Today In History: US Withdraws Troops from Saudi Arabia

Eight years ago today, the US withdrew its military presence (at least the non-secret part) from its ally, and the world’s top oil producer, Saudi Arabia. “Big deal”, you may say. But this event is a crucial one in the global war that America has been pursuing since (at least) 9/11.

The facts behind 9/11 and the ensuing “war on terror” have been lost in the fog of US propaganda in the past few years. Perhaps the most important fact-they-want-you-to-forget is this: Al Qaida’s attack on 9/11 was in protest at the presence of US troops on Saudi soil. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, the US was occupying Saudi Arabia with between 5,000 to 10,000 troops. Osama bin Laden’s strike was aimed at ending the US occupation as a step to overthrowing the Saudi dictatorship.

This was never made clear to the American people, who were instead told by Liar-In-Chief Donald Rumsfeld that Al Qaida was a huge, global organisation that wanted to destroy America’s way of life (this was true only to the extent that America’s “way of life” included the forcible creation of an Empire including the oil-producing Arab lands).

In the days before “war on terror” propaganda had been fully absorbed by the media, the BBC’s report on the Saudi withdrawal was remarkably honest;

But our correspondent says the US troops have become a potent symbol of Washington’s role in the region, and many Saudis see them as proof of the country’s subservience to America.

Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam’s holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably Osama Bin Laden.

It is one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born dissident – blamed by Washington for the 11 September attacks – to justify violence against the United States and its allies.

This anniversary is a reminder of important facts:

  • 9/11, however murderous and unjustified, wasn’t an unprovoked attack, but a response to long-standing US aggression against Arabs, and Saudis in particular.
  • The “war on terror” was of America’s choosing; Rumsfeld and the neocons deliberately confused the issues in order to create a new, never-ending version of the Cold War.
  • America’s perpetual war will run until America ends it – and while it runs, the risk of terrorist attacks on the West climbs ever higher.
  • The US has chosen to roll the war out to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and now Libya. This is never in response to aggression and always in pursuit of expanding the empire.

The war isn’t being conducted by “Al Qaida”, “Terrorists”, “The Arabs”, “The Muslims” or “Islam” – it’s America’s war and will end when America chooses. You’re wondering why the US withdrew? Because a month earlier, it had invaded Iraq with the goal of creating a large, stable and permanent military presence there – the after-effects of which we’re still feeling worldwide.

Barack Obama Exposes Birthers As Morons

Most of you, whether in the US or anywhere else on Earth, will have heard about the Birther controversy. The widespread rumour that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US, and so was ineligible to become President. In an attempt to lay the story to rest, Obama released his birth certificate during the 2008 election campaign; but the story, fueled by political rumours, continued to grow, with denials that the certificate released was real, and calls for the release of the “long-form” birth certificate.

The point was often made that no former (white) President had ever been asked to show his certificate – that the claims about Obama being non-American were coming from the traditionally racist right-wing constituency who were doubtless enraged with the election of a black President, and for whom the birth certificate issue became a proxy for their racism.

The discussion had seemed like it may slowly subside into the darkest corners of moronic conspiracy blogs when at the start of 2011, along came publicity-seeking billionaire Donald Trump, who raised the profile of the discussion again, much to the delight of the Obama-hating right, including the 40% of Republicans who believed that Obama was born overseas.

Then a couple of weeks ago, something strange happened; Fox News pundits who had enjoyed spreading anti-Obama stories, including birth-certificate-related ones, suddenly started to come out against the conspiracy theory. Had the anti-Obama right finally seen sense and decided to allow some honesty into the debate? Well, it seems not…

Today in a surprise announcement, Obama called time on the hysteria and released the long-form certificate. Perhaps he had finally decided to end the dumb discussion. Or maybe he’d carefully picked the moment to cause maximum political damage to his enemies. If the latter, he thoroughly deserves his moment, after having to take flak from morons over a period of more than two years.

So let’s look at who (deservedly) loses out here:

  • Donald Trump, who decided it was smart to place himself at the head of the birther movement, and whose presidential run is probably now doomed as a result. Strangely, Trump is trying to spin the birth certificate release as a victory… well, good luck with that!
  • The Republican Party, which allowed the discussion to grow and grow, and now can only be damaged by it.
  • The Tea Party, the fake “revolutionary” movement created by right-wing billionaires, which is tainted with birtherism.
  • The right-wing media, most of all Fox News, that helped spread the idea. Even right-wing British rags like the Daily Mail joined the game.
  • And finally, thousands of ordinary morons who used Twitter to repeat the lies they’d been told. Their racism got the better of their reason (if they had any to start with) and they end up looking most stupid of all.

The War On Morons has a long way to go; but today marks victory in a decisive battle.

Yes2AV Is The Least Moronic Choice

On May 5th, the British people get a rare opportunity to vote in a referendum over the way we’re governed. The choice is to retain First Past The Post (FPTP) or switch to the Alternative Vote (AV) system. Two warring camps have emerged: Yes2AV and No2AV, each (of course) with its own Twitter hashtag.

The campaign has been messy; the better-funded and organised No2AV camp has strong financial backing from the Conservative Party, and has run a series of effective smear campaigns, including:

  • AV would require complex voting machines and cost vast amounts of money (false).
  • AV is too complex for “ordinary people” to understand (nonsense – it simply allows the voter to have multiple choices rather than one).
  • AV would benefit extremist parties (not true, the reverse in fact – which is why the BNP oppose AV).

Unfortunately the Yes2AV campaign has been diverted to responding to these attacks and has failed to make a clear case. I think the case for AV over FPTP is clear and easily argued as follows:

The Partisan Case – how will my party fare?

  • Conservative: FPTP is designed to keep the Tories in power. You should vote No.
  • Labour: likely to be more neutral, as Labour will get second-preference votes from Green and LibDem voters. Vote Yes to weaken the Tories.
  • Minority left-of-centre parties (Green, LibDem, Socialist, etc.): this will benefit you as you can now place your first choice for your party rather than vote tactically. Vote Yes.
  • Minority right-of-centre (UKIP): this will benefit you for the same reason as above. Vote Yes.
  • Far-right (BNP, English Democrat, etc.): Your best chance of coming to power is to win 30% in a FPTP challenge. Vote No.

The Objective Case – which is a better system?

  • FPTP is ancient and hugely discredited, and has been abandoned in most mature democracies. It makes voting pointless for most people in the country as most constituencies are safe seats for either Conservative or Labour. It therefore discourages participation, which weakens our democracy. A party can win with as little as 30% of the vote.
  • Other than the UK, the main user of FPTP is the United States. This system has crushed all but two parties which are both funded by the same corporate interests; this is about as undemocratic as a democracy can be.
  • AV won’t smash, but will weaken the two-party duopoly on power, giving the opportunity for the much-needed rise of new parties, which could then modify British politics in an evolutionary rather than revolutionary manner.
  • FPTP encourages the creation of broad, monolithic parties which are effectively ready-made coalitions and have no clear message; both Labour and the Tories attempt to cover very broad ranges of attitudes. This was reflected well by the Blair government, where voters voted left-of-centre but got a right-of-centre government anyway.
  • It’s true that AV represents a smaller step than many reformers would like; but its rejection on May 5th will be taken as a rejection of any change, and kill our last chance of reform, doubtless for many decades. Don’t forget that the political establishment hates the idea of any reform (as it would alter the status-quo). There is no chance that we would get asked again if the vote is No.
  • The only large political party that supports any electoral reform is the Liberal Democrat party. A No vote risks destroying the LibDems, leaving no political player that would campaign for any future reform.

It may not be ideal, but it’s the only chance we have for change. Vote YES on May 5th!

Happy St George’s Day!

Happy St. George’s Day! Today is the day when the English celebrate their patron saint, party and have fun.

Ha! Only joking… this is the English we’re talking about. Rather than enjoy themselves like most nations on their national day, this is the day for doing what the English do best: moaning. The atmosphere isn’t helped by the right-wing media (notably the Mail and the Express) and far-right provocateurs from the English Defence League (EDL) and British National Party (BNP) spreading lies and disinformation. “Patriotic” bloggers will predictably complain that flag-flying has been banned by some council or other (almost always based on false stories) or just whine that English people should be flying the flag, but aren’t.

Twitter has already seen many tweets like this:

The end result is that English morons spend the day complaining they’re not allowed to fly a flag of St. George (which of course they are) or some other piece of nonsense they read in the gutter press or on Twitter.

Part of the problem is that the flag of St. George has been seized by far-right racist groups; which is ironic, given that St. George wasn’t English (he was a Roman soldier from Palestine), and that he’s the patron saint of many countries and regions besides England (including Ethiopia, Serbia and Catalonia). Most horrific of all (at least from the viewpoint of the Muslim-hating EDL) is that St. George is celebrated as a Saint in early Islamic texts. Irony – don’t you just love it?

Aside from the irritating minority of “patriots”, England has much to be proud of: our tolerance, our sense of humour; our green and pleasant landscape; even some of our unfairly-maligned food. Despite our imperial transgressions, we led the world in abolishing slavery; and most of us believe in fairness for all.

So here’s the MoronWatch guide to enjoying St. George’s Day.

Do:

  • Celebrate everything good about England.
  • Fly the flag if you want to, or wear a badge or plastic hat with the flag on. Go on, it’s fine.
  • Have fun! Another thing the English are good at (besides moaning) is drinking. So go on, fill your boots!
  • Sing Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land, Eng-er-land loudly and out of tune outside the pub.

Don’t:

  • Say “Why aren’t you flying a flag you Paki bastard?” to your Brazilian neighbour.
  • Use your flagpole to assault someone when you’re drunk.
  • And for-fuck’s-sake DON’T MOAN!

Have a nice day now!

Is Jesus Coming on 21st May?

Meet Harold Camping, an 89-year-old preacher from Oakland, California. The US of course has plenty of preachers – far too many, some would say. but Camping is special for a couple of reasons. First, he heads the Family Radio Network, an organisation sitting on $120m of assets, all generously donated by Camping’s many followers. Second, he’s predicted the Second Coming with great precision.

Real soon now (according to Camping), on 21st May 2011, Jesus will return, as so long awaited by Christians worldwide. Exactly five months later, on 21st October, the world will end, and the true believers (anyone who has donated money to Camping’s Ministry) will rise up to heaven, while the rest of us will be consumed in hellfire for all eternity.

Camping is an ex-civil engineer, and his prophesy is based on mathematics. 2011 (Camping says) is exactly 7,000 years after the great flood that God sent to destroy almost all life, because his Creation was pissing him off. 21st May somehow equates to the age of Noah at the time of the flood. You can read Camping’s full reasoning at the bottom of this article, but warning: it may give you a nosebleed.

You might think that a rational society would universally laugh at Camping, but he seems to have a good number of followers. Below are some of the faithful on Twitter. Feel free to contact them on 22nd May to ask what happened to Jesus. But don’t expect a reply.

Appendix: Harold Camping’s Explanation For Choosing 21st May 2011

Since I expect the original page to vanish from his site on or shortly after 21st May, here is the text explaining his “mathematical” calculations for the end of the world. I include it here for completeness only.

JUDGMENT DAY


 
 

 


THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE!
HOLY GOD WILL BRING JUDGMENT DAY ON
MAY 21, 2011


JUDGMENT DAY is feared by the world and is the day that God will destroy the world because of the sins of mankind. The world is correct in believing that Judgment Day will come. The Bible gives us the correct and accurate information about that Day.

The Bible is the Holy Book written by Holy God who is the Creator of this beautiful world. The Holy Bible is without question a very ancient book, having been completed about 1,900 years ago. In its original languages (mostly Hebrew and Greek) it has never been changed, and each and every word in the original languages is from the mouth of God. The Bible is divided into two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament), with each part divided into many books. Each book is divided into chapters, and each chapter is divided into verses. One of the books is named Second Timothy (2 Timothy). In Chapter 3, verse 16 (2 Timothy 3:16) of this book Holy God tells us:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

In Jeremiah 36:1-4 God gives an example of how the Bible was written:

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which He had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book [the roll of the book is the Bible].

Holy God is far, far greater than our human minds can even begin to explain or understand. In Genesis 1:1 God declares:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth

The Holy Bible is a book written to us so that we can know that Holy God created this beautiful universe, including all of its plants and animals, birds and sea creatures, and mankind who was created to rule this earth. Indeed there is no being of any kind that can compare with Holy God, who simply by speaking brought every kind of plant, animal, sea creature, and mankind, sun, stars, etc., into existence. For example, Holy God tells us in His Holy Bible in Genesis 1:24-26:

And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The people of the earth, which we call mankind, were created to rule over this earth. God gave laws by which we can live as happily and wisely as possible. He warns, however, that the breaking of those laws is sin, and sin will bring punishment from God. The Bible declares in Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death….

 

The Bible teaches there is only one God. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 4:39:

Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD He is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

Because God is so great and glorious He calls Himself by many different names. Each name tells us something about the glorious character and nature of God. Thus in the Bible we find such names as God, Jehovah, Christ, Jesus, Lord, Allah, Holy Spirit, Savior, etc. Names such as Jehovah, Jesus, Savior, and Christ particularly point to God as the only means by which forgiveness from all of our sins and eternal life can be obtained by God’s merciful and glorious actions. For more information on this subject, you may request a free copy of I Hope God Will Save Me.

Many books have been written about the Bible, or are regarded as additions to the Bible, like the Koran or the Book of Mormon. But however old or prestigious or well- accepted as a holy book they may be, no book other than the Bible is written by God Himself, and is Holy as the Bible is Holy. God warns in Revelation 22:18:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

The word “plagues” in this verse refers to the punishment of death and destruction that will come upon all those who sin. The Bible teaches that even though God loves this world, which He in His infinite wisdom created, the law of God requires that those who sin must be punished by death. The Bible says in Ezekiel 18:20: The soul that sinneth, it shall die. In Romans 3:10 the Bible declares: There is none righteous [has not sinned], no, not one.

God must also obey His law and therefore, since all the people of the world are sinners, He finally must destroy the world. It is evident that sin in the world has become very great. The Bible warns in Jeremiah 25:33:

And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

However, the Holy Bible tells us that Holy God is a God of great mercy, compassion and love. That is why He has given us in advance of the destruction the exact time of the Day of Judgment. The Bible tells us in Amos 3:7:

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth his secret unto His servants the prophets.

Consequently we now can know from the Bible the exact time and many details of God’s destruction plan that is to come upon the whole world.

While there is still time we can very humbly cry to God for His gracious mercy. Maybe, since God is such a merciful God, He might forgive someone who is humbly pleading with God for mercy. God promises for example in Zephaniah 2:3:

Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.

Holy God demonstrates for us that He is completely able to bring destruction on this whole world because of sin. The Holy Bible informs us of this awesome fact in Genesis 6:12-13:

And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

By careful study of the Bible we learn that in the year 4990 B.C. (Before Christ) God brought a flood of water and destroyed the entire earth except for eight people and the animals that were with them. They were not destroyed because God brought them into the safety of the ark. Their leader, Noah, had obeyed God’s command to build a huge boat, called an ark, about 450 feet (137 meters) long.

The Holy Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:7:

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Seven days before the beginning of the Flood that completely covered the entire earth, God commanded Noah to warn the peoples of the world that they had seven days to get into the safety of the ark. The Holy Bible tells us that on the 17th day of the 2nd month of that year God shut the door of the ark. Then, the Flood began to completely cover the entire earth.

About 5,000 years later God wrote in His Holy Bible in 2 Peter Chapter 3 about this worldwide destruction by water in the days of Noah. In the same chapter He also warned that the time would come when Holy God would destroy the whole world by fire. Our entire universe would be forever destroyed. In between these two declarations of worldwide destruction that would come because of sin God made a very important statement. God declared in 2 Peter 3:8:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

God had written in the Holy Bible in Genesis 7:4:

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

God added in Genesis 7:10-11:

And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the Flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

The ark that Noah had built was the only place of safety from the destruction of the Flood. Likewise, God’s gracious mercy is the only place of safety from the destruction that is coming on the Day of Judgment.

In 2 Peter 3:8, which is quoted above, Holy God reminds us that one day is as 1,000 years. Therefore, with the correct understanding that the seven days referred to in Genesis 7:4 can be understood as 7,000 years, we learn that when God told Noah there were seven days to escape worldwide destruction, He was also telling the world there would be exactly 7,000 years (one day is as 1,000 years) to escape the wrath of God that would come when He destroys the world on Judgment Day. Because Holy Infinite God is all-knowing, He knows the end from the beginning. He knew how sinful the world would become.

Seven thousand years after 4990 B.C. (the year of the Flood) is the year 2011 A.D. (our calendar).

4990 + 2011 – 1 = 7,000

[One year must be subtracted in going from an Old Testament B.C. calendar date to a New Testament A.D. calendar date because the calendar does not have a year zero.]

Thus Holy God is showing us by the words of 2 Peter 3:8 that He wants us to know that exactly 7,000 years after He destroyed the world with water in Noah’s day, He plans to destroy the entire world forever. Because the year 2011 A.D. is exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C. when the flood began, the Bible has given us absolute proof that the year 2011 is the end of the world during the Day of Judgment, which will come on the last day of the Day of Judgment.

Amazingly, May 21, 2011 is the 17th day of the 2nd month of the Biblical calendar of our day. Remember, the flood waters also began on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the year 4990 B.C.

The Holy Bible gives several additional astounding proofs that May 21, 2011 is very accurate as the time for the Day of Judgment. For more information on this subject, you may request a copy of We Are Almost There, available free of charge from Family Radio.

God is proving to us that we have very accurately learned from the Holy Bible God’s time-plan for the end of the world.

GOD’S SUBLIME MERCY AND COMPASSION

God in His Holy Bible has given us a beautiful example of His compassionate mercy. Included in the Holy Bible is the book called Jonah. In it God tells of a very wicked city with a population of more than 120,000 people that existed about 2,800 years ago. It was called Nineveh, which was a capital city of the nation of Assyria that knew nothing of the Bible. But because of its wickedness and because Holy God is merciful, He sent a prophet named Jonah to that city. Jonah’s message from God to them was that in 40 days the whole city was to be destroyed.

The whole city correctly believed with all their hearts that this warning was from Holy God. Thus from the king on down to the lowest servant they repented, which means they turned away from their sins and their pride. The Holy Bible tells us that they sat in sackcloth and ashes. This meant that they fully realized that because of their sins they had dreadfully shamed God. To put on sackcloth and ashes was an act of supreme humility to show in the clearest way to God and to all of the people how greatly they were humbled by their sins against Holy God. It showed that they knew that they fully deserved that God should destroy them because of their sin.

But maybe, there was hope that Holy God might change His mind and instead have mercy on them. The Bible tells us in Jonah 3:6-9:

For the word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

In answer to their complete humility we read of God’s fabulous, incomprehensible mercy toward these extremely wicked people. God tells us in Jonah 3:10:

And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.

Because this entire wicked city of Nineveh turned from their evil ways and with great humility cried to God for mercy, Holy God did change His mind and did not destroy them.

Sadly, the Holy Bible tells us that only a small percentage of today’s world will turn from their evil ways, and with great humility and fear will cry to God for mercy. Nevertheless, the Bible assures us that many of the people who do beg God for His mercy will not be destroyed. We learn from the Bible that Holy God plans to rescue about 200 million people (that is about 3% of today’s population). On the first day of the Day of Judgment (May 21, 2011) they will be caught up (raptured) into Heaven because God had great mercy for them. This is why we can be so thankful that God has given us advance notice of Judgment Day. Because God is so merciful, maybe He will have mercy on you. The Holy Bible says in Psalm 51:17:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

And in Psalm 51:1-3 Holy God shows us the attitude we ought to have as we pray for His mercy:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

 

Sadly, you can’t turn to your religion or go to your priest or pastor or spiritual leader for help. They, too, should be begging God for mercy for themselves. This is a matter only between you and Holy God. God knows every one of your thoughts, words, and actions. Turn away from your sins and humbly beg, beseech, and implore God for forgiveness.

And, thank God that in His great mercy He has given you this warning of the destruction that is almost here, and the great hope that you, too, might be one whom God will bring to Heaven to be with God forevermore in the highest happiness and joy and glory. Holy God in the Holy Bible teaches us in Luke 18:10-14:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

 

May God have mercy on you as He did on this publican.

To learn much more about the details of the end of the world you are invited to write Family Radio, Oakland, California 94621, USA to request these free books, or to view them on our website, www.familyradio.com:

I Hope God Will Save Me
We Are Almost There!
To God be the Glory!

France’s Racist Burqa Ban

So France, flying the flag for secularism, equality and modernity, has bravely banned an item of clothing worn by an estimated 2,000 women – the veil properly known as the niqab, though often referred to as the burqa. Before we congratulate the French for this bold move, let’s explore some background.

Anecdote: A Mauritian friend, a light-skinned, mixed-race guy, was in Paris recently visiting family. Walking down the road with his blonde wife and their toddler, they passed a respectable-looking guy… who racially abused them and spat on their child.

Anecdote: A French friend of mine, “N”, grew up in the notorious estates (projects) in the Paris banlieues (suburbs). His mother was French, father was an Indian Muslim immigrant, and so in French terms, he’s foreign. He grew up along with other excluded sections of French society: Arabs, North Africans, Jews, Sub-Saharan Africans. Racial harassment from police was a daily part of life. He became a gifted graphic designer, but no company in Paris would hire him. He moved to London and quickly found a well-paid job. He still sees France as home, but without employment, couldn’t live there.

Anecdote: A French friend of mine lives in London. She’s white, “native” French. She visits family regularly. She tells me that racist talk is now openly accepted among white French people, with no shame or stigma attached.

Anecdote: The black British journalist Gary Younge studied for some time in Paris. He’s written of his experiences during that time, when he faced regular racial abuse and police harassment, to the point where he began to feel hatred for white people.

Anecdotes are interesting but don’t prove anything: But what about the UN report that advised on a “significant resurgence of racism” in France? The 1998 poll showing France to be the most racist country in Europe, where 38% of French people described themselves as racist? The 2005 uprisings by poor North Africans who had finally had enough? My friend N’s experience wasn’t unusual: in 2005, 5% of white graduates were unemployed, compared to 26.5% of graduates of North African origin.

Outside of football, non-white faces are barely seen in public French life. France applauded itself when its first black newsreader appeared on TV. In the 70s? 80s? 90s? Actually, it happened in 2006.

The picture at the top of this article is of a yellow Star Of David with Juif written on it (“Jew” in French). In Nazi Germany and occupied Poland, Jews were forced to wear stars saying Jude - “Jew” in German. But in Vichy France, the French carried out the persecution of Jews, and they did it the French way. While some European countries resisted German demands to hand over their Jewish citizens, France sent over 75,000 French Jews, Jewish refugees and other French citizens to the death camps. After World War 2, Germany was forced to live up to the horror of what it had perpetrated; but France was not. The willingness with which the French turned on their own Jewish population was buried, and the myth of the French Resistance was amplified instead, to present France as a heroic nation under occupation.

This is the France that banned niqabsyesterday. Europe’s most racist country, a segregated state that has never allowed equality or integration for its minorities, a country where people of Muslim origin have trouble finding employment or good housing, and face routine harassment and brutality from the police. Those who believed that this is about women’s rights or promoting secularism have been fooled – this is simply France doing what it does so well: bullying powerless minority groups that can’t hit back.

Benjamin Zephaniah and No2AV Lies

In a month’s time, the UK gets a rare opportunity to reform its voting system. We’re to be given a vote on whether to retain the existing First-Past-The-Post system (FPTP) or replace it with a somewhat more proportional system, the Alternative Vote (AV). I’m strongly in favour of changing the system – I’ll save the explanation for another post, but it’s clear that the existing power blocks are largely against changing the system, as of course you’d expect.

The No2AV campaign appears to be largely funded by the ruling Conservative party, and has regularly been accused of dishonesty and scare tactics; it is helped in disseminating these by the press, which is almost entirely opposed to AV. One of the No campaign’s smartest (and most dishonest) propaganda exercises came this week when it accused the Yes2AV of racism. The story was a well-orchestrated piece of spin: the No campaign had noticed that the Yes campaign was using an image of black poet Benjamin Zephaniah in London leaflets but not in others (see both leaflets below). The No campaign’s PR team then fabricated and issued a story that Zephaniah had been “air-brushed” from the Yes campaign’s leaflets in white areas.

The established media, which is almost entirely behind the No campaign, then amplified the story, adding embellishments – for example the Daily Mirror screamed about the fury behind the change (there was no fury to be seen other than perhaps in Britain’s newsrooms). The same Mirror article exposed the style of smear tactics being employed, with a No spokesman saying: The Yes ­campaign’s leaflet offers a chilling ­preview of politics under the Alternative Vote.

I first saw the story on Monday, and quickly tweeted as follows: Moron Paper of the day: Daily Mail for this pathetic attempt to call the campaign “racist”:

This propaganda was smart because liberal-minded Yes supporters will often be the ones most likely to believe and respond to unsupported accusations of racism. This was demonstrated in a reply to my tweet. A follower replied with: uh, no. I’m a yes supporter but that genuinely is really fkn racist. I disagreed and was quickly dragged into a discussion about “representation”.

Having finally been tracked down, Zephaniah has now stepped in to clarify matters, and as I’d originally guessed and tweeted, he confirmed that this was a non-story from the No campaign. He is quoted as saying: These allegations are preposterous. I am happy for the ‘Yes’ campaign to use my endorsement as they see fit. I am happy for them to use it in London, and as I understand it, in a nationwide letter. “Let’s talk about the real issue – how we renew our democracy. I want democratic change and that is why I am voting ‘yes’ on May 5

The original story made the prime news spot on Sunday morning, while the clarification comes on a Wednesday when it will be missed by many (assuming the press even tries to correct the misunderstanding). The No2AV campaign is making headway in confusing and weakening the issue, and is trying to rob us of our one chance to weaken the existing Tory/Labour duopoly. We have a month to fight back.