Wednesday miscellany (law and disorder)
Not only is it Refugee Week, but June 2008 is apparently the first Gypsy, Traveller and Roma History Month. Transpontine celebrates with some local Gypsy history. (Topical locally, as the Travellers of Lewisham are being turfed off their site and the council desperately tries to find a place to move them too that doesn't offend too many sedentary folk, currently probably a site in Ladywell considered by councillor Andrew Milton to be unsafe for the Travellers.)
Magna Carta day/Jazz cats:
Although I celebrated Bloomsday on Monday in New Cross with Transpontine and others, I failed to miss Magna Carta day, unlike Jim, and unlike the great Peter Linebaugh, whose long article at CounterPunch I recommend. Despite what I said the other day about CounterPunch; I was trying to decide if I'd been unfair or not. While there, read Ishmael Reed on Sonny Rollins. Opening sentence: "Bebop was my generation’s hip-hop." Nicely echoed in Jim on Jelly Roll Morton: "He was, in fact, the very first rapper."
One Bernard Goetz, many Bernard Goetzs:
In my long rant against Alexander Cockburn, I mentioned his flirtation with the Militia Movement, but not his support for gun rights, as asserted in his article "Bring Back the Posse", which suggests that arming the people would have prevented the Virginia Tech massacre.
The left complain about SWAT teams, but doesn't see that the progressives bear a lot of responsibility for their rise. If you confer the task of social invigilation and protection to professional janissaries--cops -- and deny the right of self and social protection to ordinary citizens, you end up with crews of over-armed thugs running amok under official license, terrorizing the disarmed citizens. In the end you have the whole place run by the Army or the federalized National Guard, as is increasingly evident now with the overturning of the Posse Comitatus laws forbidding any role for the military in domestic law enforcement.I happen to more or less agree with him on this. As Green Anarchist used to say, "Only guns give us rights." (Actually, that relates nicely back to the Magna Carta item doesn't it?)
Anyway, what I wanted to link to was The New Centrist's post that starts off with the disgraceful freeing of Naveed Haq, the man who attacked the Jewish Federation of Seattle, killing one woman and wounding six more, including a pregnant Dayna Klein, took a bullet in her arm as she protected her fetus. While shooting, he railed against Jews. To 911 operators, he said "These are Jews and I'm tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East." A slightly less sophisticated (but only slightly) version of what Alexander Cockburn says in his latest screed in CounterPunch (sorry to go on).
TNC uses the Haq case as a launchpad for talking about the divisive Bernard Goetz case. Among other things, he says:
The murder rate in NYC has decreased 50 percent from the 1980s. But in low-income communities, shootings and other violent incidents are not treated with the same severity as in middle-class communities. Crimes that simply would not be accepted by the police or community are getting more frequent. It is in this context that a black Bernhard Goetz may potentially emerge.I have to confess, I sometimes feel like that in inner city South London too.
The agony of Darfur:
While the liberal left dislike both the SWAT teams and the thought of a black Bernard Goetz in the inner cities of the global North, many of them take a similar line in the global South. Here, the "international community" (all too often embodied by America and its allies) is the global SWAT team. In Sudan, the black posse comitatus is the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), organised to defend the Sudanese black African population from the Janjaweed.
One of SLA leaders writes in WSJ:
we refuse to abandon our ideals of justice, freedom and equal rights for all. Some Western "realists" believe rather cynically that the "stability" Khartoum could bring about by force is preferable to our continued fight for freedom. What these people are really saying is that democracy is a Western prerogative and that we Sudanese should feel grateful for merely being allowed to live. We beg to differ.Now, I am not exactly uncritical of the SLA, but this is surely right.
(Hat tip: the Geek)
The agony of Iran:
Nonetheless, I am ambivalent about Western intervention in such places. I am profoundly ambivalent about intervention in Iran. Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) represent - despite their Stalinist roots and political culture - a positive step. The key word in their name is "People". They do not claim that an attack on the Iranian regime is an attack on the Iranian people, the claim implicit in the standard Stop the War/left liberal/UPJ/Ron Paul/CounterPunch/ortho-Trot/ line. Hence HOPI's exclusion from Stop the War.
Anyway, JimJay reports on a HOPI weekend school, concluding with rare sensibleness (rare in the world, not rare for him:
A state is not necessarily either a client state of the US or purely anti-Imperialist - it's clear that Iran shares some interests with the US and they are at logger heads over other things. Surely not a difficult position to grasp and this idea that the US is at the root of all evil is, it seems to me, slightly disrespectful to the rest of the world who should be credited with being social actors in their own right too.Completely unrelated:
An utterly unbeatable list from Richard. Well, can any of you beat it?
And even less related: