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The deep Crisis of the West
Some journalists and editors should have a look in the mirror
31.01.2017. The New York Times' White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, who is also a CNN analyst, recently tweeted the following question, "Other than San Bernardino shootings, has there been a terrorist attack involving a non-US-born attacker since 9/11?". Other media personalities have posed posed similar questions or made statements along the same line. Kyle Shideler attempts to set the record straight in Here's A Short List Of Foreign-Born Terrorists Reporters Can't Believe Exist.
Becoming ever more lawless
29.01.2017. Migrant youth gangs have turned Sweden's largest shopping centre, Nordstan in Gothenburg, into a "no-go zone" as they intimidate police, harass girls and deal drugs openly. Thus reports the Sunday Express in Lawless Sweden: Violent migrant youths turn shopping centre into 'no-go zone'.
See also these recent articles:
How did it happen?
27.01.2017. The following article by Brendan O'Neill in The Spectator is so short and to the point that I quote it in its entirety. Trump! How did this happen?:
It happened because you banned super-size sodas. And smoking in parks. And offensive ideas on campus. Because you branded people who oppose gay marriage 'homophobic', and people unsure about immigration 'racist'.
Because you treated owning a gun and never having eaten quinoa as signifiers of fascism. Because you thought correcting people's attitudes was more important than finding them jobs. Because you turned 'white man' from a description into an insult. Because you used slurs like 'denier' and 'dangerous' against anyone who doesn't share your eco-pieties.
Because you treated dissent as hate speech and criticism of Obama as extremism. Because you talked more about gender-neutral toilets than about home repossessions. Because you beatified Caitlyn Jenner. Because you policed people's language, rubbished their parenting skills, took the piss out of their beliefs.
Because you cried when someone mocked the Koran but laughed when they mocked the Bible. Because you said criticising Islam is Islamophobia. Because you kept telling people, 'You can't think that, you can't say that, you can't do that.'
Because you turned politics from something done by and for people to something done to them, for their own good. Because you treated people like trash. And people don't like being treated like trash. Trump happened because of you.
Quoted from The Spectator.
What could possibly be more scary?
27.01.2017. So today's the day. Any minute now Donald J Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America. Hair Force One is about to land. And it will be a historic moment. Not because Trump is the saviour of the 'forgotten' men and women of America, as he put it outside the Lincoln Memorial last night. Nor because he's some sort of white-supremacist counter-revolutionary about to awake an army of goose-stepping pussy grabbers, as his more vociferous critics would have it. But because, in plumping for Trump, the electorate dealt a blow to technocracy, to a narrow, elitist status quo, to a caste of people who openly revile them, and who are now in open revolt against them. The word 'unprecedented' is chucked around a lot in relation to Trump. And indeed he is. Thus begins Tom Slater his article What's scarier than Trump? The elit revolt against him. He later continues:
But what's also 'unprecedented', and far more destructive, is the reaction to him. Ever since Trump arrived on the political scene commentators have chided him for breaking 'democratic norms' – from his spreading of 'birther' conspiracy theories about Obama to his threat to lock up Hillary. But the American elite, in a post-vote fit of pique, has decided to break the biggest democratic norm of them all: respecting the result of a freely held election. Because there's another word that has been flung at Trump in the days approaching his inauguration: 'illegitimate'. And this isn't just being uttered by trustifarian protesters, due to descend on Washington en masse in a tantrum-like demo against democracy. It's being uttered by broadsheet commentators and respected political leaders.
In the congressmen boycotting the inauguration, in the celebrities railing against Trump at award shows and on social media, you glimpse a group of people who act and think like an aristocracy. In rendering Trump illegitimate, they are really refusing to confer their legitimacy on him. Who do they think they are? In a democracy, it is the demos who confers legitimacy, who lends leaders their power. If there's one positive thing about President Trump, it's that his election has revealed just how detached, anti-democratic – how 'illegitimate' – the American elite is.
Read the entire article in Spiked.
Leading a European war against free speech?
27.01.2017. The elites and intellectuals are apparently now counted among the German minorities in need of protection. Toward the end of last year, Germany experienced a previously unheard-of boycott campaign – funded by the German government, no less -- against several websites, such as the popular "Axis of Good" ("Achse des Guten"). The website, critical of the government, was suddenly accused of "right-wing populism". The German government's efforts at thought control seem to have begun with the victory of Donald J. Trump in the US presidential election -- that seems to set the "establishment" off. Germany's foreign minister and the probable future federal president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier -- one of the first to travel to Iran after the removal of sanctions there to kowtow to the Ayatollahs -- called America's future president a "hate preacher". Germany's newspapers were suddenly littered with apocalyptic predictions and anti-American fulminations. Thus begins Stefan Frank his article Germany's New 'Ministry of Truth' War against Free Speech (italics in original):
For hard-core Trump-haters, however, a witch hunt by itself is insufficient; they want activism! Since November, Germany's left-wing parties have had a strong increase in membership, as reported by Der Spiegel. At the same time, the federal government evidently decided, at least regarding the federal elections taking place in 2017, that it would no longer count on journalists' self-censorship. The German government, instead of merely hoping that newspapers would voluntarily -- or under pressure from the Press Council -- refrain from criticising the government's immigration policies, decided that it, itself, would inaugurate censorship.
The Federal Government's "Ministry of Truth"
To this effect, as reported by Der Spiegel, the Federal Interior Ministry, intends to set up a "Defense Center against Disinformation ("Abwehrzentrum gegen Desinformation") in the fight against "fake news on social networks". "Abwehr" -- the name of Nazi Germany's military intelligence agency -- is apparently meant to demonstrate the government's seriousness regarding the matter.
"It sounds like the Ministry of Truth, 'Minitrue,' from George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984", wrote even the left-leaning daily, Frankfurter Rundschau.
Frank Überall, national head of the German Association of Journalists (DJV), bluntly stated: "This smells like censorship."
It seems that all ideas suspected of being "populist" -- or simply those ideas without the blessing of the elites – will now be banned in Germany. This restriction applies to criticism of the government (especially regarding immigration and energy policies), of the EU, of Islam, of government officials and of the media.
The Federal Agency for Political Education -- the information agency of the Interior Ministry – is quite open about it: "Anti-elitism", "anti-intellectualism", "anti-politics" and "hostility toward institutions" are the "key characteristics of populism".
Those Not Reading Newspapers are Suspect
Hensel went one step farther. In the style of a prosecutor during the Inquisition, he called to break the "dominance of right-wing micro media". He seems to consider particularly dangerous and subversive, anyone who reads articles that do not originate from one of Germany's media empires:
"While I may satisfy my thirst for information with my subscriptions to ZEIT or Le Mode Diplomatique, the brave new-right freedom-fighter likes to stay informed via online media such as the Axis of Good or Breitbart News."
This alone raises several suspicions. Hensel, whose website (which since December can only be accessed with a password) is graced by the display of a Soviet red star, likes to eliminate his opponents swiftly. Breitbart, for example, is deemed fascist ("salon-fascists"). Why? Because the blog -- and here he, supposedly for simplicity's sake, quotes an article from the Süddeutsche Zeitung -- "covers all the topics of German right-wing populism"; Breitbart reports about "the migrant and refugee policies of the German federal government, as well as of supposed criminal acts conducted by migrants and Islamic activities."
Hensel's solution? Boycott!
"There is freedom of speech in my stupid little world. Undoubtedly, websites such as Breitbart News and the Axis of Good... are legal media. Nevertheless, one could ask brand names whether they... are aware that their banner ads appear on these particular websites and represent their brand there."
This type of "asking", of course, roughly corresponds to the mafia "asking" the pizzeria owner if he has fire insurance.
Propaganda Offensive ahead of the Federal Election
The Hamburger Abendblatt daily referred to Hensel's campaign as an "attack on the freedom of the press," adding: "It seems as if the shot from the activists backfired."
As in communist dictatorships, the more obvious the failings of the government, the more aggressively the establishment attacks those who speak out about them.
Read the entire article (with lots of embedded links to further reading) at Gatestone Institute.
Moving in the direction of totalitarianism
23.01.2017 (updated 27.01.2017). Officials in Germany's Interior Ministry are urging Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière to establish a "Defense Center against Disinformation" (Abwehrzentrum gegen Desinformation) to combat what they call "political disinformation," a euphemism for "fake news." "The acceptance of a post-truth age would amount to political capitulation," the officials told Maizière in a memo, which also disclosed that the bureaucrats at the Interior Ministry are eager to see "authentic political communication" remain "defining for the 21st century." One wonders whether by "authentic political communication," the officials of the Interior Ministry are referring to the way German authorities scrambled to cover up the mass sexual attacks on women on New Year's Eve a year ago in Cologne? At the time, German police first claimed, surreally, on the morning of January 1, 2016, that the situation on New Year's Eve had been "relaxed." Cologne Police Chief Wolfgang Albers later dryly admitted, "This initial statement was incorrect." Alternatively, perhaps they are referring to the decision of Germany's public broadcaster, ZDF, not to report on the attacks until four days after they had occurred? Even a former government official, Hans-Peter Friedrich, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Interior Minister from 2011 to 2013, accused the media at the time of imposing a "news blackout" and operating a "code of silence" over negative news about immigrants. How is that for "authentic political communication"? Thus writes Judith Bergman in her article on Germany's New Propaganda Bureau, highlights of which include:
- A married couple, Peter and Melanie M., were prosecuted and convicted in July 2016 of creating a Facebook group that criticized the government's migration policy. Also, in July 2016, 60 people suspected of writing "hate speech" online had their homes raided by German police.
- None of the above seems to be enough, however, for the president of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, from Angela Merkel's CDU party, who believes that what Facebook is already doing against "hate speech" is not enough. According to the CDU politician, there is a need for more legislation.
- The German government's view of what constitutes "hate speech" is highly selective and appears limited to protecting the government's own policies on immigration from legitimate criticism.
- Firebombing a synagogue, however, is simply an "act of protest".
Read the entire article at Gatestone Institute.
Connected to Daesh/ISIL?
08.01.2017. At least five people have been killed in an attack at Fort Lauderdale airport by a gunman who had reportedly previously told the FBI he was being forced to fight for ISIL. Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old who had been treated for mental health issues, opened fire inside the baggage area of the busy airport and was taken into custody at the scene. He was carrying military ID and was wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. On Friday night law enforcement officials reportedly said that in November last year, Santiago had told the FBI in Anchorage that voices in his head were forcing him to join and fight for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Officials said he was not on a watchlist of people suspected of Islamist radicalisation. Continue reading in The Telegraph. See also The Daily Mail: #1 and #2.
Should reconsider their ways
03.01.2017. What on earth is going on in the Western democracies? From the rise of Donald Trump in the United States and an assortment of right-wing parties across Europe through the June 23 Brexit vote, many on the Left have the sense that something dangerous and ugly is spreading: right-wing populism, seen as the Zika virus of politics. Something has gotten into "those people" that makes them vote in ways that seem—to their critics—likely to harm their own material interests, at least if their leaders follow through in implementing isolationist policies that slow economic growth. Thus writes Jonathan Haidt in the introduction to his July 2016 article When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism - And how moral psychology can help explain and reduce tensions between the two (links in original):
Most analyses published since the Brexit vote focus on economic factors and some version of the "left behind" thesis—globalization has raised prosperity all over the world, with the striking exception of the working classes in Western societies. These less educated members of the richest countries lost access to well-paid but relatively low-skilled jobs, which were shipped overseas or given to immigrants willing to work for less. In communities where wages have stagnated or declined, the ever-rising opulence, rents, and confidence of London and other super-cities has bred resentment.
A smaller set of analyses, particularly in the United States, has focused on the psychological trait of authoritarianism to explain why these populist movements are often so hostile to immigration, and why they usually have an outright racist fringe.
Globalization and authoritarianism are both essential parts of the story, but in this essay I will put them together in a new way. I'll tell a story with four chapters that begins by endorsing the distinction made by the intellectual historian Michael Lind, and other commentators, between globalists and nationalists—these are good descriptions of the two teams of combatants emerging in so many Western nations. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French National Front, pointed to the same dividing line last December when she portrayed the battle in France as one between "globalists" and "patriots."
But rather than focusing on the nationalists as the people who need to be explained by experts, I'll begin the story with the globalists. I'll show how globalization and rising prosperity have changed the values and behavior of the urban elite, leading them to talk and act in ways that unwittingly activate authoritarian tendencies in a subset of the nationalists. I'll show why immigration has been so central in nearly all right-wing populist movements. It's not just the spark, it's the explosive material, and those who dismiss anti-immigrant sentiment as mere racism have missed several important aspects of moral psychology related to the general human need to live in a stable and coherent moral order. Once moral psychology is brought into the story and added on to the economic and authoritarianism explanations, it becomes possible to offer some advice for reducing the intensity of the recent wave of conflicts.
Continue reading in The American Interest.
Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist and professor in the Business and Society Program at New York University—Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.
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