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Venezuela’s Maduro mocks US criticism of democracy

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Democracy and human rights are the two issues on which USA claims advantages and therefore criticizes the weak or anti-capitalist –imperialist nations and, whenever possible, it attacks to further weaken and destabilize them.

Destabilization of entire world except USA thus is basis of US democracy that USA seeks especially in the Islamic world. It is indeed a perfect anomaly that the super nation which has killed maximum people across the globe during its existence after “discovery” as the closest ally of its English master UK and has also terrorized the humanity, is still talking about democracy, human rights and rule of law.

USA can still talk because it is the super nation effectively controlling entire world, including the nations that oppose US domination. Though these days Washington does not speak much about democracy deficits in other nations as many human rights are denied to American citizens on some flimsy grounds, recently it did criticized democracy of Venezuela in Latin America where, like in West Asia, it does not have many friends or allies. 

Seeking to make the world of global US colonies to help advance military supremacy forever, USA, even after the fall of the mighty Soviet Russia and weakening of non committed China,  still hates socialism and communism, though both themselves have not been able to provide safety, security and prosperity to the common global people.

The atomic bomb is too dangerous to be loose in a lawless world. That is why Great Britain, Canada, and the USA that have the secrets about its production, do not let others make nukes and do not intend to reveal that secret until means have been found to control the bomb so as to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger of total destruction.

The USA, which intervenes in the domestic affairs of any weak or totally independent nation which does not promote US interests in the region, refuses to let them advance their legitimate interests if that does not toe the US line, has a long sordid history of interventionist meddling and regime change in Latin America and around the world, and that is what’s going on in Venezuela.

Maduro wins Venezuela

Venezuela is one the few remaining countries that claim to be socialist but continue to ignore the popular concerns while the super power USA considers them as shame nations without essential human rights. The main concern of Venezuela is to save the nation from the western propaganda manipulative tactics to showcase Socialism as anti-human.

Last week Venezuela’s socialist government won a popular mandate with all seats having been won to dramatically recast the country’s political system against the will and fancies of capitalist USA. Electoral authorities said more than 8 million people voted July 30 to create a constitutional assembly endowing President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling party with virtually unlimited powers, while opposition members and independent analysts put the total number from between 2 to 4 million.

The official result would mean the ruling party won more support than it had in any national election since 2013, despite a crisis ridden economy, spiraling inflation, shortages of medicine and malnutrition. President Nicolás Maduro has suggested the constitution needs to “restore peace” to the country so that measures could be implemented to  improve the living conditions of the people. .

A newly-elected body, consisting mostly of Maduro allies and even his wife, will be given the ability to dissolve state institutions and possibly rewrite the constitution. The people have delivered the constitutional assembly,” Maduro said on national television. “More than 8 million in the middle of threats.  It’s when imperialism challenges us that we prove ourselves worthy of the blood of the liberators that runs through the veins of men, women, children and young people.”

Maduro said he had received congratulations from the governments of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, among many others. Maduro and his supporters have dismissed criticism of the assembly as merely the latest in Washington’s attempts to interfere in Venezuela and other Latin American countries.

Maduro promised that the new assembly would quickly “restructure” the office of the chief prosecutor.

Rejection

Maduro called the vote for a constitutional assembly in May after a month of protests against his government, which has overseen Venezuela’s descent into a devastating crisis during its four years in power. Due to plunging oil prices and widespread corruption and mismanagement, Venezuela’s inflation and homicide rates are among the world’s highest, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have citizens dying of preventable illnesses and rooting through trash to feed themselves.

Venezuela is in turmoil following the contentious vote over the weekend which critics say is an attempt by Maduro to consolidate power. More than 120 people have died this year in clashes protesting the Venezuelan president’s rule, including a candidate for the assembly killed in the night of the election.

The opposition, which the USA considers as its own ally against the regime, estimated only 2.5 million ballots were cast. Opposition leaders estimated the real turnout at less than half the government’s claim in a vote watched by government-allied observers but no internationally recognized poll monitors.  Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the governor of the central state of Miranda, urged Venezuelans to protest against an assembly that critics fear will effectively create a single-party state.

Opposition leaders had earlier called for a boycott of the vote, declaring it rigged for the ruling party. Ahead of the vote, the opposition organized a series of work stoppages as well as a July 16 protest referendum that it said drew more than 7.5 million symbolic votes against the constitutional assembly.  The president of the opposition-led National Assembly, Julio Borges, told Venezuelan news channel Globovision that Maduro’s foes would continue protesting until they won free elections and a change of government. He said Sunday’s vote had given Maduro “less legitimacy, less credibility, less popular support and less ability to govern.”

Opposition decried the vote as a fraud and called on supporters to protest again as of midday.  “The constitutional assembly will not resolve any of the country’s problems, it just means more crisis,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said. “As of tomorrow, a new stage of the struggle begins.”

Several countries refused to recognize the results, while Spain and Canada joined in the condemnation. Latin American nations from Argentina to Mexico, which are historically wary of siding with Washington in hemispheric disputes, sharply condemned the vote.  The EU said the constituent assembly could not be part of the negotiated solution to the country’s crisis, noting it was elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances.

Throughout these past four months of often violent protests in Venezuela, the country’s army has, several times, reaffirmed its “unconditional loyalty” to President Maduro. Despite the incident as well as demonstrations, the situation appears to be calm in the country. Meanwhile a search is under way in Venezuela for 10 men who escaped with weapons after an attack on a military base, according to President Nicolás Maduro.

Protests

Venezuela has been rocked by months of protests against the government of Maduro, who was elected in 2013 following the death of Hugo Chavez, and there have been at least 125 deaths. Opposition leaders call the election a naked power grab meant to keep the Socialist Party in office despite anger over an economic crisis that has spurred malnutrition and left citizens struggling to obtain basic consumer products.

Countries across the Americas, as well as the European Union, denounced the creation of the assembly, which will have the power to rewrite the constitution. The USA – the top market for the OPEC oil – called the vote a sham, and officials in Washington said they were preparing oil-sector sanctions. “A spokesperson for Emperor Donald Trump said that they would not recognize the results of Venezuela’s constituent assembly election,” Maduro told a crowd of cheering supporters following the completion of the vote. “Why the hell should we care what Trump says?” he added. “We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say.”

Opposition leaders call the election a naked power grab meant to keep the Socialist Party in office despite anger over an economic crisis that has spurred malnutrition and left citizens struggling to obtain basic consumer products. Opposition leaders decried the vote as a fraud and called on supporters to protest again as of midday.  “The constitutional assembly will not resolve any of the country’s problems, it just means more crisis,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said. “As of tomorrow, a new stage of the struggle begins.”

Meanwhile, the Vatican has urged Venezuela’s president not to proceed with a controversial new assembly that his critics say would give him unprecedented power. In a statement issued on the day  Maduro was set to install the new assembly – a vote for which last week was boycotted by the opposition parties and denounced as “rigged – the Vatican called on “all political actors, and in particular the government, to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the existing constitution”. “The Holy See appeals firmly to all of society to avoid all forms of violence and invites, in particular, the security forces to refrain from excessive and disproportionate use of force,” it said. The statement also it urged the government of Maduro “to prevent or suspend ongoing initiatives such as the new Constituent Assembly which, instead of fostering reconciliation and peace, foment a climate of tension”.

At least 10 people were killed in protests against the unpopular Maduro, who insists the new body known as the constituent assembly will bring peace after four months of protests that have killed more than 120 people. Countries across the Americas, as well as the European Union, denounced the creation of the assembly, which will have the power to rewrite the constitution.

Maduro has also said he would use the assembly’s powers to bar opposition candidates from running in gubernatorial elections in December unless they sit with his party to negotiate an end to hostilities that have generated four months of protests that have killed at least 125 and wounded nearly 2,000. Maduro says a new constitution is the only way to end such conflicts.

US agenda

USA has a major agenda globally – to ferment troubles in every region by suing the opposition parties. It obstructs peaceful environment everywhere and invades energy rich Arab nations, among others, maintain military superiority. It uses  major powers even in Mideast to its own advantage and help sustain the tensions in every region.

As the super power, the USA has a vast nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the planet several times. The World commemorates the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6, 9, 1945)- the worst  human tragedy ever inflicted upon the people of Japan by the corporatist American regime. .

Fishing in the troubled regional waters has been the key foreign policy parameter of USA and every president- white or black- dutifully pursued imperialist policies by promoting global capitalism. . .

USA badly wants a regime change in Venezuela in order to make entire Latin America pro-American. Opinion polls highly influenced by outside forces showed 85 percent of Venezuelans disapproved of the constitutional assembly and similar numbers disapprove of Maduro’s overall performance.

Maduro said the opposition had been backed by anti-government leaders based in the USA and Colombia. Maduro has threatened that one of the constitutional assembly’s first acts would be jailing opposition leader Freddy Guevara inciting violence.

The USA quickly pledged potentially devastating oil sanctions and condemnations of the process poured in from governments around the capitalist world and the opposition at home. Many capitalist countries, among them the USA, the UK, and Mexico, have denounced the move by Maduro, claiming it is a move to seize additional power for his party at a time when his approval rating stands at just 20 per cent. The USA has issued sanctions against Maduro and 13 of his close advisors and threatened more.

The European Union and nations including Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Britain and the USA criticized Sunday’s vote. The Trump government promised “strong and swift actions” against Venezuelan officials, including the 545 participants in the constitutional assembly, many of them low-ranking party members.

Crippling sanctions are indeed economic terrorism being imposed by USA and its powerful western allies on weak nations that do not subscribe to US agenda. After Iran and North Korea now USA and its cohorts seek to impose sanctions on Venezuela with which it has problems.

Politicians throughout the Americas, as well as leaders from the UN, expressed concern with the decision and demanded its reversal, though the Venezuelan government justified its decision as a reaction to “coup-like actions” allegedly performed by the opposition. On 1 April 2017, the TSJ reversed its decision, thereby reinstating the powers of the National Assembly.

Under pressure from USA, Latin American nations from Argentina to Mexico, which are historically wary of siding with Washington in hemispheric disputes, sharply condemned the vote. Several refused to recognize the results, while Spain and Canada joined in the condemnation. The EU said the constituent assembly could not be part of the negotiated solution to the country’s crisis, noting it was elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances. ‘Nobody can escape the food shortages and spiraling inflation faced by millions every day’.

Perspective and Problems

Like Turkey, Venezuela is also facing troubles from outside especially USA that uses the opposition to advance its capitalist and anti-national objectives.

The people of Venezuela are struggling with food shortages, economic hardship and an inflation rate of around 600 per cent. If the US goes ahead with its threat to sanction the oil industry – Washington currently purchases 700,000 barrels a day from Venezuela – the situation would likely worsen considerably. Many supporters of Chavez appear to have lost faith in Maduro, yet reports suggest most of them are still supporting him in fear of what might follow him. The conservative opposition parties in Venezuela have long had ties to Washington, and some of their leaders were involved in a 2002 coup that briefly unseated Chavez.

America believes economic terrorism in the form of sanctions would weaken the Venezuela and make people fight against the regime.

The US sanctions are planned to cripple the economy of Venezuela, make the life of common pepole miserable so that they oppose the elected government.  In a strike at Venezuela’s already flailing economy, the Trump government is preparing to levy new sanctions on Venezuela, following through on threats to impose penalties if the country went through with the weekend election. The new sanctions could be imposed and will likely target Venezuela’s oil sector, including possibly its state owned petroleum company. One official said an announcement was imminent. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many experts believe the US has been seeking a change of government in Caracas since Chavez was elected in 2002. During  past years, Venezuela has been facing serious crisis alongside protest era.

Following the death of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela faced a severe socioeconomic crisis during the presidency of his successor, Nicolás Maduro, as a result of their policies. Due to the country’s high levels of urban violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods attributed to economic policies such as strict price controls, civil insurrection in Venezuela culminated in the 2014–17 protests. Protests occurred over the years, with demonstrations occurring in various intensities.

The discontent with the Bolivarian government saw the opposition being elected to hold the majority in the National Assembly for the first time since 1999 following the 2015 parliamentary election. As a result of that election, the lame duck National Assembly consisting of Bolivarian officials filled the TSJ with allies. Into early 2016, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) of Venezuela alleged that voting irregularities occurred in the 2015 parliamentary elections and stripped four lawmakers of their seats, preventing an opposition super-majority in the National Assembly which would be able to challenge President Maduro. The TSJ court then began to approve of multiple actions performed by Maduro and granted him more powers.

After facing years of crisis, the Venezuelan opposition pursued a recall referendum against President Maduro, presenting a petition to the National Electoral Council (CNE) on 2 May 2016. The opposition organized an unofficial referendum over Maduro’s plan earlier in July, when more than 7 million voters overwhelmingly rejected his constituent assembly and voted in favor of early elections. On 21 October 2016, the CNE suspended the referendum only days before preliminary signature-gatherings were to be held. The CNE blamed alleged voter fraud as the reason for the cancellation of the referendum. Western observers criticized the move, stating that CNE’s decision made Maduro look as if he were seeking to rule as a dictator.

Days after the recall movement was cancelled, 1.2 million Venezuelans protested throughout the country against the move, demanding President Maduro to leave office, with Caracas protests remaining calm while protests in other states resulted in clashes between demonstrators and authorities, leaving one policeman dead, 120 injured and 147 arrested. That day the opposition gave President Maduro a deadline of 3 November 2016 to hold elections, with opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Days later, then National Assembly President and opposition leader Henry Ramos Allup announced the cancellation of 3 November march to the Miraflores presidential palace, with Vatican-led dialogue between the opposition and the government beginning. By 7 December 2016, dialogue halted between the two and two months later on 13 January 2017 after talks stalled, the Vatican officially pulled out of the dialogue. Further protests were much smaller due to the fear of repression, with the opposition organizing surprise protests instead of organized mass marches.

Actions by President Maduro and his Bolivarian officials included a 7 February 2017 meeting which announced the creation of the Great Socialist Justice Mission which had the goal of establishing “a great alliance between the three powers, the judiciary, the citizen and the executive”, with Maduro stating that “we have been fortunate to see how the judicial power has been growing and perfecting, carrying a doctrine so complete with the constitution of 1999” while stating that the opposition-led National Assembly “took power not for the majority not for the people but for themselves”.

On 29 March 2017, the TSJ took over legislative powers of the National Assembly. The Tribunal, mainly supporters of President Nicolás Maduro, also restricted the immunity granted to the Assembly’s members, who mostly belonged to the opposition. The dissolution of assembly was termed as a “coup” by the opposition while the Organization of American States (OAS) termed the action a “self-coup”. The decision was condemned by some media outlets, characterizing the move as a turn towards authoritarianism and one-man rule.

Observation

USA is eager to unseat President Nicolás Maduro. American worry is compounded by a communist model poll in Venezuela as allies of the Socialist Party won all 545 seats in the new assembly, which will also have the power to dissolve state institutions such as the opposition-run Congress and sack dissident state officials.

The electoral council’s vote counts in the past have been seen as reliable and generally accurate, but the widely mocked announcement appeared certain to escalate the polarization and political conflict paralyzing the country.  

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrated the election of a new legislative superbody that is expected to give the ruling Socialist Party sweeping powers and mocked US criticism that the vote was an affront to democracy. Venezuela’s socialist government says a national election has given it a popular mandate to dramatically recast the country’s political system even as condemnations of the process have poured in from nations abroad and the opponents at home.

The 545-seat constituent assembly will have the task of rewriting the country’s constitution and will have powers above and beyond other state institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

On Friday, the new 545-member assembly was formally opened. Maduro promised that the new assembly would quickly “restructure” the office of the chief prosecutor.   The assembly unanimously elected well-known Socialist Party leaders to its leadership, with former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez to serve as the president and former Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz as First Vice President. The constituent assembly would hold sessions in the same legislative palace as the existing congress, which the opposition took over in a landslide 2015 victory. 

Calling itself “The Binary Guardians”, a hacking group has attacked Venezuelan government websites in an operation targeting the “dictatorship” of President Nicolás Maduro. The group posted messages appearing to support the actions of a group of armed men who attacked a military base in the central city of Valencia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, supporters of President Maduro marched in the capital Caracas. They called for an end to months of opposition protests and unrest.

Interestingly, Americans, while criticizing polls in countries like Russia, China, Venezuela, are unable to control their own presidential poll.  Americans blame Russia for interference in US presidential poll that demolished the hopes of Democratic Party’s Madam Clinton just like the besieged Palestinians and their children have real hopes of a future under the continued attacks and genocides by Israel which keeps the occupational crimes and control mechanism to squeeze the youth of Palestine.

Maduro made it clear in a televised address that he intends to use the assembly not just to rewrite the country’s charter but to govern without limitation. Describing the vote as “the election of a power that’s above and beyond every other,” Maduro said he wants the assembly to strip opposition lawmakers and governors of constitutional immunity from prosecution — one of the few remaining checks on ruling party power. Declaring the opposition “already has its prison cell waiting,” Maduro added: “All the criminals will go to prison for the crimes they’ve committed.”

Any country, and particularly any socialist governed country, that nationalizes their oil industries (or any other US corporate interests, i.e., United Fruit Company in Guatemala and Honduras) become targets for regime change by the USA by using the opposition parties. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan et al are living examples. The methods begin with economic warfare, destabilizing their economies via sanctions and withholding of investments and loans, denial of access to markets and imposition of punitive tariffs. When the people feel the economic pain they blame the government and this is exacerbated by covert CIA teams and CIA fronts like National Endowment for Democracy (see Ukraine) who infiltrate and organize, fund and foment “democratic” opposition.  USA achieves total destabilization thanks to Neocon plans.

It is unfortunate that any independent nation must also obey the “democratic” US dictates in order to survive in the comity of nations. Any refusal to dance according to the CIA-Pentagon muse should be ready for a terror attacks.

Who can tie the ball around US neck?

Only in fairy tales a super hero emerges to save the weak ones from monsters.

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Americas

American (And Global) Oligarchy Rapidly Moving Towards Monarchy

Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq.

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Many people do not realize that the proverbial “noose” of civil rights, civil liberties and property rights are rapidly coming to an end, in large part because of the unholy alliance by and between government and the global oligarchs (international banks and major corporations).

For example, people don’t realize that current U.S. federal law permits all banks and credit unions (such as Chase Bank owned by CEO Jamie Dimon) to close any account, at any time, and for any reason, even when their own employees commit fraud, make mistakes, commit unethical acts or otherwise screw the banking customer over for personal or political reasons, and that customer then files a legitimate complaint.

The financial institution is not required to divulge the reason(s) for account closure to the customer.

Now, when a business account is closed by a bank, the bank can (and will) retain the funds in the account for 90 to 180 days in order for checks, debits, chargebacks, etc. to post to the business account before the bank will mail the business customer the remaining proceeds from the account.

However the account holder is of course not allowed access to their own hard-earned funds at all.

What this means is that these banks and credit unions have been given a universal right to steal any and all monies placed within their coffers by anyone at all, which can then be “confiscated” for any reason.

It is even so absurd that these banks and credit unions, even after they have seized or stolen your money/property, do not even have to give you a reason, and can then ban you for life from ever getting your money/property back.

This same reasoning applies to nearly all of the major businesses and corporations, wherein due process has gone the way of the extinct “dodo bird.”

This is what it means, when an administration (in this case Republican) talks about “bank deregulation.”

In many ways, Democrats had the right idea over Republicans when they created and enacted such banking regulatory agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), recently gutted and decapitated by the Trump Administration and his coterie of bought and paid for Republican conservatives.

The problem is that the same global Oligarchs and International Banking Cartels that controlled the Democrats, and enacted even more stifling Communist type regulation to further control, cull, and choke off the American (and global) population (think Obama’s “Operation Chokepoint”), simply use Republican “deregulation” as another mechanism to screw over, steal from, and rob the working and middle class, by allowing these international banking cartels, credit unions, and corporations to completely do whatever they want, to anyone, for any reason, in the absence of any regulation.

Herein lies the rub, and there has to be a middle ground, but only if the American people (and their global population counterparts) push back and vociferously tell their elected leaders to take legal and equitable action against these global thieves and criminals.

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War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the Second World War.  A war of horrors, it normalized the intensive, barbaric bombing of civilian populations.  If the Spanish Civil War gave us Guernica and Picasso’s wrenching painting, WW2 offered up worse:  London, Berlin, Dresden to name a few, the latter eloquently described in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five.”  Against Japan, the firebombing of Tokyo, and above all the revulsion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki radiated a foretaste of ending life on the planet.

Reparations demanded from Germany had led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and a thirst for revenge.  Thus Hitler demanded France’s 1940 surrender in the same railway carriage where the humiliating armistice was signed in 1918.

If the war to end all wars — its centenary remembrance a month ago — killed 20 million plus, the successor tripled the score.  Disrupted agriculture, severed supply chains, fleeing civilians, starvation and misery; civilian deaths constituting  an inordinate majority in our supposedly civilized world.

One of the young men baling out of a burning bomber was George H. W. Bush.  He was rescued but his crew who also baled out were never found, a thought that is said to have haunted him for the rest of his life.  He went on to serve eight years as vice-president under Ronald Reagan and then four more as president.  Last week he passed away and was honored with a state funeral service in Washington National Cathedral.

His legacy includes the first Iraq war and the liberation of Kuwait.  While he avoided the hornet’s nest of ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq itself, the war’s repercussions led to the Clinton sanctions and the deaths of half a million children.  The UN representative overseeing the limited oil-for-food program, Irishman Denis Halliday, resigned in disgust.  Not to forget the infamous answer by Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  Asked by Leslie Stahl if it was worth the lives of 500,000 children … more than that died in Hiroshima, she answered:  “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”  (CBS 60 Minutes program, May 12, 1996).

Note the “we” in her answer.  Who else does that include but our “I-feel-your-pain” Bill Clinton.  Hypocrisy, arm-twisted donations to the Clinton Foundation while wife Hillary was Secretary of State in the Obama administration; her shunning of the official and secure State Department email server in favor of a personal server installed at her request and the subsequent selective release of emails.  Well who cares about verifiable history these days anyway as the following demonstrates.

Yes, there was another anniversary this week for a different kind of war.  This time in India.  After securing freedom from the British, a secular tradition was proudly espoused by the patrician Nehru and the epitome of nonviolence, Gandhi.  It is now in the process of being trampled in a war against minorities.  The communal war includes the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat for which Narendra Modi was barred from the U.S., a ban lifted only when he became prime minister.  He, his party and his allies have been also responsible for the destruction of the Babri Mosque.  An organized Hindu mob tore it down on December 6, 1992; hence the shameful anniversary.  Built on the orders of the first Mughal emperor Babur, its purpose was to cement relations with Hindu rajas by also sanctifying for Muslims a place holy to Hindus and held traditionally to be the birthplace of Rama — famous from Hindu epics for fighting evil with the assistance of a monkey god’s army … although one is advised to avoid close contact with temple monkeys when visiting.

As the first Mughal, Babur’s hold on India was tenuous and he actively sought alliances with Hindu rulers of small states against the pathans whose sultan he had just defeated.  That affinity continued during the entirety of Mughal rule and one manifestation was frequent intermarriage with Rajputs.  Several emperors had Hindu mothers including Shah Jahan the builder of the Taj Mahal.  In the end, Babur’s fears were warranted because Sher Shah Suri did marshal those pathan forces and throw out his son Humayun, the second Mughal ruler.  It was only Sher Shah’s untimely death during the capture of Kalinjar (a Hindu fort then held by Raja Kirat Singh) that made Humayun’s return possible.

The destruction of the mosque was a historical wrong if ever there was one, but then Mr. Modi has never been bothered by history.  He is also not bothered that his party’s fairy tale revision of school history books is a scandal.  For similar reasons, Indian history on Wikipedia is too frequently tarnished, requiring verification from other sources to be properly informed.

The wrongs of communities, just as the wrongs of war, can lead to repercussions unanticipated and cataclysmic.  Yugoslavia is an example in living memory.  Clearly, any ruler of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country contemplating a path of communal dominance must take note before he is hoisted with his own petard.

Author’s Note:  This article first appeared on Counterpunch.org  

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Racism does not need racists

Jorge Majfud

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In my classes, I always try to make clear the difference between opinions and facts. It is a fundamental rule, a very simple intellectual exercise that we owe ourselves to undertake in the post-Enlightenment era. I started becoming obsessed with such obvious matters when I found out, in 2005, that some students were arguing that something “is true because I believe it” – and they weren’t joking. Since then, I’ve suspected that such intellectual conditioning, such a conflation of physics with metaphysics (cleared up by Averroes almost a thousand years ago) – which year by year becomes increasingly dominant (faith as the supreme criterion, regardless of all evidence to the contrary) – has its origins in the majestic churches of the southern United States.

But critical thinking involves so much more than just distinguishing facts from opinions. Trying to define what a fact is would suffice. The very idea of objectivity itself paradoxically originates from a single perspective, from one lens. And anyone knows that with the lens of one photographic or video camera, only one part of reality is captured, which quite often is subjective or used to distort reality in the supposed interest of objectivity.

For some reason, students tend to be more interested in opinions than facts. Maybe because of the superstitious idea that an informed opinion is derived from the synthesis of thousands of facts. This is a dangerous idea, but we can’t run away from our responsibility to give our opinion when it’s required. All that we can and should do is take note that an informed opinion continues to be an opinion which must be tested or challenged.

An opinion

On a certain day, students discussed the caravan of 5,000 Central Americans (at least one thousand of whom were children) fleeing violence and heading for the Mexican border with the US. President Donald Trump had ordered the border closed and called those looking for refuge “invaders”. On 29 October 2018, he tweeted: “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”. The military deployment to the border alone cost the US about $200 million.

Since one of my students insisted on knowing my opinion, I started off with the most controversial side of the issue. I observed that this country, the US, was founded upon the fear of invasion, and only a select few have always known how to exploit this weakness, with tragic consequences. Maybe this paranoia came about with the English invasion of 1812, but if history tells us anything, it’s that the US  has practically never suffered an invasion of its territory – if we exclude the 9/11 attacks in 2001; the one on Pearl Harbor, which at the time was a military base in foreign territory; and, prior to that, at the very beginning of the twentieth century, the brief incursion of a Mexican named Pancho Villa mounted upon a horse. But the US has indeed specialized in invading other countries from the time of its founding – it took over the Indian territories, then half of Mexico, from Texas, to reinstall slavery, to California; it intervened directly in Latin American affairs, to repress popular protests and support bloody dictatorships – all in the name of defence and security. And always with tragic consequences.

Therefore, the idea that a few thousand poor people on foot are going to invade the most powerful country in the world is simply a joke in poor taste. And it’s likewise in bad taste for some Mexicans on the other side to adopt this same xenophobic talk that’s been directed at them – inflicting on others the same abuse they’ve suffered.

A critical view

In the course of the conversation, I mentioned in passing that in addition to the foundational paranoia, there was a racial component to the argument.

“You don’t need to be a racist to defend the borders,” said one student.

True, I noted. You don’t need to be a racist to defend borders or laws. At first glance, the statement is irrefutable. However, if we take history and the wider current context into consideration, an openly racist pattern jumps out at us right away.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the French novelist Anatole France wrote: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.” You don’t need to be an elitist to support an economically stratified culture. You don’t need to be sexist to spread the most rampant type of sexism. Thoughtlessly engaging in certain cultural practices and voicing your support for some law or another is quite often all it takes.

I drew a geometric figure on the board and asked students what they saw there. Everyone said they saw a cube or a box. The most creative variations didn’t depart from the idea of tri-dimensionality, when in reality what I drew was nothing more than three rhombuses forming a hexagon. Some tribes in Australia don’t see that same image in 3D but rather in 2D. We see what we think and that’s what we call objectivity.

Double standards

When President Abraham Lincoln emerged victorious from the American Civil War (1861-1865), he put an end to a hundred-year dictatorship that, up to this day, everyone calls “democracy.” By the eighteenth century, black slaves had come to make up more than fifty percent of the population in states like South Carolina – but they weren’t even citizens of the US, nor did they enjoy even minimal human rights.

Many years before Lincoln, both racists and anti-racists proposed a solution to the “negro problem” by sending them “back” to Haiti or Africa, where many of them ended up founding the nation of Liberia (one of my students, Adja, is from a family which comes from that African country). The English did the same thing to “rid” England of its blacks. But under Lincoln blacks became citizens, and one way to reduce them down to a minority was not only by making it difficult for them to vote (such as by imposing a poll tax) but also by opening the nation’s borders to immigration.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French people to the American people to commemorate the centenary of the 1776 Declaration of Independence, still cries with silent lips: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” In this way, the US opened its arms to waves of impoverished immigrants. Of course, the overwhelming majority were poor whites. Many were opposed to the Italians and the Irish because they were red-headed Catholics. But in any case, they were seen as being better than blacks. Blacks weren’t able to immigrate from Africa, not just because they were much farther away than Europeans were, but also because they were much poorer, and there were hardly any shipping routes to connect them to New York. The Chinese had more opportunities to reach the west coast, and perhaps for that reason a law was passed in 1882 that prohibited them from coming in just for being Chinese.

I understand that this was a subtle and powerful way to reshape demographics, which is to say the political, social and racial make-up of the US. The current nervousness about a change to that make-up is nothing more than the continuation of that same old logic. Were that not the case, what could be wrong with being part of a minority group or being different from others?

You don’t need to be a racist…

Clearly, if you’re a good person and you’re in favour of properly enforcing laws, it doesn’t make you a racist. You don’t need to be racist when the law and the culture already are. In the US, nobody protests Canadian or European immigrants. The same is true in Europe and even in the Southern Cone of South America [the southernmost region of Latin America, populated mainly by descendants of Europeans]. But everyone is worried about the blacks and the hybrid, mixed-race people from the south. Because they’re not white and “good”, but poor and “bad”. Currently, almost half a million European immigrants are living illegally in the United States. Nobody talks about them, just like nobody talks about how one million United States citizens are living in Mexico, many illegally.

With communism discarded as an excuse (none of those chronically failing states where migrants come from are communist), let’s once again consider the racial and cultural excuses common to the century prior to the Cold War. Every dark-skinned worker is seen as a criminal, not an opportunity for mutual development. The immigration laws are themselves filled with panic at the sight of poor workers.

It’s true that you don’t need to be racist to support laws and more secure borders. You also don’t need to be racist to spread and shore up an old racist and class-based paradigm, while we fill our mouths with platitudes about compassion and the fight for freedom and human dignity.

UNESCO

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