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Satanic Temple Is Trying To Strike Pro-Life Laws In The Name Of Religion – The Federalist

The Satanic Temples Religious Reproductive Rights campaign will expandto more states this fall. But contrary to the recent speculations of some, The Satanic Temple will continue to fail in its efforts to use religious liberty to strike down state laws regulating abortion, as it failed with its initial foray in Missouri, because of the groups poor understanding of laws protecting religious freedom.

Anti-religious confusion and misdirection abound with The Satanic Temple. The group does not worship a personal Satan. Instead, it advocates atheistic, anti-supernatural rationalism that exalts the self with its saying, Thyself is Thy Master. The group misleadingly uses Satanic terminology and symbols to scare and confuse others about its anti-religion agenda.

The groups legal efforts show its contempt for religion by advancing causes intended to shrink First Amendment freedoms that protect everyone. The Satanic Temple has promoted after-school Satan clubs, placed goat demon statues in government spaces with Ten Commandments monuments, and engaged in other such antics to frighten officials into eliminating these expressive forums in order to silence the voices of religious believers.

The groups abortion-related campaigns based on religious liberty are equally disingenuous and flawed. The Satanic Temple explains that the Satanic abortion ritual does not require women to get abortions but sanctifies the abortion process by instilling confidence and protecting bodily rights. Part of its abortion ritual involves the woman reciting the Personal Affirmation: By my body, my blood, By my will it is done.

The Satanic Temple claims to feel so strongly about the sacredness of this abortion ritual that it is conducting a raffle to raise money for its legal efforts, with the winner receiving up to $2,500 toward her abortion. Buying a raffle ticket also allows one to vote for the state in which the group will next work to challenge abortion regulations.

Fortunately, the first foray of the groups legal strategy in Missouri has utterly failed. The Missouri lawsuits involved a female member of The Satanic Temple who challenged two Missouri laws in federal and state courts.

One of the laws requires women seeking abortions to be given the opportunity to read a pamphlet about possible health risks from undergoing an abortion and scientific information about fetal development. The other law requires a 72-hour waiting period before obtaining an abortion. The woman argued that the laws violated the Establishment Clause and the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Both the Missouri Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit rejected The Satanic Temples extreme Establishment Clause argument that these laws are unconstitutional because they coincide with pro-life Roman Catholic theology. That reasoning would wipe out many laws that also happen to coincide with Catholic doctrine, such as laws against theft and murder, and government programs giving aid to the poor.

If a court ruled in favor of The Satanic Temples position, that ruling would also violate the Establishment Clause because it would place The Satanic Temples religious dogma into law. Such an expansive interpretation of the Establishment Clause would make governing and legislating impossible.

As to the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Satanists said they believe abortion is a holy rite, so laws hindering their religious practice must be struck down. But RFRA laws do not grant automatic exemptions from laws merely because someone says, My religion requires me to do something different. A modern-day Aztec could not justify homicide by claiming he was making a human sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl. If a state RFRA actually operated as an automatic get-out-of-jail-free card, the most popular church in town would be the one preaching, Paying taxes is sinful!

A state RFRA is a defense one can raise against a government command, but it does not guarantee that the religious believer will win an exemption from that law. RFRA laws, such as Missouris law, usually have a four-part test that filters the strong religious liberty claims from weak and frivolous ones.

The believer must show (1) sincere beliefs rooted in religion that (2) the governments requirement substantially burdens; then (3) the government must show it has a compelling interest that (4) it furthers by the least restrictive means possible. The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously rejected The Satanic Temples religious liberty challenges to the informed consent law and 72-hour waiting period requirement.

At the first step, one can reasonably doubt whether The Satanic Temple has sincere beliefs about abortion that are rooted in religion. Its past actions show repeated mocking and trolling of religious beliefs. It looks more like the group is invoking religion to promote abortion by using state religious freedom laws to own religious pro-lifers.

Next, Missouris laws dont substantially burden a Satanists beliefs because they dont stop her from getting an abortion. The law did not require her to read the states pamphlet, and she still could get an abortion after the waiting period. These commonsense regulations dont amount to a substantial burden on her religion; she simply disagrees with the law.

Under the third and fourth RFRA factors, the state must show it has a compelling state interest in the specific legal requirements, implemented by the least restrictive means. Here, Missouri has a strong interest in making sure people undergoing significant medical procedures know all the relevant facts and have sufficient opportunity to reflect upon what they have learned in order to consent with an informed understanding of what will happen to them and the risks. Offering women the information and giving them time to consider the information is the least restrictive means to accomplish that goal.

It is difficult to take the pro-abortion advocacy of The Satanic Temple seriously because of its long history of disdaining religious believers with sloppily conceived, publicity-seeking campaigns and lawsuits meant to disrupt and diminish religious liberty protections for all. If the group really wants to advance its religious beliefs, it needs to work seriously within the legal protections that all Americans enjoy.

Perverting constitutional and statutory freedoms because of policy disagreements is wrongheaded, short-sighted, and disrespectful to fellow citizens. May the courts continue to reject these dangerous efforts.

Jordan Lorence is senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the freedom of conscience of numerous creative professionals in court.

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Satanic Temple Is Trying To Strike Pro-Life Laws In The Name Of Religion - The Federalist

The Flawed Genius of the Constitution – The Atlantic

Why do I love the U.S. Constitution? This instrument formally converted the worth of my great-great-grandfather Sidiphus into three-fifths that of a free person. Living in the East Indies as a free man, Sidiphus had been tricked into enslavementrecruited to a Georgia farm just before the Civil War by the promise of a foremanship. Had he managed to escape Georgia and bondage prior to the onset of the war, the Constitution would not have protected his God-given natural rights.

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution determined that representation in Congress and direct taxation would be apportioned to the states by adding up the whole number of free people, plus three-fifths of all other personsmeaning enslaved personsexcluding Indians not taxed. These words carried into the Constitution a compromise first formulated in 1783 in a proposed amendment to the Articles of Confederation. That compromise was later adopted in the Constitution to resolve the conundrum of how to tax the plantation wealth of the South without giving white landowners outsize power in Congress by including enslaved people in the official count of the population.

Given the crime against humanity written into the Constitution because compromise was necessary to form a unionand given the sharp and unabating attention that the nations Founders and their writings have received in recent monthsI had better have a rock-solid explanation for my love of that document. Simple love of country, land of my mothers milk, wont do. My love must be sighted, not blind.

Special project: The battle for the Constitution

As it happens, Sidiphuss God-given natural rights had been much earlier asserted by none other than Thomas Jefferson and fellow members of the drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence. They took the trouble to make this assertion in the original draft of the Declaration, when they castigated the King of England for violatingthrough his protection of the trade in enslaved peoplethe sacred rights of life and liberty of Africans who had never done him any harm. We will never know if it was Jefferson who thought up those wordswords that would take many Americans today by surpriseor another committee member, perhaps John Adams or Benjamin Franklin. Adams, from Massachusetts, never enslaved anyone and thought enslavement was wrong. Franklin, from Pennsylvania, who himself had been an indentured servant, did enslave African Americans early in his life, but he eventually abandoned the practice and became a full-throated abolitionist. Pennsylvania and Massachusetts would be the first states to abolish enslavement, in 1780 and 1783, respectively (and gradually in the case of Pennsylvania)years before the U.S. Constitution was adopted, and even before the Revolution was formally over. The Continental Congress, of course, in its revisions to the draft of the Declaration of Independence, struck out any explicit recognition of Africans human rights, postponing their protection until 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified.

Already in 1776, Benjamin Franklin could make cutting jokes about the so-called slave interest and its influence on American politics. In the July 1776 debates over the Articles of Confederation, this exchange occurred between Franklin and Thomas Lynch Jr., of South Carolina, as recorded in the Journals of the Continental Congress:

franklin: Slaves rather weaken than strengthen the State, and there is therefore some difference between them and sheep; sheep will never make any insurrections.

Franklin knew that enslaved men, women, and children were fully his equal, as capable of insurrection and revolution as he and his colleagues had been that hot July day in Philadelphia when they resolved to break away from Britain. Franklin recognized that a society built on a foundation of domination would be as unstable as the foundation itself.

Eleven years later, though, Franklin was helping shore up the Great Compromise, the adoption of the three-fifths clause that underestimated my great-great-grandfathers worth. In the final days of the Constitutional Convention, delegates debated whether they would convey their draft to Congress without individual endorsements or seek to have each delegate affix his signature to the document. The latter approach, which in fact played out, would amount to a pledge of commitment and ensure that dissent would die in the Conventionsworn secrets of the debates long concealed until James Madisons unofficial notes surfaced decades later. Franklin was in favor of consensus and for burying reservations. In a statement he said:

With these words, Franklin articulated the deepest, hardest truth of free self-government. People can have the chance of self-government through the institutions of constitutional democracy if and only if they prioritize the preservation of those institutions over wins in substantive domains of policy. For this lesson, Abraham Lincoln is our foremost teacher. When union and policy commitments come into conflict, those who wish to preserve free self-government must choose union. In that spirit, Franklin chose freedom for some over freedom for none.

Yet not all compromises are good ones. And not all are necessary. To understand and embrace the centrality of compromise to the sustainability of constitutional democracy and the self-government of free and equal citizens, one needs to be able to distinguish between good and bad compromises. Both the Declaration and the Constitution (via the Bill of Rights) include another important compromise, this one not about enslavement but about religion. The Declaration simultaneously uses the languages of rationalism and of faith to establish the grounds for its moral commitment, as when it invokes the Laws of Nature and of Natures God. While the text refers to a Creator, to divine Providence, and to a Supreme Judge, it studiously avoids using the vocabulary of any specific religion or doctrine. The text is capacious. Believers and nonbelievers alike are given reason to sign on; no specific form of belief takes precedence. Similarly, the Constitutions inclusion of the protection of religious freedom and the separation of Church and state formed the structure for a profoundly valuable and durable compromise. James Madison led the argument for the provision, responding to efforts in Virginia to pass a law requiring all taxpayers to make an annual contribution or pay a moderate tax in support of churches. (Advocates of the law included some of the old lions of the Revolution, such as Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, and Richard Henry Lee.)

What made the compromises around religion morally legitimate and sound was that they took into account the perspectives of all those in the new country who would be affected by them. Every religious point of view present in the colonies in 1776 was conceivably embraced by the language, including those of the disenfranchised. The compromise about enslavement did not, in contrast, consider the perspective of all those affected by that decision. Standing on partial ground, it lacked moral legitimacy and would ultimately prove destabilizing for the country.

From the October 2015 issue: How the Constitution caused our dysfunctional government

Yet the compromise was made, and Franklin was not the only one who understood himself to have been complicit in it. So too did James Wilson. Wilson, like Franklin, was from Philadelphia. At the Constitutional Convention, he was one of the few elder statesmen who had also signed the Declaration of Independence. (Wilson was 44; Madison was 36.) He repeatedly asserted that the work of creating the Constitution was but an extension of foundations laid by the Declaration. Wilson was Madisons equal at the Convention in terms of learning and influence. Although he was a member of the first Supreme Court, we have nonetheless all but forgotten him, presumably because he was also the first and only Supreme Court justice to go to debtors prison (as a result of failed land speculations). He died of a stroke while fleeing the reach of the law.

Whereas Franklin was an enslaver in the earlier parts of his life, Wilson was an enslaver for much of his life. Even while publicly writing and speaking against enslavement, he owned a man named Thomas Purcell for 26 years. However, two months after marrying a Quaker woman, Hannah Gray, he emancipated Purcell, an act often attributed to Grays influence. Like Franklin, Wilson fully understood the nature of the compromise in the Constitution, and was prepared to accept it. During Pennsylvanias ratifying convention, he responded thus to a Pennsylvanian who objected to the three-fifths clause of the Constitution and to another provision, in Article I, Section 9, protecting the right to import enslaved people for 20 years:

The best, then, that can be said about the compromises regarding slavery that also helped the Constitutional Convention achieve unanimity is this: Those who knew enslavement was wrong but nonetheless accepted the compromises believed they were choosing a path that would lead inexorably, if incrementally, to freedom for all.

We cannot, however, assume with Wilson and Franklin and others like them that incrementalism was the only available path to freedom for all. It is also not clear that the Constitutions compromises even accelerated the march of freedom, whether for enslaved people or for people more generally. Britain offers a natural experiment with which to make judgments about alternative paths. Revolutionary ideas were afoot there too in the 1770s and 80s. Universal suffrage for men was proposed in Parliament for the first time in 1780 by Charles Lennox, the third Duke of Richmond, an ardent supporter both of the American revolutionaries and of radicals in Britain. Yet at home, in the British Isles, the Crown managed to fend off the revolution it could not defeat in 13 of its colonies.

This, however, did not result in the permanent nonfreedom of British subjects. A British legal judgment in 1772 introduced a doctrine against selling enslaved people abroad, a doctrine that was commonly though erroneously thought to mean that no one could be held as a slave on English soil. In de facto fashion it reduced enslavement in Britain and redirected the attention of abolitionists to enslavement in the British colonies. In 1793, Upper Canadain essence, the region just north of the Great Lakespassed the Act to Limit Slavery, the first law of its kind in the remaining British colonies. Britain itself in 1833 passed the Slavery Abolition Act, dismantling enslavement throughout its Caribbean colonies and making Canada a free land for African Americans who escaped slavery in the U.S. The law helped make possible the Underground Railroad, the fights about the Fugitive Slave Act, and the dynamics that eventually led to the Civil War.

As to universal manhood suffrage, there the United Kingdom moved slowly. In 1832, Britain introduced the first of what would eventually be three 19th-century Reform Acts. This act had different rules for those living in counties versus towns. In towns, men who occupied property with an annual rent of at least 10 pounds could vote. That still left six out of seven men without voting rights. Britain adopted another reform measure in 1867 and one more in 1884. The third Reform Act gave the vote to all male house owners and all males paying rent of 10 pounds or more a yearleaving out 40 percent of men and of course 100 percent of women. These changes were accomplished without a bloody internal war.

The U.S. gave the vote to all male citizens regardless of skin color or former condition of servitude only with the Fifteenth Amendment, in 1870. Until that point, African Americans as well as some white men in states that made tax payment a prerequisite had been denied the right to vote. These changes required a bloody civil war, and even they were still partial. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island maintained tax-paying qualifications into the 20th century; women and Native Americans did not yet have suffrage. In both Britain and the United States, true universal suffrage was not adopted until well into the 20th century, and fights for voting rights persist.

In other words, the Constitution did not earn an earlier release from bondage or promote universal suffrage for men much faster than was accomplished under Britains constitutional monarchy. Nor much faster than was achieved in Canada, a country we can look to for an answer to the question of what might have happened had the North American colonies that came to form the United States failed in their bid for freedom.

What did accelerate the march of freedom for all was abolitionism, a social movement that crystallized in both the United States and the United Kingdom in the years immediately following the revolutionary break between the two. Moral leadership made this difference. Freedom flows from the tireless efforts of those who proclaim and pursue protection of the equal human dignity of all.

So why, then, do I love the Constitution? I love it for its practical leadership. I love it because it is the worlds greatest teaching document for one part of the story of freedom: the question of how free and equal citizens check and channel power both to protect themselves from domination by one another and to secure their mutual protection from external forces that might seek their domination.

Why do we have three distinct aspects of powerlegislative, executive, and judicialand why is it best to keep them separate and yet intermingled? A typical civics lesson skates over the deep philosophical basis for what we glibly call separation of powers and checks and balances. Those concepts rest on a profound reckoning with the nature of power.

The exercise of power originates with the expression of a will or an intention. The legislature, the first branch, expresses the will of the people. Only after the will is expressed can there be execution of the desired action. The executive branch, the second branch, is responsible for this. The judiciary comes third as a necessary mediator for addressing conflicts between the first and second branches. The three elements of powerwill, execution, and adjudicationare separated to improve accountability. It is easier to hold officials accountable if they are limited in what they are permitted to do. In addition, the separation of powers provides a mechanism by which those who are responsible for using power are also always engaged in holding one another accountable.

James Madison, in The Federalist Papers, a series of newspaper opinion pieces written by Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay in 1787 and 1788 in support of the proposed Constitution, put it this way:

To ensure that power could be held accountable, the designers of the Constitution broke power into its component parts. They assigned one power to each of three branches. Then they developed rules and procedures that would make it possible for officers in each branch to not only exercise their own powers but also, to some extent, check and counterbalance the use of power by others. The point of giving each branch ways of slowing down the other branches was to ensure that no branch would be able to dominate and consolidate complete power.

The rules and procedures they devised can also be called mechanismsprocedures that in themselves organize incentives and requirements for officeholders so that power flows in good and fair ways.

We all use mechanisms to limit power and achieve fairness in our ordinary lives. A good example is the kind of rule parents use for helping children share desserts. If Ive got a cake, and I need to divide it up between two children, the easiest way for me to achieve a fair outcome is if I let one child slice while the other child gets first pick. The child who slices has an incentive to slice as fairly as possible, knowing that the second child will surely choose the bigger slice if the slices are not equal. Parenting books do not generally cite Federalist No. 51, in which Madison advised, Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.

The U.S. Constitution is full of mechanisms like this to structure the incentives of officeholders to make sure power operates in fair ways. Here is a smattering of my favorite examples, courtesy of the identification in The Federalist Papers of the highest and best features of the Constitution:

Each branch should have as little agency as possible in the appointment of the members of the other, which means no branch can surreptitiously come to control another by populating its personnel and staff.

Each branch should be as little dependent as possible on the others for emoluments annexed to their offices, which means no branch falls under the sway of another by virtue of hoping for a raise.

No double-office holding is permitted, which means that trying to play a role in more than one branch at the same time is strictly off-limits.

The executive has a veto over legislation, but it can be overruled by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, which means that an executive decision (on legislation) emanating from support of a bare majority of the people cannot overrule a view emanating from a supermajority of the country.

The executive can propose the draft of treaties, but ratification requires senatorial advice and consent, which prevents treaties from being struck as personal deals with benefits to the executive and thereby hinders corruption.

The Senate must approve Supreme Court appointments made by the president, but the Court has the power of review over laws passed by Congress, which means Congress can be overruled by justices to whose appointment the legislative branch has itself consented.

The Constitution is the law of the land and establishes powers of enforcement, but it can be changed through a carefully articulated amendment process, by the peoples standing legislative representatives or by representatives to conventions especially elected for the purposewhich means the final power always rests with the people.

I delight in the cleverness of these mechanisms. There are many more. Instituting a bicameral legislaturehaving a Senate and a House of Representativesis itself a check on monolithic legislative power. I marvel at the Constitutions insight into the operations of power. I respect the ambition of the people who sought to design institutions and organize the government with the goal of ensuring the safety and happiness of the people. I see its limits, but I love its avowalby stipulating the process for amendment, to date exercised 27 timesof its own mutability. Remarkably, the Constitutions slow, steady change has regularly been in the direction of moral improvement. In that regard, it has served well as a device for securing and stabilizing genuine human progress not only in politics but also in moral understanding. This is what figures like Franklin and Wilson anticipated (or at least hoped for).

It would be a mistake to think that Britains own slow march toward the expansion of freedom was in no way prodded along by the example across the Atlantic and domestic pressures flowing from that example, just as Britains earlier abolition of enslavement generated pressures that drove the march of freedom forward here at home.

The Constitution is a work of practical genius. It is morally flawed. The story of the expansion of human freedom is one of shining moral ideals besmirched by the ordure of ongoing domination. I muck the stalls. I find a diamond. I clean it off and keep it. I do not abandon it because of where I found it. Instead, I own it. Because of its mutability and the changes made from generation to generation, none but the living can own the Constitution. Those who wrote the version ratified centuries ago do not own the version we live by today. We do. Its ours, an adaptable instrument used to define self-government among free and equal citizensand to secure our ongoing moral education about that most important human endeavor. We are all responsible for our Constitution, and that fact is empowering.

That hard-won empowerment is why I love the Constitution. And it shapes my native land, which I love also simply because it is my home. The second love is instinctual. The first comes with open eyes.

This article appears in the October 2020 print edition with the headline The Constitution Counted My Great-Great-Grandfather as Three-Fifths of a Free Person.

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The Flawed Genius of the Constitution - The Atlantic

Coin Commemorates 100th Anniversary of World’s Largest Water-Management Steam Pumping Station – CoinWeek

By Coin & Currency Institute

The Royal Dutch Mint is celebrating the centennial of the Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal (in English: the D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station), the largest, still-operating steam pumping station in the world.

It was opened on October 7, 1920, by Queen Wilhelmina, and its job was to pump excess water from the northern province of Friesland into the Zuiderzee, and later into the Ijsselmeer, both bays bordering the North Sea. To this day, the Woudagemaal plays a crucial role within the Frisian water authority.

Water poses many problems, not just in the Netherlands, but in the whole world. There are three main issues: too much, too little, or too dirty. The Woudagemaal is a laudable example of Dutch water management and represents a highlight of the work of Dutch engineers and architects in the war against water.

Three coins are being struck, identical in design but in three different metals, to mark the occasion. Visual artist Berend Strik designed the Woudagemaal coin that is also the first commemorative coin to depict King Willem-Alexander with a beard. On the obverse, the waving flag of the province of Friesland is visible behind the portrait of the king.

Underneath, is a fragment of the canals surrounding the Woudagemaal. On the reverse is a drawing of the Woudagemaal in straight and simple lines. All depicted from a birds-eye view, to show the steam pumping station in the typical flat Friesland landscape. The font used on both sides of the coin is the same as found on the steam engines inside the Woudagemaal.

The proof .900 fine gold 10, weighing 6.72 grams and 22.5 mm in diameter, costs $635.00. It is limited to 1,000 pieces. A sterling silver .925 fine proof 5 piece weighing 15.5 grams, 33 mm in diameter, and restricted to just 4,600 coins, is $69.95. An uncirculated 5 made of silver-plated copper is $19.75 It measures 29mm and weighs 10.5 grams.

Mintage is 60,000. The first day of issue is October 7, 2020.

The Woudagemaal is one of the 10 recognized heritage sites of the Netherlands on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is the ninth issue in the series of Dutch World Heritage (2012-2021), following the Schokland 5 Euro Coin (2018) and the Beemster 5 Euro Coin (2019).

These and many other issues may be obtained from the Coin & Currency Institute, P.O. Box 399, Williston, Vermont 05495. They can be viewed and ordered online at http://www.coin-currency.com. $5.75 should be added to each order for shipping and handling. Major credit cards are accepted. Call toll-free 1-800-421-1866. Fax: (802) 536-4787. E-mail: mail@coin-currency.com.

An enormous amount of steam and quite some sounds: if you visit the Woudagemaal when it is put under steam, you are in for a treat! It takes about six hours to fill the boilers with water and start the pumps. The result is breathtaking the entire building disappears in the steam the station creates. The facility is put under such steam at least twice a year.

During these predetermined training days, staff and volunteers keep their knowledge about the working of the station up-to-date. When the water rises to dangerously high levels, the steam pumping station is (still) commissioned.

Even when the Woudagemaal is not operational, it never fails to impress. The smokestack, with a height of 197 feet, is a recognizable beacon for sailors on the Ijsselmeer. The special architecture provides a unique appearance for the turbine hall, which houses the four impressive head steam engines. About 120 volunteers work at the Woudagemaals visitor center. Two of the main attractions are the interactive exposition hall and the 3D cinema. The center is open from February until December.

The Woudagemaal in the town of Lemmer has a rich history. The steam pumping station was designed by the Chief Engineer of the Provincial Public Works, Dirk Frederik Wouda, in 1917-1918. The majestic building shows beautiful, traditional architecture in the style of Rationalism (an architectural trend from the early 20th century). It was officially opened by Queen Wilhelmina on October 7, 1920.

Before the station was operational, excess water in the province of Friesland was pumped into the Zuiderzee and the Wadden Sea with windmills and sluices. This became problematic in the course of the 19th century because the peat bogs were sinking. The development of the pumping station in Lemmer was a big step forward in the field of water management in Friesland.

From 1966 onwards, water administration in Friesland had greatly improved and the electric Hoogland pumping station near Stavoren partly took over from the Woudagemaal. The pumping station is however still in use and is owned by the Wetterskip Frysln (the Dutch water board in the province of Friesland). In addition, the building and the steam engines are attractions for architectural or steam enthusiasts.

UNESCO on the Woudagemaal: whc.unesco.org/en/list/867

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Coin Commemorates 100th Anniversary of World's Largest Water-Management Steam Pumping Station - CoinWeek

Why fewer Indians have joined ISIS – ThePrint

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The mystery behind the very few Indian names appearing in the long list of foreign fighters in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has puzzled strategic thinkers for some time now. This pleasant yet inexplicable surprise finds a historical precedent in the conspicuous absence of Indians from the legions of foreign mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s and from the Taliban and al Qaedas Islamic Emirate of the 1990s. One of the reasons for the non-existent mujahideen from India could be that unlike some West Asian states then, India never had disposable radicals at home, nor would it ever pursue a policy of conveniently banishing them to foreign war theatres.

Thus, the apparent apathy of the Indian Muslims towards the ISIS impassioned exhortations for global jihad is not a recent and isolated instance. It can also be viewed as the communitys continuing rejection of the so-called global jihad, since the time it rose to prominence in the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) region four decades ago.

Yet, barring a handful of perceptive articles and a few kumbaya panegyrics that sing the praises of the peace-loving Indian Muslim and a cohesive Indian socio-political milieu, strategic experts have not presented even a modicum of seriously researched or insightfully argued propositions (some of which will be discussed ahead) to explain this conundrum. This issue brief surveys some of the propositions and ideas published in journals or magazines or being aired in various seminars and conferences held on the subject of terrorism or radicalisation in India.

How can a country with the third-largest Muslim population in the world, which was partitioned over the issue of Islamism; has had a history of communal violence since independence; suffered a spate of terror attacks by homegrown and Pakistan-backed terrorists in recent decades; witnesses a continuing insurgency in the Muslim-majority Kashmir; and whose polity is still deeply divided over the Muslim question produce fewer adherents of ISIS and al Qaeda than many Western states having a much smaller Muslim population? The inability to find any clear answer or a set of answers to this question has led to the subject being dismissed as an irrelevant non-issue or an academic red herring of little consequence. Some would argue that the Indian strategic community should consider even the relatively few al Qaeda and ISIS cases as too many, given the danger a handful of terrorists can pose to national security.

However, such questioning in this instance is significant because it calls for the identification of those mysterious elements that promote immunity within the Indian society that hinder the spread of the global jihadist contagion. Counter-terrorism and security experts need to be aware of inhibiting factors that protect the Indian society from the menace of transnational terrorism which has spread to different parts of the world.

Many of the prevailing propositions and explanations are mostly speculative (albeit backed by some historical and statistical evidence) because the premise of the subject makes it difficult to be verified through empirical research. Even the most plausible of them only partially explain some of the reasons behind this phenomenon.

Also read: India was of little value to ISIS. Thats all set to change now

It is interesting to note that out of Indias population of over 172.2 million Muslims (constituting 14.23 per cent of the Indian population), less than a 100 migrants (in several batches) are thought to have left for the ISIS territories in Syria and Afghanistan, while 155 were arrested until last year for having ISIS links.

These numbers constitute less than one per cent of the over 30,000 fighters from at least 85 countries who joined the so-called ISIS Caliphate by December 2015, a count that reportedly swelled to around 40,000 in the following years. The number of recruits from India was much less than that of the European Union (EU), from where between 3,922 and 4,294foreign fighters joined the ranks of the ISIS Caliphate by 2016. A breakdown of foreign fighters from the EU shows that over 1,700 of them came from France, 760 from Germany, an almost equal number from the United Kingdom (UK), and around 470 from Belgium. The numbers from Russia stood at above 2,500, while the tally from the former Soviet Republics exceeded 7,000 as early as 2015. In fact, Indian migrants to ISIS are even fewer than that of the Maldives (173), a country having a population of less than 400,000 people.

Also read:ISIS influence growing in South India, particularly Kerala: Social media monitoring firms

Many well-meaning Indian politicians and Muslim leaders often vociferously state that Indian Muslims are peaceful citizens, who, unlike their co-religionists in other parts of the world, have embraced the pluralistic ethos and culture of India and have moderated the radical zeal and ardour of their faith to live peacefully and harmoniously with other communities in the country.

According to former diplomat Talmiz Ahmad: The rejection of extremist doctrine and action by Indian Muslims results from Indias unique syncretic traditions that have fostered an extraordinarily pluralistic culture. Similarly, Manu Joseph, in his insightful article published in March 2019, states: At the first sign of suspicious outsiders or activities, the local Muslims alert the police. India has faced very few terror attacks, not in spite of its Muslims but because of them.

To David Heyman, former United States Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security, the moderation of the Indian Muslim is reflective of the great Indian identity cherished by all its citizens. He states: India was born a multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-denominational society that embraces that diversity.

These laudable claims are difficult to contest for any Indian, who lives and breathes in the common and composite cultural air of the country every day. However, this is not a rigorous explanation; moreover, it makes convenient and sweeping generalisations about the Indian Muslim community. It does not anticipate a response to any obvious questions that might be raised against the proposition.

For one, the explanation could have acknowledged and addressed the fact that the Indian Muslim community is not entirely peaceful and has always had its fair share of radical elements that have been involved in communal riots and terrorist attacks. Though not many, homegrown terror groups such as the Indian Mujahideen, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the Base Movement (not to mention several Kashmiri secessionist groups) have posed a security threat. The community is also known for having its share of firebrand leaders, some of whom have even been jailed for making incendiary hate speeches. Many Pakistan-based terrorist groups have exploited vulnerable members of the community to carry out major terrorist attacks such as the Bombay blasts of 1993, Parliament attack of 2001, Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, etc.

Therefore, the idea that the Indian Muslim community is peaceful and has thus rejected al Qaeda and ISIS does not appear entirely convincing. The real issue is that despite the existence of several fundamentalist and radical elements, the Indian Muslim community has so far avoided joining global jihadist groups in large numbers, which remains an unanswered question.

Also read:What Muslims in India say about Balakot, national security, ISIS and Kashmir

A similar, but slightly different explanation posits that the Indian Muslims mainly follow Sufism, a peaceful strain of Islam, which inhibits them from joining its more fundamentalist and militant antithesis, namely Salafi-Wahhabism. It is argued that Sunni terrorism in the world is mainly led by Salafi jihadist organisations like al Qaeda and ISIS, barring a few Hanafi-Deobandi groups like the Taliban and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In this regard, noted historian Romila Thapar states that Sufi teachers played a central role in the interaction with Bhakti sects and gave Indians a unique belief-system. This consisted of teachers who, brought up either as Hindus or Muslims, gave up the formal tenets and rituals of their faith and propounded devotion to a personal god, while emphasizing social ethics, social equality and tolerance. This was faith of most Indians, Hindus and Muslims, for 500 years.

There is no doubt that Sufism has helped cultivate a syncretic ethos in the Indian society, but the claim that Indian Hindus or Muslims have given up their formal religious tenets, dogma or rituals for the sake of a collective faith is untrue. It is also not correct to assert that Muslims in India exclusively follow the Sufi school of Islam, nor is there any merit in the idea of viewing the Deobandi, Ahl-e-Hadeeth or even Salafi beliefs as problematic vis--vis a supposedly benign Sufism. It is important to note that even the founding ideologues of Salafism such as Ibn Taymiyyah and Ahmad Shah Sirhindi were practitioners of Sufism, although they criticised the scholasticism of some Sufi orders.

Besides, many adherents of Sufism have been known to indulge in acts of violent extremism over the ages. For instance, the Sufi group named Army of the Men of the Naqshabandi Order (JRTN) led by former Saddam Hussain loyalist Izzat Al Dourri colluded with ISIS in fighting the current Iraqi dispensation. Similarly, it is mainly the Sufi Barelvi adherents who persecute and even kill Pakistani Christians on the charge of making blasphemous remarks. Undoubtedly, Sufism teaches peace and universalism but the existence of Christian and Buddhist militant groups goes a long way to prove that extremist violence can be perpetrated even by followers of largely non-violent religions or ideologies.

As for Salafism, the movement is too broad and means different things to different people. Many Salafis of northern Africa follow the teachings of the founder (Jamaluddin Afghani) to embrace Western rationalism and enlightenment. The overwhelmingly large majority of Salafi-Wahhabis in West Asia are known as Quietists because of their belief in eschewing politics and violence which they view as spiritually corrupting influence. The predominantly Salafi-Wahhabi states of the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, are home to millions of Indian and foreign expatriates of various religious denominations, which shows the moderate face of Salafi-Wahhabism.

When it comes to non-Muslim places of worship, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are not better or worse than Shiite Iran or Sunni Hanafi Turkey. Still, Ibadism-dominated Oman (a school of Islam having strong theological affinities with Wahhabism) has several Hindu temples, most notably the over hundred-year-old Shiva temple in Muscat. In the UAE, the grand BAPS Shri SwaminarayanMandiris being built inAbu Dhabi, which will be the second Hindu temple in that country after the Shiva-Krishna Mandir in Dubai. Thus, the fact that al Qaeda and ISIS have come from a virulent offshoot of Salafism does not make Salafi-Wahhabi a problematic community in and of itself. Thus, the false binary of peaceable Sufi versus militant Salafi does not make for an informed discussion, nor does it help answer the apparent Indian Muslim revulsion to global jihadism.

Also read: No proof Tablighi foreigners spread Covid, were made scapegoats Bombay HC quashes FIRs

Some counter-terrorism scholars, namely Kabir Taneja of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and Mohammed Sinan Siyech of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), have presented a more thought-provoking explanation over why Indian Muslims have refrained from joining global jihadist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.

They make the case that Indian migration to the former ISIS-held territories in Syria and Iraq did not happen in large numbers due to logistical problems. They claim that Western migrants to the ISIS Caliphate could fly to Turkey with a passport and easily obtain an air ticket. However, the less well-to-do Indian ISIS enthusiast found the trip too expensive and the journey to the ISIS dystopia too treacherous. Thus, Siyech states: The passport ownership rate in India stood at 5% in2017, with Muslims (of whom more than 67% live in poverty) plausibly comprising an even smaller group. For those few who undertook the long process of obtaining a passport, thevisa requirements to enter Turkey for Indians were quite strenuousAdding to this, the idea of travelling to a foreign conflict-ridden land where Arabic (a non-India Muslim language) is spoken without any combat training made it even easier for Muslims to stay back.

On the face of it, this explanation appears plausible in that it presents a more realistic reason for the fewer number of Indian fighters in the ISIS ranks and avoids the speculative theorising of other propositions. However, it has its own shortcomings. A large number of Indians work in Gulf countries and have become quite adept at migrating to countries of West Asia. In fact, over 25,000 Indians currently live and work in Iraq, mainly in Erbil, the capital of the northern region of Kurdistan, which was close to the territories held by ISIS earlier.

In addition, fighters from other South Asian countries would have also faced somewhat similar economic and logistical hardships, yet migrants from Maldives (which sent 173 migrants to ISIS), Bangladesh (40), Philippines (100), etc., turned up in much larger numbers at the gates of the ISIS proto-state.

Also read: Iran, not Israel, becomes the unifying enemy for the Middle East

There is also the argument that the Indian subcontinent has a plethora of old, well-entrenched radical groups (such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, etc.) which new terror conglomerates like ISIS are finding difficult to dislodge.

However, this argument fails to explain the success of ISIS and al Qaeda in other parts of the Muslim world, such as in Africa and Southeast Asia, which have also seen homegrown terrorism for a long time. Even when al Qaeda and the Taliban were ruling the roost in Afghanistan in the 1990s, they could hardly intervene in India. It is also noteworthy that while ISIS has found a strong base in Afghanistan, in spite of its arch-rival Talibans pre-existing presence, it struggles to find any organisational footing in India.

Here, the superlative performance of Indian security agencies cannot be praised enough for maintaining constant vigil, for always being ahead of the curve in foiling attacks of global jihadist groups against the country. However, highly effective surveillance and prevention measures alone cannot explain the limited resonance and traction for their call among Indian Muslims.

Traditional Indian social and family values have also been viewed as an inhibiting factor, yet similar societies in the subcontinentlike in Maldives and Bangladeshdid not show equal resilience to the ISIS message.

Also read: Not your pawn Kapil Mishras Kabul attack tweet doesnt go down well with Sikhs

This issue brief presents a few explanations of its own to advance the ongoing debate, without making any claims of having found the proverbial silver bullet as a solution. The first proposition is that the West Asian Islamism does not appear as revolutionary a phenomenon to the Indian Muslim mind as it might to other Islamic communities around the world. For example, the idea of creating an Islamic state is something Indian Muslims have already dealt with and suffered the consequences of, with many families splitting up due to the creation of the now failing Islamic state of Pakistan. Therefore, any proposal for a new experiment in Islamism, whether by the brutally repressive Taliban or the terrorist proto-state of ISIS, fails to enthuse the Indian Muslims imagination.

The call for restituting the Caliphate also does not appeal to most Indian Muslims. This is because Indian Muslim rulers never paid allegiance to any West Asian caliph, nor did they send their forces to foreign lands to fight for the glory of Islam. The replacement of Persian and Arabic languages in Indian courts with English and Indian vernacular languages as well as the flowering of Urdu literature has further reduced Indias social and cultural links with West Asia.

Therefore, Indian Muslims developed their own distinctive theological schools like Deobandi and Barelvi and their own fundamentalist movements like the Tabligh Jamaat and Jamaat-e-Islami. Unlike other parts of the Muslim world, spanning North Africa to Southeast Asia, that have remained under the theological and cultural influence of Arabia, India has been able to develop its own versions of Islam and holds its own against West Asian influences.

Even radical and extremist Islamic movements such as Abul Ala Maududis Jamaat-e-Islami were not subsumed by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, Hasan Al Banna and Sayyid Qutb the early ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood acknowledged the formative impact of Maududis political Islam on their intellect and in support of Jamaat-e-Islami, and yet the organisation has no branch in the Indian subcontinent to date.

In sum, Indian Muslims, both of the extremist and moderate kind, are comfortable in their own skins and barring a few exceptions in Kashmir and Kerala do not feel the need for any foreign interference in their religious, political and social affairs.

Also read: In Afghanistan, a new great game with ISIS, ISK and Pakistan is on with a vengeance

For a long time, India did not figure prominently in the grand schemes of al Qaeda and ISIS because radical Salafi-jihadist ideologues consider India Muslims weak of will and bereft of religious ardour. For several centuries, radical leaders of West Asia have looked down upon Indian Muslims for having failed to fully Islamise the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the Mongol marauder Timur invaded India on the excuse of punishing Indian Muslim sultans for showing excessive tolerance toward their Hindu subjects, a sentiment shared by many religious extremists in West Asia to this day. Thus, even among the list of non-Arab Muslims (pejoratively called Ajami or mute) Indians feature below Turks and Iranians. Areeb Majeed, a young Indian Muslim who returned after joining ISIS in Syria, speaks of how ISIS made him and his other Indian compatriots do menial jobs like cleaning the toilet and providing water to soldiers and never trained them to go to war.

It is noteworthy that the Salafi-Wahhabi movement is said to have risen in opposition to the independent reasoning and analogous interpretations (ijtihaad and qiyas) of the Hanafi and Shafai schools of Sunni jurisprudence, to which an overwhelmingly large majority of Indian Muslims subscribe. Many fundamentalist Salafi-Wahhabi ideologues even consider the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam (which include both the Indian Deobandi and Barelvi schools) to be heretical because of their strict adherence (taqleed) of Imam Abu Haneefas jurisprudence. This Salafi-Hanafi divide was the main reason for al Qaeda hard-liners like Abu Qatada and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi to oppose the Hanafi-Deobandi Talibans emirate as Islamic in the 1990s, and this doctrinal divide remains the principal reason for Salafi ISIS to oppose Taliban to this day.

In addition to doctrinal issues, Salafi jihadists dislike Indian Muslims for having embraced citizenship of a secular nation and to have refused Shariah-based governance since medieval times. For this reason, ISIS equates Indian Muslims with their favourite hate term Murjiah, an extinct Muslim sect that refused to detest people on the basis of their faith.

This brings us to this issue briefs second explanation that the Indian clerical movements led by Darul Uloom Deoband, the Sufi as well as Barelvi schools hold strong sway over the behaviour of Indian Muslims. In March 2009, Darul Uloom Deoband issued a fatwa declaring India as dar al aman (land of peace), where militant jihad is prohibited. Similarly, a joint fatwa was issued by 70,000 Indian Muslim scholars against ISIS, Taliban, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in 2015, which has helped in refraining a large number of Indian Muslims from joining the ranks of global jihadist terror groups.

Also read: Terror outfits have invaded our social media but India lags in countering it

It should also be noted here that violent extremism and terrorism fester in an environment of repression and exclusion. West Asian polities, where dissent is often quashed, find expression only in violent outbursts and so the region suffers most from jihadist violence than any other part of the world.

The third explanation is that violent extremism does not thrive on the Indian soil for long. Here, the bearded Indian Muslim man and burqa-clad women freely walk the bazaars of Indian towns and villages, just as the naked Digambar Jain or the turbaned Sikh feel equally at home and remain proud of their religious and national identities.

Thus, Muslims find their identity and place in India, which even the liberal West does not openly accord to its increasingly diverse population in that it expects all communities to assimilate and imbibe Western values and ways of life. Indias democratic polity and eclectic demographic allows even homegrown fundamentalist groups to live and express themselves, which inhibits the rise of exclusivist and violently extreme groups like ISIS and al Qaeda to fester. The cost-benefit analyses of such terror mercenaries do not add up here and even a few misadventures fail to give the big returns that these groups find elsewhere.

Thus, the non-dualist (Advaita) celebration of opposites rolls on and even the absolutist elements are swept up in the cosmic sweep of the great Indian juggernaut.

The author is Research Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Views are personal.

Thisarticle was first published by IDSA.

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Why fewer Indians have joined ISIS - ThePrint

Book of the Week: Important lessons – The Concord Insider

By Insider Staff - Sep 2, 2020 |

City of the Beasts

By Isabelle Allende

(406, young adult fiction, 2002, available on Hoopla in English translated from Spanish)

A fast-paced adventure, this is a difficult book to put down, once begun! Fifteen year old Alex Cold is sent to live with his grandmother, still an active travel writer, when his mother falls seriously ill.

His grandmother takes him on assignment to the Amazon in pursuit of an illusive Beast, rumored to be a violent creature in the heart of the rainforest. Others join their expedition, but motives may not be what they at first appear.

Alex befriends Nadia, the daughter of their local guide, and a shaman tells the two children that their destinies involve helping to stop a great evil.

Rationalism butts head with experiences of the spiritual, as Alex and Nadia begin encountering mystical occurrences. The two are swept into the fray of local powers resisting the threats of western infiltration and modernization, into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, into contact with an ancient civilization and with the deadly Beast creatures. Will the children be able to discern the insidious threats, lurking less obviously than clear cutting forests, and will they be able to stop them before ancient ways and peoples are lost?

Part Indiana Jones-esque adventure, part fantasy, and part bildungsroman, this novel is a fun and fantastical take on many contemporary topics, fun and befitting readers of all ages.

Visit the Concord Public Library online at concordpubliclibrary.net.

Lindsey Hunterwolf

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Book of the Week: Important lessons - The Concord Insider

A Few Months Before Assembly Polls, What Is Happening in Tamil Nadu? – Swarajya

Some very curious developments have been taking place in Tamil Nadu.

After an anti-Hindu propagandist went obscenely berserk against Hindu Puranas and devotional hymns on his Youtube channel, there came a surge of Hindu anger which forced the government to shut the Youtube channel and initiate legal action against the activist group.

Another Youtube activist, Maridhas, has been relentlessly campaigning against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and exposing its anti-Hindu agenda. He has also brought out the ideological connections between the core-Dravidianism of DMK and the above-said pseudo-rational propagandist.

The DMK, which was initially confident of winning next years State assembly election because of some crucial blunders the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government did during the lock-down, is no more that certain. The anti-Hindu label might hurt the DMK in the coming elections.

Udayanidhi Stalin, who being the son of present party chief M. K. Stalin, is seen as the future supremo of the DMK. Though the DMK was started by C.N. Annadurai, a leader who respected democracy, after its capture by M. Karunanidhi, it fast devolved into what looks like more a family corporation than a democratic political party.

It is a paradox of perversion that the Dravidian movement, which criticises the birth-based systems of Hindu society, which have been reformed and reformulated in inclusive ways through millennia, should succumb to birth-based dynasty control within a few decades of its existence.

So, what Udayanidhi Stalin tweets shows not only the compulsions of politics but also the dynamics inside the family. And for the DMK, the line demarcating family dynamics and party politics is often blurred, if not non-existent.

It should be noted that the rationalism of the Dravidian movement is actually nothing but colonial hatred for Hindu Dharma.

The Protestant mindset of colonial rulers could never comprehend the spiritual symbolism and the Hindu aesthetics of Ganesha. Naturally, they hated this deity and singled him out for humiliation.

The Dravidian movement, being its colonial masters voice, followed suit. So one of the great rationalist deeds of EVR was breaking in public an idol of Ganesha.

Subsequently, in the Dravidian orthodoxy, Ganesha Chaturthi is a festival for which no Dravidianist leader of the DMK vintage would extend his wishes. The same goes for Deepavali and Vijaya Dasami.

The popular joke in Tamil Nadu is that generally Tamil Hindus are happy that the DMK leaders do not extend their greetings for Hindu festivals for the festivals are too good for corrupt politicians to extend their wishes on.

Now comes a tweet by Udhayanidhi Stalin showing a photo of a Ganesha idol made from clay and even adorned with the sacred thread .

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A Few Months Before Assembly Polls, What Is Happening in Tamil Nadu? - Swarajya

Christianity, African Indigenous Church and the Facts of History – THISDAY Newspapers

By Tunji Olaopa

In recent weeks, I have published a series of essays on Christianity and its historical trajectory. From its humble and tortured beginning in Asia, Christianity has risen to become a universal religion, with the worlds most statistically significant followers. Indeed, the emergence of Christianity in world history has been definitive in so many ways. It has shaped the global consciousness and many cultural practices. All across the world, Christianity has transformed a peoples understanding of themselves and of their cultures. Wars have been fought in the name of Christian faith, kingdoms have been built, alliances have been secured. From Handel to Michelangelo, and from the gothic building to the English common law, Christianity has become the common denominator in the way the global world has been built and fashioned.

It is in this recognition of the world-historical significance of Christianity, and especially its confrontation and engagements with non-Christian cultures and religions, that led to my inquiry about its African dynamics. What is the relationship between the historical emergence of Christianity and the African continent? What were the specific historical issues that led to the arrival of Christianity on the continent? How did Christianity participate in the colonial enterprise? How did Africans respond to the arrival and consolidation of Christianity vis--vis their own indigenous religions? All these questions led to my essay, titled Christianity and the African Indigenous Church. In that essay, I was fascinated with the question of how the core Christian doctrinesimmaculate conception, virgin birth, the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesuscould be accepted by non-Christian contexts like Africa. I cited the popular scriptural case of the Egyptian eunuch who got converted by Philip the evangelist in Acts chapter 8. And more than this, I cited the example of an archaeological excavation of a 4th century Ethiopian church which demonstrated the complex mixture of Christian and indigenous Ethiopian beliefs that led to the formation of Christianity in Ethiopian, and marked the emergence of a unique African understanding of Christianity. And finally, I analyzed the establishment, in 1901, of the African Church in Nigeria, under the leadership of Joseph Kehinde Coker, often now regarded as the father of the indigenous church in Africa.

My humble effort at charting the historical trajectory of Christianity in Africa led to some serious reactions from many platforms to which the essay was posted. This tells me immediately that the issue of religion is not just a mere spiritual exercise. Religion has remained for a long time an ideological and intellectual object of discourse. From Karl Marx to Cheikh Anta Diop, scholars have been concerned with how religion facilitate oppression or how it could be harnessed as a tool for social change. Christianity is particularly a point of resentment because of its collaboration with the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the racist colonial project. It is therefore to be expected that when African scholars come to any discussion about the dynamics of Christianity in Africa, rage and sentiment must always come into play. This is to be expected. The range of reactions to my essay was as seminal as they were significantly historical. My attention was drawn to many angles of arguments and historical issues that space could not have allowed me to attend to, except I have made up my mind to write a book on the intersection between Christianity and the African continent. In this short space, I will briefly outline some of the critical points raised to further push my argument about the historical and universal significance of Christianity.

As one would expect, Christianity is always in the eye of the storm, from the ideological to the intellectual. The most fundamental of the reactions to my essay were arrayed along these two areas. At the ideological level, there are two strands of debate that attend the incursion of Christianity into the African continent and the dynamics of the formation of African Christianity. Let me briefly elaborate. On the one hand, Afrocentric and African scholars of religion and culture have been at pain to iterate that the foundation of colonialism was laid by Christian missionaries. David Livingstone said specifically about his mission in Africa, I go back to Africa to make an open path for commerce and Christianity. And this charge is further aggravated by the impunity with which Christianity undermined the primal religions of Africa. One requires a long and elaborate but complex response to this Afrocentric charge against Christianity. But a short one that space will permit is that one must at all times be willing to dissociate the essence of Christianity from its ugly misuse by ideological forces. Once we are able to achieve this irreducible core of the Christian message, then it becomes easy to see how Christianity can be seen as being mutually exclusive from the horrors of colonialism and the denigration of the humanities of non-Europeans.

On the other hand, the issues about the formative dynamics of African Christianity are those I have hinted at in earlier articles. One of the responders was unequivocal: The real spiritual and theological foundations of the Church were laid by Africans. This is an appealing statement, but it is only partially true in terms of its historical basis. It is already a solid historical fact that the ecclesiological and theological basis of Christianity owe much to the works of the church fathers, most of whom were Africans. We have such famous names like St. Augustine of Hippo, Origen, Tertullian, Clement, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril, etc. all these were basically from Alexandria which played a definitive role in the founding of Christianity. However, Christianity also owes so much to other non-African church fathers, from John of Damascus, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Jerome down to Ephrem the Syrian, Aphrahat, Isaac of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyon, Justin Martyr, and so many more. It therefore becomes needless to talk about the real spiritual and theological foundations being laid by the African church fathers when they all worked over a continuum to consolidate Christian doctrines.

The second significant issue with Christianity is intellectual. I got critical responders who took issue with my essay based on Edward Gibbons premise against Christianity as the sole cause of the fall of the Roman Empire. This is a critical issue because there is so much to admire in Gibbon and his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (six volumes, 1776-1788). There is also so much that is intellectually discordant and unfounded. But again, Gibbons theses and arguments must be put in thorough perspectives (which space will still not permit me to elaborate). First, it becomes necessary to dispel the notion that Gibbon was an atheist. Such a claim is easy to make since even his contemporaries were confused as to what religious views he professed. From his Protestant background, his conversion to Catholicism and his reconversion back to Protestantism, as well as his constant engagement with religious views, Gibbon was sufficiently intelligent to understand the fundamental role that religion played in the molding of historical dynamics. And more specifically, he appreciated the more specific foundation that Christianity assisted in laying for human civilization. And this is the reason why, in chapter 38 of the study, Gibbon stated: As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal, that the introduction or at least the abuse, of Christianity had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire.

This statement reveals a lot. First, Gibbon recognized the possibility of the distortion of Christianity in its search for the happiness of a future life. And anyone conversant with the great Roman Empire is therefore aware of its historic debauchery and religious complacence. When Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor, eventually declared Christianity as the official religion of the republic, the downward trend became accelerated. But much more important in Gibbons statement is the methodological allowance that the phrase some influence connotes in the assessment of the factors that led to the decline of the Roman Empire. This tells us that someone of the breath of intellect of Gibbon could not have made the methodological mistake of adducing a monocausal reason for the decline and fall of such an entity as an empire, and the Roman Empire for that matter. Rome was bedeviled by both internal and external dynamics and predicaments that ate at its foundation. For instance, the barbarians outside Romes gate were constantly on its heel. And the politics of intrigues and calumny within was sufficient to weaken the empire for her enemies to triumph.

Lastly, once we critically consider the theological effluence of Pentecostal Christianity, and especially its theology of prosperity, we might be tempted to hail the prophetic analysis of Gibbon and his critique of the distortion of Christianity and the values of hard-work, thrift, personal merit and other values and virtues that are core to the Christian faith. Indeed, Gibbons criticism was leveled not only at the tendency to devote enormous wealth to the church rather than to secular progress, but also essentially to the fetish about the miraculous. Gibbons rationalism was determined to treat Christianity and any religion as a legitimate aspect of general history rather than as a supernatural phenomenon with a final say on human affairs.

My point is simple, and in this I also agree with my responders: Christianity remains a fundamental force in human history. And in this, we are both in agreement with Gibbons readiness to read Christianity as general history. The march of Christianity has done a lot to affect the ways we see ourselves and the destiny of the world.

*Prof. Tunji Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary & Directing Staff, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos (tolaopa2003@gmail.com tolaopa@isgpp.com.ng)

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Christianity, African Indigenous Church and the Facts of History - THISDAY Newspapers

The Battle Between WEB Du Bois and His White Editor Was an Early Reckoning Over Objectivity – Mother Jones

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Around the time Wesley Lowerydescribedin the New York Times a reckoning over objectivity in journalism, I was reading an introduction to W.E.B. Du Bois Black Reconstruction in Americaby Dr. David Levering Lewis.

Lewis mentions an incident I have not heard much discussed: the censorship of Du Bois by a white editor at the Encyclopedia Britannica named Franklin Henry Hooper. This happened in 1929. A century later, the incident and its implications chime with Lowerys observations about editors seeing the work of Black people as hopelessly biased and the views and inclinations of whiteness as the objective neutral. Then, as now, the forms of liberal rationalism were put to reactionary use. The encyclopedia, Lewis writes, had demonstrated how color-coded cognitive dissonance impelled most educated white people, in the name of objective history and social science, to discount the beliefs of most educated colored people as propaganda or fiction.

The affair played out over a series of letters, which have been digitized by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. You can find them all here. They contain other echoes of our present media culturethe debate about capitalizing the n in Negro; Du Bois rallying fellow Black writers to the cause, imploring them in a letter to stand as a unit; Hooper reminding Du Bois that facts dont care about his feelings; Du Bois getting stiffed on his payment. The people who are in charge today are the same sort of people who were in charge 90 years ago. They reach for the same tools to beat back any challenge to the sustaining fictions of the social order, whether theyre defending the prerogatives of the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1929 or theNew York Times op-ed page in 2020.

Here is the basic situation: In the mid 1920s, Du Bois was recruited to write for the encyclopedia. He was already a giant of his time, having published The Souls of Black Folk andDarkwater, and having co-founded the NAACP. His project was in many ways a long, twilight battle against the idea of whiteness as neutral. His academic work in the realms of history and economics centered Black lives and Black agency. The Souls of Black Folk discussed how Black self-conception was filtered through a white world, creating a double-consciousness or twoness. Writing for Britannica, that bastion of the objective neutral, Du Bois had a unique chance to reshape consensus narratives from within.

He took it on with zeal. First, he was asked to write an entry on Black literature for the encyclopedia. A few years later, he was tapped for a larger entry on The Negro in the United States generally. Du Bois used the assignment as an opportunity to recruit other Black scholars, among them the famous philosopher Alain Locke. In light of the distortions and even grotesqueries written about people of color in standard reference works of the period, access to the Encyclopedia Britannicawas greeted with an almost pitiable hopefulnessso much was theirs in mainstream America to so little allow, writes Lewis in the second volume of his two-part biography of Du Bois (bothparts of which won separate Pulitzer prizes).

But as Lewis explains, a corporate upheaval at the encyclopedia left Du Bois working with a new editor: Franklin Henry Hooper. Hooper, in the letters, fully inhabits the role of the bad white editor. He is brusque, supercilious, late, and wrong. When he wants to change something in the proof, it is explained as correcting a mistake. (It cannot just be an editorial decision.) Letters are passive-aggressive and condescending. Each is signed: FRANKLIN H. HOOPER. AMERICAN EDITOR.

In May of 1928, Du Bois turns in a draft of a general entry on the American Negro to Hooper. It is long, he admitsabove the 5,000-word mark, nearing 9,000, evenbut hes confident he can cut it down if Hooper could tell him what ground has been covered on the subject by other encyclopedia contributors.

Eight months later, Hoopers editorial assistant, L.P. Dudley, sends back an edited manuscript. Hooper has slashed it. Du Bois responds on the day he receives it.I am very much dissatisfied, he says.

First, Du Bois notes it would be a personal insult not to capitalize the word Negro, a complaint that resonates with todays debate over capitalizingthe b in Black. At least some of Du Bois aggravation is surely due to the fact that Hooper already knows his feelings on the matter. In 1926, when Du Bois first wrote for the encyclopedia about African American literature, hed exchanged letters with Hooper about capitalization, to which Hooper assented despite a general policy of capitalizing as few words as possible.

Du Bois then dives into the factual changes. They are myriad. Du Bois had written that Southern legislation showed a determination to re-establish Negro slavery in everything but name. Hooper has changed it to seemed to show an inclination to re-establish slavery. Du Bois had provided the precise number of lynchings. Hooper has made it vague. (I see no reason why the number of Negroes lynched should not be plainly stated, Du Bois says.) Du Bois had written, Negroes were kept from voting at first by force and intimidation, then by fraud and finally by a series of laws which purported to disfranchise the illiterate, the propertyless, and those who did not pay their poll tax. Hooper has soft-pedaled the description, writing, Negroes were gradually forced from the Ballot Box by one means or another.

Hoping not to appear captious or over-sensitive, Du Bois explains in his response that the article should represent my own thought and conviction and not Hoopers. These edits, he says, are not his beliefs.

That same day, Du Bois writes a letter warning the other Black writers hed recruited for Britannica. Du Bois hopes to push back together. In particular, he wants to stand as a unit on the matter of the capitalization of the word Negro.'

We know that Alain Locke agreed, as well as W.A. Robinson, who had been asked to write an article on the development of education for African Americans. In fact,Robinson was having his own run-ins with Britannicas editorial process at the time. He wound up sending his own letter to editors, saying that multiple changes they made to appease Southern readers were untrue.

Du Bois commiserates and strategizes in a letter to Robinson, also dated February 14 (though he notes that the changes in mine are much more serious).

Evidently, there has been a change in policy among the Editors of the Encyclopedia, Du Bois writes. After conceding that the editors are allowing us to put through a great deal, he says we ought to at least make a fight for morea demonstration of the way even the soft sort of inclusion favored by Americas liberal institutions can bring about real agitation for change.

A few days later, Hooper writes back to Du Bois to explain his edits to the manuscript. He says that he made the changes because certain things were written shall I say in vindication of the colored peoplehe found that quite unnecessary. He adds that, in fact, some of the information contradicted information in other articles of the volume.

Hooper points out that Du Bois claim that Black Americans helped save democracy after the Civil War is a matter of opinion and as such should find no place in an encyclopedia. The editor concedes a few pointsand half-heartedly agrees to capitalize Negro, as if the same conversation had not already happenedbut otherwise brushes off Du Bois, saying his changes are about space while Du Bois proposed changes are inessential. Hooper says he must rush the article to press, even threatening to print the thing if I do not hear from you by return mail.

Du Bois is not satisfied. He sends another letter to Hooper to explain the changes he feels must be made before publication. At the end, he also responds to Hoopers condescension about the necessity of the changes: You say that these other changes do not seem to me to be necessary: but the point is that I am the author of the article and to me some change does seem necessary.

Does this rebuke stop Hooper or give him pause? Of course not. Striking a pose of cool-headed rationalism, he responds with a florid version of what would now be rendered as facts not feelings.

Hooper says he has made his changes and will publish the article with them. But he does not send the new version along.

Du Bois asks to see the actual article and will not allow it to be published until he does.

Du Bois has at this point reached out to a friend, Joel Spingarn,a white writer and fellow leader in the NAACP, for counsel on his interesting experience with Hooper, attaching both his correspondence and that of the other Britannica writers. Spingarn points out that the encyclopedia isnt looking for the fundamental truth so much as a clear picture of accepted wisdom, and thatBritannica is more insular and one-sided than most works of the kind.

Du Bois has also sent a letter to his original editor,Worth Hedden, about the queer experiences of the Black writers hed recruited. The former editor explains that broad editorial changes atBritannica had led to his ousting, and, moreover, that he is not surprised Du Bois recruits were running into trouble.

By the time Hooper finally sends the manuscript alongand tries to finish off the interaction to get final approvalDu Bois has formulated a plan.

Taking a suggestion from Spingarn, Du Bois insists on one last change.

We know from subsequent correspondence with Spingarn that Du Bois had wanted to insert this paragraph:

White historians have ascribed the faults and failures of Reconstruction to Negro ignorance and corruption. But the Negro insists that it was Negro loyalty and the Negro vote alone that restored the South to the Union; established the new Democracy, both for white and black, and instituted the public schools.

Hooper refuses. He kills the article, saying that he cannot pass the article with this new paragraph and I am therefore deleting it altogether.

Let us take a moment with this idea, so objectionable that Hooper kills the entire article. The claim that Black Americans saved democracywouldbecome the bedrock of Black Reconstruction in America, considered Du Bois masterwork. (In 1933, Du Bois would even send his correspondence with Britannicato the publisher of Black Reconstructionthe rejection of the article forBritannica is marked as the genesis of the book, explains a note written by an archivist.)

The bookis foundational on two fronts. Black Reconstruction posited postCivil War lawmaking as a radical, Black-led movement to create a new democracy. It would lead to Eric Foners famous characterization of the time period as a second founding. Black Reconstruction also created a methodological breakthrough. This was a story centered on Black life, Black agency. It upended the prevailing ideas about who were the actors of history and who were the acted-upon. Even in miniature form, in his encyclopedia entry, Du Bois was challenging the very notion of an objective neutral over which the Britannica was created to stand sentry. The question his essay posed implicitly could be asked today of many newspaper editors or for that matter any number of adherents of the new rationalism: What facts, whose truth, are you really defending?

There is one last indignity to be visited on Du Bois. The encyclopedia wont pay him for his work.

A couple months later:

Du Bois got his money in the end: $83.33 (nearly $1,300 todaya decent kill fee). David Levering Lewis says a white sociologist named Edwin Embree wound up writing the encyclopedias entry on Black people in the United States. And Hooper? A few years, he would be promoted to editor-in-chief of Britannica.

You can still read what Du Bois attempted to enter into the historical record, though; multiple drafts exist in Amhersts collections. There is something affecting about reading it now, knowing what hed gone through with Britannica. He ends with an admission that it is difficult to express definitely just what social ostracism of American Negroes has meant in the past and just what it means now. He says the manifestations are subtle and its changes almost imperceptibly gradual.For many years Black leaders felt uncomfortable even admitting they desired equality. Yet now, he writes, under no circumstance, except by compulsion, will they accept a status of social inferiority.

Excerpt from:

The Battle Between WEB Du Bois and His White Editor Was an Early Reckoning Over Objectivity - Mother Jones

In The Bends And Labyrinths Of Civilizations – Modern Diplomacy

What describes a nation, or more importantly who describes a nation? Nations like to tell about heroic, victorious events of their history, it is pleasant; they are proud of their famous compatriots. Moreover, they are flattered to be highly estimated by foreign prominent people for two and a half thousand years and sometimes that words have been even overestimated. But the first-hand sources confirm, consequently, they are real. Accordingly, it is needed to understand why they expressed glorious opinions about Armenians as the authors include famous thinkers of different nations and world greats.

There are many scientific hypotheses known in the history of science, which have been rationally explained for many, even hundreds of years. Great thinkers often come to intuitive conclusions that are incomprehensible to most of their contemporaries, they are even being criticized for their ideas. For decades, I kept viewing an approach by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (16561708), a great French thinker and member of Paris Academy who noted; Armenian nation is the best nation in the world; they are moral, polite, full of chastity and decency.

At first sight, one may take this kind of statement as unreasonable and exaggerated. Armenians are patriotic, proud, but they are very critical to themselves; even a nationalist Armenian will not express such ideas. At the same time, another French thinker, historian, famous geographer Jacques lise Reclus (18301905) claims: The Armenian villager can be attributed to what Turnefor said; Armenians are the best people in the world without much exaggeration, which, in its turn, means that there are still serious grounds for such opinions.

More than a hundred years after Tournefort, the great English poet Lord George Gordon Byron wrote. The virtues of Armenians are their own, and the shortcomings are taken from others. In short, Armenians are decent and perfect and the like.

At first glance, it seems that such opinions require a lot of different knowledge on many nations, which will let us come to a certain conclusion through comparison. In other words, it was necessary to study a certain set of knowledge, which was still quite narrow at the times of the mentioned authors. Accordingly, the conclusions had to have a different starting point.

From our point of view, that starting point could have been based on several notorious historical facts, in particular:

1) Testimonies of ancient Greek and Roman historians about the Armenian people and Armenia,

2) Although several dozen peoples lived in the Armenian Highlands and Mesopotamia in ancient times, but few survived, including the Armenian people,

3) Starting from the ancient Roman and Persian periods and throughout the Middle Ages, Armenia was the scene of savage invasions (Arabs, Mongols, Seljuks, Ottomans, etc.), but Armenians continued to keep their existence in the Armenian Highlands,

4) the last mentioned outstanding peace-loving characteristic of the Armenian people, which was manifested both during the powerful Armenian kingdoms and after the loss of statehood

5) Existence of Armenian colonies in many countries, including European ones, where Armenians, have both preserved their national identity, and, at the same time, having been integrated in the new national environment, have contributed to the prosperity of those countries,

6) The process of preserving and continuously developing the Armenian language, the theological, philosophical, scientific, literary heritage created in Armenian, and the publishing heritage, too,

7) Existence of unique Armenian culture, civilization, and also contribution of Armenians to world civilization.

These basic ideas, of course, are not exhaustive; there are and there will possible be other ideas, too. It is necessary to understand the main thing: who is the Armenian, what are his peculiarities and what it was that ensured his existence for millennia?

I will emphasize the following description of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a great German thinker about Armenians: Hardworking and intelligent people, they have a special origin, all the nations accept Armenians with open arms, they have excellent mettle, it is impossible for us to talk about their preliminary formation.

Till today, modern historiography, linguistics, and ethnography are not able to fully present the preliminary formation of the Armenian nation, but there are certain assumptions. But first, let us consider the special origins of the Armenian people. One thing is certain; the origin, development and formation of the Armenian people are hidden in the thick fog of thousands of years. At all events, according to the modern genetic research, scientists confirm that Armenians have lived in their highlands for more than 7-8 thousand years. The Armenian language and culture also testify to the mentioned facts. It is clear that the perfection of the language, the elaboration, the rich vocabulary, the ability to express thoughts, ideas, knowledge, human emotions could not be created even for centuries, it has, surely, taken millennia. Differently, the development of the language also has required a rich culture, the development of which also took millennia. Language and culture, complementing and enriching each other, as well as creatively assimilating and synthesizing the best values and traditions of neighboring languages and cultures, have become, one may say, a dominant language and culture of regional significance. Thanks to that, the Armenian people have survived in the Armenian Highlands for millennia.

When talking about the special origin of the Armenian people, one cant help drawing attention to the Armenian Highlands. Generally, living in the mountains is viewed to be one of the best ways of protections from outside attacks, but limiting yourself to it does not yet give answers to many questions. The inhabitants of the mountainous regions have to constantly struggle and adapt to the harsh climatic conditions, and in order to achieve the result they need the joint efforts of the people, which, in its turn, forces them to develop special and stricter forms of coexistence as compared with the conditions in the valleys. On the contrary, mountains devote people certain advantages, such as working tools, raw materials for housing (obsidian, copper, tin, iron, various non-metallic building materials, and the like), easier means of self-protection, and all the rest. And finally, the mountains give people spiritual charge, spirituality, and also form a uniqueway of thinkingand a way of life which corresponds to it. The One for all, all for one thinking is typical, first of all, to the mountaineers. The evidence of the last mentioned is not only the way of life, behavior and manners of Armenians, but also of all mountain peoples.

There is not any coincidence that the civilizations formed in Mesopotamia, more specifically in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, have constantly been changed, and the Armenian civilization having been formed in the Armenian Highlands has kept maintaining its existence and developing steadily.

The mountaineer, whether he wants it or not, must be honest, decedent, hospitable, hardworking and inquisitive, physically and mentally healthy, conservative, apologist of public and individual order, initiative and courageous, and so on and so forth. Just as he receives guests with open arms, so he will be received with open arms, too. The mountaineer is in need of accepting guests just because he is isolated from the world and needs to be informed about what is going on in the world around him. This is how the excellent mettle, mentioned by Kant, has been formed. It is obvious that the bearer of all this is first of all the villager, to whom Reclu rightly attributes Turnefors words about Armenians.

The open-arms feature is also hardened in the cold. Armenians have also been involved in trade for centuries, which comes to say that they have not cheated in doing business, no matter how much they pursued personal interests, on the contrary, they have been able to attract customers, including members of royal families, great princes and feudal lords, nobles, local big merchants, and also to prove their honesty, kindness, without which they would have never been welcomed with open arms. Armenian merchants often also acted as royal translators, diplomats, achieved high positions in some countries, and became foreign ministers.

It is obvious that during the long contacts the Armenian merchants have not been engaged only in trade, but, simultaneously, have introduced Armenian culture, art, crafts to foreigners, participated in various events of the given country and the like. With their involvement, the Armenians have built churches, schools, established printing houses in the colonies, and came up with charitable initiatives. They have even had a special costume-suit worthy of the time and it is not accidental that Rousseau wore the clothes of an Armenian merchant to avoid political persecution. And, of course, the establishment of that country was well aware of all that.

Another characteristic Armenians have, is their peace-loving nature. Turnefor writes that Armenians consider themselves to be happy when not dealing with weapons, in contrast with other nations, they take up arms only to defend themselves against any attacks. Another thing that is worth mentioning is the assurance of the Russian historian Sergei Glinka (1775 / 6-1847). I am not writing praise, and how far are all stories(about Armenians) from praise? Armenians were not carried away by violent outbursts of conquest by the moral features of their national spirit as all that have been transitory.

Defending the homeland, preserving their own independence, withstanding external violence attempts-these are the main goals for them to get armed. Here is why Mihr, one of their pagan Gods, was a spiritual fire that preserved and would not harm the nature and man. Lets apply to J. Byron again. It is difficult to find a chronology of a nation that is free from vicious crimes than that of the Armenians, whose virtues are the product of peace and whose vices are the result of repression. An English politician, statesman William Ewart Gladstone (1805-1898) is also needed to be mentioned as a known person having written about Armenians; According to him, Armenians are one of the oldest peoples of the Christian civilization and one of the most peaceful, entrepreneurial and sensible one in the world, he also mentions that diligence, striving for peace, common sense are the main reasons why slavery was not formed in Armenia as a society.

We may continue the series of glorifying Armenians may be continued remembering the German orientalist V. Belkin member of the French Academy, Russian military historian Viktor Abaza (1831-1898) and others. Just let me mention that the biggest proof of the Armenians love of/ towards peace is their history, full of episodes of their struggle for independence and liberation, also known in the East for its arrogance, pages about great generals, war heroes and, finally, the best evidence is the epic poem Sasna Tsrer. An example of peace-loving feature of the Armenian people is the King Artashes I of the mighty empire of Greater Armenia, who marked the borders of the Armenian kingdom not through force of arms, but through the presence of an Armenian-speaking population. Generally, peace-loving is conditioned with diligence and the ability to acquire wealth on ones own. For thousands years having lived in the strict conditions of the highlands, Armenians have learned to earn their own living, to work hard, to know the laws of nature, and also to realize that by robbing someone elses property, you impoverish yourself. Having always been constant victim of the surrounding robbers, Armenians have forever realized that robbery is not the right way to live well. Robbery, theft, taking someone elses property always causes resistance and as a result of robbery one should be ready not only to gain, but also to lose; one loses his children, his peace of mind, and often becomes a victim of robbery. There have existed many powerful empires, which have disappeared with their peoples before the eyes of Armenians. Every war, even a victorious one, gives birth to a new war and, predominantly, the winner becomes the loser. This is how the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Roman and Parthian empires disappeared from the face of the earth.

Since the ancient times, plunder has been an important part of the way of life of the peoples having in the European continent, but having adopted the ancient Greek philosophical rationalism, the Europeans did manage to greatly promote education, science, technology, develop the arts, and inherit the cruel, malevolent and arrogant path concentrating on urgent political and economic interests and due to that, they succeeded in ensuring a prosperous life for the golden billion of their citizens and subjects.

The thinkers of the European Enlightenment, who advocated the ideas of human rights, freedom, equality, fraternity proclaimed by the French Revolution, in fact did not have worthy followers and did not guarantee the embodiment of the idea of fraternity. It was all this that led archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann Johann Ludwig Heinrich Julius Schliemann (1822-90) to come to the conclusion according to which the tragedy of Europe is that its civilization is stood on the Greek rather than the Armenian culture.

Today, the West is reaping the fruits of its sins; international terrorism and international migration. They are just germs and still Europe has a lot to pay for the atrocities, looting, wars, and damage to hundreds of peoples.

Above we mentioned about the Armenian colonies, which have a history of thousands of years, and not only multilingual literature, references-studies exist but also significant traces of material culture have been preserved. Some Armenian colonies have been created by the migration of Armenians, when for various reasons the Armenians were forced to leave their homeland, others by the forced resettlement or deportation of savage states. The forcible deportation had several goals: first, to evict the Armenian territories in order to appropriate them once and for all, on the other hand, to make those territories unattractive or unsuitable for the enemy neighboring countries. Our immediate neighbors, Byzantium, Persia, Rech Pospolita, Transylvania, Russia, India, have forcibly or peacefully populated villages, towns, and regions with Armenians. By deporting, sometimes taking advantage of, providing land, economic privileges, national educational, cultural, religious freedoms, granting internal autonomy, Armenians settled their uninhabited or occupied territories, using their commercial and craft potential for their own security and development. What was the reason for this kind of friendly attitude towards Armenians? The answer is obvious. Armenians are hardworking, progressive and, also, peace-loving/peaceful.

On this subject, I would love to remind a part from the history of the Crimea. When Russian Empress Catherine II (1762-96) instructed Prince Potemkin to seize the Crimea, he took the following step: invited the Greeks and Christian Armenians, granted tax and property privileges to his country. The caravans of Christian Armenians and Greeks moved to Christian Russia, as a result of which the short-lived worker collapsed economically and lost his resistance on the eve of the Russian invasion.

Byzantium once weakened the Armenian kingdoms, evicted Armenians, paved the way for the Turkish troops to the depths of the country, to Constantinople and perished, so the Turks did not shy/keep away from any means, even resorting to genocide and statelessness, depriving themselves of a viable Christian element.

The West will also greatly contribute to this, as soon as it gets rid of Britains We have no fixed allies, we have no eternal enemies. Only our interests are immutable and eternal(Henry Temple, Lord Palmerson, 1848) destructive philosophy. It is necessary to have permanent friends, which can be achieved only through mutually beneficial cooperation.

Although, at first sight, the words of praise from many famous foreigners about the Armenian people may seem to have been exaggerated, they are really justified. However, this does not still mean that Armenians are the best people of the world, at least because there are many good nations, who have greatly contributed to the development of human civilization. For centuries, Armenians, having been under the brutal rule of foreigners, have taken many of their flaws and now they have left the national-moral image of their ancestors out having lost many values. Accordingly, I am sending a message to Armenians not only to be proud of the glory and praise of the past, but also to make efforts to restore the special majesty and virtue of the Armenian nation, and to get rid of foreign flaws. Only with that self-purification and exaltation you will be able to consider yourself a virtuous people, which is more important than the praise of others.

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In The Bends And Labyrinths Of Civilizations - Modern Diplomacy

Mozart: where to start with his music – The Guardian

In the opinion of many the greatest of all composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) began his career as a child prodigy, and went on to achieve pre-eminence in every genre to which he turned his hand. His music combines melodic beauty, with innovative formal perfection and a remarkable ability to capture and explore deep ambiguities of emotion and feeling.

Many of his works are immediately familiar, among them Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K525; Symphony No 40 in G Minor, K550; and the slow movement of Piano Concerto No 21 in C, K467, popularised in the 1960s by Bo Widerbergs film Elvira Madigan, and heard since in countless adverts. (The letter K, appended to Mozarts music, refers to Ludwig von Kchels 1862 catalogue of his output). Ingmar Bergman and Kenneth Branagh filmed Die Zauberflte (The Magic Flute), and countless directors have used his music in their films, including Luis Buuel in LAge dOr and Elem Klimov in Come and See. Peter Shaffers 1979 play Amadeus, filmed in 1984, is a well-known, if inaccurate, dramatisation of Mozarts years in Vienna, coloured by the much voiced, if hugely disputed idea, particularly prevalent in the 19th century, that his music was divine in origin and represents the voice of God embodied in sound.

He was born in Salzburg, the son of a composer-violinist at the citys archiepiscopal court. Leopold Mozart (1719-1787) was determined to exploit Wolfgangs talent, which was apparent by the time he was five, when he composed his first pieces. From the age of six, Leopold took his miracle son on extended tours of Europe, exhibiting him at courts and academies, where his precocity as both composer and pianist was much admired. Wolfgang absorbed and assimilated the music he heard during their travels, composing his first symphony when he was eight, in London, where the Mozarts encountered Johann Christian Bach (Johann Sebastians youngest son), whose own symphonies influenced the boys work.

Mozart wrote his first opera, the Latin intermezzo Apollo et Hyacinthus, when he was 11, following it a year later with Bastien und Bastienne, a singspiel (a work in German with spoken dialogue) and the Italian comedy La Finta Semplice. When he was 17, he entered the service of the new Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Hieronymus von Colloredo, though he was later permitted to make forays elsewhere, to Paris and Mannheim in 1777-78, finally without Leopold, and Munich in 1780-81.

He came to detest Salzburg as restrictive, though his years in the city saw the gradual consolidation of his style. Many of his symphonies date from this period, as does his first important piano concerto, No 9 in E Flat K271, commonly known as the Jeunehomme. His five violin concertos were composed between 1773 and 1775: the adagio of the Third is an exquisite example of his bittersweet melodic style. The Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola among the first works to use the viola as a solo instrument dates from 1779.

Mozart lived during the closing years of the Enlightenment, when the philosophical rationalism of the early 18th century was challenged by cults of feeling that pre-empted Romanticism. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, also a composer, encouraged ideas of sensibility and subjectivity, and Bastien und Bastienne parodies Rousseaus 1752 opera Le Devin du Village. Mozart also lived at a time when an emerging bourgeoisie began to challenge aristocratic assumptions about privilege and libertinage, which strongly colours the emphasis on class conflict and differing codes of sexual behaviour in his later operas. His librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte was a friend of Casanova, while the games of erotic manipulation of Cos Fan Tutte echo those of Lacloss 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Idomeneo, Mozarts first mature opera, was premiered in Munich in January 1781. Later that year, Mozart broke decisively if acrimoniously with Colloredos court, settling in Vienna as a freelance composer, performer and teacher, though in 1787, he secured a part-time position at the imperial court, primarily composing dance music. In 1782 he married the soprano Constanze Weber. Though the idea that Mozart lived in poverty has been much exaggerated, the couple were frequently short of money. Mozart became a Freemason in 1784: his later correspondence with his fellow Mason Michael von Puchberg contains repeated requests for financial assistance.

In the last decade of his life, he produced a sequence of extraordinary masterpieces on which his reputation primarily rests. For his own subscription concerts, he composed 15 remarkable piano concertos, Nos 11 to 25, for himself and his pupils to play, giving the form new prominence, depth and seriousness. Discovery of the works of Bach and Handel strongly influenced his use of counterpoint in both symphonic development and operatic ensembles. He also became friends with Haydn, drawing upon the latters pioneering innovations in symphonic and chamber music. His chamber works from the period also include two major string quintets and the E Flat Divertimento, K563, the first important work for string trio in musical history.

His most familiar symphonies also date from the 1780s, including the concise Haffner No 35 in D, K385, from 1782, and the more expansive Prague No 38, also in D, K504, premiered during his first visit to the city in 1787. His last three symphonies were written in rapid succession during the summer of 1788. Mozarts use of counterpoint is little short of dazzling in No 41 in C, K551, the Jupiter, above all in the final movement, which weaves five themes together in one of the most jubilant passages in the entire symphonic repertoire.

In 1782, meanwhile, the singspiel Die Entfhrung aus dem Serail, an imperial commission, proved popular at its premiere, though its virtuoso vocal writing provoked the Emperor Joseph IIs infamous comment that the opera had too many notes. The late 1780s were dominated, however, by his collaboration with Da Ponte on Le Nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787) and Cos Fan Tutte (1790). Figaro and Cos are both described as opera buffas (comic operas), while Don Giovanni, with its metaphysical narrative of desire and damnation, is a dramma giocoso, altogether darker in mood. All three are works of tremendous humanity, driven by an astonishing succession of arias and extended ensembles, which reveal Mozarts ability to empathise fully with each of his characters in turn, even in moments of violence, moral uncertainty or existential crisis, resulting in a sense of profound emotional ambiguity that far transcends any conventional notion of comedy and tragedy.

Die Zauberflte was written as a popular entertainment, not unlike pantomime

In 1791, the last year of his life, Mozart composed a further pair of string quintets, his only Clarinet Concerto, and his last two, very different operas. La Clemenza di Tito is an opera seria examining the moral responsibilities of absolute power. The singspiel Die Zauberflte was written as a popular entertainment, not unlike pantomime, for a suburban Viennese theatre, overlaying a sprawling fairytale with esoteric Masonic imagery.

At his death, he left unfinished his Requiem, commissioned by an aristocratic patron, who probably intended to pass it off as his own. We owe the legend that Mozart came to believe he was writing it for his own funeral to Constanze, whose veracity has frequently been questioned. Its first posthumous completion, by his pupil Franz Xaver Sssmayr, is nowadays most frequently heard, though others have prepared performing editions of the score.

Mozarts music has never been out of the repertory, though the reputation of individual works fluctuated after his death: the 19th century, for instance, found Cos Fan Tutte trivial, and it was only in the 20th that its subtlety and sadness became widely appreciated. The depth and range of Mozarts symphonies and concertos, however, have long represented the pinnacle of classical form, and his operas are performed in every opera house in the world. In Mozarts own lifetime, Haydn acknowledged him as a genius superior to himself, and the many composers who later considered him the greatest of all include Tchaikovsky and Richard Strauss.

Mozarts music has been extensively recorded, using both conventional forces and period instruments. Interpreters as far apart as Karl Bhm and Charles Mackerras have tackled the complete symphonies, though few have quite captured the exaltation of the Jupiter more powerfully than Otto Klemperer, and Nikolaus Harnoncourts intense way with the late symphonies is immensely appealing. There are complete cycles of the piano concertos by Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia and Christian Zacharias, while significant interpreters of the violin works include Isabelle Faust and Giuliano Carmignola. Karl Bhms recordings of the major operas have been much admired over the years, with John Eliot Gardiner and Harnoncourt providing superb alternatives. Klemperers authoritative way with Don Giovanni, though, remains uniquely compelling: his Zauberflte is similarly still considered a classic, as is Erich Kleibers 1955 recording of Le Nozze di Figaro.

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Mozart: where to start with his music - The Guardian

What stands behind escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan? – Modern Diplomacy

What describes a nation, or more importantly who describes a nation? Nations like to tell about heroic, victorious events of their history, it is pleasant; they are proud of their famous compatriots. Moreover, they are flattered to be highly estimated by foreign prominent people for two and a half thousand years and sometimes that words have been even overestimated. But the first-hand sources confirm, consequently, they are real. Accordingly, it is needed to understand why they expressed glorious opinions about Armenians as the authors include famous thinkers of different nations and world greats.

There are many scientific hypotheses known in the history of science, which have been rationally explained for many, even hundreds of years. Great thinkers often come to intuitive conclusions that are incomprehensible to most of their contemporaries, they are even being criticized for their ideas. For decades, I kept viewing an approach by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (16561708), a great French thinker and member of Paris Academy who noted; Armenian nation is the best nation in the world; they are moral, polite, full of chastity and decency.

At first sight, one may take this kind of statement as unreasonable and exaggerated. Armenians are patriotic, proud, but they are very critical to themselves; even a nationalist Armenian will not express such ideas. At the same time, another French thinker, historian, famous geographer Jacques lise Reclus (18301905) claims: The Armenian villager can be attributed to what Turnefor said; Armenians are the best people in the world without much exaggeration, which, in its turn, means that there are still serious grounds for such opinions.

More than a hundred years after Tournefort, the great English poet Lord George Gordon Byron wrote. The virtues of Armenians are their own, and the shortcomings are taken from others. In short, Armenians are decent and perfect and the like.

At first glance, it seems that such opinions require a lot of different knowledge on many nations, which will let us come to a certain conclusion through comparison. In other words, it was necessary to study a certain set of knowledge, which was still quite narrow at the times of the mentioned authors. Accordingly, the conclusions had to have a different starting point.

From our point of view, that starting point could have been based on several notorious historical facts, in particular:

1) Testimonies of ancient Greek and Roman historians about the Armenian people and Armenia,

2) Although several dozen peoples lived in the Armenian Highlands and Mesopotamia in ancient times, but few survived, including the Armenian people,

3) Starting from the ancient Roman and Persian periods and throughout the Middle Ages, Armenia was the scene of savage invasions (Arabs, Mongols, Seljuks, Ottomans, etc.), but Armenians continued to keep their existence in the Armenian Highlands,

4) the last mentioned outstanding peace-loving characteristic of the Armenian people, which was manifested both during the powerful Armenian kingdoms and after the loss of statehood

5) Existence of Armenian colonies in many countries, including European ones, where Armenians, have both preserved their national identity, and, at the same time, having been integrated in the new national environment, have contributed to the prosperity of those countries,

6) The process of preserving and continuously developing the Armenian language, the theological, philosophical, scientific, literary heritage created in Armenian, and the publishing heritage, too,

7) Existence of unique Armenian culture, civilization, and also contribution of Armenians to world civilization.

These basic ideas, of course, are not exhaustive; there are and there will possible be other ideas, too. It is necessary to understand the main thing: who is the Armenian, what are his peculiarities and what it was that ensured his existence for millennia?

I will emphasize the following description of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), a great German thinker about Armenians: Hardworking and intelligent people, they have a special origin, all the nations accept Armenians with open arms, they have excellent mettle, it is impossible for us to talk about their preliminary formation.

Till today, modern historiography, linguistics, and ethnography are not able to fully present the preliminary formation of the Armenian nation, but there are certain assumptions. But first, let us consider the special origins of the Armenian people. One thing is certain; the origin, development and formation of the Armenian people are hidden in the thick fog of thousands of years. At all events, according to the modern genetic research, scientists confirm that Armenians have lived in their highlands for more than 7-8 thousand years. The Armenian language and culture also testify to the mentioned facts. It is clear that the perfection of the language, the elaboration, the rich vocabulary, the ability to express thoughts, ideas, knowledge, human emotions could not be created even for centuries, it has, surely, taken millennia. Differently, the development of the language also has required a rich culture, the development of which also took millennia. Language and culture, complementing and enriching each other, as well as creatively assimilating and synthesizing the best values and traditions of neighboring languages and cultures, have become, one may say, a dominant language and culture of regional significance. Thanks to that, the Armenian people have survived in the Armenian Highlands for millennia.

When talking about the special origin of the Armenian people, one cant help drawing attention to the Armenian Highlands. Generally, living in the mountains is viewed to be one of the best ways of protections from outside attacks, but limiting yourself to it does not yet give answers to many questions. The inhabitants of the mountainous regions have to constantly struggle and adapt to the harsh climatic conditions, and in order to achieve the result they need the joint efforts of the people, which, in its turn, forces them to develop special and stricter forms of coexistence as compared with the conditions in the valleys. On the contrary, mountains devote people certain advantages, such as working tools, raw materials for housing (obsidian, copper, tin, iron, various non-metallic building materials, and the like), easier means of self-protection, and all the rest. And finally, the mountains give people spiritual charge, spirituality, and also form a uniqueway of thinkingand a way of life which corresponds to it. The One for all, all for one thinking is typical, first of all, to the mountaineers. The evidence of the last mentioned is not only the way of life, behavior and manners of Armenians, but also of all mountain peoples.

There is not any coincidence that the civilizations formed in Mesopotamia, more specifically in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, have constantly been changed, and the Armenian civilization having been formed in the Armenian Highlands has kept maintaining its existence and developing steadily.

The mountaineer, whether he wants it or not, must be honest, decedent, hospitable, hardworking and inquisitive, physically and mentally healthy, conservative, apologist of public and individual order, initiative and courageous, and so on and so forth. Just as he receives guests with open arms, so he will be received with open arms, too. The mountaineer is in need of accepting guests just because he is isolated from the world and needs to be informed about what is going on in the world around him. This is how the excellent mettle, mentioned by Kant, has been formed. It is obvious that the bearer of all this is first of all the villager, to whom Reclu rightly attributes Turnefors words about Armenians.

The open-arms feature is also hardened in the cold. Armenians have also been involved in trade for centuries, which comes to say that they have not cheated in doing business, no matter how much they pursued personal interests, on the contrary, they have been able to attract customers, including members of royal families, great princes and feudal lords, nobles, local big merchants, and also to prove their honesty, kindness, without which they would have never been welcomed with open arms. Armenian merchants often also acted as royal translators, diplomats, achieved high positions in some countries, and became foreign ministers.

It is obvious that during the long contacts the Armenian merchants have not been engaged only in trade, but, simultaneously, have introduced Armenian culture, art, crafts to foreigners, participated in various events of the given country and the like. With their involvement, the Armenians have built churches, schools, established printing houses in the colonies, and came up with charitable initiatives. They have even had a special costume-suit worthy of the time and it is not accidental that Rousseau wore the clothes of an Armenian merchant to avoid political persecution. And, of course, the establishment of that country was well aware of all that.

Another characteristic Armenians have, is their peace-loving nature. Turnefor writes that Armenians consider themselves to be happy when not dealing with weapons, in contrast with other nations, they take up arms only to defend themselves against any attacks. Another thing that is worth mentioning is the assurance of the Russian historian Sergei Glinka (1775 / 6-1847). I am not writing praise, and how far are all stories(about Armenians) from praise? Armenians were not carried away by violent outbursts of conquest by the moral features of their national spirit as all that have been transitory.

Defending the homeland, preserving their own independence, withstanding external violence attempts-these are the main goals for them to get armed. Here is why Mihr, one of their pagan Gods, was a spiritual fire that preserved and would not harm the nature and man. Lets apply to J. Byron again. It is difficult to find a chronology of a nation that is free from vicious crimes than that of the Armenians, whose virtues are the product of peace and whose vices are the result of repression. An English politician, statesman William Ewart Gladstone (1805-1898) is also needed to be mentioned as a known person having written about Armenians; According to him, Armenians are one of the oldest peoples of the Christian civilization and one of the most peaceful, entrepreneurial and sensible one in the world, he also mentions that diligence, striving for peace, common sense are the main reasons why slavery was not formed in Armenia as a society.

We may continue the series of glorifying Armenians may be continued remembering the German orientalist V. Belkin member of the French Academy, Russian military historian Viktor Abaza (1831-1898) and others. Just let me mention that the biggest proof of the Armenians love of/ towards peace is their history, full of episodes of their struggle for independence and liberation, also known in the East for its arrogance, pages about great generals, war heroes and, finally, the best evidence is the epic poem Sasna Tsrer. An example of peace-loving feature of the Armenian people is the King Artashes I of the mighty empire of Greater Armenia, who marked the borders of the Armenian kingdom not through force of arms, but through the presence of an Armenian-speaking population. Generally, peace-loving is conditioned with diligence and the ability to acquire wealth on ones own. For thousands years having lived in the strict conditions of the highlands, Armenians have learned to earn their own living, to work hard, to know the laws of nature, and also to realize that by robbing someone elses property, you impoverish yourself. Having always been constant victim of the surrounding robbers, Armenians have forever realized that robbery is not the right way to live well. Robbery, theft, taking someone elses property always causes resistance and as a result of robbery one should be ready not only to gain, but also to lose; one loses his children, his peace of mind, and often becomes a victim of robbery. There have existed many powerful empires, which have disappeared with their peoples before the eyes of Armenians. Every war, even a victorious one, gives birth to a new war and, predominantly, the winner becomes the loser. This is how the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Roman and Parthian empires disappeared from the face of the earth.

Since the ancient times, plunder has been an important part of the way of life of the peoples having in the European continent, but having adopted the ancient Greek philosophical rationalism, the Europeans did manage to greatly promote education, science, technology, develop the arts, and inherit the cruel, malevolent and arrogant path concentrating on urgent political and economic interests and due to that, they succeeded in ensuring a prosperous life for the golden billion of their citizens and subjects.

The thinkers of the European Enlightenment, who advocated the ideas of human rights, freedom, equality, fraternity proclaimed by the French Revolution, in fact did not have worthy followers and did not guarantee the embodiment of the idea of fraternity. It was all this that led archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann Johann Ludwig Heinrich Julius Schliemann (1822-90) to come to the conclusion according to which the tragedy of Europe is that its civilization is stood on the Greek rather than the Armenian culture.

Today, the West is reaping the fruits of its sins; international terrorism and international migration. They are just germs and still Europe has a lot to pay for the atrocities, looting, wars, and damage to hundreds of peoples.

Above we mentioned about the Armenian colonies, which have a history of thousands of years, and not only multilingual literature, references-studies exist but also significant traces of material culture have been preserved. Some Armenian colonies have been created by the migration of Armenians, when for various reasons the Armenians were forced to leave their homeland, others by the forced resettlement or deportation of savage states. The forcible deportation had several goals: first, to evict the Armenian territories in order to appropriate them once and for all, on the other hand, to make those territories unattractive or unsuitable for the enemy neighboring countries. Our immediate neighbors, Byzantium, Persia, Rech Pospolita, Transylvania, Russia, India, have forcibly or peacefully populated villages, towns, and regions with Armenians. By deporting, sometimes taking advantage of, providing land, economic privileges, national educational, cultural, religious freedoms, granting internal autonomy, Armenians settled their uninhabited or occupied territories, using their commercial and craft potential for their own security and development. What was the reason for this kind of friendly attitude towards Armenians? The answer is obvious. Armenians are hardworking, progressive and, also, peace-loving/peaceful.

On this subject, I would love to remind a part from the history of the Crimea. When Russian Empress Catherine II (1762-96) instructed Prince Potemkin to seize the Crimea, he took the following step: invited the Greeks and Christian Armenians, granted tax and property privileges to his country. The caravans of Christian Armenians and Greeks moved to Christian Russia, as a result of which the short-lived worker collapsed economically and lost his resistance on the eve of the Russian invasion.

Byzantium once weakened the Armenian kingdoms, evicted Armenians, paved the way for the Turkish troops to the depths of the country, to Constantinople and perished, so the Turks did not shy/keep away from any means, even resorting to genocide and statelessness, depriving themselves of a viable Christian element.

The West will also greatly contribute to this, as soon as it gets rid of Britains We have no fixed allies, we have no eternal enemies. Only our interests are immutable and eternal(Henry Temple, Lord Palmerson, 1848) destructive philosophy. It is necessary to have permanent friends, which can be achieved only through mutually beneficial cooperation.

Although, at first sight, the words of praise from many famous foreigners about the Armenian people may seem to have been exaggerated, they are really justified. However, this does not still mean that Armenians are the best people of the world, at least because there are many good nations, who have greatly contributed to the development of human civilization. For centuries, Armenians, having been under the brutal rule of foreigners, have taken many of their flaws and now they have left the national-moral image of their ancestors out having lost many values. Accordingly, I am sending a message to Armenians not only to be proud of the glory and praise of the past, but also to make efforts to restore the special majesty and virtue of the Armenian nation, and to get rid of foreign flaws. Only with that self-purification and exaltation you will be able to consider yourself a virtuous people, which is more important than the praise of others.

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What stands behind escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan? - Modern Diplomacy

Bland Fanatics by Pankaj Mishra review both obscures and illuminates – The Guardian

What is it, the Austro-Hungarian novelist Joseph Roth asked rhetorically in 1927, in a preface to his book The Wandering Jews, that allows European states to go spreading civilisation and ethics in foreign parts but not at home? Forty years later, as American cities burned while American bombs rained down on Vietnam, James Baldwin made a similar point, though reversing Roths formulation. A racist society, he wrote, cant but fight a racist war this is the bitter truth. The assumptions acted on at home are also acted on abroad.

The relationship between the internal and the external policies of western liberal democracies lies also at the heart of Pankaj Mishras work. The Indian-born novelist and essayist has, over the past decade, become an important and illuminating critic of liberalism and globalisation.

Bland Fanatics is a collection of essays published over that time that range from excoriations of Niall Ferguson and Salman Rushdie, to a study of US president Woodrow Wilsons hypocrisy over his support for national self-determination, to an unpacking of the irrationality of western attitudes to Islam.

Two themes link the essays. The first is the hollowness and bad faith of liberalism. In the early 1960s, the Irish academic and politician Conor Cruise OBrien observed that those in former colonies in Africa and Asia were sickened by the word liberalism, seeing it as an ingratiating moral mask which a toughly acquisitive society wears before the world it robs. Had more western intellectuals paid attention to such hostility, Mishra suggests, had they recognised liberalisms complicity in western imperialism, they might have been better prepared for the current challenges facing the liberal tradition.

Mishras writings have been important in exposing the narrow parochialism of western intellectuals

This leads to the second theme in Bland Fanatics the significance of the non-western world in shaping history and blindness of western liberals to that world. Mishra takes aim at prettified histories of the rise of the democratic west in which centuries of civil war, imperial conquest, brutal exploitation and genocide are glossed over in accounts of how westerners made the modern world and became with their liberal democracies the superior people everyone else ought to catch up with.

Mishras writings have been important in exposing the narrow parochialism of western intellectuals and in bringing the history of the rest of the world into discussions of European and American history and politics. There is, though, a narrowness to his own approach, which raises as many questions about Mishras critique as he does about liberalism.

It is striking, for instance, that there is barely a mention of class in Bland Fanatics, except for the odd line deriding the Brexit pretensions of the British ruling class. To write 16 essays on the problems of liberalism, and the character of its current crisis, without discussing its impact on the working class or the role of the working class in the contemporary anti-liberal tumult, not only in Europe and America, but globally, seems extraordinary.

In an essay on the African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mishra chides him for viewing the rise of Donald Trump as an expression of a whitelash from those who feared the black man in the White House, pointing out that Trump also benefited from the disappointment of white voters who had voted, often twice, for Obama, and of black voters who failed to turn out for Hillary Clinton.

Yet Mishras own account of the rise of Trump, and of populism more broadly, seems implausible and contradictory, too. In his previous book The Age of Anger, Mishra linked the fury that had brought populist leaders to power to that which underlies Islamist terror and sectarian violence, seeing them all as expressions of what Kierkegaard and Nietzsche called ressentiment, the existential resentment of other peoples being, caused by an intense mix of envy and sense of humiliation and powerlessness. The roots of such resentment Mishra traced back to the backlash against Enlightenment rationalism and the refusal of liberals to acknowledge the importance of community, identity and authenticity.

It was a provocative thesis, exhilarating in parts but infuriating, too, in its flattening of historical nuance. It is, for instance, one thing to recognise the importance of community and identity and the anger created by the atomisation of societies. It is quite another, though, to view the desire for community as an expression of what Mishra calls the persistent power of unreason or to see all forms of inchoate and half-articulated rage as drawing upon the same historical source.

In any case, in Bland Fanatics the argument has shifted. Mishra argues here (in an essay written the year after The Age of Anger was published) that the election of Trump represents the last and most desperate phase of a journey that moves through colonialism, slavery, segregation, ghettoisation, militarised border controls and mass incarceration. This is a very different historical lineage to that in The Age of Anger and one shaped by the actions of the elite, not by the feelings of those who resent their exclusion from the world created by that elite.

What is missing in Bland Fanatics is any attempt to analyse liberalism in the round. Were there any historical gains from the emergence of liberalism? What, if anything, is worth saving from the liberal tradition? How should we assess the tension between Enlightenment ideals, from which many anti-colonial movements drew inspiration, and the practice of European colonialism that denied those ideals to the majority of people in the world? Such questions are ignored by Mishra.

There is much that is valuable in Mishras writings, opening up as they do new perspectives in the debate about liberalism and about the relationship between the west and the global south. Its a pity that there is also much that obscures even as it illuminates.

Bland Fanatics: Liberals, Race and Empire by Pankaj Mishra is published by Verso (16.99). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over 15

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Bland Fanatics by Pankaj Mishra review both obscures and illuminates - The Guardian

Anaal Nathrakh enter into an age of ‘Endarkenment’ with hectic new song – Kill Your Stereo

Anaal Nathrakhs brand of extreme blackened, grinding death metal is as consistent as it thought-provoking and heavy. That was true of A New Kind Of Horror (2018) and the very same is looking to be accurate for their next album, Endarkenment. With its recently released first single and eponymous cut being the kind of explosive, riff-heavy style the band are highly regarded for. With all of multi-instrumentalist Mick Kenneys noisy guitars and sick blast beats, and vocalist Dave Hunts huge power-metal refrains sitting in their usual places.

Like other Anaal Nathrakh albums, theres many liner notes to accompany the themes and messages of their songs. Endarkenment is no different. With Dave sharing about this forthcoming album and its subsequent titular songs theme of post-truths, personal selfishness and political dogma, that:

There has been, and continues to be, increasingly widespread rejection of Enlightenment-style values such as rationalism, skepticism, the rejection of faith in favour of judgements dependent on empirically verifiable phenomena and so on. There are local versions in many places, but in our native UK, this was summed up by politician/sinister gnome Michael Goves famous claim that weve had enough of experts. Thus we enter the age of endarkenment.

In the tracks fiendish second verse, Dave sums up that flawed thought process as he savagely, ironically, screams: Fuck you if you think I am wrong. The answers I have are all the answers I need. Which is the most astute comment Ive heard from a band in 2020 about the rut of political discourse and academic debate we find ourselves in. Where people make up their mind based on personal preferences first; distort, reject or cherry pick evidence to the contrary second; and refuse new information and perspectives third. (Which is represented by the band portraying such people as blind swine sadly mislead by bad actors in the below music video.)

That objectivity isnt for someones commentary about movies, books, video games or albums. No, its regarding legitimate issues policy, economics, immigration, race, colour, faith, politics that carry tangible effects and real world implications. Thats why an age of endarkenment can be so dangerous. People substituting the opinion of experts and scientists in lieu of their own beliefs (or the talking heads they follow) in a misguided defence of personal liberties, everyone else be damned. Something weve seen no shortage of from those who stutter and stammer as they rehash their rehearsed mental script about freedoms whenever a shopping-centre staff member kindly asks them to wear a mask or leave.

The Birminghamduos 11th album, Endarkenment, is out October 2nd, 2020.

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Anaal Nathrakh enter into an age of 'Endarkenment' with hectic new song - Kill Your Stereo

JobKeeper changes timely and nuanced – The Canberra Times

comment, editorial,

The 250,00 to 400,000 Victorian workers expected to be thrown out of work as a result of the imposition of the hardest lockdown seen in Australia to date will be breathing a collective sigh of relief as a result of the Federal government's decision to amend the criteria for JobKeeper. This comes on top of the recent decision to extend the scheme, which has played a pivotal role in helping millions of Australians to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table since March, for a further six months beyond its original legislated termination date. With up to one-and-a-half million Victorians expected to be relying on the payment by early next month, it would have been a catastrophe for that state - and for two-and-a-half million other people around the country - if the program had been allowed to wind down. One of the most significant changes was to shift the employee reference date (the relevant date of employment for an eligible employee) from March 1, 2020, to July 1, 2020. This means that many workers who had found employment since the economy started to open back up again since June will now also be eligible for JobKeeper. That tweak is potentially crucial to the economic welfare of tens of thousands of people. The other big shift was the decision to modify the criteria for a business's eligibility for the scheme by changing the "turnover reference period". Companies now only have to demonstrate that their income has dropped by the mandated percentage (which varies according to the size of the business) over a single quarter. This means that businesses which may have moved back towards the black during the period the pandemic was effectively under control and restrictions were being eased won't be penalised for that brief period of fiscal spring. The combined effect of these two changes will be to increase the cost of JobKeeper by around $15.6 billion during 2020-2021. The final cost may prove to be far higher given, as the Prime Minister has stressed repeatedly, economic forecasting is extremely problematic given the speed at which the situation can change. The really good news is that because JobKeeper is a national program, the changes announced on Friday will take effect nationwide. That is important given it is, as yet, unknown what impact the Victorian lockdown is going to have on other states. When you shut down one quarter of the national economy, albeit for the very best of reasons, it is going to have a massive flow-on effect. Jobs will be lost in every state and territory, including in the ACT, as a result of the interruption to supply lines sourcing goods and services out of Melbourne and the surrounding area. This is a national crisis. It's not just a case of Victoria catching a bad cold and going back to bed for a bit. The most important takeout from the changes is the timely reminder that this government, once lambasted over it's ideological commitment to economic rationalism, is willing and able to "flex" when the situation demands it. That said, in view of the fact that many Australians are going to be on JobKeeper - and JobSeeker - for far longer than was originally expected, consideration should be given to holding off on the reductions in the level of payments due to take effect later this year. While it is important to wean businesses off taxpayer-funded support payments once the situation eases, the reality is that we are not at that point yet. The Treasurer's work is far from done.

https://nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net/transform/v1/crop/frm/fdcx/doc79s4whfo0ab1nhfplerd.jpg/r9_435_4244_2828_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

The 250,00 to 400,000 Victorian workers expected to be thrown out of work as a result of the imposition of the hardest lockdown seen in Australia to date will be breathing a collective sigh of relief as a result of the Federal government's decision to amend the criteria for JobKeeper.

This comes on top of the recent decision to extend the scheme, which has played a pivotal role in helping millions of Australians to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table since March, for a further six months beyond its original legislated termination date.

With up to one-and-a-half million Victorians expected to be relying on the payment by early next month, it would have been a catastrophe for that state - and for two-and-a-half million other people around the country - if the program had been allowed to wind down.

One of the most significant changes was to shift the employee reference date (the relevant date of employment for an eligible employee) from March 1, 2020, to July 1, 2020. This means that many workers who had found employment since the economy started to open back up again since June will now also be eligible for JobKeeper. That tweak is potentially crucial to the economic welfare of tens of thousands of people.

The other big shift was the decision to modify the criteria for a business's eligibility for the scheme by changing the "turnover reference period". Companies now only have to demonstrate that their income has dropped by the mandated percentage (which varies according to the size of the business) over a single quarter.

This means that businesses which may have moved back towards the black during the period the pandemic was effectively under control and restrictions were being eased won't be penalised for that brief period of fiscal spring.

The combined effect of these two changes will be to increase the cost of JobKeeper by around $15.6 billion during 2020-2021. The final cost may prove to be far higher given, as the Prime Minister has stressed repeatedly, economic forecasting is extremely problematic given the speed at which the situation can change.

The really good news is that because JobKeeper is a national program, the changes announced on Friday will take effect nationwide. That is important given it is, as yet, unknown what impact the Victorian lockdown is going to have on other states. When you shut down one quarter of the national economy, albeit for the very best of reasons, it is going to have a massive flow-on effect. Jobs will be lost in every state and territory, including in the ACT, as a result of the interruption to supply lines sourcing goods and services out of Melbourne and the surrounding area.

This is a national crisis. It's not just a case of Victoria catching a bad cold and going back to bed for a bit.

The most important takeout from the changes is the timely reminder that this government, once lambasted over it's ideological commitment to economic rationalism, is willing and able to "flex" when the situation demands it.

That said, in view of the fact that many Australians are going to be on JobKeeper - and JobSeeker - for far longer than was originally expected, consideration should be given to holding off on the reductions in the level of payments due to take effect later this year.

While it is important to wean businesses off taxpayer-funded support payments once the situation eases, the reality is that we are not at that point yet.

The Treasurer's work is far from done.

Read the original here:

JobKeeper changes timely and nuanced - The Canberra Times

If not for the glory of God, then for what? – Catholic Review of Baltimore

Last November 11, on the centenary of its relocation to a 93-acre campus in suburban Washington, D.C., Georgetown Preparatory School announced a $60 million capital campaign. In his message for the opening of the campaign, Georgetown Preps president, Father James Van Dyke, SJ, said that, in addition to improving the schools residential facilities, the campaign intended to boost Preps endowment to meet increasing demands for financial aid. Like other high-end Catholic secondary schools, Georgetown Prep is rightly concerned about pricing itself out of reach of most families. So Preps determination to make itself more affordable through an enhanced endowment capable of funding scholarships and other forms of financial aid for less-than-wealthy students is all to the good.

What I find disturbing about the campaign is its branding slogan. I first became aware of it when, driving past the campus a few months ago, I noticed a billboard at the corner of Rockville Pike and Tuckerman Lane. In large, bold letters, it proclaimed, FOR THE GREATER GLORY. And I wondered, ofwhat? Then one day, when traffic allowed, I slowed down and espied the much smaller inscription in the bottom right corner: Georgetown Preps Legacy Campaign.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam[For the greater glory of God], often reduced to the abbreviation, AMDG, was the Latin motto of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Georgetown Prep is a Jesuit school. So what happened to the D-word? What happened to God? Why did AMDG become AM[D]G while being translated into fundraising English?

I made inquiries of Jesuit friends and learned that amputating the D in AMDG is not unique to Georgetown Prep; its a tactic used by other Jesuit institutions engaged in the heavy-lift fundraising of capital campaigns. That was not good news. Nor was I reassured by pondering Father Van Dykes campaign-opening message, in which the words Jesus Christ did not appear. Neither did Pope Franciss call for the Churchs institutions to prepare missionary disciples as part of what the Pope has called a Church permanently in mission. And neither did the word God, save for a closing Thanks, and God bless.

Father Van Dyke did mention that Ignatian values were one of the pillars of Georgetown preps reputation for excellence. And he did conclude his message with a call for men who will make a difference in a world that badly needs people who care, people who, in the words Ignatius wrote his best friend Francis Xavier as he sent him on the Society of Jesuss first mission, will set the world on fire. Fine. But ignition to what end?

Ignatius sent Francis Xavier to the Indies and on to East Asia to set the world on fire with love of the Lord Jesus Christ, by evangelizing those then known as heathens with the warmth of the Gospel and the enlivening flame of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. St. Ignatius was a New Evangelization man half a millennium before Pope St. John Paul II used the term. St. Ignatiuss chief Ignatian value wasgloria Dei, the glory ofGod.

Forming young men into spiritually incandescent, intellectually formidable and courageous Christian disciples, radically conformed to Jesus Christ and just as deeply committed to converting the world, was the originating purpose of Jesuit schools in post-Reformation Europe. Those schools were not content to prepare generic men for others; they were passionately devoted to forming Catholic men for convertingothers, the others being those who had abandoned Catholicism for Protestantism or secular rationalism. That was why the Jesuits were hated and feared by powerful leaders with other agendas, be they Protestant monarchs like Elizabeth I of England or rationalist politicians like Portugals 18th-century prime minister, the Marquis of Pombal.

Religious education in U.S. Catholic elementary schools has been improved in recent decades. And we live in something of a golden age of Catholic campus ministry at American colleges and universities. Its Catholic secondary education in the U.S. that remains to be thoroughly reformed so that Catholic high schools prepare future leaders of the New Evangelization: leaders who will bring others to Christ, heal a deeply wounded culture, and become agents of a sane politics. Jesuit secondary education, beginning with prominent and academically excellent schools like Georgetown Prep, could and should be at the forefront of that reform.

Jesuit secondary education is unlikely to provide that leadership, however, if its self-presentation brackets God and announces itself as committed to the greater glory ofwhatever.

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If not for the glory of God, then for what? - Catholic Review of Baltimore

Slavoj iek: Joe Biden is long-term the same catastrophe as Trump – The Irish Times

Im 20 minutes into an interview with Slavojiekwhen he propositions sex. As a thought experiment, I stress.

Imagine a love encounter. Lets say you are a beautiful lady. He holds his hands up and grins. Sorry, heterosexual! Im old-fashioned. I am a guy, I want to get you.

Such is the nature of conversation with the Slovenian philosopher that he spins from enunciating Marxist social theory one moment to asking about Irelands record in combating Covid-19 the next. Right now he is focused on the implications of futuristic technology envisaged by the likes of Elon Musk which would transmit thoughts directly from one brain to another.

There will be no promises of seduction. Our minds are in contact and your mind reads a signal in me: I want to screw you. I get it back: Over my dead body, and its over in a split of a second.

Musk says he is developing a device called Neuralink with exactly this capability. The Tesla boss claims it will be ready in as little as five years, after which, according to the hype, human language will be rendered obsolete.

iekdoesnt buy it. Our minds work only through language, I claim. Language is this paradoxical intruder, he says. Because we have to communicate in language, I never know exactly what you mean but the very obstacle generates a surplus of meaning.

iek pronounced Djee-shek divides critical opinion. One camp takes him seriously as the Elvis of cultural theory: an original and invigorating left-wing thinker. A second camp treats him as a joke: a high-brow comic act, or the Borat of philosophy, obsessed with sex, movies and the abstruse writings of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

There is a third faction which takes iekseriously but as a dangerous relativist. One proponent of this view described him as the most despicable philosopher in the West highlighting, among iek'smany crimes of reason, his claim that Gandhi was more violent than Hitler because Gandhi didnt do anything to stop the way the British empire functioned in India.

Many people previously sympathetic to iekwere driven into this third camp a few years ago when he expressed his support for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election.

I am tempted to changing my position, he tells The Irish Times. I will put it like this. I dont think my old statement Trump better than Hillary Clinton was wrong because my calculation was a simple one: If Trump wins it will give a new boost to the left, and it did strengthen. It almost split the Democratic Party [and helped] not only Bernie Sanders but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It created, for the first time in I dont know how many decades, a true American left. So I still think the great merit Im sorry for this obscene term to be used with somebody like Trump is Trump mixed the cards in a new way.

Who would he vote for this time, Joe Biden or Trump?

Biden is long-term the same catastrophe as Trump, he replies. While welcoming the chaos of the current incumbent, I think Trump is a little too much. On the other hand, the Democratic contender is sometimes, you can see, painfully senile. Without giving a straight answer, he says he hopes Biden has this talent Ronald Reagan had. I was told . . . Reagan had a good Leninist talent to nominate the right people to positions. I hope [Biden] will build a better quipe around him, which will somehow control the situation.

As a committed Hegelian, or more accurately Hegelo-Lacanian his other lodestar is French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan iekis constantly holding at least two opposing ideas in his head at once. At one juncture, he describes the Hegelian outlook as desperately optimistic but he also says, I dont know a much more pessimist philosopher than Hegel.

To the extent thatiekaccounts for this particular contradiction, it is in the fact that no one is sure what Hegel actually believed; he was, after all, a philosopher described by Arthur Schopenhauer as a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense.

iekis Hegel incarnate in one sense at least: He has an enormous catalogue of work, producing a book roughly every six months. So frequently, in fact, that he loses track of the title that he is currently promoting.

Which book are you talking about? he asks about five minutes into our Skype call. Ah, its already that one!

The book in question is Hegel in a Wired Brain, a meditation on what the German philosopher born 250 years ago on August 27th would make of technological progress. iekdoesnt use social media and says he has never had a Twitter account; the personalised aesthetic doesnt appeal to him.

I have this old philosophical disdain, when somebody says I personally feel like that, my immediate reaction is: F**k off. I dont care how you feel. Im interested in truth. Truth not in the naive sense of objective truth but truth in the sense of what is the presupposition of what youre saying.

He credits Angela Nagle, the Irish author of Kill All Normies, for influencing his view of online communities. A weird reversal has occurred, says Zizek, wherethe new right almost appropriated all the vulgarity once associated with student reformists, and much of the new left is going into this politically correct direction.

He adds: This is my problem with the tendency to get rid of all reminders of racism, sexism and so on . . . While I am for this struggle, he asks whether ruining monuments is the best tactic. Ren Descartes, for example, is the quintessence of the western mind, pure rationalism, privileged man, no sense of empathy, and so on but wait a minute! Do you know how popular Descartes was among women readers? Why? Because cogito the pure Cartesian I has no sex; its open to contingent sexual construction . . . Without cogito there is no modern feminism.

Whatever about the quality of his logic, iekis charming company.

I have a personal question, he interjects. Dont laugh at me. I ask every Irish person: de Valera versus Michael Collins? Later, he cites the Dublin-based novelist Tana French a big hit in Slovenia as evidence of Irelands greatness. Every stupid, small nation can have a great poet, a great national novelist. To have a good detective writer means you are in.

Given the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Ljubljanas most famous son is already thinking of the next book. It will be something like Hegel in the Viral World, he says, having already brought out a short tract called Pandemic! in April.

The restarting of tourists flights across Europe is absolutely crazy, he believes. At the same time, I sympathise with the guy who says I dont want to wear a mask. I understand him. We are being asked literally to change our nature.

As for the effect of Covid-19 on the capitalist system, ieksays: What I like like, its an obscene term to use here for what goes on now is that even conservative prime ministers and presidents have to do things which, if you had to mention them a year ago, they would tell you: Are you crazy? This is radical left; it will never be done.

Dont expect any neat conclusions from iek. But even his fiercest critics must admit that, like a stopped clock which tells the right time twice a day, he inevitably hits upon some truth even if its the simple truth that humans are hopelessly flawed and contradictory.

With a nod to his own shortcomings, he suggests the ridiculousness of our species is what makes us special, as its something no superintelligent computer can match.

This example I use all the time Im embarrassed its in at least five of my books, he says, before retelling a joke from the 1939 Ernst Lubitsch comedy Ninotchka: You go to a restaurant and ask: Can I get coffee without cream? The waiter says: Sorry sir, we dont have cream, we only have milk, so you only can get coffee without milk.

This is a properly Hegelian point, iekadds. Both types of coffee, along with plain coffee are materially the same but they are not symbolically, in our space of meaning, the same.

I debated this with computer specialists and asked them a simple question: Could an artificial mind distinguish between plain coffee, coffee without cream and coffee without milk? And I didnt get a good answer.

Hegel in a Wired Brain by Slavoj iekis published by Bloomsbury Academic.

Link:

Slavoj iek: Joe Biden is long-term the same catastrophe as Trump - The Irish Times

Analysis | AIADMK-BJP ties under strain after recent controversies – The Hindu

The AIADMK-BJP ties have come under strain in the light of recent controversies over Kanda Sashti Kavasam, a compilation of Tamil hymns in praise of Lord Murugan, and the draping of a saffron shawl around the statue of AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran in Puducherry. The visible discord has prompted many to wonder whether this episode will lead to separation between the allies before the Assembly elections, scheduled for April-May next year.

Also read: Karuppar Koottam, Hindu Peravai members held under Goondas Act

Conceding that there are differences in the way they view the rows, the parties say they will, however, stick to their tie-up. The respective position of each of the parties under the existing circumstances need not be viewed in terms of electoral considerations, according to their spokespersons.

Also read: Hindus will no longer be fooled by Dravidian ideology, says L. Murugan

It all started with a little-known group called Karuppar Kootam (Group of Blacks) hosting content on social media about the Tamil devotional work, which is regarded by the BJP, a few political parties and sections of Hindus, as an act of blasphemy.

While accusing the DMK of providing tacit support to the group, the national party is not happy with the ruling party either. Neither the AIADMKs coordinator [O. Panneerselvam] and co-coordinator [Edappadi K. Palaniswami] nor the DMKs leader [M.K. Stalin] condemned the Karuppar Kootam for its action, which has hurt the dignity of Tamil women too, T. Narayanan, spokepserson of the BJP, observes.

Even the police action [arresting four persons purportedly belonging to the group and booking one under Goondas Act] came four days after us giving a complaint and exerting pressure. We need more action, as we believe there are more people behind this group. We need more action, he goes on.

Contrasting the passive approach of the AIADMK on this issue with how the ruling partys leadership reacted strongly and almost instantaneously to the MGR statue row, Mr. Narayanan says that while he is not holding a brief for those behind the statue incident if the intention is to cause trouble, his party does not see anything amiss with regard to the use of saffron shawl per se. Saffron is a symbol of purity and, after all, MGR was not an atheist.

However, Kovai Sathyan, the ruling partys spokesperson, says his party cannot be expected to react to certain events the way the BJP responds. Their [the BJPs] political style is inclined towards religious polarisation but my partys is different. We, the AIADMK, are known as a secular party, favouring all sections of society. Our philosophy is based on what Anna [former Chief Minister C.N.Annadurai] had set out and Puratchi Thalaivar and Amma [MGR and Jayalalithaa] had followed egalitarianism, social justice and rationalism.

At the same time, the ruling party is fulfilling its responsibility by taking action that is required to ensure maintenance of law and order. And we have done it with an iron hand, he says, recalling how the police, exactly a year ago, arrested a man in Kumbakonam for posting an invitation on social media for a beef eating event.

Mr. Sathyan explains that the BJP may view the Kanda Sashti Kavasam row as a political opportunity, but the AIADMKs approach is to ensure that no law and order problems arise, maintaining peace and and public order.

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Analysis | AIADMK-BJP ties under strain after recent controversies - The Hindu

The TN govt is using preventive detention in its political ‘balancing act’ – The News Minute

Two people who made controversial comments against a Hindu prayer and a person who desecrated a Periyar statue were booked under preventive detention acts last week.

On July 26, the Chennai police invoked the Goondas act against Surendran, the founder of YouTube channel Karuppar Kootam and his colleague SJ Gopal of the Hindu Tamil Peravai. They were both arrested for circulating content alleged to be defamatory on the Kanda Sashti Kavasam, a Hindu prayer, on social media.

Three days later, the Coimbatore police detained a Bharat Sena functionary, M Arun Krishnan, for desecrating social reformer Periyar EV Ramasamy's statue. This man was booked under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), hardly invoked for acts of desecration.

The preventive detention acts were used on accused who represent two different spectrums of political ideologies currently battling it out in Tamil Nadu. But the manner in which the government has handled both these cases is similar point out political experts. And this, they allege, clearly highlights the AIADMK's efforts to pull off a 'balancing act' ahead of the elections.

"The Hindutva tag is very dangerous in Tamil Nadu and the AIADMK cannot afford to be branded as such, before an assembly election," says M Bharath, a political analyst. "The party has always taken a cat on the wall approach when it comes to dabbling in Dravidian ideology and spiritualism. While it has been born out of leaders like Annadurai who preached rationalism, its leaders, be it former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran or J Jayalalithaa, have been deeply spiritual," he adds.

Bharathi points out that ahead of the state assembly elections in 2021, the government is being doubly cautious in avoiding any further branding, in order to maintain its vote bank.

"They saw what allying with the BJP could do to their vote bank in the Lok Sabha elections and the coming elections too will be a battle of spiritual politics against dravidian and Periyarist ideologies," says Bharath.

"The right wing has a soft corner for AIADMK, and at the same time their Dravidian roots make them acceptable to rationalist vote banks as well. By treating both these cases similarly, they are giving a clear message that they are a neutral party irrespective of past alliances. They will condemn the insult to Hindu prayers and vehemently oppose desecration of Periyar statues in order to strike a balance," he adds.

But legal experts point out that in an effort to maintain its vote bank, the government is blatantly violating and manipulating the law to suit its motives.

Preventive detention in its essence is the imprisonment of a person with aim of preventing them from committing further offences or of maintaining public order. Both the Goondas act and NSA act aims at a year long preventive detention of habitual offenders.

"So, ideally to book someone under the Goondas act, they need to have a history of having committed crimes," says advocate Akhila of the Madras High court. "And if this is their first crime then their act needs to have been created or lead to potential public disorder. Both these cases - the one against Karuppar Kootam and the man who desecrated the statue may legally allow for preventive detention, but it is completely against our democratic principles," she adds.

Then why are these Acts so readily invoked?

"Police use the preventive detention laws as a tool to bypass the regular criminal justice system. This way you don't have to hold a trial till the end of the year, the charges won't be public and the FIR document will not create public debate. It is an effective way of pushing an unfavourable situation under the carpet," she explains. "In a regular case, police would need evidence and the trial process is cumbersome. There are checks and balances and the accused has their own rights. But here they can simply silence them," she adds.

Advocate and political analyst 'Tharasu' Shyam, points out that the government looks at two aspects before they decide what action is required.

"The first is whether there is uproar over the particular issue from the public and the second is if it is a direct attack on symbology pertaining to their politics. Both these causes fit into one of these criterion," he says.

Senior advocate Kannadasan however alleges that the balance portrayed in justice in these cases is merely an eyewash.

"At first glance it may look like both these cases have been treated the same way and both accused have met with the same fate. But that is not the case," says advocate Kannadasan.

He explains that the Goondas Act and NSA have one fundamental difference. The Goondas act is a state act and therefore it is the state which will recommend whether it is applicable in a certain case or not. The NSA however, though invoked by the state, is actually a central act.

"So this means that the Centre decides whether the desecration of the Periyar statue is worth preventive detention. The accused in this case can send a representation in one week. An advisory board will be formed within 40 days after this to decide on the act, " says the advocate.

'Tharasu' Shyam explains that for the Goondas Act to be lifted, the process could be months long as opposed to bail on a regular case that can be reviewed every 14 days.

"It will take the state government 2.5 months to form the board. Then formalities that the accused have to complete will take a month. This in itself will mean atleast three months in prison," he says. "If they have to go to court, the accused's counsel will have to file a habeas corpus petition and this will get delayed in front of the division bench since the state has to respond. Either way, the accused have to face months of imprisonment before they get a chance to apply for bail."

Read more:

The TN govt is using preventive detention in its political 'balancing act' - The News Minute

News objectivity in the time of Trump telling it like it is – Albany Times Union

TheNew York Timespublished an op-ed by Republican Senator Tom Cotton advocating a military crackdown on protests.

Arguably a vile view. But, in a spirit of open discourse and Enlightenment rationalism, The Timesthought it merited publication. Especially, you might think, with mainstream media under assault for alleged left-wing bias.

Yet many Timesstaffers thought differently, objecting to publication. The Timeswas forced to apologize; the editor responsible forced to resign.

This is todays cancel culture. The paper issued a statement saying the Cotton piece did not meet its standards. What it actually transgressed was the politically correct woke catechism. With dissenters not just countered with arguments, they must be suppressed, not permitted to be heard, banished from society.

I recently reviewed Robert Boyerss book The Tyranny of Virtue, calling out this illiberal censorship mania on Americas campuses. Now it has infected our wider culture, when not even an institution like The Timescan stand against it.

AnotherTimesstaffer, Bari Weiss, resigned in protest at the papers capitulation. Echoing Boyers, she criticized what she saw as its new ethos, that the truth isnt a collective discovery, but an orthodoxy already known to an enlightened few whose job is to inform everyone else.

Were between the Scylla of the lefts intolerance of divergent viewpoints and the Charybdis of Trumpian fake news rhetoric trying to destroy the public square from the other direction.

Journalistic objectivity is a modern concept. When I researched events circa 1920 for my 1973 book on Albany politics, I was surprised at how overtly partisan newspapers were. That soon gave way to neutral reporting, with opinion confined to editorial pages. This model enabled the public to shape views based on facts and reality. How quaint that sounds today.

We also once thought the internet would make people even better informed. However, while mainstream news outfits feel both an obligation to play it straight and that this serves their commercial interests information being the product theyre selling that doesnt apply to internet platforms whose product is propaganda, and which can make money by feeding red meat to narrow audience slices.

Meantime, Americas public square used to be dominated by two political sides each also pretty much playing it straight, with issues debated honestly and rationally. Journalistic neutrality fit such a landscape. But that has changed, causing the objectivity standard to be questioned even for mainstream news media.

A recent article in The Economist spotlights the problem by quoting a December Timesreport about an impeachment hearing: the lawmakers from the two parties could not even agree on a basic set of facts. Comments The Economist:Which facts were real? Readers were left to guess.

But the magazine says a new paradigm is emerging, based on moral clarity, a sense of right and wrong.It quotes Wesley Lowery, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, that in lieu of an objectivity obsession, reporters should focus on being fair and telling the truth, as best as one can, based on the given context and available facts.

Theres been a running debate over using the words lie or racist in covering Trump. Ive long watched PBSs Washington Weekwhere journalists discuss the news, without slant. Often this means dancing around the obvious. Like always dissecting Trump actions on the pretense that theres some rationality behind them. At last, recently, The TimessPeter Baker actually used the word insane.

To exemplify the emerging standard, The Economist, quotes this start to a Timesfront page news story:

President Trump used the spotlight of the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the new far-left fascism.

Id call this telling it like it is. Indeed, every word is factual reporting. Some, like diatribe, are loaded words, but even that usage conforms to its dictionary definition.

Of course right and wrong can always be a matter of opinion. And moral clarity, for too many today, translates into the oppressive politically correct orthodoxy Boyers described.

But I keep coming back to our being in an unprecedented national crisis. It predated covid. A crisis of this countrys soul what it stands for, what it means. Whether our pluralistic democracy can endure. This, right now, is crunch time. Journalists and the news media are on the front lines. Their responsibility transcends he-said-she-said neutrality. They must tell it like it is.

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News objectivity in the time of Trump telling it like it is - Albany Times Union

The Hater movie review: A ghastly reflection of todays hate culture – The Hindu

Elections will no longer be won by votes, but by the staggering amount of noise a political party amplifies on the Internet. Politicians will continue to benefit from the collective hysteria of a dire cause manufactured and manipulated for their own agenda that is long lost. Their mere virtue signalling will no longer be mistaken for minority appeasement.

Wars will no longer be fought by soldiers in the battlefield, but by keyword warriors on social media. For, today, we stand united in a common fight against a common enemy, whose malignancy grows by and large with a much greater potency than any recorded tumour mind you, this isnt a fight between the far-lefts and far-rights. It is a fight against a society that is dangerously resilient to the fundamentals of rationalism. For, today, the world is engulfed by the oneness of one ideology: hate a cursory glance at Twitter, a politicians speech or newsroom debates for that matter, will point towards that direction.

In The Hater, Polish filmmaker Jan Komasa makes a case for what this rather abstract emotion means, in todays rapidly politicised and polarised climate, where voices of dissent are stifled; where free speech largely remains a theory; where innocents are crucified based on assumptions; and where gullible youngsters are radicalised into mercenaries.

Early on, in the movie, the central character Tomasz (Maciej Musiaowski) is expelled from law school for lifting a paragraph from his professors book without attribution. He doesnt show any remorse and gives a curt reply instead: It is a matter of perception. Perception is what that would drive him out of law school and that would later involve him in unlawful activities.

We only get to see fragments of Tomasz from the characters he meets, and stitch them together to form a complete picture about him. We come to know that he is from an economically backward class who survives on his scholarship money he gets from his uncle and auntie (The Krasuckas). That the Krasuckas are well-off and are affiliated to an independent liberal candidate Pawe Rudnicki (Maciej Stuhr), who runs for the local Mayor elections the way this information is slipped is without much pondering. That he has an eternal feeling for their daughter Gabi (Vanessa Aleksander), to whom he sent a friend request seven years back. That he is a compulsive stalker and a pathological liar.

The Hater

We dont just see the hatred Tomasz develops against the left-leaning Krasuckas, that would take a full-borne shape in the second half, but also the hatred that surrounds him. In the eyes of the Krasuckas, he is a nobody who got lucky by getting into a law school. He is constantly ridiculed and joked about for his economic background. There is a Parasite-like commentary when the aunt makes a joke about his smell and the cologne he used. One suspects that the reason he went to law school was also to earn their respect and social privilege to wed their daughter. All this only further manifests more hatred in him.

Also Read: Get 'First Day First Show', our weekly newsletter from the world of cinema, in your inbox. You can subscribe for free here

Some of the initial portions which could have easily been trimmed by 15 minutes come across as an innocent love story between two classes, but the narrative gear changes when Tomasz chances upon Beata (Agata Kulesza), who, on the outside, runs a public relations company. But in reality, she fosters a fake propaganda campaign for a right-wing political party, which is dead against Pawel for his liberal values. The Hater, like its protagonist, struggles to arrive at the central conceit: hate mongering, provocation and well-orchestrated PR machinery employed by a political party. When it does, the how part becomes more interesting than why, which is Jan Komasas slender attempt to have a sympathetic gaze at his protagonist.

In an effort to cocoon out of his poor lifestyle, Tomasz falls into more pitfalls when he gets commissioned to run a smear campaign on the dark web. Hate, in essence, not just sells but pays There are no rules in the textbook in terms of manipulation and provocation, remarks a character. He channels his inner aggression to launch an avalanche of hate groups and offers innovative ideas for fake propaganda without considering the ramifications it would cost. And what are the issues that would earn immediate provocation? Islamophobia, xenophobia, jingoism and LGBTQIA+.

You cannot help but wonder how much relevance The Hater has worldover, regardless of the geographical boundaries it takes the form of right-wing propaganda, if you place it in Indian context. Ask the Indians for 80 more fake accounts, says Beata, to a visibly surprised Tomasz. Do you think well get fake accounts from Europe, she says. The moment you react to a provocative hate message/post, it is a victory not just for Tomasz but for people perpetrating hate, masquerading under a fake identity. Though it makes an interesting commentary on a global pandemic (not COVID-19), The Hater, however, falls short of becoming a good movie. Especially when it gets bogged down by narrative issues in the second half and the final act which appears like an idea worked on much later goes for a toss.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men...cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all, said Chaplin in the closing monologue of The Great Dictator. These technological inventions can only stake claim in splitting the world into two fractions: either you are with them or against them. If only Chaplin were alive to see where we are headed.

For as long as one succumbs to that very temptations of hate without resistance, there will be a Tomasz at work. As a character befittingly puts it: Words fly away, but writing remains.

The Hater is currently streaming on Netflix

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The Hater movie review: A ghastly reflection of todays hate culture - The Hindu


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