Category Archives: Racism

Declare Your Independence from Tyranny, America

Imagine living in a country where armed soldiers crash through doors to arrest and imprison citizens merely for criticizing government officials.

Imagine that in this very same country, you’re watched all the time, and if you look even a little bit suspicious, the police stop and frisk you or pull you over to search you on the off chance you’re doing something illegal.

Keep in mind that if you have a firearm of any kind (or anything that resembled a firearm) while in this country, it may get you arrested and, in some circumstances, shot by police.

If you’re thinking this sounds like America today, you wouldn’t be far wrong.

However, the scenario described above took place more than 200 years ago, when American colonists suffered under Great Britain’s version of an early police state. It was only when the colonists finally got fed up with being silenced, censored, searched, frisked, threatened, and arrested that they finally revolted against the tyrant’s fetters.

No document better states their grievances than the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

A document seething with outrage over a government which had betrayed its citizens, the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, by 56 men who laid everything on the line, pledged it all—“our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”—because they believed in a radical idea: that all people are created to be free. [Sounds so humanistic until one reads that they demeaned the Indigenous peoples as “merciless Indian Savages” — DV ed]

Labeled traitors, these men were charged with treason, a crime punishable by death. For some, their acts of rebellion would cost them their homes and their fortunes. For others, it would be the ultimate price—their lives.

Yet even knowing the heavy price they might have to pay, these men dared to speak up when silence could not be tolerated. Even after they had won their independence from Great Britain, these new Americans worked to ensure that the rights they had risked their lives to secure would remain secure for future generations.

The result: our Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

Imagine the shock and outrage these 56 men would feel were they to discover that 246 years later, the government they had risked their lives to create has been transformed into a militaristic police state in which exercising one’s freedoms—at a minimum, merely questioning a government agent—is often viewed as a flagrant act of defiance.

In fact, had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants.

Read the Declaration of Independence again, and ask yourself if the list of complaints tallied by Jefferson don’t bear a startling resemblance to the abuses “we the people” are suffering at the hands of the American police state.

Here’s what the Declaration of Independence might look and sound like if it were written in the modern vernacular:

There comes a time when a populace must stand united and say “enough is enough” to the government’s abuses, even if it means getting rid of the political parties in power.

Believing that “we the people” have a natural and divine right to direct our own lives, here are truths about the power of the people and how we arrived at the decision to sever our ties to the government:

All people are created equal.

All people possess certain innate rights that no government or agency or individual can take away from them. Among these are the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The government’s job is to protect the people’s innate rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The government’s power comes from the will of the people.

Whenever any government abuses its power, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government and replace it with a new government that will respect and protect the rights of the people.

It is not wise to get rid of a government for minor transgressions. In fact, as history has shown, people resist change and are inclined to suffer all manner of abuses to which they have become accustomed.

However, when the people have been subjected to repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the purpose of establishing a tyrannical government, people have a right and duty to do away with that tyrannical government and to replace it with a new government that will protect and preserve their innate rights for their future wellbeing.

This is exactly the state of affairs we are under suffering under right now, which is why it is necessary that we change this imperial system of government.

The history of the present Imperial Government is a history of repeated abuses and power grabs, carried out with the intention of establishing absolute tyranny over the country.

To prove this, consider the following:

The government has, through its own negligence and arrogance, refused to adopt urgent and necessary laws for the good of the people.

The government has threatened to hold up critical laws unless the people agree to relinquish their right to be fully represented in the Legislature.

In order to expand its power and bring about compliance with its dictates, the government has made it nearly impossible for the people to make their views and needs heard by their representatives.

The government has repeatedly suppressed protests arising in response to its actions.

The government has obstructed justice by refusing to appoint judges who respect the Constitution and has instead made the courts march in lockstep with the government’s dictates.

The government has allowed its agents to harass the people, steal from them, jail them and even execute them.

The government has directed militarized government agents—a.k.a., a standing army—to police domestic affairs in peacetime.

The government has turned the country into a militarized police state.

The government has conspired to undermine the rule of law and the constitution in order to expand its own powers.

The government has allowed its militarized police to invade our homes and inflict violence on homeowners.

The government has failed to hold its agents accountable for wrongdoing and murder under the guise of “qualified immunity.”

The government has jeopardized our international trade agreements.

The government has overtaxed us without our permission.

The government has denied us due process and the right to a fair trial.

The government has engaged in extraordinary rendition.

The government has continued to expand its military empire in collusion with its corporate partners-in-crime and occupy foreign nations.

The government has eroded fundamental legal protections and destabilized the structure of government.

The government has not only declared its federal powers superior to those of the states but has also asserted its sovereign power over the rights of “we the people.”

The government has ceased to protect the people and instead waged domestic war against the people.

The government has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, and destroyed the lives of the people.

The government has employed private contractors and mercenaries to carry out acts of death, desolation and tyranny, totally unworthy of a civilized nation.

The government through its political propaganda has pitted its citizens against each other.

The government has stirred up civil unrest and laid the groundwork for martial law.

Repeatedly, we have asked the government to cease its abuses. Each time, the government has responded with more abuse.

An Imperial Ruler who acts like a tyrant is not fit to govern a free people.

We have repeatedly sounded the alarm to our fellow citizens about the government’s abuses. We have warned them about the government’s power grabs. We have appealed to their sense of justice. We have reminded them of our common bonds.

They have rejected our plea for justice and brotherhood. They are equally at fault for the injustices being carried out by the government.

Thus, for the reasons mentioned above, we the people of the united States of America declare ourselves free from the chains of an abusive government. Relying on God’s protection, we pledge to stand by this Declaration of Independence with our lives, our fortunes and our honor.

In the 246 years since early Americans first declared and eventually won their independence from Great Britain, “we the people” have managed to work ourselves right back under the tyrant’s thumb.

Only this time, the tyrant is one of our own making: the American Police State.

The abuses meted out by an imperial government and endured by the American people have not ended. They have merely evolved.

“We the people” are still being robbed blind by a government of thieves.

We are still being taken advantage of by a government of scoundrels, idiots and monsters.

We are still being locked up by a government of greedy jailers.

We are still being spied on by a government of Peeping Toms.

We are still being ravaged by a government of ruffians, rapists and killers.

We are still being forced to surrender our freedoms—and those of our children—to a government of extortionists, money launderers and corporate pirates.

And we are still being held at gunpoint by a government of soldiers: a standing army in the form of a militarized police.

Given the fact that we are a relatively young nation, it hasn’t taken very long for an authoritarian regime to creep into power.

Unfortunately, the bipartisan coup that laid siege to our nation did not happen overnight.

It snuck in under our radar, hiding behind the guise of national security, the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on immigration, political correctness, hate crimes and a host of other official-sounding programs aimed at expanding the government’s power at the expense of individual freedoms.

The building blocks for the bleak future we’re just now getting a foretaste of—police shootings of unarmed citizens, profit-driven prisons, weapons of compliance, a wall-to-wall surveillance state, pre-crime programs, a suspect society, school-to-prison pipelines, militarized police, overcriminalization, SWAT team raids, endless wars, etc.—were put in place by government officials we trusted to look out for our best interests.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, the problems we are facing will not be fixed overnight: that is the grim reality with which we must contend.

Yet that does not mean we should give up or give in or tune out. What we need to do is declare our independence from the tyranny of the American police state.

The post Declare Your Independence from Tyranny, America first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Nazi Germany, the Holy Grail and how the occult still shapes our world

This article is an edited version of something I wrote for a 2005 anthology called Underground: The Disinformation Guide to Ancient Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology, and Hidden History)

With rare exceptions, humans are not driven to commit atrocities. With rare exceptions, humans can be driven to commit atrocities.

“People often are conscripted into armies, but sometimes they enlist with gusto,” explains cognitive psychologist, Steven Pinker.  “Jingoism,” Pinker adds, “is alarmingly easy to evoke.”

“I have come to believe that men kill in war because they do not know their real enemy and because they are pushed into a position where they must kill,” proposed peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh. “We are taught to think that we need a foreign enemy. Governments work hard to get us to be afraid and to hate so we will rally behind them. If we do not have an enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.”

In the case of Nazi Germany, it appears the propagandists themselves began their march toward genocide by inventing a past so mythical it could sway an entire nation. Even the leaders themselves would fall under their own spell.

Back to Thule

“More than a political party, the Nazi party was very much a cult,” says author Jonathan Vankin. “Like most demagogic religious sects, its rank and file were spellbound with the courage of demented convictions, and its leadership was financed and supported by powerful people whose main interest was accumulating more power. The finely tuned machine of brainwashing, fanaticism, and secrecy is perfect for that purpose.”

The “demagogic religious” sect that reached prominence in pre-war Germany was the Thule Society which, according to journalist Peter Reydt, “believed in the greatness of German history, reaching back to the year 9AD, when the Teutonic tribes defeated the Roman army. It promoted the superiority of the Aryan race, an ancient northern European people.”

Friedrich Nietzsche’s notion of the Ubermensch (superman) endured many interpretations… one of which involved a racially superior people — called “Aryans” — who once inhabited northern Europe. This idea would eventually find a murderous home in the architects of the Nazi regime.

It began in 1900 when German occultists formed a society called the Order of New Templars (ONT). “Eight years later,” says Vankin, “another occultist formed a group called Armanen. They took the swastika as the Armanen emblem.”

“An ancient Indian symbol of good luck, the swastika was also the traditional symbol of Thor, the Norse god of thunder,” writes Robin Cross of Channel4.com. In 1920, a Thule Society member suggested to Hitler that he adopt the swastika as the Nazi Party symbol. “Hitler placed it on a white circle against a red background, to compete with the hammer and sickle of the Communist Party,” Cross explains.

The ONT and Armanen merged in 1912 and became known as the Germanen Orden and six years after that, some members of the Orden created Thulegesellschaft, the Thule Society.

“The legend of ‘Thule’ was a variation on the Atlantis myth,” Vankin explains. “Thule was supposed to be a nation of superbeings with a utopian civilization. It flourished until 850,000 years ago when it was wiped away by a cataclysmic flood.” The Thulians, so the legend went, brought destruction upon themselves by mating with a lower race.

The holy grail for the modern Thulians was, well, the Holy Grail.

The legend of the Holy Grail — written in 1185 — told of a vessel alleged to contain the wine of the Last Supper along with the blood of the crucified Christ. “Supposedly Joseph of Arimathea confiscated it and then used it to collect blood from Christ’s wound as he hung on the cross,” writes Katherine Ramsland.  “Joseph then took the cup to England to hide it in a secret place — Avalon — and it became the ambition of King Arthur’s knights to find it and make it the center of their enterprise.”

The quest for the grail is history’s definitive treasure hunt — and it would seduce both Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler.

Himmler’s Roundtable

Hitler’s involvement with the Thule Society is believed to date back to his World War I years in the German Army. This association intensified in 1919 when he met Dietrich Eckart, a wealthy and persuasive member of the Thule Society’s innermost circle. Hitler biographer Wulf Schwarzwaller calls this meeting “more decisive than any other” in the future dictator’s life. “Eckart molded Hitler, completely changing his public persona,” Schwarzwaller writes.

As Vankin documents, Dietrich Eckart issued this command from his deathbed in December 1928: “Follow Hitler! He will dance but it is I who have called the tune.”

Hitler’s dance partner was Heinrich Himmler whom he appointed Reichsführer of the SS (an abbreviation of Schutzstaffel, “protection squadrons”) in 1929. Until that point, the SS was little more than Hitler’s personal bodyguards. Himmler, says Christopher Hale, author of Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, “set about transforming an insignificant cadre into a new Aryan aristocracy.”

Already a member of the Thule Society, Himmler joined the Nazi Party in 1925. His fascination with Thulian theories is often overshadowed by his heinous deeds and thus played down by historians — but nonetheless, they influenced the shape and scope of the Final Solution.

“The truth is that Himmler’s enthusiasms about lost civilizations, prehistoric archaeology, the Holy Grail, and especially, the origins of the ‘Indo-Germanic’ races were intricately interwoven with racial ‘theories’ that demanded the elimination of the unfit,” says Hale.

Himmler built the SS to 300,000 strong by 1939 and presented its members as examples of racial purity. “To a remarkable degree, Himmler’s ideas had been formed not only by politicians but by anthropologists and biologists,” adds Hale.

“In World War II, the SS was the principal enforcer of Nazi racial doctrine,” says Cross. “They staffed the Reich’s concentration and extermination camps, where they conducted cruel experiments to demonstrate ‘Aryan’ racial superiority and formed the core of the Einsatzgruppen (special formations) that were responsible for cleansing eastern Europe of Jews.”

To Himmler, the men in the SS were acting in the tradition of his beloved Teutonic knights and kings and Wewelsburg Castle was designed to be their Camelot. “Rooms were dedicated to figures of Nordic history and mythology like King Arthur,” says Reydt. “Himmler’s room was dedicated to King Heinrich I, founder of the first German Reich. Himmler believed himself to be the reincarnation of Heinrich. Another room was set aside to house the Holy Grail, which was to be searched for all over the world.”

Yes, it all comes back to the Grail. For what would a reincarnation of past Aryan glory be without the restoration of its most sacred symbol?

“Himmler saw the potential of archaeology as a political tool,” explains Dr. Henning Hassmann of the Archaeological Institute in Dresden. “He needed archaeology to provide an identity for his SS. But Himmler also believed that archaeology had a certain pseudo-religious content. There were excavations; there were myths and legends, a feeling of superiority. They believed by drawing on the power of prehistory they would achieve success in the present day.”

The year 1935 saw Himmler take his obsessions to another level, establishing Das Ahnenerbe (the Ancestral Heritage Society), a new branch of the SS designed to be staffed by academics thus raising Nazi propaganda to the status of objective truth… or so he hoped.

“The Ahnenerbe organized expeditions into many parts of the world — to Iceland in search of the Grail, to Iran to find evidence of ancient kings of pure Aryan blood, to the Canary Islands to seek proof of Atlantis,” Reydt says.

Their most ambitious destination was Tibet.

Bruno Beger conducting anthropometric studies in Sikkim

It’s the Vril Thing

The 1938 Nazi expedition to Tibet had roots that went all the way back to 1923 when Hitler was doing time in Landsberg Prison. “Hitler immersed himself in the writings of Professor Karl Haushofer,” says Cross. Haushofer was the founder of the Vril Society, which sought “contacts with subterranean super-beings to learn from them the ancient secrets of Thule.” The word “vril,” coined by an English novelist named Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in his 1871 science fiction novel The Coming Race, referred to a psychokinetic power possessed by those in a master race.

“The French author Louis Jacolliot furthered the myth in Les Fils de Dieu (The Sons of God) (1873) and Les Traditions indo-européeenes (The Indo-European Traditions) (1876),” writes Alexander Berzin in his article, “The Nazi Connection with Shambhala and Tibet.” “In these books, he linked vril with the subterranean people of Thule. The Thuleans will harness the power of vril to become supermen and rule the world.”

Haushofer viewed central Asia as the origin of the Aryan race and therefore the key to the harnessing of the power of vril. Since Tibetans, long dominated by both the British and the Chinese, were not averse to making nice with the Germans (and their Japanese allies), the Ahnenerbe set out on an expedition led by German hunter and biologist, Ernst Schäfer.

“One of the members of the Nazi expedition was the anthropologist Bruno Beger, a supporter of the theory that Tibet was home to the descendants of a ‘northern race’,” says Cross.

FYI: Bruno Beger later worked to provide Nazi doctors with victims to experiment on and he also kept and exhibited a “Jewish skeleton collection.”

Beger’s “scientific investigation” of the Tibetan people led him to conclude that they represented “a staging post between the Mongol and European races,” and could play “an important role in the region, serving as an allied race in a world dominated by Germany and Japan.” The following year, the Second World War officially commenced. Even so, the Ahnenerbe remained active amidst the global conflict.

“Entire contents of museums, scientific collections, libraries, and archaeological finds were looted and shipped to Berlin or the Wewelsburg. Himmler and Sievers created a special unit — the “Sonderkommando Jankuhn” — to supervise the plunder,” Reydt reports. “Professors, doctors, and scholars were now directly integrated into the Nazi murder machine.”

Never Again?

“Searching for lost Aryans or the Holy Grail or Atlantis may seem harmless enough, but German occultism was founded on a racial vision of history,” concludes Christopher Hale. “It validated German national identity by conjuring up a bogus yet seductive ancestral past. By taking this chimerical past literally, men like Heinrich Himmler were able to infuse policies of racial purification with an irresistible potency. As a result, occultism facilitated murder. The ground loam of pseudo-Darwinian civilization led the ‘scientists’ of the SS to the killing fields of the concentration camps.”

“With the idea that blessings from Christ himself enveloped them, the Nazis felt justified to go on a massive killing spree against those who ‘contaminated’ them,” says Channel4.com’s Ramsland. “Theirs was a holy mission and nothing they could do in its service was wrong.”

With all brands of fundamentalism — religious, economic, scientific, transhumanist, etc. — currently running roughshod over the planet and dictating global policy, how many of us will see past the comforting myths and soothing justifications to recognize the psychopathic thirst for power lurking below?

It’s easy to chalk all of the above as madness from the past with little or no bearing on today’s world. But please allow me to remind you that the U.S. willfully rescued Nazi scientists and spies (read: heinous war criminals) to start two rather influential agencies: the CIA and NASA.

To learn more about the CIA’s embracing of the occult, click here.

To get up to speed on NASA’s resident occultist, Jack Parsons, click here and here.

Epilogue

In 1951, Guatemalan president Juan José Arévalo (who gave that country a ten-year respite from military rule during which he provoked U.S. ire by modeling his government “in many ways after the Roosevelt New Deal”) stepped down to be replaced by his ill-fated successor and kindred spirit, Jacobo Arbenz.

A mere three years later, a CIA-sponsored coup — to prevent the threat of a Soviet invasion, of course — stole Guatemala from its people and set the Central American nation spiraling downward into a cycle of repression, poverty, and political mass murder. This is what Arévalo had to say about the aftermath of the war known as “good”:

“The arms of the Third Reich were broken and conquered but in the ideological dialogue, Roosevelt lost the war. The real winner was Hitler.”

The post Nazi Germany, the Holy Grail and how the occult still shapes our world first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Nazi Germany, the Holy Grail and how the occult still shapes our world

This article is an edited version of something I wrote for a 2005 anthology called Underground: The Disinformation Guide to Ancient Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology, and Hidden History)

With rare exceptions, humans are not driven to commit atrocities. With rare exceptions, humans can be driven to commit atrocities.

“People often are conscripted into armies, but sometimes they enlist with gusto,” explains cognitive psychologist, Steven Pinker.  “Jingoism,” Pinker adds, “is alarmingly easy to evoke.”

“I have come to believe that men kill in war because they do not know their real enemy and because they are pushed into a position where they must kill,” proposed peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh. “We are taught to think that we need a foreign enemy. Governments work hard to get us to be afraid and to hate so we will rally behind them. If we do not have an enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.”

In the case of Nazi Germany, it appears the propagandists themselves began their march toward genocide by inventing a past so mythical it could sway an entire nation. Even the leaders themselves would fall under their own spell.

Back to Thule

“More than a political party, the Nazi party was very much a cult,” says author Jonathan Vankin. “Like most demagogic religious sects, its rank and file were spellbound with the courage of demented convictions, and its leadership was financed and supported by powerful people whose main interest was accumulating more power. The finely tuned machine of brainwashing, fanaticism, and secrecy is perfect for that purpose.”

The “demagogic religious” sect that reached prominence in pre-war Germany was the Thule Society which, according to journalist Peter Reydt, “believed in the greatness of German history, reaching back to the year 9AD, when the Teutonic tribes defeated the Roman army. It promoted the superiority of the Aryan race, an ancient northern European people.”

Friedrich Nietzsche’s notion of the Ubermensch (superman) endured many interpretations… one of which involved a racially superior people — called “Aryans” — who once inhabited northern Europe. This idea would eventually find a murderous home in the architects of the Nazi regime.

It began in 1900 when German occultists formed a society called the Order of New Templars (ONT). “Eight years later,” says Vankin, “another occultist formed a group called Armanen. They took the swastika as the Armanen emblem.”

“An ancient Indian symbol of good luck, the swastika was also the traditional symbol of Thor, the Norse god of thunder,” writes Robin Cross of Channel4.com. In 1920, a Thule Society member suggested to Hitler that he adopt the swastika as the Nazi Party symbol. “Hitler placed it on a white circle against a red background, to compete with the hammer and sickle of the Communist Party,” Cross explains.

The ONT and Armanen merged in 1912 and became known as the Germanen Orden and six years after that, some members of the Orden created Thulegesellschaft, the Thule Society.

“The legend of ‘Thule’ was a variation on the Atlantis myth,” Vankin explains. “Thule was supposed to be a nation of superbeings with a utopian civilization. It flourished until 850,000 years ago when it was wiped away by a cataclysmic flood.” The Thulians, so the legend went, brought destruction upon themselves by mating with a lower race.

The holy grail for the modern Thulians was, well, the Holy Grail.

The legend of the Holy Grail — written in 1185 — told of a vessel alleged to contain the wine of the Last Supper along with the blood of the crucified Christ. “Supposedly Joseph of Arimathea confiscated it and then used it to collect blood from Christ’s wound as he hung on the cross,” writes Katherine Ramsland.  “Joseph then took the cup to England to hide it in a secret place — Avalon — and it became the ambition of King Arthur’s knights to find it and make it the center of their enterprise.”

The quest for the grail is history’s definitive treasure hunt — and it would seduce both Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler.

Himmler’s Roundtable

Hitler’s involvement with the Thule Society is believed to date back to his World War I years in the German Army. This association intensified in 1919 when he met Dietrich Eckart, a wealthy and persuasive member of the Thule Society’s innermost circle. Hitler biographer Wulf Schwarzwaller calls this meeting “more decisive than any other” in the future dictator’s life. “Eckart molded Hitler, completely changing his public persona,” Schwarzwaller writes.

As Vankin documents, Dietrich Eckart issued this command from his deathbed in December 1928: “Follow Hitler! He will dance but it is I who have called the tune.”

Hitler’s dance partner was Heinrich Himmler whom he appointed Reichsführer of the SS (an abbreviation of Schutzstaffel, “protection squadrons”) in 1929. Until that point, the SS was little more than Hitler’s personal bodyguards. Himmler, says Christopher Hale, author of Himmler’s Crusade: The Nazi Expedition to Find the Origins of the Aryan Race, “set about transforming an insignificant cadre into a new Aryan aristocracy.”

Already a member of the Thule Society, Himmler joined the Nazi Party in 1925. His fascination with Thulian theories is often overshadowed by his heinous deeds and thus played down by historians — but nonetheless, they influenced the shape and scope of the Final Solution.

“The truth is that Himmler’s enthusiasms about lost civilizations, prehistoric archaeology, the Holy Grail, and especially, the origins of the ‘Indo-Germanic’ races were intricately interwoven with racial ‘theories’ that demanded the elimination of the unfit,” says Hale.

Himmler built the SS to 300,000 strong by 1939 and presented its members as examples of racial purity. “To a remarkable degree, Himmler’s ideas had been formed not only by politicians but by anthropologists and biologists,” adds Hale.

“In World War II, the SS was the principal enforcer of Nazi racial doctrine,” says Cross. “They staffed the Reich’s concentration and extermination camps, where they conducted cruel experiments to demonstrate ‘Aryan’ racial superiority and formed the core of the Einsatzgruppen (special formations) that were responsible for cleansing eastern Europe of Jews.”

To Himmler, the men in the SS were acting in the tradition of his beloved Teutonic knights and kings and Wewelsburg Castle was designed to be their Camelot. “Rooms were dedicated to figures of Nordic history and mythology like King Arthur,” says Reydt. “Himmler’s room was dedicated to King Heinrich I, founder of the first German Reich. Himmler believed himself to be the reincarnation of Heinrich. Another room was set aside to house the Holy Grail, which was to be searched for all over the world.”

Yes, it all comes back to the Grail. For what would a reincarnation of past Aryan glory be without the restoration of its most sacred symbol?

“Himmler saw the potential of archaeology as a political tool,” explains Dr. Henning Hassmann of the Archaeological Institute in Dresden. “He needed archaeology to provide an identity for his SS. But Himmler also believed that archaeology had a certain pseudo-religious content. There were excavations; there were myths and legends, a feeling of superiority. They believed by drawing on the power of prehistory they would achieve success in the present day.”

The year 1935 saw Himmler take his obsessions to another level, establishing Das Ahnenerbe (the Ancestral Heritage Society), a new branch of the SS designed to be staffed by academics thus raising Nazi propaganda to the status of objective truth… or so he hoped.

“The Ahnenerbe organized expeditions into many parts of the world — to Iceland in search of the Grail, to Iran to find evidence of ancient kings of pure Aryan blood, to the Canary Islands to seek proof of Atlantis,” Reydt says.

Their most ambitious destination was Tibet.

Bruno Beger conducting anthropometric studies in Sikkim

It’s the Vril Thing

The 1938 Nazi expedition to Tibet had roots that went all the way back to 1923 when Hitler was doing time in Landsberg Prison. “Hitler immersed himself in the writings of Professor Karl Haushofer,” says Cross. Haushofer was the founder of the Vril Society, which sought “contacts with subterranean super-beings to learn from them the ancient secrets of Thule.” The word “vril,” coined by an English novelist named Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in his 1871 science fiction novel The Coming Race, referred to a psychokinetic power possessed by those in a master race.

“The French author Louis Jacolliot furthered the myth in Les Fils de Dieu (The Sons of God) (1873) and Les Traditions indo-européeenes (The Indo-European Traditions) (1876),” writes Alexander Berzin in his article, “The Nazi Connection with Shambhala and Tibet.” “In these books, he linked vril with the subterranean people of Thule. The Thuleans will harness the power of vril to become supermen and rule the world.”

Haushofer viewed central Asia as the origin of the Aryan race and therefore the key to the harnessing of the power of vril. Since Tibetans, long dominated by both the British and the Chinese, were not averse to making nice with the Germans (and their Japanese allies), the Ahnenerbe set out on an expedition led by German hunter and biologist, Ernst Schäfer.

“One of the members of the Nazi expedition was the anthropologist Bruno Beger, a supporter of the theory that Tibet was home to the descendants of a ‘northern race’,” says Cross.

FYI: Bruno Beger later worked to provide Nazi doctors with victims to experiment on and he also kept and exhibited a “Jewish skeleton collection.”

Beger’s “scientific investigation” of the Tibetan people led him to conclude that they represented “a staging post between the Mongol and European races,” and could play “an important role in the region, serving as an allied race in a world dominated by Germany and Japan.” The following year, the Second World War officially commenced. Even so, the Ahnenerbe remained active amidst the global conflict.

“Entire contents of museums, scientific collections, libraries, and archaeological finds were looted and shipped to Berlin or the Wewelsburg. Himmler and Sievers created a special unit — the “Sonderkommando Jankuhn” — to supervise the plunder,” Reydt reports. “Professors, doctors, and scholars were now directly integrated into the Nazi murder machine.”

Never Again?

“Searching for lost Aryans or the Holy Grail or Atlantis may seem harmless enough, but German occultism was founded on a racial vision of history,” concludes Christopher Hale. “It validated German national identity by conjuring up a bogus yet seductive ancestral past. By taking this chimerical past literally, men like Heinrich Himmler were able to infuse policies of racial purification with an irresistible potency. As a result, occultism facilitated murder. The ground loam of pseudo-Darwinian civilization led the ‘scientists’ of the SS to the killing fields of the concentration camps.”

“With the idea that blessings from Christ himself enveloped them, the Nazis felt justified to go on a massive killing spree against those who ‘contaminated’ them,” says Channel4.com’s Ramsland. “Theirs was a holy mission and nothing they could do in its service was wrong.”

With all brands of fundamentalism — religious, economic, scientific, transhumanist, etc. — currently running roughshod over the planet and dictating global policy, how many of us will see past the comforting myths and soothing justifications to recognize the psychopathic thirst for power lurking below?

It’s easy to chalk all of the above as madness from the past with little or no bearing on today’s world. But please allow me to remind you that the U.S. willfully rescued Nazi scientists and spies (read: heinous war criminals) to start two rather influential agencies: the CIA and NASA.

To learn more about the CIA’s embracing of the occult, click here.

To get up to speed on NASA’s resident occultist, Jack Parsons, click here and here.

Epilogue

In 1951, Guatemalan president Juan José Arévalo (who gave that country a ten-year respite from military rule during which he provoked U.S. ire by modeling his government “in many ways after the Roosevelt New Deal”) stepped down to be replaced by his ill-fated successor and kindred spirit, Jacobo Arbenz.

A mere three years later, a CIA-sponsored coup — to prevent the threat of a Soviet invasion, of course — stole Guatemala from its people and set the Central American nation spiraling downward into a cycle of repression, poverty, and political mass murder. This is what Arévalo had to say about the aftermath of the war known as “good”:

“The arms of the Third Reich were broken and conquered but in the ideological dialogue, Roosevelt lost the war. The real winner was Hitler.”

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The Spoils of Empire

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, we take a look at some of the recent resistance waged by two nations rendered stateless by British cartographers.

First we visit Palestine where tensions have flared into several violent confrontations between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian intifada. Then we go to Kurdistan where neighboring Turkey has renewed it’s expansionist dreams putting Kurdish occupied areas under threat.

Finally a rather troubling weather report investigates the latest effects of climate change around the globe.

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A Purpose-Driven Life


Once upon a time over the portals of the fabled Library of Alexandria were chiseled these words: “The Hospital for the Soul.” This majestic phrase captured for all times the eternal dream of the pure and unfettered pursuit of knowledge and our need for quiet places like schools and libraries to find repose in renewing the spirit.

Amidst the confusions of this distracted world, the Greeks never lost sight of thinking about the larger issues of life and its ultimate meaning. We must not lose our way amidst the obsessions of the moment, they warn us, for in turning a blind eye to the concerns of our humanity, we court our destruction.

The school and all that it stands for are now under siege for its very soul. 

Paideia, that noble dream of classical antiquity in the transformative power of education, the belief in self-enhancement through knowledge, the single-mindedness in promoting the common good, and an aware citizenry about political charlatans, this enduring legacy is struggling for survival in these darkest of times.

The 19th-century Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt referred to a coming age of “terrible simplifiers” that would crush these ideals. We are now in that age, with the school especially vulnerable in being taken over by the toxic mentality of those with no understanding of a school’s meaning and purpose in liberating the mind from all forms of hatred and bigotry.

They reject the search for truth and the things of the spirit and would replace them with the ignorance and intolerance of White supremacist dogma, a betrayal of what education has always embodied since the Greeks.

The truth will make you free, but it may not always make you happy, and it may even make you uncomfortable, which is always the sign of growth and abandoning the delusion of “possessing the truth.” 

Is there any hope for the moral regeneration of our nation when some Congressional GOP leaders, state legislators, and governors institutionalize a national amnesia about historical truth in avoiding a long-overdue reckoning with our national racism? 

Rather than denial, what we need from these leaders is honestly confronting this sickness in providing moral leadership as apartheid South Africa did in the 1990s. Their bellowing silence, however, speaks volumes about these leaders in high office. 

Many are disappointed but not surprised that these “profiles in courage” have not already offered a strategic vision for lasting peace and reconciliation between our two races by having not at least tried to convince their followers to confront our national demons to seek moral rebirth. Instead, they have rejected the only lasting solution to this tragic malady — a national examination of conscience. 

This dismissal of the brutal treatment of the Black race in American history from being taught in the classroom must also be seen within the framework of that other GOP outrage of voter suppression, the very embodiment of its disdain for Black voters, minorities, and democracy itself. 

These politicians would rather that their party steal its way to power because they know that cheating is the only way they will win.  It used to be called “losing with honor” rather than “winning with disgrace,” but that was a long, long time ago.

Suppressing the historical truth in schools and the votes of Blacks and other people of color are two different forms of the same censorship in the cause of enshrining a White racist supremacy in a nation that was once a welcoming beacon of hope to all of humanity.

When Whites think about race, they think as Whites because they have never endured racial hatred and discrimination. But if they had suffered the same enormities as Blacks at the hands of a non-White population, they would see the country that enslaved them in a much different light.

A little role-play, however, evokes compassion and empathy, magical elixirs that are good for the soul and can transform one forever! As the ancients well knew, it is not logic that softens the heart, but pity.    

Fortunately, many Whites today do understand what Blacks have endured in this country for centuries to the extent that any White person can understand this. They deeply sympathize with their Black citizens and are appalled at their fellow Whites, who even to this day are still consumed with such unaccountable hatred. 

They realize that it doesn’t matter what color a person’s skin is because we are all human beings with a common destiny when we all, indeed, shall be equal in very fact. They affirm our common humanity, no matter one’s race or ethnicity.

What is hard for them to comprehend, however, is why all Whites cannot see this. They feel a moral obligation to promote peace and good will between the races, while living in a country where, almost 160 years after the Civil War, Black Americans still find it impossible to vote in many parts of our country or even to have their story told to America’s schoolchildren, as it is routinely told about the Jewish Holocaust.

One hundred and sixty years, and the hatred and bigotry continue among those who take enormous pride in being God-fearing, righteous, church-going people!

I am reminded of those words in the Good Book: If a man says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20)

There is a psychologically astute observation by the Roman historian Tacitus about hating those whom one has injured because of the guilt one feels at having injured them, which, naturally, makes one feel “uncomfortable”!

Tacitus was characteristically much more laconic, Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris. It is human nature to hate someone you’ve injured (Tacitus, Agricola, 42).

All of us are here today and gone tomorrow, and we sometimes forget what we are doing and what it all means. What will be our legacy? When the final curtain falls and we are resting in our graves, would some be exultant to have these words on their gravestones: Here lies one who tried his best to make America a Hell for Non-Whites?

Image: History of Yesteryear

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N-: the Day-Glo Elephant in the Room

To Bigger and his kind, white people were not really people; they were a sort of great natural force, like a stormy sky looming overhead or like a deep swirling river stretching suddenly at one’s feet in the dark.

— Richard Wright, Native Son (1940)

The memoir, N, by James Henry Harris, Distinguished Professor of Pastoral Theology & Homiletics at Virginia Union University, is confrontational, even fiery from the get-go. Wonderfully in-your-face, no-holds-barred prose that gets right to the heart of the matter about CRT and the controversy over banning books — and specifically and intentionally makes the white reader squirm as Harris holds down and interrogates the talismanic, racially-charged Forbidden Word. You know which word. Don’t be coy. Whatever you do, don’t think of watermelon.

One of the first things that Harris reminds us about is that the trump card word from a stacked deck culture occurs “220 times” in the Twain novel he’s confronting. The same word occurs in his memoir 177 times. What’s most bolshy about the word is that Harris makes the point — over and over — that white people don’t have a right to use it. And by the time I reach 177, I feel punished for my sins, and, worse, feel like I deserve it. But, at the same time, I’m totally on his side; I get it, I think. The stridency and militancy recalls Miles Davis’s Tribute to Jack Johnson, a tower of strength seemingly warning the listener: “I’m Black; they’ll never let me forget it. I’m Black alright; I’ll never let them forget it.” Fight’s on.

The full title of James Henry Harris’s memoir is N: My Encounter with Racism and the Forbidden Word in an American Classic (Fortress Press, 2021). The classic is, of course, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It is (and has been for quite some time) the focal point of inquiry for any understanding of the importance and totemic value of the forbidden word. No other word in American history has such power and carries such weight. It is suffocating for all around and yet unresolved; the heavy baggage of the slaver’s legacy brought forward into the continuous and pronounced socio-economic and judicial inequalities of our common heritage as Americans. Only African-Americans see new migrants come to America — Koreans, Chinese, Eastern Europeans, etc — and be able to separate themselves from one subculture (and thereby gain an advantage) by the use of the black magic word.

This nonsense has been going on for a long time. There have been periods in our recent history when we’ve made faint attempts to get past the surface level of our group thinking, to make fun of our bigotry, and to try to move on more enlightened, or at least “woke.” The Seventies was like that to some degree. A lot of progressives took succor in humor during the 1970s to relieve the tension of our extended blues brought on by so much before us gone wrong. Dylan didn’t really help salve anything; he reinforced the depths of our insight and left us largely depressed and looking for ways to get laid. But Jews did come to the rescue. Nobody knows how to do stand-up comedy on the gallows better than the Jews, who have seen so much horror in their diasporic millennia that dark comedy oozes from their kosher pores. Regarding the politics of the N word, I don’t know if anyone did a better job than Mel Brooks setting up a scene that captured the hilarious tension embodied in the white-Black dialectic of power — the celebration of law and order that civilizes us all, as long as it’s not a Black man — than that welcoming the new sheriff to the frontier scene. All’s gleeful anticipation until the white townspeople see that the new badge in town is a “Schvartze”, the Yiddish N-word.

It’s telling that only a member of a parallel diaspora could have pulled it off and got away with it. And who didn’t feel sorry for the way the sheriff was treated in the end?

But Harris is not much amused by this kind of tomfoolery. Or, at least, he has no intention of letting the reader off that easily. N: My Encounter with Racism and the Forbidden Word in an American Classic is a memoir about a 53-year-old academic guy who signs up for a graduate Mark Twain seminar at a Richmond college that’s focussed on the politics of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a book he’ll be reading for the first time, only to discover that he’s the only Black person in the class. What’s more, he’s a got a thing about whites using the N word — at all — and now he’ll have to listen to each them read aloud passages from Twain’s novel over a long semester, in which no page of the classic novel goes without dropping the bomb.

He sets the scene of the weeks-long inter-course to come. He’s not taken with the white professor teaching African-American intellectual values. He notes his physical environs:

The room was, in fact, an old dining room converted into a classroom in a building that was an antebellum plantation mansion. In my mind’s eye, the room became a mirror of old sins and transgressions.

You have a kind of flash — Leonardo Dicaprio turned pipe-smoking prof in Django Unchained. But Harris isn’t finished setting the scene:

This is where Black folk learned the ways of white folk. This is where Black folk acquired the necessary astuteness to speak, breathe, and exist without the Otherness that defined them… It is where the practices of smiling, “softshoeing,” and “cooning” were refined into a tradition of degradation and self-deprecation. This is the house in which Blacks learned to wear masks and store their anger in their hearts and souls until it could be unleashed like hellfire and brimstone.

It’s early in the memoir and already I’m marinating in a white man’s burden. And I probably deserve it: Not because I’m white so much as I never stop letting them forget they’re Black — when I look the Other way in academic exercises of their existential crisis.

Harris feels equally uncertain he should be there in that class during introductions, each student standing and telling what brought them there; what reader-response tableau they bring to the table. He raises concern about a class filled with whites talking Black history and, most of all, using that dang-nabbit word. He notes, “But nobody, not even the professor, seemed willing to acknowledge that there is an ‘otherness’ that must be heard if learning is to take place.” Already, Harris is experiencing that Ellisonian invisibility factor. Whites, even or especially educated whites, will be abstracting his very subjective and continuously felt experience. Right there in the classroom. It’s frisson at work; a chemical reaction, if you will.

As the semester wears on, Harris finds a way through the mind field filled with IEDs — white-expressed Ns always ready to take him to the hell of anguish and raw emotion, unfiltered by the privilege of having the right, white integument. A personal moment creeps in. I recall my first days at Groton not long after Nixon resigned, an elite boarding school in the outer burbs of Boston, where Teddy and FDR had been educated, and how nervous and frightened I felt — a scholarship student from the Groton-Lowell Upward Bound program, wondering how I would fit in with the children of the highly privileged, who had produces champions of the Monroe Doctrine and the New Deal. I came from a poor background, but I wasn’t like the sprinkle of Blacks there, poor and Black. One could escape poverty, but you could never escape your skin color. When Michael Jackson tried to escape by bleaching his skin the results were disastrous, making him look like a reverse-Al Jolson singing “Billy Jean,” instead of “Mammy.” So, I get Harris’s point.

Over the period Harris begins to sift through his growing love/hate relationship with Mark Twain in general — his pioneering literary genius, — his brilliant ability, Harris concedes, to capture the vernacular of everyday Missourians back in the day, and he seems to be quite taken with Twain’s narrative techniques and humorous flourishes. In an Explanation to Huckleberry Finn, Twain tells the reader:

In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary ‘Pike County’ dialect; and four modified varieties of this last… I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.

Harris accepts this readily enough, but dang-nabbit not with the profuse use of the forbidden fruit of slavery and its aftermath — the Word. You know which one.

The class seems to move towards an acceptance of Twain’s language, including the ahem, along the lines of what the great novelist Toni Morrison recommends. No slouch herself with language and her portraits of country people, the Nobel prize-winning writer extols the virtues of Twain’s prose and defends his use of it —. In her 1996 Oxford Edition Introduction to Huck Finn, Morrison sums up the issue so many have with reading the book in the current climate of resurgent primal racism:

In the early eighties, I read Huckleberry Finn again, provoked, I believe, by demands to remove the novel from the libraries and required reading lists of public schools. These efforts were based, it seemed to me, on a narrow notion of how to handle the offense Mark Twain’s use of the term “[n–]” would occasion for black students and the corrosive effect it would have on white ones.It struck me as a purist yet elementary kind of censorship designed to appease adults rather than educate children. Amputate the problem, band-aid the solution.

Indeed, Harris says he waited until he was 53 to read Huck Finn for the first time, and then as part of a college course. You can believe, from reading Morrison’s explanation, that he is similarly self-conscious while reading it.

However, it’s clear that Harris may not be as settled in his capacity to accept the word’s use along with the wonderfulness of Twain’s prose, as Morrison is. It’s a real struggle. And as Harris works his way in the memoir toward a thesis in the class, he provides us with keen insights, by way of childhood remembrances, of the use of the word, that provides nuanced context and emotional weight to his arguments and observations. His is not merely an academic adventure over a semester. In his Intro to N, Harris tells us,

Twain himself was always protected by the professor and the rest of the students. White privilege. Nothing negative could be attributed to Twain. As far as the professor and the white students were concerned, Mark Twain was a god. And yet, I felt differently. I was not duped. In my mind, I placed Twain in the pantheon of Americans who, in one way or another, have sustained and emblazoned the word [n–] into America’s consciousness.

It’s a split consciousness, between seeing Twain for his literary value and questioning his use of the word and its implications for his moral balance. Harris struggles with such protection of a canon figure.

His struggle pushes him at one point to ask the class of whites if anyone there had ever been called the word. Harris seems to take impish delight in provoking the white students, who respond to his rhetorical pose with silence — even the proverbial pin that dropped seems gagged and bound. Harris writes, “My Black skin had, for once, given me the advantage to pose a question that not a single white person in the room could answer in the affirmative.” His is an existential crisis that they can’t really relate to — he might as well be Mersault in Camus’s The Stranger. He invokes W.E.B. Dubois’ well-known reference to “double-consciousness.” Living two lives at once. Bifurcated and compartmentalized and chewed up inside. Harris writes,

Double consciousness was a state of being for me. I was a self divided. It is also the stuff that makes for some forms of depression, schizoid and paranoid behavior. And, at times, I’m a bona fide paranoid African American male thinking that everybody is out to get me—Black people included.

One recalls here the Scottish psychologist R.D. Laing’s critique of society that produced divided selves, where the norm could be seen as “crazy”. As Laing put it, abnormal behavior in an abnormal world is normal, and such fracturing can account for the Good German, or looking the other way when white knees sink into Black necks to the sound of the brassy Star Spangled Banner. O say can you see.

While it’s clear from the real world observations of someone like Laing (who depressingly seems to follow in the tracks of Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents and, maybe worse, The Future of An Illusion with serious and deeply-considered pessimism) that such psychological division is common; it is no bromide or rationale or excuse. There is that growing element out there that accepts, with a shrug at last, the continuing deterioration of our lot with “It Is What It Is.” Cultures that accept a glad return to the Dark Ages — before the Magna Carta provided the first light of a brave new Enlightenment — and lurk behind omerta masks in wait for the return not of Jesus but chaos re-ordered by goon squad enforcers for the elite. In short, civilization is worth fighting for, and the hallmark is not just the terrible beauty of a Gothic cathedral’s interior, but human language. It is what sets us apart from the other animals, homo sapiens instead of merely australopithecines. N is a big step backward into fascist feudal darkness.

Harris’s N is full of goosy surprises. His best bit might be eschewing the Shelley Fisher Fishkin consideration that Huck Finn might have been Black. Harris can do better and wonders aloud, to his tense but open-minded collegial scholars, whether Huck and Jim weren’t, in fact, an item:

Was Huck gay? Had anyone ever thought about this? It seemed like a reasonable area of inquiry, devoid of any moral judgment. What was to be made of the fact that Jim often called Huck “honey”? I asked. I continued, “And many days and nights Huck and Jim lay naked on the raft smoking and talking about all kinds of things as they drifted up and down the Mississippi.”

There was silence in the room, so I went on pressing my case to the point of annoyance. Like a gadfly or a philosopher like Socrates or Plato. I pointed out that Huck did some crossdressing with Jim’s help. And he practiced how to walk and talk like a girl—although he was not too good at it.

This feels like Harris has a gratuitous go at academia, more than a fully argued feeling about the two raftsmen.

N is a fantastic read, welcomely confrontational. I should be antsy. I accept that. Why am I antsy? Harris’s strategy of having the memoir correspond to a semester-long seminar struggling with a loaded word is really a clever tactic. The pay-off comes in Chapter 15, a chapter that alone makes the book worth purchasing, when Harris, the student, presents his thesis to the class (they all must) and draws his conclusions about Twain and the use of the word by whites. He quotes from his thesis,

The ubiquitous use of [n–] by Twain is the basic reason why his novel has attained the status of an American classic. [N] is an American invention and its use by whites describes the nature and meaning of American democracy, constitutionality, and culture. In short, white Americans’ use of the word [n–] is tantamount to describing what makes America, America. Mark Twain knew this, and he too capitalized on it. This made him complicit in propagating America’s white supremacist and capitalist culture.

Moments later, while his classmates are still “gasping for air,” he comes right out with his conclusion: “Mark Twain was a racist.”

This would be depressing enough, since I do so like my Twain readings. But I admit, my morbid feelings of guilt and sin at that moment must have resembled those of his white classmates, who’d come to share a co-produced enlightenment and were given, instead, a lecture on “enwhitenment.” This conclusion is probably the biggest difference between Morrison and Harris. (The reader would find it fruitful to compare Morrison’s Huck Finn Intro to Harris’s Chapter 15.) She does not see him as a racist, but as part of culture that was. Did she sell her soul to be canonized among the relativists? Or has Harris maybe overstepped the mark? I don’t think either is true. But then their experiences as a Black woman and a Black man are historically, but significantly, different — if for no other reason than the male, white or Black was the “breadwinner” who must negotiate in the social sphere for jobs and respect, while the woman, traditionally,was the homemaker, and thereby, to some minuscule degree, was shielded from the daily abuse a Black man must negotiate. I can understand how there might be less “forgiveness” from a Rodney King who gets a knee in the neck for asking, Can’t we just get along? Harris does a nice job dealing with this divide in his book.

Reflecting on his presentation in the grad literature class, Harris adds,

Without ever using the term, I had introduced the allwhite class to critical race theory by claiming that Mark Twain, the book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the society and culture that constructed the word [n –] are all grounded in racism.

No prisoners here.

Harris dislikes the use of the word altogether and is not enamored of its use by Blacks in general and rappers in particular. (Don’t ask him what he thinks of Eminem.) Aside from the vulgarity implied, Harris argues that stylin one’s beat with the peppershnippel of dramatic tension the word brings also reinforces the differences. Back in the days of The Last Poets it might have been argued that its use by the artists was deliberately and honestly confrontational — like the Miles Davis “I’m Black Alright theme” — but Harris, when he confronts young Blacks today, is told he’s “too sensitive,” which works his nerves some. At the same time that Blacks continue to be beaten to death by neo-fascists in America, too many of these youngsters are not employing the word out of militancy as much as monetary gain.

Interesting enough, and in a really important section of the memoir, Harris, instead of calling for a ban on the book for linguistic reasons, acknowledges that the real problem in reading Huckleberry Finn is the lack of qualified guidance. He writes,

Everybody agrees that not every English literature teacher is qualified to teach such a novel to youth. It’s too complicated. Too emotional. I understand the debate because I’m in my sixties now and the word [n –] throughout the novel troubles me mightily.

For Harris, it is important that the book be taught with the sensitivity it requires and the competence of good teaching. He notes throughout the book flaws in the teaching of the book at the graduate level, and you can almost hear him shaking his head at the quality of the approach to the word at elementary and high school levels. Harris implies, then, that the successful implementation of Critical Race Theory in the classroom is a matter of teaching competence and cultural sensitivity. A white southerner will teach Huck Finn differently than Harris, himself an educator. His section on education is interesting, and his critique of Black educators in the mainstream is well-noted, but, as with Noam Chomsky, he would probably agree that we are all held back by ignorance to some degree and can only be rehabilitated by education.

The book is not all doom and gloom, as they say and say. In fact, it’s inspiring. There are lots of noteworthy subsections, such as the immersion into Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Diving into the Wreck,” which resonates with Harris. “Rich’s poem is about the quest for wholeness while being surrounded by both death and life. Idealism has been shattered by the reality principle,” he writes. “Isn’t that what has happened to Huck and Jim?” More Freud. Harsh stuff that reality principle at work.

The book is as powerful and wriggly as a Mississippi eel. It has the vibes of Richard Wright — self-consciousness on a journey: In this case, the semester-long seminar on Huck Finn and race in America. It’s playful, poignant, entertaining, and is one of the best takes on CRT and banned books and the seemingly endless need to address skin color in the world’s premiere democracy. A highly recommended read.

The post N-: the Day-Glo Elephant in the Room first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same

The treatment to which Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee subjected Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing was atrocious. The first ever African-American woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Brown Jackson faced GOP senators who were unabashedly insolent. Collectively, they ran her through a proverbial right-wing mill that included condemnations of Critical Race Theory, distortions of certain anti-racist children’s books, and allegations that she is “soft on crime.” She was also questioned about the role that race plays in her position as a federal judge, something no white male would ever be asked.

Republican Senators spent the largest portion of their allotted time attacking Jackson’s sentencing record on child pornography convictions alleging that her leniency was outside the boundaries of conventional jurisprudence. By imputation at the very least, right-wingers hold that she fails to take “sex offenders who prey on children” seriously. This is the sordid stuff of QAnon, and Republicans are up to their necks in it. As for Brown Jackson, she made it clear in her testimony that she is not convinced about the efficacy of child pornography sentencing guidelines. In fact, most of the prosecutors arguing such cases in her court room share her uncertainty as do a majority of district judges throughout the country. In other words, Judge Brown Jackson is in line with her judicial colleagues.

As everyone, including Republican senators, knows, Judge Jackson’s extensive and diverse legal background makes her eminently qualified for the position to which she has been nominated. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer whose seat on the bench she will fill. She served as a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and currently serves as a federal appellate judge. Each of these positions required Senate approval. Her three previous confirmations were passed by way of “voice” votes which essentially meant that she faced no opposition and a bi-partisan “roll call” vote. Once seated on the Supreme Court Judge Jackson will become only the ninth justice to have worked as an attorney in private practice. Moreover, she will also be the first former public defender to sit on the highest court in the land.

Judge Jackson has written almost 600 opinions during her years on the federal bench and has had only a dozen of them overturned by appellate court review. Among the cases over which she presided were several involving Donald Trump while he was in the White House. In one instance, she rejected his claim to absolute executive immunity in ordering a top-level aide to defy a congressional subpoena. In another, Judge Jackson drew the ire of conservatives for deciding against the Trump Administration’s attempt to reduce collective bargaining protections for federal workers. She further antagonized the political right in an immigration opinion blocking a Trump policy intended to increase the number of asylum seekers who could face accelerated return to their place of origin. While her decisions in these cases lean to the left, her resume conveys an independent legal mind that may on occasion displease political progressives. For example, Brown Jackson presided over 22 cases in which Black plaintiffs sued their employers on grounds of racial discrimination. Of those, 22 were brought to the court by Black workers. In these cases, she found in favor of the companies 19 times.

As would be expected, liberals supported Brown Jackson’s selection and conservatives opposed it. In fact, the GOP began priming itself from the moment that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that, if elected, he would fill a vacancy on the High Court with an African-American woman. Republicans responded that doing so would be tantamount to making an “affirmative action” appointment. Conservatives were conspicuously silent when both Reagan and Trump stated that they would nominate a woman to the bench. They were also quiet when Trump said that he would only consider choosing individuals committed to overturning Roe v Wade. Republican hypocrisy could not be clearer. The GOP seized upon Biden’s appointment of Brown Jackson because she is a Black woman.

Judge Jackson’s hearing played out like reality television. While it is common for senators on both sides of the aisle to perform for the cameras and their constituents back home, the behavior and comments of Republicans were especially ugly. They had indicated that they would be civil and respectful yet they proved to be neither. The so-called “culture warriors” simply could not help themselves. Following more than twenty hours of testimony, the committee members voted 11-11 along party lines. This necessitated that Democrats employ a “discharge motion” allowing them to send Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor without a committee report. The full body’s 53-47 vote to confirm included three Republicans. At long last, and more than fifty years after the first Black man rose to a seat on the Court, she will become its first African-American woman justice.

*****

By the time Thurgood Marshall appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1967 as a nominee to the United States Supreme Court, he had won 29 of the 32 cases that he argued before that imposing body. While Brown v Board of Education (1954) striking down segregation in public education is the most famous example, other historically significant instances include Smith v Allright (1944) which prohibited states from conducting “white only” primary elections, Shelley v Kraemer (1948) which overturned race-based housing compacts, and Sweatt v Painter (1950) which declared that racially segregated post-graduate college and university programs were unconstitutional.

After more than two decades as a pioneering civil rights attorney, Marshall was appointed to the federal bench in 1961 by President John Kennedy. This made him only the second African-American federal appellate jurist in American history. Despite the racism that he faced, Marshall was confirmed by the full Senate although not before his nomination was held up by Southern segregationists for many months. Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson picked Marshall to serve as the first Black Solicitor General of the United States. Responsible for litigating cases on behalf of the federal government, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he brought before the High Court.

When an opening on the Supreme Court appeared in 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to fill the vacancy. He would face the same Southern segregationists who had tried to scuttle his previous judicial appointment six years earlier. Often returned to office without electoral opposition, incumbent Dixiecrats relied upon seniority status in the chamber to secure and hold onto powerful committee chair positions. Furthermore, their animosity for Marshall was deep-seeded because of the role he had played in Brown. If the segregationists were on the wrong side of history, they had no intention of simply walking away from the table.

James Eastland (D-MS) was the judiciary committee chair for Marshall’s appellate court appointment as well as for his Supreme Court nomination. Eastland, who served in that capacity for a longer period than any chairperson in history, ranked among the most racist of legislators. During the 1961 proceedings, however, he allegedly told Attorney General Robert Kennedy that he was willing to horse trade. If JFK would concede to Eastland a favored appointee, then he would give the president “his nigger.” Moreover, during Marshall’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings six years later, Eastland shamelessly had the nerve to ask if he was biased against white southerners.

Other notable instances of hostility towards Marshall during the hearings came from John McClellan (D-AK), Sam Ervin (D-NC), and Strom Thurmond (R-SC), the latter of whom had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1964. For his part, McClellan focused on increasing crime rates and social unrest. Attempting to incite the nominee, he called Marshall “soft on crime” which remains a commonly used and racially coded phrase to this day. The Arkansas senator then turned and hammered away at Miranda v Arizona (1966), asserting that the ruling was anti-law enforcement. Marshall refused, however, to engage this line of questioning, continually stating that he could not and would not speak about court cases and legal issues that were recently decided, currently in the docket pipeline, or might be conceivably argued before the court at a later date.

Then it was Ervin’s turn. From the North Carolinian’s perspective, the idea of “civil rights” was simply a way for the federal government to take from whites and give to Blacks. In other words, the federal government was overstepping its legitimate jurisdictional boundaries. Ervin championed the Senate filibuster as a means to derail 1960s civil rights legislation. In fact, he employed this procedural tactic more than any other senator in history. He finished his questioning with an example of what is now called “originalism.” Senator Ervin asked Marshall if he believed that the Supreme Court’s role was to establish the framers’ intentions. The nominee agreed so long as the Constitution was understood to be a “living document.”

Last but not least came Strom Thurmond. The South Carolina senator subjected Marshall to a series of arcane questions, more than sixty in all. Among other things, Thurmond asked the nominee if he knew who drafted the 13th Amendment. He also asked Marshall to name the members of the committee that formulated the 14th Amendment and he questioned whether the nominee could cite a legal basis for the Civil Rights Act of 1866. While Marshall answered some of Thurmond’s questions, he responded to a number of them with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Thurmond’s obscure queries about the post-Civil War constitutional amendments were aimed at making Marshall appear uneducated. This display of bigotry carried over to debate on the Senate floor where Thurmond called Marshall “stupid.”

Notwithstanding Marshall’s experience, Supreme Court confirmation hearings were not always the nasty fisticuffs that they are today. The process was business like and procedures were routine. Few nominees appeared before the judiciary committee prior to the post-Brown era. In fact, regular hearings were themselves a product of this same period as Southern segregationists adopted a strategy of pressing nominees “up close and personal” on civil rights matters. Given that Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court nominee in the nation’s history, it is not surprising that his confirmation process deviated from the norm. Prior to his nomination, for example, judiciary committee hearings generally lasted for a couple of days, several hours each day. In Marshall’s case, the committee met for five days, five hours each day, over a period of two weeks, the longest sessions up to that point in U.S. history.

While it was common practice for committee staff to prepare questions for a nominee, this typically generated only a relative few of them. However, thanks to Dixiecrats, Marshall faced hundreds of questions. Moreover, adding further insult to injury, Chairman Eastland held up the committee’s 11-5 recommendation to confirm for several weeks after the hearings were over. Comprising a “gang of four” Eastland, McClellan, Ervin, and Thurmond were joined in the nay column by George Smathers (D-FL). In the final analysis, Southern segregationists failed to mount a filibuster by two votes with twenty of them casting no vote at all. Eventually, Marshall was duly confirmed by a vote of 69-11 in the full Senate. Upon assuming his seat on the bench, he served for twenty-four years as an Associate Justice. Thurgood Marshall retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1991 and passed away two years later.

*****

Despite taking place more than five decades apart, the roads that Marshall and Brown Jackson took to the Supreme Court were similar. For one thing, both of their careers included representing criminal defendants, a rare attribute among Supreme Court justices. Secondly, racial animus was paramount in both confirmation hearings. On one hand, Marshall faced off against Southern segregationists who opposed civil rights and were Democrats in name only. On the other hand, Brown Jackson was confronted by right wing Republicans whose intent is to “roll back” gains made towards racial and gender equality. In a moment reminiscent of Marshall being quizzed about civil rights, Judge Brown Jackson was brazenly asked to define the word “woman” and was mocked when she said that she was a judge not a biologist.

Both nominees were eventually confirmed, but each had to contend with a race-baiting and demeaning state of affairs. Though clearly frustrated at times by the tenor of the proceedings, Judge Jackson kept her cool by relying upon an approach to answering questions that limits the scope of what nominees will and will not address. While a nominee’s refusal to engage certain lines of inquiry is commonplace today, Marshall employed this tactic at his 1967 hearing. In fact, he ranks among the least forthcoming of Supreme Court nominees as a result of his refusal to play the racist Q&A hand that he was dealt.

More than 90% of Supreme Court justices in American history have been white men. In contrast, there have been two Black male justices, four white women justices, and one Latina justice. Today, gender, ethnic, and racial diversity have come to be seen as integral to the mechanisms of the Court and with the addition of Brown Jackson, there will be four women sitting on the bench. However, the Court that Jackson Brown will serve on is far-removed from the one upon which Marshall sat. His ascension to the High Court kept alive a five-justice liberal majority that voted as a bloc almost all of the time. He was in a position to shape not only the Court’s agenda but its outcomes as well. However, the progressive wing with which Marshall was so strongly identified declined over time. The resulting shift in the balance of power means Justice Brown Jackson will begin her service on a Supreme Court comprised of a super-majority of six right-wing justices. Combined with her status as the most junior member of the Court, her ability to have an impact early on will be limited. Nevertheless, she is only fifty-one years of age and could conceivably serve on the Court for decades.

The post The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same

The treatment to which Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee subjected Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing was atrocious. The first ever African-American woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Brown Jackson faced GOP senators who were unabashedly insolent. Collectively, they ran her through a proverbial right-wing mill that included condemnations of Critical Race Theory, distortions of certain anti-racist children’s books, and allegations that she is “soft on crime.” She was also questioned about the role that race plays in her position as a federal judge, something no white male would ever be asked.

Republican Senators spent the largest portion of their allotted time attacking Jackson’s sentencing record on child pornography convictions alleging that her leniency was outside the boundaries of conventional jurisprudence. By imputation at the very least, right-wingers hold that she fails to take “sex offenders who prey on children” seriously. This is the sordid stuff of QAnon, and Republicans are up to their necks in it. As for Brown Jackson, she made it clear in her testimony that she is not convinced about the efficacy of child pornography sentencing guidelines. In fact, most of the prosecutors arguing such cases in her court room share her uncertainty as do a majority of district judges throughout the country. In other words, Judge Brown Jackson is in line with her judicial colleagues.

As everyone, including Republican senators, knows, Judge Jackson’s extensive and diverse legal background makes her eminently qualified for the position to which she has been nominated. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer whose seat on the bench she will fill. She served as a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and currently serves as a federal appellate judge. Each of these positions required Senate approval. Her three previous confirmations were passed by way of “voice” votes which essentially meant that she faced no opposition and a bi-partisan “roll call” vote. Once seated on the Supreme Court Judge Jackson will become only the ninth justice to have worked as an attorney in private practice. Moreover, she will also be the first former public defender to sit on the highest court in the land.

Judge Jackson has written almost 600 opinions during her years on the federal bench and has had only a dozen of them overturned by appellate court review. Among the cases over which she presided were several involving Donald Trump while he was in the White House. In one instance, she rejected his claim to absolute executive immunity in ordering a top-level aide to defy a congressional subpoena. In another, Judge Jackson drew the ire of conservatives for deciding against the Trump Administration’s attempt to reduce collective bargaining protections for federal workers. She further antagonized the political right in an immigration opinion blocking a Trump policy intended to increase the number of asylum seekers who could face accelerated return to their place of origin. While her decisions in these cases lean to the left, her resume conveys an independent legal mind that may on occasion displease political progressives. For example, Brown Jackson presided over 22 cases in which Black plaintiffs sued their employers on grounds of racial discrimination. Of those, 22 were brought to the court by Black workers. In these cases, she found in favor of the companies 19 times.

As would be expected, liberals supported Brown Jackson’s selection and conservatives opposed it. In fact, the GOP began priming itself from the moment that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that, if elected, he would fill a vacancy on the High Court with an African-American woman. Republicans responded that doing so would be tantamount to making an “affirmative action” appointment. Conservatives were conspicuously silent when both Reagan and Trump stated that they would nominate a woman to the bench. They were also quiet when Trump said that he would only consider choosing individuals committed to overturning Roe v Wade. Republican hypocrisy could not be clearer. The GOP seized upon Biden’s appointment of Brown Jackson because she is a Black woman.

Judge Jackson’s hearing played out like reality television. While it is common for senators on both sides of the aisle to perform for the cameras and their constituents back home, the behavior and comments of Republicans were especially ugly. They had indicated that they would be civil and respectful yet they proved to be neither. The so-called “culture warriors” simply could not help themselves. Following more than twenty hours of testimony, the committee members voted 11-11 along party lines. This necessitated that Democrats employ a “discharge motion” allowing them to send Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor without a committee report. The full body’s 53-47 vote to confirm included three Republicans. At long last, and more than fifty years after the first Black man rose to a seat on the Court, she will become its first African-American woman justice.

*****

By the time Thurgood Marshall appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1967 as a nominee to the United States Supreme Court, he had won 29 of the 32 cases that he argued before that imposing body. While Brown v Board of Education (1954) striking down segregation in public education is the most famous example, other historically significant instances include Smith v Allright (1944) which prohibited states from conducting “white only” primary elections, Shelley v Kraemer (1948) which overturned race-based housing compacts, and Sweatt v Painter (1950) which declared that racially segregated post-graduate college and university programs were unconstitutional.

After more than two decades as a pioneering civil rights attorney, Marshall was appointed to the federal bench in 1961 by President John Kennedy. This made him only the second African-American federal appellate jurist in American history. Despite the racism that he faced, Marshall was confirmed by the full Senate although not before his nomination was held up by Southern segregationists for many months. Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson picked Marshall to serve as the first Black Solicitor General of the United States. Responsible for litigating cases on behalf of the federal government, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he brought before the High Court.

When an opening on the Supreme Court appeared in 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to fill the vacancy. He would face the same Southern segregationists who had tried to scuttle his previous judicial appointment six years earlier. Often returned to office without electoral opposition, incumbent Dixiecrats relied upon seniority status in the chamber to secure and hold onto powerful committee chair positions. Furthermore, their animosity for Marshall was deep-seeded because of the role he had played in Brown. If the segregationists were on the wrong side of history, they had no intention of simply walking away from the table.

James Eastland (D-MS) was the judiciary committee chair for Marshall’s appellate court appointment as well as for his Supreme Court nomination. Eastland, who served in that capacity for a longer period than any chairperson in history, ranked among the most racist of legislators. During the 1961 proceedings, however, he allegedly told Attorney General Robert Kennedy that he was willing to horse trade. If JFK would concede to Eastland a favored appointee, then he would give the president “his nigger.” Moreover, during Marshall’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings six years later, Eastland shamelessly had the nerve to ask if he was biased against white southerners.

Other notable instances of hostility towards Marshall during the hearings came from John McClellan (D-AK), Sam Ervin (D-NC), and Strom Thurmond (R-SC), the latter of whom had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1964. For his part, McClellan focused on increasing crime rates and social unrest. Attempting to incite the nominee, he called Marshall “soft on crime” which remains a commonly used and racially coded phrase to this day. The Arkansas senator then turned and hammered away at Miranda v Arizona (1966), asserting that the ruling was anti-law enforcement. Marshall refused, however, to engage this line of questioning, continually stating that he could not and would not speak about court cases and legal issues that were recently decided, currently in the docket pipeline, or might be conceivably argued before the court at a later date.

Then it was Ervin’s turn. From the North Carolinian’s perspective, the idea of “civil rights” was simply a way for the federal government to take from whites and give to Blacks. In other words, the federal government was overstepping its legitimate jurisdictional boundaries. Ervin championed the Senate filibuster as a means to derail 1960s civil rights legislation. In fact, he employed this procedural tactic more than any other senator in history. He finished his questioning with an example of what is now called “originalism.” Senator Ervin asked Marshall if he believed that the Supreme Court’s role was to establish the framers’ intentions. The nominee agreed so long as the Constitution was understood to be a “living document.”

Last but not least came Strom Thurmond. The South Carolina senator subjected Marshall to a series of arcane questions, more than sixty in all. Among other things, Thurmond asked the nominee if he knew who drafted the 13th Amendment. He also asked Marshall to name the members of the committee that formulated the 14th Amendment and he questioned whether the nominee could cite a legal basis for the Civil Rights Act of 1866. While Marshall answered some of Thurmond’s questions, he responded to a number of them with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Thurmond’s obscure queries about the post-Civil War constitutional amendments were aimed at making Marshall appear uneducated. This display of bigotry carried over to debate on the Senate floor where Thurmond called Marshall “stupid.”

Notwithstanding Marshall’s experience, Supreme Court confirmation hearings were not always the nasty fisticuffs that they are today. The process was business like and procedures were routine. Few nominees appeared before the judiciary committee prior to the post-Brown era. In fact, regular hearings were themselves a product of this same period as Southern segregationists adopted a strategy of pressing nominees “up close and personal” on civil rights matters. Given that Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court nominee in the nation’s history, it is not surprising that his confirmation process deviated from the norm. Prior to his nomination, for example, judiciary committee hearings generally lasted for a couple of days, several hours each day. In Marshall’s case, the committee met for five days, five hours each day, over a period of two weeks, the longest sessions up to that point in U.S. history.

While it was common practice for committee staff to prepare questions for a nominee, this typically generated only a relative few of them. However, thanks to Dixiecrats, Marshall faced hundreds of questions. Moreover, adding further insult to injury, Chairman Eastland held up the committee’s 11-5 recommendation to confirm for several weeks after the hearings were over. Comprising a “gang of four” Eastland, McClellan, Ervin, and Thurmond were joined in the nay column by George Smathers (D-FL). In the final analysis, Southern segregationists failed to mount a filibuster by two votes with twenty of them casting no vote at all. Eventually, Marshall was duly confirmed by a vote of 69-11 in the full Senate. Upon assuming his seat on the bench, he served for twenty-four years as an Associate Justice. Thurgood Marshall retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1991 and passed away two years later.

*****

Despite taking place more than five decades apart, the roads that Marshall and Brown Jackson took to the Supreme Court were similar. For one thing, both of their careers included representing criminal defendants, a rare attribute among Supreme Court justices. Secondly, racial animus was paramount in both confirmation hearings. On one hand, Marshall faced off against Southern segregationists who opposed civil rights and were Democrats in name only. On the other hand, Brown Jackson was confronted by right wing Republicans whose intent is to “roll back” gains made towards racial and gender equality. In a moment reminiscent of Marshall being quizzed about civil rights, Judge Brown Jackson was brazenly asked to define the word “woman” and was mocked when she said that she was a judge not a biologist.

Both nominees were eventually confirmed, but each had to contend with a race-baiting and demeaning state of affairs. Though clearly frustrated at times by the tenor of the proceedings, Judge Jackson kept her cool by relying upon an approach to answering questions that limits the scope of what nominees will and will not address. While a nominee’s refusal to engage certain lines of inquiry is commonplace today, Marshall employed this tactic at his 1967 hearing. In fact, he ranks among the least forthcoming of Supreme Court nominees as a result of his refusal to play the racist Q&A hand that he was dealt.

More than 90% of Supreme Court justices in American history have been white men. In contrast, there have been two Black male justices, four white women justices, and one Latina justice. Today, gender, ethnic, and racial diversity have come to be seen as integral to the mechanisms of the Court and with the addition of Brown Jackson, there will be four women sitting on the bench. However, the Court that Jackson Brown will serve on is far-removed from the one upon which Marshall sat. His ascension to the High Court kept alive a five-justice liberal majority that voted as a bloc almost all of the time. He was in a position to shape not only the Court’s agenda but its outcomes as well. However, the progressive wing with which Marshall was so strongly identified declined over time. The resulting shift in the balance of power means Justice Brown Jackson will begin her service on a Supreme Court comprised of a super-majority of six right-wing justices. Combined with her status as the most junior member of the Court, her ability to have an impact early on will be limited. Nevertheless, she is only fifty-one years of age and could conceivably serve on the Court for decades.

The post The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Decriminalized Marijuana Reinvents Racism and Poisoning


The change in marijuana laws across the US raises issues far beyond, “Hey, dude, we can blow a joint now without getting busted.” The racism that permeated the age of criminalization now lurks throughout the phase of decriminalization. The burgeoning business of growing pot raises the specter of corporate agriculture with its threats to human health and natural ecosystems. Are there ways to enjoy weed while challenging racism and corporate domination over the environment?

An Attack on Black and Brown Cultures

Spanish-speaking people, who have lived in the US since it stole half of Mexico’s land, have a tradition of smoking marijuana. Amid a growing fear of Mexican immigrants in the early twentieth century, hysterical claims about the drug became widespread, such as allegations that it caused a “lust for blood.” The term cannabis was largely replaced by the Anglicized marijuana, perhaps to suggest the foreignness of the drug. Around this time many states began passing laws to ban pot.

In “Why Is Marijuana Illegal in the US?” Amy Tikkanen wrote that in the 1930s, Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, turned the battle against marijuana into an all-out war. He could have been motivated less by safety concerns—the vast majority of scientists he surveyed claimed that the drug was not dangerous—and more by a desire to promote his newly created department. Anslinger sought a federal ban on the drug, and initiated a high-profile campaign that relied heavily on racism. Anslinger claimed that the majority of pot smokers were minorities, including African Americans, and that marijuana had a negative effect on these “degenerate races,” such as inducing violence or causing insanity.

Furthermore, he noted, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” Anslinger oversaw the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Although that particular law was declared unconstitutional in 1969, it was augmented by the Controlled Substances Act the following year. That legislation classified marijuana—as well as heroin and LSD, among others—as a Schedule I drug. Racism was also evident in the enforcement of the law. African Americans in the early 21st century were nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested on marijuana-related charges—despite both groups having similar usage rates.

In her 2016 film, 13th Amendment, producer, Ava Duvernay documented drug laws and policies which increased incarceration rates of Black and brown people over the last six decades.

Year US Prison Population
1970 300,000
1980 513,900
1985 759,100
1990 1,179,200
2000 2,015,300
2020 2,300,000

President Nixon’s “War on Crime” of the 1970s targeted protests by the anti-war movement as well as liberation movements by gays, women, and Blacks. “Crime” became a code word for race. Nixon’s Adviser, John Ehrlichman, admitted that the “War on Drugs” was all about throwing Black people into jail to disrupt those communities. These efforts were to gain southern voters.

In the 1980’s, President Reagan’s “War on Drugs” portrayed drugs as an “inner city problem,” allowed for mandatory sentencing for crack cocaine, and tripled the federal spending on law enforcement. The War on Drugs became a war against Black and Latino communities, with huge chunks of Black and brown men disappearing into prison for a “really long” time. The exploding mass incarceration rates felt genocidal. This was again pandering to racist voters.

In his effort to appear “tough on crime” during the 1990’s, President Bill Clinton pushed the $30 billion Federal Crime Bill which expanded prison sentences, incentivized law enforcement to do things we now consider abusive, and militarized local police forces. Increased incarceration rates due to the Clinton administration included introduction of the terms “super predators,” Mandatory Minimum Sentences, “Truth in Sentencing” (which eliminated parole), and “three strikes and you’re out” laws whereby those convicted of three felonies were mandated to prison for life. Such a criminal justice system needs constant feeding of young men and women of color.

Racism during Marijuana Criminalization

Poverty plays a central role in mass incarceration – people put in prison and jail are disproportionately poor. The criminal justice system punishes poverty, beginning with the high price of money bail. The median felony bail bond amount ($10,000) is the equivalent of eight months’ income for the typical defendant. Those with low incomes are more likely to face the harms of pretrial detention. Poverty is not only a predictor of incarceration – it is also frequently the outcome, as a criminal record and time spent in prison destroys wealth, creates debt, and decimates job opportunities.

It’s no surprise that people of color — who face much greater rates of poverty — are dramatically overrepresented in the nation’s prisons and jails. These racial disparities are particularly stark for Black Americans, who make up 38% of the incarcerated population despite representing only 12% of US residents.

Police, prosecutors, and judges continue to punish people harshly for nothing more than drug possession. Drug offenses still account for the incarceration of almost 400,000 people, and drug convictions remain a defining feature of the federal prison system. Police still make over one million drug possession arrests each year, many of which lead to prison sentences. Drug arrests continue to give residents of over-policed communities criminal records, hurting their employment prospects and increasing the likelihood of longer sentences for any future offenses. The enormous churn in and out of correctional facilities is 600,000 persons per year. There are another 822,000 people on parole and a staggering 2.9 million people on probation – 79 million people have a criminal record; and 113 million adults have immediate family members who have been to prison.

One in five incarcerated people is locked up for a drug offense. Four out of five people in prison or jail are locked up for something other than a drug offense — either a more serious offense or a less serious one. The terms “violent” and “nonviolent” crime are so widely misused that they are generally unhelpful in a policy context. People typically use “violent” and “nonviolent” as substitutes for serious versus nonserious criminal acts. That alone is a fallacy, but worse, these terms are also used as coded (often racialized) language to label individuals as inherently dangerous versus non-dangerous.

Decriminalization Reinvents Marijuana Racism

The decriminalization which is sweeping across the US carries with it the obvious facts that (a) pot is not and never has been a dangerous drug, and (b) criminalizing drugs has never brought anything positive. This suggests that those who have been victimized were done so wrongfully and therefore should be compensated for the wrongs done to them. However, victims have been predominantly people of color and American racism reappears during the decriminalization phase in the form of trivializing harms done and offering restitution that barely scratch the surface of what is needed.

Prior to addressing the shortcomings for wrongful damages for marijuana laws, the US should publicly apologize for the wrongheaded and thoroughly racist “War on Drugs” and pledge to compensate those who have suffered from it in ways that are comparable to cannabis-related issues below.

Victims should be compensated for time spent in jail. Prisoners might receive compensation for labor performed in prison; but it can be as low as $0.86 to $3.45 per day for most common prison jobs. At least five states pay nothing at all. Private companies using prison labor are not the source of most prison jobs. Only about 5,000 people in prison — fewer than 1% — are employed by private companies through the federal PIECP (Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program), which requires them to pay at least minimum wage before deductions. (A larger portion work for state-owned “correctional industries,” which pay much less. But this still only represents about 6% of people incarcerated in state prisons.)

There cannot be a serious discussion of compensating victims if many continue to rot in jail. They must be release immediately, regardless of what state they are in. Many of those released have not had records of their arrests, convictions and sentencing cleared (“expunged”). According to Equity and Transformation Chicago, there is a 5-8 year wait for expunging records. Records must be expunged as rapidly as would be done if it really affected people’s lives (because it does).

A core component of repairing harm done to those imprisoned would be prioritizing them (according to amount of jail time served) to receive licenses for growing, processing, transporting and dispensing marijuana. Various states have taken baby steps in the right direction. For example, Chicago’s Olive Harvey College is offering training in cannabis studies to those with past marijuana arrests. Participants receive “free tuition, a $1,000 monthly stipend, academic support and help with child care, transportation and case management.” As of March, 2022 there were 47 studying for jobs as growers, lab directors and lab or quality control technicians.

Another effort pointing forward is New York’s program to grant licenses for marijuana storefronts for individual or family members who have been imprisoned for a marijuana-related offense. An executive for the program expects 100-200 licenses to go to such victims.

Let’s put these model programs in perspective. Nice as they are, 47 students receiving study grants in Chicago and 100-200 retail licenses in New York do not even make a dent in the over 867,000 who have been arrested.

While current programs are infinitesimally small, barriers to legal victims are enormous. Missouri grants licenses only to those “having legal marijuana experience” (such as handling legal medical cannabis) to apply for licensing for growing, dispensing, and processing. Illinois denies licenses and loans to felons, even though 1 in 3 Chicago adults have a criminal record. Illinois also prevents those with cannabis-related convictions from entering the cannabis industry by its high application fees.

Financial barriers for marijuana victims to receive licenses seem insurmountable. People and communities negatively impacted by the War on Drugs have high incarceration rates and lowaverage salaries due to limited job opportunities by ex-felons. Therefore, they lack the financial resources for high non-refundable application fees ($10,000 to $50,000) awarded in lotteries to match the state-designated number of growers, dispensaries, processors, and transporters. In Illinois, access to credit and small business loans are difficultfor persons with criminal records to obtain. Each dispensing organization applicant must have at least $400,000 in liquid assets. That is why people of color cannot participate as owners of legalized marijuana businesses in Illinois.

Industrial Agriculture Poisons Marijuana Cultivation.

Unfortunately, even if all these barriers were to be overcome, there would be serious health issues throughout the marijuana industry, whether legal or illegal. If people of color receive priority in all phases of the industry, then a new form of environmental racism will emerge. People in that industry will become part of the environmental destruction to their communities while they experience damage to their own health from pesticide poisoning.

An excellent review of concerns with cultivation of cannabis by a team working with Zhonghua Zheng finds it heavily associated with environmental and health concerns whether it is grown outdoors or indoors. Needing considerable water, cannabis requires twice as much water as wheat, soybeans and maize. Diverting water to irrigate cannabis crops often results in dewatered streams affecting other vegetation. Water quality is also worsened (especially by illegal growers) by use of herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, fungucides and nematodes.

Human health problems which can be linked to chronic pesticide exposure include memory and respiratory issues as well as birth defects. Other health effects are weakened muscle functioning, cancer and liver damage. The organization Beyond Pesticides documents serious threats due to two factors: (a) “Pesticide residues in cannabis that has been dried and is inhaled have a direct pathway into the bloodstream;” and, (2) up to “69.5% of pesticide residues can remain in smoked marijuana.”

Perhaps the most overlooked source of pesticide poisoning is due to the synthetic piperonyl butoxide (PBO), which is a synergist, used to boost the effectiveness of active ingredients in pesticides. PBO can itself damage health due to neurotoxicity, cancer and liver problems.

Fertilizers and pesticides make their way into surface water, groundwater and soil, where they threaten the food supply. The high demand for weed affects watersheds, having damaging effects at least for endangered salmonid fish species and amphibians including the southern torrent salamander and coastal tailed frog.

Outdoor cannabis farms disturb fine-sediment adjacent to streams, thereby threatening other rare and endangered species. Its cultivation can contribute to deforestation and forest fragmentation. Fertilizers used for cannabis hurt air quality due to the release of nitrogen. Excess nitrogen increases soil acidification and well as water eutrophication.

Growing cannabis indoors raises its own issues, most notably health risks from exposure to mold and pesticides. Mold in damp indoor environments is associated with wheeze, cough, respiratory infections, and asthma symptoms in sensitized persons.

Perhaps the most surprising problems with indoor cultivation of cannabis is its effects on climate change via electricity. This is due to its annual $6 billion energy costs in the US, making it responsible for at least 1% of total electricity. Inevitably, decriminalization will lead to increased use of energy.

The major sources of energy usage are lighting and microclimate control. High-intensity lighting alone accounts for 86% of electricity use for indoor cannabis. Dehumidification systems are used to create air exchanges, temperature, ventilation and humidity control 24 hours per day. Due to the complexity of indoor requirements, growing one kilogram of processed marijuana can result in 4600 kilograms of CO2 emissions!

Environmental and health problems with growing marijuana will intensify greatly if decriminalization allows control by corporate agriculture. The so-called “Green Revolution” emphasizes use of enormous monocultures which maximize ecological destruction from extreme use of irrigation and fertilizers.

As of early 2022, at least 36 US states have adopted some form of decrimalization of marijuana, adding to the explosion of businesses in every phase of its production. In 2018, Bloomberg reported “Corona beer brewer Constellation Brands Inc. announced it will spend $3.8 billion to increase its stake in Canopy Growth Corp., the Canadian marijuana producer with a value that exceeds C$13 billion ($10 billion).”

Coca-Cola has been eyeing the market for drinks containing CBD which eases pain without getting the user high. Pepsi may have jumped the gun on Coke. A New Jersey hemp and marijuana producer, Hillview, has an agreement with Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of New York to makes CBD-infused seltzers which would sell for $40 per eight-pack. The deal aims to cover Long Island, Westchester and all five New York boroughs.

With industrial giants like Coke and Pepsi jumping into the cannabis market, it is a sure bet that they will not be buying marijuana from thousands of mom-and-pop growers. Look for big soft drink to seek contracts with big ag.

The commercial growth of crops based on monoculture (a single or very few crops grown) becomes a breeding ground for pests, creating an artificial need for control via chemical poisons. A fundamental principle of organic agriculture is that growing 10, 15 more more plant species together reduces any need for chemicals. In the corporate ag model, if the single species grown is invaded by pests, then the entire crop can be lost. In the organic model the farmer anticipates that 1, 2 or 3 may be hurt by pests, but the majority will survive.

According to farmer Patrick Bennett, “for a fraction of the cost of a single bottle of synthetic liquid fertilizer, you can get the same, if not better yield, flavor, and cannabinoid content in your crop at home by simply using organic farming practices.” Marijuana has been grown for centuries (or millennia) without pesticides. Current organic growers have found five plant-based insecticides that protect their crops well:

  • Neem oil is “extracted from the seeds and fruit of the tropical neem tree, [and] controls many insects, including mites, and prevents fungal infections, like powdery mildew.”
  • Azadirachtin controls “control over many insects, including mites, aphids, and thrips” but does not provide fungal protection.
  • Pyrethrums kills insects that attack cannabis plants, including thrips. Pyrethrins, however, the synthetic version of pyrethrums, should not be used due to their environmental persistence.
  • Bacillus Thurengensis (BT) is very effective in controlling larval insects and fungus gnats.
  • Beneficial Nematodes are microscopic organisms occurring naturally in soil, keeping it healthy while controlling soil-born pests such as fungus gnats.

Techniques such as these have proven effective. Mike Benziger told interviewer Nate Seltenrich that he grows fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs along with cannabis. He includes multiple plants that attract insects like ladybugs and lacewings that gobble up harmful mites and aphids. Organic growers often rely on mulching and crop rotation. Such methods are especially critical for protecting workers growing the plants, neighboring wildlife, farm owners, distributors and, of course, marijuana users.

As of 2015, Maine was prohibiting use of any pesticides. Yet, its is important to remember that legislation can be weakened or repealed by subsequent laws, making it critical to have enduring guidelines. Such guidelines should include practices like those in Washington DC and Maine which require producers to demonstrate knowledge of organic growing methods.

Moving Forward

Since federal law classifies marijuana as a narcotic there are no federal guidelines for growing it. This makes it tempting to demand that it be declassified and brought under the auspices of bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency. This is a worthwhile goal, but the problem is that federal and state bodies are controlled by corporate powers seeking the weakest standards possible. Goals such as the following should be stated to counter racism and have genuine environmental protection with real (not fake) organic standards:

1. Restitution must begin with an apology which acknowledges that criminalization of marijuana included an attack on those cultures using it; was a part of a greater attack which used drugs as one of many weapons to destroy communities; and caused suffering for an enormous number of individuals.

2. All communities affected by criminalization of marijuana and the larger attack upon them should decide what financial and cultural restitution they should receive.

3. Individuals harmed by marijuana criminalization should receive financial compensation for any arrest, trial, incarceration and post-incarceration damages. Funds for growing, preparing and dispensing legalized marijuana should be made in direct proportion to the harm that individuals have suffered – those who have been harmed the most should receive the greatest compensation. In particular, the greater the harm an individual has suffered, the higher priority that individual should have for receiving a license related to dispensing marijuana.

4. Organic growing must be a core component of protecting the health of marijuana workers, producers and users. All who grow marijuana must receive free education on how to do so without the use of chemical poisons (“pesticides”). This must include how to intersperse marijuana with other crops so that pests are not as threatening as they are with monocultures. All who grow, process and disperse marijuana must obtain certification that their product is free of chemical contaminants. There should be no limitations on the number of marijuana plants an individual may grow, as long as those plants are grown with genuine organic principles.

Prior to decriminalization, health and environmental damages of growing and using marijuana were more or less similar for all ethnic and cultural groups. But that will not continue to be the case if restitution for damages from criminalization are put into place. If those hurt most by harassment and incarceration for marijuana receive priority for licenses to produce and distribute cannabis, they will receive the most pesticide poisoning if organic methods are not required. The only way to avoid continued harm to those previously victimized is to employ organic cultivation.

Abolition of exploitation of all agricultural workers requires similar restrictions on chemical use when growing all herbs, fruits and vegetables. Organic growing of cannabis should become a model for transferring production via corporate megafarms using mono cropping, chemicals, and exploited labor to organic methods based on small farms, chemical-free growing for local communities and good treatment for workers encouraged to form strong unions for collective self-protection.

[The Green Party of St. Louis adopted a marijuana perspective that synthesizes anti-racism with organic growing principles. You can read it at: marijuana-platform.]

The post Decriminalized Marijuana Reinvents Racism and Poisoning first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Would the U.S. and Canada Put People in Camps?

This is not an article about Indian Reservations — but it could be. That concept broke new ground in terms of domination and, as Nazi Germany initiated its plans of conquest in Europe, it became their playbook.

“Hitler took note of the indigenous people of the Americas,” notes author Ward Churchill, “specifically within the area of the United States and Canada, and used the treatment of the native people, the policies and processes that were imposed upon them, as a model for what he articulated as being the politics of living space.”

In essence, writes Ward Churchill, “Hitler took the notion of a drive from east to west, clearing the land as the invading population went and resettling it with Anglo-Saxon stock as the model by which he drove from west to east into Russia — displacing, relocating, dramatically shifting, or liquidating a population to clear the land and replace it with what he called superior breeding stock. He was very conscious of the fact that he was basing his policies in the prior experiences of the Anglo-American population in the area north of the Rio Grande River.”

So, yeah, there’s that and I will focus more on it at some point. For this particular article, the spotlight is aimed at the “good guys” who were allegedly fighting a war against racism in the 1940s.

On February 19, 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 giving the army the unrestricted power to arrest — without warrants or indictments or hearings — every Japanese-American on a 150-mile strip along the West Coast (roughly 110,000 men, women, and children) and transport them to internment camps in Colorado, Utah, Arkansas, and other interior states to be kept under prison conditions. This order was upheld by the Supreme Court and the Japanese-Americans remained in custody for over three years.

Thanks to an unending wave of anti-Japan propaganda, there was little public debate over this immoral crime. In fact, in 1942, a Los Angeles Times writer defended the forced relocations by explaining to his readers that “a viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched — so a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parents, grows up to be a Japanese, not an American.” In nearby countries, sentiments ran along these same lines, as historian Daniel S. Davis reports:

“Canada enacted similar removal and internment programs. Many Latin American countries were shaken by anti-Japanese riots. Some shipped their Japanese people to the United States at the urging of Washington. They were held in the camps our government set up. Ironically, after the war ended, the U.S. government tried to deport these Latin American Japanese on the grounds that they had entered the country without passports or official visas.”

The Canadian government used the War Measures Act to detain and dispossess more than 90 percent of Japanese-Canadians living in British Columbia. Roughly 21,000 people were interned without charges for the duration of the war. To fund this totalitarian salvo, the internees had their homes and businesses sold off by the Canadian government.

Life in the internment camps entailed cramped living spaces with communal meals and bathrooms. The one-room apartments measured 20 by 20 feet and none had running water. The internees were allowed to take along “essential personal effects” from home but were prohibited from bringing razors, scissors, or radios. Outside the shared wards were barbed wire, guard towers with machine guns, and searchlights. The atmosphere was often charged with a hostile discomfort.

Anger and disillusionment grew and these emotions led to tension and sometimes violence. On December 5, 1942, a scuffle between internees led to the U.S. military police firing shots into the crowd — killing one Japanese-American man, Jimmy Ito.

There were those who defied relocation. Fred Korematsu remained in San Francisco with his Caucasian girlfriend until he was arrested and jailed. It was then that he met with an ACLU lawyer and decided to challenge the constitutionality of the internment camps. He lost when the Supreme Court upheld the decision in December 1944.

Justice Frank Murphy, expressing a minority opinion, dissented on the Orwellian grounds that since the camps were “an obvious racial discrimination, the order deprives all those within its scope of equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.”

Re-read that a few times before you mention The Land of the Free™ again.

While 110,000 Japanese-Americans suffered in prison camps, the U.S. media whipped up a post-Pearl Harbor frenzy of fear on the West Coast. If one was to believe the news reports of the day, it would seem that it was always just a matter of hours until Japanese Zeros would be spotted over Hollywood — or anywhere on the Left Coast.

In January 1942, Edward R. Murrow stirred up fifth column worries by telling an audience in Seattle that if their city was ever bombed, they would “be able to look up and see some University of Washington sweaters on the boys doing the bombing.”

Despite widespread concerns of Japanese infiltration, an FBI report at the time admitted: “We have not found a single machine gun, nor have we found any gun in any circumstances indicating that it was to be used in a manner helpful to our enemies. We have not found a single camera which we have reason to believe was for use in espionage.”

Although there was never a proven case of any type of sabotage by Japanese-Americans on the West Coast, this did little to ease the minds of men like California attorney general Earl Warren (later the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court). “I believe that we are just being lulled into a false sense of security,” Warren declared, “and that the only reason we haven’t had a disaster in California is because it has been timed for a different date.”

The dislocated Japanese-Americans incurred an estimated loss of $400 million in forced property sales during the internment years, and therein may lie a more Machiavellian motivation than sheer race hatred.

“A large engine for the Japanese-American incarcerations was agri-business,” says Michio Kaku, a noted nuclear physicist and political activist whose parents were interned from 1942 to 1946. “Agri-businesses in California coveted much of the land owned by Japanese-Americans.”

A formal apology came to the 60,000 survivors of internment camps in 1990. The U.S. government paid them each $20,000. Two years prior to that, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney apologized on behalf of the Canadian government.

While Yale Law Professor Eugene V. Rostow later called the internment camps “our worst wartime mistake,” historian Howard Zinn pointedly asked: “Was it a ‘mistake’ or was it an action to be expected from a nation with a long history of racism and which was fighting a war, not to end racism, but to retain the fundamentals of the American system?”

Keep yer guard up…

The post Would the U.S. and Canada Put People in Camps? first appeared on Dissident Voice.