Blimp deflator: Letting out the gas

Sorry, I’m not going to remember anyone

Posted in history, new zealand, turkey by Blimp deflator on April 22, 2015

Anzac Day appeal

There is a deplorable campaign in progress to “rehabilitate” World War I — to make us believe it was fought with a purity of purpose by gallant young men who wanted nothing more than a land “fit for heroes to live in” (in the words of Lloyd George). In reality, it was a squalid conflict that set the stage for World War II and created bitter rivalries in the Middle East that continue to this day.

It should be obvious to everyone that the claim that those who died at Gallipoli “laid down their lives” for our freedom is ludicrous. The Ottoman Empire never threatened our freedom in New Zealand, and its foolish alliance with Germany during World War I is neither here nor there. So those who died at Gallipoli — those who initially assumed the war would be a spiffing, four-month adventure — really did die for nothing. I see no more point in remembering them than in remembering those who died in the Crimean War.

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First colonists arrive in New Zealand

Posted in history, humor, new zealand by Blimp deflator on June 4, 2012

First colonists arrive in NZ
Cartoon from the Manawatu Standard of May 28, 2012. The cartoonist is Malcolm Evans.
“Kia pai to ra” means “Have a nice day”.

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Should Christians burn the Qur’an? asks college lecturer

Posted in history, islam by Blimp deflator on February 23, 2012

Since my retirement on March 31, 2011, I have fallen behind in my reading of Challenge Weekly, New Zealand’s Christian newspaper, which the publisher sends to my former office at the Manawatu Standard in Palmerston North. But here are two interesting columns by Mark Keown, lecturer in New Testament at Laidlaw College, published on April 11, 2011, and May 16, 2011, respectively.

The first article is unremarkable until we reach the last paragraph, where we read: “The Qu’ran [sic] is not to be burnt by believers [Christians], despite what it leads a small minority of extremist Muslims to do” [emphasis added].

Needless to say, the claim that the Qur’an — not the American/Israeli invasion and occupation of Muslim lands, and the massacre of millions of Muslims* — prompts some Muslims to commit terrorist acts is another example of Christian/Western propaganda. Since we in the West are the “good guys”, and since everything we do in the Muslim world springs from the noblest of motives, we can’t possibly be at fault. So if a Muslim sets off a bomb somewhere, he must be acting in accordance with “instructions” in his holy book.

To me, this raises a fascinating question: As the Qur’an has been around for a rather long time, and was certainly around when I was a boy in the 1950s, why was there little or no “Islamic terrorism” before the 1980s?

There was terrorism, especially in connection with the Algerian struggle for independence, but it was never, as far as I recall, identified as “Islamic”. Indeed, that was the period of pan-Arab nationalism, when the organizations and movements of the day, with the possible exception of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, were keen to keep (potentially divisive) religion on the sidelines.

As late as the 1970s, any list of leading terrorist organizations comprised such names as the Red Army Faction (the Baader-Meinhof Gang), the United Red Army of Japan, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the IRA, the Black Panthers, the Tupamaros, ETA, al-Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. All were either secular or Marxist-Leninist.

What were committed Muslims doing in those days? Weren’t they reading the Qur’an — and those ayahs that allegedly encourage them to commit acts of terrorism?

Should Christians burn the Qur'an?
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The second column (below) reveals an uncritical acceptance of the “official line” that is typical of superficial Western commentators. “Surely, if anyone’s death is justified, this man’s [Osama’s] is,” Keown writes. “After all, he masterminded Sept 11…”

But hang on a minute! Where is the evidence that Osama masterminded the attack on the World Trade Center? (See “FBI says it has ‘No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11′” at Information Clearing House.)

One also looks in vain for explicit recognition of two key facts: that an extra-judicial execution is murder, and that torture is illegal in all circumstances under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which the United States signed. Instead, we find wishy-washy statements and questions, like “I feel sad” and “Is this [torture] ever right?”

Oh for a little Islamic rigor here!

The death of Osama

* Keown acknowledges, in the second article, that millions have died “across Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan” as a result of the so-called war on terrorism, but apparently does not see those deaths as a possible cause of Muslim outrage and further acts of terrorism.

  • See also Hijackers were into drugs and sleazy sex, says professor.
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  • The Wandering Who?

    Posted in books, history, israel, palestine, religion by Blimp deflator on January 27, 2012

    The Wandering Who?The Wandering Who? by Gilad Atzmon
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Essential reading for anyone interested in the issues of Zionism, Judaism, Jewish-ness, anti-Semitism, and history in general. (Atzmon maintains that Zionism “developed as a reaction to the emancipation of European Jewry”, when it was realized that this “might lead to the disappearance of the Jewish identity”. He further maintains that Zionism drew strength from a “created image of emerging anti-Semitism” . . . “a myth of persistent persecution”. Hence Herzl’s displeasure when French Jews, in the wake of the Dreyfus affair, showed signs of feeling “truly emancipated”.)

    Elsewhere, Atzmon shows how a tribal cult like Zionism, which by its nature is exceptionalist, is incompatible with a universalist ethic, and suggests that nothing truly progressive can be expected from a state, such as Israel, that clings relentlessly to “a phantasmic, invented yesterday”. Appositely, he notes that Britain and America have also abandoned a “true historical discourse” in favor of a “banal and simplistic historic tale to do with WWII, Cold War, Islam, 911, etc”.

    View all my reviews

    EXTRACT: The Holocaust religion [as first postulated by Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz] is the conclusive and final stage in the Jewish dialectic: it is the end of Jewish history, for it is the deepest and most sincere form of ‘self-love’. Rather than requiring an abstract God to designate the Jews as the Chosen People, in the Holocaust religion the Jews cut out this divine middleman and simply choose themselves. Jewish identity politics transcends the notion of history — God is the master of ceremonies. The new Jewish God, i.e. ‘the Jew’, cannot be subject to any human contingent occurrence. Thus the Holocaust religion is protected by laws, while every other historical narrative is debated openly by historians, intellectuals and ordinary people. The Holocaust sets itself as an eternal truth that transcends critical discourse.

    The Face of Imperialism

    Posted in books, economy, history, united states by Blimp deflator on January 23, 2012

    The Face of ImperialismThe Face of Imperialism by Michael Parenti
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    “Excellent summary (in only 134 pages) of the monstrous crimes committed by the US empire as it attempts to control the world.”

    View all my reviews

    EXTRACT: The goal of US reactionary rulers is the Third Worldization of the entire world including Europe and North America, a New World Order in which capital rules supreme with no public sector services or labor unions to speak of; no prosperous, literate, effectively organized working class or highly educated middle class with rising expectations and a strong sense of entitlement; no public medical care, pension funds, occupational safety, or environmental and consumer protections, or any of the other insufferable things that might cut into profits and lead to a more egalitarian distribution of life chances.

    Western complicity in Middle East tyranny

    Posted in egypt, history, iraq, libya by Blimp deflator on September 17, 2011

    Western complicity in Middle East tyranny
    Cartoon from the Manawatu Standard of September 5, 2011. But remember: “We look forward, not backward.” (And anything that happened more than six months ago is ancient history, and no longer relevant.)

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    Letter writer resurrects Enoch Powell

    Posted in history by Blimp deflator on August 19, 2011

    Whenever there is any kind of social unrest in Britain, you can be sure that someone, somewhere, will remind us of the infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech by British politician Enoch Powell in 1968. “As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood'”, Powell said, after quoting a “constituent” who had told him: “In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.” (Note that the objection was to “the black man” — not to “the Muslim”, as it might be today. The “Islamic threat” wasn’t even on the horizon in those days.) The letter on the left was published in the Manawatu Standard on August 17, 2011. My response was printed two days later, on August 19, 2011.
    Letter writer resurrects Enoch PowellImmigrants defended

    ‘We weren’t driven out,’ says Moroccan Jew

    Posted in history, israel by Blimp deflator on July 30, 2011

    'We weren't driven out,' says Moroccan Jew
    An excerpt from an article entitled ‘Morocco’s Ancient City of Fez’, by Harvey Arden, in the March 1986 edition of National Geographic. I have posted it in connection with a debate at Shelfari.

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    The Moroccan Jews were not ‘driven out’, Time admits

    Posted in history, israel by Blimp deflator on July 30, 2011

    The Moroccan Jews were not 'driven out', Time admits
    I have posted this letter, sent to me by Time magazine in 1988, in connection with a debate at Shelfari. (I had written to Time with evidence that the Moroccan Jews were not forced to flee their country in the 1950s.)

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    Flashback: Gadgets from 100 years ago

    Posted in history by Blimp deflator on July 8, 2011

    Gadgets from 100 years ago
    I have reproduced this page, taken from The London Magazine of 1911, for my friend Mike at GeekAlerts — a blog that introduces its followers to the latest gadgets and gizmos. It’s further proof that, in every age, people are fascinated by the latest inventions.