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Indigenous Jews, Indigenous People

inuit village

I’ve spent a lot of time living and working with Indigenous people. I spent a winter in the boreal forest with Indians, five hundred kilometers from the nearest road or telephone. My wife and I spent a winter in an Eskimo village. I’ve eaten raw walrus, raw beluga whale (while it was still alive), beaver, rabbit, caribou, and other stuff you don’t begin to want to know about.

The world recently marked Holocaust Remembrance Day, paying tribute to the six million victims. Well, Prime Minister Trudeau payed tribute to the victims, but refused to identify them as Jews. There have in fact been other holocausts, whether of Jews (think Chmielniki pogroms) or other peoples. Think American Indians.

Rabbi José Faur of Netanya, Israel writes of the Spanish American holocaust:

Not a single soul of the native population of Jamaica, Bermuda, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, Panama, Cuba, etc., survived. …in the course of only fifty years, the Iberian conquerors managed to reduce the population of native Americans from eighty million to ten million. By the year 1600, the population of Mexico was reduced from twenty five million to one million. This is the greatest genocide in recorded history.

Things weren’t as bad in Canada. In South and Central America the natives were a disposable labor force, enslaved to extract precious metals. Canada existed because of trade with independent natives, who trapped furs and exchanged them for guns and other implements which in turn, made their lives so much better. There were wars on or between native groups, sometimes exploited by colonialists and traders, but the slaughter was limited.

In the United States, the land the Indians lived on was often considered more valuable than the lives of the Indians themselves. Various military forces slaughtered whole communities, from infants to elders. At Wounded Knee the men were separated from the women, then ordered to hand over their guns. First the men were shot, and then the soldiers turned on the rest of the villagers. Such predations were so common that the Sioux population was reduced to dangerously low levels. The Lakota People had lost nearly 80% of their people. To keep their tribes and clans going, they raided settlers traveling cross-country, adopting their children into the tribe.

Jews were sent on death marches during the Nazi Holocaust. The Navajo were sent on the Long March. The Cherokee were exiled on The Trail of Tears.

But it’s not just a history of suffering that Jews as indigenous people share with Indians. In fact, when the first colonialists came to North America, many were convinced that they had found indigenous Jews, the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, because of the many Hebrew-seeming practices. The Navajo and Eskimo for example, are very strict, on the issue of “Tumas Ohel,” contamination of a building by death. If a person dies in a Navajo Hogan or Eskimo igloo, the building is forever abandoned. The Eskimo will cut an opening in the wall of an Igloo to let the dead person’s spirit escape, similar to many Jews opening the window in the room of the dead.

Many Indians have a variation on the laws of “Nidda,” menstrual separation. They don’t send bloodied handkerchiefs to a rabbi for inspection, but have their own stringencies.

The Yucatan Indians practiced circumcision, the Incas had a ceremony that resembled Passover, and others had a form of “Yibbum,” where a widow had to marry her closest male relative. To the fifteenth and sixteenth century European mind considered the savages as indigenous Jews, joined together by practice and belief, if not by blood.

There were differences, though. The Jews clung tenaciously to their religion, whereas many South American natives were willing to accept Church teachings. Christopher Columbus was allegedly instructed:

In order that the Indians should love our religion, they should be treated lovingly, and should be given some merchandise and gifts.

Rabbi Faur continues:

Consider the common practice of snatching children from their mother’s arms and throwing them to be devoured alive by dogs, or smashing them against the rocks and throwing them to die in the mountains. The usual way to kill native leaders was in groups of thirteen, in honor of Jesus and the twelve apostles!

So much for loving treatment. The Spaniards were careful though to make sure that no one with Jewish blood, not even Conversos came to their colonies, lest they hinder the loving conversion of the natives.

Rabbi Faur explains the difference between the Jewish and Christian approach to Indians:

A determining factor in the Jewish attitude towards Native Americans is the Jewish view of the “other.” In Hebrew tradition, the “other” is not a “deformed” being, but only a different expression of the “image of God,” common to the children of Adam, the father of all humanity. The Hebrew term kamokha, “as yourself;” connotes a horizontal perspective. The biblical commandment to “love the other as yourself (kamokha)” excludes a vertical perception of the “other,” with all the monstrous consequences that this commandment had in Christian tradition.

Ultimately, the colonialists concluded that the Indians were not the descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes. They knew that their own religion came out of Judaism. To link the savages to the Jews, was to link the savages to Christianity, was to link the savages to themselves. Indigenous Jews was not a feasible paradigm.

When I was in an Inuit village for a winter, my being Jewish was of little import. One woman remarked that I was lucky, because it meant I would go straight to Heaven when I die. A Pentecostal Eskimo explained his fervent beliefs to me, but never tried to impose them.  A friend of mine who spent a year working in Baffin Island told me he never encountered any antisemitism from the Inuit, only from the white support workers stationed there.

There are actually many Native American indigenous Jews. A friend’s Shawnee Indian name means “Walking Knife.” He made Aliyah, moved to Israel about

15th c. Spanish ketuba

15th c. Spanish ketuba

five years ago. Another friend of mine, a brilliant Lakota Sioux Jewish woman, is a warrior: a Vietnam Veteran, who also served in the first Iraq war. Her mother had moved from the reservation to city on the west coast. She found herself taking an interest in Judaism, eventually deciding to study for an Orthodox conversion. From her studies the mother finally came to understand the old parchment that had belonged to her mother’s mother’s mother. It was a Ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract. The rabbi overseeing her study told her she was a returned person, the taken away who finally comes home. My friend’s mother was drawn to Judaism because she was already Jewish, a descendant of a child taken on an Indian raid; adopted into the Lakota people, but somehow never removed from her birth tribe. And although very different peoples, the indigenous Jews and the indigenous Lakota share a core value: a person is defined by his obligations and relations.

scene from movie Little Big Man

Little Big Man

The kidnapped child, adopted into his captor’s tribe is a common theme in literature. The 1970 film Little Big Man (starring Dustin Hoffman) tells the story of a white child raised by the Cheyenne. The movie title was the name of an actual Oglala Lakota warrior who fought at the battle of Little Big Horn. The recent British television series The Last Kingdom tells the story of an English nobleman captured as a child by the Vikings, and raised as a Dane. In the novel Quantum Cannibals, Osnat is adopted by a cannibal shaman, and learns the ways of her captors.

It’s true that many Native Americans are attracted to popular leftist causes, such as the Palestinians. In some areas, Muslims are marrying into tribes, and trying to gain control Indian reservations. In New Mexico, they are grabbing at the Native Art business.

Some natives are unabashed Zionists. I will close with the words of a non-Jewish Indian friend, a Metis named Ryan Bellerose, one of the strongest voices in contemporary Israel advocacy. He starts from the position that Jews and Indians are both indigenous peoples: the former from Israel, the latter from their lands in the Americas:

Ryan Bellerose

Ryan Bellerose

You want to be Jewish? Learn what that means. It’s not just about wearing a kipah and doing Shabbat once in a while; it’s not saying a few prayers sometimes; it’s a way of being, a totality of belief, action and life. You are not white Europeans, you have to stop thinking like them let alone acting like them. You even have a blueprint for it: it’s called the Torah.

…you just need to start being Jewish. The longer I am in Israel the more I am seeing the effects of resisting assimilation on your people. The more I see how important UNDERSTANDING what being indigenous really is.

I believe that indigenous people need to stand up for each other, that we all have something to learn from each other and that it’s a two way street. I have learned a lot from my Jewish friends and I hope they have learned a few things from me as well. So take it from a Real Indian, the Real Jews are the ones who remember who they are and the ones who have no problem telling you who they are. I believe that indigenous people need to stand up for each other, that we all have something to learn from each other and that it’s a two way street. I have learned a lot from my Jewish friends and I hope they have learned a few things from me as well. So take it from a Real Indian, the Real Jews are the ones who remember who they are and the ones who have no problem telling you who they are.

Indigenous Jews and indigenous Native Americans are related through customs and through the oppression we have endured. We are tied together as indigenous peoples, and as warriors. We can learn from each other.

(This essay was presented as the Sabbath sermon at the author’s synagogue)
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Phase Transition: What Can We Kill?

What is the difference between humans and animals? What right do we have to take the lives of the latter for our own benefit, whether for research or food? It’s a

ethical issue?

ethical issue?

challenge often repeated by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who compare the slaughter of chickens in abattoirs to the slaughter of Jews in the holocaust.

We are, after all, made of the same stuff: sinews, muscles, blood and bones. If we get technical and look at genetic structure, we’re hardly distinguishable from chimpanzees. And if you look at the occasional viciousness of chimpanzees, you can argue that our behavior is also hardly distinguishable.

According to many Amazon Indians, animals are people, or at least see themselves as persons. The visible form is merely an envelope which conceals an internal human form. A Jaguar sees the blood of its prey as beer, its own fur as decoration; it brings food home to its wife and children. Our species cannot see through the concealment. Jewish mysticism also tells us that skin is a masquerade, redirecting attention from what it obscures.

Jaguar with prey

Jaguar with prey

Some may argue that we are endowed by God with an immortal soul, and that sets us apart from the animals. It’s a good hypothesis, but unprovable. Should an enlightened creature such as man use speculation as the axiom which defines his moral parameters?

Others may say that it’s higher intelligence that gives us the right to exploit and consume our fellow creatures. If that’s the case, I’m morally entitled to be a cannibal, because I’m much smarter than most people; there may be a few people entitled to dine on me. Intelligence alone doesn’t do the trick.

What about consciousness as a criterion? I reviewed this issue in an essay on the creation of the world. Briefly, the cat physicist Erwin Schrödinger addresses this difficult question:

Therefore consciousness is associated with those of its (nervous system) functions that adapted themselves by what we call experience to a changing environment…. I would summarize my general hypothesis this: consciousness is associated with the learning of the living substance; its knowing how is unconscious.

Chimp Phase Transition

sn-chimpsH

Chimps killing chimp

We parted company with chimpanzees about six million years ago. Our species made its first appearance about two hundred thousand years ago, and has been slowly improving ever since. We’ve built grass huts, brick houses, glass skyscrapers. We eat tubers dug from the ground, genetically improved grains, animals we’ve hunted or tamed. Our cousins the chimpanzees are still swinging from trees.

We’re complex creatures; some of that complexity the result of natural selection, some simply through random mutation of no specific benefit.   Where do we draw the line? Where is the demarcation point, the phase transition between ourselves and the animal kingdom?

Bucket of Phase Transition

There’s an old children’s’ riddle:

  • Q: What weighs more- a pound of steel or a pound of feathers?
  • A: They both weigh the same.
  • Q: So which would you rather have dropped on your head?

Let’s modify that riddle:

  • Which would you rather have dropped on yourhead- a bucket of di-hydrogen monoxide, or a bucket of di-hydrogen monoxide?

    di-hydrogen monoxide bucket challenge

    di-hydrogen monoxide bucket challenge

This question is sillier than the original version unless we set up some parameters, such as the temperature of the di-hydrogen monoxide in the bucket. It then becomes a question of having a bucket of water or ice dumped on you; the former getting you soaked, the latter possibly cracking your skull, though essentially they are both the same thing.

So it is with mankind and animals. We are the same amino acids, the same proteins, flesh and blood. We’re practically the same genetic blueprint as our close relatives, the chimps. We know now that genes only tell part of the story. Epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene expression that occur without a change in DNA violates the Mendelian principles we were taught in high school biology. The diet of our parents, intergenerational trauma (such as the holocaust) have effects which are passed on to future generations.

Women as meat

Women as meat

So knowing that we share the flesh, that we share the genes of a violent and brutish ape does not tell us anything significant about ourselves. At some fuzzy point in our millions of years of evolution there was a phase transition: we changed from ice to water to steam (or vice-versa, if you prefer). We evolved from graphite to diamond, both solid phases of carbon. We are, after all, carbon based life forms, whose existence is dependent on rare triple nucleus encounters amplified by quantum effects.

Species Phase Transition

detonate diamond

Phase diagram for carbon

In quantum phase transition there are many competing interactions in the vicinity of the critical point between phases, so that minute changes in the control parameter will favor one type of order over another. For water, the important parameter is temperature: cold di-hydrogen monoxide is a solid. When extremely hot, it’s a gas. For carbon we look at pressure; at high pressure the carbon of a pencil lead becomes a diamond. Many say that it’s population pressure that led to the development of agriculture and civilization, to the development of us. What were the “competing interactions” affecting the phase transition that brought humanity into existence?

What is our order? Are we animals, or something different? Are we pieces of coal, or diamonds? Is our consciousness a God-given soul, or an epigenetic fluke? Are we chickens headed for the abattoir, or creatures with the gift of free will?

Humans are a species. We can breed, exchange genetic material with each other, regardless of race or ethnicity. There has been a phase transition, raising our species above animals. It’s up to each one of us whether we choose to remain there, or phase transition back to animal, to ice, to a lump of coal.

Phase regression diagram for humans

Phase regression diagram for humans

image

aztec2

http://www.quantumcannibals.com/aztec/

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Expulsion and the Will to Survive

Historical Wrongs: Deportations and Expulsions

Assyrian Destruction of Peoples and Nations

Assyrian EmpireIn 1300 BCE, the Assyrian Empire ensured the docility of the nations it conquered by expelling peoples from their homelands, and replacing them with other deportees.  The best way for a nation to survive was to humbly submit as an Assyrian vassal state.  The northern Kingdom of Israel resisted, and its people becoming the Ten Lost Tribes.  The southern Kingdom of Judea acquiesced, and prospered for many years.  It was an era of displacement, great suffering, and the disappearance of many peoples.

Disappearance of the Dorset Eskimo

Between 1200 and 1500 AD, the Dorset Eskimo (known to the contemporary Inuit as Tunniq) disappeared from the archaeological record.  According to stories, the Dorset were powerful but timid people, driven out by the newcomers, the contemporary Inuit.  Whether any Tunniq survived, whether they moved elsewhere, is unknown.  It was a time of displacement, suffering, and the disappearance of a people.
(the Tunniq name, though not the culture, is used in the novel Quantum Cannibals)

Expulsion of the Jews of England

edward IIn 1290, Edward I expelled England’s approximately 3,000 Jews.  Having seized their property a few years earlier, he now declared that all money owed to Jews was owed to him.  It was a time of displacement and suffering, as the Jews wandered from one country to another, searching for security and stability.

Expulsion of the Jews of France

The Jews of France suffered the depredations of the Crusades, the burning of the Talmud, the seizure of their property, and finally, in 1305, imprisonment and consequent expulsion of a hundred thousand Jews by Phillip IV.  It was another chapter in their ongoing persecution and displacement.

Incan Mass Relocations

Machupicchu_hb10As the Incan empire grew in breadth and power, the native Incan population became smaller and smaller in proportion to the subjugated population.  Beginning in about 1400, the Incan rulers instituted the mitmaqkuna, where entire communities were relocated to serve the whims of the empire.  The able-bodied men became forced laborers for the Incan, dependent on whatever role the empire assigned them.  It was a time of great social upheaval, displacement, and the disappearance of many peoples and cultures.

Expulsion of the Jews of Spain

expulsion SpainPerhaps the most infamous expulsion of Jews is when Spain expelled its Jewish population, numbering at a couple of hundred thousand.  The Catholic authorities were afraid that Jews would cause the tens of thousands of recent forced converts to Christianity to slip back towards their old religion.  By January 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Muslim armies, and they could turn their attention to the Jews.  Fleeing to Portugal, North Africa, Italy and Turkey, they abandoned homes they had lived in for centuries.  The alternatives were conversion, the inquisition, or execution.  It was a time of displacement, suffering, torture or death.

Expulsion of the Acadians

Acadia was an area of eastern Canada ceded by France to Great Britain in the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713.  As the tensions between British and French continued to rise, the former wanted to make sure that the Acadians, descendants of French settlers, wouldn’t turn against Britain.  The Governor demanded they swear unconditional oaths of allegiance, but by the time the Acadians agreed to this, he was convinced that oaths were insufficient.  About 10,000 people were expelled in the period from 1755 to 1763, when France finally lost its last possessions in eastern North America.  It was a time of fear, suffering and displacement.

The Trail of Tears: Expulsion of the Cherokee

trail of tearsAlthough President Andrew Jackson’s military command and almost certainly his life were saved by Cherokee allies in 1814, he felt no debt of gratitude.  The Cherokee had signed treaties, but these all fell to pieces with the discovery of gold in northern Georgia.  The Cherokee turned to the courts for protection, and won a number of significant cases.  Jackson didn’t care, and proceeded to illegally force 17,000 Cherokee from their homeland.  About 4,000 died from hunger, exposure and disease.  It was a time of death, a time of tears, later known as “The Trail of Tears.”

The Long Walk:  Navajo

longwalkAnother infamous Indian removal was the Long Walk, the forced relocation of the Navajo.  Although Navajo relations with American settlers were initially peaceful, they disintegrated quickly as more settlers moved into their territory.  The U.S. Army went to war against the Navajo, destroying their fields, orchards, houses and livestock.  Some 8,500 Navajo were then marched three hundred miles in harsh conditions to what was supposed to be their new home.  Hundreds died of cold and starvation on the way; many more died at their barren destination.  It was a time of terror and privation, forever etched into the memory of the Navajo.

Internment of the Ukrainians
Internment camp for Ukranians

Internment camp for Ukranians

From 1914 to 1920, over eight thousand Canadians with Ukrainian ancestry were interred as enemy aliens because the western Ukraine was occupied by Austro-Hungary.  Businessmen, farmers, housewives and children were placed behind barbed wire because of a war they had nothing to do with; a war eight thousand kilometers away.  It was a sad period in the history of Canada, a time of hunger, fear and shame for the victims.

The Armenian Genocide

In 1915 the Ottoman government embarked upon the decimation of its Armenian population.  Deportations disguised as a resettlement program were really intended as death marches.  Convoys of tens of thousands of people at a time were marched into barren territory, with no armenian-genocide-02-jpgprovisions for food, water or shelter.  Up to a million and a half Armenians perished at the hands of the Ottoman/ Turkish forces, in the first attempt at genocide of the twentieth century.  Hitler viewed it as an inspirational precedent, as a license to kill mercilessly.  The Armenian genocide was the horror that paved the way for future horrors.

Stalin’s Deportations

In the 1930’s Stalin removed entire populations from their ancestral homelands.  Among the populations who were forcibly displaced were Azeris, Chechens, Ingush, Karachi, Finns, Meskhetians, Crimean Tatars, Black Sea Greeks, Kurds, Koreans, Kalmucks, Germans from the Volga region and Ukraine and others.  Many of those deportations are at the root of contemporary ethnic and national conflicts.  Stalin’s callous brutality led to decades of conflict and suffering.

Internment of the Japanese

JapaneseIn 1942, both Canada and the United States feared that their citizens with Japanese ancestry were potential security risks.  Over twenty thousand Canadians had their property confiscated, and were put into internment camps.  After the war, the government refused to let them move back to the west coast, forcing them to either war-ravaged Japan, or Canada east of the Rocky Mountains.  In the United States, over one hundred and twenty seven thousand Japanese Americans were interned.  It was a time of racism, displacement and loss.

Expulsion of the Lhotshampa

In the 1990’s over one hundred thousand Lhotshampas, ethnic Nepalese, were evicted from southern Bhutan in order to protect Bhutanese bhutan-mapcultural identity.  Living in overcrowded refugee camps in Nepal and India, their only option is to settle in a new country.  In 2008 the United States offered to take in sixty thousand Lhotshampa.  Other nations are willing to take smaller numbers.   Efforts at repatriation have been hampered by Bhutanese government resistance, and by the seizure of Lhotshampa land and property.  There is stress, there is displacement, there is suffering, but there is also hope.

Culture carries no privilege to exist.  Cultures do not have value simply because they are.  Some cultures, the world is better off without.”- Terry Goodkind

Conclusion: An Aggressive Creed

In the twenty-first century, followers of an aggressive creed are living as ordinary citizens in Europe, Australia and the Americas.  They have full rights, and not subject to any serious discrimination.  Many followers of this creed refuse to give up their aggressive ways, committing violence, while at the same time claiming victim status.  Bombing buildings and trains, marathons and airplanes, they exploit the sense of equality and justice of the societies they dwell in.  Thousands of ordinary civilians have been killed as a result.  If the followers of this creed are not expelled, or deported, it will be a time of terror, a time of tears.  Their callous brutality will lead to decades of conflict and suffering.

Palmira Silva, beheaded by Muslim convert in UK

Palmira Silva, beheaded by Muslim convert in UK

Europe, Australia and the Americas can’t reject expulsion based on what happened in the past.  It would be learning the wrong lesson from history, because it’s different this time around.  It’s not racism, it’s not nationalism.  The followers of this aggressive creed shouldn’t be expelled because of who they are, but because of what they do.  It’s the only way for western civilization to survive.

Your comments are welcome
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Angels of Jihad, Angels of Apathy

Muselmann- at the edge of becoming angels

Muselmann; original art by Esti Mayer

Electricity has made angels of us all…  Unlike print, TV doesn’t transport bits of classified information.  Instead it transports the viewer.  It takes his spirit on a trip, an instant trip.  On live shows, it takes his spirit to real events in progress.

But here a contradiction occurs: though TV may make the viewer’s spirit an actual witness to the spectacle of life, he cannot live with this.  If he sees a criminal making ready to murder a sleeping woman & can’t interfere, can’t warn her, he suffers & is afflicted because his being is phantasmal.

So he participates solely as a dreamer, in no way responsible for events that occur.
-Edmund Carpenter

Disembodied Angels

The photojournalist/ advocate James Foley was brutally executed in a scene grizzlier than anything on Game of Thrones.  Just as in the television series, people were both enthralled and appalled by the scene.  And as in the television series, the viewers were unable to do anything, as they were present only as disembodied angels.

Are we all helpless in the face of Islamist brutality?  Is there anyone who can do something to stop these beasts?  The United States revealed that it had launched a rescue mission this summer, but the kidnap victims weren’t at the anticipated location.  President Obama denounced Foley’s executioners, saying “they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”

Then the President returned to the golf course.

On network TV, everything gets equalized.  News, drama, comedy are all subject to commercial breaks.  The viewer is immersed in emotional turmoil, and then told how to improve his golf swing.  Sometimes there’s more drama in the ads, especially when they’re fundraising for abused pets, sick or hungry children.  If they’re too disturbing, we don’t even have to get up to express our apathy by changing the channel.

Golf and Beheading

Specialty TV programming is more relentless.  There are no commercial breaks, no escapes in Game of Thrones.  You don’t witness a beheading, and then return to golf.  It’s literary quality drama in a fantasy setting.

It’s much better entertainment then the Palestinian-Israel conflict.  While the former stage cheap melodrama, Israel pushes reality and facts.  A missile strike in Gaza is a theatrical production, with “corpses” wiggling under sheets.  Bloody photos from Syria or even Israel are captioned as Palestinian victims under fire.  Israel doesn’t engage in theatrics, and so when rockets  land they aren’t worthy of the news. For a generation that doesn’t relate images and programs back to the real world, the melodrama carries the day.

Was James Foley’s execution something to be taken seriously?  Was Daniel Pearl’s beheading twelve years earlier a turning point?  How concerned was the President, if it didn’t interfere with his golf schedule?

Angels of Apathy

Unlike their parents, the young are less anxious to validate images by reference back to observable reality.  That need arose largely from conditions unique to literacy, and literacy exercises little control in their lives.  Today’s images are self-sufficient.
-Edmund Carpenter

Carpenter published his observations in nineteen seventy-two.  The “young” he describes are now old, or at least seriously middle-aged.  It’s a series of generations that doesn’t have to relate the images, the programs, even the news back to observable reality.  Since the sounds and images are from a phantasmal world, it’s easy to be apathetic.

Game of Thrones, James Foley, ISIS, the massacres of the Yazidis (replicating some of the scenes from the novel Quantum Cannibals), Breaking Bad… which are more capable of holding our attention?  Dr. Jay Corwin, commenting on Foley’s beheading, states that “People with no common sense at all think it’s just a video game.”  Will James Foley or Daniel Pearl reboot, and start again?

Video Game Jihad

Perhaps the video game metaphor is appropriate for the Jihadis coming from western countries, such as Great Britain

Golf after the beheading

Golf after the beheading

and Canada; they get to play for real.  You can’t smell the blood of your victims on X-Box. Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Medal of Honor may be greater inspirations for Muslim youth than the Koran.  And if they die in the course of the game, they reboot to paradise with seventy two virgins- houris, a specialized form of angels.

Carpenter’s “young” must learn to relate the images confronting them back to observable reality.  They must learn that the threats to their civilization, to their lives are more than angels, phantasms.  If the people of the west treat the images confronting them as a dream on a TV channel, or abandoned for a game of golf, they will be responsible for the nightmare that descends upon them.

 

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The Dark Ages Are Coming

Winter is coming

The death, or at least the Dark Age of Western Civilization is quickly approaching.  We’re surrendering in battles that we’ve fought for decades, even centuries.  And they’re conflicts in which the West was heading towards overwhelming victories.

It’s not too long ago that the Muslim world seemed poised to join Western civilization.  The United States and its allies had forced democracy on Iraq and Afghanistan.  Pakistan seemed ready to elect a female Prime Minister, Benazir Bhuttotruly a revolutionary act in a misogynist society.  The Palestinian Authority spoke about peace with Israel, as they continued to receive massive amounts of aid.

But less than ten years later Pakistan is as hostile to the West as ever, with its Intelligence forces protecting, rather than hunting for terrorists.  The Palestinian Authority has united with Hamas, a terrorist organization.  The Afghan government, brought into being by western intervention, was growing hostile to the West even before the United States traded for the freedom of some of its most brutal enemies. The government in Iraq is collapsing, as its second largest city, Mosul, has been taken by the Islamist forces now advancing on Baghdad.

(The main character in the novel Quantum Cannibals is based on the historical leader of the Academy in 16th century Mosul.  She flees to avoid brutal invaders who impose an oppressive religious code.)

Does it matter?  American voices are already rising, saying ‘hands off; it’s not our problem.’  But it is.

  1. Iran, the arch-nemesis of western secular democracy, is stepping in to help the Iraqi government.  This is logical, as Shia Muslims make up the majority of both nations. If the West throws Iraq under the bus, Iraq would likely establish an alliance with Iran, greatly strengthening its power and influence.  This would be bad for anyone on the planet who is not a Shia Muslim.
  2. The capture of Mosul ushers in the birth of a Sunni (not ‘sunny’) caliphate.  ISIS, i.e. the Islamic State in Iraqmosul execution and Syria wants to restore Islam as a dominant power of the world.  While the name speaks of Iraq and Syria, its leaders are not necessarily Iraqi or Syrian.  The mastermind of the capture of Mosul is a Chechen, half-Christian by birth (Moscow must be thrilled with a Chechen-led insurgency).  Whether it’s a Sunni caliphate with expansionary ambition or a Shia theocracy with apocalyptic dreams, we can count on the region being a staunch opponent of Western values such as reason, rights, liberty, progress, and secular democracy.
    The territory of the caliphate is somewhat similar to that of the Assyrian Empire twenty-seven hundred years ago.  The Assyrians were brutal, laying waste to the nations that opposed them.  There are debates among scholars as to whether they imposed their religious practices on the lands they controlled.  There is no such debate about the contemporary terrorist caliphate.
  3. Iraq is the second largest oil producer of the OPEC cartel.  As the country stabilized, its oil output has steadily expanded.  Putting its production in the hands of Islamist radicals, (whether Sunni or Shia) will de-stabilize oil prices, which will destabilize Western economies.

The West is not as dependent on Muslim oil as it was forty years ago, when an OPEC oil embargo brought the American economy to a virtual stop.  Gas was rationed, heating oil was expensive.  The increased cost of energy was a key factor in the terrible economic inflation and high interest rates which followed, costing many people their jobs and homes.no gas

But the West is not as independent as it could be.  The environmental movement has kept Europe, the United States and Canada from properly developing its own energy wealth.  It forgets that affluence is a precondition for protecting the environment.  The poor have other priorities.

The Ukraine and Poland have extensive gas reserves, which could break their dependence on Russia and Middle Eastern suppliers.  Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has opened up vast new sources of energy throughout the West, but environmental propaganda, funded in part by Middle Eastern oil producers has limited Western energy independence.  “Many oil-rich nations stand to lose a substantial amount of income if fracking opens up an alternative fuel source inside the United States.”  The actor Matt Damon seemed sincerely surprised that his anti-fracking movie was funded by Mid-East oil interests.

In Canada, much of the opposition to pipelines that could transport Alberta oil is funded through the Tides Foundation, an entity which collects big money from anonymous donors, which it redirects to its targeted causes.  Ironically Tides works with the Rockefeller Foundation, which represents big oil money. Old oil and gas producers have harnessed the energy of environmentalists to suppress competition. In a further irony, Russian aggression in the Ukraine has softened European Union opposition to Canadian oil, and the infrastructure necessary to get it to Europe.

Few environmentalists have thought about how their activities relate to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  If they would pay attention, they would understand that the limits to fracking, the delays in building pipelines, have made the new caliphate a much greater problem for Western civilization.  The caliphate is a new incarnation, the third wave of a very old threat, made more powerful by Western indifference.

The Crusades were Christianity’s attempt to undo earlier Islamic conquest.  Wars raged backMarcantonio Bragadino and forth, the tide ebbed and flowed for centuries.  (The novel Quantum Cannibals incorporates a particularly brutal event in that struggle: the Siege of Famagusta of 1570.)

 

At the Siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe.  Three and a half centuries later, has it succeeded?

In 2011 they (Muslims) constituted 25 percent of Rotterdam, Marseilles, and Amsterdam; 20% of Malmo; 15 percent of Brussels and Birmingham; and 10 percent of London, Paris, Copenhagen, and Vienna.”

The Catholic Church recently invited a Muslim Imam (along with a rabbi) to offer prayers at the Vatican.  While there is some debate over what the Imam actually prayed for, we can be confident that no Christian religious leader will ever be invited to invoke Jesus in Mecca.  Is the Vatican, by its own initiative, on its way to becoming the next Hagia Sophia?  The next center of Christianity to be taken over, or in this case turned over to Islam?  While the Pope and Church leaders may consider the invitation to the Imam as building bridges, they may have forgotten that bridges are often important routes for conquest.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople)

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople)

It’s worth noting that something similar happened at another focal point of Western civilization about a week earlier.  The father of an American accused of desertion uttered an Islamic invocation in the White House, while standing next to the President.

A bridge was recently built between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.  The former is a terrorist organization; the latter an organization of former terrorists.  Their partnership allows huge amounts of Western money to pass into the hands of Islamic radicals.  This doesn’t bother the President of the U.S., the acting leader of the free world.

This indifference of the accession of Hamas to the PA is consistent with Obama’s policy toward Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Libya, in which, through engagement and acquiescence, we have seen the strengthening of viciously anti-American forces.”

Acquiescence, appeasement seems to be the guiding policy of the west.  Act peacefully, and others will reciprocate with peace and friendship.   It’s not just appeasement of the Muslim world, though.  The “reset” of relations with Russia convinced its leaders that America was no longer an obstacle.  Russia could take whatever actions it wished on the international stage, whether by annexing the Crimea, keeping a vicious despot in power in Syria, or arming the Islamic terrorist government of Iran.   Appeasement unfortunately is working as well for the Obama administration as it did for Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler.

It’s the consequence of a utopian vision of the world, where reason becomes religion.  It’s an imperial vision because it requires everyone to think the same way as you, to have the same values as you.  That they don’t should be obvious to most intelligent people.

Concepts such as reason, nature, rights, truth, morality, liberty and progress became the hallmark of Western civilization during the Enlightenment, known to its participants as the Age of Reason.  In England and the United States, the Enlightenment philosophers were for the most part deeply religious people, who understood the importance of freedom of religion.  One of them, George Washington, stated in his Farewell Address:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

The French Enlightenment philosophers were for the most part virulently anti-religious.  While England and the United States led the world in scientific innovation and political freedom, France developed the Reign of Terror followed by the despot Napoleon.

With reason as the religion of the West, Judeo-Christian beliefs fall to the wayside.  People aren’t invested in the faith of their ancestors, of their community, and so an alien religion, hostile to their own, is not something to be defended against.berg-phil

The West has lost the will to strength.  The recent commemoration of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy caused one analyst to speculate on the question of whether such a venture could successfully be launched now:

“Obviously not by Obama and Cameron and Hollande, for their uncertain trumpets invite the ridicule of enemies, not the resolve of allies.  But leaders aside, could what America, Britain and Canada did on D-Day be done by Americans, Britons and Canadians today?  Is the spirit of courage and shared sacrifice sufficiently widespread to permit such a thing to be contemplated today?  There is reason to fear the answer to that question.”

ship ram

A Chinese Coast Guard vessel rams a Vietnamese ship in disputed waters

Russia has that spirit of courage, and is exercising its power.  Secured by its financial strength, Communist China’s military is rapidly expanding its size and reach, provoking skirmishes with its former ally Vietnam, and its long-time foe, Japan. The dramatic rise of the Islamic fundamentalism that today dominates global security concerns began with the abandonment of the despotic Shah of Iran by President Carter, under the banner of promoting human rights.  Islamic fundamentalists are not known for their respect of human rights.

The governments of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the new caliphate- all the petty and powerful despots, the terrorists and their lackeys understand that the West, especially the United States, has become a paper tiger.  They know that President Obama’s red lines are drawn with disappearing ink; that the West is tired of war, tired of being the world’s bully.  As long as its foes are willing to negotiate, the West won’t fight.

If it’s going to survive; if its values are to endure, the West must re-learn another lesson from the first American President:

washington

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

 

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Down With Yankee Imperialism!

The imperialist and his victim

Let’s be friends

Right-thinking and progressive people have looked ruefully at the sordid history of western imperialism, grateful for the enlightened attitudes of contemporary societies and governments.  The former colonies are treated respectfully; indigenous people receive apologies, sometimes even financial compensation.  The relation is between equals, not conqueror and victim.

Tourists now visit exotic places that were once considered unsafe; treating the natives with respect has quenched their resentment, quenched the danger.   Relativism has made us all into brothers.

But that’s the ultimate form of imperialism. Relativism has become

…a perspective congenial in an imperial civilization convinced of its power. Every primitive or archaic culture is conceived as a human possibility that can be ‘tasted’; it is, after all, harmless. We, at our leisure, convert the experience of other cultures into a kind of sport…  Relativism is the bad faith of the conqueror, who has become secure enough to become a tourist

Earlier forms of imperialism such as military conquest stole people’s land, their resources, their independence; even their lives.  It didn’t however take away who they were by taming them, erasing their cultural identity.  The latter is the task of the modern imperialist.  In the novel Quantum Cannibals, cultural relativity is a matter of life and death.

Amanda Kijera

not his fault

Sometimes individual tourists pay the price of their society’s arrogance.  Sometimes the danger is from social unrest.  But often the social unrest is the result of false assumptions, that people are going to behave according to western social standards.  Journalists don’t always understand the dangers they face.  Press credentials are not always holy amulets, protecting the bearer.  Even aide workers (another form of tourism) are not immune.  (Right thinking, progressive victims won’t even hold their attackers responsible.  How condescending is that?)

lesson from a victim of imperialism

The Rape of Lucretia

Treat people nicely, we think, and they will be nice in return.  There must be a million different versions of this meme all over Facebook and other social media, accompanied by cute pictures or poetic homilies.

It’s a nice ideal, but it’s not true even in advanced societies such as the United States.  It’s less true on the international front.  One of President Obama’s earliest foreign relations goals was to be friends with Islam; he made a grand speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.  It may have caused some smiles, but today Egyptians consider him a donkey.

Or his “reset” of relations with Russia?  It practically brought us back to the cold war, and gave Russia confidence that it could safely invade the Ukraine.  How about his palling around with the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez?  It didn’t seem to make an impression on Chavez’ successor, who accuses the American government, i.e. Obama, of sabotaging his country.

There are others: Iran, Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority…  The President of the United States of America is trying to make up for past American arrogance, for past American claims to moral leadership.  And in each one of these, America is being mocked, or treated as irrelevant.  America is now a foreign policy tourist, and it’s getting raped.  American imperialists refuse to acknowledge that other countries, other peoples have their own interests and beliefs.  Not everyone has been pacified.  Not everyone reciprocates friendly gestures, or wants to sit around the international campfire, singing happy songs.  Much of the world is not secure for tourists.

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End the Occupation! Boycott, Divest, Sanction…

It’s about half a century since the occupation began, and it’s been brutal.  An alien people, with no history in the land suddenly asserted that their claim was historic; ancient, in fact.  It didn’t matter what the people already living there had to say.  The aliens laid claim to the land, and with the help of international pressure, the United Nations, even the American government, stole the country from its inhabitants.

Half a century later, it’s gotten much worse.  The occupiers have come in large numbers to a beautiful country, imposing their way of life, using their military power to crush the aboriginal inhabitants like insects.

Why doesn’t the world cry out?  Boycott, divest, sanctions…  But no, it’s business as usual.  Foxconn (Apple), Samsung, Hugo Boss, Guess and many others ignore the occupation; cheap labor is more important than doing right.  The United Nations?  They’re too busy on the other side of the world passing resolutions against an occupation that isn’t even an occupation.

West New Guinea has nothing to do with Indonesia.  Not by race, not by culture, not by history.  The only thing they shared

occupation victim, West New Guinea

Aboriginal occupation victim

was Dutch colonial administration.  The eastern half of the island of New Guinea was under British, then Australian administration.   Although New Guinea is home to many different and fractious peoples, East and West, they are all racially and culturally Melanesian.

The Dutch didn’t want to hand West New Guinea to Indonesia.  They wanted a vote, for the people to choose their own destiny.  But America said “no,” fearing Indonesian threats of military force.  The United Nations took control of West New Guinea and handed it over to Indonesia, whose government cancelled the scheduled plebiscite, and banned travel to the area without a permit.

Now, decades later, West New Guinea is overrun by Indonesians, mostly Javanese wanting to escape their overcrowded, native island.  East New Guinea, the former British territory is an independent nation.  It has its troubles, that’s for sure, but occupation isn’t one of them.  We don’t hear too much in the news about West New Guinea, because America and the U.N. supposedly solved the problem.   Now they’re trying to solve the “occupation” problem in the Middle East. They’ll probably cause even more harm this time around.

People who read the novel Quantum Cannibals will be struck by a quaint Stone Age ceremony for naming children.  That ritual comes from West New Guinea, and is probably no longer practised.

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Why did the Garden of Eden disappear?

What happened to paradise, the Garden of Eden?  How are we supposed to get there if we don’t even know where it is?

original art by Esti Mayer; used with permission.

original art by Esti Mayer; used with permission.

There are theories: it’s a spiritual place, not subject to the strictures of a base, physical life.  Alternatively, it’s somewhere in the Fertile Crescent: present day Iraq, Syria, Turkey, or maybe even Iran… we’re not sure.  But it’s somewhere in the most violent region of the world.  For the most part, it’s no idyllic garden, but rather forbidding terrain: scorching desert, difficult mountains.  But we still want to get back.

We often thought we were getting close.  The Russian Revolution hailed the beginning of a socialist utopia.  Chairman Mao’s victory in China confirmed it was at hand.

The Shah of Iran was a brutal dictator, but he was our ally, good for Western civilization.  When U.S. President Jimmy Carter threw him under the bus, it was an act of friendship to the Iranian people; refusing to support an immoral regime.  Surely, this good deed would bring us closer to paradise.

In the late 1980’s we were almost there.  The Berlin Wall fell; most Communist dictatorships collapsed in its wake.  In Pakistan a woman became Prime Minister as Muslims, it seemed, were ready to acknowledge equality of the sexes.  The United States and the USSR signed multiple treaties reducing the threat of nuclear war, bringing peace and tranquility ever closer.

So what happened?  Seventy or eighty million dead convinced most people that Communism wasn’t paradise.  The repressive regime that replaced the Shah of Iran became the seedbed for worldwide Islamic terrorism.  Russia and the United States may have cut back on their nuclear weapons, but Pakistan and North Korea haven’t.  Now Saudi Arabia wants the bomb.  Its arch-enemy Iran may get nuclear weapons because the American regime is offering another act of friendship to the Iranian people, cutting back on the sanctions that have hampered Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

While all nuclear regimes know that launching an atomic bomb will lead to their own destruction as well as their enemies, this isn’t a problem for Iran.  Shia Islam believes that an apocalypse, worldwide destruction is necessary; desirable in fact, to bring about the coming of their Twelfth Imam, their Messiah, who will usher Shia Muslims into paradise (and Western civilization to hell).  The regime has been feverishly preparing for this event.

So what happened to paradise?  Where the heck is it?  So close at times, then a dream out of reach.  Is it an ethereal realm, one promised by so many religions to their own followers?  Or is it a real place, guarded by angels with flaming swords, or maybe terrorists with IEDs?

Kabbalah asked the same question thousands of years ago:  Amorai asked “where is the Garden of Eden?  He replied “on the earth.”

Read the novel Quantum Cannibals for an explanation, and simple instructions on how you can get to paradise.