Wednesday miscellany (law and disorder)

South London Gypsy history:

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:


Jim Jepps said…
Hi Bob, thanks for the mention.

I feel terrible for mentioning this but you forgot the link to my post that you very kindly mentioned... which lives here

Hope that's not being cheeky.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the link. The post developed out of a conversation I had with my wife a few weeks prior to reading about the court decision in Seattle.
Anonymous said…
No, you were not wrong. Ishmael Reed is a clown and guilt-monger. I suspect him and Cockburn are probably homeboys...

Here is Reed in the Observer on Your Black Muslim Bakery:

"The Bakery spent three decades in the ghetto, raping, beating and brutalising poor black residents. And it was lauded and applauded for its social work. But the day after it killed a journalist, the hammer came down. 'As long as the underclass was being killed no one cared. But this really jolted all the upper levels of Oakland society,' says Ishmael Reed, an Oakland writer who has chronicled his city's turmoils."

Hogwash. The bakery was not lauded by anyone except militant black folks and their useful idiots and fellow travelers. Many white people brought up the criminality of the bakery, only to be denigrated as racists by people like Reed.

More wisdom from Reed in Counterpunch:

"Even Bob Herbert, a liberal and the token black on the New York Times' Neo Con editorial page, has to take the brothers and sisters to the woodshed from time to time in order to maintain credibility with his employers. He too says that Gangsta Rap is the cause of society's woes. (David Brooks, who promotes some of the same ideas as David Duke, but has a more opaque writing style, even blamed the riots in France on Gangsta Rap)."

Yes, the NYT is "neocon"! What an idiot. That the self-hating intellectual class heaps accolades on him is no surprise to me or anyone else who is paying attention. As a remedy to this lunacy check out John H. McWhorter, "Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America." Reed is one of the saboteurs:

Yes, it's an interesting interview but your post on Cockburn, Counterpunch, and crew was spot on.
bob said…
Thanks Jim - link now added!

Ishmeal Reed: I've read one or two of his novels, and enjoyed them. But I wouldn't want to endorse his politics; even less now.
Graeme said…
No, absolutely no chance of beating Baggage Reclaim's list. The best I can muster is that I walked by Voivod's drummer on my way home from work yesterday.
Graeme said…
Though in the comments, Sarahx has a list of people she's served beer to, and I arguably rival that. I've served beer to Queens of the Stone Age (okay, so they drank Coca-Cola, but that's not the point), Rufus Wainwright (tea drinker), and Elijah Wood (at least he drank beer). Not sure if that beats Lemmy, but it probably comes close.
bob said…
Graeme, your beer-serving record impresses me. I used to work in a pub, and served many pints, but NOT ONE SINGLE ONE to anyone famous.

My only comparison to Baggage Reclaim's record is that twice I've stood in the same queue for tea as Billy Bragg (once at a Mayday festival he played at - the historic 1997 - and once at very un-proley Kenwood House).

I've passed various famous people on the streets of London (my favourite, though not the most famous: Robert Wyatt at the Royal Festival Hall cafe; the guy that played Marcus Tandy in El Dorado in a pub in Kentish Town), but never stood next to anyone famous at a urinal.

By the way, it's a long time since I last listened to Voivod - what a band!