Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Colonialism, past and present 

An utterly ignorant post at the American Prospect blog, with an equally ignorant sequence of comments appended to it, mocks the Pope and Catholicism. It is interesting to note just how utterly ignorant are liberals of the "oppressed" people in the global south that they claim to want to "help."

Background: the Pope said that the indigenous people of pre-Columbian Latin America had been "silently longing" for Christianity. Now, this is not exactly well-put--and understandably offended some of the Indian Catholics who heard it. What the Pope should have said was that they were "longing" for Christianity as opposed to the murderous conquerors who brought the religion.

Now, I am not defending the Pope's statement. The Pope was wrong not to distinguish sharply between the religion and the conquerors. This is something that he is obliged to do as a Christian. And he is obliged to remember and denounce the forced conversions. It shows terrible insensitivity not to mention the brutal context of Latin America's Christianization (a context which is connected to the present-day disparities between Indian and European in Latin America). However, it should also be noted that, just as the Pope errs in not distinguishing between the conquest and the evangelization, so do the incredibly ignorant posters over at the American Prospect. For them, Christianity just is genocide.

These intelligent liberals seem to be unaware of the role some priests and missionaries played in moderating the atrocities (this is not at all to defend the practice of forced conversion, it is simply to note that Bartolomeo de las Casas is not Hernando Cortez).

More importantly--this is really why I am bothering to put this up--these awfully smug liberals seem not to care, at all, that Latin Americans today are actually Christians. Hundreds of thousands turned out to see the Pope. Of course many Latin Americans have turned from Catholicism to Pentecostalism. But they are virtually all Christian.

What this means is that Latin Americans don't look at their religion as just one more thing inflicted upon them by the conquerors. Latin Americans who profess the Christian religion do not thereby say that the conquest was a good thing.

The entire tenor of the post and comments at the American Prospect is that Christianity is just one more thing that the conquerors "did to them." No one at the American Prospect seems to grasp that this might be felt by Latin Americans themselves as a bit insulting. Can't they, after all of these hundreds of years, choose their own religion?

The attitude at the American Prospect is entirely colonialist. It is assumed that the colonized have no agency, no intelligence, no beliefs. If they are still Christian, that is because they are still suffering from what "we" did to them--as if "we" are all powerful.

Remember--when the Pope said that the Indians had been "silently longing" for Christianity, he was talking to Christians, people who think that Christianity is true. And so of course he, and they, think that Christianity fulfills a need and embodies a truth that the pre-Christian religions did not. If saying this makes the Pope an advocate of genocide, then believing this--that is, believing in Jesus--makes Latin Americans suicidal.

I stuck this comment at the end of the thread:

"I have to say that the ignorance and close-mindedness of the comments in this thread, and the post above it, are mind-boggling.

Do you people even care to know what form of Christianity is professed by the Pope?

Do you think that all Christians are like the fundamentalists in America?

Do you care that the people of Latin America BELIEVE in Jesus Christ, and not in the pre-Columbian religions?

Again, do you think that a Latin American Christian would be more offended by the Pope, or by YOU, blithely equating the Latin American religion of today--Christianity--with genocide and murder?

Do you really think that Latin Americans of today are too STUPID to distinguish between the religion they love and the terrible crimes they were subjected to by the conquerors?

This thread is a joke, this post is a joke.

Colonialism takes many forms. ONE is the ignorant dismissal of Latin American Christianity.

Why do you think 150,000 people came out to see the Pope yesterday? Because they're suicidal and want to celebrate the murderous conquest?

Or because they're grateful to God that the murderers of the 16th century, DESPITE THEMSELVES, brought Christianity to Latin America?

By the way, it's not coincidental that the Vatican has continuously denounced neo-liberal free trade, which destroys Latin American lives, with much more vigor and interest than we North Atlantic liberals.

It was Clinton, and not John Paul II, who inflicted NAFTA on those benighted brown-skinned worshippers of Jesus."

North American liberals are far, very far, from playing any sort of constructive role in the necessarily global movement of resistance to North American capital.

Global Likudization 

This is from a widely-circulated column that Naomi Klein published in the Guardian in 2004, before Ariel Sharon finally fulfilled his true purpose.


Russian President Vladamir Putin is so fed up with being grilled over his handling of the Beslan catastrophe that he lashed out at foreign journalists on Monday. “Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks,” he demanded, adding that, “No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child-killers.”

Mr. Putin is not a man who likes to be second guessed. Fortunately for him, there is still at least one place where he is shielded from all the critics: Israel. On Monday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warmly welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergie Lavrov for a meeting about strengthening ties in the fight against terror. “Terror has no justification, and it is time for the free, decent, humanistic world to unite and fight this terrible epidemic,” Mr. Sharon said.

...sympathy alone does not explain the unqualified outpourings of solidarity for Russia coming from Israeli politicians this week. In addition to Mr. Sharon’s pronouncements, Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom commented that the massacre showed that “There is no difference between terror in Beersheba and terror in Beslan.”

...The underlying message is unequivocal: Russia and Israel are engaged in the very same war, one not against Palestinians demanding their right to statehood, or against Chechens demanding their independence, but against “the global Islamic terror threat.” Israel, as the elder-statesman, is claiming the right to set the rules of war. Unsurprisingly, the rules are the same ones Sharon uses against the Intifada in the occupied territories. His starting point is that Palestinians, though they may make political demands, are actually only interested in the annihilation of Israel. This goes beyond states’ standard refusal to negotiate with terrorists — it is a conviction rooted in an insistent pathologising, not just of extremists, but of the entire “Arab mind”.

...Three years ago, on September 12, 2001, Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked how the previous day’s terror attacks in New York and Washington would affect relations between Israel and the United States. “It's very good,” he said. “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” The attack, Mr. Netanyahu explained, would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we've experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive haemorrhaging of terror.”

...Call it the Likudization of the world, the real legacy of September 11. Let me be absolutely clear: by Likudization, I do not mean that key members of the Bush Administration are working for the interests of Israel at the expense of U.S. interests — the increasingly popular “dual loyalty” argument. What I mean is that on September 11, George W Bush went looking for a political philosophy to guide him in his new role as “War President,” a job for which he was uniquely unqualified. He found that philosophy in the Likud Doctrine, conveniently handed to him ready-made by the ardent Likudniks already ensconced in the White House. No thinking required.

...now the Likudization narrative has spread to Russia. In that same meeting with foreign journalists on Monday, The Guardian reports that President Putin “made it clear he sees the drive for Chechen independence as the spearhead of a strategy by Chechen Islamists, helped by foreign fundamentalists, to undermine the whole of southern Russia and even stir up trouble among Muslim communities in other parts of the country. ‘There are Muslims along the Volga, in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan...This is all about Russia's territorial integrity,’ he said.” It used to be just Israel that was worried about being pushed into the sea.

...If we want to see the future of where the Likud Doctrine leads, we need only follow the guru home, to Israel — a country paralyzed by fear, embracing pariah policies of extrajudicial assassination and illegal settlement, and in furious denial about the brutality it commits daily. It is a nation surrounded by enemies and desperate for friends, a category it narrowly defines as those who ask no questions, while generously offering the same moral amnesty in return. That glimpse at our collective future is the only lesson the world needs to learn from Ariel Sharon.



OK, I can't resist the urge anymore to make the following prediction: within 2 years, it will be confirmed (for all those who wish to know--not many) that an organized conspiracy of American neoconservatives and Israeli Likudniks decided to do everything in their power to aid covertly Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, with the purpose of bringing about a "Pearl Harbor type-event" that would awaken America to the true threat posed by Islamist extremism. The result of this conpsiracy was the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent war on Iraq.

As Klein says above, this is not about Israelis hijacking the U.S. government. This is about fascists in both governments perceiving an absolute identity of interests between them. There is one conspiracy, and it has hijacked both governments (though both governments are, and have long been, sick enough to be vulnerable, to say the least, to such conspiracies). I honestly believe what I'm saying here. Al Qaeda was monitored and their work was covertly facilitated, and the conspiracy, operating out of Douglas Feith's office in the Defense Intelligence Agency, out of the Vice-President's Office, and out of the Mossad, celebrated on Sept. 11, believing that this event would give them license, as Rumsfeld said on that day, to "clean it all up" by prosecuting global anti-Arab war with extreme prejudice.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Now Cut Away 

Sorry to post so close on the heels of the last one, but I just saw this and had to put it up. This is a video of a corporate media broadcast (TBO.com, owned by Media-General) of FCC hearings on media ownership. The speaker, critical of corporate dominance of media, gets cut midway through his testimony on to a reporter who is clearly not expecting the cut.

Around minute four you can observe an exquisitely blatant example of what happens every day at thousands of corporate editor's desks across the country:

Behold the propaganda machine in all its hamfisted glory.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ahmadinejad: "I am the shit" 

Speaking of the image-stream, who needs a little comic relief?

All the way from Iran comes this Farsi gangsta-rap-style video starring Iran’s president Mahmoud Amadinejad. But rather than bragging about Benzes, bitches, and bling, Mahmoud appears here to be talking big game about the incipient “Islamic bomb,” all the while knocking off the competition one... by... one.... Word. If only our image-stream were so fresh.


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