Don’t Confuse Anecdote with Structural Fact: Poverty and Unemployment are Structural Facts

Poverty and unemployment are structural and cyclical features of capitalism. They are the facts of life of the capitalist economy. Capitalists cannot put all labor into action at once; therefore, there are always unemployed people, and, without wages and salaries, and without government support, these people will always be poor. When the economy is doing well, the rate of unemployment is lower. When the economy is doing poorly, there are more unemployed people. But there is always unemployment and it has nothing to do with effort or lack of effort. It has to do with business cycles and the structure of capitalist production. Such things mark the nature of the beast.

Can individuals improve themselves? Sure. I know individuals who have. Are there people who are unemployed because they don’t want to work? Sure. I know people like this, too. But individual effort does not eliminate poverty any more than laziness explains unemployment. People who make this argument confuse anecdote with structural fact. 

I can provide two examples that illustrate my point. In 1969, unemployment was 3.4 percent. In 1983, unemployment was 11 percent. These facts contributed to poverty rates of around 11-12 and over 15 percent respectively. Now, if we believed that unemployment and poverty were caused by lack of effort, we would have to explain why it was that three times more people were lazy in 1983 than were lazy in 1969. It is an odd idea, and I don’t know how we would go about measuring aggregate laziness. It certainly couldn’t be measured by the unemployment rate, since that would form a tautology. It raises other questions, such as, if laziness causes unemployment, what causes laziness? Why did laziness decline after 1983? Whey did it go back up only a few years later?

We can dispense with such silliness. The reality is that unemployment was much lower in 1969 because we were at the peak of a economic boom. Unemployment was so much higher in 1983 because we were in at the bottom of the trough of a severe business recession. Poverty was much lower in 1969 because of the economic boom, along with the the fact that the government spent money on anti-poverty programs. In 1983, many of those government programs were being underfunded, and this surrender in the war on poverty combined with the recession to drive up the poverty rate. 

These realities are structural and cyclical features of capitalism, a very unstable economic system. They do not reflect individual behavior. Other observable facts dramatically disprove any crazy theories that could be devised to explain them. Most people who are poor work very hard. The problem is that they don’t get paid very much money for the work they do. And the work the poor do is the work they can find.

This about it. If it is impossible for everybody to work their way to the top (which it is), then it is rather meaningless to say anybody can work their way to the top, unless you believe that it is proper for the exploited to become the exploiter. The system is unjust because there is a structural barrier preventing most people from making it to the top. That barrier is capital—that is, the fact that a handful of people have the ability to profit and the majority don’t. Such a system is immoral precisely for that reason, namely, the few exploiting the many. 

Capitalism is a game in which most people lose everyday and will always lose. We can prove that simply by looking at the numbers provided by the capitalists themselves (Statistics for All Manufacturing Establishments in 2005, published by the US census Bureau). For every hour that an industrial worker labors in America, that worker earns an average wage of $17.69 (that’s $707.60 a week before taxes—not a lot of money). Yet that same worker produces $115.58 in value! Subtracting out the wage, that means the capitalist makes, on average, $97.89 off the worker every hour. That’s $2044.61 a week! The capitalist doesn’t produce that value. The worker produces all of it. Yet the worker only gets a fraction of the value he produces. The capitalist pockets all that dough he didn’t earn. Obviously, the worker is getting ripped off. Worse, the more productive the worker is the more he gets ripped off!

Here’s the paradox: if everybody could work their way to the top, and they did, capitalism would cease to exist. That’s obvious—without most people being exploited workers, capitalism cannot work. (Socialist revolution is everybody working their way to the top.) Furthermore, it’s a fact that people work hard and never make it out of poverty. Poverty is low in successful countries such as Sweden only because of massive government support for people. Without government intervention, capitalism systematically generates poverty and unemployment. Of course, you can continue believing the myth that people who work hard can work their way up the ladder if you want—a lot of people believe false things—but it doesn’t make it true.

The truth is that the people who work the hardest in our society are among the poorest, and the people who work the least are the richest. Indeed, the richest people, those who do no work at all, don’t even raise their own kids or mow their own lawns. They pay other people to do that—money they got by exploiting you!

Finally, it’s a myth that democracy is built on capitalism. Capitalism has existed for around 500 years. Democracy has existed since the dawn of the species, at least 100,000 years ago. In fact, capitalism is one of the least democratic systems in history. It ranks up there with feudalism and slavery, and for most people in the world, capitalism is as bad. Most capitalist countries aren’t democratic at all. True democracy—where you and me get to decide on the most important things our lives and community—can only be possible when we the people control the means of production, and such a situation cannot be capitalist. But the least any worker should settle on in the meantime under capitalism is social democracy and high labor density. To oppose those things is to oppose your own interests. 

Mormonism and the Fallacy of Religious Bigotry

Al Sharpton has come under fire for criticizing Mormonism. He denies he criticized the faith (he says he was misinterpreted), but let’s assume for the moment that he did. His detractors say that because he did this he is a “bigot.” To be specific, they say he is engaging in “religious bigotry.” Right-wing blowhard Glenn Beck has made the biggest deal out Sharpton’s remarks.

But is there such a thing as “religious bigotry”? I’m an atheist. I criticize organized religion, as well as belief in the supernatural. I don’t think it’s merely silly to believe in the supernatural and to engage in religious rituals; I know it is harmful to society. Does this make me a bigot? If this were true, then I would be a bigot for criticizing belief in hobbits and trolls or the Easter bunny. Under such a loose definition, anybody who criticizes belief based on error or faith is guilty of bigotry. This is giving religion a status it doesn’t deserve.

Perhaps it’s even more absurd to accuse a believer of religious bigotry. Sharpton is a Christian. Since when must Christians tolerate the beliefs of Mormons? Christians don’t accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of Jehovah. For them, Mormonism is a false doctrine. It’s a disagreement over dogma, not an exercise in bigotry. Criticizing Christians for such a thing is the same as criticizing Jews for not believing Jesus was the son of Yahweh. Does disbelief in Jesus as God among most Jews make them bigots? Of course not.

As if the attack of Sharpton’s statements for religious bigotry were not enough, there is this: Mormonism is one of the most virulently racist dogmas that has ever existed. We now entered the realm of irony. According to Mormon doctrine, the physical appearance of Africans is the result of God’s curse placed upon Cain for killing Abel. God gave Africans “flat noses” and “black skin,” according to church leaders, as punishment for his sin. The curse runs deep. Blacks are spiritually inferior to whites. For this reason, until recently, blacks have been excluded from the priesthood. What caused the change of heart? The US government threatened to take away the church’s tax free status (which should be removed from all churches anyway) unless it changed its bigoteddoctrine. Sharpton, a black Christian, is a bigot for criticizing Mormonism, an anti-black religion?

Let’s get our concepts straight: One can be bigoted against a racial or ethnic group, but one cannot be bigoted against a religion. Religion is foremost an arbitrary system of ideas with no basis in reason or fact. The claim that a person who criticizes religion is a “bigot” is analogous to the claim that a person who criticizes white supremacy is a bigot. Being anti-religious is analogous to being anti-racist! Moreover, to accept the claim that it is bigotry to oppose a candidate for president because he believes in Mormonism would mean that I cannot publicly oppose a candidate for president because believes in Satanism, lest I be a bigot.

I will criticize any candidate for public office who believes in the supernatural. And because some religions are worse than others, I may actually prefer a candidate whose religious views I judge to be less harmful to society. History records JFK’s candidacy as a great trump of civil rights because the nation looked past his Catholicism. But voting against JFK for his Catholicism is not analogous to voting against a presidential candidate because he is black or because she is a woman. And if one day the Supreme Court is dominated by Catholics, we will be justified in worrying about the fate of Roe v. Wade. For unlike skin color, religion has a substance.

A point of clarification is necessary. If we are defining bigotry in its traditional sense as intolerant and obstinate devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices, then bigotry is not something for which one can be too harshly criticized. Such strident devotion is to be expected in religion. A Pentecostal is going to be intolerant and obstinately devoted to his own opinions and prejudices when it comes to religion. That’s what it means to be a devout Pentecostal. However, I am using bigotry here in the sense of racial bigotry or racism. 

Ignorance and Sympathy in the Israel-Palestine debate

I have been discussing the Israel-Palestine question with a group of conservatives today and it is quite interesting to see how misguided conservatives are in their basic understanding of the situation. 

But what is truly astonishing is how blind they are to how they themselves would respond to the situation if they were Palestinian. Some people really believe that a people who are made to suffer the way Palestinians are have no right to resist. They seem, moreover, incapable of grasping the essential truth that one of the inevitable consequence of aggression is that some oppressed people will respond to oppressive violence by resort to violence themselves.

Trying to generate sympathy for the Palestinian resistance I asked them, “Have you had your land taken from you, your house bulldozed, your route to a hospital blocked so that your husband died, your ambulances shot at, your sons taken into police custody and tortured, your apartment building bombed into rubble?” Of course they cannot answer this question. They have never had these experiences. They don’t know that the cost of Israel’s occupation of Palestine has been far greater for Palestinians than it has been for Israelis. 

Between 9.29.2000 and 10.31.2007, 4345 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces and Israeli settlers, the vast majority at the hands of security forces. In contrast, 707 Israeli civilians and 317 Israeli security forces have been killed by Palestinians. Of course, Israeli civilians are not legitimate targets of violent resistance. Neither are Palestinian civilians, the number of their dead standing at more than six times the number of Israeli civilian dead. Source: B’Tselem Statistics

Does oppression justify resistance? Of course. It requires it. Does oppression justify terrorism? I imagine from the perspective of some Palestinians living in Gaza it does. Of course, I don’t agree with harming civilians (which the statistics above show that Israel does far more than Palestinians). But you don’t have to agree with the character of a response to understand why that response is occurring. 

However, basic sympathy is a concept apparently alien to this group of conservatives. They continually justify Israeli brutality towards Palestinians on the grounds that Palestinians in Gaza lob rockets into Israel. I asked them this simple moral question: “If you believe that Israel is justified in bombing civilian apartment buildings in Gaza in retaliation for rockets being launched into Israel, then why don’t you believe that Palestinians are justified in launching rockets into Israel in retaliation for Israel bombing apartment buildings in Gaza.” I await an answer. But, really, it is a rhetorical question, one that speaks to the reality that violence begets violence, and to the moral truth that it is the occupier that has the burden to stop the vicious cycle.

The question most supporters of Israel should be concerned with is this, “How do Israelis make themselves safe consistent with basic human decency and morality?” (I hope conservatives will at least give lip service to human decency and morality). The answer to that question is clear: follow international law, end the occupation, and recognize a Palestinian state. If Palestinians still routinely lob rockets into Israel after a just settlement, get back to me and I will entertain arguments for why this is still happening.

The Americas weren’t empty when Europeans got here. There were tens of millions of people already living there. So Europeans took their land, reduced their numbers by over 90 percent, and herded the remnants onto reservations. If international law had been in effect back then, then the United States would be an outlaw state. The same dynamic holds for for Palestine and Palestinians, except in this case there is international law. Yet the law has not resulted in the judgment that Israel is an outlaw state.

There are those who still believe that because Israel defeated Arab armies in Palestine that they now rightly claim Palestine. This is an argument in favor of lawlessness. It is illegal under international law to acquire territory by force. Occupation, whether legal or illegal, is temporary and can never lead to sovereignty over the occupied territory. The land belongs to the people living there. Territory by conquest asserts the “principle” of “might makes right,” a thoroughly immoral and lawless standard of right.

However, given the failure of the international community to compel Israel to follow the law, and given the reasons for that failure, it would seem that “might makes right” is the prevailing principle in world affairs today.

Michael Mukasey, Defining Torture, and Waterboarding

Right-wing commentators are claiming that questioning of the nominee for the office of US attorny general on the matter of torture is hypocrisy since they had a chance to define what is torture in the law. The argument is entirely fallacious and a transparent attempt to dismiss criticisms of the administration’s policy of torture with a rhetorical prop.

Demanding an answer to the question is consistent with the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. People should read that act. It covers interpretations of the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, as well the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Since the Attorney General interprets and enforces the law, it is crucial to know his position on what constitutes torture according to these laws.

As for the Military Commissions Act of 2006, while this act indeed contravenes human rights standards, it also limits the ability of the president to torture people. However, in his signing statement, Bush said the law doesn’t apply to him. Therefore, since the Attorney General interprets and enforces the law for the president, it is especially crucial to know his position on what constitutes torture.

* * *

A presidential finding, signed in 2002 by President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General John Ashcroft, approved of waterboarding as a legitimate interrogation technique. In other words, Bush approved of torturing prisoners, a war crime under international law. 

US generals designated waterboarding as an illegal practice in Vietnam 40 years ago. The above photograph, taken in 1968, of a US soldier involved in waterboarding a North Vietnamese prisoner led to that soldier being court martialed. In 1947, the United States sentenced to 15 years hard labor Japanese officer Yukio Asano with war crimes for waterboarding a US civilian. Before that, in 1901, an Army major who used waterboarding against an Philippine insurgent was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. Waterboarding dates back to at least the 1500s when it was used during the Italian Inquisition, and even way back then it was considered torture.

Waterboarding is torture. President Bush ordered officials to torture human being. Bush is a war criminal.

Addressing the Real Problem: Capitalism

Steve T. Suitts, author of the report A New Majority: Low-Income Students in the South’s Public Schools, was quoted in a story in Education Week as saying: “If this new majority of students fail in school an entire state, an entire region, and—sooner or later—an entire nation will fail simply because there will be inadequate human capital to build and sustain good jobs, an enjoyable quality of life, and a well-informed democracy.”

The study was published by the Southern Education Foundation, which had a time line on their web page that covers the injustices of American society. However, Suitts use of the term “human capital” shows that at least one of the foundation’s members does not grasp a fundamental reality about American society. Capital is an owned resource that generates income and wealth. It is wealth in the form of money or property used or accumulated in a business by a person (or family) or group of people (corporation). It is material resource that is used or is available for use in the production of wealth. As capital, human resources are considered in terms of capacity to generate income and wealth. Human capital means that humans, either themselves or the results of their efforts, are property that belong to some person or persons.

For example, black slaves were human capital. The slavemaster owned a member of a disadvantaged racialized caste of human beings and used that person as capital to generate income. It was not the ownership of the African person or the person of African descent that generated the income, but ownership of the value created by the slave. Ownership was the form of control used to extract the value. Transfer of value from the person producing it to a person not producing it is exploitation. As a result of exploitation, the slavemaster lived a life of leisure in a mansion while the slave lived a life of toil in a small house. Because of his power and wealth, the slavemaster determined and shaped how life happened for both himself and the slave. Because the slavemaster owned the means of production, the slavemaster controlled society.

Similarly, a worker is human capital. While the capitalist does not formally own the worker, he does own the value created by the worker, a member of a disadvantaged economic class of human beings, and uses that value as capital to generate income. Structural coercion is the form of control used to extract the value—namely, the concentration of the means of production in the hands of a small number of families compelling most persons to sell their labor rather than dedicating most of the value they produce to self and collective improvement. As noted, transfer of value from the person producing it to a person not producing it is exploitation, and as a result of these exploitative relations, the capitalist lives a life of leisure in a mansion while the worker lives a life of toil in a small house. Because of his power and wealth, the capitalist determines and shapes how life happens for both himself and the slave. Because the capitalist owns the means of production, the capitalist controls society.

Returning to what Suitts said, his argument becomes problematic when the reality of capitalism is made explicit. Let’s read the key parts of the quote again: “If this new majority of students fail in school…there will be inadequate human capital to build and sustain good jobs, an enjoyable quality of life, and a well-informed democracy.”  

Human capital—the working family—is impoverished because of capitalist needs. Capitalists have, along with several other tactices, destroyed the labor movement in the United States to reduce wages and salaries in order to increase the surplus value produced by labor with the intent to convert that value into profit in the market to generate income for their life of leisure and privilege. Intensifying labor exploitation (whether through intensifying effort, mechanization and automation, rationalization, or globalization) is the fundamental imperative of capitalist relations. 

In the current period, is not very important from the capitalist standpoint that children from low income families have a real education for the simple fact that low income children will grow up to do jobs that don’t require a real education. Indeed, a real education is detrimental to the interests of the capitalist class; for, if you teach children to be creative and to think critically, more than a handful of them may come to the realization that capitalism is an exploitative system that should be replaced with real democracy—a government and an economy in which working families are in charge. Capitalists don’t want a “well-informed democracy.” They want a docile and subservient workforce educated just well enough to read instruction manuals and perform relatively simple calculations. The want a workforce just curious enough to turn on the television and watch corporate propaganda disguised as objective information.

So while I applaud any efforts to make real education a reality in this country, failure to understand the fundamental reality of capitalism leads to an effort that cannot substantially move the people forward in such a cause. Using the term “human capital” tells us right away that there is a failure to understand the fundamental reality of capitalism: a system of exploitation in which human beings are compelled to rent themselves to wealthy families who determine and shape how people live their lives.

The bottomline is that either a subset of persons in a society rules society or all the people in society rule society. Democracy is where the people rule themselves. Under capitalism, most people are ruled by a few people. Democracy is therefore not possible under capitalism. Ultimately, in order to make society work for working families, working families must be put in charge of ordering society. The people have to replace unelected rulers (capitalists) with democratically-elected leaders and direct democratic participation in a system that elminates the wall of separation between the polity and the economy. Democracy cannot exist without some form of socialism, and this requires a socialist revolution. We need a socialist movement.

Cognitive Dissonance and its Resolutions

Mike S. Adams, a conservative criminologist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, illustrates how intelligent people are often not logical. The premise of his recent article undermines the author’s argument. If people generally don’t understand their motives, and if the author did not understand his motive all those years that he was an atheist, then it is likely the author does not understand his motive now that he has returned to Christianity.

Given his explanations, which uses cognitive dissonance theory, both imagined motives (that is, for leaving and returning) are problematic. People don’t become atheists because they don’t want to love their enemies. The simply continue hating their enemies and being Christians. It’s called hypocrisy and—apologies to my Christian friends—Christians are great at it. (I have always been particularly interested in the cognitive framework of the right-wing conservative Christian, as there is so much hatred in his heart, I often wonder why he is even a Christian.)

Cognitive dissonance can be resolved by reason and fact. The rational person needs proof to believe in the existence of things. This proof can be either logical or empirical. When confronted with his own faith-belief, the rational person experiences cognitive dissonance, namely, “I am supposed to believe in God with no logical or empirical proof, but because the rational person demands reason and fact to belief something, I have a choice to make: either I will be a theist and rely on faith belief or I will be an atheist and rely on reason.”

Either choice resolves the conflict (although they are not created equal, as reason is demonstrable in proof, whereas faith is not). In the first, the person has decided to give up rationalism. In the second, the person has decided to give up religion. Of course, most people compartmentalize, which is to say that they make a distinction between rational belief and faith belief, convince themselves that these are not in contradiction, and continue on their way. While this distinction is irrational—a truth usually not understood by the person—it allows the individual to carry on with life. Unfortunately, this irrationalism leads at the same time to a life of irrational belief and action.

Finally, to clarify what cognitive dissonance is, I will use a contemporary example. Republicans are confronted with the fact that the President of the United States has ordered the torture of human beings. Because torture is a bad thing and Republicans don’t want to be seen as supportive of bad things, they deny that what Bush has ordered is tortured. Bush helps them out by redefining what torture is. Because what he is doing is called something else, Republicans can support the torturer and claim not to support torture.

GEO-4

The Environmental Program of the United Nations has released its 550-page report, Global Environment Outlook (or GEO-4). The UN report warns that climate change, diminishing water supplies, and species extinction, among many other threats, will irreversibly alter life on Earth.

We’re in trouble, folks, and, unfortunately, as executive director of the program Achim Steiner notes, most nations had failed to “recognize the magnitude of the challenges facing the people and the environment of the planet.” Steiner went right to the source of the problem: overshoot and collapse. The capitalist treadmill of production, its imperative to expand the depletion of resources continually for the sake of profit, is a recipe for disaster. “That equation cannot hold for much longer,” Steiner said. “Indeed, in parts of the world it is no longer holding.”

Of course, the global warming denial lunatics are out in force denying the soundness of the science in the report. So I think it is helpful to point out that this report is five years in coming and is the work of nearly four hundred scientists. They took their sweet time in producing a very carefully researched report (it’s been a long twenty years since the last one).

The facts are dramatic and incontrovertable. Just take a look at one fact, first reported in June by the World Health Organization: thirteen million human beings die annually as a result of dirty water, polluted air, and poor working conditions. The UN report found that if the trends identified by WHO continue, almost two billion people will suffer from fresh water shortages.

Dr. James Watson

Nobel Prize-winning DNA scientist, the man who (along with with Francis Crick and Maurice Hugh Frederick Wilkins) won the prize in 1962 for his description of the double helix structure of DNA, and chancellor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Dr. James Watson, said recently in an interview with the London Times that, while “there are many people of color who are very talented,” he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.” Watson wants to deny he meant what he said, and he apologized for saying it, but he has long been a believer in the hereditary theory of intelligence and tests purported to detect such intelligence find that people of African decent are as a group less intelligent than those of European decent.

Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement: “The comments, which were attributed to Dr. James Watson earlier this week in the London Times, are wrong, from every point of view – not the least of which is that they are completely inconsistent with the body of research literature in this area.” This is true. There is no scientific basis for there being races of human beings. Moreover – and I’m not sure Serhouni meant this but – there is no scientific basis for claiming that mental testing measures hereditary intelligence (see Stephen J. Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man). Noting what appears as the underlying agenda, Elias said, “Scientific prestige is never a substitute for knowledge. As scientists, we are outraged and saddened when science is used to perpetuate prejudice.”

The Science Museum of London canceled a speech Dr. Watson was to have given there today, saying that Dr. Watson’s assertions on race and intelligence are “beyond the point of acceptable debate.” Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, said it was “tragic that one of the icons of modern science has cast such dishonor on the profession.” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory suspended Watson from the laboratory, where he was president for 35 years and remained (until yesterday) chancellor. They rebuked him and said that they do not do research there that has any bearing on what Watson argued. However, there appears to be a political motive for the laboratory moving so quickly on this matter: the eugenics archive

DC Police Shooting: The Killing of DeOnte Rawlings

Off-duty and out of uniform, Washington DC police officers James Haskel and Anthony Clay were in Haskel’s sport-utility vehicle looking for a minibike that Haskel thought had been stolen from his home. They found 14-year-old DeOnté Rawlings on the bike and called out to him. Haskel and Clay claimed that DeOnté opened fire. The men say never had a chance to identify themselves as police officers. They chased DeOnté down and Haskel shot him in the head. The gun that Haskel and Clay said DeOnté fired at them has not been found.

Police are angry that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) agreed to pay for DeOnté’s funeral. DC Fraternal Order of Police President Lou Cannon says many view Fenty’s actions as questionable. He says the mayor should avoid the perception that he’s siding with the victim. Defenders of the cops say that along with the eight shell casings from Haskel’s police-issued 9mm Glock recovered from the scene, three shell casings from a .45-caliber handgun were found, and that there is a damage to the SUV from DeOnté’s alleged gun. 

However, the problems with the story are many. Police are notorious for carrying with them a weapons, ammunition, and other incriminating evidence that they plant on or locate near shooting victims. It is not a problem to scatter .45-caliber shell casings around the scene of a crime to legitimate a claim that the victim returned fire or fired first. Not having a gun makes it even harder to uncover the deception. Anthony Clay drove the car away from the scene of the shooting for several minutes, parking the car in an unknown location before returning to the scene. That the SUV was driven from the scene and then, when found, showed damage from gun fire is highly suspicious. The police officers did not report the shooting, but patrol units were alerted because of technology designed to detect gun fire. A rooftop ShotSpotter sensor told police where Rawlings’ body was. Patrol units arrived to find DeOnté dead with a head wound. DeOnté’s family has asked where the minibike is. 

Just imagine the situation. Here is a 14-year-old black kid being chased by an SUV with two men inside screaming at him. The officers were off duty, out of uniform, and driving a sports utility fan. How was DeOnté supposed to know they were cops? A sport-utility fan with two big men in it screaming at a 14-year old is going to have what effect on the kid on the minibike? What is a kid in a rough neighborhood supposed to think about the situation? Of course he’s going to run. The police ran him down and shot him in the head. This is the phenomenological reality gleened from the cops’ version. 

The eye witness version is even more damning. According to witnesses in the neighborhood, several youths were riding motorbikes on Atlantic Street and in the alleyway behind it. The SUV showed up sometime after 7:00 pm. The SUV made three passes around the block. On its third passes, the SUV and one of the minibikes crossed paths in the alley. The SUV backed up and several shots rang out in quick succession. DeOnté had been shot in the head. Witnesses say only the police fired. They observed DeOnté, lying bleeding to death on the concrere, and the officers doing nothing to save his life.

A DC police official has confirmed what the family has said, that the teen was never considered dangerous. However, it has come to light that police were frustrated with DeOnté because he always refused to help them with investigations. Both official and relatives have reported this fact. DeOnté father has stated publicly that the cops “were trying to make DeOnté into a snitch.” The several visits to the Rawlings home by police questioning him about various crimes that occurred around the city support Mr. Rawlings’ claims.

At a news conference, Mayor Fenty invited Rawlings’ sisters to the microphone. The girls asked why the officers hadn’t been indicted for killing their brother. That’s my question. This case screams homicide.

Hyperbole and Hypocrisy from the Zionist Camp

Dani Klein, Campus Director of the pro-Israel activism group Stand With Us, said in protest of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University, “Free speech is one thing. Honoring a modern day Hitler is another.” Now in what manner can the Iranian president be compared to Hitler? Is Iran invading other countries? Is Iran pursuing an expansionist policy? Is Iran dividing people based on ethnicity and relegating despised minorities to ghettos? Does Iran have a vast military apparatus capable of taking over the Middle East? Is Iran engaged in a policy of ethnic cleansing? (The only country in the Middle East that approximates this description is Israel.)

Of course, Klein is taking his cue from those around him. Earlier in the day, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Gillerman, likened the Iranian president to Hitler and said that allowing Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero would be like allowing a Nazi leader to visit the site. “We are reminded of a similar situation in 1933, when then Columbia President Nicholas Murray Butler hosted a reception for the Nazi ambassador,” Gillerman said. “We ask Columbia and President Bollinger not to dignify Ahmadinejad, do not honor him, and do not emulate President Butler from 1933.”

In response to Gillerman’s claims, the university’s dean, John Coatsworth, said that he would have extended an invitation to Hitler himself had such an appearance been feasible. “If Hitler were at the League of Nations or some meeting in New York, if Hitler were in the United States, and wanted a platform from which to speak… if he were willing to engage in debate and discussion, to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.” In an era where free speech is rapidly eroding, Columbia still gets it.

It’s long been clear that Abraham Foxman of the ADL has no concept of free speech, and his comments on the Ahmadinejad-Columbia matter provide yet another example of the dim-witted mentality that makes it so hard for the man to see why comparing right-wing Zionists to fascists isn’t such a leap. “It is inappropriate and a perversion of the concept of freedom of speech,” Foxman said of Columbia’s decision. “Columbia University has no moral imperative, no legal imperative, no social imperative to give Ahmadinejad a platform, which he would not give them in Tehran. Why give him the credibility and the respectability of a major institution of higher learning? What message does that send to the students? This is not what the First Amendment is all about.”

Foxman’s argument is this? Because Iran doesn’t allow voices critical of Iran and its allies to be heard in Iranian forums, then the US shouldn’t allow Iranian voices to be heard in American forums. But isn’t that the problem with Iran? Isn’t the argument that Iran is not like the West because it doesn’t have the liberal democratic traditions we enjoy here in the United States. So instead of showing the world why we are more free by allowing a politician we disagree with to speak on one of our college campuses, we are supposed to instead be like Iran and suppress speech with which some members of our society disagree? Make you wonder if Foxman’s mouth and ears are operated by the same brain.