Category Archives: Terrorism (state and retail)

Rwanda: 25 Years on, U.S. Taxpayers Paying Millions for Homeland Security’s Sham ‘Genocide Fugitive’ Trials in Boston

April 6, 1994 – April 6, 2019

On 6 April 1994, the Hutu presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, their top military staff and six French crew members were assassinated when surface-to-air missiles shot down the Rwandan presidential jet on approach to Kigali airport. It is now well established that the assassination plot that decapitated the Hutu-led governments was executed by Rwanda’s now president and strongman-for-life, then Major General Paul Kagame, commander of the terrorist Tutsi-Hima army that invaded Rwanda from Uganda.

Now, 25 years later, while Kagame and the Rwanda genocide industry commemorate the 25th anniversary of the so-called 100 days of genocide, U.S. taxpayers continue to pay millions of dollars for yet another bogus asylum show trial targeting another genocide survivor and fugitive from the terrorist Kagame regime. Meanwhile, reporting on the trial in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, the Boston newspapers have not challenged the vested-interests of their quoted sources or the machinations of the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

The wreckage of the presidential Mystere Falcon airplane, shot down on approach to Kigali airport on 6 April 1994, at rest after air-to-surface missiles caused it to crash into the presidential compound. Photo by Cranimer, New Vision newspaper, Kampala, Uganda.

Jean Leonard Teganya, 46, is a wanted man who has spent much of his adult life trying to start over and recover from the atrocities he survived in Rwanda.

Teganya was a medical student who volunteered at the hospital in Butare, Rwanda in the spring of 1994, treating the sick and wounded when no doctors or nurses were available (due to the large numbers of casualties).

Mr. Teganya was also a victim of the violence in 1994, rescued by fellow students after being attacked by an armed militia in Butare. He fled Butare around 20 June 1994, after killings intensified in the region in parallel with the arrival of the Rwandan Patriotic Army.

In June of 1994 Mr. Teganya fled Rwanda during the mass exodus of some 2 million Rwandans to neighboring countries. Mr. Teganya ended up in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) at Nyakavogo, a (mostly) Hutu refugee camp that in September of 1996 was attacked by Paul Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) in violation of international humanitarian law.

A trial in a federal court in Boston commenced against Jean Leonard Teganya on 11 March 2019. Photographs of the scars of his wounds were shown to the Boston jury by the attorneys from the public defenders office that are representing him.

Witnesses for the prosecution, flown in from Rwanda for the trial in Boston, swore under oath that Mr. Teganya wore the hats, shirts and scarves of the ‘extremist Hutu’ parties. Prosecution witnesses described in great detail the insignia that was on Mr. Teganya’s hat: a machete and tool. He helped commit genocide, the U.S. prosecutors and immigration agents in Boston said, then tried to claim asylum.

‘The defendant had a problem,’ Assistant US Attorney Scott L. Garland told a jury in US District Court in Boston during opening arguments in the trial against Teganya,’ reported the Boston Globe. ‘His problem was that his application for asylum would be denied if the US found out what he had done in Rwanda, because persecutors cannot claim asylum.’

More than two weeks of hearings later, witnesses for the defense described Mr. Teganya as an amicable, quiet man devoted to helping other people. They described an intelligent, sensitive and caring fellow student who did not participate in party politics. More than 15 witness stated under oath that Jean Leonard Teganya never wore the signature clothing of the more radical Hutu political parties.

Where and how were the Rwandan prosecution witnesses to Mr. Teganya’s alleged crimes identified and who identified them? These are some of the pivotal questions that an ICE agent on the witness stand at Mr. Teganya’s trial was unable or unwilling to answer with conviction.

Did the ICE agent commit perjury?

Hutu, Death Agents, Have become Its Victims

As the cataclysm unfolded in Rwanda in 1994, the western media reported from behind the RPA lines. The RPA narrative became the mainstream establishment narrative (that remains the predominant one): Tutsis as victims, Hutus as killers.

When the United Nations High Commission for Refugees special rapporteur Robert Gersony reported on the RPA’s widespread killing of scores of thousands of Hutu inside Rwanda, the report was squashed: all Hutus were killers, all Tutsis were victims. Gersony went silent and stayed silent.

As a survivor of the mass atrocities and genocide that occurred in his home country of Rwanda during the civil war, Jean Leonard Teganya was one of millions of innocent non-combatant Rwandans uprooted and driven from his homeland.

Forced to flee at the age of 21, from one country to another, he was for all practical purposes a fugitive from injustice (at the hands of the RPA), forced to survive or perish under the constant nagging memory of the horrors that he witnessed and the threat of arrest and persecution by the current regime in Rwanda.

His real crimes? He is a Hutu. He is an intellectual. He is a survivor. He had a U.S. government issued work permit and (for over two years) he was working at a prestigious university.

Mr. Teganya persevered in finding a new home, building a new life, raising a family.

And the worst crime of all? Jean Leonard Teganya was on the path of gaining asylum in the United States of America.

When president Paul Kagame and his Directorate of Military Intelligence in Rwanda learned that Mr. Teganya was legally employed as a laboratory technician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge Massachusetts, and that Mr. Teganya was about to gain legal U.S. residency status through the formal immigration process, they set about manufacturing a case against him.

The RPA slaughtered hundreds of thousands of unarmed non-combatant Rwandans–mostly Hutu women, children and elders–and also uncountable Congolese citizens during the Rwandan and Ugandan invasion of Zaire in 1996 and 1997.

At the height of the slaughter in Zaire, the New York Times and other major international media published story after hand-wringing story that basically manufactured consent for the ongoing genocide against the unarmed innocent Hutus in Zaire.

The New York Times article of 13 April 1997 that basically gave the green light for the continued massacres of innocent non-combatant refugees in Zaire–mostly women, children and the elderly.

On 1 October 2010, the 20th anniversary of the RPA invasion of Rwanda (1 October 1990), the United Nations published an extensive Mapping Report of atrocities in the DR Congo. The Mapping Report established clear patterns and documented atrocities declared to include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the RPA and its allies.

Zaire (the Congo) was not the first place that Hutu refugees experienced massacres, torture and unimaginable brutality at the hands of the RPA. The Hutu people also experienced atrocities of this unimaginable and unprecedented inhuman scale, magnitude and character during the four years of terrorism and war prosecuted by the RPA in Rwanda.

Jean Leonard Teganya’s flight from Rwanda in 1994 led him from Zaire to India to Canada.

According to the ICE press release of 4 August 2017, Jean Leonard Teganya was arrested in Massachusetts on that date but the press release does not disclose the full circumstances of context of Mr. Teganya’s status in the United States, or his employment at MIT:

Jean Leonard Teganya, 46, was charged with one count of immigration fraud and one count of perjury. Teganya made his first appearance in federal court in Boston on Friday afternoon.

As alleged in court documents, approximately 800,000 people were murdered during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Prior to and during the Rwandan genocide, Teganya was a medical student and medical trainee at the Butare hospital in Butare, Rwanda. Several witnesses present in Butare during the genocide described Teganya as active in the political party of the genocidal regime, the MRND, and its militia, and stated that he actively participated in the persecution of Tutsis, the group that was largely targeted during the genocide.

According to court documents, Teganya left Rwanda in mid-July 1994, and traveled to Congo, India, and then Canada. In 1999, Teganya applied for immigration benefits in Canada. Canadian authorities twice determined that Teganya was not entitled to those benefits, and ordered his deportation because he had been complicit in atrocities committed at the Butare hospital during the genocide. After 15 years of litigation, Teganya evaded the order of deportation and fled across the border into the United States. On Aug. 3, 2014, Teganya was encountered walking on foot after he crossed from Canada into Houlton, Maine. Teganya was taken into custody and later made false statements on documents submitted to U.S. authorities by failing to disclose the extent of his affiliations and activities with the MRND and Hutu extremists.

If you were to read only what was written about Jean Leonard Teganya by the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald in the years, months and weeks that preceded the trial, or the stories that appeared after the trial began on 11 March 2019 and before closing arguments were heard on 3 April 2019, you would be convinced that Jean Leonard Teganya is a monster of human being capable of the most sadistic violence.

Asylum trial portrayed a monster. Defense aims to change the narrative,” reads Maria Cramer’s Boston Globe article of 2 April 2019.

No matter the stories’ leads, most of these articles quickly spin off into the never-never land of established lies, false accusations and manufactured evidence that are peculiar to Rwanda genocide asylum trials held in the United States and Canada over the past 20 years.

Like the select group of Kagame agents and regime insiders that peddle them, these falsehoods, tactics and methodologies of oppression have become the staple mechanisms and tools of strong-arm long-arm authoritarianism used to reach outside Rwanda and silence, terrorize and extradite (from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Netherlands, etc.) any Rwandan that in any way challenges the Rwandan regime.

When all else fails, there is always the RPA assassination program.

In March 2019, Paul Kagame publicly and unapologetically bragged about the necessity and righteousness of the assassination of former RPA/RPF cadre member Seth Sendashonga–assassinated by RPA agents in Nairobi Kenya in the late 1990’s.

The Rwanda Genocide Industry

On the U.S. side, working for the dictatorship in Rwanda, and keeping tabs on Mr. Teganya from the moment he entered the U.S. in his quest for asylum, crossing the U.S.-Canadian border in Maine in August 2014, was Brian Andersen, a special agent with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit.

Brian Anderson testified at Jean Leonard Teganya’s trial in late March 2019, and he is cited by the Boston Globe without any due journalistic diligence or even a modicum of investigative reporting to vet or uncover the truth about Anderson’s history and practices used to hunt down supposed genocidaire fugitives.

“Brian Andersen, a special agent for the Department of Homeland Security, which investigated the case, testified that his team found the witnesses in Rwanda and established contact with them,” wrote Maria Cramer, for the Boston Globe on 1 April 2019.

No April fool’s joke, what the Globe did not report is how special agent Mr. Andersen has worked with the Kagame regime to hunt, frame and persecute many Rwandan Hutus, survivors of the cataclysm of 1994.

Special agent Andersen has been involved in at least four previous high profile but bogus Rwanda genocide asylum cases, two of these in Boston, one in Manchester New Hampshire, and one in Utah.

Expert witnesses for the prosecution in several of these cases have included Dr. Phil Clark, a British academic at London’s School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Zachary Kaufman, an academic at the Kennedy School of Government, and Rony Zachariah, a doctor with Medecines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) who was present in Rwanda for a short spell before being evacuated during the atrocities of April 1994.

Each of these three experts has made a career out of whitewashing the crimes of the Kagame regime through publishing, public speaking, and/or testifying at one-sided Rwanda genocide tribunals or asylum hearings.

Dr. Phil Clark has been discredited by his own peers in the international academic community. Clark has for many years maintained friendly relations with Kagame and peddled the RPA narrative in complete disregard of evidence of the RPA’s crimes to the contrary; Clark’s tight relations with Kigali suggest some significant financial or material reward for helping to spread the propaganda of the regime.

In the October 2017 immigration trial of Prudence Kantengwa adjudicated by Federal Immigration Judge Sanchez, federal prosecutor Mary Kelley succeeded in getting Dr. Phil Clark qualified as an expert: the immigration judge dismissed Clark’s direct ties to the Kagame regime. Dr. Clark testified by videoconferencing from London; he was allowed to refer to his notes, even search the Internet–while under oath and on the virtual witness stand–to buttress his testimony.

Witnesses for the defense were required to appear in Boston in person, and Judge Sanchez disallowed Rwanda scholar Dr. Susan Thomson as an expert witness for the defense, claiming that Dr. Thomson’s testimony would be duplicative of issues addressed by Dr. Phil Clark. In fact, based on her multiple highly critical reviews of the genocide text edited by Dr. Phil Clark and Dr. Zachary Kaufman (see below), Dr. Susan Thomson would likely have offered testimony in strong contradiction to the prosecution’s expert witness Dr. Phil Clark.

Defense witnesses who did appear at the Kantengwa hearings were not allowed to surf the Internet, refer to documents or books, or even access their personal notes while giving testimony.

Federal prosecutor Mary Kelly harassed the two leading defense witnesses (Keith Harmon Snow and Claude Gatebuke) that Immigration Judge Sanchez did qualify as experts. Ms. Kelley attempted to intimidate, stifle or completely silence the witnesses.

In the Kantengwa case, Immigration Judge Sanchez found in favor of Rwanda and its collaborator, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and thereby set the stage for the extradition and deportation to Rwanda of Prudence Kantengwa.

In the appeal brief filed by Kantengwa’s defense attorneys (William Joyce, “Brief in Support of an Appeal of an Immigration Judge’s Decision,” filed in Falls Church Virginia, A 098 277 297) the appeal attorney explicitly flagged the unprofessional and immature behavior of federal prosecutor Mary Kelley, both in the context of her hysterical outbursts and harassment of the two qualified defense experts and in the context of Prudence Kantengwa’s initial immigration trial adjudicated by U.S. Federal Judge Klein.

Judge Klein, who initially heard Ms. Kantengwa’s case, noted for the record in her written opinion the DHS trial attorney’s [Mary Kelley’s] lack of respect for the court and unnecessarily combative questioning of Ms. Kantengwa and her witnesses. Tr. #1 at 1242 (“I want whoever reviews this case to listen to the tone of this trial attorney [Mary Kelley] throughout this case.”); id. at 1250 (Judge Klein to attorney Kelley: “…it gets to the lack of respect that you have for this Court…”); IJ Klein Dec. at 48 (“On various occasions during cross-examination, DHS counsel’s tone toward the respondent was accusatory and aggressive.”).

This aggressive questioning continued in Ms. Kantengwa’s hearings before Judge Sanchez, in part leading to the reticence of witnesses to respond to questioning…(DHS accusing Ms. Kantengwa of violating and ICTR sequestration order)…(DHS likening Ms. Kantengwa to a Holocaust denier)…(DHS accusing Mr. Gatebuke of misrepresenting his identity)…(DHS accusing Mr. Gatebuke of having a bank account in the Caymans)…(DHS comparing Mr. Snow to Adolph Hitler)…(bond counsel for Ms. Kantengwa to DHS: “I don’t know why your [sic] harassing [the respondent].”) The end result of this very aggressive and possibly inappropriate line of questioning plus the investigator [ICE special agent Brian Andersen] running in and out of the court room led to an atmosphere of intimidation both to the experts and to the respondent.

Though a seasoned Judge from another court arena, Judge Sanchez was newly appointed to the Immigration Courts and the trial of the United States v. Prudence Kantengwa was one of the first immigration cases he heard.

Ms. Kantengwa’s appeals attorney also noted the conflict that arose in the court when a defense witness refused to reveal his sources. Defense expert [Keith Harmon Snow] testified that he had interviewed a Rwandan genocide survivor who had witnessed crimes against humanity and who was himself the survivor of severe and inhuman forms of torture committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army. Judge Sanchez asked the expert [Snow] to reveal the name of witness/victim and when the expert repeatedly refused to name the source or provide to the Court any video or audio recordings of said victim’s statement, Judge Sanchez ruled that the expert’s [Snow’s] opinions on torture in Rwanda be stricken from the record.

In his decision, Judge Sanchez afforded less weight to the expert’s [Snow’s] testimony on the grounds that he was “non-responsive to DHS questioning” and he refused to provide the names of sources to the Court upon demand.

During the trial, attorney William Joyce, the defense counsel for Prudence Kantengwa, strenuously objected to the requirement that experts require names of sources, particularly given the presence in the courtroom of the ICE agent — Brian Andersen — who conducted an investigation in Rwanda of Ms. Kantengwa and her sister Beatrice Munyenyezi.

The appeals attorney also noted in the Kantengwa appeal that:

In fact, there is a serious question as to whether the ICE agent [Brian Andersen] sitting at the [prosecution] table who was also running in and out of the courtroom and providing information to government counsel was attempting to intimidate Mr. Snow. In fact, the respondent’s counsel requested an off the record discussion to discuss what could be considered possible intimidation towards Mr. Snow.

The tactic used by Mary Kelley and Brian Andersen of targeting innocent Rwandans who showed up at hearings in support of other defendants or respondents, or who have been named or identified in immigration hearings, is not without precedent, as noted above.

Dr. Zachary Kaufman, who is Dr. Phil Clark’s academic and editorial colleague, has also maintained a tight relationship with the Kagame regime, effectively serving as one of Kagame’s hired guns. Dr. Clark’s relationship involves material and financial rewards in exchange for whitewashing the regime and gaining access to the country and the largess (and privileges) secured by the criminal RPA cadres and their illegal networks in Rwanda and Congo.

Paul Kagame has numerous times been invited (and appeared) as speaker at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government where Kaufman and genocide expert and stateswoman Samantha Power both have deep historical and current ties. Like Clark and Kaufman’s publications, Samantha Power’s publications on ‘genocide in Rwanda’ are laden with inaccuracies, omissions, distortions and selective truths.

Clark and Kaufman published an edited volume titled After Genocide (2009) that was criticized by Dr. Susan Thomson, a Rwanda scholar whose professional work and vocal criticisms of the regime lead to her being declared persona non grata in Rwanda. Thomson and other scholars also signed a public letter criticizing Dr. Phil Clark’s work and his ties to the Rwandan government. Thomson’s dislike of the Cark/Kaufman book was so strong as to provoke her to write not one but two book reviews that were subsequently published in academic journals.

The preface of After Genocide was written by Paul Kagame and, besides a few chapter contributions by Clark and Kaufman (and a collection of more honest and professional academic chapters), there is also a chapter by another of Paul Kagame’s leading hired guns, the English-speaking propagandist Tom Ndahiro.

Recall that the Tutsi aristocrats and their Ugandan brethren who invaded Rwanda were English speakers, while the Tutsi that suffered the genocidal onslaught in 1994 were French speakers. Kagame and company did not trust, or care about, French speaking Tutsis who ‘stayed behind’ in Rwanda in the 1960s and 1970s when the Tutsi aristocrats fled, and when so many innocent Tutsis targeted in retaliation for Tutsi guerrilla (Inyenzi) attacks against Rwanda also fled to neighboring countries.

Zachary Kaufman was quoted in one of the main Boston Globe articles about Jean Leonard Teganya. Reporter Maria Cramer brought Kaufman into the story to provide an official authoritative and definitive quote to repudiate the defense attorney’s demonstration that Rwandan witnesses for the prosecution are coached, and the defense team’s demonstration of witnesses’ inconsistencies.

In the same story, the Globe briefly discussed the two other recent cases that involved Brian Andersen, Munyenyezi and Kantengwa, but special agent Andersen is not mentioned in connection to those two cases. Instead we read Harvard University expert Zachary Kaufman declaring the final judgement on the matter:

Teganya is the third Rwandan since 2012 to face prosecution in New England for allegedly hiding links to the genocide to obtain asylum…

In 2012, Prudence Kantengwa, a Hutu, was sentenced to 21 months for lying on her asylum application about her affiliation with the party that orchestrated the genocide, the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development.

Three years later, Kantengwa’s sister, Beatrice Munyenyezi, a Hutu mother of three who had moved to New Hampshire, was sentenced to10 years for lying about the killings and rapes she ordered as head of a roadblock in Butare, where Tutsis were stopped, checked for identification, and often murdered on the spot.

Like Teganya, Munyenyezi argued that the witnesses against her were motivated by the possibility of financial compensation or by fear of the Rwandan government.

But other scholars of the genocide said they are skeptical that the government has interfered with witnesses’ testimony.

“I have never seen any evidence of such,” said Zachary Kaufman, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. “It is not unexpected that an accused genocide perpetrator would try to muster any defense they could…”

At least one of the Rwandan witnesses for the prosecution in the Teganya trial has appeared in court for more than one of the cases ‘investigated’ by ICE special agent Brian Andersen. Witness statements show remarkable similarity in the kinds of details they provide and, under cross-examination, in the omissions or contradictions of their testimonies.

The reasons and process whereby Rwandan Hutus have come under the gaze of special agent Brian Andersen are very irregular, if not illegal, and the four previous cases are all interconnected. Mr. Andersen is not alone in the decision-making process that has led to the expenditure of millions of dollars for each of the five cases to be explored herein. Mr. Andersen’s ally in hunting down and persecuting innocent Rwandans in the United States includes Boston federal prosecutor Mary Kelley.

What the Boston Globe also did not report about special agent Andersen is that the Federal Court in Utah found against the Department of Homeland Security and the efforts of Brian Andersen, after the judge in the case realized that the investigation had been botched, the evidence fabricated.

Special agent Andersen and prosecutor Mary Kelley have deployed what has become standard boiler-plate language, tactics and the production of fraudulent witnesses, in the pursuit of ‘justice’ meant to satisfy the dictatorship in Rwanda and silence its critics.

Mr. Andersen and other agents have traveled frequently to Rwanda, where there is no possibility of independent research or investigation, and where ‘witnesses’ are often produced by or coerced by the Kagame regime into satisfying its interests of suffering the repercussions of violence against themselves or their families. In other cases, witnesses are promised lenience on their prison sentences or financial rewards for their cooperation. Some witnesses agree to testify to settle old scores.

“Did the government of Rwanda play any part in selecting the witnesses?” the Boston Globe on 1 April 2019 reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Garland asked Andersen this question under oath. “No, they didn’t,” Andersen replied.

Of course they did. Did special agent Thomas Brian Andersen commit perjury?

Under cross-examination on the witness stand at Mr. Teganya’s trial in Boston, special agent Brian Anderson was asked how he found the Rwandan witnesses who testified to Mr. Teganya’s alleged crimes. Special agent Andersen faltered, badly.

The Boston Globe did not report on special agent Brian Andersen’s poor performance under cross-examination.

Brian Andersen committed perjury, and it is not the first time. What happened in Utah?

Finally, after hearing some truthful testimonies by defense witnesses, and under the byline of reporter Laura Crimaldi, the Boston Globe began waking up and reporting about Jean Leonard Teganya’s character and the ordeal he survived with greater accuracy and depth.

During much of the 100-day Rwandan genocide in 1994, Jean Leonard Teganya said, crowds of victims assembled each day outside the teaching hospital in Butare — overwhelming medical staff with the severity of their wounds.

A month into the violence, Teganya, a Hutu and then a third-year medical student, said he, too, became a victim. Attackers beat him over the head and slashed his leg and ankle with a machete in a secluded area near his dormitory, he said.

Answering questions from his defense lawyer for about three hours, Teganya delved into his life story for the jury, discussing his Tutsi mother, his education at a Catholic seminary and medical school, and the chaos at the hospital in Butare, the country’s second-largest city.

Paul Kagame Terrorism Inc.

While Jean Leonard Teganya was helping the sick and wounded in Butare, and throughout the four year war, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) was perpetrating massive war crimes and crimes against humanity against anyone in their warpath. From 1990 through 1993, the RPA’s scorched earth policy decimated entire villages in northern Rwanda, and this is where the RPA began its slow march to conquer territory across Rwanda. As the RPA continued its steady war of terrorism, hundreds of thousands of refugees were uprooted from homes and villages, forced to become refugees in their own country.

Northern Rwanda is an area of the country where the masses–mostly Hutu, but also some Tutsis and Twa–shared a collective history of generations of extreme violence and injustice suffered at the hands of the Tutsi aristocracy that once ruled the kingdom from central Rwanda.

Paul Kagame and the other Tutsi guerrilla invaders from Uganda were raised on stories of how their noble Tutsi ancestors were the benevolent benefactors of the Rwandan masses. The masses in this case included the predominant Hutu population of over 80-90%, with between 10 and 10% Tutsi, and about 1% Twa. The ethnic categories take on little meaning when one begins to comprehend the nature of the Tutsi aristocracy, their client-patron relations, systems of reward and punish, shifting allegiances and alliances.

The RPA was backed by powerful foreign allies, and their atrocities were whitewashed by the international media and the academics that have always peddled the Tutsis as victims narrative. This narrative was constructed in large part by the human rights establishment, following the lead of the London-based non-government organization African Rights.

From 1990 on, RPA terror cells began infiltrating Kigali, the capital, and all other areas of Rwanda, and with them came atrocities that were frequently blamed on the Habyarimana government. These included assassinations, massacres and disappearances. By March 1993, Rwanda’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) population exceeded one million people.

Hungry, homeless, out of work and money, suffering horrible trauma, despair and the sadness and grief of having lost family members whose lives (and deaths) were further defiled by the inability of survivors to property attend to burials and burial customs. The RPA practiced a scorched earth policy. They did not want to have to administer a territory or deal with local populations. The RPA displaced people and villages, shelled IDP camps, machine gunned huge crowds of people that they first lured into public spaces, and then they marched on. They killed some captives, buried them in mass graves, incinerated them in hugs ovens, baked them to death in tractor-trailer shipping containers, bulldozed them into the forests, and used survivors as porters to transport ammunition, dig trenches, cook their meals, serve as their sexual slaves, and they usually shot them in the end no matter.

As the RPA occupation of Rwanda continued, the Hutu majority government of Juvenal Habyarimana was framed for genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda as early as 1993, while the RPA enjoyed increasing authority, power-sharing and impunity for the horrible and widespread atrocities that were being committed in broad daylight, under cover of night, in villages, in prefectures, across the country in the form of targeted assassinations and other dirty tricks. Trained at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Paul Kagame was schooled in art of ruthless, lethal, contemporary guerrilla insurgency.

Racketeering? Perjury? Conspiracy?

It is important to first realize that special agent Brian Andersen apparently has some kind of special mission to hunt down, arrest and extradite anyone that the Kagame regime accuses of participation in genocide.

One of Mr. Andersen’s fellow Hutu hunter’s is the federal prosecutor Mary Kelley, also based out of Boston Massachusetts.

Kelley and Andersen worked together to frame, arrest, prosecute and imprison Prudence Kantengwa (Boston, MA) and Beatrice Munyenyezi (Manchester, New Hampshire) the sisters of Jean Marie Vianney Higiro.

Paul Kagame has been trying to get his hands on Jean Marie Vianney Higiro since Higiro fled Rwanda in 1994. The former director of the RWandan Office of Information (ORINFOR) during the Habyarimana regime, Higiro and his daughter, a U.S. citizen, were evacuated from Rwanda on 7 April 1994 by U.S. marines who escorted them to Bujumbura, Burundi, and then flew them to Nairobi Kenya on route to the USA.

The trial of Beatrice Munyenyezi was also fraught with irregularities. One of these was the prosecution’s introduction of formerly highly classified satellite images taken by U.S. intelligence reconnaissance satellites during flyovers of Rwanda in June 1994. These photos were introduced by a Pentagon analyst. Their existence had never previously been disclosed.

In his opening statements in a Concord, New Hampshire (USA) courthouse on February 23, 2012, federal prosecutor John Capin launched the U.S. government’s trial against a 41 year-old Rwandan so-called ‘genocide fugitive’ by wielding satellite photographs purportedly showing the road blocks where she “commanded extremist Hutu militia and ordered the rapes and killings of Tutsi” in Rwanda in 1994.

In a remarkable development, this is the first time in the history of the ‘Rwanda genocide’ trials or related Rwanda asylum hearings where Pentagon satellite photographs have been produced as evidence, and the first time that the existence of satellite photographs taken over Rwanda during the so-called ‘100 days of genocide’ has ever been verified.

Later in the Munyenyezi trial the U.S. prosecutors produced a ‘Pentagon analyst’ who testified about the satellite photographs. The Pentagon analyst was Mr. Eric R. Benn, Technical Executive, Analysis and Production Directorate, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The photographs introduced into the public record include very high resolution images shot over Rwanda in May, June and July of 1994.

Under cross-examination during the Munyenyezi trial, the Pentagon analyst admitted that other photos–that would have exonerated the accused–existed, but after a hastily arranged court recess the analyst changed his story declaring that no such photos existed.

“My sister and her attorneys were denied access to exculpatory evidence that consists of satellite photo taken in April 1994.” Jean Marie Vianney Higiro has watched as his sisters have been framed and attempts have been made to frame him. “The photos that the Pentagon submitted to the court were taken in June, and they do not show any roadblocks. The defense attorney for Beatrice asked if there were photos taken in April [1994] because that’s when they [prosecution] said the roadblocks were there. The gentleman from the Pentagon said yes these photos existed. Then there was a break in the trial. When the trial resumed the gentleman said the photos did not exist. These photos [April and early May] would have shown that there were no roadblocks when my sister was allegedly checking ID cards. They were denied exculpatory evidence.”

Declassified Pentagon photos purportedly showing the location of (nonexistent) road-blocks in Butare that were produced in the case of United States v. Prudence Kantengwa.

Brian Andersen played some role in advancing the false story of roadblocks in Butare, where Beatrice Munyenyezi was alleged to have been checking IDs to single out Tutsis to be raped or killed, and he thus played a role in framing Beatrice Munyenyezi.

On June 22, 2010 a Search and Seizure Warrant was approved by the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire for the purpose of invading the Manchester N.H. home of Beatrice Munyenyezi.

The warrant was based on the affidavit of Thomas Brian Andersen, Jr., the same ICE Special Agent involved in the case of Jean Leonard Teganya. In his affidavit, Andersen distilled the Hutu/Tutsi conflict in Rwanda down to a few essential details that helped to frame Beatrice Munyenyezi as a genocidaire.

When the story of Munyenyezi’s arrest was reported in Boston Magazine, ICE special agent Brian Andersen was the hero and Beatrice Munyenyezi was “The Monster Next Door.”

Beatrice Munyenyezi claimed she was a refugee from the Rwandan genocide,” wrote Boston Magazine. “Federal agent Brian Andersen suspected she was someone far more sinister.

Compounding the injustice against Jean Marie Vianney Higiro and his family, ICE agents had Prudence Kantengwa arrested and tried for perjury based on the non-existent roadblocks story. When ICE agents interviewed Kantengwa, they claimed, she did not mention the roadblocks in Butare that became the pivotal (though falsified) evidence against Beatrice Munyenyezi. Kantengwa did not mention the roadblocks because they did not exist. Kantengwa was nonetheless adjudged guilty of perjury.

Both Prudence Kantengwa and Beatrice Munyenyezi were denied exculpatory evidence and both remain in prison today.

Prudence Kantengwa was further judged guilty of perjury on account of her alleged failure to mention that her husband, Athanase Munyemana, was a member of the MRND party. Note, this is one of the boiler plate accusations used against many Rwandans falsely accused by the regime in Rwanda and by the U.S. asylum courts. First, for decades Rwanda was a one-party dictatorship where membership in the government MRND party was obligatory. Second, Althase Munyemana was a state prosecutor in Rwanda who had been transferred to the Service Central de Renseignements (Central Intelligence Services). As a prosecutor, sent by a government minister to work for the CIS, Munyemana was forbidden by Rwandan law from joining any political party.

Federal prosecutor Mary Kelley apparently also worked for Homeland Security, at which time she had both the Kantengwa and Munyenyezi cases referred to the District Attorney. Kelley was also the federal prosecutor in the case against Prudence Kantengwa. Kelley tried to connect Jean Marie Vianney Higiro to both of his sisters’ cases–to frame him as well. This was clearly a direct collaboration with the Kagame regime.

In October 2017, during the Kantengwa trial, federal prosecutor Mary Kelley was forced to disclose a report written by one of her [the prosecution’s] expert witnesses that Kelley disclosed was funded by the Rwandan government.

Another of Mary Kelley and Brian Andersen’s comrades in their Hutu hunting quest is Eugenie Mukeshimana, a Rwandan Tutsi woman who is clearly a paid activist/lobbyist for the Kagame regime. As one Rwandan confided privately: “this is one of Kagame’s hired guns.”

Working in some very irregular capacity as an “interpreter”, Ms. Mukeshimana is also some kind of special adviser to the federal prosecutors in Boston.

Eugenie Mukeshimana has appeared in federal court every day, advising the federal prosecutors at the trial of Jean Leonard Teganya.

Eugenie Mukeshimana has a substantial Internet presence, and she is known by rwandan nationals (with U.S. citizenship) for her pro-regime activism in political and legal circles in Boston, Washington, New York and New Jersey.

Jean Marie Vianney Higiro remains under constant surveillance and monitoring by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On 9 November 2016, the day after the U.S. presidential elections were decided, two F.B.I. agents appeared at the home of Dr. Jean Marie Vianney Higiro. This was only 12 hours after Donald Trump was elected. While the agents failed to observe protocol by reading Dr. Higiro his Miranda Rights, Dr. Higiro was nonetheless cooperative and invited the two agents into his home. He also answered all their questions for over an hour.

The Obama administration had clearly made some deal with Paul Kagame, and it was time to clean house and tidy up unfinished business during the last days of Obama’s lame-duck presidency.

“I thought they were going to arrest me,” Dr. Higiro says. “It’s not over. Who knows what’s going to happen.”

Taxpayers in the United States should demand that a Federal Grand Jury be convened to investigate the corruption, perjury, racketeering and conspiracy being perpetrated in bogus Rwanda genocide asylum trials.

The following people (not an exhaustive list) should be deposed under oath:

  • ICE agent Thomas Brian Andersen
  • ICE agent Kevin Cronin (who has also traveled to Rwanda, works with Andersen to frame refugees and U.S. citizens of Rwandan origins)
  • ICE agent Jordan Regan
  • U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services agent Meghann Boyle
  • Federal prosecutor Mary Kelley
  • Federal Prosecutor Andew Lelling
  • Federal Prosecutor George Varghese
  • Homeland Security Investigations agent Jeffrey Stillings
  • Rwandan “interpreter” and RPA agent Eugenie Mukeshimana
  • MSF doctor and RPA agent Rony Zachariah

How many scores or hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayers dollars are being spent on these fraudulent trials?

The fifteen-day trial of Beatrice Munyenyezi in February and March 2012 was concluded with four additional days of deliberations by an all-white jury. On 15 March 2012 the jury delivered a deadlocked decision and the U.S. government declared a ‘mistrial’. The re-trial began 10 September 2012.

Mark Howard, one of Beatrice Munyenyezi’s attorneys, revealed to the press the huge sums of money spent by the U.S Judiciary to try Rwandan genocide suspects.

Howard estimated that U.S. taxpayers paid between US$ 2.5 million and $US 3 million for Munyenyezi’s first 2012 prosecution and trial in federal court. Howard estimated (at the time) that the second 2012 retrial was likely to cost an additional US$ 1 million.

Howard’s estimates include attorney fees, agent salaries, the ‘extraordinary expense’ of investigating in a foreign country, the costs of bringing some fifteen witnesses to New Hampshire, and the hiring of experts.

In the case of Jean Leonard Teganya, some 15 witnesses appeared for the prosecution, with at least 18 witnesses for the defense. Most of these witnesses were flown in from other countries.

The combined costs of the four or five trials mentioned herein must have (or will) exceed $15 million dollars.

According to ICE statistics from 2017:

The investigation leading to Teganya’s arrest was conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston and supported by ICE’s Boston Office of the Chief Counsel and ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track, and prosecute human rights abusers, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians, and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 380 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 785 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 108 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, HSI has more than 160 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 70,400 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped 213 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.

Souls on Ice

ICE special agent Brian Andersen appeared as an expert witness during an immigration hearing in Salt Lake City, Utah. On trial was a woman named Agnes Mukantagara, a Rwandan refugee who was forced to seek asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, after coming under threat by the Kagame regime. Agnes Mukantagara was working for the U.S. Embassy at the time of her falling out with the regime, and the U.S. Embassy facilitated her admission into the United States.

Agnes Mukantagara appeared in Boston in an immigration hearing involving Prudence Kantengwa. Homeland security operative and federal prosecutor Mary Kelley spotted Agnes Mukantagara and Beatrice Munyenyezi sitting in the courtroom and Kelley pressed ICE to launch an investigation to find out who they were and ascertain their immigration status.

On the witness stand at the Mukantagara trial in Salt Lake City, special Agent Brian Andersen reportedly admitted that Agnes Mukantagara’s case originated in Boston after she appeared in federal court as a witness in Prudence Kantengwa’s case. Andersen also reportedly said he was sent to Kigali to investigate Mukantagara.

In Kigali, Rwanda’s national commission created to hunt down genocidaires provided special agent Andersen with an office where he could work and interview potential witnesses. The government commission brought witnesses to that office for special agent Andersen to interview–witnesses selected to provide Andersen with information that would serve the regime’s interests.

When asked under oath if he had moved outside of the office to perform his duties and gather information special agent Brian Andersen reportedly said ‘no.’ When asked whether he knew that Agnes Mukantagara’s first husband had been murdered by the RPA, Mr. Andersen reportedly said ‘no.’ When askd whether he had met Mukantagara’s relatives during his stay in Kigali, he reportedly said ‘no.’ When asked whether he knew that the government commission trains and schools witnesses, special agent Brian Andersen reportedly said ‘no.’

Later it came to light that Mary Kelley has undertaken her own special research project to learn what she could about Agnes Mukantagara. In so doing, Kelley discovered that one Agnes Mukantagara was tried by one of Rwanda’s public Gacaca Tribunals. Agnes Mukantagara was found guilty of genocide, but not as an organizer, and she was sentenced to life imprisonment. (See, for example: John Quigley, The Genocide Convention: An International Law Analysis, Routledge, 2016: p. 35)

Mary Kelley apparently used the information she so proudly discovered about Agnes Mukantagara, one convicted of genocide at a Gacaca Tribunal in Rwanda, to help make the case against Agnes Mukantagara, one who fled from the threat of the RPA to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

There are/were two Rwandan women with the name Agnes Mukantagara.

Based on Kelly’s tip, the Rwandan regime set about to manufacture a dossier against Agnes Mukantagara. The whole case began in court in Boston, under the ever vigilant Hutu hunting eyes of prosecutor Mary Kelley and special agent Brian Andersen.

After Brian Andersen’s testimony in Salt Lake City, under cross-examination by the defense, the judge found in favor of Agnes Mukantagara’s request for asylum, ruling against the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS, of course, immediately filled an appeal.

Photography Credits: Keith Harmon Snow

On My Visit to New Zealand

I visited the city of Christchurch on May 23, 2018, as part of a larger speaking tour in New Zealand that also took me to Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin.

New Zealand is an exceptional country, different from other countries that are often lumped under the generalized designation of the ‘western world.’ Almost immediately after my arrival to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most populous city, I was struck by the overt friendliness, hospitality and diversity.

This is not to downgrade the ongoing struggles in the country, lead among them being the campaign for land rights as championed by the Maori people, the original inhabitants of New Zealand; but, indeed, there was something refreshingly different about New Zealanders.

Just the fact that the Maori language, “Te Reo”, is one of the three official languages in the country, the others being English  and Sign Language, immediately sets New Zealand apart from other colonized spaces, where indigenous peoples, cultures, languages and rights are, to various extents, inconsequential.

It is due to the empowered position of the indigenous Maori culture, that New Zealand is, compared to other countries, more inclusive and more accepting of refugees and immigrants. And that is likely why New Zealand – and Christchurch, in particular – was chosen as a target for the terrorist attacks carried out by an Australian national on March 15.

The Australian terrorist – whose name will not be mentioned here in honor of a call made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, as not to celebrate the infamy of the senseless murderer – wanted to send a message that immigrants, particularly Muslims, are not safe, not even in New Zealand.

But his attempt backfired. Not only will he live “the rest of his life in isolation in prison”, as promised by New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, who was speaking at the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency conference in Turkey on March 22, but the horrific crime has brought New Zealanders even closer together.

There is something sorrowful, yet beautiful, about Christchurch. This small, welcoming city, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, was devastated on February 22, 2011 by a massive earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed much of the town.

Last May, I spoke at Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral, an innovative structure that was built as a temporary replacement to the Anglican Cathedral that was destroyed in the earthquake.

In my talk, I commended the people for their beautiful church, and for their own resilience in the face of hardship. The diversity, openness and solidarity of the audience reflected the larger reality throughout the city, in fact, throughout the country. For me, Christchurch was not a place of tragedy, but a source of hope.

My audience, which also included members of the Muslim community, some coming from Al Noor Mosque – the main target of the recent attack – listened and engaged me as I argued that the genuine authentic voices of ordinary people should be placed at the core of our understanding of the past, and our hope for a better future. While the focus of my talk was the history of the Palestinian people, the message exceeded the struggle for freedom in Palestine into the struggle and rights of all indigenous groups, guided by such uplifting experiences as that of the Maori people of New Zealand itself.

I also had the chance to meet with Marama Davidson, co-leader of the Green Party, among other MPs. It was strange to be in a position where solidarity from politicians came across as genuine as that of the unconditional solidarity of ordinary activists – once again, highlighting the uniqueness of New Zealand’s progressive politics and leadership.

Experiencing that myself, it was no surprise to see the outpouring of genuine love and support by Prime Minister Ardern and many members of her cabinet and parliament following the mosque attack. The fact that she, along with numerous women throughout the country, wore symbolic head-scarves in order to send a message to Muslims that they are not alone, while countless thousands of New Zealanders mourned the victims who perished in Al Noor and Linwood mosques, was unprecedented in the recent history of Western-Muslim relationship.

In fact, on Friday March 22, when all of New Zealand’s TV and radio stations transmitted the call for Muslim prayer, and as Muslims and non-Muslims rallied together in a massive display of human solidarity while mourning their dead, for a moment, all Muslims became New Zealanders and all New Zealanders became Muslims.

At the end of my talk, a group of Muslims from the mosque approached me with a gift, a box of dates to break my fast, as it was the month of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and repentance for Muslims worldwide. With much gratitude I took the box of dates and promised to visit Al Noor when I return to the country in the future.

A few months later, as I watched the horrific images on television of the terrorist attack that struck this peaceful city, I immediately thought of the Cardboard Cathedral, of the beautiful solidarity of the Maori, of the numerous embraces of so many New Zealanders, and, of the kindly Muslims and the box of dates.

I also understood why the undeserving-to-be named terrorist chose to strike Christchurch, and the underlying message he wanted to send to Muslims, immigrants, New Zealanders and all of those who champion peaceful co-existence and tolerance worldwide.

But he failed. In fact, all other foot soldiers of racism and hate will continue to fail because tragedy often unites us. Collective pain helps us see each other as human beings first, where our differences, however great, can never be enough to justify or even explain why 3-year-old Mucad Ibrahim had to die, along with 49 other, beautiful and innocent people.

However, one can be comforted by the Maori saying, “Ka mate te kāinga tahi, ka ora te kāinga rua” – “when one house dies, the second lives”. It means that good things can always emerge from misfortune.

It will take much time for Christchurch, and the whole of New Zealand, to heal from this terrible misfortune. But the strength, will and courage of so many communities should be enough to turn a horrific terrorist act into an opportunity to heal our collective wounds, not just in New Zealand, but the world over.

Why Did This Just Happen Again?

Another heavily-armed, sociopath fascist has carried out a carefully-planned, extremely cold-blooded, videotaped massacre. In terms of the particular form of mass murder that involves targeting people because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other such commonly-held characteristic, by far the most large-scale forms of ethnic cleansing have been carried out by governments. Examples include institutionalized forms of genocide such as the European Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Nazi gas chambers, the Japanese Empire’s Rape of Nanking, the smoke-filled caves of Turkey during the First World War, the total devastation wrought from the skies down on entire civilian populations in places like Iraq, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, and Japan by the US Air Force, the price put on each Indian scalp in colonial New England, the many, many massacres of whole villages that took place during the theft of indigenous land or under the banner of “war” throughout the Americas, in Australia and so many other places with similar histories. The names of towns and cities often become representative of the ethnic cleansers of the day, and depending on the time and place, everyone knows what you mean when you use the shorthand of place names such as Alhambra, Guernica, Dachau, Wounded Knee, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, My Lai, Srebrenica, Falluja, Deir Yassin, Sabra, Shatila.

In times and places when such slaughter isn’t a daily occurrence, it’s more shocking. Particularly when the slaughter is carried out not on orders of a commanding officer in an occupied war zone somewhere far away, but by a freelance sociopath from a generally peaceful country who obviously wants so much to kill for his beliefs that he’s willing to die in order to do so. Then we add place names that have become chilling reminders of this special variety of incomprehensible horror, at least for those who remember — Hebron, Oak Creek, Orlando, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Utoya, Christchurch — to name only a few, that adhere strictly to the concept of freelance fascist terror directed at a particular group for the crime of existing. (Which is not to minimize other forms of terror. I’ll get to some of them later.)

Many commentators have aptly pointed out that at a time when the leader of the free world is openly racist (along with the leaders of an increasing array of other major countries), this encourages racist hate crimes, which is evidently and not surprisingly true. I would venture to add a couple things to this discussion, not that I make any pretenses to be the first to do so. For one thing, this legacy of genocide, racial and ethnic division didn’t start with Trump, or even with Hitler — it goes back a lot further than that, and this is crucial to understand for making any sense of the world around us. The other thing I’d add is I don’t feel at all confident that the leaders of most countries in the western world actually want these massacres to stop, and I say this just from my own personal experiences, which I think are worth sharing in some detail.

There have been competing narratives going on throughout the history of Europe and the European-descended settler-colonial/refugee diaspora that has come to dominate so much of the world in recent centuries. Very broadly, you could say that on the one hand there is the divide and rule narrative of the rich and powerful, and on the other, the narrative of solidarity, uniting all the people against their common enemy, the ruling elite. Depending on the time and place, the adherents of one or the other of these narratives have been in the ascendancy, but for most of the history of Europe and its colonies, the elite has maintained their grip on power through the systematic and often very deadly sowing of divisions within the ranks of the people.

Ethnic cleansing has been a major feature since the beginnings of European Christendom. It would be a terrible mistake, however, to assume that what was happening in Europe was happening everywhere else — it wasn’t. During the many centuries that were characterized in much of Europe by the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the expulsions of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Muslims from places like Spain, Portugal (with smaller mass expulsions from England and other countries), in the Ottoman Empire Jews, Christians and Muslims lived side by side in peace and prosperity, with the sultan taking an active role in promoting coexistence of different religions, languages and traditions within the sprawling, extraordinarily diverse Ottoman lands. In one of the most massive and least well-known events during the long period in Europe often referred to as the Dark Ages, when all the Jews of Spain were given three months to leave the newly Catholic country or be killed, most of them were rescued in a gigantic naval operation by the Ottoman fleet. At the time, any Ottoman, Chinese or Andean city was far more prosperous and high-tech than the most advanced parts of Europe. In fact, the term “Europe” wasn’t used to describe the land mass it is currently understood to be referring to, so even writing a history of Europe is a fraught concept to begin with for any historian going back further than the modern period.

Jews, Muslims, and the wrong kinds of Christians were systematically and regularly targeted by crusaders and inquisitors, and then in North America by Puritans, who hanged Indians along with Catholics and Quakers, and burned them alive in large numbers in Connecticut. Among those who came to North America and Australia from England, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, most were refugees of one form or another, and when they got to wherever they were going — often in chains — they generally lived short and brutal lives. If they were lucky, after a couple generations of assimilation their lot might improve. Not so much for the Africans brought over in chains that were maintained in place by institutionalized racism no matter how many generations later, or for the Indians whose land was taken, with whole populations and cultures reduced to suggestions of what once had been.

Throughout all of this there was profound resistance — resistance which has defined reality for those of us alive today to a huge extent, though perhaps not as huge an extent as the oppressive institutions, systems and ways of thinking we’ve been up against over these centuries of the global struggle between the haves and have-nots. There were Indian nations pitted against each other and others who managed to unite against a common foe. There were race riots and pogroms but there were also slave rebellions, farmer rebellions, and eventually, after many decades of trying and failing, inter-racial unions. The Europe-wide uprisings of 1848, the concurrent Rent Strike movement in the US, and the miner rebellion in Australia soon afterwards all had profound impacts in terms of Europe and these European settler states becoming more democratic and more prosperous.

In the more modern period, divide and rule tactics have been used by most western countries to pit nations against each other in wars over colonial control of other parts of the world, using the working class of one country to slaughter that of another. But at least as significant as those wars between countries has been the systematic use of divide and rule tactics to keep populations under control within a given country. In Europe, the divide between different forms of Christianity and the existence of Jews, Muslims, and later of the supposed threat posed by the Soviet Union and still later once again by the existence of Muslims and specifically Muslim refugees have been some of the main pillars of divide and rule. In the US we’ve had all of that, plus an extra helping of racial division to add a seemingly infinite degree of complexity to the already great challenges inherent in the class struggle anywhere — and that is very much true in Australia as well, which for a very long time had a whites-only immigration policy, as did the US and New Zealand.

So why this history refresher? Because, as far as I can tell, nothing much has changed. For all the talk about cracking down on far right terrorism or white nationalism or whatever they’re using as the modern term for the inquisitors, crusaders, ethnic cleansers, fascists, genocidal colonizers, Puritans, slave-traders, imperialists, CIA coup-plotters or torturers, the crackdown will never be very thorough, because any thorough crackdown would mean a fairly complete transformation of society. It would mean, in short, socialism. In order to overcome these divisions, which were all intentionally created, we have to intentionally put an end to them. This means, to coin a phrase, the workers of the world uniting. And what then of corporate profits?

Well, that, it seems to me, is the problem. I’m now over half a century old, and I’ve been involved with what they call activism since I was twelve or so. From my experience, the powers-that-be in these European and European-colonized countries like the US, Australia and New Zealand don’t seem to be very concerned with the repeating patterns of far right violence. Regardless of the facts, regardless of the news or of what they say they’re going to do, what they seem to do in actuality most of the time is crack down on the left some more. That is, they crack down on the very advocates for the concepts of unity and solidarity that they say they also stand for. It seems to me you can’t have it both ways.

And as they are opposing progressive thought and action in most every form at most every turn (until that which is violently opposed is ultimately embraced as self-evident), they are also constantly supporting and embracing and propagating a false narrative of history that suits their ends, and ultimately ends up supporting white nationalism. Either intentionally or because they don’t know any better, throughout institutions of society in places like the US, Australia and New Zealand, people are being lied to as they’re growing up and throughout their adulthoods, with so many different forms of mythology about the superiority of European civilization. And when the contrast between the wealth in so many of the whiter countries and the poverty of so many of the darker nations is not explained or put into the context of colonialism and imperialism, as it generally isn’t, it might make sense to assume there is something to this white nationalism after all. The way Venezuela is currently being covered in the western media and by western politicians is a case in point. No real historical context is given for why Venezuela was so poor to begin with, how Chavez changed that for so many people, or why the people talking about all of the different ways the US and other forces are acting to destroy the country are clearly the ones with the strength of history on their side.

Media coverage and portrayal by politicians of the global justice movement in the late 1990’s in which I was an active participant is another case in point, and is the first personal example I’ll begin with. You would be forgiven for thinking that intensified and militarized border security and the militarization of police forces in the US was a post-9/11 phenomenon in response to terrorism. For those who were around and involved with the movement, we know differently. The security state flew into high gear in response to the WTO protests near the end of 1999. This is when the total vilification of our movement in the media began.

They consistently painted us as “anti-globalization,” a term we never used. The impression they gave was that we were against trade of any kind. They dismissed us as ignorant people who didn’t appreciate the greatness of capitalism, and all the good the US, the UK, France, etc. has done in the world by promoting free trade and democracy. Many of them probably believe the lies they spout. Why wouldn’t they? They grew up in this mind control experiment called the western world, too, believing all this rubbish. They painted us as universally engaged in violence and property destruction, just the same way they talk about the Yellow Vest movement in France today, although with our movement, as with that one, the rock-throwers were a small minority. Most of the movement was all about nonviolent civil disobedience, which is how many different global trade meetings were disrupted.

And that’s what really upset them — this egalitarian social movement. That’s what they couldn’t stand. And when we, this global movement, began to influence the mainstream understanding of and conversation around so-called development programs and blood-sucking institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, when people broadly began to question whether free trade was good for the average person, while at the same time the billionaires were unable to hold a public meeting and have it go off smoothly unless they held it in a dictatorship, the global elite in the great democracies of the west were facing something of a legitimacy crisis.

For the ruling elite in the US especially, 9/11 was their opportunity to seize the moral higher ground in the face of the argument around stratification of wealth, free trade, and exploitation of workers, the environment, and the Global South — an argument they often appeared to be losing. Now, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they finally had found a worthwhile enemy to distract everyone with — and they finally found a worthwhile enemy to compare us with, as well. I remember the voice of the NPR anchor so well in the days following the attacks on New York, when he said something like, “last week they were protesting the World Trade Organization. Now they’re bombing the World Trade Center.”

And it is true that the last time I recalled being at the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan prior to 9/11 was on May 1st, 2000, when thousands of riot police had been deployed all over the city to make sure we didn’t shut down Wall Street or break windows at Starbucks, McDonald’s or at the Twin Towers. Turns out they had more to worry about than window-breaking teenagers, but you wouldn’t know they were worried about anything other than the left, when you look at the police budgets in different cities, and how they mushroomed not in preparation for potential terrorist attacks, but to prevent us from messing up their meetings.

Sometime around September 13th, 2001 I was driving with a friend past New York City’s smoldering ruins, along i-95 in Connecticut, the stretch of highway that consistently gets the distinction of being voted the ugliest in the United States by the truckers association. No one ever hitch-hikes on i-95, but that day there was a hitch-hiker, and he was Israeli. That was weird. We gave him a ride to New Haven. He said he had been there for a long time. No one would pick him up. He figured it was because he looked Arab.

I don’t know who that guy was, but years later I heard from a friend who had been off the radar for a long time. He wasn’t a close friend, so it wasn’t so strange not to hear from him for a while, but when he resurfaced it turned out that he had been off the radar because he was basically in hiding, afraid he might die at any moment. After not dying for so many years, he ventured to anonymously tell me his story, which he said I could publish on my blog (which I did). To sum up the salient points, my friend knew Mohammed Atta, smoked cigarettes with him at the smoking area outside of a mysterious building in Hollywood, Florida where Atta worked. The building contained companies that had names that seemed to indicate they were moving companies, but they had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment, and most of their employees were Israelis, at least one of whom clearly didn’t get the cue that he was working for a moving company. The janitor went to the wrong floor and died there. All the businesses in the building suddenly closed on September 12th, 2001. I still want to know what the hell that was all about.

I first learned I was on a watch list in 2002, but I had begun having huge problems crossing the Canadian border before then. I was prevented from entering Canada for the G8 protests in 2002 and told I’d be detained if I tried to enter anywhere else in the country. When would I be released? When the protests were over, I was told. Why would I be held in the first place? The document just said to turn me away, but that they should give me a false reason for having done so. (The border agent wasn’t supposed to show his orders to me, but he was too freaked out by them not to. Other people have similar stories, including Laura Poitras.)

I mention the watch list because under treaty, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand share all of that kind of information, since 1948. I learned that in 2013, when I was denied entry to New Zealand.

I had been to Aotearoa — what the European settlers named New Zealand — on several occasions before then, playing gigs and getting to know people and places on those lush, green, beautiful islands. I had met people on watch lists, and people who were on trial on charges that involved the word “terrorism” being thrown around frequently. They were all either Maori or non-Maori supporters of Maori sovereignty.

But then to be denied entry in 2013, to find out that government agents from those islands are reading my blog, and telling me about it in detail as they explain that pot-smoking musicians like me are not welcome in their country, was a surprise to me and to the veteran immigration lawyer in Christchurch who tried and failed to help get this decision overturned.

Only weeks later in Australia I got some strange news through the bizarre circumstance of knowing a government worker in Canberra. Down the hall from where she worked, through the open door of the War Crimes Department one of her coworkers clearly heard people inside that department discussing me. Her coworker didn’t hover near the door to try to get more information, but he excitedly reported this bit of gossip to my friend, which was as unreal to him as it was to her and to me.

However else you want to decipher this set of facts and the facts that have come to light since the massacre in Christchurch, I was on watch lists in both New Zealand and Australia, and this Australian fascist with a long and active record of hate speech on the internet was able to get a license to own an arsenal of machine guns, and he was not on a watch list in either the country of his birth, Australia, or the country he had moved to, where he bought his guns and killed all those people. Lest anyone be left with the impression that I’m talking about my history with being on multiple international watch lists in order to prove how cool I am, that is not the point. The point is that the authorities are wasting their time and effort on people like me, and however many thousands or millions of other people like me, and they are missing the people they should be watching. (Not that this is a problem that can be solved by better policing in the first place.)

I was in Scotland for the 2005 G8 summit and protests there, which involved lots of nonviolent civil disobedience, delayed meetings, and other festivities. It also involved thousands and thousands of riot cops to make sure the summit would be able to go on. They felt they needed such a large police presence that there weren’t enough cops in Scotland for the job, so they imported loads of cops from other places. None of this is unusual, by the way. Many of the cops they imported for the protests were from London. Turns out that in July, 2005 the London cops had other things they might have been looking into aside from nonviolent protesters in Scotland. What they know of in England as 7/7, the terror attacks on the London Underground, occurred at the tail end of the G8 meetings in Scotland, while the London cops were away policing us.

I was in Oslo only a couple weeks after the bombing there and the massacre in Utoya that followed in 2011. The mounds of flowers at the Oslo Cathedral were still fresh. It was the same cathedral where a few years earlier I stood with Afghan refugees who had been on hunger strike for weeks, trying to draw attention to the fact that Norway intended to send them back to a war zone to die. I watched the police destroy their tents one night, and I watched the Red Cross put up new tents the following morning, in a direct challenge to the police.

Like other people following the news in July, 2011, I was hearing stories about the slow police response to the massacre that had been unfolding on the island. One of the things that kept getting mentioned was that the city of Oslo had just one police helicopter.

Only then in the wake of by far the worst massacre in post-World War 2 Scandinavian history did I learn the significance of the experience I had had not long before that time, when Barack Obama was in town to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The tabloid press and the Norwegian authorities were apparently so concerned about Islamists attacking the Nobel proceedings with rocket launchers that they had arrested Norway’s one known Islamist before Obama’s arrival as a precaution.

On the day when Obama was getting his prize and some few anarchists were protesting in the rain, including a number of my Scandinavian friends, I wasn’t feeling well. I was trying to take a nap around midday, when a helicopter showed up directly above me. I was on a bed on the fifth floor of a five-story building, and the helicopter above me was deafeningly loud. It hovered there for around two hours, preventing me from napping.

Being an activist and getting harassed by helicopters is, believe it not, not an unfamiliar experience for me and for many other people who I could introduce you to. But knowing that the helicopter harassing me in this particular case was probably Oslo’s one police helicopter, at a time when they were supposedly worried about Islamist violence, less than two years before the country would be devastated by a horrific act of rightwing violence, it felt very much like yet another example of a grievous misallocation of police resources, at the very least.

I could share so many more examples, but my abundant experience indicates that whether we’re talking about a more nakedly capitalist country like the US under the leadership of an open bigot or under the leadership of a suave gentleman of color; whether we’re talking about Thatcher’s England or the pacific social democracies of Scandinavia led by people who apparently really do think free health care and government housing are good things; the mainstream media and the mainstream political leadership of all of these countries are much more concerned with the possibility that progressive movements will upset their status quo than they are concerned with mass murderers.

Given that the historical evidence indicates that the cure for fascist movements is successfully-implemented socialism that allows everyone to live dignified lives with universal housing, health care, education, etc., the tendency of all of these neoliberal European, North American and South Pacific nations to suppress progressive movements wherever they crop up in their own countries or elsewhere in the world, to almost always side with corporate interests against the interests of their own people or other people, will continue to be one of the major factors providing a great breeding ground for the ethnic cleansers in our midst following in the paths of a thousand years of rule by the descendants of the Crusaders.

You want to de-radicalize the fascists among us, hand-wringing western democratic leaders of the world? You can start by taking your corporate boots off of the necks of the progressive social movements that have been trying to oppose these people while you’ve been pretending you don’t have a history as an explicitly racist state with a whites-only immigration policy.

Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement

A censorious and censoring attitude has engulfed responses to the mental airings of the Christchurch shooter.  Material in connection with Brenton Tarrant, the alleged gunman behind the killing of 50 individuals at two mosques in New Zealand, is drying up; his manifesto, for one, is being disaggregated and spread through multiple forms, removed from their various parts with blunt razors.  Doing so does a disservice to any arguments that might be mounted against him, but having a debate is not what this is generally about.

Arguments on banning the incendiary and dangerous are easily mounted against a range of publications. The smutty supposedly corrupt public morals; the revolutionary supposedly give citizens strange and cocksure ideas about overthrowing the order of things. Then there are just the downright bizarre and adventurous, incapable of classification, but deemed dangerous for not falling into any clear category.  Certitude is fundamentally important for the rule-directed censor and paper shuffling bureaucrat.

One example stands out, a testament to the failure of such efforts and the misunderstandings and distortions that follow.  Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as a stellar case, was banned in Germany after the Second World War.  In January 2016, it was republished on the expiry of copyright held by the Bavarian government.  As Steven Luckert remarked in The Atlantic at the time, “the history of the book, and of Hitler’s words more generally, demonstrates that there’s no clear-cut relationship between banning speech and halting the spread of ideas.”  The Nazi party did not disappear in the aftermath of the ban; nor could it be said that his ideas had captivated whole states and their governments, despite being accessible.

The book, deemed to be an insight into the darkened corridors of Hitler’s racial and biologically charged mind, was not initially seen as off limits in the war of ideas; even as the United States was doing battle against Nazi Germany, advocates for understanding the mental baggage of Hitler was sought rather than dismissed.  Houghton Mifflin made it a patriotic duty for Americans to familiarise  themselves with the tenets of the text.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was also keen that those battling Germany have a sense of what they were up against.  As he noted in his history of the Second World War, “There was no book which deserved more careful study from the rulers, political and military, of the Allied Powers.”  All the elements were there, from “the programme of German insurrection” to establishing “the rightful position of Germany at the summit of the world.”

With Tarrant, the push to restrict discussion and siphon off any serious mention is well underway.  The Great Replacement is become scarcer on the internet, having been removed from numerous sites and scoured off digital domains.  White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insists that the document be studied and read “in its entirety.”  Her reasons, explained in a Monday morning interview with Fox & Friends, are valid enough; she wants to argue that Tarrant is not merely a white nationalist warrior, but as much a radical in other contexts.  Yes, he mentions President Donald Trump “and there it is, one time.  But he also said he aligns closely with the ideology of China.  He said he’s not a conservative, he’s not a Nazi, I think her referred to himself as an eco-naturalist or an eco-fascist.”  Such are the muddying details of completeness.

The suggestion prompted scorn and outrage from the media cognoscenti.  Aaron Rupar called it “highly irresponsible.”  Joan Donovan of Harvard’s Technology and Social Change Research Project, demonstrating the enlightened disposition one has come to expect from boxed squirrel scholars, demanded a curb to its reach. “It is loaded with keywords that lead down far-right rabbit holes.  Do not repost.”  Tech writer for The New York Times Kevin Roose was decidedly paternalistic, issuing a hazard warning to any would-be reader: “be careful with the NZ shooter’s apparent manifesto.  It’s thick with irony and meta-text and very easy to misinterpret if you’re not steeped in this stuff all the time (and even if you are).”  Like the Catholic Church of old, it has been left to a priestly cast of read, steeped-in-the-stuff interpreters to give the highlights, carefully chosen, for public consumption.  No rabbit holes, meta-text, or irony for the unfortunate plebeian readership.

The mechanism by which this censorship is being engineered is questionable from ethical, evidentiary and epistemological contexts. The copy-cat syndrome has roared to the fore as real and influencing, and to that end, justifying.  Be wary of social contagion in the aftermath of a mass killing, we are told.

In 2015, a multi-authored study in PloS ONE claimed to find “significant evidence that mass killings involving firearms are incented by similar events in the immediate past.”  There was “significant evidence of contagion in school shootings.”  The authors suggested that an increased risk of mass killings and school shootings in a 13-day period following previous incidents.  Such perspectives on contagion have been echoed in a range of publications which insist on not publishing names or photographs of mass shooters.

Adam Lankford and Sara Tomek revisited the theme in studying mass killings in the United States between 2006 and 2013 in the journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour.  They noted the absence of relevant empirical studies on the subject, and previous contradictory findings.  The authors suggested that contagion requires transmission. “The social contagion thesis requires that the imitative mass killer be at least indirectly exposed to the model killer’s behaviour.”

On examining their gathered data, Lankford and Tomek confidently asserted that their study raised “significant questions about previous findings implying a short-term social contagion effect from mass killings.”  No “statistically significant evidence of contagion” was detectable within the 14-day time period.  Ever careful to cover their tracks with heavy padding, they also issue a cautionary note; “that longer term contagion or copycat effects may pose a significant threat to society.”

The banning complex is hard to resist.  After catastrophe, material can find itself onto forbidden lists.  Authorities, fearing mayhem, are the first to identify such dangers in slipshod fashion.  Uncertain and unverifiable contagion measures are considered.  But keeping such material off the radar will not advance the discussion of nationalism of a certain pedigree and the source of its inspiration.  If white nationalism be the problem, then call it out.  Examine it.  Consider remedies.  Tarrant’s The Great Replacement, like Hitler’s Mein Kampf before it, should be studied for its implications and understandings rather than avoided as a viral inducement for further violence.  The censor, in attitude, practice and assumption, remains as great a danger to society as any dangerous text ever could be.

Nonviolent Versus Violent Peace in Afghanistan and the World

“Salam (peace)!” is how Afghans greet one another, some of them simultaneously placing a hand over their hearts.

But, while everyone including Afghans wants peace, the Afghan Peace Volunteers and I have observed that the human species appears to be stuck on violent peace. We think that this is because most of us are reared as armed doves, like the one drawn by Wifred Hildonen for Cartoon Stock below.

There is a new Peacemaker in town!

Using Wilfred’s cartoon analogy, the Afghan Peace Volunteers and I are differentiating violent peace from nonviolent peace based on whether a society includes or excludes the use of weapons and armies as a resort to secure peace.

To date, the earth has housed violent peace. Human beings are the armed doves inhabiting the planet under the threat of lethal weapons, including 14,575 nuclear warheads. Even small island countries like Singapore are spending more and more money to acquire superior weaponry from the military industrial complex

We’re not differentiating between violent and nonviolent peace to judge anyone, as we would only be judging ourselves. We’ve tried nothing but violent peace in Afghanistan, to everyone’s loss. The time is overdue to pursue peace without weapons or armies, so that we can all enjoy the kind of peace we human beings dream about.

So, please trust your humanity, and trust that we share that humanity too. Like you, we wish to protect and defend our loved ones, so we don’t make this call on the people of the world lightly: “Don’t just pause. Stop! Consider nonviolent peace. It won’t harm you. It is the love we’ve always wanted!”

We so badly want societies that are highly organized on the foundation of love. This is already happening in many places through the local establishment of egalitarian, nonviolent practices. Joan Boaz said, “That’s all nonviolence is – organized love”.

It is happening among the Afghan Peace Volunteers, like with Afghan 11th grade student Rashid, whose story I had begun telling in a previous post.

Rashid

Rashid’s father was killed in a suicide bombing attack on a mosque in Kabul, for which a Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility. Rashi’s father was selling oranges at the mosque. Rashid was so devastated by this loss that he became inconsolably depressed and couldn’t bring himself to attend school for three months.

Once during a counselling session, I was listening to Rashid describe the tightness and pain he feels in his chest when he remembers the prison-like religious school he was forcefully enrolled in. Rashid recalled the incessant punishments in class, and the loneliness….The tears started pouring down his cheeks, not the sort of tears that sought any attention, but flowy, tender tears.

“Do you think you can heal yourself of the war inside you?” I asked Rashid recently.

“Yes, by changing the way I think. I can ask questions, and look for evidence before I believe any claim about war or other matters,” he replied.

I asked what he would say if his mother asked to take revenge against the Pakistani “terrorists”, or against the Afghan extremists who, through traumatic indoctrination at the religious school, tried to brainwash him into joining them to wage the “holy war”.

“I will tell her: If I take revenge, you know that they will retaliate with even fiercer vengeance. You could be hurt. I could lose everything,” Rashid said.

I probed deeper, as my own personal journey towards understanding war and peace involved a freeing up of my basic assumptions, “After all that your mother has gone through, don’t you think that it’s her right to fight back?”

“Teacher,” Rashid explained to me, “There is an Afghan saying, “Blood cannot wash away blood.” Taking revenge doesn’t work.”

“But, Rashid, how will you be able to allay your mother’s fears, or even your own fears, if there were no military forces to defend you and your mom? Who will protect you?”

“My father was killed even when the Afghan army and the US/NATO forces were here defending us in Kabul. What we need is a people’s defense, in which the people bring security by conversing with the groups in conflict. We shouldn’t use weapons, because if we do, others will also use weapons against us. Look at the current peace negotiations in Afghanistan. While they negotiate, the sides in conflict are increasing their fighting and killing! How is peace ever going to come?” Rashid explained.

Rashid was stating what even the US Joint Chief of Staff, Marine Corps General Joe Dunford and the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres had both said on different occasions, “There is no military solution in Afghanistan.”

“I used to admire those who looked strong holding dangerous weapons like this or like that…,” Rashid said, switching his arm posture as if he was holding a gun. “I used to think that Afghanistan must have an army to defend the country. I was a fan of the army generals.”

In most countries of the world today, saying something like this will get serious censure, “Rashid is unpatriotic. He is a traitor, maybe a Talib!” As armed doves, we consider the military almost sacred.

“Now, though I respect army generals and even militants as human beings, I don’t like what they do. I used to think that fighting proves how courageous I am. I was like a smart phone that was programmed by a system run by the government,” Rashid said.

I was reminded that I was speaking to a young person who belongs to the digital age and smart phone generation. It’s youth like Rashid and Swedish climate activist Greta Thurnberg who are rising up to change our obsolete and unresponsive systems. Greta had said:

We can’t save the world by playing by the rules because the rules have to change.

I could see Rashid applying his mind, the way he does in school, getting first position in his 10th grade class last year, “after the classmate who paid bribes for his grades left school”.

“Is it possible to re-program the human smart phone?” I asked, though I’ve been thinking that with the repetitive war negotiations among fully armed players in the Afghan conflict, neither adult human beings nor our communication systems are very smart.

“Of course, once we understand the systems that did the programming, we can un-install the program, or format it!” Rashid quipped.

Rashid thinks we can reprogram ourselves for nonviolent peace

Rashid is becoming the other dove that is within him, the nonviolent dove who offers an olive branch, without any weapon strapped under his wing.

Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings

Five weapons were said to have been used, all inscribed with symbols, numbers and insignia.  The individual charged with the shootings at two Christchurch mosques that left 49 dead was an Australian with, it is alleged, a simple purpose: inflict death, and on specific communities in worship.  Even as the carnage became clear, Christchurch was already the epicentre of twenty-four hour news television, supplying a ghoulish spectacle.  Saturation coverage followed, and continues to do so, a point that will warm the attacker’s blood (his entire effort was streamed on live video on Facebook).

The alleged perpetrator, one Brenton Harrison Tarrant, left an unstirring piece – to call it a manifesto would be far-fetched – for those interested before the attack. It is a document of banality and off target assumptions. “Who are you?” he asks himself, suggesting an inner voice in need of reassurance and clarity.  “Just an ordinary White man, 28 years old.  Born in Australia to a working class, low income family.”  Stock: “Scottish, Irish and English”; a “regular childhood without any great issues”.

He did not like education, “barely achieving a passing grade.”  Universities did not offer anything of interest.  He invested money in Bitconnect, then travelled.  A sense of cognitive dissonance follows; Tarrant had recently worked part time “as a kebab removalist”.

No criminal record, no watch list, no registry.  Nothing to suggest a tendency towards mass murder, disrespect or mania.  What Tarrant did have was a desire to avenge individuals he felt a kinship for, suggesting that the dull witted are just as capable of killing as the charismatically ideological.  The “radical”, rooted nature of violence lies dormant in many; all that is required is a match.

The simple language of the note resembled that of various European populist platforms, albeit trimmed of deep historical flourishes: fear the Islamic invader; take to the barricades to repel the forces of Allah.  Interestingly enough, Tarrant leaves the detail of the invaders unclear, given that European lands have received all manner of invasions over its existence, of which the Ottoman and Islamic is but one stream.  The broad statement strikes a note of nonsense: “To take revenge on the invaders for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by foreign invaders in European lands throughout history.”

Other statements of motivation follow: the “enslavement of millions of Europeans from their lands by the Islamic slavers”; “the thousands of European lives lost to terror attacks throughout European lands”.  Rather conveniently, and in manipulative fashion, the spirit of young Ebba Åkerlund, who died in 2017 in a terror attack in Sweden, is also channelled.  It was not sufficient to merely mention her; the eleven-year old inspired the shooter to name rifles after her.  “How the hell,” expressed stunned father Stefan Åkerlund, “can we ever get to mourn in peace?”

The problem with any such event is the risk of immoderate response.  Sensible comments have been noted: the risks posed by non-Islamic terrorists have tended to be neglected in budgets and rhetoric, though US President Donald Trump is, unsurprisingly, insisting that militant white nationalism is fringe worthy rather than common. Under the John Key government, the overwhelming focus of funding intelligence and security efforts was directed at the phantom menace of Islam, burrowing deep into the suburbs.  Watch lists of suspects were constantly noted; the fear of returned “radicalised” fighters was constantly iterated.  To add a greater sense of purpose to the mission, New Zealand troops were deployed to Iraq to fight the troops of Islamic State.  “Get some guts!” exclaimed Key to his opposition counterpart, Andrew Little, who seemed somewhat half-hearted in committing to the effort.

Other policy recommendations, still embryonic and possibly never to fly, are making their errands.  There are suggestions of deploying around the clock security personnel to mosques in various countries, something that risks militarising places of worship.

Vengeful rebuke can also find room in legislative and executive action.  In New Zealand, reforms to gun laws are being promised.  (These are already strict, and it is by no means clear if safety would be improved by such changes.)  In Australia, Tony Burke of the Labor Party suggests punishing hate speech and denying visas to certain right wing advocates of the white supremacist persuasion.  Australia’s immigration system is sufficiently intolerant and erratic enough to deny visas to those who might interfere with the false tranquillity of its society but a suspicious paternalism remains the enemy of free speech. Debate, in short, cannot be trusted.

The move to further push tech companies to reign in violent content will also receive a mighty boost.  The response from such companies as Facebook thus far is one of optimism: last year, some 99 percent of content linked with terrorism content promoted by Islamic State and al-Qaeda was successfully purged by artificial intelligence. Calls to do the same for other sources of inspiration are bound to follow.

There is also a stark, uncomfortable reality: no one is safe.  The entire field of terrorist and anti-terrorist studies is replete with charlatan impulses and the promise of placebo styled security.  There are fictional projections and assessments about whether an attack is “imminent” or “probable”.  There are calls to be vigilant and report the suspicious.  Political leaders give firm reassurances that all will be safe, a point that, quite frankly, can never be guaranteed.

The actions of Friday demonstrate the ease with which an act of mass killing can take place, the damage than can arise from attacking freely open spaces where people commune.  Extremism is said to lack a face or an ideology, but on Friday, it manifested in an all too human form.

The Circle Over the Triangle: A Collectivism and Cyclic Belief Change Comes Around

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Auguries of Innocence, by William Blake

There is an American Native game, counting coup, which is both rarefied and possibly the answer to the male testosterone/female co-opting of testosterone that has given rise to Civilizational humanity since the so-called fertile crescent gestated the evil arts of subjugating man, woman, child and ecosystems to a small cabal of landowners (sic) who got humanity to work for food.

I always go to Daniel Quinn and other neotribalists to look at the long-range, way back, to give some justification to a tribal and hunter-gatherer past that for many of us is locked in our genes, accessible to fewer and fewer people daily as the world becomes a landmine of DNA-warping, cell-depleting, culture-sapping madness orchestrated by white men (mostly).

In our cultural mythology we see ourselves as having left tribalism behind the way modern medicine left the leech and the bleeding bowl behind, and we did so decisively and irrevocably. This is why it’s so difficult for us to acknowledge that tribalism is not only the preeminently human social organization, it’s also the only unequivocally successful social organization in human history. Thus, when even so wise and thoughtful a statesman as Mikhail Gorbachev calls for “a new beginning” and “a new civilization,” he doesn’t doubt for a single moment that the pattern for it lies in the social organization that has introduced humanity to oppression, injustice, poverty, chronic famine, incessant violence, genocide, global warfare, crime, corruption, and wholesale environmental destruction. To consult, in our time of deepest crisis, with the unqualified success that humanity enjoyed here for more than three million years is quite simply and utterly unthinkable.

Daniel Quinn, Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Adventure

What’s lovely about my own intersection with Gary Brumback – the author of the book this review-dash-screed is enveloping: Life’s Triangles and America’s Power Elites: Can the Living Field be Leveled?  — is that Gary reached out to me and solicited my comments and possible endorsement of this book (he’s a regular contributor to Dissident Voice), through the auspices of one of modern civilization’s double-edged swords – the world wide internet.

I think it’s both unreal and uniquely human to reach out across the digital universe, and when someone who is connected to me through my words, and finds some linkage, then I believe that’s sign enough to make some connection deeper, or revealing.

It’s gutsy for this 84-year-old former organizational psychologist to have reached out to me (I’m not now your typical thinker and writer), and the proof is in the pudding when it comes to his writing and then how the diner/reader of those ideas, through the grist of his words and grammar (courses) gets the true taste (or terroir) of the author’s (chef’s) orchestration of ideas and composition.

As many readers of my work know, I am captivated by holism and systems thinking, and many times I am looking at life – universalities — through my own optics. I understand the drive to want to understand how tidal wetlands work and how elephant seals can go down 7,770 feet for up to two hours without succumbing to the bends or nitrogen narcosis.

But inherent in that learning and yearning, I understand the power of attracting forces, both physics and metaphysics, and the value in coincidences, both mathematical and magical, and more and more, daily, I am grasping the reasoning for my own living and thinking and breathing. Here I am on the Oregon Coast (central) just having done my first day’s class to be a certified marine mammal (and to help tourists/visitors understand the other zoological and ecological concerns) naturalist. I was about to fiddle with my short story collection which is coming out in several months from Cirque Press, and I was also prepped to blog from my post here in Otis, Oregon.

Instead, I answered the email call from Gary to take a look at his book and write up something. What interests me most about fellows like Brumback is his tenacity to not only understand the world around him using a variety of tools from his 84 years on the planet, but also his desire to be one among us as writers – anti-authoritarian thinkers who deeply question the role of this country in the upsetting of people and cultures throughout the globe.

“Call of Duty” is what I see my role now turning 62 next week. I have engendered good will and hard learning in thousands of students, at public gatherings where I “ran the show” (a hat off to Ed Sullivan) and in my writing, big and small. I’ve written three-parts to my hell-hole experience working with homeless veterans at the Starvation Army in Oregon. But in reality, the linchpin for me is my call of duty, call and answer, to carry forth in any way possible, the message of revolt. Speaking of revolt, I remember hanging out with Robert Bly on two occasions – one time in El Paso as we made it over to Juarez for tequila, and another time 23 years later in Spokane with bourbon and quietude. I wrote a promo article for his appearance in Spokane as part of Get Lit!. His poem, “Call and Answer,” is powerful, even at 17 years old.

I bring this up as a tangent to describe some of what I interpret as the core value in Gary’s new book:

Call and Answer

Tell me why it is we don’t lift our voices these days
And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed
The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?

I say to myself: “Go on, cry. What’s the sense
Of being an adult and having no voice? Cry out!
See who will answer! This is Call and Answer!”

We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.

Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence? If we don’t lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.

How come we’ve listened to the great criers—Neruda,
Akhmatova, Thoreau, Frederick Douglass—and now
We’re silent as sparrows in the little bushes?

Some masters say our life lasts only seven days.
Where are we in the week? Is it Thursday yet?
Hurry, cry now! Soon Sunday night will come.

It is the Saturday of my life, most likely, as I just spent sometime at Cascadia Head, where the Salmon River and the Pacific Ocean battle it out during the various tides ebbing and flowing. Alone, with harbor seals popping their heads up, and their partner, a river otter, watching me look at two bald eagles looking for seal placenta to gobble up.

Here, visiting Canadian photographer Isabelle Hayeur who is on a residency at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, is shooting the Oregon Coast. The Canadian is here on the Pacific Coast of Oregon for first time, and her residency continues her exploration of water and land, people and ecosystems — to show the changes to the ecosystems caused by humans. Here, that Cascadia Head shot and the Salmon hitting the Pacific near Lincoln City, Oregon.

See the source image

I know for sure as the colluding forces of capitalism – a real misanthropy of both the mind and body – eat at my exterior, the very simple act of movement — with my plodding bag of bones — if I am to survive in this sick world of capitulation of both parties working to mine the last corpuscles of the workers and working class — is sometimes herculean. It’s my Saturday, as Bly states, but I am not sure of this writer Gary’s place in time, if it’s Thursday for him, or Sunday.

I’m not saying this is the 84-year-old Brumback’s position, but I know his clarion calls are what Bly states clearly in these stanzas from this small poem –

We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.

Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence? If we don’t lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.

Brumback is looking to reach those angels of our better selves, and he is wanting the cries of great writers and thinkers, alive and passed on, to push out the silence that is engulfing the entire body politic and public of this ripped-off-land-and-killing-natives country that has made more than a trillion pacts with the devil, a foundation that daily reverberates as the grand Faustian bargain of keeping silent for the few spoils of capitalism.

Americans are in their own tight spot now: keeping on the lights, fridge half full, Super Bowl projected on plasma TV, the latest model of Jeep in the driveway, work that eats at the soul and the body. The bargain, I believe, Brumback is not so quick to go quietly into the night, as this book uncovers the full weight of an old man’s lamentations and ruminations.

His book is compelling for those young minds that have been colonized and whose hearts and souls have been metastasized by consumer culture, the true bedrock of capitalism. Small intonations of the country’s history and this current manifestation of corruption are the drumbeats to his march forward in this quickly drawn book of very big historical ideas unleashed for the uninitiated mind.

Back to that Native American counting coup allusion I begin with:  It’s sort of what I see unfolding as my own literary device while reading Brumback’s book, Life’s Triangles and America’s Power Elites. “Coup” for the Lakota and others was counted to establish position in the tribal honor system. Status mattered, and competition to count the greatest coup was intense. Here’s the beauty of this bravery – getting close enough to touch an enemy with a coup stick without causing him harm.

The self-styled book is by former organizational psychologist Brumback, who counts his own coup many times in this book, as he wanders through the history of the United States, with both whimsy and with a Quaker’s eye toward justice. He uses a variety of wide angle and telephoto angles in order to look deeper at the simple equation of the rich — with military might behind them — controlling the destiny of the country – us, its inhabitants – and the insecurity of the planet, from all the other inhabitants of 192 countries plus the flora and fauna of the planet’s Gaia.

Here, for the Lakota, killing an enemy far away or at long range did not count as a coup. Moreover, winning by overwhelming numbers counted as a “non coup.” Bravery involving a solitary warrior in a headlong battle charge that was climaxed by touching, with no lethal tap of a stick, now that was a coup, as Indians harmlessly touched an enemy with wooden sticks for the purpose of counting coup.

In so many ways, Brumback’s book “touches”—counts coup — upon the enemies of humankind, with myriad of histories of this country since first contact with those Lakota et al. The writer delves into the mess of the United Snakes of America utilizing quick riffs while cracking open these causal relationships of greed, power, hierarchy, elitism, pathology in this country’s early years and now advancing into today’s predatory capitalism and parasitic economics (or our Shock Doctrine derived from our Monroe Doctrine) Brumbuck is interested in.

He’s also demonstrating another sort of intellectual “counting coup” in a sense since Brumback touches the enemy with his own touchstones and short pithy points connecting to the current state of global affairs.

His goal, it seems, is to consolidate a lot of his writing over his 84 years on planet earth and to codify a body of work he’s studiously read and then to bring himself to some conclusion that there might be some hope for his children and grandchildren. His belief in organizational psychology as a determinant of how bloody sociopathic the not-so-modern corporation is and how that pathology has twisted and turned (morphed) into a gigantic toxic and self-replicating broken set of laws regulating the elite’s projects of domination and extermination is the umbrella covering his writing.

Oscar Wilde is right when defining a cynic in his work, Lady Windemere’s Fan, with Lord Darlington quip: “A person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

From Raj Patel’s first chapter, The Value of Nothing, Patel can help me understand Brumback’s criticism of capitalism and his somewhat of a defense of it in some idealized state that hasn’t yet existed:

From its inception, the free market has spawned discontent, but rare are the moments when that discontent coalesces across society, when a sufficiently large group of people can trace their unhappiness to free market politics, and demand change. The New Deal in the United States and the postwar European welfare states were partly a result of a consortium of social forces pushing for new limits to markets, and a renegotiation of the relationship between individuals and society. What’s new about this crisis is that it’s pervasively global, and comes at the last moment at which we might prevent a global climate catastrophe. But the breadth and depth of both these crises reflect how profoundly our society has been transfixed by free market culture. To understand how this will affect us in the twenty-first century, we need to understand how it began, and to ask why today’s markets look the way they do

Here, the book Gary sent me, in a nutshell, which Brumbuck puts in his own book’s preface:

Here’s a quick overview of this book. It’s a substantial distillation of and addition to my relevant books and articles on the subject.

The first chapter may seem very abstract and academic, but believe me, it is about very real matters, life itself. This chapter lays the groundwork for understanding why the power elite do what they do and what happens when they do it.

The second chapter explains the very nature of power and introduces my concept and illustration of the “power tower” with the elite at the top and the “les Misérables” at the very bottom with several levels in between.

Chapter Three probes what makes the power elite “tick” by looking inside their “black boxes.” When you read this chapter, you will understand that I don’t flippantly ascribe evil motives and evildoing to the power elite.

Chapter Four thoroughly describes and explains the power elite’s “badvantages,” my term for situations and circumstances that give advantage to bad behavior. For example, “our” government gives many handouts to its master, Corporate America.

Chapter Five describes the seemingly limitless bad behavior of the power elite and their functionaries of the corpocracy.

I want to warn you about Chapter Six. It is a true horror story of the consequences of the power elite’s evil doing. By the time you have finished reading this chapter you may be a bit depressed if you believe it is credible. As an antidote I’ll try to inject some homespun humor now and then, starting now. “There is no beating around the Bush, he is what he is.”

And finally, Chapter Seven asks whether the power tower with its power inequality can be changed to the power rectangle with its power equality; in other words, can the living field finally be levelled? This question explains the question mark at the end of the book’s subtitle. Putting there instead an exclamation mark would have been sheer balderdash.

What his book does is galvanize much of his reading – and respect for – other writers who have peered through the looking glass of the Military-Prison-Financial-Ag-Chemical-Education-Legal-Patent-Pharma-Med-IT-AI-Real Estate-Insurance-Education Complex to discover the truths many of us in the anti-authority/ anti-hierarchical/pro-humanity/ pro-universal rights of nature have discovered through our discourse, our deep and fledgling philosophies, and our own experiences in the insanity echo chamber that is modern and post-modern America.

He dedicates this book to Howard Zinn, and Brumback mentions that other books he himself has written could not have been envisioned or codified without the teachings and writings of Zinn:

I am also dedicating this book to the late Howard Zinn, the author of a book on American history that is a must read! I dedicated my previous book to him, which shows how indebted a follower I am. Like my previous book, I could not have written the one you have in your hands were it not for Mr. Zinn’s illuminating history book that tells the true history of America [A People’s History of the United States, 2005]. The power elite understandingly hate Mr. Zinn’s book. The former governor of my home state, for example, was gleeful upon hearing of Mr. Zinn’s death and promptly banned his book statewide from high school curricula. Is it any wonder that my high school history classes in the 1950’s remain the same today, “trivialized, militarized and numbing?”

What I love about this Will Rogersian approach to history Gary brings to this book is the power of his short, deliberate passages outlying the rules and madness that have been fomented in the name of a small elite in this country. He captivates himself in each section, as if new to the material himself, embarking on a self-styled journey to tell what he knows and what he’s read.

This book is a compilation, a Popular Mechanics and Farmer’s Almanac of Brumback’s autobiographical intersection at explaining how capitalism is a game of manipulated vestiges of a global  usury past, where Fiefdoms and Kingdoms and unholy alliances of dictators and religions have splayed humankind. No matter where Gary treads, he comes up with the same underpinning for the book, and his other books and probably all his other writings, as well as his own conundrum now in advanced age:

I’ll finally end this long Preface with two questions and an advance notice about my choice of certain nouns and pronouns.

First question: do you think on the one hand that there is a tolerable difference between a handful of evil doers choosing villagers in a far-away land and then bombing them to smithereens in our names and on the other hand the many millions of us letting it happen?

Second question: do you think the surviving loved ones blame the few or us in general? You can tell my answer by my varying use in the text of nouns versus pronouns. For example, instead of writing “the military bombs innocent people,” I will occasionally write “we bomb innocent people” to emphasize that whatever is done by a certain few is being done in our names. Since you might find this practice irritating if I always do it, I will do it only occasionally.

Here in the preface, Brumback sets up the entire tome on a simple proposition – what is done and said by/in Las Vegas/USA stays in/with those living/working/dying in Las Vegas/USA.

The contradiction is blaring, though, as one of my friends, Andre Vltchek states in his humanitarian and global writing – that the rest of the world, that is, the world other than Western Civilization; i.e., Europe/EU, UK, USA, Canada – pays for its/our so-called “higher standard” of living, higher level of economic/environmental/health well-being, and its/our unlimited (seemingly) time to ponder its/our own rotten and degenerate selves.

Through the eyes of someone (Gary’s unblindered eyes, as he states it in his book) in this country, USA, who believes that capitalism somehow can be fixed or somehow is derived from a fair system of checks and balances (however, capitalism always relies on growth and continual growth, antithetical to anything we know about the limits of growth, the finite systems), I venture close to proposing to Gary another set of principles needed to live as Homo Sapiens in this world, tied to retrenchement and a form of ecosocialism, far from any new and improved or regurgitated capitalism:  we are living in a closed system of planet earth, and the fragility of the commons (air, water, sea, land, food) now is even more pronounced with ecosystems collapsing (Sixth Mass extinction on steroids) from over over-harvesting, over-polluting, over-rearranging/razing.

Ecosocialism is Utopian, but so are we as writers and thinkers:

Ecosocialism is a vision of a transformed society in harmony with nature, and the development of practices that can attain it. It is directed toward alternatives to all socially and ecologically destructive systems, such as patriarchy, racism, homophobia and the fossil-fuel based economy. It is based on a perspective that regards other species and natural ecosystems as valuable in themselves and as partners in a common destiny.

Ecosocialism shares with traditional socialism a passion for justice. It shares the conviction that capitalism has been a deadly detour for humanity. We understand capitalism to be a class society based on infinite expansion, through the exploitation of labor and the ransacking of nature.

Ecosocialists are also guided by the life-ways of indigenous peoples whose economies are embedded in a classless society in fundamental unity with nature. We draw upon the wisdom of the ages as well as the latest science, and will do what can be done to bring a new society, beyond capitalism, into existence.

I go back to Andre Vltchek  who looks at the polluting effects of capitalism on cultures wide and far, tied to the so-called artist :

You say “European cultural institutions”, and what should come immediately to mind are lavish concerts, avant garde art exhibitions, high quality language courses and benevolent scholarships for talented cash-strapped local students.

It is all so noble, so civilized!

Or, is it really? Think twice!

I wrote my short novel, “Aurora”, after studying the activities of various Western ‘cultural institutions’, in virtually all the continents of the Planet. I encountered their heads; I interacted with the ‘beneficiaries’ of various funding schemes, and I managed to get ‘behind the scenes’.

What I discovered was shocking: these shiny ‘temples of culture’ in the middle of so many devastated and miserable cities worldwide (devastated by the Western imperialism and by its closest allies – the shameless local elites), are actually extremely closely linked to Western intelligence organizations. They are directly involved in the neo-colonialist project, which is implemented virtually on all continents of the world, by North America, Europe and Japan.

‘Culture’ is used to re-educate and to indoctrinate mainly the children of the local elites. Funding and grants are put to work where threats and killing were applied before. How does it work? It is actually all quite simple: rebellious, socially-oriented and anti-imperialist local artists and thinkers are now shamelessly bought and corrupted. Their egos are played on with great skill. Trips abroad for ‘young and talented artists’ are arranged, funding dispersed, scholarships offered.

Carrots are too tasty, most would say, ‘irresistible’. Seals of approval from the Empire are ready to stamp those blank pages of the lives of still young, unrecognized but angry and sharp young artists and intellectuals from those poor, colonized countries. It is so easy to betray! It is so easy to bend.

Please note I am not comparing Gary or his book to other writers or their books/writing, some of whom he cites liberally throughout this latest one. I believe in a new way of book analysis, or reviewing a book – by putting myself into the stream of consciousness that cascades for someone like myself who in the process of reading will take to heart how closely or far away that content resonates with my own life and my own writing. It is the power of a book like Gary’s to incite not only my own deep introspection about what it means to be an American, someone who has worked (albeit struggled by not getting bought and sold by corporate America, but still . . . sold down the river in the careers I’ve held), but also what it means to be counter to almost anything and everything this country produces or stands for in its national collective consciousness.

His thesis for the book is tied to his own backing of organizational psychology. He uses these equations to illustrate where he’s coming from:

Anyone’s Equation:
Person + Context = Person’s Behavior + Consequences

Any Organization’s Equation:
Organization + Context = Organization’s Behavior + Consequences

Any Nation’s Equation :
Nation + Context = Nation’s Behavior + Consequences

Of course, every person, every organization, every nation has their own equations, sort of like a unique DNA code. The specific details in any equation can change from day to day, except some of the details for chronic habits like that of America’s endless warring and spying change less.2 A nation, therefore, over the entire course of its history may have gone through zillions of its more significant equations with varying details in the input side.

Thus, what anyone, any organization or any nation do throughout their lives depends on themselves and their contexts. Behavior never happens without both and will never be fully explained without both.

Beyond his background in psychology, Brumback looks to his writing now as a way to express his historical knowledge of America’s bloody programs of subjugation and to militate his belief in non-violence as he was reared as a Quaker.

He sets up the book by talking about his background working with organizations, treating them sort of speak to heal themselves, which in the end he sees as impossible under the current structures of limited liability companies and the bigger transnational corporations that are rapacious in every way.

Brumback alludes to working a long time for industry, the US federal government and non-profit research business. The power of the company man, and his own background in academics (a rather conservative and lock-step group think cabal), he admits, muted his criticism of the Viet Nam War as he was then (1960-75) fearful of endangering his career and his family.

He talks of being a “recovering” academese reader, writer and talker, and his book is far from any sort of style found in the pedantic journals where members of the nefarious American Psychology Association dump their stories on.

Brumback: This book is therefore as deliberate ‘street write’ as I can make it, a conversation, although one-way with you.

Interestingly, he gives us 12 Facts (as seen in a Jan. 23, 2019 Dissident Voice piece) that are not truths that have embedded into the American mindset, the American propaganda of historical warping, lying and outright censorship. There is a reason why this country goes into zombie or dervish mode every year — when two multi-billion dollar organizations, Rams and Patriots, under the umbrella of a white patriarchy elitism called the NFL — watching entitled, redneck or mute millionaire players whose ultimate contribution to society is to sell cars, beer, Viagra and the lies of empire on their way to permanent Traumatic Brain Injury hell.

  • False Fact: The American Revolution was fought to free the people from suppression by King George and his chartered corporations.
  • False Fact: “We the people of the United States——-do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
  • False Fact: We are the “United States of America.”
  • False Fact: America is a democracy.
  • False fact: America’s Civil War was fought to free the slaves.
  • False fact: America’s wars have been unavoidable and just.
    False Fact: Whistleblowers are traitors.
  • False Fact. Our nation’s military represents the best this country has to offer.
  • False Fact. America’s war veterans are heroes.
  • False Fact: To rationalize its own excesses, including its hand-outs from the government, corpocratic capitalists spout the theory of trickle-down economics as a rationalization for their own hefty welfare benefits, arguing that more money at the top will eventually trickle down to the bottom in the way of jobs.
  • False Fact: The rich say the poor get what they deserve.
  • False Fact. Public services need to be privatized because government is inefficient and costly.

In many ways, Brumback has both fun moments and sarcastic fluidity  with these American exceptionalist delusions throughout his book, but he is serious about launching a straightforward attack on the elite’s continual degradation of the citizenry of this country: hollowing out our “symbolic democracy” through the systematic formula of penury, debt slavery, theft of the commons resources, the rapacious appetite to despoil ecosystems and communities, the socializing of the externalities of their dirty businesses and then in turn privatizing all the profits; and, finally, their basically illegal, unethical and unconstitutional ways of going about their wealth and political power accumulation.

What I like best about this book is the earnestness that Brumback brings to the page. He is there to guide the reader into the hall of mirrors and house of horrors that embody America. He is a troubadour for truth and unraveling the seemingly complexities of the elite’s rule over the majority, the 90 percent of us who are not any part of the Point Zero Zero One percent’s project of human annihilation.

In the end, Brumback hits back at the idea of nature versus nurture, at the very end of the book:

Recall in Chapter 3 that I included genetics as an input in the black box. Our genetic history simply can’t be denied. But when it comes to being bad or good morally speaking, what do we know about the role of genetics, and does it really matter?

Psychologist Stephen Mason concludes that “some people are, quite simply, born bad.”

Not so concludes psychologist Dacher Keltner. “He finds that positive emotions lie at the core of human nature.”

Two diametrically opposed conclusions. My conclusion is that while babies are innocent at the instant of birth because they have not had time to behave badly, some will eventually do so habitually, and some won’t. What role nature plays in influencing their behavior is immaterial in my opinion. What matters from a practical standpoint is the question of how to deal with the resulting wrongdoing.

What’s your opinion?

While we can argue over epigentics and the complete failure of the human seed and human semen to produce unadulteratedly since the  products of capitalism; i.e., toxins, from Teflon to aromatic particulates, from Atrazine to PCBs, from glyphosate to flame retardant, from mercury to cesium, have overtaken humanity and all zoological systems.

Is Donald Trump, the sociopath that he is, friend and abuser with Jeffrey Epstein and Roy Cohn, and that Donald whose father is in a Woody Guthrie song for the old man’s racism, well, is that president (sic-sic) who represents the ills of the father and the unfettered protection of his elite class and the muscle of his casino thugs, is Donald, with NPD (narcissistic personalty disorder), responsible for his hatred, racism, lies, and power hunger? Or is it his upbringing, or months inside his mama’s womb, or the people around him to blame?

roy cohn

That’s the crux of the book, really: Brumback is asking the reader to judge for ourselves the depth of the conspiracy of the rich toward absolute control of the majority. Is there true evil in the world, or are all children borne of original sin?

Those toxins and carcinogenics and structural violence systems were created, marketed, sold, defended, patented by men/women, in corporations. The socipathic definition of a corporation is the same as the person, but can we give a free ride to the majority of people in the corporation who are just, to recoin my favorite phrase, Little Eichmanns?

In any sense, the embodiment of the Hudson Bay Company is the message in the Heart of Darkness, which reflects the individual as sociopath and the LLC as sociopathic, as the amorality of corporations is obvious from a million cases we all can tap into from the written record. That these companies — polluters — have gained personhood is compelling, from the start of this country’s slide deeper and deeper into the morass of capitalism — set forth 133 years ago in 1886 in the Supreme Court case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. This obscure case set the precedent that corporations have some rights under the 14th Amendment and were given de-facto personhood.

So, then, we have given corporations even higher status in this personhood allusion/legal definition in the Citizens United Case . What sort of person is a corporation?

Are they philanthropic and kind to their neighbors or are they the kind of people who will slit your throat to take your wallet?

For most of us in the Brumback class, we see the very nature of the corporation as both amoral and sociopathic.

They exist to make money, regardless of the social consequences. And they have gotten legal protections from the consequences of their crimes — a true Mafioso or cartel paying off the politicians and the cops and judges to gain unimaginable wealth and power over us, the 90 percent.

A sociopath and a corporation have identical incentive structures and motivations:

  • Both sociopaths and corporations exist for the sole purpose of self-centered goals—sociopaths want a variety of things (money, power, sex, etc.) while corporations are solely focused upon making money.

  • Neither has an internal sense of morality and, barring intervention from a more powerful authority, both are willing to exploit others in service of their goal; just as how a sociopath may be willing to lie, cheat and steal their way through life, a corporation is willing to use child sweatshop labor to depress costs.

  • Both sociopaths and corporations are constrained through risk/reward analysis—sociopaths weigh the value or pleasure of doing something immoral against the legal/social risks, while corporations weigh the profit of their actions against the cost of legal/social actions against their agenda.

In the end, we have to develop both sensitivities and thick skins in the gambit called This American Life. Brumback makes his claim to some of those contradictions and dichotomies in his book. He can be contacted by the reader here for more information on ordering the book. Gary Brumback.

I sign off with the words of Eduardo Galeano whose Memory of Fire trilogy sets deep in my soul. From an interview:

I want to be an honest man and a good writer, as James Baldwin was. I greatly admired him. He once told a story that I used in the third volume of Memory of Fire. He was very young, and he was walking down the street with a friend, a painter. They stop at a red light. “Look,” says the friend. Baldwin sees nothing, except a dirty pool of water. The friend insisted: “Look at it, really.” So Baldwin takes a good look and sees a spot of oil spreading in the puddle. In the spot of oil, he sees a rainbow, and the street moving, and people moving in the street; and he sees madmen and magicians and the whole world moving. The universe was there in that little pool. On that day, Baldwin said, he learned to see. For me, that’s an important lesson. I am always trying to look at the universe through the little puddles in the streets.

The War on Populism

Remember when the War on Terror ended and the War on Populism began? That’s OK, no one else does.

It happened in the Summer of 2016, also known as “the Summer of Fear.” The War on Terror was going splendidly. There had been a series of “terrorist attacks,” in Orlando, Nice, Würzberg, Munich, Reutlingen, Ansbach, and Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, each of them perpetrated by suddenly “self-radicalized” “lone wolf terrorists” (or “non-terrorist terrorists“) who had absolutely no connection to any type of organized terrorist groups prior to suddenly “self- radicalizing” themselves by consuming “terrorist content” on the Internet. It seemed we were entering a new and even more terrifying phase of the Global War on Terror, a phase in which anyone could be a “terrorist” and “terrorism” could mean almost anything.

This broadening of the already virtually meaningless definition of “terrorism” was transpiring just in time for Obama to hand off the reins to Hillary Clinton, who everyone knew was going to be the next president, and who was going to have to bomb the crap out of Syria in response to the non-terrorist terrorist threat. The War on Terror (or, rather, “the series of persistent targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” as Obama rebranded it) was going to continue, probably forever. The Brexit referendum had just taken place, but no one had really digested that yet … and then Trump won the nomination.

Like that scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate Week rally, the War on Terror was officially canceled and replaced by the War on Populism. Or … all right, it wasn’t quite that abrupt. But seriously, go back and scan the news. Note how the “Islamic terrorist threat” we had been conditioned to live in fear of on a daily basis since 2001 seemed to just vanish into thin air. Suddenly, the “existential threat” we were facing was “neo-nationalism,” “illiberalism,” or the pejorative designator du jour, “populism.”

Here we are, two and a half years later, and “democracy” is under constant attack by a host of malevolent “populist” forces …. Russo-fascist Black vote suppressors, debaucherous eau de Novichok assassins, Bernie Sanders, the yellow-vested French, emboldened non-exploding mail bomb bombers, Jeremy Corbyn’s Nazi Death Cult, and brain-devouring Russian-Cubano crickets. The President of the United States is apparently both a Russian intelligence operative and literally the resurrection of Hitler. NBC and MSNBC have been officially merged with the CIA. The Guardian has dispensed with any pretense of journalism and is just making stories up out of whole cloth. Anyone who has ever visited Russia, or met with a Russian, or read a Russian novel, is on an “Enemies of Democracy” watch list (as is anyone refusing to vacation in Israel, which the Senate is now in the process of making mandatory for all U.S. citizens). Meanwhile, the “terrorists” are nowhere to be found, except for the terrorists we’ve been using to attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad, the sadistic nerve-gassing Monster of Syria, who illegally invaded and conquered his own country in defiance of the “international community.”

All this madness has something to do with “populism,” although it isn’t clear what. The leading theory is that the Russians are behind it. They’ve got some sort of hypno-technology (not to be confused with those brain-eating crickets) capable of manipulating the minds of … well, Black people, mostly, but not just Black people. Obviously, they are also controlling the French, who they have transformed into “racist, hate-filled liars” who are “attacking elected representatives, journalists, Jews, foreigners, and homosexuals,” according to French President Emmanuel Macron, the anointed “Golden Boy of Europe.” More terrifying still, Putin is now able to project words out of Trump’s mouth in real-time, literally using Trump’s head as a puppet, or like one of those Mission Impossible masks. (Rachel Maddow conclusively proved this by spending a couple of hours on Google comparing the words coming out of Trump’s mouth to words that had come out of Russian mouths, but had never come out of American mouths, which they turned out to be the exact same words, or pretty close to the exact same words!) Apparently, Putin’s master plan for Total Populist World Domination and Establishment of the Thousand Year Duginist Reich was to provoke the global capitalist ruling classes, the corporate media, and their credulous disciples into devolving into stark raving lunatics, or blithering idiots, or a combination of both.

But, seriously, all that actually happened back in the Summer of 2016 was the global capitalist ruling classes recognized that they had a problem. The problem that they recognized they had (and continue to have, and are now acutely aware of) is that no one is enjoying global capitalism … except the global capitalist ruling classes. The whole smiley-happy, supranational, neo-feudal corporate empire concept is not going over very well with the masses, or at least not with the unwashed masses. People started voting for right-wing parties, and Brexit, and other “populist” measures (not because they had suddenly transformed into Nazis, but because the Right was acknowledging and exploiting their anger with the advance of global neoliberalism, while liberals and the Identity Politics Left were slow jamming the TPP with Obama and babbling about transgender bathrooms, and such).

The global capitalist ruling classes needed to put a stop to that (i.e, the “populist” revolt, not the bathroom debate). So they suspended the Global War on Terror and launched the War on Populism. It was originally only meant to last until Hillary Clinton’s coronation, or the second Brexit referendum, then switch back to the War on Terror, but … well, weird things happen, and here we are.

We’ll get back to the War on Terror, eventually … as the War on Populism is essentially just a temporary rebranding of it. In the end, it’s all the same counter-insurgency. When a system is globally hegemonic, as our current model of capitalism is, every war is a counter-insurgency (i.e., a campaign waged against an internal enemy), as there are no external enemies to fight. The “character” of the internal enemies might change (e.g., “Islamic terrorism,” “extremism,” “fascism,” “populism,” “Trumpism,” “Corbynism,” et cetera) but they are all insurgencies against the hegemonic system … which, in our case, is global capitalism, not the United States of America.

The way I see it, the global capitalist ruling classes now have less than two years to put down this current “populist” insurgency. First and foremost, they need to get rid of Trump, who despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, but who has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “fuck you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites. Then, they need to get a handle on Europe, which isn’t going to be particularly easy. What happens next in France will be telling, as will whatever becomes of Brexit … which I continue to believe will never actually happen, except perhaps in some purely nominal sense.

And then there’s the battle for hearts and minds, which they’ve been furiously waging for the last two years, and which is only going to intensify. If you think things are batshit crazy now (which, clearly, they are), strap yourself in. What is coming is going to make COINTELPRO look like the work of some amateur meme-freak. The neoliberal corporate media, psy-ops like Integrity Initiative, Internet-censoring apps like NewsGuard, ShareBlue and other David Brock outfits, and a legion of mass hysteria generators will be relentlessly barraging our brains with absurdity, disinformation, and just outright lies (as will their counterparts on the Right, of course, in case you thought that they were any alternative). It’s going to get extremely zany.

The good news is, by the time it’s all over and Trump has been dealt with, and normality restored, and the working classes put back in their places, we probably won’t remember that any of this happened. We’ll finally be able to sort out those bathrooms, and get back to paying the interest on our debts, and to living in more or less constant fear of an imminent devastating terrorist attack … and won’t that be an enormous relief?

In Syria the Entire Nation Mobilized and Won

Families visiting their destroyed streets in Homs

Yes, there is rubble, in fact, total destruction, in some of the neighborhoods of Homs, Aleppo, in the outskirts of Damascus, and elsewhere.

Yes, there are terrorists and ‘foreign forces’ in Idlib and in several smaller pockets in some parts of the country.

Yes, hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and millions are either in exile, or internally displaced.

But the country of Syria is standing tall. It did not crumble like Libya or Iraq did. It never surrendered. It never even considered surrender as an option. It went through total agony, through fire and unimaginable pain, but in the end, it won. It almost won. And the victory will, most likely, be final in 2019.

Despite its relatively small size, it did not win like a ‘small nation’, fighting guerilla warfare. It is winning like a big, strong state: it fought proudly, frontally, openly, against all odds. It confronted the invaders with tremendous courage and strength, in the name of justice and freedom.

Syria is winning, because the only alternative would be slavery and subservience, and that is not in the lexicon of the people here. The Syrian people won because they had to win, or face the inevitable demise of their country and collapse of their dream of a Pan-Arab homeland.

Syria is winning, and hopefully, nothing here in the Middle East, will be the same again. The long decades of humiliation of the Arabs are over. Now everyone ‘in the neighborhood’ is watching. Now everybody knows: The West and its allies can be fought and stopped; they are not invincible. Tremendously brutal and ruthless they are, yes, but not invincible. The most vicious, fundamentalist religious implants can be smashed, too. I said it before, and I repeat it here again: Aleppo has been the Stalingrad of the Middle East. Aleppo and Homs, and other great courageous Syrian cities. Here, fascism was confronted, fought with all might and with great sacrifice, and finally deterred.

*****

I sit in the office of a Syrian General, Akhtan Ahmad. We speak Russian. I ask him about the security situation in Damascus, although I already know. For several evenings and nights, I have been walking through the narrow winding roads of the old city; one of the cradles of human race. Women, even young girls, were walking as well. The city is safe.

General Akhtan Ahmad and Andre Vltchek

“It is safe,” smiles General Akhtan Ahmad, proudly. “You know it is safe, don’t you?”

I nod. He is a top Syrian intelligence commander. I should have asked more, much more. Details, details. But I don’t want to know details; not right now. I want to hear again and again that Damascus is safe, from him, from my friends, from the passers-by.

Situation is now very good. Go out at night…

I tell him that I have. That I have been doing it since I arrived.

No one is afraid, anymore”, he continues. “Even in the places where terrorist groups used to operate, life is returning to normal… The Syrian government is now providing water, electricity. People are returning to the liberated areas. East Ghouta was liberated only 5 months ago, and now you can see shops opening there, one after another.

Night in the old city of Domascus

I get several permits signed. I take the General’s photo. I get photographed with him. He has nothing to hide. He is not afraid.

I tell him that at the end of January of 2019, or in February at the latest, I want to travel to Idlib, or at least to the suburbs of that city. That’s fine; I just have to let them know a few days in advance. Palmyra, fine. Aleppo, no problem.

We shake hands. They trust me. I trust them. That’s the only way forward – this is still a war. A terrible, brutal war. Despite the fact that Damascus is now free and safe.

*****

After I leave General’s office, we drive to Jobar, on the outskirts of Damascus. Then to Ein-Tarma.

There, it is total madness.

Jobar used to be a predominantly industrial area, Ein-Tarma a residential neighborhood. Both places had been reduced almost entirely to rubble. In Jobar I am allowed to film inside the tunnels, which used to be used by the terrorists; by the Rahman Brigades and by the other groups with direct connection to Al-Nusrah Front.

The scene is eerie. Formerly these factories offered tens of thousands of jobs to the people of the capital city. Now, nothing moves here. Dead silence, just dust and wreckage.

Lieutenant Ali accompanies me, as I climb over debris. I asked him what took place here.  He replies, through my interpreter:

This place was only liberated in April 2018. It was one of the last places that was taken from the terrorists. For 6 years, one part was controlled by the ‘rebels’, while another by the army. The enemies dug tunnels, and it was very difficult to defeat them. They used every structure they could get their hands on, including schools. From here, most of the civilians managed to escape.

I asked him about the destruction, although I knew the answer, as my Syrian friends used to live in this area, and told me their detailed stories. Lieutenant Ali confirmed:

The West was feeding the world with propaganda, saying that this was destruction caused by the army. In fact, the Syrian army was engaging the rebels only when they were attacking Damascus. Eventually, the rebels retreated from here, after the Russian-sponsored talks with the government.

*****

A Few kilometers further east, in Ein-Tarma, things are very different. Before the war, this used to be a residential neighborhood. People used to live here, mostly in the multi-story buildings. Here, the terrorists hit hard at the civilians. For months or even years, families had to live in terrible fear and deprivation.

We stopped at the humble shop selling vegetables. Here, I approached an elderly lady, and after she agreed to it, I began filming.

She spoke, and then she shouted, straight into the camera, waving her hands:

We lived here like cattle. The terrorists treated us like animals. We were scared, hungry, humiliated. Women: terrorists would take 4-5 wives, forcing young girls and mature women into so-called marriages. We had nothing; nothing left!

“And now?” I asked.

Now? Look! We live again. We have a future. Thank you; thank you, Bashar!

She calls her president by his first name. She points palms at her heart, and after kissing them, she waves her hands again.

There is nothing to ask, really. I just film. She says it all, in two minutes.

As we are leaving, I realize that she is most likely not old; not old at all. But what has happened here broke her in half. Now she is living; she is living and hoping again.

I ask my driver to move slowly, and I begin filming the road, broken and dusty, but full of traffic: people walking, bicycles and cars passing by, negotiating potholes. In the side streets, people are hard at work, rebuilding, cleaning rubble, cutting fallen beams. Electricity is getting restored. Glass panels fitted into the scratched wooden frames. Life. Victory; all this is bittersweet, because so many people died; because so much has been destroyed. But life it is, despite everything; life again. And hope; so much hope.

*****

I sit with my friends, Yamen and Fida, in a classic, old Damascus café, called Havana. It is a real institution; a place where Ba’ath Party members used to meet, during the old and turbulent days. Photographs of President Bashar al-Assad are displayed, prominently.

Friends Yamen and Fida in Cafe Havana, Damascus

Yamen, an educator, recalls how he had to move from one apartment to another, on several occasions during the recent years:

My family used to live right next to Jobar. Everything around there was getting destroyed. We had to move. Then, at a new location, I was walking with my little son, and a mortar had landed near us. Once I saw building in flames. My son was crying in horror. A woman next to us was howling, trying to throw herself into flames: ‘My son is inside, I need my son, give me my son!’ In the past, we couldn’t predict from where the danger would arrive, and when. I lost several relatives; family members. We all did.

Fida, Yamen’s colleague, is taking care of her ageing mother every day when she gets back from work. Life is still tough, but my friends are true patriots, and this helps them to cope with the daily challenges.

Over a cup of strong Arabic coffee, Fida explains:

You see us laughing and joking, but deep inside, almost all of us are suffering from deep psychological trauma. What took place here was tough; we all saw terrible things, and we lost our loved ones. All this will stay with us, for many years to come. Syria does not have enough professional psychologists and psychiatrists to cope with the situation. So many lives have been damaged. I am still scared. Every day. Many people have been terribly shaken.

I feel sorry for my brother’s children. They were born into this crisis. My tiny nephew… Once we were under a mortar attack. He was so scared. Children are really badly affected! Personally, I am not afraid of getting killed. I am frightened of losing my arm, or leg, or not being able to take my mom to the hospital, if she was to be feeling sick. At least my ancestral city, Safita, has always been safe, even during the worst days of the conflict.

“Not my Salamiyah,” laments Yamen:

Salamiyah used to be just terrible. Many villages had to be evacuated… Many people died there. To the East of the city were the positions of Al-Nusrah, while the west was held by the ISIS.

Yes, hundreds of thousands of the Syrian people were killed. Millions forced to leave the country, escaping both the terrorists and the conflict as well as poverty that rode on the tail of the fighting. Millions have been internally displaced; the entire nation in motion.

The previous day, after leaving Ein-Tarma, we drove near Zamalka and Harasta. Entire huge neighborhoods were either flattened, or at least terribly damaged.

When you see the Eastern suburbs of Damascus, when you see the ghost buildings without walls and windows, with bullet holes dotting the pillars, you think that you have seen it all. The destruction is so huge; it looks like an entire big city was just blown up to pieces. They say this eerie landscape doesn’t change for at least 15 kilometers. The nightmare goes on and on, without any interruption.

So yes, you tend to think that you have seen it all, but actually you haven’t. It is because you have not visited Aleppo, nor visited Homs, yet.

*****

For several years, I have been fighting for Syria. I was doing it from the peripheries.

I managed to enter the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and to file reports about the brutality and cynicism of the occupation.

For years, I covered life in the refugee camps, and ‘around them’. Some camps were real, but others were actually used as training fortresses for the terrorist, who were later injected into Syrian territory, by NATO. Once I almost disappeared while filming Apayadin, one of such ‘institutions’, erected not far from the Turkish city of Hattay (Atakya).

I ‘almost’ disappeared, but others actually did die. Covering what the West and its allies have been doing to Syria is as dangerous as covering the war inside Syria itself.

I worked in Jordan, writing about the refugees, but also about the cynicism of the Jordanian collaboration with the West. I worked in Iraq where, in a camp near Erbil, the Syrian people were forced by both the NGO and the UN staff, to denounce President Assad, if they wanted to receive at least some basic services. And, of course, I worked in Lebanon, where more than one million Syrian people have been staying; often facing unimaginably terrible conditions as well as discrimination (many are now going back).

And now that I was finally inside, it all felt somehow surreal, but it felt right.

Syria appeared to be as I expected it to be: heroic, brave, determined, and unmistakably socialist.

*****

Homs: total destruction

Homs. Before I went there, I thought that nothing could surprise me, anymore. I have worked all over Afghanistan, in Iraq, Sri Lanka, East Timor. But soon I realized that I had seen nothing, before I visited Homs.

The destruction of several parts of the city is so severe that it resembles the surface of another planet, or a fragment from some apocalyptic horror film.

People climbing through the ruins, an elderly couple visiting what once used to be their apartment, a girl’s shoe that I find in the middle of the road, covered by dust. A chair standing in the middle of an intersection, from which all four roads lead towards the horrid ruins.

Homs is where the conflict began.

My friend Yamen explained to me, as we were driving towards the center:

Here, the media ignited hatred; mostly the Western mass media. But also, there were the channels from the Gulf: Al-Jazeera, as well as television and radio stations from Saudi Arabia. Sheik Adnan Mohammed al-Aroor was appearing, twice a week, on a television program which was telling people to hit the streets, banging on pots and pans; to fight against the government.

Homs is where the anti-government rebellion began, in 2011. The anti-Assad propaganda from abroad soon reached a crescendo. The opposition was ideologically supported by the West and by its allies. Rapidly, the support became tangible, and included weapons, ammunition, as well as thousands of jihadi fighters.

A once tolerant and modern city (in a secular country), Homs began changing, getting divided between the religious groups. Division was followed by radicalization.

My good friend, a Syrian who now lives in both Syria and Lebanon, told me his story:

I was very young when the uprising began. Some of us had certain legitimate grievances, and we began protesting, hoping that things could change for better. But many of us soon realized that our protests were literally kidnapped from abroad. We wanted a set of positive changes, while some leaders outside Syria wanted to overthrow our government. Consequently, I left the movement.

He then shared with me his most painful secret:

In the past, Homs was an extremely tolerant city. I am a moderate Muslim, and my fiancé was a moderate Christian. We were very close. But the situation in the city was changing rapidly, after 2011. Radicalism was on the raise. I repeatedly asked her to cover her hair when she was passing through the Muslim neighborhoods. It was out of concern, because I was beginning to clearly see what was happening around us. She refused. One day, she was shot, in the middle of the street. They killed her. Life was never the same again.

In the West, they often say that the Syrian government was at least partially responsible for destruction of the city. But the logic of such accusations is absolutely perverse. Imagine Stalingrad. Imagine foreign invasion; an invasion supported by several hostile fascist powers. The city fights back, the government tries to stop the advancement of the troops of the enemy. The fight, terrible, an epic fight for the survival of the nation goes on. Who is to blame? The invaders or the government forces who are defending their own fatherland? Can anyone accuse the Soviet troops for fighting in the streets of their own cities that were attacked by the German Nazi isis?

Perhaps the Western propaganda is capable of such ‘analyses’, but definitely no rational human being.

The same logic as to Stalingrad, should also apply to Homs, to Aleppo, and to several other Syrian cities. Covering literally dozens of conflicts ignited by the West all over the world (and described in detail in my 840-page long book Exposing Lies Of The Empire, I have no doubts: the full responsibility for the destruction lies on the shoulders of the invaders.

*****

I face Mrs. Hayat Awad in an ancient restaurant called Julia Palace. This used to be the stronghold of the terrorists. They occupied this beautiful place, located in the heart of the old city of Homs. Now, things are slowly coming back to life here, at least in several areas of the city. The old market is functioning, the university is open, and so are several government buildings and hotels. But Mrs. Hayat lives in both past and the future.

 

Mrs. Hayat Awad

Mrs. Hayat lost her son, Mahmood, during the war. His portrait is always with her, engraved into a pentel she is wearing on her chest.

He was only 21 years old, still a student, when he decided to join the Syrian army. He told me that Syria is like his mother. He loves her, as he loves me. He was fighting against the Al-Nusrah Front, and the battle was very tough. At the end of the day he called me, just to say that the situation was not good. In his last call he just asked me to forgive him. He said: ‘Maybe I am not going to come back. Please forgive me. I love you!’

Are there many mothers like her, here in Homs, those who lost their sons?

Yes, I know many women who lost their sons; and not just one, sometimes two or three. I know a lady who lost her two only sons. This war took everything from us. Not only our children. I blame the countries which supported the extreme ideologies injected into Syria; countries like the United States and those in Europe.

After I am done filming, she thanks Russia for their support. She thanks all the countries that have stood by Syria during those difficult years.

Celebrating birthday of prophet Mohammed in Homs

Not far from Julia Palace, reconstruction work is in full swing. And just a few steps away, a renovated mosque is re-opening. People are dancing, celebrating. It is Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. The Governor of Homs marches towards the festivities, with the members of his government. There is almost no security around them.

If the West does not unleash yet another wave of terror against its people, Homs should be just fine. Not right away, perhaps not soon, but it will be, with the resolute help of the Russians, Chinese, Iranian and other comrades. Syria itself is strong and determined. Its allies are mighty.

I want to believe that the most terrible years are over. I want to believe that Syria has already won.

But I know that there is still Idlib, there are also pockets occupied by Turkish and Western forces. It is not over, yet. The terrorists have not been fully defeated. The West will be shooting its missiles. Israel will be sending its air force to brutalize the country. And the mass media outlets from the West and the Gulf, will continue fighting the media war, agitating and confusing certain segments of the Syrian people.

Still, as I leave Homs, I see shops and even boutiques opening in the midst of the rubble. Some people are dressing up, elegantly again, in order to show their strength; their determination to put the past behind them and to live, once again, their normal lives.

*****

Returning to Damascus, the motorway is in perfect condition and the industrial area in Hassia is getting rebuilt and amplified, too. There is a huge power plant, supported by the Iranians, I am told. Despite the war, Syria is still supplying neighboring Lebanon with electricity.

Yamen drives at 120 km/h and we joke that once we get scared of possible speed traps, instead of snipers, we know that the situation in the country is dramatically improving.

A Russian military convoy is parked at a rest area. Soldiers are drinking coffee. There is no fear. Syrians treat them as if they were their own people.

I see the most spectacular sunset, over the desert.

Then, once again, we pass through Harasta. This time at night.

I want to curse. I don’t; cursing is too easy. I need to get to my computer, soon. I have to write; to work. A lot, the best I can.

*****

It is easy to feel at home in Syria. Maybe because Russian is my mother-tongue or perhaps because people here know that I have always stood by their country.

Some bureaucratic hindrances got resolved, quickly.

Working with Syrian Minister of Education, Dr. Hazwan Al-Waz

I met the outgoing Minister of Education, Dr. Hazwan Al-Waz, who is a fellow novelist. We spoke about his writing, about his latest book “Love and War.” He confirmed what I always knew, as a revolutionary novelist:

During the war, everything is political, even love.

And then something that I will never forget:

My Ministry of Education has been, in fact, the Ministry of Defense.

Last night in Damascus I walked all over the old city, till early morning. At one point, I arrived near the spectacular Umayyad Mosque, finding, right behind it, the mausoleum of Sultan Saladin.

I could not enter. At this late-night hour it was locked. But I could easily see it through the metal bars of the gate.

This brave commander and leader fought against the huge armies of the Western invaders – the Crusaders – winning almost every single battle, finding his peace and final resting place here in Damascus.

I paid tribute to this ancient fellow internationalist, and I wondered, over a strong coffee in a nearby stall, in the middle of the night: “Did Saladin participate in this latest epic battle fought by the Syrian nation against the hordes of the foreign barbarians?”

Perhaps his spirit did. Or, more likely, some battles were fought and won with his name on lips.

‘I will be back,’ I uttered, walking back towards my hotel, few minutes after midnight. Two massive furry cats accompanide me, following my steps until the first corner. ‘I will be back very soon’.

Syria is standing. That’s what really matters. It never fell on its knees. And it never will. We will not allow it to fall.

And damned be imperialism!

• All photos by Andre Vltchek

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

Canadian Jewish News: Promoter of Terror Tourism?

What should we make of a media outlet that praises those who join or give money to a foreign army, which occupies territory belonging to another people, terrorizes the local population by destroying houses, restricting their movement, subjecting them to military courts and shooting unarmed protestors?

What should we call the Canadian Jewish News, an unfailing flatterer of Canadians who join or finance a military subjugating Palestinians? Would “promoter of terror tourism” be an appropriate description?

Over the past month the CJN has published at least four pieces celebrating Canadian support for the Israeli military. On November 22 it reported, “Bayli Dukes, who recently won the Israel Defence Forces’ Award of Excellence for the Southern Command of the IDF, was a biology student at York University in Toronto less than two years ago. Tired of sitting on the couch and posting on Facebook about the situation in Israel, she decided there was more she could be doing.”

A day earlier it posted an article titled “Hand-knitted  tuques – a very Canadian gift for IDF soldiers” described 80-year olds in Toronto knitting “for charitable causes, such as IDF soldiers in Israel.” Through the Hats for Israeli Soldiers initiative “more than 50,000 hats have been made for combat soldiers on Israel’s front lines”, the CJN reported. The paper quoted IDF soldier Dovid Berger’s thank you letter. “I’m currently a chayal in the 51st brigade of Golani. We are now on our way to a week-long drill in the cold and wet [occupied Syrian] Golan Heights, and last night we received our beautiful black hats you sent us. Thank you so much, some of us have been borrowing each other’s hats and now there’s enough for everyone to have at least one. It really makes a big difference to us to see how people from Canada and the U.S.A. (and everywhere in the world) are really caring about us.”

A photo in its November 14 print edition was titled “Honouring IDF veterans”. The caption read: “former Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon … makes presentation to Montrealers who served in the Israel Defence Forces…. during the Canadian Institute for Jewish research’s 30th anniversary Gala.”

An October 30 piece in the community paper reported, “former NHL player Keith Primeau was among more than 100 Canadians who cycled through Israel over five days this month, to raise funds for disabled veterans in that country. This was the 11th Courage in Motion Bike Ride, which is organized by Beit Halochem Canada.”

The CJN regularly promotes that organization. A search of its database for “Beit Halochem” found dozens of stories about fundraisers and other initiatives supporting Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel. A 2009 story titled “Israeli veterans enjoy 24th visit to Montreal” reported, “the annual visit was sponsored by the 25-year-old Beit Halochem Canada (Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel), which raises funds for Israel’s Beit Halochem, a network of centres that provide therapy and support to more than 51,000 disabled vets and victims of terror.”

Another military initiative CJN promotes is Israel Defence Forces Widows & Orphans, which is partly funded by the Israeli government. “I served three years in the Nahal Brigade. I was in Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”, Shlomi Nahumson, director of youth programs at Widows and Orphans, told the paper in advance of a Toronto fundraiser for the group.

Another military initiative popular with CJN is Sar-El, which was founded by Israeli general Aharon Davidi in 1982. “Toronto brothers volunteer for Sar-El at height of war”, “91-year-old volunteers on Israeli army base” and “Toronto artist’s mural unites Israeli army base” are a sampling of the headlines about a program in which about 150 Canadians serve each year as volunteers on Israeli army supply bases.

At least a dozen CJN stories have promoted the Association for the Soldiers of Israel in Canada. “IDF represents all Jews, female general says” and “Community shows support for Israeli soldiers”, noted headlines about a group established in 1971 to provide financial and moral support to active duty soldiers. The later story quoted a speaker claiming, “the IDF saves lives, and not just in Israel — all over the world.”

CJN has published a series of stories sympathetic to Tzofim Garin Tzabar, which recruits non-Israeli Jews into the IDF. A 2004 article about a program supported by the IDF, Israel Scouts, Jewish Agency and Ministry of Absorption was titled “Canadian youths serve in IDF: Motivated by zionist ideals, love of Israel.” It reported, “[Canadian Yakov] Frydman-Kohl is attending tank school at an Israeli army base somewhere near the West Bank town of Jericho. He recently completed a course in advanced training before his first deployment somewhere in the Gaza Strip.”

CJN lauded Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz’ Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. “Philanthropists aid Israeli ‘lone soldiers’”, was the title of one story about the billionaire Toronto couple providing millions of dollars annually for these non-Israeli soldiers.

More generally, the paper has published numerous stories about Canadian ‘lone soldiers’. “Going in alone: the motivations and hardships of Israel lone soldiers”, “Parents of ‘lone soldiers’ discuss support group” and “Lone soldiers: young idealists and worried parents”, detailed Canadians fighting in the Israeli military. They’ve also publicized numerous books about Canadian and other non-Israelis joining the IDF. In one CJN quoted Abe Levine, an Ontarian who helped drive Palestinians from their homes in 1948, saying, “what I don’t understand is why Israelis don’t send 10 rockets back for every one fired from Gaza.”  The story continued, “during his time in the Machal [overseas military volunteers], Levine saw most Arabs as ‘the enemy.’ Though he said he had lines he would not cross – ‘I wouldn’t kill an Arab if I just saw him standing outside his house.’”

CJN promoted Nefesh B’Nefesh’s (Jewish Souls United) recruitment of Canadians to the IDF. “Nefesh B’Nefesh brings aspiring soldiers to Israel”, noted a headline about a group that facilitates “Aliyah” for those unsatisfied with their and their ancestors’ dispossession of First Nations and want to help colonize another indigenous people.

While CJN provides positive publicity to groups promoting the Israeli military, these groups (often registered Canadian charities) finance the paper. The previously mentioned story about Nefesh B’Nefesh ended with “the reporter’s trip was partly subsidized by Nefesh B’Nefesh.” More significantly, these organizations regularly advertise in the paper. “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base”, read a Sar-El ad while another noted “the Association for the soldiers of Israel invites you to show your support for the brave youth of the IDF at our gala dinner.”

Yet, while it promotes joining and financing a military actively killing Arabs, CJN accuses Palestinian Canadians of supporting terrorism. An August headline noted, “Canadian Arabic-language newspaper criticized for pro-terrorist op-ed” while a 2017 one stated, “B’nai Brith wants a Mississauga teacher fired for backing terrorists”.

The hypocrisy is glaring. While CJN accuses others, it may be this country’s biggest promoter of “terror tourism”.