Sunday, November 29, 2009

Westchester and the latest integration crusade

"It's time to remove zip codes as a factor in the quality of life in America." And with that snide remark, Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), made clear the department's intention to force the construction of 750 low-income housing units in affluent, stable communities of Westchester County in New York State.

In spite of the fact that Westchester has long had its share of affluent black and Hispanic families, that's not quite the same as having a representation of "poorer" residents (as HUD puts it), apparently to guarantee racial as well as economic "diversity." After all, what's a community without a contingent of Section 8 tenants? It's a "racist" community, if we follow the logic of Mr. Sims and the Obama administration, that is vigorously pursuing this latest integration crusade.

In "Revolt in Westchester"(City Journal, 11/4/09), Walter Olson describes this recent move to compel towns to accept unwanted housing, and sees the recent election of Rob Astorino over long-time County Executive Andy Spano as the signs of a revolt by Westchester residents, who are determined to find a way out of a settlement that many believe was coerced via strong-armed government tactics.

Talk to my neighbors here in the Norwood section of the Bronx about quality of tenants. Now, you might think that the Bronx is the last place where anyone would care about such things as residents' conduct, but you would be mistaken. In spite of its reputation for crime and disorder, there have always been, in the borough, low-to-no-crime havens of steadfast, conscientious home-owners and apartment dwellers. Most of my neighbors are working class types, harboring what one might call middle class aspirations and values.

During the past decade, the neighborhood's landlords have been hard pressed to find more of such tenants to fill vacancies in their apartment buildings. In my building, for example, apartments have sat empty for months. Long-time residents of other buildings have reported the same situation, i.e., empty apartments.

But no longer. Against their better judgment, many landlords are succumbing to the government's generous rental payments for Section 8 tenants, or so-called homeless families. ("Families" in a very loose sense of the word, usually single women with children and a host of interchangeable boyfriends.) I need not detail the alterations to the neighborhood's environment, as residents attempt to adjust to the behavior patterns of these new tenants with "issues." You can guess the nature of the "issues" they bring with them. Suffice it to say, the recent upswing in, shall we call it, social discord, is taking its toll on what is normally a harmonious and tolerant community, where residents make a virtue of being seen and heard only when appropriate.

I am told that for taking in a Section 8 tenant, landlords can receive at much as $200 higher for monthly rents from the government than they might get from regular, working tenants. One neighbor, writing to our local weekly newspaper, expresses the fear that our community might soon turn into a "subsidized, public assistance oasis."

There is no reason not to believe that this could be the fate of Westchester. Although the county certainly starts from a much higher economic base than our modest area in the Bronx, as residents of homes and co-ops flee the coming social turmoil, the slide could be swift. HUD has announced its plans to bring its low-income housing program into other affluent neighborhoods around the country. Could there be a plot afoot to eliminate all middle and upper class venues in an attempt to make every nook and cranny "look like America?"

To fabricate neighborhoods that are undifferentiated by social and economic factors (which zip codes symbolize), Walter Olson claims "would require extreme, indeed utopian, ventures in social engineering." As they have done in other areas, the government's social engineers and their lawyers can work to legally abridge a locality's home rule and change zoning laws.

In Westchester, if towns would try to protect themselves, by offering these new low-income homes and units to their own local townspeople, such as teachers, policemen and elderly residents, the HUD settlement would prevent such a move. The settlement requires the county to "market the homes aggressively," not to Westchester residents, but specifically to "black and Hispanic residents of the New York City area." It's called Government Gotcha!

Olson surmises that Westchester residents voted for Astorino (who, throughout the campaign was never expected to beat the incumbent Spano), as a way of expressing their concerns over this housing issue. Astorino had called for a "slowdown," so that the county could examine further options in relation to the settlement.

Spano might have overplayed his hand by insinuating that critics of the housing plan were "racists." Olson says that Westchester residents, who are liberals from way back and voted for Obama by a comfortable margin, may very well have been offended by Spano's aspersion. "Westchesterites don't like being talked to that way."

Over the last decade, about 1,700 units of "affordable housing" has been built throughout Westchester county. But now, in what a local newspaper calls "a historic shift of philosophy," the federal government demands that the county develop housing in communities "with little or no minority population." It turns out that building for the poor was not good enough. Building now has to be for the race specific poor. It goes without saying that poor whites need not apply.

To quote my neighbor again, "Bad tenants make bad neighborhoods." Here's wishing better luck to Westchester than our little vicinity is presently experiencing.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

David Irving, the Thought Criminal

How is it possible, in these United States, that a group of people, who wish to get together to discuss a historical topic, must relentlessly hide their intention, obfuscate their meeting place, and keep their identities secret, if they don't wish to be hounded like wanted criminals? How is it that citizens who wish to meet peacefully do not have the protection of the law, in order to practice what the law supposedly guarantees, that is, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly?

It's not unusual for one party of citizens to be roused to anger by the beliefs and practices of others. This is to be expected. But in this supposed land of the free, we do not expect that opponents of particular views will be allowed license to destroy websites, steal email information, and confiscate personal correspondence, while threatening hotel managers with violence, if they rent space to certain groups or events. It is not anyone's responsibility to provide a platform for the public expression of opinions, but it is the responsibility of the government to protect citizens from those who would prevent such expression.

Whatever became of that bold white American man, descendant of the Founders, who proudly declared, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend with my life your right to say it?" Is he too busy these days playing with his ever-increasing array of techie toys, gadgets and gizmos, to give a damn about the ongoing loss of one freedom after another, freedoms originally conceived by those 18th century men, who foolishly believed that their singular creation could be entrusted to these very descendants?

These are rhetorical questions to which I expect no answers. I've also ceased expecting indignation from that once watchful and attentive white American man, as he passively accepts the ongoing demise of constitutional principles meant to enforce laws to be obeyed by the high and the lowly.

On November 13, 2009, Professor David Irving was scheduled to give a talk on World War II history, this one to focus on Hitler, Himmler and codebreaking. Irving is a meticulous historian and the author of several acclaimed and respected works of history, including Nuremberg and Churchill's War.

He is despised by a coterie of adversaries for his dissenting views on aspects of World War II's Holocaust, a subject he does not lecture on, but for which he was sentenced in Austria to three years in prison. That is, a historian was imprisoned for expressing opinions that conflict with a standardized version of events that took place during the middle of the 20th century.

Throughout Europe, powerful interest groups have managed to get laws enacted that forbid historians from engaging in further research or exploration of the forbidden Holocaust topic, for which there is now an established "official" text. You see, Europe is full of the types of countries whose oppressive traditions the Founders of this nation strove to avoid. In their time, it was Kings who could throw you into prison for refusing to conform to the Royal Imperatives.

On November 13, the date of Irving's first intended lecture in New York, hackers broke into his website and AOL email account, confiscating lists of the names of those scheduled to attend his forthcoming lectures. The miscreants then published his email correspondence, along with the user name and password for his website and AOL accounts, and the names and email addresses (in some cases, street addresses) of donors and purchasers of Irving's books. His books, by the way, are not furtively published samizdat, and can be bought in most bookstores, as well as from Amazon.

Well aware of the danger he and his lecture participants are in whenever he speaks, Irving has been forced to establish an elaborate system of subterfuge where he keeps the meeting place secret until almost the last minute, and then emails the location to the interested parties. Due to the damage done to the website, this first meeting was necessarily curtailed.

On November 14, Irving's second scheduled lecture, at the Double Tree Hotel in New York, was invaded and disrupted by a band of self-appointed "anti-fascists," who maced one of the attendants. The offending thugs very proudly published an account of their exploits on websites, bragging about how Irving "just got his ass handed to him."

What we have here are self-elected Enforcers, who have usurped powers never granted to one citizen over another, yet who go unchallenged by any legal authority. These are Enforcers who claim the right to judge which points of view should be permitted to prevail, and which ones shall be banned from the public square.

In their attempts to be credible, Enforcers purposely, with malice aforethought, mischaracterize their perceived enemies in the most extreme fashion, and venomously misinterpret their theses or positions. The dissenting sinner must not be allowed to bring his views directly to the public, or be given the opportunity to offer any type of clarification.

Knowing that volatile terminology is bound to rouse the hackles of average people, most of whom are not paying attention anyway, the Enforcers load their charges against their opponents with such extreme epithets as "Nazi," "racist," "white supremacist." Once so labeled, the targeted subject matter, or group, or individual, is supposed to be doomed.

For example, in the case of the labeling of "Holocaust deniers," this is a lie in itself, since none of these researchers deny that a movement against Jews took place during World War II. However, in our country, a nation ruled by the Constitution, the truth or invalidity of a researcher's position on some historical subject is of no consequence. In the land of Jefferson, Madison and Jay, we have the right to be misguided or simply wrong.

If some intrepid soul wishes to give lectures on how Africans enjoyed being slaves and that enslavement was a great favor done for them, his right to lecture is not dependent on whether or not his thesis is correct. That part of it is not the government's business. Its only business is to see to it that this individual, no matter how benighted he might be deemed by foes of his viewpoint, is protected from those who would do him harm, by stealing his property or endangering his person. We do not search for ways to eradicate his freedoms, nor should we set up phony legal mechanisms to imprison him.

In his own version of that aforementioned declaration, i.e., to defend another's right to speak, even when in disagreement, Thomas Paine wrote, "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." Today, these 18th century warnings are nothing but corny words, not to be taken seriously by a people who would disgrace themselves by permitting the passage of unconstitutional "hate crime" laws. When a people indicate that they're ready to punish citizens as "Thought Criminals," then nothing that follows can be surprising.

Although I have never attended an Irving lecture, I have read one of his impressive books, and I am on his mailing list. Over the years, I have written on the topic of European repression of scholars, academics and researchers for the Issues & Views website. I list links to some of these articles below:

Free speech still struggles to survive, in Europe and in the USA

Europe's Hypocrites and Liars - Part I

Europe's Hypocrites and Liars - Part II

When Truth Is No Defense


David Irving - Biography

Irving Describes His Austria Arrest and Imprisonment

Who Is Ernst Zundel, And Why Is He In Jail?

Historians Behind Bars
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The fruits of callous indifference

In the midst of the patriotic zeal that Americans are compelled to display, one must never suggest that leaders of the United States, at any time in its history, have ever taken this country into dark places where it engages in negative acts against innocent populations, or causes pain to anyone, anywhere in the world. History, of course, is filled with examples of such practices engaged in by every other country on earth, but not the USA, USA, USA.

Jacob Hornberger, of the Future of Freedom Foundation, in Foreign Policy Blowback at Ft. Hood, takes us on an excursion to show where American interventionist policies are leading us. Here are excerpts:
• • •

Amidst all the debate over whether the Ft. Hood killer is a terrorist, murderer, enemy combatant, traitor, sleeper agent, or insane person, there is one glaring fact staring America in the face: what happened at Ft. Hood is more blowback from U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, specifically the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even at this early stage of the investigation, the evidence is virtually conclusive that the accused killer, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was motivated to kill U.S. soldiers at Ft. Hood by deep anger and rage arising from the things that the U.S. government has been doing to people in the Middle East for many years.

Oh, I can already hear the interventionists exclaiming, “You’re a justifier! You’re justifying what he did!”

Isn’t that what they said after the 9/11 attacks, when we libertarians pointed out that those attacks were motivated by the deep anger and rage that had boiled over in the Middle East because of what the U.S. government had been doing to people there?

“You’re a justifier,” the interventionists cried. “You’re justifying what they did.”

In fact, isn’t that what they said after Timothy McVeigh’s terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, when we libertarians pointed out that he had been motivated by deep anger and rage arising from the federal massacre of U.S. citizens at Waco, including innocent women and children?

“You’re a justifier,” they said. “You’re justifying what McVeigh did.”

The reason the interventionists go off on this “You’re a justifier” tirade is that the last thing they want to be confronted with is the wrongdoing of the U.S. government and its responsibility for the blowback – the retaliatory consequences – from such wrongdoing. ...

Here at The Future of Freedom Foundation, we repeatedly warned – prior to 9/11 – that unless the U.S. government ceased and desisted from its wrongful conduct in the Middle East, the United States would be hit with another terrorist attack. We were repeatedly pointing out that the anger and rage were going to reach another boiling point, just like they had in 1993, and culminate in a terrorist attack on American soil. ...

In his book, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson [consultant for CIA, 1967-73] made the same point – that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East was inevitably going to lead to retaliatory terrorist blowback on American soil. His book was published in March 2000, more than a year before the 9/11 attacks.

Did the U.S. government learn anything at all after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center? Did it change its interventionist foreign policy? Did it stop doing bad things to people in the Middle East? On the contrary, it not only continued its interventionist policies that had precipitated the 1993 retaliatory blowback on the World Trade Center, it expanded upon them for the next several years, until the anger and rage in the Middle East once again reached a boiling point that erupted in full force on 9/11.

For example, consider the brutal sanctions that were contributing to the deaths of countless Iraqi children that had filled Ramzi Yousef [convicted of 1993 World Trade Center attack] and many other people in the Middle East with anger and rage. Those sanctions continued … and continued … and continued, with the death toll mounting year after year after year – along with rising anger and rage.

By the mid-1990s the death toll for Iraqi children from the sanctions had reached the hundreds of thousands. What was the response of U.S. officials to this rising death toll? Nothing but callous indifference. They simply didn’t care. ....

The brutal sanctions continued throughout the 1990s and in to the 2000s, amidst a growing outcry all over the world, not to mention the rising anger and rage within people in the Middle East. In order to cover its wrongdoing, the U.S. got the UN to enact the infamous oil-for-food program, a crooked, corrupt, bureaucratic, socialistic government program that was nothing more than a charade to cover up the rising death toll and the callous indifference to the horror.

In 2000, in a crisis of conscience, two high UN officials, Hans van Sponeck and Denis Halliday, even resigned their posts in protest to what was being described as genocide. "As a UN official, I should not be expected to be silent to that which I recognise as a true human tragedy that needs to be ended," von Sponeck stated. "How long the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, should be exposed to such punishment for something that they have never done?" he asked. ...

Did anything change after the 9/11 attacks? Did the U.S. government learn any lessons from those attacks? Did it abandon any of its interventionist policies? On the contrary, it not only continued the policies that had given rise to the anger and rage, it used the attacks to expand the interventionist policies. First and foremost, the 9/11 attacks were used as the excuse to effect regime change not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan. In other words, what 11 years of brutal and deadly sanctions had failed to achieve in Iraq – regime change – was quickly achieved with a military invasion and occupation. ...

Compounding the invasions and long-term occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan has been the callous indifference to the loss of innocent life in those two countries. Year after year, U.S. officials have professed to be killing and destroying out of love for the Iraqi and Afghani people. Sure, we’re killing you but it’s all for your own good because in the long run, you will have democracy and so it will all be worth it, U.S. officials have exclaimed. Don’t fret about losing your mother or father, or your bride, or your sister, or your friend. In the long run, you will thank us because you will find that democracy will be worth it.

What could be more wrongful, more immoral than that – the intentional killing of human beings in order to achieve a political-welfare goal? And keep in mind that there has never been an upward limit on the number of Afghanis and Iraqis who could be killed to achieve “democracy.” Any number of deaths, no matter how high, would be considered “worth it.” ...

We must never lose sight of the fact that in Iraq, it is the U.S. government that is the aggressor – the invader – the occupier. It is the U.S. government that started this war. It is the Iraqis who are the defenders, the victims of what the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal called a “war of aggression.”

We should also never lose sight of the fact that while Afghanistan bore a tangential relationship to 9/11, the decision to treat the attack as a military problem rather than a criminal-justice one has been an unmitigated disaster. By killing countless Afghanis who had nothing to do with 9/11, the U.S. government has simultaneously swelled the ranks of people whose anger and rage have propelled them into the ranks of those who seek retaliation, including it now seems beyond any doubt, the alleged Ft. Hood killer, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. ...

I’m going to repeat what we’ve been saying since before 9/11: the U.S. government needs to get out of the Middle East and Afghanistan. Pull the troops out now. There is no other genuine way to support them. Stop the killing. End the occupations. The U.S. military and the CIA have had eight years to do all the killing, torturing, humiliating, and destroying they want. Now it is time to bring it to an end. Enough is enough.


Compilation of Future of Freedom Foundation articles on the nature and consequences of the sanctions on Iraq
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A light unto the nations?

Philip Weiss authors one of the most important blogs in the blogosphere, and always offers some of the most candid observations on the attitudes and behavior of this country's Israel partisans. Here are some excerpts from recent posts by Weiss on his blog, Mondoweiss, The war of ideas in the Middle East:

• • •

I spent much of the J Street policy conference last week struggling with the issue of racism in liberal Jewish life, including in my own thinking. J Street set off this debate in my mind because it dispensed with two easily-dismissed rationales for the Jewish state that you hear everywhere at AIPAC: Israel is necessary because the antisemites are going to turn on us in the U.S., or it’s necessary because the Bible gave us the land. J Street doesn’t go in for either argument. And yet it routinely invokes the necessity and goodness of Jewish democracy. I must have heard the words Jewish democracy a million times there. I’ve never seen a purple cow either. ...

Liberal Jews routinely invoke a racist idea -- the "demographic threat" -- to justify the Jewish democracy. These ideas are familiar to me. They are what I was raised with, and am still engaged by. They surround Jewish feelings of superiority. We are chosen, we are smarter, we are irrigating the desert and building computers that will deliver a drop of water to every root of every artichoke bush, we have more Nobel prizes than all the Arab world combined. I’ve struggled with this idea of Jewish superiority all my life. It was in the warp and woof of my upbringing in an academic milieu, and I run into it in almost every argument I have with Zionists. It reminds me of schwarzer talk in the 1970s -- talking about black people.

The elaboration of this attitude -- which J Streeters seem to believe but don’t pound the table about, as the neocons do -- is that Israel is a developed country while the Arab world is ignorant, that the Palestinians are peasants and Jews are urban people of the book, that the Arab world lacks basic freedoms. And so it would be a tragedy if the smart Jews of Israel had to share the government of their country, in one state, with the Palestinians. In a word, We don’t want to be governed by Arabs. ...

The conflict won’t go away until the ideology of the white master, which permeates the Zionist story, is discussed openly in the United States, and we begin to see this as a story of dispossession and disfranchisement. You can say anything you like about Palestinian peasantry, or women being covered in Gaza, or authoritarianism in Egypt, or Israeli technology. I share some of those political values. But none of these points is an argument for human bondage, let alone burning up children with white phosphorus or relying on powerful brethren in the U.S. to shut down the debate.

They are arguments that if Jews really want to be a light unto the nations, they must recognize that Israelis share a land with others, and they must work together to come up with a democratic ethos. ...

Until liberals wrestle with the real phenomenon of Jewish power, their analysis of foreign policy will be limited and their action ineffective. Bernard Avishai’s claims that American hardliners want the settlement program to continue, and "One cannot just assume that the Congress will care what Jews want" are absurd. Over and over, American presidents have said they oppose the colonization program; over and over these instincts have been nullified politically because of the Jewish presence in the power structure. The Senate is dominated by Democrats, and 1/5 of them are Jews, even though Jews are just 2 percent of the population. ... As I have frequently said, the biggest money game in town on the Republican side is Sheldon Adelson, a Zionist Jew, who got engaged in 2000 with the specific aim of nullifying the "peace process." Today is Obama frustrated by "hardliners"? No: he’s frustrated by the likes of Chuck Schumer, who refuses to go to J Street. ...

To think that the Jewish presence in the media is not also a factor in the disastrous American foreign policy re the Middle East is not to think at all. Avishai’s analysis evades this issue. The Israel lobby is powerful for a lot of reasons. Because it’s a special interest, and because it cares more than anyone else. But also because of the Jewish presence in the Establishment. It is a piece of heartwarming liberal nostalgia to put the blame for the settlements on big bad American hardliners. ...

But just consider America’s "foreign policy strategy," as Avishai puts it. In Iraq, that strategy has called for negotiations with terrorist groups who killed Americans so as to make a political solution, it has called for an end to the occupation of Iraq, and investigating atrocities by American troops. We suspend all those standards when it comes to Israel/Palestine. Why?

In a word, because of American Jewish engagement on these issues. Failing to acknowledge this reality does not serve readers, nor does it serve the necessary process of soul-searching inside the Jewish community over our responsibility for the denial of Palestinian freedom.
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