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CNN’s John Blake spends an awful lot of screen column inches exploring the question of whites as an oppressed minority in America in 2011 and I just shake my head.  The piece is very informative however as far as seeing how the divide and conquer strategy is working wonderfully for Republicans.

The notion that many white Americans feel anxious about their race is not new. Today, however, economic anxieties are feeding those racial fears, says Tim Wise, author of “White Like Me.”

Wise says the recession hit blue-collar, white Americans hard, financially and psychologically.

Many white Americans have lived under the assumption that if they worked hard, they would be rewarded. Now more white Americans are sharing unemployment lines with “those people” — black and brown, Wise says.

“For the first time since the Great Depression, white Americans have been confronted with a level of economic insecurity that we’re not used to,” he says. “It’s not so new for black and brown folks, but for white folks, this is something we haven’t seen since the Depression.”

Economic insecurity is what Colby Bohannan says convinced him to form the “Former Majority Association for Equality.” The association is awarding $ 500 scholarships to five deserving white men because they aren’t eligible for scholarships reserved for women and minorities, he says.

“Living in America, you hear about this minority or that minority, but it’s never been used in the same sense for Caucasian Americans,” Bohannan says. “There was no one for white males until we came around.”

Bohannan says the formation of his group was not motivated by racism, nor will it accept donations from hate groups.

“We’re not trying to promote racial bigotry,” Bohannan says. “All we’re about is helping college students trying to better their lives who happen to be white males.”

Some white Americans not only feel ignored in higher education; they feel excluded by popular culture.

The face of America is changing, says Wise, author of “White Like Me.” American culture has become so multicultural that many of the nation’s icons — including celebrities, sports heroes, and other leaders — are people of color.

“The very definition of being an American is going through a profound change,” Wise says. “We can no longer take it for granted that we (whites) are the dictionary definition of an American.”

Indeed, nearly half of whites (44%) view themselves as an oppressed people these days, the victims of discrimination and bigotry, including some 61% of Tea Party voters.

To which the rest of America is going “Effing really?”

And if you’re wondering how the hell the Tea Party took over the GOP, you have your answer.  Scapegoating minority groups during times of economic tension is a proud and storied tradition in the United States, and it seems every generation or so there’s a new group of “them” coming for “our” jobs and economic freedom.  The election of Barack Obama only solidified the new “them”, everyone who isn’t white.

It explains how Republicans have been able to so easily cleave working-class whites away from the Democratic party and the unions that supported them traditionally.  Dressing up full-out class warfare as racial tension isn’t new either, but the combination of the nations first African-American President and the worst recession in 80 years has formed a nasty malignancy and backlash.

And the Republicans have exploited it beautifully despite their own incompetence.  We now live in an era where police, teachers, and firefighters making $ 50k a year are regularly vilified by people making five million a year as lavish wastrels living off the public dole while the “regular Joe” millionaires are treated like royalty.  Indeed, a person’s contribution to society is measured by their net worth, the richer they are, the more moral they must be.

And since the big guys own and run every aspect of our corporate and government society, of course we believe them when they say the answer is to cut taxes for the super-rich so that they can “create more jobs” while the average American has gotten nothing but poorer since 1980.

That class anxiety is being diverted into racial anxiety.  The true believers think their rewards will be coming just as soon as we remove all the power from the “welfare queens” and the “union thugs” and the “pointy elitists”, all the while finding out much too late the long knives are aimed at their own throats by the corporate overlords that truly have all the power.

The folks taking away the power from working class whites aren’t working class Latinos, or African-Americans, or Asian-Americans, but the new class enshrined by the Supreme Court:  the Corporate American.

And they’re quite happy to watch the other 99% of us kill each other.  More resources for them.  They don’t quite have them all yet, you see.

Zandar Versus The Stupid

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Written by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle

Sympathizers with the student strike at the University of Puerto Rico will stage simultaneous demonstrations in solidarity with the UPR in cities around the world on Friday, March 11, 2011.  Some cities are Amsterdam, Madrid, New York and Manchester.

Global Voices in English

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William A. Cook

“Calls for democracy … stem from …an inner hunger for freedom.”

(Tzipi Livni, Washington Post, 2/24/11)

A beacon is a signal fire, a warning light to guide one out of darkness; as the former Foreign Affairs Minister for Israel noted in late February, “These are days of momentous change in the Middle East …”  Courageous thousands demand their rights as human beings, she intones, there is an inner hunger for freedom abroad in the land. But those courageous thousands have lit a fire that is a beacon for Israel, if it heeds it, a warning that it alone of all the states in the Middle East could be left defying the peoples’ demands for human rights and freedoms. Yet Livni, and Edward Koch last week, went to the media not to announce that Israel would alter its treatment of the Palestinians, they simply ignored the existence of the Palestinians; in the words of Edward Koch, “These uprisings clearly demonstrate that it is not the issue of Israel that is rocking the Arab world, but the presence of arbitrary and repressive regimes.” (, 3/1/11).

How convenient. Israel alone stands immune from the repression and arbitrary policies of the abusive regimes that face the multitudes in the streets. Indeed, Livni charitably intones that “The values and experiences of the Jewish people demand that we embrace the promise of real democratic change, not merely express concern about uncertainties associated with it.” Certainly in these uncertain times Israel can be a beacon to warn those who have an “inner hunger for freedom” that there are dues to pay before they can be granted such freedoms because “world leaders are required to shape events so that our collective aspirations, rather than our fears, become reality.” Translated, Livni on behalf of Israel takes on the mantle of a world leader who, together with other democratic nations like the U.S., must guide the nations of the world through these perilous waters of upheaval by designing a “democratic code” to ensure that new democracies adhere to the Israeli/United States dictates. How convenient and how duplicitous.

It’s obvious now that Israel and its Golem, the United States, have entered the lists of this new world order, thrust on them by forces they did not anticipate, created in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, and Lebanon, with lances drawn and swords displayed. Their response remains, as always, military might exposed for the world to see bolstered by policies of delay and coercion seeded by fear of instability and uncertainty. They remain the only two powers capable of bringing stability to the region even if it must be done by establishing new dictators sympathetic to their interests.

To achieve their ends, the Israelis and the Obama administration have sent their legions around the world to control discussions of the impending changes and response to them. Two major thrusts emerge as guidelines for control: delay and denial. Delay takes the form of concern for the “inner hunger” that must be fed with care that the wolf at the door (read Muslim Brotherhood or al Qaeda) doesn’t devour the food (read freedoms), because not enough time was devoted to preparation for “real” democratic reforms. “The free world has long recognized that democracy is about values before it is about voting,” says Livni silently passing over Israel’s destruction of its neighbors as it demonstrates to the world how “real” democracies operate by occupation and repression. As an example of values, Livni notes that “In Israel parties are ineligible to participate in elections if their platform embraces racist or anti-democratic doctrines.”  Denial takes the form of  omission: she failed to remark on Avigdor Leiberman’s comment, Head of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, an essential component of the present Netanyahu government, describing Arab members of the Knesset that meet with Hamas as “terror collaborators”, (and) called for their execution: “World War II ended with the Nuremburg Trials. The heads of the Nazi regime, along with their collaborators, were executed. I hope this will be the fate of the collaborators in [the Knesset].” (Wikipedia). So much for no racism or anti-democratic actions on the part of members of Israel’s government.

But it’s not only Livni and Koch in the newsrooms to promote delay. Ha’aretz carried an article by Dr. Emily Landau and Dr. Carlo Masala that noted “…the West has forgotten how long the road to democratization can really be.”  It can only happen when its population “embraces the concepts of tolerance and the protection of minority rights.” Here too, of course, the denial continues: they fail to mention Israel’s founding on May 14 of 1948, a simple declaration by the Zionist consultancy issued through the Jewish Agency that the Jews declared Israel as their state; not even the UNSC was involved as the Partition Plan composed by a committee of the UN never made it to that body.  That was not a long process unless one wants to use the terrorists of the clandestine Jewish Agency and its armies that went to war against the British Mandate government as preparation for a democracy. Nor did they mention Israel’s denial of minority rights as Occupiers of another people under International Law.

Then there is the delay caused by the Palestinians who refuse to engage in peace talks, not because Israel refused to stop the building of settlements, even with Obama’s bribe as an inducement, but because they desire to thwart Israel’s “eagerness to return to the negotiating table” by going directly to the UN to force a vote on acceptance of a Palestinian State, what Joel Mowbray calls the “Palestinian Smoke Screen” reported in the Washington Times.

Before the protests, Israel could find no reason to negotiate; now it sees a problem evolving as the world focuses on the mid-east and human rights and sees the glass house it lives in revealed for all the world to see: the Wall that entombs the Palestinians, the checkpoints that deny freedom of movement, the gates that limit egress and ingress, the siege that limits basic foodstuffs for survival, the humiliation caused when a mother to be is denied access to a hospital, the overcrowded conditions caused by denial of building permits, the support of fanatical settlers who beat and maim and kill old men and mothers and children, the absolute dependence forced on them by the Israeli occupation that represses every fundamental right of human decency and respect.

Delay and denial, the tactics used to prevent the very rights Israel claims it wants for the people of the mid-east, must be seen for what it is—the ongoing strategy of land acquisition to prevent the recognition and the creation of a Palestinian State. Should Israel publically accept the right of Palestine to exist, it foregoes the gas and oil reserves off the coast of Gaza and it must relinquish its settlements in the occupied West Bank if justice, as designated by the United Nations Resolutions, is enforced. That is why Livni plays the “democratic code” card—“a universal code for participation in democratic elections … the renunciation of violence and the acceptance of state monopoly over the use of force, the pursuit of aims by peaceful means, commitment to the rule of law and to equality before the law, and adherence to international agreements to which their country is bound.”

Should such a code be adopted by the UN, Israel ironically would be the first nation exorcised from its membership. Indeed Israel has existed from its inception by a code of violence, not assimilation or negotiation; force has been its modus operandi, not accommodation or deliberation; it obeys no law but its own mocking the nations of the world and their International Criminal Courts and the International Court of Justice; and it stands alone in its repudiation of the United Nations in its defiance of that body’s resolutions (more than 160 in the General Assembly and approximately 30 in the Security Council) that it address its obligations and international agreements.

Edward Koch’s claim that the Arab protests point only to repressive Arab regimes denies the 63 years of repressive policies of Israel on the Palestinian people. To suggest it has no impact is to deny Osama Bin Laden’s letters to the world communities that Israeli treatment of the Palestinians was the principle reason for his attacks against America. It denies as well the reality that Governor Kean and his 9/11 Commission Chairmen admitted whitewashing the cause of the attacks. “As both the Bush administration and its client government in Israel, with their invasions of Arab states in Iraq and Lebanon, respectively, make the United States ever more hated in the Islamic world, a new book by the chairmen of the 9/11 commission admits that the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks—that same interventionist U.S. foreign policy.” (August 7, 2006, Ivan Eland).

It denies, finally, how Israel and the U.S. manipulated the “peace agreement” with Egypt to ensure that Israel was protected by creating a dictator that obeyed his owners, those who bribed him to accept 2.8 billion in yearly payoffs from America to incarcerate his own people, fellow Arabs, in the Israeli jail of Gaza and to pretend to engage in negotiations with Gaza’s government, Hamas, while Israel invaded the strip in the Christmas massacre of 1400 civilians. To assume that Israel was not aware of Mubarak’s repressive regime, what Livni euphemistically calls “a leader who kept a ‘cold’ peace and promoted Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation,” is to assume the ridiculous. In short, Israel exists in its splendorous security because it is willing to support dictators that will serve its needs even as they oppress their own people. For this behavior Israel bears no responsibility.

And now, witnessing the people protest the 30 years of oppression in Egypt, that security is threatened because neither Israel nor the U.S. know what government may replace the dictator. Hence the rush to intervene as the Neo-Cons rally to force the President to place U.S. ships off the coast of Libya, to manipulate the Egyptian military to keep Mubarak cronies in office, and to force confrontation with Iran. These are the same crew that lied to the American people to invade Iraq- Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz—the elders of PNAC seeking yet another confrontation in the mid-east. One cannot lead by violence unless one forces violence to erupt, and then divide and conquer. What happens to the people who took their stand in the streets is irrelevant when our warriors turn to their weapons of mass destruction, their word processors, to egg the President on to destroy yet another country for Israel.

Ultimately, this beacon that is Israel sheds its light on the mid-east as a nation that accepts no sister nations ruled by a religion except Israel; rules by defiance of International Law while hypocritically demanding all sister nations abide by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights; declares that a universal code for democracy be applied to all nations except Israel, the only nation to have impunity before the international community; denies the right of sister nations to develop an Atomic bomb including Iran that has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement, while it assiduously denies it possesses atomic weapons which it uses as an undeclared threat against its neighbors; continues its calculated policies of systematic genocide against the Palestinian people as it destroys their cultural heritage in Jerusalem and occupied Palestine by confiscating their land and natural resources while denying them legal rights; and, finally, in absolute arrogance acclaims itself a democracy as it damns Hamas as a terrorist organization, though it is a democratically elected government of Palestine, by condemning its violence against Israel, but denies that Israel is a terrorist nation that defies law, uses violence as a matter of course, incarcerates civilians in the thousands without charge or due process thus abandoning their fundamental rights as humans, creates assassination teams that kill as a matter of course turning such action into accepted policy of a nation state, and invades other nations at will as it did in Lebanon in 2006, and Gaza in 2008/9. That is the beacon that is Israel.


Prof. William A. Cook

William A. Cook is a Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book, The Plight of the Palestinians, was published this past summer by Macmillan. He can be reached at or [email protected].

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Intifada Palestine

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This afternoon, the National Football League Players Association and managers extended the contract deadline for another seven days while negotiations continue

After the extension was announced, Jeff Pash, executive vice president of labor for the National Football League, said he backed the collective bargaining process.

…we are committed to collective bargaining. All over this country, collective bargaining is being challenged. We’re committed to it. We believe it can work.  It has worked. We believe it will work across the country is being challenged and he supports the collectivel bargaining process.

Someone get Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the phone. Oh, the Koch brothers already did.


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Globe and Mail
NFL and players' union call a weeklong timeout | Philadelphia Inquirer | 2011
Philadelphia Inquirer
By Jonathan Tamari WASHINGTON - The NFL and the players union agreed on Friday to a seven-day extension of their collective bargaining agreement, giving them another week to try to avoid a full-out labor war and instilling a measure
NFL owners, players extend collective bargaining talks by a weekLos Angeles Times
NFL, players agree on 7-day extensionTimes Herald-Record
NFL labor talks: Another extension, but gap still big on moneySan Jose Mercury News
Washington Post -Kansas City Star
all 6,322 news articles »

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Elizabeth Eckford walks to Little Rock Central High in 1957

Elizabeth Eckford walks to Little Rock Central High in 1957

While watching the unforgettably hideous (and now viral) footage of the recent anti-Muslim demonstration in Yorba Linda, California, I could not help but think of Elizabeth Eckford, the African-American student who was forced to walk through a phalanx of violent white racists chanting “Lynch her! Lynch her!” during the federal government’s first attempt to integrate Little Rock Central High School. This iconic image was immediately recalled by the video of Muslim-American children walking through a crowd of protesters calling them terrorists, threatening them, and chanting “Go home!” as they proceeded towards a local community center for a charity event. Eckford was badly scarred by her experience; the trauma affected her life for decades. I wonder how the children who had to be marched through the gauntlet of racists in Yorba Linda will remember their experience.

Billed as a “Patriotic Rally,” the anti-Muslim demonstration was organized by official hate group leader Pam Geller, Tea Party outfits including the North Orange County Conservative Coalition and We Surround Them OC 912; and Rabbi David Eliezrie of the Yorba Linda chapter of Chabad-Lubavitch, a messianic Orthodox Jewish group. Though Chabad does not make its political positions explicit, I have learned through first hand experience how extreme its leadership is, especially in Southern California.

In 2002, I took a Hebrew class with Rabbi Eyal Rav Noy (I wanted to improve my very poor reading at the time), leader of the West L.A. Chabad chapter and supposedly a renowned teacher of the Kabbalah. At some point, Rav Noy invited me and some other students over for a shabbat dinner which, given Chabad’s mission to proselytize within the Jewish community, would eventually lead to some form of pressure to join the organization. Rav Noy’s father, who was also a rabbi, led off dinner with a bold prediction: “Within five years, the Palestinians will be eliminated  by nuclear energy!” I was shocked and did not know what to say. At first, I attempted to politely register my displeasure. But nothing would stop him. “Either we use nuclear energy or we transfer them all!” he said. No one at the table seemed to have any problem with these wishes for genocide. “So will you use cattle cars to transfer them?” I asked. “We can use camels. Whatever,” he responded. Several of the men at the table chuckled at this remark. I excused myself from dinner soon after and would never have contact with Chabad again.

Rabbi David Elriezie at the Yorba Linda hate rally

Rabbi David Elriezie at the Yorba Linda hate rally

Chabad’s Rabbi Eliezrie appeared at the Yorba Linda hate rally with an Israeli flag in one hand and an American flag in the other. Other participants displayed the Israeli flag as well. In fact, the Israeli flag seemed to be peeking out from a cluster of American flags that formed the backdrop for speakers including Republican Rep’s Ed Royce and Gary Miller, who both railed against the Muslim presence in Orange County. At 4:06 in the video, the crowd can be seen hectoring a Muslim couple with the chant, “We support Israel!” As even Haaretz has noticed, the Israeli flag is becoming a key symbol for a trans-Atlantic neo-fascist axis that thrives on violent resentment towards Muslim and Arab immigrants. Given the ethnocratic basis of the Israeli state and the country’s settler-colonial ethos, the trend is not ironic or very surprising.

Back in 1957, in Little Rock Central High, an awkward, acne scarred boy sat behind Elizabeth Eckford every day in class, muttering in a low drone, “Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger.” Harassment from him and scores of white students would eventually drive Eckford to attempt suicide several times. Fifty years later, that awkward student, whose name is Charles Sawrie, expressed deep contrition for what he had done. “It was all kind of stupid,” he told journalist David Margolick. “I just wanted to get a name for myself. I don’t remember anything about her except she was black and my job was to make it as rough for the blacks as I could.”

Demonstrators celebrate their intimidation of Muslim families

Demonstrators celebrate their intimidation of Muslim families

On the Facebook page of the North Orange County Conservative Coalition, adults who behaved just as Sawrie did as a high school student in the Jim Crow South are overflowing with pride. “This was a great opportunity to speak out against an oppressive threat to us all. The speakers were GREAT as were the Patriots who joined us,” remarked someone named Gibbs Carol. Another protester named Desare Ferraro commented: “Americans are finally waking up to the dangers of multi-culturalism and putting out the “NOT WELCOME” sign to terrorist supporting fundraisers in our communities.” “What a great rally yesterday in Yorba Linda!” said Neil O’Brien.

Below are two videos. The first is of the Arab American Institute’s congressional briefing on Rep. Peter King’s upcoming hearings on radicalization in the Muslim community, which will essentially function as a congressional legitimization of the anti-Muslim crusade. I speak at about 32:00 and describe the trans-Atlantic Islamophobic axis:

The second video contains my appearance on Viewpoint with Jim Zogby, where I discuss the Islamophobic axis in further detail with Maya Berry:

Max Blumenthal

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Written by Kanigui · Translated by Mairi Mcgivern
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In the aftermath of a turbulent week in which the Cote d'Ivoire was plunged into new bouts of unprecendented violence since the presidential elections in late 2010, the United Nations has warned as to the risk of civil war.

Drawing by 26 year-old Ivorian artist Aboudia (Abdoulaye Diarrassouba), December 2010. Photo by Stefan Meisel, copyright Demotix (20/12/2010).

Drawing by 26 year-old Ivorian artist Aboudia (Abdoulaye Diarrassouba), December 2010. Photo by Stefan Meisel, copyright Demotix (20/12/2010).

The violence surrounding the political stand off between the country's two leaders, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara - who each claim to have won the 2010 presidential election - is worsening.

A few Ivorian citizens have been calling for restraint on the Internet, although they are a minority. Unlike the majority of Twitter users in the country who have been fanning the flames of division on both sides, blogger Yeni Djidji describes the most recent violence in her blog [fr] as, “Equally ridiculous”.

In the post, Djidji deplores the destruction of buses in the former capital city of Abidjan belonging to SOTRA (Abidjanais Transport Society) by supporters of Ouattara, and condemns the reactions of the pro-Gbagbo groups who subsequently destroyed the private communal mini cars allegedly used for transport by Ouattara’s supporters.

Vous voyez à quel point la situation devient ridicule. A quel point le fanatisme politique, peut inhiber le bon sens des gens. On sait tous où Alassane se trouve, on sait tous où Gbagbo est. Mais, c'est dans les quartiers que les gens s'empoignent, ce sont les biens qui n'appartiennent ni à l'un ni à l'autre qu'ils détruisent.

You can see at what point the situation becomes ridiculous. At what point political fanaticism can inhibit the common sense of the population. We all know where Alassane is, we all know where Gbagbo is. But, it is in the urban districts that the people clash; it is properties belonging  to neither side which get destroyed.

In his blog Dans ma cabeza, Stephane questions the profound motivations of those who pose these acts of violence. In his post ‘Au nom de … quoi?' (‘In the name of…what?’) [fr], he recalls the painful events the Cote d'Ivoire has experienced in the past:

Quel souvenir gardons-nous des évènements de 2000 ?
? Une des nombreuses expressions de notre vocabulaire politique : le balayeur balayé ?
? Un « beau » monument censé célébrer les combattants de la démocratie, mais qui ne représente pas encore le symbole qu’il doit être ?
Si vous êtes conscients de l’importance de cette période dans notre histoire mais comme moi, êtes incapables d’avoir un souvenir très précis, alors dites-moi au nom de quoi nous battons-nous aujourd’hui ?

What memories do we have of the events of 2000?
? One of the numerous expressions in our political vocabulary: the road sweeper is being swept?
? A “beautiful” monument intended to celebrate the fight for democracy, but which does not yet represent that which it is supposed to symbolise?
If you are conscious of the importance of this period in our history but like me, are incapable of having a precise memory then tell me, in the name of what are we fighting today?

Stephane then challenges the ideas, in the name of which, Ivoirians are engaging in this excessive violence:

Au nom de… quoi ?
Au nom de la souveraineté ??? Clamée par l’un dont certains choix économiques pour son pays trahissent les mots ?
Au nom de… quoi ?
Au nom de la démocratie ??? Défendue par l’autre dont les supputations sur le passé jettent des ombres sur sa cause ?
Souveraineté ??? Démocratie ??? Au regard de tout ce sang versé, ce ne sont que d'autres noms qu’ils donnent au mal selon qu’il vive dans un hôtel ou dans un palais.

In the name of… what?
In the name of sovereignty??? Claimed by one whose economic choices for his country betray his words?
In the name of… what?
In the name of democracy??? Defended by another for whom the speculations of the past throw shadows on his cause?
Sovereignty??? Democracy??? With regards to all this spilt blood, they are nothing other than meaningless words they give for evil, whether living in a hotel [President Ouattara is currently entrenched in an Abidjan hotel] or in a palace [President Gbagbo still occupies the presidential palace].

On Twitter, some Ivorian netizens have asked the same questions, as @diabymohamed, retweeted by @Jeanjacquesk:

@jeanjacquesk RT @diabymohamed #civ2010 on sème ce qu'on récolte. Pourquoi avons nous abandonné notre culture de paix ? POURQUOI ET POUR QUI???

@jeanjacquesk RT @diabymohamed #civ2010 we reap that which we sow. Why have we abandoned our culture of peace? WHY AND FOR WHO???”

In the same vein, blogger Edith Brou suggests that Ouattara and Gbagbo should be banished from Ivorian politics in order to see a return to peace:

@edithbrou on bannit LG et AO de toute implication (et leur clique) dans la vie politique ivoirienne.

@edithbrou we should banish LG [Laurent Gbagbo] and AO [Alassane Ouattara] (and their clique) from all involvement in the political life of Cote d'Ivoire.

Alongside these calls for restraint on the Internet, Ivorian women have decided to make themselves heard. At Treichville (an Abidjan commune), they marched dressed in white [fr] on February 25, 2011, to denounce the killings of their children.

They met at the Headquarters of the PDCI (Democratic Party of Ivory Coast) and from there made to march on the Republican Guard barracks. A police operation blocked the women’s march and intervention by a police superintendant put an end to it.

Update: on March 3, 2011, six or seven women were shot dead by the security forces loyal to Gbagbo and up to 100 civilians were wounded during a march in support of President Ouattara in Abobo, a district of Abidjan.

Global Voices in English

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-By Warner Todd Huston

This is the text of an address I gave to a men’s luncheon in Niles, Illinois on March 3, 2011. Niles and its neighbor Skokie are heavily Jewish areas in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I hope it was fairly well received and that you will similarly find it interesting.

We all know there has been a complicated and often unfortunate history between European Christians and their Jewish fellows. There is an earned suspicion that Jews have for European Christians that goes back centuries. Over time relationships between Jews and European Christians has swing wildly from acceptance, to indifference to outright antagonism and back again.

Sadly, it seems that these days the pendulum is swinging back to Europeans again seeing Jews as an unwanted element and crimes against Jews in many parts of Europe have been on the rise. Some of this is due to the influx of Muslim immigrants in Europe, but not all of it by a long shot.

In the United States, however, Jews have always found a much less problematic existence. Certainly bad times have waxed and waned where Jews have been targets of abuse, but never has the abuse been as bad as that in European history. There certainly have been periods when Jews were not treated well in America — I can remember reading of the abuse that baseball player Hank Greenberg received after he refused to play a major league game on Yom Kippur in 1934, for instance — but even in America’s earliest days the abuse has never reached European outrages.

Absolutely no abuse should be excused, but when simply looking at the facts we see that the USA is a more welcoming environment in relative terms. For the most part, in the United States Jews have been able to succeed in any field in which they are able to excel without much mind to their background, especially over the last 60 years or so.

Yet even at that many American Christians have offered only a rocky road to acceptance for America’s Jews. For that matter, until about the 1960s, even American Catholics have found America to be quite inhospitable at times. In the 1928 presidential race, for instance, New York Governor Al Smith was excoriated as a “Papist” throughout large sections of the country and it was widely claimed in the South that he would take his orders from the Vatican and not the Constitution and the people.

It’s a shame, too. From my reading, Smith would have likely made a pretty good president. Instead we ended up with Herbert Hoover.

In any case, I bring all this turmoil and uncomfortable history up by way of saying that I really cannot blame Jews for being wary of Christians whether in America or anywhere else for that matter. But that being said, there is a new reverence that many Christians in the United States — especially the conservative Evangelicals — have developed for Jews in general and Israel in particular. And it is a relationship I’d like to see American Jews pay a bit more attention to developing as I think that American Jews can find some fast friends and allies in these Evangelical circles.

This changing relationship started in the 1980s during the Reagan administration and the rise of the Moral Majority Christians that at last began to turn their attention to politics. Previously to 1980 American Christians as a block did not pay much mind to politics believing that God’s realm was separate from Man’s world of politics. But thanks to the left’s constant attack on traditional American culture in the view of folks like Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberts, the so-called “culture wars” brought these conservative Christians into politics in a huge way. And they have yet to drift from their active participation.

Along with that new attention to earthly politics came attention to American foreign policy and, naturally, attention was turned to Israel. Thanks to the rising threat of radical Islam, feelings for Israel among Christians has only gotten stronger in the United States over the last 40 years as more and more Christians come to see Israel as our only friend in the Middle East, not to mention as a stalwart democracy facing a horde of despots, tyrants, and killers. In fact, a 2002 poll by The Tarrance Group found that Evangelical Christians are more likely than any other group in America — except Jews — to express enthusiastic support for Israel. Another poll conducted by Pew in 2006 found similar results.

Support has grown so that even tourism by American Christian groups has increased as tours of the Holy Lands grows as an industry. Yet even with all this support, many American Jews find Evangelical support to be an uncomfortable fit.

It is a fact that the American Jewish community is not monolithic and neither is Israel itself, granted. As a practical matter many Israeli politicians have embraced the Republicans and the Evangelical community’s support of their country. So too many Orthodox Jews in America have come to find the support offered them by Christians to be welcome news, indeed.

Of course, Orthodox Jews, themselves a minority in the American Jewish community, leans far more toward conservative politics as it is, so the fit is far more natural, to be sure.

But one would think that this untrammeled support for Israel evinced by American Christians would be welcomed with open arms by all Jews, especially American Jews, when all around them they still see oppressive forces aligned against them. Unfortunately, many Jews eye American Christian’s support with suspicion. This might seem odd until one looks at what sort of political positions American Jews and American Evangelical Christians take otherwise from Israel.

It is well known that for many years the bulk of America’s Jewish community has leaned toward a liberal, left-wing perspective. Quite despite the fact that more liberals and left-wingers are turning against Israel every day in America, Jews have stayed with their traditional left-wing political views. It is just as well known that the Evangelical Christian community has allied itself with the conservative viewpoint. This makes for uneasy alliances, for sure.

Yet even as Jews may eye Christian Evangelicals with suspicion, those same American Christians have made no effort on any level to insist that Jews come over to the conservative side on domestic political issues and have offered their hand in friendship on matters of Israel without pre-conditions. Even the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman has admitted that there has been no demand of any quid pro quo by Christians in order to gain their support of Israel.

Times change and this is one situation where the change is dramatic. Old time conservatives like Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul still cling to the animosity for Israel, but their part has passed them by on the issue. Too many Jews, though, still see the Buchanan’s of the world as representative of the whole.

I know it’s hard to see when things have changed when nursing past slights. I spoke to a Viet Nam war vet just this week and he was going on about how the country mistreats him and his fellows. But I asked him to name the last time he was actually mistreated by anyone due to his service in the war and the last time he could remember was back in the 70s.

I reminded him that everywhere you look there are Nam POW flags, in every Memorial Day or Veteran’s parade there are contingents of Nam vets proudly marching. And I pointed to the traveling wall, the Washington D.C. memorial and many others across the country.

I pointed out that Viet Nam War vets are no longer treated like they were in the 70s except perhaps by the most unhinged leftists. Times have changed but he was still seeing the world through eyes opened in 1974.

Things have changed with conservative’s support of Israel, too, and for the better. It is entirely shortsighted for American Jews to turn away the open hand that Evangelicals have offered them for support of Israel. When advantageous coalitions can and should be built across party lines. Just as many African American groups are increasingly joining forces with Republicans and conservatives on school choice, Jews should find it logical and advantageous to accept Evangelical’s full-throated support of Israel.

It may seem odd to political liberals, though, to ally with political conservatives even if just on their support of Israel. But let’s face it, alliances on the left are odd, too. For instance, many Jews assume that African Americans are their natural allies on the left, yet Blacks are increasingly anti-Israel in America today. Look at the anti-Semitic rants of the Reverend Louis Farrakhan, for one and the often anti-Semitic comments by Jesse Jackson for another. But many Jews overlook this fact when investing in political alliances.

One of the reasons against allying with Christians I’ve seen put forward by Jews in America is that they find it distasteful when Christians try to convert them to Christianity. Personally I find this sort of whiny claim a bit absurd when in other parts of the world Jews are not just cajoled to convert but simply murdered outright. One would think a little Christian proselytizing would be easy to slough off for Jews that have faced some of the most inhuman oppression in history! Yet this proselytizing is a chief complaint that Jews, even those like Abe Foxman as I mentioned above, offer for a reason not to ally with Christians.

Another issue that turns Jews off from Evangelicals is the whole end-of-times scenario that many Christians ultimately believe in. Jews see the Armageddon scenario as an utterly insulting belief, and for good reason, I think. After all, to fulfill these Evangelical’s eschatological position Armageddon is a necessary aspect of the return of Jesus and Jews and Israel are an important part of that ideology.

In any case, it is shortsighted for American Jews to get all upset about end-of-times scenarios when Iran, the Palestinians and many Arab states are making to plan the REAL obliteration of Israel, not just some shadowy, mythical possible end-of-times game plan, but a current, real wiping out of Israel in the here and now.

Again, it is odd for Jews in America to slap away the hand of support for Israel offered by Evangelicals especially when it is Evangelicals that have brought the Republican Party into support of the state of Israel. There have been times in the past when the GOP has not been a fast friend of Israel, but that has ended with the advent of politically active Evangelical Christians. Just as the Democrat Party has increasingly turned away from supporting Israel, the GOP has taken up Israel’s banner and that is due to the Evangelical Christians that fill the rank and file of the Republican Party.

So, to sum up, I would urge American Jews to ease off their overt suspicion of Evangelical’s support of Israel. Granted even Ronald Reagan had a saying that goes “trust but verify,” but I would urge Jews to reach out to America’s Christians and wholeheartedly accept their support for Israel. Jews don’t have to fear being forced to become Christians. Jews don’t even have to feel obligated to support the Republican Party even as the GOP supports them. But Jews should stop their sneering distrust of Evangelicals and should accept their practical hand of friendship on matters of Israel. After all, we both, Christians and Jews alike, are at war with those forces that want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Let’s save our contempt for the true enemy.

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Beware the crystal-ball story that predicts a backlash — a liberal newspaper will constantly find backlashes to predict wherever conservatives succeed. The Washington Post unleashed their clairvoyance on Friday in an Amy Gardner story headlined "Ohio GOP may invite backlash with tough stance on unions." It began:

COLUMBUS — State Republicans took the toughest line yet against public-sector unions this week, delivering an early and significant victory for a slew of lawmakers elected in November.

Perhaps too tough. Democrats and even some Republicans said that the bold action and the uncompromising way it was carried out could boomerang on Republicans in the next election, in much the same way that the stimulus bill and health-care overhaul haunted Democrats in Ohio and elsewhere last year.  

Except the Post didn't write stories predicting Democrats would be "haunted" by their success the day they passed something.

Beware the "even Republicans," who are usually the Democrats' best friends. The first star of this story is a state senator from the Cleveland suburbs, who conjured up visions of doom, with Republicans "turning off broad swaths" of voters. "Taking on the fire and police, from a political perspective, is illogical…The ad that is going to be fatal to Republicans is going to be the fireman carrying the baby out of the burning building."  That came right beneath the bold subhead ""Illogical' move."

It turns out Sen. Grendell is running a "backlash" dare all his own. He is term-limited to just two more years in the state Senate, and won election to the state House in 2010 — and then decided he wouldn't take the House seat since he couldn't choose his Senate successor.

Grendell was followed by the man Gov. John Kasich defeated, Democrat Ted Strickland, who naturally insisted Ohio "shuns extremes," so the Republicans are in trouble. He was followed by the liberal president of the firefighters' union. Then in paragraph 14 comes an actual conservative, Sen. Shannon Jones, the author of the bill on unions. Jones was followed by another "even Republican" who voted against her bill, Bill Seitz. That's a liberal-friendly 4-to-1 ratio.

Gardner and the Post don't seem to realize the opposite result could be just as likely to invite backlash: Republicans getting elected to trim government, and then being too incompetent or weak-willed to do what they promised to do. blogs

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NFL, players agree on 7-day extension
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By AP While failing to reach a deal that would keep labor peace intact for the nation's most popular sports league, the NFL and the players' union agreed Friday on a seven-day extension for their collective bargaining agreement.
NFL owners, players extend collective bargaining talks by a weekLos Angeles Times
NFL: Seven days enough to get a deal?Pittsburgh Post Gazette
NFL labor talks: Another extension, but gap still big on moneySan Jose Mercury News
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As some of you may have heard, Brigham Young University has suspended the star forward of their basketball team just a couple weeks before the start of March Madness.

The reason for the suspension is that he had sex with his girlfriend, and the BYU honor code states that premarital sex is not allowed.

With the money to be made off of success in March Madness there are some who question the wisdom of the choice. Others are condemning BYU for what seems to be a narrow minded or outdated viewpoint about morality. Some have even raised the race card because the player in question is black.

Now I am personally a pretty conservative person when it comes to moral conduct but I’m not sure I would have supported imposing this strict of an honor code. I also see merit in at least the first two arguments and given the history of the Mormon church can even understand those who consider the race issue.

However, I think that the decision they made was the right one.

The fact is, whether you consider it wise or not, they did produce this honor code. Every single student who attends BYU chose to sign the code and agree to obey it. Nobody put a gun to their heads, nobody forced them to attend BYU. There are many other universities to attend and given the talents of this player I suspect he had many offers.

The students, faculty and alumni also had the option to decide what kind of honor code to have and they made the choice to establish the rules they did.

Too often today we find that rules are bent or ignored, they are relaxed when it is not convenient or when people make a fuss. For once someone has decided that a rule is a rule, an honor code is an honor code and a violation is a violation.

Nobody will die because of this, nobody will suffer any serious harm at all. A team may lose a bit earlier than they otherwise would have but I think they will also have learned a much more important lesson.

So even if I don’t entirely agree with the code, I applaud the choice to enforce it.

The Moderate Voice

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Written by Jillian C. York

When young Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the town of Sidi Bouzid, he couldn't have imagined the chain of events his act would set off. Self-immolation as an act of protest and despair quickly spread across the region, with at least ten cases reported from Mauritania to Egypt in the weeks following.

In mid-February, Fadoua Laroui, a young Moroccan single mother, set herself on fire in front of the town hall in Souq Sebt where she lived. Moroccan author Laila Lalami writes in the Nation:

According to newspaper reports, the local government destroyed the shack in which she lived with her children and later denied her access to replacement social housing because she was a single mother. She died in a Casablanca hospital two days later.

Fadoua Laroui

According to one blog, Laroui's last words before committing suicide were “Stop injustice, corruption and tyranny!” Though many say she was not of any particular political bent, Laroui's actions and words have nonetheless inspired a new wave of protest in Morocco. One blogger, Mouad, laments the society that engendered such actions:

Peut être que si la vie était moins dure pour elle où elle aurait pu bénéficier d'un milieu clément pour étudier, travailler et s'épanouir au milieu d'une société égalitaire et sans hypocrisie l'aura sauvé la vie.

Maybe if life had not been so hard for her and she could have enjoyed an amenable environment for study, work and if she could have thrived in the midst of an egalitarian society without hypocrisy, it would have saved her life.

On the blog Moroccans for Change, one author sees Laroui's suicide as a call to action:

What kind of change are we looking for?

The change that makes a positive difference in every Moroccan’s life. The kind of change that would have allowed Fadoua Laroui to feed and shelter her children. Change that would have earned Fadoua people’s respect for being a hard working single mom, rather than their despise for being unlucky. We seek the kind of change that puts food on Fadoua’s two children’s plate and a roof over their heads. The change that allows every Moroccan child to grow up loved, nurtured, and educated, and every hard working woman and mother to feel safe and appreciated. The change that says no to indifference, yes to responsibility and accountability.

Change is desperately needed.

Laroui's funeral brought hundreds to the streets and was captured on video. A Facebook page has also been set up to memorialize Laroui.

While some see Laroui's act as heroic, others discuss the societal and psychological conditions that led to her action. Roumana, not one to mince words, writes on Kobida of the psychology behind Laroui's choice:

Moroccans are wondering, why? After all, she isn’t the only poor and homeless shantytown woman in the country. The status of single mothers , highly stigmatized, still leaves a lot to be desired. Although the status-quo apologists will respond by claiming that the Moudawana, Morocco’s latest family code, already grants women “too many” rights. Didnt she fear Allah? Some said while regurgitating a Hadith or two condemning suicide victims to hell. But the thing is, those standing still on the sidewalk wondering in their confusion and watching Fadoua as her flesh burns will never understand why she ignited the match, for they have never felt the real flames she felt, way before she doused herself in Gas.

He continues:

While Fadoua decided to end her pain by taking the leap, other Bouazizis are diluting the overly grim reality by resorting to the ever-alluring escapism. Now, I am in a no position to judge anyone who prefers the company of anti-depressants, hallucinogens or a bottle of cheap wine to numb the pain. Lord knows I need it sometimes. What I despise however is our alarming indifference to other Moroccans’ plight or even worse, some pathetic attempts to trivialize those unfortunate and inhumane conditions. Maybe this apathy is yet another escapist defense mechanism, who knows.

Blogger Son of Words sees society as the trigger, and discusses why Laroui's actions are indeed political:

D’aucuns ne verront dans le geste de Fadoua qu’une détresse psychologique qui se manifeste de manière extrême. D'autres, avec beaucoup moins de scrupules et une totale absence d'empathie, n'y verront que l'acte d'une femme dont les mœurs ne lui font mériter la moindre sympathie. Mais le geste de Fadoua est une action éminemment politique, et c'est en cela qu'il appelle une action collective tout aussi politique. Elle aurait en effet pu se résigner à son triste sort qu'elle partage avec tant d'autres, mais elle a refusé. Elle a cru au système et emprunté ses multiples labyrinthes pour en être brutalement éjectée. Elle aurait pu exprimer sa détresse autrement, mais choisit de confronter par son arme ultime, son corps, ce système injuste et ce devant sa manifestation la plus inhumaine et la plus kafkaïenne

Some will see in Fadoua's gesture a psychological distress that manifested itself in extreme ways. For others, with far fewer scruples and a total lack of empathy, this was the act of a woman whose morals do not deserve any sympathy. But Fadoua's gesture is a highly political one, and that's why the calls for collective action are just as political. She could indeed have resigned to her fate she shares with many others, but she refused. She believed in the system and burrowed its multiple labyrinths, only to be suddenly ejected. She could express her distress differently, but chose to confront its ultimate weapon, her body, and this unjust system in its most inhuman and most Kafkaesque form.

On the semi-satirical blog C.J.D.M., Aboulahab writes of the mundanity of Laroui's life and its resemblance to the lives of so many Moroccans:

Fadoua n’était pas une héroïne, elle n’a rien fait dans sa vie qui mérite d’être rapporté. Car Fadoua a mené ce genre de vie banalement misérable, qui aurait pu se prolonger pour ressembler à celles de millions d’autres, pour s’éteindre un jour, victime du manque de lits ou de personnel médical dans un hôpital public.

Fadoua was not a heroine, she has done nothing in her life that deserves to be reported. For Fadoua conducted this kind of banal, miserable life which would have continued to resemble those of millions more, to die one day, a victim of lack of beds or medical personnel in a public hospital.

The blogger concludes:

Un jour viendra, où ça sera au tour du Makhzen se consumer dans les flammes de notre volonté de changement. La situation des Fadoua n'en sera pas améliorée du jour au lendemain, je le concède. Mais la responsabilité ne sera plus celle d'un corps politique abstrait et ubique qui n'oeuvre que pour sa propre survie, mais celle de toute la société, de tous les individus, de tous les sujets désormais citoyens. Et je crois sincèrement qu'une fois leur destinée entre leurs propres mains, les Hommes en font le meilleur usage possible.

A day will come when it will be the turn of the Makhzen* be consumed in the flames of our desire for change. The situation of all the Fadouas will not be improved overnight, I concede. But the responsibility will no longer be that of this abstract political body that only fights for its own survival, but that of the whole society, all individuals, all subjects who will become citizens. And I truly believe that once their destiny is in their own hands, men make the best use of it.

*Makhzen is a term used to refer to Morocco's ruling elite.

Global Voices in English

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