Archive for the ‘history’ Tag

The neo-Nazi ‘asylum seekers’

The neo-Nazi ‘asylum seekers’

They looked like a pair of cranks straight out of a Louis Theroux documentary.

One was an unrepentant woman hater whose racist and anti-Semitic views were too hard-line even for the British National Party.

The other, his long-haired sidekick, sought the protection of a pseudonym that he used to make extremist rants.

Their hunger to stir up controversy saw them flee from justice in the north of England and stage an unlikely claim for political asylum in Los Angeles.

But their journey has now ended with jail sentences in the UK.

Jurors at Leeds Crown Court decided neo-Nazis Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle were not just harmless oddballs, but dangerous propagandists dedicated to whipping up racism.

On Friday, Sheppard was jailed for four years, 10 months and Whittle for two years, four months.

In a landmark case, they have become the first Britons to be convicted of inciting racial hatred online, having printed leaflets and controlled websites featuring racist material.

Barton’s Britain: Orgreave

Barton’s Britain: Orgreave

Dark and damp and deep, the earth gives up its secrets: scraps of metal, furls of plastic, rubble and pebbles and clay. Among them lie shards of coal, brittle and black and glistening. Rain speckles the soil, the mounds of earth, the stationary diggers. This is all that is left of Orgreave opencast mine.

It is 25 years since the Battle of Orgreave. In June 1984, at the height of the miners’ strike, the National Union of Mineworkers rallied some 6,000 pickets to this corner of Yorkshire, intending to blockade the coking plant and perhaps force its temporary closure. In response, the police sent somewhere between four and eight thousand officers, 50 mounted police and 58 police dogs. The events of that afternoon were violent and ferocious and long-disputed.

In its aftermath, 95 pickets were charged – although, of the trials that were brought, all collapsed, and South Yorkshire Police later awarded £425,000 compensation to 39 pickets.

Sara Jane Olson: American Housewife, American Terrorist

Sara Jane Olson: American Housewife, American Terrorist

In one life, Sara Jane Olson was a doting, upper-class soccer mom who drove a Plymouth minivan and was a dynamite gourmet cook. In another, she was a terrorist—and a totem of the age of violent radicalism that erupted during the 1970s. Olson — nee Kathleen Ann Soliah, the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive — was released Tuesday from a California state prison, seven years after pleading guilty to participating in a deadly bank robbery and planting pipe bombs under police cars.

After a quarter-century on the lam, Olson’s imprisonment seemed to close a sordid chapter in the strange narrative of the SLA. But her early release from prison has resurrected a simmering debate: How should society treat a woman guilty of committing abhorrent crimes but who had seemingly transformed into a productive member of society?

“Milk”: Another People’s Temple Political Strongman Gets The Whitewash

“Milk”: Another People’s Temple Political Strongman Gets The Whitewash

“Milk,” of course, is a very interesting part of history, dealing with the very first openly gay man to be elected to office in California. It is a poignant story, and worth telling, no question. The big problem, however, comes with this “original screenplay” and “editing.” And for that, all the rest of the awards should go out the door, just to teach these fabricators a lesson about telling THE WHOLE TRUTH.

The “whole truth”? What whole truth? What, pray tell, is MISSING from our Oscar-nominated film, that has such a spectacular performance, as is almost always the case, by lead actor Sean Penn.

Well, how about this little tidbit for starters.
It’s a letter written to President Jimmy Carter, in February, 1978, by none other than St. Harvey himself. He wrote it just nine months away from the slaughter, but LONG after all the long-overdue 1977 exposes had finally told him, his fellow Temple boosters such as George Moscone, Willie Brown, and the rest of their degenerate San Francisco political cronies about Jim Jones’s reign of terror, his extortion, fraud, torture of children, and all the rest.

Dame Vera Lynn takes on BNP over White Cliffs of Dover

Dame Vera Lynn takes on BNP over White Cliffs of Dover

The 91-year-old is said to be ‘furious’ after the BNP used the song, and another of her classics ‘All Alone in Vienna’, on the CD.

The ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ album, which sells for £4.95 and features a Spitfire on the front, states ‘Vera Lynn, Glen Miller and others produced the music by which the English-speaking world went to war from 1939 to 1945.

‘Here, recaptured in re-mastered glory, are the songs the soldiers sang from the deserts of North Africa to the beaches of Normandy. An unforgettable trip down memory lane.’

But Dame Vera has told her solicitor that the BNP had not approached her for approval for using two of her most famous songs on the album – proceeds of which help boost the BNP’s coffers.

Dame Vera Lynn, who lives in Ditchling, East Sussex, is in talks with her legal team about the album which is on sale at Excalibur – the BNP’s trading arm.

Her solicitor Nigel Angel said: “Her position is that the songs were included without her approval.

“She does not align with any political party.

Happy Rushdie Day!

Twenty years ago today, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie. Rushdie’s offence had been to write a book, The Satanic Verses, which contained an unflattering depiction of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

The novel’s title derives from a story, incorporated as a subplot, dating to the earliest years of Islam. The claim is that Mohammed was given a revelation that the people of Mecca could worship three of their pagan goddesses provided they recognised the supremacy of Allah. These verses were later rescinded and replaced by new verses confirming a belief in one god alone, while the originals were described as the work of the devil – hence, the “Satanic Verses.”

The book contained a number of other allusions to Islam and Muslim history which some readers found offensive. Complaints began to mount, with angry callers bombarding publishers and retailers with complaints, and bombings of bookshops taking place in several countries.

Then came the fatwa:

In the name of God the Almighty. We belong to God and to Him we shall return. I would like to inform all intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur’an, and those publishers who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, where they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctity. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God-willing. In addition, if anyone has access to the author of the book but does not possess the power to execute him, he should point him out to the people so that he may be punished for his actions. May God’s blessing be on you all. Rullah Musavi al-Khomeini.

While Rushdie himself managed to avoid death, violence resulting from opposition to the book resulted in several murders and assaults. Most notorious of these was the Sivas massacre in which 40 people were killed in an arson attack on a hotel due to the presence of a translator of the Satanic Verses.

The word “over-reaction” springs to mind.

To celebrate this anniversary, here’s a few other works of fiction which managed to get peoples’ pants in a tangle.

The Profit

The Profit is, as IMDB puts it, the story of “a cult leader’s rise to power and his subsequent descent into isolation and paranoia. More specifically, it is a satire on the life of Lafayette Ron Hubbard, sci-fi author, drug fiend, occultist and founder of the Church of Scientology. Better known to one and all as the Commodore, or simply LRH.

The film satirises a number of instances from Hubbard’s life, including a notorious incident early in the development of Dianetics. In it, a woman was presented by Hubbard as the world’s first “Clear” – a person who has freed themselves from the damaging effects of engrams and is endowed with a variety of abilities including improved mathematical skills, immunity to a range of diseases – and an infallible memory. The latter became something of a problem when it turned out she could not remember when asked the colour of Hubbard’s tie.

The film depicts a number of other instances from the development of Scientology, including the creation of the Sea Org, the “elite” group within Scientology. As a consequence, the cult went to work trying to disrupt filming and smear the film before it had been released:

Filmed in eight weeks last summer amid the backdrop of Fort De Soto Park and the bustle of Ybor City, the production was the target of constant harassment from Scientologists, Alexander said.

At one point, he said, members of the Foundation for Religious Tolerance of Florida handed out fliers denouncing the film’s backers at the film site and followed crew members home to press them for information about the content of the film.

Mary DeMoss of Clearwater, a Scientologist and founder of the Foundation for Religious Tolerance of Florida, calls the movie a “hate propaganda film.” She denies anyone from her organization followed anyone home and says the fliers were intended to “let the people know who was behind this.”

Eventually, the film was barred from release worldwide as the result of a court order in April 2002 claiming that it could influence the jury in the Lisa McPherson case. In November of that year, as the result of a great deal of legal wrangling involving the producers, the cult, and a number of Scientology critics, the film’s release was put on indefinite hold.

In March 2008, the film was leaked onto the internet and may now be downloaded and enjoyed in its entirety. Preferably while scoffing psych drugs out of a bowl shaped like the head of Freud.

Verismilitude

Harry Nicolaides is an Australian Greek author who spent several years living in Thailand. His 2005 novel Verisimilitude, describing life in Thailand, led to his being sentenced to three years imprisonment for the offence of “lese majeste” – insulting the monarchy.

The offending passage reads as follows:

From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives major and minor with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.

The book can be downloaded in its entirety via wikileaks.

Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin

Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin is a children’s book released in 1983 in English (1981 in Danish). Like many children’s books, it features a little girl and her parents. Perhaps unlike many children’s books, those parents happen to have matching genitals.

Moral conservatives, while puportedly opposed to homosexuality, do seem to have an overwhelming fixation with it. And so, when the Daily Fail made it known that a school in London stocked the book in its library, the atmosphere for a good old-fashioned moral panic was set.

It could only have been worse if Jenny, Eric and Martin were in fact asylum-seeking Muslims with the psychic ability to lower house prices.

For a children’s book it did, however, manage to have a significant impact on the adult world. In particular, it contributed to the passing of Section 28 for its apparent attempts to push the “gay agenda” (silly me, I thought it was about helping kids with unusual family structures).

Baronness Knight, in a 1999 debate on section 28, referenced the book:

I was keen to get rid of the books but I know they still exist because they were produced to me by parents. I was shown what the children were being taught and told why the parents objected so much.

Another book, which I should have thought everyone would remember, was called Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin. It depicted, on its cover, a little girl of about six years old sitting up in bed with her naked father on one side and his naked lover on the other. I shall quote the exact words used in the book because that, more than anything else, shows the age for which it was intended. It stated:

“Jenny is a little girl. Martin is Jenny’s dad and Eric is Martin’s lover. They all live happily together”.

The book went on to state that Eric, the father, drew Jenny a series of cartoons of two men who were saying:

“I love you Fred”
“I love you too, Bill. Why don’t we move in together?”
“That’s a good idea”.

[…]

I do not know what could cause more grave harm than to try to promote, as does the book Jenny lives with Eric and Martin, marriage as being outdated; that we should not have a mummy and daddy and can just as well have a daddy and a homosexual lover.

How atrocious. I can practically feel society crumbling as we speak.

This one, unfortunately, you’ll have to pay for.

Origin of the Specious: Race, lies and stereotypes in Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy

Origin of the Specious: Race, lies and stereotypes in Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy

Creationism is not the only enemy of science in today’s classroom. Within the self proclaimed “fastest growing school movement in the world”, Steiner Waldorf schools foster their belief system with a deception which is quite chilling.

Anthroposophy – the word is not even in the dictionary, and my spell-checker is foxed by it – the pseudo religion/science which lies at the heart of Steiner education (and also biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine, and cosmetics – Weleda and Dr. Hauschka) is the guiding force within these classrooms, and yet in the schools the word is barely heard, let alone explained. Schools are cagey and evasive at the mere mention of the word, and swiftly move on. It is deliberately buried. This is a religion which recruits by intentionally not setting out its beliefs. Surely this is the behaviour of a cult?

Most people think of Steiner schools as gentle places – a creative pedagogy, where every toy is wooden, and phrases like “free to learn” and “natural” are used with abandon. Only occasionally do their more ludicrous beliefs get a mention: the supernatural, the occult, belief in karma, demons, angels, Atlantis, medieval temperaments, spirit worlds, astral forces and… gnomes!

The schools routinely champion themselves as a radical alternative to the mainstream, their websites drawing people in with vague and general terminology and gushingly self-congratulatory advertisements for Steiner and the movement. But they invariably make one huge omission: that “anthroposophy” guides their every move, and that anthroposophy’s central tenet is “racial hierarchies”.

We, The Anarchists – An Interview with Stuart Christie

We, The Anarchists – An Interview with Stuart Christie

Anarchist participation in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 remains one of the most complicated, inspiring, and troubling moments in the history of anti-authoritarian activism. Even today, more than seven decades later, historians and militants continue to study and debate the events.

One such person is Stuart Christie, a longtime anarchist, whose recent book, We, The Anarchists! A Study of the Iberian Anarchist federation (FAI) 1927-1937, attempts to answer key questions about the fate of the anarchist movement, while also bringing alive some of the drama of the times.

I asked Christie to tell me a little about his book in January of this year. What follows is a transcript of our exchange.

They stood up to hatred: the 43 Group

They stood up to hatred

Harry Kaufman demonstrates how to turn a copy of the Guardian into a useful cosh. A tap across the palm gives a hint of the damage it would cause if it were swung in anger.

“This of course was only for self-defence,” he smiles. “If you were arrested, you simply dropped it on the floor and it was just a newspaper. Others carried bits of lead piping, iron bars and things.”

Kaufman, 77, stocky and full of life, is one of the younger survivors of a violent guerrilla army of British Jews who for five years waged war against Oswald Mosley’s fascists on the streets of London and other big cities. Tonight, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Kaufman will be reunited with former comrades at a special event to commemorate the 43 Group.*

Fascinating though this story is, I couldn’t help but be a little bewildered by the following:

Today, amid denunciations of Israeli aggression in Gaza, Beckman, Kaufman and Konopinski have no regrets and say they are proud of fighting fascism. Beckman concludes: “We defended the community by making it impossible for the fascists to terrorise us.”

What the actions of a 21st century state have to do with a 1940s anti-fascist movement is anyone’s guess.

Pope gesture to traditionalists outrages Jews

Pope gesture to traditionalists outrages Jews

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict’s rehabilitation of four traditionalist bishops may heal one festering Catholic wound at the expense of opening a wider one with Jews because one of the prelates is a Holocaust denier.

The four bishops re-admitted to the Church over the weekend lead the far-right Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which has about 600,000 members and rejects modernisations of Roman Catholic worship and doctrine.

One of the four, the British-born Richard Williamson, has made statements denying the full extent of the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews, as accepted by mainstream historians.

In comments to Swedish television broadcast on Wednesday and widely available on the Internet, Williamson said “I believe there were no gas chambers” and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million.