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The Scourge That Is Identity Politics

Saurabh Malkar

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The August 12 Charlottesville rally, organized by white nationalists, was one of the biggest white-pride events that included some bizarre chants and which culminated in gruesome carnage. While I never thought something of this scale and degree would occur in 21st century America, I should have seen this coming.

After all, I was aware of white societies being hog-tied and force-fed multiculturalism and the reflexive habit of blaming the ‘white man’ for all of world’s evils. Back someone up into a corner, bully them, slander their identity and one day they will fire back.

Peter Cvjetanovic, one of the participants of the Charlottesville rally, whose picture from the rally served as banner photo for several news articles, in an interview said, “I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture.”

Another participant in an interview with The Daily Caller said, “We feel like everybody has a right to defend their own group and own ethnic interests and white people are the only ones where this is socially and culturally taboo.”

Check out any leftist or liberal broadcasting outlets or platforms, whether in news media or on social media, and the unending whinging and bitterness towards ‘whiteness’ and white culture is loathsome. The narrative is set: lump all your worries, failures, and shortfalls on white societies and you can walk scot-free, bearing no accountability. If you are white, you have only one dismal option: accept your ‘privilege’ and cower in shame. If you happen to dissent from the narrative and take a stand against the vilification, you should get ready to be ex-communicated and labeled a racist, fascist, and a Nazi. And god forbid if you are non-white and decide to question the liberal narrative, lest you want to be labeled a ‘sellout.’ And all this in the name of _______ justice. (Insert some inane modifier like ‘social,’ or ‘racial,’ or ‘indigenous.’)

Is this a fair characterization of white societies and the culture they are entrenched in?

No society or culture is perfect and trying to establish or expect a utopian society is like trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. White societies, notwithstanding their share in the immoral spoils of history, have offered an outsized amount of ‘good’ – economic and social – to the world than have other societies.

North American whites are often pilloried with the crime of slavery, but slavery cuts several ways once one looks at it from historic and contemporary perspectives. It was a pan-colored, pan-racial, and pan-ethnic institution that followed the doctrine of ‘to the victor go the spoils,’ set in a world driven by conquest. In fact, the etymology of the word ‘slave,’ according to some scholars, goes back to the Slavic peoples of Europe, who were subjugated in large numbers in the medieval period.

Some facts about American slavery show that this institution wasn’t a monolith and wasn’t subscribed to by all the whites. At the height of slavery, only about 1.4% of white Americans owned slaves. Brace yourself for impact; blacks owned slaves too! In 1860, close to 20,000 slaves were under the ownership of 3,000 blacks. Not all whites that came to the American colonies embarked on the journey of their free will; many arrived in some form of bondage and they weren’t treated any better than the black slaves. And only 6% of the total slaves shipped across the Atlantic went into North America; the rest were sold off in South America.

Not surprisingly, white societies were the first ones to vociferously condemn slavery as an immoral and inhuman institution and took action to outlaw it. The State of Vermont in 1777, a then newly-minted sovereign state, was the first one in the Americas to abolish slavery. The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded in 1787 in Great Britain and 30 years later, Britain outlawed Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Soon after, the nascent nation of America followed suit. The late 1700s and the first half of the 19th century saw several other European nations strike down slavery and slave trade not only within their sovereign boundaries, but also in the colonies they held.

Fast-forward to present times and slavery still exists, but its hospices have been relocated to Asia, where just 5 countries – India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan – are home to over 50% of the estimated 48.5 million modern slaves, according to a watchdog. The countries founded in white societies are predictably at the bottom of the table.

White societies and the countries they founded have made substantial contributions towards bucking up under-developed nations with economic aid.

A major chunk of the official development assistance (ODA) – a type of foreign aid, which runs into billions of dollars every year – comes, with the exception of Japan, from western nations – United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and western European nation-states.

Then there is the indirect form of aid which is the transfer of soft capital – ideas, know-how, processes, technology, and better goods and services – through globalization and trade deals, the pioneers and staunchest advocates of which are mostly western nations. The introduction of this soft capital has empowered many in the under developed world to better their lives and the state of their nations, often times at the expense of the economies of the West.

Western societies are also responsible for setting up several intergovernmental and international relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders and UN affiliates like UNICEF, UNRWA, WFP, UNHCR, ILO, UNIDO, UNOPS that monitor humanitarian and development issues around the world and provide assistance to countries in need.

European societies pitched in during the Syrian refugee crisis and set an ‘open-door’ policy for refugees, accepting more than a million asylum seekers. Not only are the refugees housed in safe conditions, many are resettled and rehabilitated. Europe shows very little signs of reversing the decision of accepting refugees, despite the negative consequences of such a mass migration that consistently made news headlines in 2016 and the present year.

This is in stark contrast with the wealthy Arab Gulf nations, that don’t recognize asylum-seekers as refugees, haven’t signed the UN 1951 Refugee Convention, and thus, aren’t obligated to treat refugees to acceptable standards.

A large number of economic immigrants have made the West their home and in a few short years achieved unprecedented success; some even went on to hold public office. High achievers aside, even the most mediocre immigrants do far better in the West than in any other part of the world; their children outdo them in most cases. Western societies not only welcome immigrants from different parts of the world, they are incredibly tolerant of different religious practices and cultures, thanks in part to multiculturalism, which has worked to the West’s disadvantage.

Such prosperity and success, however, doesn’t greet immigrants in rich Gulf countries, which are a major hot spot for immigration, where immigrants make between 50% and 90% of the total population. Mired in unethical employment practices, workers’ rights violations, and denial of citizenship for non-natives, it’s no wonder that Gulf Arab societies don’t produce the sort of rags-to-riches stories that are exclusive to white societies.

Identity politics is the lowbrow of social and political discourse. It focuses on colloquial issues and race-baiting, while missing the bigger picture. It’s a sign of intellectual inertia. More importantly, in white societies, it is a tool used by minority groups to beat the majority group into submission, while flagging off any attempts by whites to use their identity as nativist, Nazi, Fascist, or racist.

Eventually, the pressure builds up and some steam must be let off.

An ex-dentist and a business graduate who is greatly influenced by American conservatism and western values. Having born and brought up in a non-western, third world country, he provides an ‘outside-in’ view on western values. As a budding writer and analyst, he is very much stoked about western culture and looks forward to expound and learn more. Mr. Malkar receives correspondence at saurabh.malkar[at]gmail.com. To read his 140-character commentary on Twitter, follow him at @saurabh_malkar

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Americas

Venezuelan refugee crisis and how it is altering the surrounding regions

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Venezuela’s migration crisis has been in the news lately and recent UN polls show that nearly 2.3 million have already migrated from their homeland over the past few years. However, other estimates show a figure closer to four million Venezuelan immigrants.

This crisis is rapidly sinking its claws in the neighbouring countries and if the amount of people migrating keeps increasing, it might become the worst man-made disasters since the First and Second World Wars after the Syrian refugee crisis. The Syrian crisis gave birth to more than six million refugees, and although the number here is still around half of that toll, the Venezuelan crisis doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. The inflation over there is nearly a million percent – a number so absurd that the common people around the world are not able to even grasp the sheer magnitude of the situations developing every day in this country. The minimum monthly wage is a few American dollars, putting essentials like food – particularly rations like chicken – into the category of luxurious items. The economy has shrunk by half in five years. To explain the extent of this downfall, Girish Gupta – founder of Data Drum and former investigative, multimedia journalist in Venezuela/LatAm – tweeted: If you’d bought a million dollars in Venezuela’s local currency when President Nicolás Maduro came to power in 2013, it’d now be worth $3.40. Diseases that were once overcome – like measles and diphtheria – are making a comeback. Infant mortality rates are going up while approximately 1.3 million refugees who have already escaped Venezuela were suffering from malnourishment (according to UN officials).

However, these are not the last of the Venezuelans’ problems; the nations to whom the refugees sought to escape to are closing their doors on their faces – literally. Sunday saw Ecuador closing border crossings with Colombia to people who don’t have passports. This was seen as a certain way to reduce the bulk of refugees from entering other countries as passports are fairly difficult to obtain amidst the economical and political chaos. Jonnayker Lien, a migrant standing outside the Peruvian border with his entire family said, “Imagine people like us who have sold everything, down to our beds, to come here, and they close the door on us. We don’t know where to sleep, and we don’t have money to go back.” Crisis broke out in the town of Pacaraima, north Brazil, after local throngs started struggling against the refugees and pushed them back to the border. Already a penurious town, the locals resent sharing their remaining resources with these migrants. However, even a strong military force could not stop these migrants from coming into Brazil. Peru had twenty thousand migrants arriving in the past week.

An emergency regional summit has been called by officials from Ecuador where Venezuela and its neighbours could deal with the crisis. Yukiko Iriyama, a representative in Colombia for the U.N. refugee agency said, “The capacity of the region is overwhelmed. The magnitude of the situation really requires a regional comprehensive approach.” The recently implemented passport checks by Peru and Ecuador aimed to reduce the flow of refugees into the countries. However, all it did was reduce the legal way of entering into these nations and increased the illegal border crossings.  To deal with this disaster and the refugee predicament, representatives from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru will meet in Bogota next week. Christian Kruger, the head of Colombia’s migration authoritysaid in a statement, “The exodus of Venezuelan citizens is not a problem exclusive to Colombia, Peru, Ecuador or a single country. This is a regional problem and as such we must address it. Demanding passports from a nation that does not have them and whose government does not facilitate the issuance of this document is to encourage irregularity.” Peru is also calling a meeting at an individual level of the permanent council of the Organization of American States to discuss the migration.

The toll of migrants entering Colombia is around a million in fifteen months but nations like Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru are also receiving these refugees. Low skilled Venezuelans have flooded some Latin American job markets to find work and send money back home. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo that he will set up a UN team that will respond to the crisis. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres “told him that he would put together an internal coordination mechanism to make sure that the UN regional response is well coordinated.” “This is something that is not uncommon in these types of crises,” he added. Dany Bahar of the Brookings Institution suggested declaring this as a refugee crisis in order to seek help, saying, “It is up to the United Nations, together with the Organization of American States, to step up and recognize this problem as a refugee crisis so that the world can turn the proper attention to it and provide solutions.” He also added that none of the nations in the regionhave taken the initiative to provide a sustainable solution to the problem.

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Trump: The Symbol of America’s Isolation in the World

Mohammad Ghaderi

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The president of the United States, who came to power in 2016 with the slogan of “Reviving Washington’s Power”, has become the messenger of failure and defeat of his country in the West Asian region and in the international system. The U.S. numerous military and political defeats in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon were so outstanding that there’s no way Trump can brag about his achievements in the region.

On the other hand, many Democrats in the United States, and even the traditional Republicans, have been criticizing the President’s costly and barren foreign policy in West Asia. In such a situation, Trump attempts to attribute this failure to the country’s previous administrations and condemn them over what is happening in today’s world, especially in the West Asian region, and he blames Obama for Washington’s constant and extensive failures in this area.

Besides, Trump’s other projections about the hard conditions of the U.S. in West Asia are noteworthy. In his recent remarks, Donald Trump said that if he wasn’t at top of the U.S. political and executive equations, Iran would capture the Middle East (West Asia)! This is while Islamic Republic of Iran created stability in the West Asian region, and besides, has stood against the long-term, medium-term, and short-term and destructive goals of the United States and its allies in the region.

Trump’s strategic weakness in the West Asia is an important issue which can’t be easily overlooked. Of course this strategic weakness did exist during Obama’s presidency, but the truth is that it reached its peak during Trump’s presidency. And in the future, this weakness will bring severe blows to the United States.

The fact is that the strategic calculations of the United States in the West Asia region have all failed. And many of the pre-assumptions that Washington called them “strategic propositions”, have never turned into reality for some reasons, including the vigilance of the Resistance movement in the region. This is the reason why America is so confused in confronting the equations of West Asia.

Under such circumstances, the only way before the President of the United States is to leave the region and confess to his defeat; an issue that many American analysts and strategists have noted. It shouldn’t be forgotten that in spite of his campaign slogans for stopping the military intervention in the region, the current president of the United States has intensified conflicts and created constant security crises in West Asia.

The direct, perfect, and comprehensive support of Donald Trump for takfiri terrorists reflects this fact. Trump started his support for ISIL since the beginning of his presence at the White House in early 2017, and he stood for the terrorists until the fall of ISIL in Syria. Even now, Trump is attempting to revive terrorist and takfiri groups in Iraq and Syria.

Despite passing half of his presidency, Trump has claimed that the defeat in Yemen, Syria and Iraq was Obama’s legacy. There is no doubt that Obama and his two secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, played a major role in creating terrorist and takfiri groups (especially ISIL), and committed bloodshed in Syria and Iraq.

There is also little ambiguity in the strategic, operational and even tactical defeat of the Obama administration in the battlefields of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. However, Trump can’t deny his share in this defeat, and pretend as if he’s the messenger of the victory of the United States in these scenes! The fact is that Trump completed the military and political defeats of the United States in the West Asia region. Today, the United States is defeated in the battlefield, and can well see that its pieces had failed in these wars.

On the other hand, the White House has lost the political arena of the region. The failure of the United States in the Lebanese and Iraqi elections, on the one hand, and the popular support for the resistance groups in Yemen and Syria, has left Trump and his companions disappointed in the region. In such a situation, attributing the recent and ongoing defeats of the United States to the Obama administration is completely expectable, and at the same time, unacceptable!

Finally, we can see that just like Obama, George W Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Carter, Trump is stuck in this strategic miscalculation in the West Asian region. Undoubtedly, in his last days in power, Trump will also understand that there’s no way he can overcome this strategic weakness through Saudi and Emirati petrodollars.

However, it seems that the scope of Trump’s defeat in West Asia would be wider than the previous presidents of the United States. Undoubtedly, in the near future, Trump, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley will become the symbols of failure in the US foreign policy, especially in the West Asia. In other words, the president of the United States and his companions at the White House will have to admit to defeat in the West Asian region at a great expense, and this is exactly what frightens the American authorities.

first published in our partner Tehran Times

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Americas

Weather and White House Turmoil as Elections Loom

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc as it traversed the Florida panhandle.  The first Category 5 hurricane to hit the area since 1881 when records began, its 155 mph winds (only 5 mph short of Category 6) felled massive trees, blew away houses, collapsed buildings and left devastation in its wake.  Relatively fast moving at 14 mph, it was soon gone continuing as a Category 3 into neighboring Georgia and then further up its northeasterly path.  It seemed to signify a stamp of approval for the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on holding earth to a 1.5 degree Celsius warming issued a couple of days earlier.  We are at one degree now so storms can only be expected to get worse.

In northeastern Turkey, a 300-year old stone bridge disappeared overnight.  Villagers convinced it had been stolen called in the police.  Further investigation concluded it had been washed away by a flash flood caused by a sudden summer thunderstorm further upstream — clearly far more intense than in the previous three centuries.

Ever more powerful hurricanes, monsoons and forest fires point to a proliferation of extreme weather events that experts relate to global warming.  Yet President Donald Trump and his administration remain obdurate in climate change denial.

Thins are certainly warming up in the White House.  Nikki Haley announced her resignation in an amicable meeting with the president.  A staunch defender of many of Mr. Trump’s most egregious foreign policy changes, the UN Representative will be leaving at the end of the year to pursue opportunities in the private sector.  So said the announcement.  An astute and ambitious politician she has probably reassessed the costs versus benefits of remaining in a Trump administration.  Some tout her as a future presidential candidate.  Should she be successful she will be the first woman president, who also happens to be of Indian and Sikh ancestry.

The rap singer Kanye West visited the president in the Oval office.  A ten-minute rant/rap praising him was followed by a hug for which Mr. West ran round the wide desk that had been seemingly cleared of all paraphernalia for the performance.  He is one of the eight percent of blacks voting Republican.  Sporting the Trump trademark, Make-America-Great-Again red hat, he claimed it made him Superman, his favorite superhero.  And some suggested it was all further proof the place had gone insane.

A little over three weeks remain to the U.S. midterm elections on November 6th.  Their proximity is evidenced not by rallies or debates rather by the barrage of negative TV ads blasting opponents with accusations of shenanigans almost unworthy of a felon.  A couple of months of this and you lose any enthusiasm for voting.  Perhaps it is one reason why nearly half the electorate stays home.  Given such a backdrop, the furor over ‘Russian meddling’ in elections appears to be a trifle misplaced.  Others call the whole business a ‘witch hunt’ and state flatly the U.S. does the same.

The old idiom, ‘put your own house in order’ is particularly apt when we realize the beginning of this affair  was a Democratic National Committee email leak showing ‘the party’s leadership had worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign’.  It resulted in the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Always fair, aboveboard elections?  Not bloody likely, as the British would say.  Given the rewards, it’s against human nature.

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