sanctions shortly after the installation of the interim administration, while maintaining a broad and rigorous arms embargo on Iraq.” And would promoting economic reform from a centrally controlled, military-industrial economy lead to an open, free market one – to the I.M.F. and World Bank?

5) One final concern was for the environment in case Saddam Hussein “sabotage the oil industry, rather than let it fall into the enemies’ hands. Are we prepared for putting out oil fires, as in Kuwait? [Saddam Hussein] may deliberately spill oil into the great rivers of Iraq or into the Gulf. Do we have an environmental clean-up plan?”

The aggression on Iraq, premeditated as early 2002 – at least, was intended to transform the country into a client state, but with different masters – quite likely Vice President Cheney’s oilmen.

Some observations seem in order here. They are based on the ‘official’ version of events.

1) Commander-in-Chief Bush “telephoned Prime Minister Howard shortly after 0.600 local time on 18 March” and made “the formal request for Australia to participate in any military intervention in Iraq.”

2) The preceding document is dated 18/03/2003 at 06:00 and was sent out to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to posts in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, India, Canada, Japan, UKMILREP CENTCOM and Wellington.

3) After President’s Bush call, “Howard immediately called a further meeting of full Cabinet,

4) at the end of which he announced in a live television broadcast that a decision had been taken to commit Australia troops to any US-led coalition to disarm Iraq.”

Decision? By whom? When? Where? Nothing was said about that. Her Majesty’s Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia had spoken and who would dare in or out of Parliament to ask questions?

The decision – in the words of Howard – was “legal [and] it was directed towards the protection of Australian national interest.” It is a case of ‘Prime Minister Howard said so’. Well educated lawyers, as against pettifoggers, would call this a case of ipse dixit, an assertion without proof, or a dogmatic expression of opinion.

5) Only at 2.03 p.m. Howard began his announcement to Parliament of “the Government’s decision to commit Australian Defence Force elements in the region to the international coalition of military forces prepared to enforce Iraq’s compliance with its international obligations under successive resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, with a view to restoring international peace and security in the Middle East region.” (Commonwealth of Australia, Hansard, House of Representatives, p. 12505, 18 March 2003).

6) The preceding document is written (see point 2) as if it were a record of what happened during the afternoon of 18 Mach and the following day.

The time sequence is really as follows: call from President Bush, telecast to the people, information to Parliament.

As for debate, what followed was a mockery, truly worthy of the pantomime which passes for ‘parliamentary democracy’ in a Governor-Generalate imitation of the ramshackle Westminster System.

Prime Minister Howard said in the document, maintained in Parliament and ever since, as in the 9 April 2013 speech to the Lowy Institute of Sydney, that “the Iraq issue was one of morality and not just of legality.”

Legality may be seriously affected by what was revealed in communication by Mr. James O’Neill, a distinguished Queensland Barrister at law and geopolitical analyst, in: ‘New Revelations About Australia and the Iraq War’.

Mr. O’Neill writes:

“A newly declassified document, originally compiled by Dr. Albert Palazzo of the Australian Army’s Land Warfare Studies Centre, has been publicized on the ABC’s news website. Professor Clinton Fernandes of the University of New South Wales obtained the 156-page report.

There are two key paragraphs in the ABC report. It quotes Professor Fernandes as saying that the Palazzo Report discloses that the Howard government had decided in early 2002 that Australian Defence Force personnel would be dispatched to the United States Central Command headquarters in Florida to begin planning the Iraq War.

Fernandes goes on to say that the Howard government has already decided, in early 2002, to join the US operation in Iraq. This decision was kept from Parliament, the ADF at large, and the Australian public. [Emphasis added]

The ABC article goes on to detail how ill-prepared the Australian forces were when they did go to Iraq in March 2003. Much is made of the lack of fresh clothing and the poorly thought out vaccination program! This emphasis is completely misconceived.”

O’Neill proceeds to recap “the relevant sequence of events, as they demonstrate what Phillipe Sand called a grand and disastrous deceit. (Phillipe Sand, ‘A Grand and Disastrous Deceit’. London Review of Books Vol 38 Number 14, 28 July 2016 pp. 9-16).

John Howard, the then prime minister, told Parliament on the 4th of March 2003 (the eve of Colin Powell’s infamous address to the United Nations Security Council) that the government would not make a decision “unless and until it is satisfied that all achievable options for a peaceful resolution have been explored.”

Howard went on to make the unequivocal statement that “the Australian government knows Iraq still has chemical and biological weapons and that Iraq wants to develop nuclear weapons.” He even repeated the discredited claim that “uranium has been sought from Africa (sic) that has no suitable application in Iraq.” [Emphasis added] This is an echo of George Bush’s similar claim in the latter’s State of the Union address in January 2003.

On 18 March 2003 Howard introduced a resolution into the House seeking authorisation for Australian military action in Iraq. The resolution claimed that United Nations Security Council resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 provided “clear authority for the use of force against Iraq.”

Howard also claimed that the legal opinion he had obtained supported military action against Iraq.

O’Neill notes that: “Howard to his credit did table the legal opinion in parliament, which is in contrast to the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments that have refused to release the legal advice they received in respect of Australia’s involvement in the Syrian war. They have even lied about when that advice was received, as I have pointed out elsewhere.

The legal posturing was, we now know incontrovertibly, mere window dressing. The Dutch inquiry into their involvement in the Iraq war, and the Chilcott inquiry in the United Kingdom both concluded, along with the vast majority of international lawyers, that the Allied attack upon Iraq was without a shred of legal justification.”

The legal opinion put before the Australian Parliament by Prime Minister Howard was, in the words of Lord Alexander (Robert Scott Alexander, Baron Alexander of Weedon, QC, FRSA was a British barrister, banker and Conservative politician.), ‘risible’. (Lord Alexander, ‘Iraq: Pax Americana and the Law’, Justice, May 2014).

“We also now know a number of other things we were not told in February/ March 2003.” O’Neill continues. “These include the fact that the invasion of Iraq was an agenda item on the first Bush Cabinet meeting in 2001.

We also know that Vice President Cheney’s Task Force had, in early 2002, drawn up a map dividing Iraq’s lucrative oil fields among its corporate supporters.

The so-called Downing Street memorandum compiled by Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of the U.K.’s MI6, and dated 23rd of July 2002, was disclosed in the course of the Chilcott enquiry. That memorandum stated, “military action was inevitable,” terrorism and weapons of mass destruction would be the public justification, and that the “intelligence was being fixed around at the policy.”

O’Neill concludes: “The disclosure in the Palazzo Report that the Howard government had decided in early 2002 to join the United States in its illegal war in Iraq is not a revelation to those who have followed this saga from the outset. That the ABC should note the deceit but then focus on the lack of a change of clothes and inadequate vaccinations says volumes about the lack of pressure for holding those accountable for what is, and continues to be, an appalling war crime.

Successive Australian governments since 2003 have a refused to hold a proper enquiry. The reasons are now even more obvious. The ongoing disaster in the Middle East is a direct consequence of our involvement in a war based on lies and illegality from the outset.” (J. O’Neill, ‘New Revelations About Australia and the Iraq war’, 30 November 2018, johnmenadue.com).

John Winston Howard deceived Australia and exposed himself to the accusation of being a war criminal. Not that it matters to him.

Continued Saturday – Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (part 2)

Previous instalment – The spying on Timor-Leste case … et cetera (part 9)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

El Paso – the United States’ descent into xenophobic barbarism (part 2)

By Europaeus *

Continued from Part 1 

Americans struggle to come to terms with the country’s original racism at a time of weaponised ‘white supremacy’, when domestic terrorism with a white male face poses the greatest threat to their lives. Home-grown ‘white nationalists’ account for most of the terrorist violence and most of the 850 domestic terror cases federal authorities are investigating.

Right-wing extremists are infiltrating law enforcement and the military and obtaining paramilitary training. However, in a racist, Islamophobic society in which white men dominate federal investigations and media coverage, terrorism is rendered a colour-coded endeavour  in which only darker people, Muslims and foreigners get involved.

In addition, a white nationalist president has repeatedly incited racial violence against Latino immigrants, Muslims, Jews, black people and others. President Trump – who has eliminated funding to counter ‘white supremacist’ violence – has promoted policies to capitalise on white fear of replacement by ‘people of colour’. He inspires his followers to commit acts of violence and mass murder against such groups in the streets. (D. A. Love, ‘Mass shootings: The most American way to kill and die’, aljazeera.com, 9 August 2019).

Gun Violence Archive – G.V.A. is a not-for-profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. G.V.A. collects, and checks for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then posts and disseminates it online.

Recent data are as follows:

Number of incidents 34,991

Number of death 9,229

Number of injuries 18,395

Number of children (age 0-11) killed or injured 419

Number of teens (age 12-17) killed or injured 1,921

Mass shootings 261

Officers shot or killed 200

Subject-suspect shot or killed 1,267

Home invasions 1,097

Defensive use 943

Unintentional shootings 997

Such gun violence and crime incidents are colleted/validated from 6,500 sources daily; incidents and their sources data are found at the gunviolencearchive.org website. (Data validated on 16 August 2019, www.gunviolencearchive.org, D. A. Love, the author, is a Philadelphia-based freelance journalist and commentator).

President Trump condemned the El Paso shooting as hateful and cowardly. He promised that his administration would provide “total support”. In a later statement, President Trump announced that all U.S. flags, both at home and abroad, would be flown at half-staff until sunset on 8 August. In a speech from the White House on 5 August, President Trump said: “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.” (‘Trump: US must condemn white supremacy’, B.B.C., 5 August 2019).

On 7 August  President Trump said that he was “concerned about the rise of any group of hate”, whether it was “white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy, whether it’s antifa.” (C. Riotta ‘Why Trump’s plan to label antifa a terrorist group is little more than ‘political theatre’The Independent, 7 August 2019).

Within two days of the massacre, #WhiteSupremacistInChief reached the number one trend on Twitter as critics pointed out that statements in Crusius’ manifesto mirrored comments that President Trump had made in the past, including references to illegal immigration as an “invasion” and calls to “send [them] back”. Media outlets also highlighted an incident in May 2019 where an audience member at a campaign rally suggested shooting illegal migrants crossing the border, to which President Trump responded with a joke. (A. Hutzler, ‘#WhiteSupremacistInChief tops Twitter trends to condemn Donald Trump after El Paso, Dayton shootings’, Newsweek, 5 August 2019; L. King, ‘A cultural reckoning over a president’s language as critics tie shooting to hateful rhetoric’, Los Angeles Times, 5 August 2019). However, Crusius’ manifesto stated that his opinions predate Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and that he did not want President Trump to be blamed for his attack. (Y. Abutaleb, ‘What’s inside the hate-filled manifesto linked to the alleged El Paso shooter’, The Washington Post, 4 August 2019) Former President Barack Obama broke his self-imposed vow of silence on the new president’s leadership to release a statement. In it he said: “We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” This has widely been interpreted as a criticism of President Trump’s specific rhetoric. (P. LeBlanc, ‘Obama ures Americans to reject language from leaders that ‘normalizes raist sentiments’ in pointed statement’, C.N.N. Facebook post, 5 August 2019).

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, brought a town hall meeting in the city to an early close following the massacre. (D. Siders and C. Vasquez, ‘ ‘The numbers are going up’: unfolding El Paso massacre stuns Dem presidential forum’, Politico, 3 August 2019). Ms. Escobar later said that there was also a hate epidemic, with domestic terrorism resulting from the dehumanisation of others. Texas Senator Ted Cruz issued a written statement deploring “this unspeakable evil”. (J. Aguilar and B. Blanchard, ‘Gov. Abbott: 20 dead in mass shooting at El Paso Walmart’, The Texas Tribune, 3 August 2019).

Texas Senator John Cornyn said that gun violence would not be solved by focusing on law-abiding citizens. (‘Congress rarely acts on gun control despite mass shootings’, C.N.N., 4 August 2019) Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said violent video games were partly to blame. (J. Baragona, ‘Republican politicians hit Fox News to blame video games for latest mass shootings’, via thedailybest.com, 4 August 2019).

Several Democratic 2020 presidential election candidates called for political action to eliminate gun violence. The shooting also caused many celebrities and media figures to debate gun rights within the United States, with some condemning the perceived inaction of many political figures in stopping the large number of mass shootings in the country. (S. Dorman, ‘Senseless and horrific’; celebrities call for gun control, decry political inaction after El Paso shooting’, Fox News, 3 August 2019). Moms Demand Action, which had a meeting planned in Washington, D.C., led a march and vigil outside the White House in support of gun control in the United States and the ban of assault weapons. (J. Rodriguez, ‘Moms Demand Action’ group protests at White House after El Paso shooting‘, C.T.V. News, 4 August 2019).

In response to the shooting, some 8chan users claimed that the shooter was “our guy”. The manifesto of the shooter, which had been deleted, was re-uploaded by some users, while others commented that it showed “zero effort”, or claimed that it was fake. (R. Evans, ‘The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror’, Bellingcat, 4 August 2019).

President Trump visited El Paso and Dayton on 7 August, intending to comfort those close to the victims and thank first responders. The President and First Lady also met with the mayors of El Paso (D. Borunda, ‘Live updates: President Donald Trump leaves U.M.C. El Paso after visit with patient families-2:53 p.m. Mayor Margo, Trump speak’, El Paso Times, 7 August 2019) and later of Dayton. (R. Morin, ‘ ‘Oh well’: Dayton mayor confused by Trump’s criticism of how she described his visit’, U.S.A. today, 7 August 2019) In El Paso, protesters showed up at the site of the massacre, with many disapproving of the visit and some claiming that Trump’s attitude and statements had led to the shooting. (S. Romero and R. Rojas, ‘Trump comes to console. El Paso says no thanks’, The New York Times, 7 August 2019; ‘Was Trump’s El Paso visit a turning point?,’ The New York Times, 8 August 2019). The White House published photos and a video of President Trump’s trip; in some photos, he was pictured smiling and giving thumbs up gestures, while the video was focused on Trump shaking hands and posing for photos. (A. Parker, P. Rucker, J. Johnson and F. Sonmez, ‘Trump attacks local leaders as he visits two cities grieving from mass shootings’, The Washington Post, 8 August 2019; ‘Self-promotion: Trump boasts of rally crowd size during hospital visit to console Texas massacre survivors’, Agence France Press, 9 August 2019)  President Trump said that he had an “amazing day” of visits, praising the “love, the respect for” him as president. (M. Crowley, M. Haberman, M. Smith and M. Shear, ‘Trump uses a day of healing to deepen the nation’s divisions’, The New York Times, 7 August 2019).

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador extended his condolences to the families of the victims, both Americans and Mexicans. López Obrador also criticised the “indiscriminate use of weapons” in the United States. (‘Mexico F.M. says El Paso shooting ‘terrorist’ act’, France 24, 5 August 2019). The Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcel Ebrard identified the eight Mexican citizens killed, and the seven Mexican citizens wounded, in the attack. The Mexican victims had come from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua Municipality, and Torreón, Coahuila. (‘Juarense resultό herida en tiroteo’, El Diario de Juárez, 3 August 2019).

Javier Corral Jurado, the governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, just across the Rio Grande, offered his assistance to Texas governor Greg Abbott and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, and said that Chihuahua authorities were ready to assist in any capacity if needed by the U.S. government. The Chihuahua government also directed Chihuahua residents and Mexican citizens affected by the attack to Mexico’s Executive Committee for Victims, and set up a phone line for Mexican citizens who needed assistance. The Mexican Consulate in El Paso provided consular assistance to Mexican nationals affected by the attack, and sent personnel to visit Mexican victims treated at the hospitals. The Secretariat of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the consul Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León would coordinate with El Paso and Ciudad Juárez officials. (‘Consulado de México busca a mexicanos en hospitals tra tiroteo’, El Sol de México, 3 August 2019).

On 4 August the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs announced that Mexico would issue formal charges against Crusius for terrorism against Mexican nationals should Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office support them, and possibly request Crusius’ extradition from the United States to Mexico to face those charges. Were Crusius to be charged with terrorism, it would be the first time in history that Mexico issues a criminal charge of this nature for a crime committed in the U.S. In addition, it would guarantee Mexico access to information about the case. (M. B. Sheridan, ‘Lόpez Obrador says seven Mexicans among the dead in El Paso, plans legal action to protect Mexicans in the U.S.’, The Washington Post, 4 August 2019). Mr. Ebrard also stated that the Mexican government would remain in contact with the victims’ families throughout the investigation and trial, and that they would press charges against the individual(s) or firm who sold the weapons to Crusius. (‘Mexico to pursue legal action after seven citizens killed in El Paso shooting’, The Guardian, 5 August 2019) Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón offered his condolences on Twitter, and also directed a message against Trump. He said that whether the attack was confirmed to be a hate crime or not, President Trump should stop his “hate speech” and “stigmatization”.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned “in the strongest terms the terrorist attack against Latinos … in the Texas city of El Paso” and called for everyone to work together to combat violence born of hate, racism and xenophobia. Recently the U.N. has launched an action plan “to fight against discourses that incite hatred.”

Several South American countries issued travel warnings to avoid certain United States cities, including Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Memphis and Oakland, citing “proliferation of acts of violence” and “growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes, including racism and discrimination.” They warned their citizens to avoid any place with large crowds, including shopping malls, festivals, and “any kind of cultural or sporting events.” (‘Venezuela, Uruguay warn against travel to U.S. cities following mass shootings’, Global News, 6 August 2019) Japan and other organisations issued a similar travel warning, advising its citizens to pay attention to the potential for gunfire “everywhere”in the U.S., which they described as a “gun society.” (‘Gun violence in America prompts Amnesty International and a growing list of countries to issue travel warnings’, The Washington Post, 12 August 2019) President Trump threatened undefined retaliation against countries and organisations which issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence. (D. Jackson, ‘Trump threatens to retaliate against countries like Japan, Uruguay that issued travel warnings’, U.S.A. today, 12 August 2019).

Continued tomorrow … (Part 3)

 

* Europaeus landed in Australia over fifty years ago. Except for the blue skies and starry nights between 02.12.1972 and 10.11.1975 the place has been constantly overwhelmed by what Hannah Arendt called the ‘sand storm’ – a metaphor for totalitarianism.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Distraction, Diversion And Dereliction: A Government With No Real-World Vision

By Loz Lawrey  

In any democratic parliament, they waste so much space and time, bloviating incessantly and indulging in constant tribal self-aggrandisement.

Call them conservatives, right-wingers, contrarians, shallow-minded barbarians, knuckle-draggers, “Trumpanzees” (in the U.S.A.), “Morrison’s Morons”… call them whatever.

They’re a breed. Short on new ideas, but big on ideology and “belief”, they place little value upon facts and evidence.

How can in-depth thinking occur when so much available brainspace is already cluttered with Milton Friedman-style concepts of “free markets” and concerns over “political correctness”, bound together with the mortar of blind faith in an invisible, unprovable deity?

Political ideology and religious belief are siblings, really. How often in the past few years have we heard people say: “I don’t believe in climate change”?

I know I’ve often found myself shouting at the radio or TV: “It’s not a matter of belief! It’s evidence-based science!”

Mind you, I “believe” we all need a degree of “belief” just to get through the day. We have to “believe” in ourselves. We “believe” we’ll wake up tomorrow. When we start to think about belief we realise we’re already full of the stuff, in one way or another.

A mind already occupied by a fatalistic belief in “god’s plan” has little room for the creative thinking that leads to good policy development around nation-building or social equity… to governing, in other words.

Which brings me to… er… our current prime minister and his fellows in the “broad church” of the Morrison “government”.

While the Murdoch media trumpet Smuggo’s popularity with voters, I must say he appears to elicit the same outrage, anger and disgust from progressive Australians (roughly half the population) as did Anthony Abbott.

Does this make him vulnerable to a leadership challenge? If not now, then surely soon, when the gloss of his surprise electoral win loses the last of its sheen?

What will be the last straw for Morrison? I seem to remember that in Abbott’s case it was the offer of a knighthood to Prince Phillip that did the trick.

Australians (even the conservative right) had had enough.

Overnight, Malcolm Turnbull was dusted off and reinstated as coalition leader.

In Morrison’s case, just a few more weeks of non-response to the actual real-world burning of Australia may do the trick, while he focuses on ideological obsessions such as legislating “religious freedoms” (ie. entrenching religion’s right to discriminate in law) and repealing the humanitarian Medevac laws.

Scott Morrison is the embodiment of right-wing evangelical conservatism. He champions beer, barbies, and “belief”. Oh, and “the Sharks”…

Does he champion big ideas? Does he read books? Does he nurture an active imagination? Is he able to visualise a better Australia? Do his “values” include truly valuing ALL of us?

History tells us otherwise. After all, he’s the proud “I stopped the boats” guy, the man who takes pride in Australia’s offshore gulag detention regime where desperate refugees have been detained without hope (ie effectively abused and tortured) for years simply for arriving by boat without a visa.

Why weren’t they simply given visas and allowed to lodge asylum claims? If they’d come by plane, most would arrive with a visa in hand, as this government document from 2015 makes clear.

The whole mess around boat arrivals and offshore detention looks like nothing more than bureaucratic hair-splitting spin, designed to win the votes of bigots by demonising poor people fleeing war zones in search of a better life, as though they seek to invade our country in overwhelming numbers.

The absurd, disgusting, ongoing inhumane offshore detention regime, sustained as it is by the old canard of “border security”, seems to pander to some sort of racist bigotry.

Why must it be offshore? Why not onshore?

The whole cruel business has always been nothing more than theatre, a shadow play designed to create the impression of a government in control, a protective government caring for its citizens. Sadly, its impact upon the health of detainees, both physically and mentally, has been disastrous.

All this while implementing uncaring policies that effectively demonise poorer, unemployed and disadvantaged Australians, such as those receiving Newstart allowance.

Surely the imposition of the cashless welfare card will bring some Australians closer to a state of slavery, with authorities exercising control over the financial choices of individuals?`

As an evangelical Christian espousing “Prosperity Christianity”, Scott Morrison embraces a form of religious exclusivism that says: “my religion is the one true faith”. Surely the exclusion of atheists, non-believers and other “unworthies” is an unavoidable consequence of our pentecostalist prime minister’s worldview?

Does his “lifters and leaners” ideological judgement of each citizen’s social worthiness not stem directly from such exclusivist thinking?

Perhaps our country’s social cohesion relies upon shared concepts, such as the idea that we are all basically well-intended towards one another, or that acceptance and inclusion are natural expressions of our humanity.

Oops! That sounds awfully like a “leftie” or “leftard” perspective.

Rank socialism, even.

Is anyone else experiencing the current assault on progressive Australians? Members of the coalition government seem to regularly attack Australian citizens, demonising some as “lefties”, “activists” (how did that become a dirty word?), “leaners”, “greenies”.

How can a government of civilised beings make such statements, which effectively constitute an assault on half the population?

It’s not belief itself I have a problem with; it’s the displacement of thought, of analysis and consideration that I object to.

Personally, I rejected the “left, right” conceptual paradigm when Abbott came to power in 2013.

That’s when the political divide coalesced in my mind into “empaths vs sociopaths”.

A simplistic generalisation, I know, but it’s the only way I can explain the two conflicting mindsets constantly at war in the arena of our democracy.

Like the U.S.A., Australia has two political tribes, with the brains of conservatives wired one way and progressives the other.

Never the twain shall meet, so how do we resolve this?

Under our current system, half the population or the other is perpetually disgruntled and dissatisfied, if not living in a state of constant outrage and anger.

Meanwhile, so much government energy is spent on what is, at the end of the day, nothing more than ideological puff stuff such as “border security”, “religious freedom” and the “ensuring integrity” assault on workers’ rights.

Right-wing brain farts, long-winded complaints about “political correctness”, ministerial conflicts of interest and controversies… so much of our arena of public debate is filled with swirling nonsense, leaving little time for big ideas and policies for future-building.

What’s worse is the fact that Morrison’s ideological entrenchment results in the casual dismissal of everything he just doesn’t “get”. The arts, for example.

His closure of the Department of Communication and the Arts displays a gob-smacking barbarian ignorance, a complete lack of understanding as to the role of art in society and its contribution to our national well-being.

That ignorance alone should preclude him from holding public office. Without a clear perspective on the elements that contribute to a healthy, well-rounded national mindset, how can politicians come to terms with their own role and serve the public effectively?

And he’s the prime minister, the leader… Surely leadership requires something more than Morrison’s vacuous “beers, burgers and how good’s cricket?” approach?

Today, as large swathes of our nation burn, what is the Morrison government focused on?

Angus Taylor’s lies to parliament, the “religious freedom” legalisation of discrimination, the repeal of Medevac laws, the “ensuring integrity” attack on unions and the right of workers to organise… Integrity? One has to wonder if this government knows the meaning of the word.

Just listen to the likes of Morrison and his ministers when being interviewed. Do we hear a nation-building narrative? Do we hear about the search for solutions to address the great challenges of our time? Do we hear proposals for real-world action?

No, we don’t. We get evasion, distraction, diversion and dereliction of duty.

Australia’s greatest shame is its own government, the one it has chosen…

As Elvis once sang: “A little less conversation, a little more action, please!”

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

Scroll Up