Let’s remember the Tulsa race massacre, and stop mythologising the Battle of the Alamo

In early June, the centenary of the Tulsa race massacre was marked in that town, by US President Joe Biden and the Oklahoma state authorities. Biden is the first US President to officially acknowledge that massacre and express his support for the remaining survivors. The suburb of Greenwood, in Tulsa, was reduced to smoking ruins and its African American inhabitants murdered by rampaging white racist mobs – with the connivance and participation of law enforcement authorities.

Greenwood in Tulsa was known, prior to 1921, as the ‘black Wall Street.’ African Americans had successfully started up businesses, theatres, churches, libraries and had proven themselves industrious in the decades after emancipation. The Oklahoma authorities, driven by white racial resentment, seethed at the success of the African American community. The local newspapers, seizing upon a false allegation of sexual assault of a white woman by a black man, incited the Tulsa community to basically attack the African American minority in Greenwood.

The white supremacist mob, armed with weapons from local law enforcement, and backed up by bombs from the air, proceeded to burn and demolish black-owned businesses, and murder black families. One of the survivors, Viola Fletcher (now 107), remembers the dead bodies, the stench, the plumes of smoke, the sheer terror of fleeing as her parents collected their kids to protect them.

The psychological trauma of the survivors, and the loss of a thriving and vibrant community, are incalculable. More than just the financial loss of business, the silence and coverup of the racial massacre added to the injuries of the survivors.

There was no official acknowledgment or apology, and no compensation was forthcoming. Black advancement, and seeing the African American community doing the ‘right’ things – working, getting an education, starting businesses and so on – was met with white racial resentment.

This deadly act of white domestic terrorism – an act of economic injustice as well – should be a cause of concern. President Biden urged his fellow Americans to reflect seriously on why racial terrorism is such a blight on the nation. In fact, the 1921 Tulsa race massacre was not an isolated incident. During the year of 1919, African American communities throughout the United States – especially returning black WW1 veterans – were targeted for racial killings.

African American WW1 veterans thought their service would be a pathway to equality. Sadly, they were wrong. Rejected by white society, denounced as interlopers ‘stealing jobs’ from ‘real’ Americans, black communities were targeted by white supremacist lynch mobs, usually with the connivance of the police. The black veterans, given their combat experience, organised the nucleus of armed resistance against racist attacks.

The Alamo defenders were fighting to keep slavery

While the Tulsa race massacre was suppressed and ignored for decades, the defenders at the Battle of the Alamo have been lionised as martyrs to the cause of freedom. The 1836 battle, portrayed as a David vs Goliath struggle, has become a crucial lynchpin of Texas – and wider American – folklore. The white settlers who fought Mexican troops were not committed to liberty, but to the preservation and extension of slavery.

The Alamo was one battle in a series which resulted in the annexation of Mexican territory by white American colonists, and the foundation of the slave-owning state of Texas. The pro-slavery motivations of the new settlers has been all but written out of the ‘Texas Revolution’ story, and the Alamo’s defenders hailed as a plucky and outnumbered band of liberty-loving patriots dying in the fight against the evil Mexican tyrant, General Santa Anna.

Mexico had in fact abolished slavery in 1829 – sending shivers down the spines of the Texan colonists. Texas, a part of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, was still part of Mexico. The American settlers practiced slavery in violation of the Mexican constitution. They refused to pay taxes to the Mexican government treasury, and acted as a law unto themselves. In the face of this refusal, the Mexican authorities sent troops to quell this nascent white supremacist rebellion.

The Alamo defenders were defeated, and their deaths were politically manipulated to construct a mythology of Texan dedication to patriotism and liberty. The larger American army under General Sam Houston defeated the Mexicans, and Texas broke away to form an independent republic. One of the first clauses in the new state’s constitution was to preserve slavery, and indeed declared that the US Congress had no authority to emancipate slaves in its jurisdiction.

The Alamo defenders, still regarded as ‘heroes’ in Texas, rather than the racist agitators that they were, achieved near-demigod status through conservative folklore. The Walt Disney series Davy Crockett, the latter executed at the Alamo, entered popular consciousness as a courageous frontiersman. John Wayne’s epic 1960 movie The Alamo lionised the American settlers, promoting the values of individual liberty and sacrifice.

The Alamo soldiers were perhaps brave, but they died for the cause of white supremacy. The ideology they supported motivated those who demolished the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Rather than continuing the Heroic Anglo Man narrative of American history, it is high time to educate ourselves on the white nationalism that glues together the racial pyramid of American capitalism.

The UFO craze, Nazis in Tibet and pseudoscience

The UFO craze has experienced a resurgence in recent months. Prominent news stories about a purported ‘government coverup’ have hit the magazines, and various documentaries about ‘sightings’ have gripped the airwaves. UFO cultists have salivated over the prospects of uncovering government secrets.

Let’s take a step back from minor-celebrity full time nutcase UFOlogy, and examine the influence of the occult, the pseudoscientific and the preoccupation with bizarre issues on our societies.

Shambhala, Tibet and the occult

To be sure, the United States is not the first country to host and elevate interest in the occult, the alien and the pseudoscientific. Nazi Germany provided resources and personnel on numerous quests to substantiate – as they saw it – white Aryan racial superiority theories, by delving into mysterious and mythical pasts. Tibet, long considered by the West a Shangri-La of mysticism and esoteric powers, provided the Nazi leadership with a target to indulge their pseudoscientific theories.

Various Aryan racial theories swirled around regarding Tibet as the ancient ancestral home of the Aryan/Germans. The 1938-39 German expedition to Tibet, reinforced the occultism preoccupation of the Nazi elite. Possessing political as well as pseudoscientific objectives, the SS personnel who visited Tibet, at the invitation of the ruling lama elite, were intent on finding rationalisations for their mystical beliefs in a long lost ancient white Aryan race.

The Nazi delegation that made it to Tibet, underscored by the SS think tank the Ahnenerbe, Ancestral Heritage, not only engaged in scientific activities while in Lhasa. They raised the Nazi swastika in Tibet, hoping to detach the latter from China, and use that territory as a base to threaten British-occupied India. The Nazi delegation collected botanical samples, measured the skulls of the indigenous Tibetans, took in the esoteric myths of Tibetan culture, and never lost sight of the underlying Aryan pseudoarchaeology of their mission.

The Nazi leadership never found the remnants of the mythical lost race up there in the Tibetan plateau. What we can see here is the interplay of quasi-scientific elements with political and economic objectives, and access to media channels, and the pseudoscience spreads. No, UFologists are not neo-Nazis, but belief in the occult and paranormal becomes a danger to society when it is supported by powerful economic and political interests.

The Pentagon and UFOs

Over the last few months, there has been a renewed frenzy regarding UFOs – or to use the new term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). The CIA released a trove of archival material detailing the Pentagon’s projects to research psychic phenomena, and whether UFOs represent a national security threat. Billions of dollars has been spent, such as on Operation Stargate, to evaluate the veracity, if any, of using paranormal powers to spy on hostile powers. No evidentiary basis has ever been found for alien spacecraft or psychic abilities, but this has not stopped the UFO conspiracy theorists from screaming vindication. Project Stargate ended in failure.

This is not the first instance of the US government declassifying materials on its secretive and expensive forays into the paranormal and UFO subjects. Back in 2018, the federal authorities released information on their multibillion dollar projects, such as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), to hunt down UFOs and alien beings. After all that research and funding, the project was terminated – but not before UFO cultists went mad claiming that the US government endorsed their views.

What has occurred is that the same UFOlogists and billionaire advocates of alien astronauts have carried out successful PR campaigns to legitimate their pseudoscientific theories. For instance, billionaire pseudoscientist and UFO cultists Robert Bigelow, has put considerable amounts of money into new ‘think tanks’ dedicated to promoting UFology. Coupled with heavyweight political supporters, the UFologists have been able to spread their views far and wide.

American physicist and paranormal advocate Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff, a military contractor, helped to platform pseudoscientific views about the occult and UFOs. Using his finances and connections, he has built various science ‘discovery’ institutes dedicated to exploring the mystical side. Skinwalker Ranch, a site of purported UFO activity, has been purchased by alien enthusiasts over the years. The name refers to a Navajo story of a demonic shapeshifter that transforms from humanoid to animalistic form, thus melding myths from differing cultures.

The US government’s embrace of the occult has provided a springboard for the proliferation of pseudoscientific theories and alien astronaut preoccupations. Weaponising psychic powers was the original underlying motivation; investing in the paranormal has given rise to a Frankenstein monster of pseudoscientific myths that infiltrate the general public.

We are all familiar with the impact of Lysenkoism on Soviet genetics; American writers have long been selectively enthusiastic about empirical veracity and the destiny of science in ‘official enemy’ nations. It is time to apply that passion for the fate of science to our own societies as well.

The commingling of UFology, the occult and the paranormal may seem like harmless fun – until we realise that the interconnected threats of climate change, the pandemic, ecological destruction and white supremacy require our urgent attention, and we cannot afford the diversion of our resources to fruitless pursuits.

Memorial Day should not be used to promote further wars

The last Monday of May is set aside as Memorial Day in the United States. A national public holiday, it is intended as a day of remembrance for all American military personnel who were killed in active combat. Official commemorations focus on themes of patriotism and sacrifice. These topics, while comforting, serve to obscure the imperialist and predatory nature of American wars in pursuit of political objectives.

Rather than engage in mindless flag-waving drivel, this day should provide an opportunity to examine why so many generations have served in US imperial wars overseas. First, some relevant background context; the first Memorial Day event was started by African American Civil War veterans, meeting at the site of a former Confederate military encampment. In May 1865, ten thousand black soldiers held a parade in Charleston to honour and rebury their fallen comrades.

They commemorated the sacrifices of their fellow soldiers, not to agitate for more wars, but to remember the heavy price they paid to gain their emancipation from slavery. Interestingly, this year, when Retired Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, spoke of the crucial role of black veterans in starting Memorial Day, the organisers of the commemorative event in Hudson, Ohio, cut off his microphone.

Memorial Day has always been contradictory

Decoration Day, as the holiday was first known, was originated officially by former Union general John Logan, in 1868. Conceived as a way of honouring Civil War veterans who fought for the North, it involved decorating the graves of the war dead with flowers. The former Confederate states implemented their own version of memorialising their war dead, and this contradictory situation remained for decades following the conclusion of the Civil War.

While American participation in both the world wars expanded the meaning and scope covered by Memorial Day, it was officially mandated as a public holiday by the federal government in 1971. Intended as a measure to counteract the growing domestic antiwar movement, the holiday has involved patriotic themes, emphasising sacrifice and valour. However, the manner of remembering the war dead was contested, not only by civil rights and antiwar activists, but by Vietnam War veterans themselves.

The US Congress, when declaring Memorial Day a holiday in 1971, took no account of rising US casualties in Vietnam. They considered making the day a public event, associated with summer holidays, BBQs and family picnics. A number of Vietnam veterans, incensed that the day was being cooped into a celebration of US militarism, decided to take action.

Professor Elise Lemire, writing in the Washington Post, noted that Vietnam veterans protested turning Memorial Day into a propaganda instrument to agitate for further predatory wars. They rejected the commercialisation of the day, and the underlying premise that America’s Vietnam War was a ‘noble’ undertaking.

In Massachusetts, the chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War group organised a march, following the pathway taken by American patriots during the 1776 war of independence, thus associating their sacrifice with traditional patriotism. This nullified the frequent charge that the antiwar movement were ‘traitors’ or unpatriotic. As they arrived on Boston Common, 10 000 people had gathered to support their antiwar stance.

They emphasised that Memorial Day should not be used to glorify the US military, or disguise the criminal actions of US soldiers in Vietnam with noble-sounding yet hollow cliches about ‘fighting for freedom.’ Indeed, the US ruling class has a long track record of propagandising for future military adventures, wrapping itself in the cloak of purported ‘humanitarian’ motivations.

Let’s stop misusing World War 2 analogies to disguise the imperialist agenda of wars of conquest. Cynically portraying every officially designated enemy of the US as a ‘new Hitler’, the American financial and military-industrial oligarchy cunningly deploys the ‘good war’ rationalisation to indoctrinate its population into supporting new military interventions.

Prior to the 1989-90 US invasion of Panama, we were inundated with saturation coverage of the Hitler-like behaviour of Panama’s President Manuel Noriega. A dictator and strongman, we were informed that US military intervention – code named Operation Just Cause – was necessary to oust a ‘new Hitler’. After doing a modicum of research, one could find out that Noriega was indeed a long-term CIA asset, whose drug-trafficking was tolerated as he was a studious product of US military intelligence and training.

When Noriega the monster could no longer be controlled, he was ousted in a military operation that killed at a conservative estimate hundreds of ordinary Panamanians. The official US government rhetoric of nobility and humanitarian motivations reeks of sickening hypocrisy.

Memorial Day is not a platform for aggrandising conflict or agitating for future aggressions. Whether it be Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan, US military defeats – for that is what they were – cannot be deployed into falsified narratives about the nobility of sacrifice. Future generations must know the imperialist character and toxic legacies of these invasions. We would do well to channel Memorial Day into a vehicle for a peaceful future. We must not forget the reasons why we remember.

Africa deserves our attention beyond simplistic stereotypes

Africa, a continent of 54 identifiable nations, rich cultural and ecological diversity, and the cradle of human civilisation, remains a largely ignored and underreport subject in the corporate-owned media. Matthew Amha raises this precise starting point in his article ‘Invisible Africa.’ Why does he make this observation, and how can this problem be addressed?

If we hear of stories from sub-Saharan African nations, they normally follow a predictable and simplistic pattern – warlords, dictators, corruption, child soldiers…..and exotic locales. Africa, in similar fashion to other continents, was hit by the Covid pandemic. Its toll of human suffering has been tremendous. Yet how many of us in Australia – and the Anglo majoritarian nations – are familiar with the stunning success stories of African nations dealing with the pandemic?

Senegal, Ghana and Rwanda – each in their own way – set outstanding examples of how to contain and manage the harmful human and health impacts of the current pandemic. Each nation, relying on its own resources, have efficiently developed vaccines, rolled them out at low cost to their respective populations, minimising the risk of Covid-19 fatalities, and have put the wealthy countries to shame. Senegal, a nation of 16 million people, has had only 30 deaths.

Ghana, in similar fashion to Senegal, implemented a rigorous contact tracing system, and mobilised hundreds of health care workers the moment the first international alerts regarding the pandemic went out. This nation of 30 million has maintained a relatively low Covid-19 mortality rate. This is not to discount the tragedy of each death, but to set a reasonable basis for comparison with the wealthier nations. The USA, with its vast medical and financial resources, has a Covid-19 death toll of 604,416 at the time of writing.

Matthew Amha, in his article referred to above, makes an interesting juxtaposition which reveals the character and agenda of the corporate-owned media. Throughout 2019 and 2020, detailed and sustained coverage was provided of the Hong Kong protests. The latter were promoted as motivated by democratic aspirations. Every nuance and action by the Hong Kongers was given sympathetic coverage. Why were not the similar and contemporaneous political uprisings in numerous African nations not given equally supportive time?

Mali, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda – among other nations – experienced political convulsions and mass democratic movements challenging the established orders in these respective countries. Why does not Ugandan political candidate and democracy activist Bobi Wine, subjected to state-sponsored repression, receive the same frequent and sympathetic coverage as putative opposition candidate and far right Russian racist Alexei Navalny?

In the west African nation of Mali, nationalist protesters have demanded the removal of French troops, a thoroughgoing change to the existing political structures, and an end to the French occupation of the country. Since gaining independence in 1960, the French ruling class has sought to regain influence in its former colony. In 2013, France deployed its troops to Mali, on the pretext of fighting Islamist militias in that country.

Operation Serval, as it was called, was intended to defeat Malian insurgents and reinstall a pro-Paris client regime. While Paris was quick to declare victory in 2014, the French political establishment soon launched Operation Barkhane, an ongoing French military occupation that is proving to be France’s forever war in the Sahel region.

The flimsy pretext of confronting Islamist militias is good for public relations in the Anglo majority nations, but is wearing thin on the ground. The underlying issues of economic inequalities, human rights abuses, mismanagement of land and agricultural resources, has not been addressed by the French military operation. Indeed, the only achievement of the occupation is to extend, in a different way, the colonial power of the French in Mali.

French militarisation in Mali, and its efforts to protect its dominant economic interests, has been thinly disguised as a ‘war on terror.’ This latter excuse has been deployed by the United States to rationalise its own predatory behaviour. The issue of Tuareg nationalism, and the right of the Tuareg for self-determination, remains unresolved. This lack of resolution is only providing a breeding ground for an armed insurgency against the French-backed Malian authorities.

Let’s stop deploying the irrelevant excuse of ‘but there is corruption’ to avoid helping African nations. Yes, there is corruption in Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique – the list goes on. The late Mike Wallace, American journalist and commentator, rebuked his interviewee, Minister Louis Farrakhan, by claiming that Nigeria – a Muslim majority country – was the ‘most corrupt’ in Africa. Farrakhan responded with an observation we should all absorb – the imperialist countries are in no position to deliver moralising sermons about corruption.

The charge of ‘African corruption’ is only ever wheeled out in order to dismiss and divert conversations about reaching out to African nations. If corruption were truly the object of concern, we would address ourselves to the institutionalised corruption of our own financial elites. As George Monbiot wrote, if you think the UK has no corruption, you are not looking hard enough.

Let’s engage with Africa by first being informed about the continent, rather than recycling tired and simplistic stereotypes.

Asian Americans, anti-Black racism and building anti-racist solidarity

The Proud Boys, a neofascist and white supremacist militia group, heavily involved in the January 6 Capitol Hill riot, received funding and support from an unlikely quarter – Chinese Americans. This is not the first instance of Asian Americans supporting ultranationalist causes – in the 2020 elections, Vietnamese Americans among other nonwhite minorities, voted for the Republican Party.

How is it possible that former US President Trump – a superspreader of anti-Asian racism, would score votes from the Asian American community? Why did some Chinese Americans go so far as to donate thousands of dollars to a racist, far right militia group? Let’s examine this subject.

We can begin to understand this topic by first recognising that Asian Americans, are largely an anticommunist community – working their way into buying the mythical ‘American dream.’ Hostile to the Black Lives Matter and other leftist groups, Asian Americans have long desired to become the ‘model minority’. In a predominantly Anglo society, emulating whiteness is the standard of success. Anti-black racism is a useful device for distancing yourself from African American and other nonwhite minorities.

When success is defined as social mobility, and individualistic entrepreneur worship is virtually a secular religion, the refugees from China and Vietnam – especially the Saigon loyalists who fled at the end of the Vietnam war – form a socially conservative bloc which views the United States as their guarantor of freedom and economic liberalism. The indigenous and nonwhite minorities, excluded from the vaunted American dream, are identified not as another group worthy of multiethnic solidarity, but as marginal elements to be hated.

Jezzika Chung, writing in the Huffington Post, states that:

As Asian immigrants work toward building successes in a foreign environment, they begin taking cues from the people they see as most successful. Because America’s historical oppression of people of color, these people are usually white. To many Asian Americans, whiteness often becomes equated to success, and all the elements that have been conditioned to come with the paradigms of whiteness.

Driving a wedge between African and Asian Americans, conservative commentators have historically dismissed black Americans as the ‘deficient’, unable or unwilling to accept supposedly unique American values of individual initiative and hard work. Asian Americans are thus integrated into the racial pyramid of American capitalism as industrious and entrepreneurially talented.

In fact, in the 1960s, with the rise of the civil rights and antiwar movements, the US ruling circles began a process of downplaying traditional anti-Asian racism, and upholding Japanese and Chinese Americans as model minorities. Rather than emphasise the role of Asian Americans as super-exploited labourers (and frequent targets of white supremacist violence), they were now to be seen as historically integrated into the American business class. Asians were thus ‘likened’ to the white majority.

Opposition to the policies of the Communist party of China is one thing; circulating lurid right wing conspiracy theories about BLM being part of a Marxist plots is quite another. While the US government has been ratcheting up tension with Beijing in a display of great-power politics, such foreign policies have domestic consequences. Racialised outsiders become the targets not only of white nationalist groups, but of socially conservative migrant communities who are adjacent to Trumpist right wing populism.

Democrat state representative from Massachusetts, Tram Nguyen, posted a video on Facebook supportive of the BLM group and its anti racist message. She received denunciations and condemnations from her fellow Vietnamese Americans, accusing her of have Marxist sympathies, and siding with ‘domestic terrorists’. In Houston, Texas, local businessman Lê Hoàng Nguyên self-funded a BLM billboard stating ‘Stop Racism’, in English and Vietnamese. A seemingly innocuous but important statement of solidarity with African Americans, you would think….

Nguyen received death threats, calls to boycott his business, and denunciations of his liberal views from the local Vietnamese American community. Houston’s pro-Trump community, deeply religious and conservative, have helped to platform the white supremacist views that abound in American society.

It would be a mistake however, to portray the Asian American community as politically monolithic.

Caroline Cao, writing in Salon magazine, details how she is challenging the conservative and anti-Black views of her Trump-supporting grandparents. She is risking the heated debates, and fractious family ties, that inevitably accompany speaking out against socially conservative family members. Jezzika Chung, quoted earlier, writes how the new generation of Asian Americans are confronting negative stereotypes of African Americans in their own communities.

Asian Americans have a long standing practice of fighting for the rights of ethnic minorities.

Chinese Americans bravely fought against the slave-owning Confederacy during the American Civil War. Black Americans, in their struggle for civil and political rights, have found staunch anti racism allies in the Asian American community. The pathway to a just and equitable society starts with the construction of a multiethnic alliance against white nationalism. It is high time that Asian Americans stopped being the footsoldiers of the US imperial project.

St George – the patron saint of England was a multicultural Roman soldier

St George, celebrated every year on April 23 as the patron saint of England, was not English, never set foot on English soil, and fought for the supranational project called the Roman Empire. Born in Cappadocia (in today’s central Turkey), he advocated a particular Oriental death-cult belief at the time, called Christianity.

A multicultural figure, part Palestinian and Greek Christian, who fought for a multiethnic Mediterranean superpower, became co-opted into a symbol of English ultranationalism. Military saint, George of Lydda (modern-day Lod) from Roman Palestine, a venerated figure of English nationalist consciousness and Christian sacrifice, acquired popularity in a time of rising religio-nationalism in Western Christendom.

The child of mixed Greek parentage, George was born around 270 CE in Cappadocia, and went on to become a soldier in the praetorian guard of the Emperor Diocletian. He was raised by Christian parents. Serving in the Roman army, he was a globetrotting officer – the Roman Empire was a multicultural and supranational institution, with officers from different parts of the empire serving in regions outside of their homelands. In Rome itself, it was not unusual to find Britons, Greeks and Gauls mixing together.

In fact, as a Christian, George’s life was in constant peril – the Roman authorities regarded these advocates of a foreign Eastern religion with suspicion. The closest modern parallel is the degree of hostility visited upon today’s Islamic communities, bringing their ‘Eastern death cult’ into the ranks of Western European societies. George was very much the foreign fighter, taking his new ‘radical‘ religious ideology into numerous lands.

Falling foul of Diocletian’s persecution of Christians and attempts to revive traditional Roman paganism, George was tortured to get him to renounce his faith. Sentenced to death for refusing to abandon his Christian beliefs, he was executed in 303 AD. St George was put to death by authorities suspicious of his foreign religion.

How did a Roman soldier, venerated as a saint in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Greece, Palestine, Italy and Malta – to name a few places – become transformed into a dragon-slaying medieval knight of English nationalist folklore? English authorities have assiduously cultivated a hagiographic picture around the life, myth and mayhem of St George.

For a start, George never slayed a fire-breathing dragon – that myth was added centuries after his death. Canonised by Pope Gelasius in 494 CE, the story of George and his exploits began to acquire the stuff of legend, particularly in Byzantine-controlled territories. George is still regarded as a hero in historically Palestinian cities. However, it was through the Crusades that George entered the consciousness of Western Christendom.

Richard I, the crusading English king, adopted the Red Cross on a white background as the Cross of St George – attempting to unify his forces around a single Christian symbol. That symbol was used on military uniforms, and later included in what became the Union Jack flag. King Edward III declared St George the patron saint of England in the 14th century, when he created the Order of the Garter, a British order of chivalry.

Associated with crusading and the promotion of Western Christendom, George became transformed into a standard-bearer of English nationalism, martial courage and integrity. Books about him embellished his legend, and contributed to making George an emblem of inward-looking Britishness as opposed to his real-life status as a multicultural soldier for a multiethnic empire.

Immortalised in the play Henry V by William Shakespeare, St George’s reputation as a venerable militant saint was solidified. Adopted as a patriotic symbol by English conservatives, far right fascistic groups and football hooligans, his status as a symbol of English nationalism has been consolidated, but yet retained flexibility to be adaptable to a wide spectrum of nationalist groups.

In the current political climate of Tory Brexit and imperial nostalgia for the long-lost British empire, it is imperative to remind ourselves about the multicultural roots of much of English society. The goal is not to induce feelings of guilt or shame about being English, but rather to question the tribalist evolution of Little Englander nationalism.

English nationalism is not going to solve the serious problems of the pandemic, economic inequalities and post-Brexit frictions. It is high time to stop the flag-waving and added the socioeconomic problems afflicting England today. Venerating military saints had its time, but that tradition, however well-intentioned, does nothing to contribute to practical and contemporary solutions.

Racism against indigenous Americans, 1776 and settler colonialism

Rick Santorum, conservative political commentator and former US Republican senator, remarked in a speech that there was nothing on the American continent prior to European settlement. The latter, he opined, built civilisation from a blank slate. While he partially retracted his comments, his statements can occur only because of widespread and ongoing ignorance about the indigenous nations.

Nick Estes, assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico, wrote that it is racist ignorance which allows Santorum to claim that white Europeans ‘birthed from nothing’ the nation that became the United States. This issue is more important than the rantings of individual conservative commentators. Estes makes the crucial point that while the US government recognises genocides in other nations – the Armenian genocide being the latest case – there is stubborn resistance to the recognition of indigenous genocide.

Writing in the Washington Post, Glenn Morris and Simon Maghakyan state that the denial of indigenous genocide runs deep:

Denial of the genocide against indigenous peoples by the United States is rampant. The massacre of Native peoples — from Mystic River, Gnadenhütten and Sacramento River to Bear River, Sand Creek, Camp Grant and Wounded Knee (and the fact that most readers have probably never heard of these) — is evidence of American amnesia about its homegrown genocide.

Indeed, the United States as it exists today took shape and reached its extent because of two related yet distinct processes – indigenous oppression and transatlantic African slavery. We tend to think of both these processes as historical and terminated, relics of a long-gone obsolete past. This limits our understanding of American capitalism and its conjoined twin, white nationalism, today.

While competing European colonial powers acquired colonies in the New World at the expense of the indigenous peoples, they were united by two necessities; the subjugation of the indigenous, and the importation of African slaves to economically build their colonial possessions. We like to think of slavery as an institution separate from capitalism – the slave owning Southern states versus the mercantile and capitalist North. This is superficially true, but a deeper examination leads to a different conclusion; slavery was instrumental in the development of American capitalism.

The crucial importance of slavery for the development of capitalism was understood by Karl Marx, who wrote that:

The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement, and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of the continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of black skins are all things that characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production.

Settler colonialism began to take shape. It is true that rival colonial powers threatened their opponents with the prospect of arming fleeing slaves. France and Spain had separate armed detachments of freed African slaves on the condition that they convert to Christianity, and fight rival colonial powers, namely Britain. The mainland settlers, already apprehensive about the possibility of a slave uprising, viewed the machinations of the European colonial states with increased anxiety.

Arming former slaves – at least the threat of such action – was a mechanism for slave owning states to compete on the American mainland for colonies. In fact, inter-European rivalry took a lethal turn with the eruption of the Seven Years War, with England the eventual winner. The American mainlanders, having witnessed the slave uprisings in Jamaica, Barbados and the Caribbean, were worried about the growing numbers of African slaves in their midst. In many ways, the 1776 American war of independence was not just an anti-British uprising, but a pro-slavery measure as well.

What solidified the European push to conquer indigenous lands, and hold down the African slaves? The invention of whiteness as a distinct racial category. The notion did not spring fully formed from the brain of one individual, but took on a life of its own during the westward expansion of New England, and the victory of the American patriots against the English crown. Inter-European divisions, while not resolved, were put on hold. Protestant versus Catholic, England vs France vs Spain vs Portugal vs the Netherlands were subsumed within the greater project of imperial expansion.

In fact, the racialisation of whiteness is the most successful application of identity politics in history. Born of the slave trade and indigenous subjugation, whiteness was a new category which consolidated the emerging American ruling class. The ultimate victims of this project were the so-called ‘red Indians’, the indigenous nations. The slave owners were defeated in the American Civil War, and this opened up the possibility of westward conquest for the mainland settlers.

Settler colonialism requires systematic violence to achieve economic and political dominance. It is more urgent than ever to recognise that the settler colonial state of the United States committed genocide against the indigenous peoples. That would constitute a minimal and necessary step on the road to justice for the dispossessed nations.

Harun Yahya, creationism and a media empire

Adnan Oktar, better known by his pen name Harun Yahya, is a Turkish Islamic creationist, cult leader and televangelist. He was sentenced to 1075 years for sexual offences, abuse of children and running a criminal organisation. A pseudo intellectual, Yayha distributed creationist literature and DVDs worldwide, and established a particular theologically-based cult of creationism.

Arrested in 2018 along with 200 of his followers, Oktar was sentenced earlier this year. His imprisonment gives us an opportunity to examine the rise and fall not only of this particular televangelist and cult leader, but also to examine the creeping influence of creationism – and its modern-day theological equivalent, intelligent design – on our own society.

Oktar’s pseudoscientific-based theology, a version of Islamic creationism, reached widespread audiences in the millions. Beginning his career as a TV speaker, railing against Jews, Freemasonry, Communism and evolutionary biology – all of which are interlinked enemies in his fevered imagination – he reached the high point of his fame with his 800-page Atlas of Creation. Distributed to leading academics, scientists, museums, journalists and experts across the world, he claimed to have refuted evolution which he mischaracterised with the scare-word ‘Darwinism’. That book was only one among many produced by Yahya’s burgeoning media empire.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Yahya as a crackpot or lunatic. He organised a very politically-and-business savvy empire, replete with educational materials and devoted followers. In 2007, Yahya seemed to be on top of the world, with access to a vast TV audience and increasing influence for his creationist views. While his sect was the subject of numerous sex scandals and legal investigations, in 2011 he started his own online TV channel.

Surrounding himself with blonde-dyed, sometimes scantily-clad young women – whom he called his ‘kittens’ – Yahya continued his prolific efforts to purportedly debunk evolutionary biology, and reach an English-speaking audience beyond his dreams. With his TV platform, backed by his Science Research Foundation, Yahya seemed unstoppable. His Versace harem was gaining popularity. But his fall was not long in coming. The Turkish authorities finally caught up with him and his sexually-charged proclivities.

The denial of evolutionary biology, not unique to Yahya, enabled him to make friends in numerous unexpected places. Yahya emerged from the turbulent political milieu of the 1980s, when the Turkish military and associated far rightist paramilitaries were attacking the labour unions and the Left. Yahya found his voice by advocating an Islamic-Turkish Union, a pan-Turkic neo-Ottoman project combining the various Central Asian republics. He found a readymade scapegoat for the ills afflicting Turkey – the nefarious Jews.

The Turkish ultranationalist Right, imbued with racism towards non-Turkic peoples, advocated a conspiratorial worldview. The Jews, along with doctrines perceived to be ‘western’ in origin, were targeted. This included the phantom of ‘Darwinism’ – a scientifically meaningless term, but one with sinister undertones.

Evolutionary biology, by positing natural causes to explain the diversity and radiation of species, was seen as a frontal assault on the notion of God and the supernatural. The notion of ‘Darwinism’ was mobilised by Yahya, among others, to denounce the materialistic godlessness of the West – backed up of course, by the always conspiratorial Jews.

His attacks on atheism and the associated bogeyman of ‘Darwinism’ gained Yahya adherents among ultrarightist Zionist Jews and orthodox rabbis. While Yahya had penned books in the 1990s denying the Holocaust, this did not stop him from gaining a platform in Israeli media, allying with equally far right Zionist politicians. Ultranationalist Israelis have long desired to replace the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem with a Third Temple for Jewish people to pray – a position Yahya has spoken of sympathetically.

His organisation has cultivated links with Christian creationist figures in the United States as well. The anti evolutionary message of Yahya’s publications has found receptive audiences across the globe. There has been extensive analysis of the evolution-creation debate already, and there are numerous resources debunking Yahya’s publications. These topics can be discussed in another article.

The purpose here is to demonstrate that while proponents of creationism – and is modernised incarnation known as ‘intelligent design’ – wrap themselves in the mantle of academic freedom and scientific inquiry, advocate a strongly political theocratic project. Yahya may be an outlier, but he is hardly alone or an exception. The United States has its own equivalent televangelist Yahyas, misdirecting the public on science education.

Does every single creationist belong in gaol? No, of course not. Is every televangelist a serial sex pest? No, they are not, although there growing numbers of them being exposed as moral hypocrites. Yayha was held accountable for his crimes, arrested in 2018, and gaoled earlier this year. It is high time to closely scrutinise the activities of the cultish televangelists in our own midst.

Haitian workers in the Bahamas struggle to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian hit the northern Bahamas in September 2019. Making landfall early that month, the Category 5 hurricane devastated the communities of Abaco and the Grand Bahama Islands. The scenes of destruction were indescribable, with 84 deaths and hundreds missing. At least 70 000 have been left homeless.

What is important to note here is that thousands of Haitian migrant workers, living in shanty towns and upon whom the tourist industry depends, face stigma as ‘outsiders’ and are fighting the prospect of deportation. The Haitian population, resident in the Bahamas for generations, perform all the menial and low paying jobs which sustain the tourist marinas and luxury hotels. Haitians farm the land, work in construction and repair the infrastructure used by wealthy Bahamians and incoming tourists.

Haitians must undergo a rigorous and onerous process to register as a Bahamian citizen, and most Haitian workers are undocumented. Seeking refuge from the political violence and US-backed dictatorships that have plagued their home nation, the Bahamas provided an opportunity to start a new life – a reasonably wealthier country in the Caribbean.

Hurricane Dorian not only left a trail of destruction and trauma, but also exposed the economic inequalities that underscore the capitalist structures in the Bahamas. The Mudd, once a shanty-town home to thousands of Haitians, was flattened in minutes. As David Smith wrote in The Guardian newspaper:

Natural disasters often expose the gap between the haves and have nots and Dorian was no different. While the Bahamas has a reputation as one of the most desirable tourist destinations on earth, its luxury hotels and homes depend on a life support system of fishermen, hotel workers and laborers. Once again, it is the poorest who have been hardest hit when catastrophe strikes.

While the Bahamas is a tourist paradise – and an offshore tax haven – it comes at an enormous social and economic cost. International business entities in the Bahamas do not have to pay corporate tax unless the income is generated locally. The nation is also one of the most starkly unequal societies in the Caribbean.

Let’s get one misconception out of the way – the question which inevitably arises after such an extreme weather event is – ‘was it caused by climate change?’ Such a question is misleading, because no single weather event – not hurricane, flood or drought – can be individually attributed to human-induced global warming. The more fruitful question would be ‘was this hurricane worsened by climate change?’ The emphatic answer is Yes.

The oceans absorb enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, and warming surface waters contribute to the energy of hurricane formation. The duration and ferocity of hurricanes is increasing, with Dorian being the severest one to hit the Bahamas. Dorian had one minute of 185 miles per hour winds. The country has been struck by hurricanes in recent years – in 2016 with Hurricane Matthew, and 2017 with Hurricane Irma.

The majority of the victims of the 2019 hurricane occupied shanty towns – makeshift ramshackle residences – of the Abaco Islands. This indicates that the relationship between the Haitians and Bahamians was fraught with inequality prior to Hurricane Dorian. The Bahamian tourist economy was heavily dependent on Haitian day labourers, and the government has maintained their temporary status through a series of bureaucratic and legal measures.

As the survivors have fled into shelters, and accommodate wherever they can find it, the Bahamian government has ramped up the existing xenophobia. Haitians, while of similar Afro-Caribbean heritage as their Bahamian counterparts, face discrimination and cultural hatred, dismissed as lowly-educated buffoons only fit for labouring work. The government in Nassau has taken steps to ‘reclaim’ land once occupied by Haitian workers.

The prime minister, Hubert Minnis, has lamented the generational devastation of Hurricane Dorian, but has not actually defended the Haitian community from racial hatred. When visiting the catastrophic scenes in Abaco Islands, he deliberately made a gesture of kicking in the door of a shantytown home, denouncing illegal immigrants, and declaring that he will do his utmost to make them leave. The attorney general stated that any Haitians who have lost their jobs ‘need to go home’ regardless of whether or not their work permits have expired.

Before any Australian readers sympathise with the statements of the Bahamian government and repeat the oft-heard contemptuous phrase – ‘ go back to where you come from’ – consider the following. Haiti is already a food-insecure nation, with running water, electricity and health care scarcely available. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, thousands of Haitians became refugees, and sought work in the Bahamas.

Haiti was forcibly occupied by the United States in 1915, and has endured repeated interventions in its internal political and economic affairs in the years since. The resultant political instability in that nation prompted an outflow of Haitian refugees.

Rather than resort to lazy, obnoxious slogans, it is high time for the Bahamian economy to look after its Haitian labourers. In times of crisis, whether a hurricane or a pandemic, it is the cleaners, caterers, labouring people and health care workers who keep the economy going.

Albert Einstein, social justice and his relationship with Zionism

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the world’s first celebrity-scientist, thought deeply about physics, and originated the theories of special and general relativity. The ubiquitous image of him is that of the disheveled, shaggy-haired absent-minded professor, delving deeply into scientific problems, but unable to remember where he last left his coffee cup.

This stereotype, while appealing, is also quite misleading. As much as Einstein worked on physics problems, he also thought deeply about social justice and anti racism issues. He used his platform to speak out against racism and antisemitism. Having witnessed, and been victimised by, European antisemitic bigotry, he supported the efforts of the Jewish community to organise themselves, but remained critical of the Zionist nationalism inherent in constructing the Israeli state.

Einstein was nonreligious, abandoning the tenets of Judaism at a very young age. He maintained a rationalist perspective – not the monotheistic God of divine origin and supernatural revelation, but a logical pantheism in the manner of Spinoza.

He was also a cultural Jew, and did his best to support the Jewish community. Europe, and in particular Germany, was experiencing a resurgence of anti-Semitism in the immediate aftermath of military defeat – the end of World War One. That antisemitism motivated Einstein to support Jewish efforts to construct their own future.

Einstein joined up with the Zionist movement to build the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Founded in 1925, Einstein cooperated with Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) to promote its construction. Attending the opening of the university, Einstein hailed what he viewed as the progress of secular, scientifically-inclined Jews to build a new society where Jewish people would feel safe and free.

However, he was a critic of nationalism and militarism, and he opposed the militaristic trends in Zionism. Attending the Sixteenth Congress of the WZO in 1929, Einstein was widely known to be a non-Zionist participant. In various speeches and public pronouncements, Einstein distanced himself from the ideology of Zionism. For instance, in 1938, he stated his desire to see a binational state within the borders of Palestine, and was appalled by the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian towns undertaken by armed Zionist forces.

On his single trip to Palestine, Einstein warned that building an exclusively Jewish state constitutes a repudiation of the spiritual nature of Judaism. He was elaborating his opinion that Zionism, with its army and militarised-garrison ideology, was in contradiction to the spirit of the Jewish faith. He warned of a narrow nationalism overtaking the Jewish people in the process of building the Zionist state, and opposed any partition of Palestine.

In 1948, Einstein, along with numerous Jewish-origin intellectuals, signed an open letter to the US government and President Truman. The purpose of this letter was to warn the Zionist-supportive US administration of the racist and fascistic tendencies in the newly-recognised state of Israel. Condemning the Herut party, the political expression of the Irgun terrorist gangs that had massacred Palestinians, Einstein and his co-signatories described Herut in its methods and philosophy as closely akin to Nazi and fascist parties.

Herut is one of the constituent forerunners of today’s rightwing Likud party, headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The significance of this letter, written so soon after the end of World War 2 and the Holocaust, cannot be underestimated. Einstein and his co-thinkers demonstrated the gulf that separated pro-Zionist politicians and the wider humanist community. In fact, if Einstein were alive today, he would face condemnation as a ‘self-hating anti-Semite’ from Zionism’s political partisans. Offered the presidency of Israel late in his life, Einstein refused.

In 1919, with observational confirmation of Einstein’s equations of general relativity, he became a scientist-rock star. In 1921, at the behest of the WZO, he traveled to the United States for the purpose of promoting – and fundraising for – the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Greeted by cheering crowds in New York, his celebrity status was confirmed. He never rested on his laurels – he deployed his fame to speak out against racism and the European drift to war.

While Einstein was still in Germany, he joined the international campaign to free the Scottsboro boys. The latter were a group of nine teenage boys falsely accused of rape by a white woman. A miscarriage of justice, their convictions, and the attendant racism upon which the case was built, was challenged by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), the Communist party USA, and various civil rights organisations. Einstein used his platform to attack racial segregation in the United States.

This was not just a once-off occurrence. Einstein befriended and supported African American activists, such Paul Robeson, and the first black Harvard University PhD graduate WEB Du Bois. Einstein, making Princeton University his home ground from 1932, mixed with black neighbourhoods in racially-segregated America, gave impromptu lectures, and supported civil rights for African Americans.

He routinely refused honorary degrees – regarding them as illegitimate credentials; but he did make one notable exception. Invited by Lincoln University, an African American institution, to give the commencement address in 1946, Einstein condemned racism as a problem of white people.

Whether he was critiquing Zionism, or American racism, Einstein the celebrity-scientist stayed true to his social justice commitment. While never an official politician, he was never afraid to speak out about contemporary political issues.