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Category Archives: Modern Satanism

DOOMguy Knows How You Feel – lareviewofbooks

Posted: March 17, 2017 at 7:04 am

MARCH 16, 2017

THEY ARE RAGE: brutal, without mercy. But you. You will be worse. Rip and tear, until it is done.

Doom (2016)

The original Doom (1993) was a first-person shooter noted, even notorious, for its comically intense graphic violence and early, immersive pseudo-three-dimensional world. What it lacked for in plot (and it lacked intensely in plot), it made up for by bringing the speed and fluidity of arcade style gameplay to the nascent FPS genre at home. This past year, while much of the world was transfixed by the increasingly bizarre American presidential election, a niche but still mass market of gamers saw id Software release the long-delayed DOOM (2016), a reboot of the 1990s game. What in May looked like a bizarre retread, an uninvited blast from the past, looks considerably different in cold winter light. Everything old is new again, and DOOM knows how you feel.

It is often assumed that a fundamental question in games is one of agency particularly the players ability to make meaningful choices within a game world. However, DOOM is built with a different, and, I would hazard, more accurate assumption in mind: games work primarily on an affective plane. The question they ask is not what will you do? but rather how do you feel? And DOOM doesnt think youre feeling particularly good at the moment.

At first glance, DOOM is unremarkable. The mining of recent cultural memory and nostalgia for cheap commercial cash-ins has reached near parodic proportions, with no intellectual property deemed too insignificant to be recreated ad nauseum. But one does not need to spend long with DOOM to know that the game is in on the scam. In DOOM, you play as a nameless, faceless space marine so bereft of characterization or quality that across the many iterations of Doom, internet commentators have come to call the protagonist, simply, doomguy. Doomguy was a useful skeleton to hang the 1993 game on a game far more focused on introducing then-new game mechanics and game coding practices. Now DOOM plays doomguys emptiness back at the game-playing public.

Doomguy sells. DOOM (2016) sold approximately one million copies by the end of summer 2016, and likely many more since then. This is probably around $50$60 million in sales at least (not counting fall of 2016). For a game with its unusual design and one that isnotpart of a dominant franchise (Call of Duty, Pokmon, FIFA, et cetera) it did quite well. The global market for video games is estimated at somewhere between $91 billion and an optimistic $99.6 billion mark. Some projections put a 2017 market peg at approximately $106 billion. In just the first three days after its debut in 2015, Call of Duty: Black Ops III was responsible for 550 million of those dollars, with Call of Duty being probably the largest first-person shooter franchise, and also the most generic. So DOOM is neither a tiny, independent game nor a powerhouse juggernaut. Its a revival of a dormant one, which came on strong to mostly positive critical reception.DOOM sits in an interesting interstitial space economically and culturally: mass market but niche, known but not ubiquitous.

Doomguy begins the game strapped to a table in a room covered with a confusing mish-mash of sci-fi-looking gadgetry and dime-store Satanism. DOOMs art direction is the Slayer catalog spliced into an Apple Store. In other words, it is brilliant, horrifying, and silly. A quick action sequence later, and the player is taken out of this strange assortment of signs and symbols and treated to a hologram of several white-collar corporate employees literally worshipping a sarcophagus, which previously held doomguy. Other games invest hours sometimes entire games or other media into molding their doomguy knock-off empty suit space marines into believable characters. DOOM embraces a much more straightforward commodity logic: doomguy is worshipped not for any diegetic reason but rather because of the existence of Doom itself as a two-decade old gaming franchise; the ever-increasing absurdity of the reverence toward its protagonist mirrors only the relevance of Doom as a product.

Following these opening moments, we quickly learn the setting of DOOM through a series of voice-over conversations, holographic corporate PR messages, and, for the truly curious, endless reams of hilarious flavor text exposition. The Union Aerospace Corporation [UAC] appeared as a futuristic defense contractor in the original game. In some not-too-distant, post-apocalyptic future, it has decided that the only path to a sustainable future for humanity is to literally mine energy from Hell. Shockingly, this path to prosperity goes horribly awry. It is up to the newest incarnation of doomguy to sort it out, mostly through destroying key objects, ignoring proffered advice, and murdering a dizzying assortment first of zombified ex- (post-?) UAC employees and then, well, the demonic legions of Hell itself.

The UAC is played as one long, ghoulish gag reel of neoliberalisms greatest hits. The entire game with a nudge and a wink reminds you that the contemporary ruling class would rather tap a rich vein in Hell than release the reins one inch to non-doomguys and gals everywhere. It also presents the player with constant reminders of the self-help-inflected, corporate newspeak of our era. Action set pieces are cued by an even-toned HR voice announcing over the intercom that demonic presence has reached unsafe levels. This is so spot on, you can picture the Vox card that should accompany it: While you might think that the demonic is unsafe at any level, recent studies show that a 75/25 balance of demonic and non-demonic elements helps businesses and government alike take advantage of innovative multi-realm hybrids, underlining flexible workplaces and employee initiative! Another HR hologram reminds you that the UACs is [w]eaponizing demons for a brighter tomorrow. In case of a level 3 demon contamination event one should, simply kneel down, close your eyes, and wait. Remember: You can be as useful in death as you are in life. This is not an empty corporate promise, considering the frequency with which one encounters (and kills) post-employed, post-mortal UAC technicians in the game. Every (hyper)employed member of the new economy playing this game can recognize herself trapped between the UACs proposition that unlike everything else in your life, the work you do here matters, and their goal of instituting a seven-day work week to outdo God. Its hard not to see some aspects of DOOMs world as a commentary on 21st-century work in general and the do what you love industries in particular like, say, making computer games.

In fact, it would be tempting to leave it at that, DOOM as the ultimate product of a late, late-capitalist (its never late enough) culture industry, regulating our leisure time through that most mindless and most regimented entertainment of them all: the videogame. You can really get your Adorno into high-gear thinking about games as the apotheosis of the studio-system Hollywood of his day. This is only amplified by the Jane McGonigal cottage industry of gamification proposing augmented, 21st-century Taylorist nightmares of enforced fun at work and enforced work in fun. And, in aggregate, this is almost certainly true.

But games are confusing commodities and confusing art in just this context: in a society demanding ever more time from the underemployed and the hyperemployed alike, games stubbornly insist on, if nothing else, a schedule out-of-whack with those priorities. This can be maddening for the games industry and the cultural critic alike. Yet a purely cynical culture industry, or more Bourdieuan cultural capital argument, misses the most interesting aspects of what is happening in a game like DOOM. Games are so often touted as a marvel of agency that even many critics miss that the joy in games they are, after all, play is found in the visceral pleasures of feeling and sensation.

In this way, to begin with, DOOM doesnt feel much like a first-person shooter at all. It has all the visual trappings of one, although the implausibly large arsenal the player carries feels like an enormous fuck you to the gritty realist modern-day shooter. But mostly it feels in its tactile qualities, the way you grip the controller, the sway of the player with the diegetic universe, the closed circuit of single-player feedback much closer to character-action games like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. It plays far more like an ultraviolent ballet or circus than a shooting gallery with check points. Instead of the constant waves of enemies or twitch action of contemporary shooters, DOOM presents elaborate, kinetic puzzle set pieces that ebb and flow three-dimensionally. The player must combine the absurd arsenal, current demonic challengers, and strategic decision making. The quickest route from point A to point B might involve expedient demon killing, self-preservation through hiding and high-caliber offense, or in one of DOOMs most brilliant innovations pausing and slowing down the entire scenario for an extra boost of health and supplies by tearing weakened demons limb-from-limb. This rev up to the combo-driven chaos and the rubato marked by the moments of weapon switching and demon glory kills transform what otherwise would be an endless grind into a palpably pleasurable punctuated expression of free-flowing rage.

Games are machines for producing affect, and the affect the public most fears in games is rage. The moral panic that surrounds games always turns on the fear that games steeped in an aesthetic and a comportment of aggression will somehow seep into the real world. Although research into this question has proved consistently inconclusive (and replete with serious methodological issues) the fear is understandable in a year in which it seemed that the most ridiculous controversy of 2014 (the bizarre, nearly impenetrably hateful, stupid, and labyrinthine Gamergate) might become part of the body politic itself. But that idea as slippery as the new obsession with fake news generated through a thousand tweets but less convincing numbers on the ground, also misses what a game like DOOM can do. Unlike in, for example, Valves Counter-Strike (almost the Platonic ideal of a contemporary first-person shooter), the thickness and absurdity of the world complete with its resonances with our own is intimately interwoven with the gameplay itself. The demons and the UAC are driven with pitch-perfect intensity by Michael Gordons beyond-on-the-nose Nine Inch Nails for the 21st-century soundtrack. Instead of the world receding into abstractions of geometry and hit-boxes, as is often the case in especially competitive multiplayer shooters, DOOMs rhythmic dynamic range keeps the plodding idiocy of a world working to build a brighter tomorrow through the endless squeezing of a (literally) hellish today in sharp focus.

DOOMs rage is telegraphed from the very first moment of the game, but it is only when you are somewhere in the middle of one of its fully fleshed out scenarios, dancing from one platform to another, whirling through your array of weapons, prying the jaws of some Hell beast apart while cursing the utter inane idiocy of DOOMs world which is to say our world that DOOM begins its rage education in earnest. Games are machines for producing affect, but they are also pedagogical ones: DOOM is instructing us. Pankaj Mishra recently argued that ours is an age of anger. Doomguy occupies the subject position of the 21st-century rage agent par excellence: put-upon, yet powerful; crumpling like a fragile heap from just a few demonic projectiles but with a rage potential unmatched; disenfranchised but with so many tools of power at hand. Mishra wisely encourages his readers to turn to the social theorists of the 19th century who took irrationality seriously; to the Darwins, the Freuds, the Webers, and Nietzsches who saw in modern humanity sexual impulses, old Gods, churning natures, and ressentiment instead of simple, orderly, maximizing rationality. But DOOM already knows that. DOOM takes us as we are.

DOOM knows that anger is too amorphous; rage has a vector. DOOM wants you to remember rage or learn it for the first time. The truly frightening thing is that DOOM is, in fact, playing a dangerous game: it wants you to learn rage and to reconnect that rage to the joy of its expression. Some of the new prophets of affect argue that its pure, unmitigated expression is liberation beyond or above reason. Not even as a prime mover of action or rationality as Freud or even Hume would have it, but as an anarchic springboard to freedom. This can cause an intense recursion. Brian Massumi: A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. But these descriptive claims which become proscriptive claims (states, no; smash, yes) eschew politics (or for that matter morality) as rage adrift in a sea of nothing. #AllCourthouses? Is the window shattered in a revolution or a pogrom? Is DOOM playing this game too?

One of the few political theorists to really get the Trump phenomenon when it was still a popular summertime joke for Slate columnists and Washington Post hacks was Lauren Berlant. People would like to feel free [] Donald Trump foments hope in the exercise of his emotional freedom. But while the Trump Emotion Machine takes in some valid inputs (inequality, inequity, deterioration), it spits out both nonsense and obscene outputs. It is not wrong because it is rageful; it is rageful at the wrong things. The DOOM Emotion Machine pushes you to move beyond mere expression of rage, not just inchoate, unfathomable rage, not just rage at any old thing or the nearest narratively acceptable target, but to feel free to rage at the people who brought you here, rage at their apologists, rage at the idiocy of HR, rage at the plodding stupidity of looking for one more source of dead labor human, demon, or other carbon-based lifeforms that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks. Rage at Hell but rage at who brought you to Hell and why any of this is necessary at all.

[Doomguy] sees nothing permanent. But for this very reason he sees ways everywhere. Where others encounter walls or mountains, there, too, he sees a way. But because he sees a way everywhere, he has to clear things from it everywhere. Not always by brute force; sometimes by the most refined. Because he sees ways everywhere, he always positions himself at crossroads. No moment can know what the next will bring. What exists he reduces to rubble, not for the sake of the rubble, but for that of the way leading through it.

Irving Wohlfarth once noted that Benjamins destructive character is the faceless model of a positively conceived characterlessness. You can be doomguy, you can be the destructive character. DOOM trusts you. And perhaps more than it should; the cocktail of violence, sadism, and a near unfathomable pit of anger that it wants you to experience as life-affirming joy has a bad track record as art, let alone as politics.

And yet DOOM wants to roll the dice on you. DOOM thinks you will learn to love rage again, to experience its visceral pleasure. DOOM wants you to unlearn all those lessons in civility, in comportment, in tone, in the benefit of the doubt. DOOM wants you to consider that when they go low, you will scrape the pits of Inferno to go ever lower. DOOM wants you to feel more. But and perhaps this is sheer, irrational hope on my part, a shard of redemption in a game of bleak glee DOOM wants you to remember that it is all so stupid. That all of this is instrumental, that the only way out is through, but that this is brutalizing to the world and to yourself. In my most hopeful moment, I think DOOM has old Spinoza on the mind: learn to feel joy in the world again and yes, learn to feel joy in the pain of enemies but remember that it is just in a measure of mere magnitude a lesser joy than in the flourishing of friends.

DOOM ends with the last remaining representative of the UAC, taking some kind of poorly explained key to Hell away from you, to preserve the positive aspects of the energy project while doomguy is relegated back to storied legend. You are inert in this; there is no gameplay. Fifteen hours of the carefully conducted and orchestrated flow of rage is suddenly bottled up as you realize what every human being on Earth should have realized when Bush pushed through the first bailout, when Obama appointed Geithner, when Schuble wouldnt give one inch to Greece, with the half-baked Paris accords, with Nigel Farage and his stupid grin, with the orchestrated failure of the Arab Spring, with the rapid acceleration of climate change, with the gig economy, with unfettered policing, with prisons and migrant camps, and with Donald Trump perched in his gold-plated playroom atop his cold black tower: they are just going to keep doing this, come Hell or high water. DOOM is going to teach you to love rage. This machine kills demons.

Ajay Singh Chaudhary is the executive director of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

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‘Bible torching,’ ‘neo-satanic’ college group planned ‘lamb sacrifice’ at Clemson University – TheBlaze.com

Posted: at 7:04 am

A college group reportedly planned to hold a neo-satanic ceremony at Clemson University on Saturday.

According to a flier found in Clemsons Brackett Hall, students were invited to attend the Clemson Unorthodox Neo-Satanic Temples C.U.N.T. Afterlife Party on March 11. The flier, which features two satanic symbols, promises students a lamb sacrifice and live bloodletting, a public satanic ritual in which people draw blood from a live animal.

In addition to sacrificing lambs, the flier promised students a Bible Torching Ceremony at 7 p.m. and promised the C.U.N.T. sucker who brings the most bibles wins $25!

The Clemson Unorthodox Neo-Satanic Temple claims in the flier the event was planned to help summon Baphomet, a goat-headed satanic figure with horns.

Baphomet is a popular image in modern satanism. In 2014, a satanic group in New York designed and built a one-ton statue of Baphomet and attempted in vain to have the statue placed near a statue of the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol. However, that attempt failed when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments statue violated the states prohibition on using public property for religious purposes.

Its unclear whether the Clemson Unorthodox Neo-Satanic Temple truly held the event or where the event was scheduled to occur.

This isnt the first time a college group has attempted to hold a satanic ritual on or near a college campus. In 2014, a Harvard University student group, the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, planned a large, satanic black mass on Harvards campus, but it was canceled after significant backlash from parents, students and faculty. Foxnews.com reported nearly 400 students and 100 alumni petitioned against the event.

The same organization that helped plan the event, the Satanic Temple, announced in May 2016 its plan to roll out an after-school satanic club for public elementary school students. According to a report in USA Today, the group is more interested in promoting rebellion against tyranny and authoritarian rule, as the group defines it, and places science above all religious ideas.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2001 religious groups have the right to use public school spaces as any other after-school club would.

(H/T: Campus Reform)

(Photo by Ken Lund)

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'Bible torching,' 'neo-satanic' college group planned 'lamb sacrifice' at Clemson University - TheBlaze.com

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The Awolowo Legacy And Its Message For Nigerian Youths | The … – The News

Posted: March 9, 2017 at 3:08 am

Banji Akintoye

Obafemi Awolowo

By Banji Akintoye

We gather today, the 6th day of March 2017, as we have done unfailingly and dutifully every year for decades, to celebrate the birthday of our father and benefactor, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Each celebration is our way of thanking him for the glistering heritage which he bequeathed to us; it also a way of reminding ourselves that we possess a great heritage, and that we can achieve whatever we set our hearts and minds upon to achieve.

Todays lecture is a message to our youths in these terrible times in the life and history of Nigeria. I will try to keep it as simple and brief as possible. Indeed, I want it to be as close as possible to a university classroom lecture, because I want my chosen audience, the youths of our country, to benefit fully from it.

Our father, Obafemi Awolowo, was an unrelenting searcher for information and knowledge about his society, country and world, a philosopher, a man of consistent efficiency and steadily high ideals in his private and public life, a man of titanic courage, an accomplished development planner, an endowed nation builder, an astute administrator, a great motivator, a wonderful leader of men and, above all, an inspired and inspiring teacher. It is one of the greatest joys of my life that, in my generation of Nigerian youths, I belonged to the select group of youths who were privileged to be close to Chief Awolowo as to a father, who were fortunate to learn at his feet, and who were called upon, under his leadership, to attempt great exploits towards the improvement of the quality of the lives of our people, and towards the prosperity and greatness of our country.

Chief Awolowo remains very much alive today, because his legacy continues to impact the lives of millions of his countrymen for good. I was in a get-together of old friends some weeks ago in a town in our Southwest. In the course of the evening, we in the gathering got into recounting our memories and reminiscences about our childhood lives. The few of us who were in our eighties told stories about how, when we were children, only a few of us in our towns and villages were going to school while the vast majority of our friends, brothers and cousins were not going, mostly because their parents could not afford to send them. But most of us in the gathering who were in our seventies and below told stories of how life suddenly changed for all children in their towns and villages in 1955, the year in which Chief Awolowo introduced Free Primary Education in the Western Region.

Most of the men and women who are senior professors, senior administrators, senior statesmen, senior engineers, senior architects, senior lawyers and so on in our Southwest today, are so because Chief Awolowo opened the door of schools to all children from 1955 on in our Western Region. All these senior citizens are parents of highly educated families that today occupy very important places in the life of our region, our country, and other countries in the wide world families that will, probably many centuries from now, continue to be important in the lives of our communities and of the world.

Some years ago, while traveling in some countries of Southeast Asia, I met a Yoruba man who was Dean of Technology in his university there. He told me that his place of origin was a small village in a remote part of our Southwest. I jokingly asked him how he had managed to come from his remote village to the position of Dean in a university so far across the world, and he laughed and answered in one single word, Awolowo. What he meant is that it was Chief Awolowo that had made it possible for his poor parents to send him to the small school in his small village home, and that it was Chief Awolowo that thereby opened the paths across the world before him.

Chief Awolowo changed the life, the capabilities and the prospects of the whole Yoruba nation in Nigeria, a nation that now numbers about 50 million in population. I returned home a few months ago, after many years of living and working as a professor abroad, mostly in the United States of America. America is a country of thousands of universities; and there is hardly any one of those universities that does not have some Yoruba professors. These days, since my return home from abroad, when I wake up in the morning, I love to stand at a discreet street corner and watch streams of our children going to school. Many of the children are so young that their older sisters or brothers have to hold their hands or even carry them.

The one sure thing that every Yoruba mother does for a child of school age today is to send him or her to school. Unknown to those mothers, they are building the Yoruba nation into a mighty nation in the world. In all the future, whenever the story of the greatness is written or told, it will always be remembered that it all started when Obafemi Awolowo opened the door to schools to all the children of his people. Free Education in our Western Region under Chief Awolowo was the very first in all of Africa.

The gift of Free Education was the greatest single gift given by Chief Awolowo to us his people, but it was not the only gift. Under his leadership, the Western Region stood out as the number one Region, the pace setter in development, in Nigeria. The wide-ranging development achievements included many miles of solidly surfaced roads all over our Region, pipe-borne clean water to many of our towns, the first television station on the African continent, the first public-owned sports stadium, the first industrial estate, imaginative support systems for our cocoa farmers (as a result of which our cocoa farmers became the most productive African farmers on the African continent), farm centres training our youths in modern farming, technical training centres teaching modern job skills to our youths, a broad-based investment corporation with investments in industries, commerce, banking, and real estate (the largest agglomeration of African-owned investment capital in Africa). Very importantly too, our Region was the leader in Nigeria in the development of a democratic society, and a government responsive to its people. On the whole, we in the Western Region were led to dream dreams of greatness in the world, we began to see ourselves as soon able to catch up with industrial world leaders like Japan. And we gave our Region the name First in Africa.

I need to add that Chief Awolowo did not intend to limit all these to the Western Region. No. When parents from other Regions brought their children across Regional borders to our free schools, Chief Awolowos government did not try to stop them. Moreover, he made dedicated efforts to give these goods to the whole of Nigeria. First and foremost in this regard, he was the leader who promoted most clearly and most consistently the idea that a country like Nigeria, comprising many different nationalities, in order to be able to live in harmony and make progress, needs to establish a rational federal system based on respect for the various nationalities. Other Nigerian leaders resisted this, and some castigated him for it, but he never gave up. His words have proved true in the course of the nearly sixty years of Nigerias independence. By concocting Nigeria into a country with an all-controlling central government, those who reject Chief Awolowos federalist ideas have led Nigeria into evil times times so evil that Nigeria may ultimately, or may even soon, break up.

Moreover, from 1959, Chief Awolowo embarked on efforts to take his development ideas to the Nigerian federal government and thereby to the whole of Nigeria. He fought titanic election campaigns, and reached the hearts of ordinary Nigerians far and wide. But, as we all know, most elections are won in Nigeria not through the votes of the common people but through the manipulations of powerful and influential citizens, especially powerful and influential citizens holding the machinery of the federal government. At federal election after federal election, Chief Awolowo won the majority of votes and lost the elections.

Unfortunately, in the midst of the rubble into which Nigeria has been reduced, the quality of the education which Chief Awolowo established for us is suffering today. Our children are not learning as much or as well as they should be learning in their schools. Most of the old school environments are run down and depressing and do not inspire the children to learn. Support for schools are generally poor across Nigeria, teachers are irregularly paid their salaries and are demoralized, and many teachers are forced to seek survival in all sorts of side ventures. Therefore, our youths are graduating from our schools, colleges and universities with very low levels of educational competence. The reasons for this sad state of affairs is well known. The persons who have been controlling most of the affairs of Nigeria through the Federal Government since independence are apathetic or even downright hostile to modern education. And, unhappily, the Federal Government which these people control has been gradually turned into the controller of all of Nigeria, with power and influence to determine what states may or may not do. The United Nations agency, UNESCO, estimates that a country that would have an efficient, effective and result-yielding educational system needs to be spending at least 26% of its GDP (or annual budget) on education. Nigeria spends only about 8% on education. Moreover, federal policies, and federal dictation of the nature, contents, and direction of education at all levels throughout Nigeria, have had disastrous effects on education in all parts of Nigeria.

But I must hurry to add that, happily, we are beginning to see welcome changes in our educational system. Some of the school premises being built today for primary schools in some of our states deserve our commendation and our gratitude. While thanking our elected public officials for these, however, we must also urge them to venture into deeper changes in the education of our children. What we Yoruba people want for ourselves is to belong in the ranks of the most educationally, scientifically and technologically advanced peoples of the world. In addition, we want our children to learn, and become proficient in, our language and our history. Chief Awolowo put our feet on the path to all these; we must now resume the journey with all the vigour at our command.

Obafemi Awolowo

But, as we gather here today, we are living in a Nigeria that has declined to its lowest levels of societal disorder, immorality, and hopelessness. All the negative inputs that have been fed into our countrys life since independence, all the crookedness, all the hatred and vileness and viciousness, all the involvement of the darkness of the occult and of Satanism into the affairs of Nigeria, all the murderous intent and the mass murdering of the weak and vulnerable, all the religious and inter-ethnic violence, all the sub-human greed and corruption in the ranks of the political and bureaucratic elite, all the impunity in the management of Nigerian affairs all have now converged and concatenated to make Nigeria a land of utter hopelessness for the vast majority of Nigerians, a land of poverty, hunger, disease and destitution, a land of desperation, fear and terror, a land in which rivers of human blood flow day by day, a land in which human life has become pitifully discounted.

A recent report by a United Nations agency described Nigeria as one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. Another UN report warned that if certain situations in Nigeria were not urgently changed, as many as 140 thousand children could die in a certain part of Nigeria in the next few months. Various reports are informing Nigeria and the world that the charitable money and other items sent by international organizations and individuals from across the world for the care of Nigerians internally displaced by Boko Haram violence are being stolen and shared by Nigerian officials, and that the camps where the internally displaced persons are being kept has become a horrible place of mass starvation and mass deaths. A report in the news media about two weeks ago alerted Nigeria to the fact that instances of mental sickness have risen to frightening heights, and are rising more and more sharply, in our country, and indicated that the cause of this is the condition of our country the hopeless poverty that reigns over the lives of masses of Nigerians, and the insensitive and utterly immoral governance of our country.

Instances of the vilest and most grotesque crimes, and of the most shockingly inhuman treatments of man by man, are reported daily from various parts of our country. The whole world has been watching videos of Nigerians calmly cutting the throats of hundreds of fellow Nigerians, and of Nigerians gathering groups of other living Nigerians together, dousing them with gasoline, and setting them on fire. Nigeria is becoming a strangely barbarous and repulsive spectacle in the world.

Not surprisingly, the outside world is already showing signs of rejecting Nigeria and Nigerians. About two weeks ago, towards the end of last January, some countries of the world issued warnings and advisories to their citizens, some urging their citizens to desist from going to Nigeria, some advising their citizens who are already in Nigeria to watch out for danger, and some advising their citizens to stay clear of certain parts of Nigeria. In the Union of South Africa, a member country of the African Union, the people are showing very definitely that they no longer want Nigerians in their country. In town after town in that country, crowds of citizens are rising up, attacking Nigerians, chasing Nigerians from their communities, killing some Nigerians in the process, and destroying the businesses and properties of Nigerians. This has been going on for some time, but it has reached a peak in recent months. And similar developments have occurred in some other African countries such as Kenya. Thousands of Nigerians regularly try to reach Europe through the Sahara Desert country of Libya in North Africa, another member of the African Union. According to official reports in recent months, Libyan citizens now commonly attack the arriving Nigerians, steal their money and other belongings, and then kill them.

As we all know, it is the youths of Nigeria that suffer the most from all these rot and ruin of Nigeria. By our youths I mean those Nigerians who belong to the age bracket of 18 to 40. As I said recently in a lecture which I delivered to Igbo Youths in Enugu, the people aged 18 to 40 are always the most dynamic sector of the population of every nation in the world. People below 18 are still children, mostly still schooling or learning in some other way. People in the age bracket 18 to 40 are usually graduates of schools, colleges and universities. In Nigeria, they constitute a majority of our countrys total population they are believed to be about 55% of our population. Even more importantly, they are the most educated and most skilled sector of our adult population. They produce and raise most of the children that are being born into our population. They dream up most ideas in business; and they are the starters of most business ventures. They lead in all fields of adventure, sports, and arts. In short, they bear the biggest share of the burden of pushing our country forward in economic, business, professional, intellectual, cultural, social and artistic pursuits.

But since independence, planning for the empowerment of our youths has never been a serious and sustained feature of Nigerias national development. Even the programmes for youth empowerment started in the Western Region under Chief Awolowos Regional government in the 1950s have not survived in the era of federal control and federal fiats. For decades now, the rate of unemployment among our youths has been one of the highest in the world. It has often been estimated as ranging between 54% and 70% among our educated youths, and even higher among the uneducated ones. For even the best university graduates, working the streets for years without a job is the common experience all over Nigeria. Most of our educated youths are unemployable partly because their basic education is grossly defective, partly because they lack modern job skills, and partly because the overwhelming majority lack acceptable job ethics.

At the same time, poor infrastructures, poor public administrative services, and insensitive financial services, drastically inhibit the spirit of entrepreneurship among our youths. In most countries in the world, a youth can sit at his mothers kitchen table or in his fathers garage and put together a business idea that can develop into a big winner in the market place; he does not have to fear for lack of electricity, lack of water, lack of good roads, lack of a supportive public administration, or lack of sensitive and helpful banking services. In Nigeria, even the most creative youth is deterred by such fears from going forward with his ideas; for those who choose to go forward, failure and drop-out are the very common outcomes.

However, even in these terrible times, I bring the message that any youth who chooses to learn from Chief Awolowos legacy stands a very good chance of acquiring for himself or herself a purpose-driven life, a life of success, and a life that impacts society, country and world in very positive ways. That is the central purpose of this lecture to invite and motivate our youths to benefit from the Awolowo legacy and use it to enrich, strengthen and beautify their lives and if possible, to use it to earn for themselves an image as bright and as enviable as Chief Awolowos in the world and for a long time in the future.

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Witchcraft is the new feminism – NME.com (blog)

Posted: March 5, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Leonie Cooper on witches, beehives and Lana Del Rey.

Its hard out here for a witch. Well, at least it was 400-odd years ago when women were regularly hanged, drowned and burned to death after being accused of sorcery, Satanism and doing suspicious things with herbs. This fear of witchcraft was, in essence, a fear of womens power, sexuality and general awesomeness.

Thankfully, women are no longer persecuted when crops fail and odd things happen in the village theyre persecuted for their weight, their clothes and their work instead but witches seem to be firmly back in the public eye and this time theyre not going to be dragged off to the stake. Theyre going to put on a s**t-tonne of black eyeliner and sort out everything thats rubbish in the world.

This isnt simply about the fact that loads of new bands, from moody electronica trio MUNA to Manchester indie-poppers Pale Waves, look like theyve stepped out of 1996 teen witch movie The Craft. A-listers are also getting in on the sweet occult action and taking their witchy business straight to the top. Last week Lana Del Rey attempted to organise her coven of fans into using magic to get rid of Donald Trump. The high priestess of noir-pop tweeted the days of the next waning crescent moons and instructions to find a spell online, to be performed at midnight on the proposed dates. All you need to join in is an unflattering photo of Trump not difficult, to be fair a tower tarot card, an orange candle, a bowl of water and some salt. See you down the homeware aisle of Tesco, then.

But the best bit of modern magic comes in the shape of a new film called The Love Witch, which goes on general release in the UK on March 10. Directed by LA-based auteur Anna Biller, it uses the Technicolor gloss and retro style of cult and camp thriller movies like Vertigo, Rosemarys Baby, The Wicker Man and Suspiria to take a sledgehammer to the patriarchy. The film tells the story of Elaine, a woman who uses sex magic to make men fall in love with her while wearing some fabulous vintage-styled frocks also made by the multitalented Biller.

Yet beyond the beehives, it cleverly deconstructs the idea of women as marriage-obsessed hysterics with style, sass and an excellent tampon joke. Witchcraft in 2017 is about women coming together, not about being torn apart. Whether its Lana Del Rey getting her goth on or thousands coming together for the Womens March in January, the witches are rising excuse me while I go and fetch my broomstick.

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How Does the New Turkish Curriculum Look Like? Conservative Changes Dominate – PoliticalCritique.org

Posted: March 2, 2017 at 2:07 pm

There has been another upgrade to the national education curriculum in Turkey. Among these changes, philosophy lessons have been reduced and the single-party rule applied to classes in the 1940s have been cut. The latest coup attempt has been added under philosophy and the social sciences.

On 16 January, the Ministry of National Education announced the new education curricula for secondary and high schools in Turkey.

The national curriculum has been a recurring topic of debate in Turkey for decades. It has always been controversial, given that all governments and political bodies have wanted to reinvent the educational system in the ideological image of the ruling party.

The number of chapters in the philosophy course books has been generally reduced, while keeping political philosophy and philosophy of science. According to the new curriculum, class hours will remain the same at 72 hours per term, while the expected learning outcome for philosophy has been slashed from 58 to 20 points on Turkeys assessment scale.

This major reduction of philosophys significance in the curriculum echoes the debate from a few years ago on the possibility of studying philosophy in the modern Turkish language. Recep Tayyip Erdoan, the prime minister at the time, said that this was inadequate, insisting that one needs to use the Ottoman Turkish, which borrows the alphabet and most of its vocabulary from Arabic and Persian, or English in order to study philosophy.

If we were to teach philosophy for 20 years, it would be a different country.

Istanbul-born philosopher and President of Philosophical Society of Turkey, Ioanna Kuuradi, said We make philosophy but he does not recognise us as philosophers. In an interview with Szc in March 2016, Kuuradi claimed that ignorance is at root of Turkeys current social and moral crises and that they could be overcome through proper philosophical education: If we were to teach philosophy for 20 years, it would be a different country.

A pro-government conservative education union, Eitim Bir-Sen, recently proposed the removal of Ataturkism, the official ideology describing the founding principles of modern Turkey, from the social sciences curriculum, and starting religious education at first grade.

While Eitim Bir-Sens proposal on compulsory religion classes for first grade students was not introduced, Ataturkism has indeed been scrapped, and the principle of encouraging the observance of religious holidays adopted. In line with the spirit of Eitim Bir-Sens proposal, Darwin & Evolution Theory was also purged from the school syllabus. It had been a controversial matter in Turkey for some time, especially since the Turkish Science Institutes prohibition of publications about evolution.

The new approach will now rely on values education, e.g. the notions of national unity & solidarity as well as national, moral and universal values. The new curriculum refers to values education as having a cultural impact, claiming that it is significant in turning these values into new norms and daily behaviours for society in the future. As part of the new elective course for secondary schools Basic Religious Teachings, jihad will be taught as part of religious values. Positivism and secularism will be categorised under the Problems of Faith chapter, dedicated to the promotion of individualism and the separation of state and religion. Also under the problems of faith heading, students will be taught about deism, agnosticism, atheism, nihilism, satanism, reincarnation and false prophets.

The coup attempt on 15 July 2016, which had a major impact on social and educational life in Turkey, has also been brought into the curriculum. Students will start learning about the coup attempt starting at sixth grade as a part of social science and philosophy classes. However, it is not certain whether previous coups will be referred to in the same classes.

At high school level, the students will now be asked to write essays on Social Resistance against the Anti-Democratic 15 July Coup Attempt within the framework of national-will, rule of law, and democratic understanding. National Will is a common reference in AKP (the ruling Justice and Development Party) campaigns, referring to the strong support behind the party in elections.

Contemporary Turkish and World History classes that focus on World War II will no longer refer to the anti-war efforts of Ismet Inonu, the president of the republic at the time and leader of the single-party CHP (Republican Peoples Party) regime. Nor will it refer to his contributions to Turkeys political and economic activities in the 1940s. Inonu was a general during Turkeys War of Independence, a friend of the founder of republic and was declared National Chief during World War II, while keeping Turkey out of the war at all costs. As Inonus efforts at neutrality are being erased from history books, the transition to a multi-party system and the history of the Democrat Party is put under the spotlight.

The class on contemporary history, which has a chapter on the Cold War Period, will now include topics on Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Developments in Turkey during the Time of the Democrat Party. This in itself was a controversial period, with the start of a multi-party system that brought about the grasp of power by the Adnan Menderes government, starting in 1946. The new topic will focus on the election systems that were initiated in this period, which was heavily criticised for authoritarian tendencies and gerrymandering, due to the Democrat Partys post-election downgrading of urban entities that did not predominantly vote for the ruling party.

The revised educational curriculum will honour Turkish citizens that have had international success. High school chemistry books will now have a topic on Prof. Dr. Aziz Sancar in the chapter on Relations between Inter Chemical Species with his Nobel Prize-winning study on DNA-repair. Contemporary History will include Galatasarays winning of the UEFA Cup in 2000, as well as the national football teams finishing third in the World Cup.

Rewriting the history books from a centre-right political perspective only replaces the existing problems with new ones.

Students will be informed about scientific and technological developments in Turkey, about its satellite programme and communications technologies.

While the new curriculum is being championed by some media outlets in Turkey as the new system that will generate geniuses and inventors, many critical eyes see the decreasing presence of philosophy in the curriculum and hostile approach to secularism and positivism as a problem.

Even though the AKPs efforts to erase ideological traces from national education may appear to modernise the education system through a more results-oriented approach, rewriting the history books from a centre-right political perspective only replaces the existing problems with new ones.

**

This piece was originally published on Katoikos.eu

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Delusions of Antiquity – Splice Today

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm

I dont preach peace and love.

Voltaire famously quipped, Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Religion is the ultimate absurdity, and with the noteworthy exception of the Bolshevik genocide against Russian Orthodox Christians, the most horrific atrocities in history have been committed in the name of God. Belief in an anthropomorphic creator God who takes a keen interest in the minutiae of everyday human affairs is completely irrational and clear evidence of derangement. Unable to comprehend adult human beings praying to an invisible friend for favors and protection, I took a keen interest in religion at an early age.

Raised as an American Baptist, I began my inquiry with Christianity. I found out pretty quickly that modern Christianity was at best a very distorted series of mistranslations and selective editing of the ravings of a mad Palestinian mystic attempting to overthrow the authority of the Sanhedrin Rabbinate, and at worst a pastiche of the various regional dying god myths associated with the development of agricultural society crafted to reinforce existing social hierarchies and injustice by promising that well-behaved slaves will receive pie in the sky when they die.

I next examined the staggering complexity of Hinduism. The sacred texts read more like an alternative history than a religion. The Upanishads consist of sound straightforward philosophical ideas, but the Mahabarata reads like a science fiction novel describing a war between two highly advanced civilizations. My studies of Hinduism resulted in a lifelong fascination with the missing millennia of human history and the notion that theres a lot more to our past than the simple narrative that civilization begins at Sumer. Standing on the summit of Mount Meru, one can almost glimpse the shores of Atlantis.

Of all the sacred texts I examined, the Dhammapada made the most sense. The tenets of Buddhism are less concerned with an external deity or afterlife than the basics of living a satisfactory and rewarding life. Its a very practical set of rules that boil down to Dont be an idiot. The best modern exponent of Buddhism is Alan Watts. Lately Ive listened to his lectures on YouTube, and recommend them as an antidote to the hysteria currently raging across the globe.

By comparison, the three great Semitic traditions are insanely paranoid and relentlessly genocidal. Judaism is predicated on the idea that only the Jews are fully created in the image of God, and that gentiles are mere beasts of burden, created by God to serve the Chosen, like donkeys or cattle. The Talmud is unquestionably the most viciously racist religious text Ive read yet. You wont find it at Barnes & Noble, with very good reason. Gentiles are forbidden to study it, under penalty of death by stoning. It goes a long way toward understanding why the Jews have been expelled from 109 countries. It codifies and enshrines hypocrisy and deception as social strategies.

The Koran is merely a revised version of the Bible, with an insanely expanded set of arbitrary rules and regulations and the same twisted concept of eternal punishment for disobedience to the impostor demon at the center of it, dumbed down for the kind of semi-literate peasant that needs just one book in his life. Its aimed at men who have trouble getting laid. It takes the inherent misogyny of Judaism and Pauline Christianity several steps further, relegating women to the status of cattle.

Ive studied Satanism and its variants at great length, and can say with some authority that theres nothing of value there. Its Ayn Rand in Goth drag, an empty sales pitch for selfishness and a never-ending cottage industry of occult trinkets and books.

I used to dismiss the Wicca as a clearly synthetic invention of no greater antiquity than the incandescent light bulb, but Ive come to admire them enormously. For all of their silly delusions of antiquity, the fact remains that they worship nature, and can prove that nature exists. That works.

I can tolerate Jews, Christians, and Moslems. If they cant tolerate me, thats fine. As the old saying goes, God made men, but Colt made them equal. The Semitic religions prance around preaching peace, love and killing people. I dont preach peace and love.

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Coming to America: The History of Mail-Order Brides – Utne Reader Online

Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Mail-order brides have deep roots in American history, dating back to the colonial period.

By Marcia A. Zug February 2017

Modern mail-order brides are often stereotyped as young foreign women desperate to escape their homeland, but there was a time when mail-order brides were seen as strong pioneer women. There have been mail-order brides in America as long as there have been Europeans in America but the course of time has changed the perceptions of these women. In Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches (NYU Press, 2016) author Marcia A. Zug traces the history of mail-order brides in America from colonial times to the present.

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

"As Catherine looks out across the water, she wonders what her life will be like when she reaches Virginia. She knows that conditions will be hard, but life in England was also hard. At least in the colony, there is the possibility of advancement. The Virginia Company has assured her and the other women that they will have their choice of marriage partners. They have promised that the men are wealthy, or at least will be with the womens help, and that the women will have a share of this wealth. Catherine knows it is a risk, but she has been assured she can always return home if she changes her mind. Regardless, Catherine expects to stay. There is little for her back in England. She will marry a colonist and help found a nation."

The above thoughts illustrate what I believe one of the first mail-order brides might have felt as she traveled thousands of miles from England to settle in the Virginia colony. There is no actual record of the hopes and fears of these young women. Nevertheless, we do know that their arrival in 1619 was eagerly anticipated and desired.

Marriage was vital to the success of the colony. Wives were needed to create stable family units, produce and care for children, and cement Americas racial and cultural hierarchy. However, the difficulty was that few European women were interested in immigrating. In fact, female immigration to the colonies was so rare that when a group of forty women from La Fleche, France, began boarding a ship for Canada in 1659, the townspeople tried to prevent their departure because they were convinced the women were being kidnapped. Mail-order marriage helped resolve this problem. These women immigrated when others would not, and consequently, their presence was considered critically important.

The risks the early settlers faced were substantial. Most potential colonists had heard frightening accounts of disease and famine, and many of these stories seemed to indicate that women were particularly vulnerable. One horrific tale from Virginia involved a colonist who slue his wife as she slept in his bosome, cut her in pieces, powedered her & fedd upon her till he had clean devoured all her parts saveinge her heade. In the northern colonies, settlers such as the Puritans and the Quakers accepted these risks as the price of religious freedom, and as a result, these areas had little difficulty attracting large numbers of family groups. In contrast, the southern colonies, which lacked this religious draw, had a much harder time finding families willing to accept the dangers and hardships of colonial life. A handful of women came to the colonies shortly after the first male settlers arrived, but their numbers were small, and even fewer came with their children. Moreover, some families, like that of Sir Thomas Gates, sent their daughters back to England if their wives died. As early as 1609, a broadside (poster) produced by the Virginia Company of London demonstrated that the colonys governing body recognized the need to recruit women. The broadside was directed at family groups and specifically emphasized that both men and women were needed for the better strengthening of the colony. Nevertheless, despite such appeals, few families immigrated to the southern colonies. Instead, the majority of southern colonists were single men, primarily individual speculators and fortune hunters, who came to profit from Americas abundant land and natural resources and then return home. As colonial historian Julia Cherry Spruill has noted, these men were not interested in building permanent homes in Virginia or in cultivating lands to be enjoyed by future generations. They simply planned to make their fortunes and then return to England.

The transient nature of the southern population was problematic, and it quickly became clear that the lack of women was threatening the future of the fledgling colony. In 1614, the Virginia Companys lawyer, Richard Martin, spoke before the House of Lords and highlighted the threat posed by the colonys gender disparity. He informed the members, a significant number of whom had shares in the com- pany,that Virginia desperately needed honest laborers, with wives and children. He then recommended the appointment of a committee to consider ways to increase family immigration. Other members of the Virginia Company shared Martins immigration concerns. However, class politics ultimately prevented consideration of his proposal. Martin was only a lawyer and not a lord, so his requests, which went beyond legal advice, were considered presumptuous. One contemporary described his speech as the most unfitting that was ever spoken in the house. Consequently, not only were Martins appeals ignored, they resulted in punishment. The day after appearing before the House of Lords, Martin was arraigned for contempt. He was brought before Sir Randall Crew, the Speaker of the House, forced to kneel, and given following admonishment:

"The case was this a petition relative to the Virginia Company had been presented, and an order for the Council to appear, that he as their Attorney had represented himself with diverse Lords. That the House at first was disposed to listen to him with all due respect and love; that the retrospect of the Virginia Plantation was acceptable, for it had been viewed with the eyes of love. But afterwards, he has impertinently digressed, for it was not his place to censure and advise. The House had therefore brought him before them, and although many were his acquaintances, yet all now looked upon him with the eyes of judges, and not as private friends."

After Martins censure, the issue of family immigration was dropped, but the lack of women remained a significant problem. Finally, in 1619, the Virginia Companys treasurer, Sir Edwin Sandys, who now controlled the company, decided to address the issue. He warned his fellow shareholders that if immediate action was not taken, the colonys gender imbalance would soon breed a dissolucon, and so an overthrow of the Plantation. Sandys recommended sponsoring the immigration of single women because he believed their presence would make the men more setled [and] lesse moveable and decrease the number of men who, because of the dearth of women, stay [in the colony] but to gett something and then return for England. This time, the recommendation to address the colonys female immigration problem was met with approval. After hearing Sandyss suggestion, Lord Francis Bacon, a founding member of the company, immediately expressed his public support declaring it time to plant with women as well as with men; that the plantation may spread into generations, and not ever pieced from without. Shortly after Sandyss request, the company began recruiting single women to marry the Jamestown colonists.

In the spring of 1620, ninety mail-order brides arrived in Jamestown. Their arrival was considered a success, and the next year Sandys requested funds to transport an additional one hundred women. By this time, the company was in financial difficulties and no longer had the necessary money. However, because Sandys insisted that more women were absolutely essential, the company agreed to raise the money by subscription. Due to these efforts, another fifty brides were sent to Jamestown. Altogether, the Virginia Company sponsored the immigration of 140 mail-order brides. The arrival of these women was intended to reduce the number of male colonists returning to England, but this was not the only reason female immigration was considered necessary. Despite the femaleless wasteland described by Sandys, the colony did not actually lack women. America was filled with indigenous women, and relationships between the male colonists and native women occurred almost immediately.

As early as 1608, after disease and starvation wiped out nearly a third of the original Jamestown colonists, a large number of the male survivors began taking Indian wives. By 1612, the Spanish ambassador to England reported that between 40 to 50 Englishman . . . had married Indian women. He also informed the company that nearly all of these men had abandoned the colony for their wives villages. Only two years earlier, the entire population of Jamestown consisted of sixty colonists. Consequently, the number of desertions described by the ambassador was shocking. Just as concerning was the fact that these desertions seemed unstoppable. Virginia Governor Dale had already decreed that deserters were to be hanged, some burned, some to be broke upon wheels, others to be staked and some to be shot to death. This law had little effect, and colonial men continued to leave the colony.

Desertions contributed to the already declining population, while also undermining the moral justification for the entire colonial endeavor. Virginia settlers had rationalized colonization by highlighting the supposed differences between themselves and the countrys native inhabitants. Captain John Smiths 1607 report on the native population of Virginia epitomized this trend, characterizing the local Indians as cruel, irrational, vengeful, treacherous, and barbaric. He also accused these tribes of Satanism. He described the Virginia Indians as devil worshippers who prayed to idols shaped with such deformity as may well suit with such a god and claimed they practiced child sacrifice. Such accusations seemed to confirm the English colonizers belief in their moral and religious superiority. However, intermarriage threatened these distinctions.

Britains recent colonizing venture in Ireland had demonstrated that settlers were extremely likely to adopt the customs and manners of native inhabitants with whom they intermixed. One typical report from the Irish colony bewailed the number of Englishmen who in small time have grown wild in Ireland, and become in language and qualities Irish. This report also noted the paucity of Irishmen who do in exchange become civilized and English. Virginias colonial leaders worried that marriage to Indian women would lead to similar results. Specifically, they feared that intermarriage would cause European men to abandon their civility and become indistinguishable from the heathen savages. This fear was then further exacerbated by the perceived sexual availability of Indian women. In John Smiths 1612 account of life in the early Virginia colony, he wrote about his visit to one of Powhatans (Pocahontass father) villages and noted that in any of these villages, an Englishman could expect a woman freshly painted red with pocones and oil to be his bed fellow. Smith also detailed his own experience. He claimed to have been greeted by 30 young women [who] came naked out of the woods (only covered behind and before with a few greene leaves), their bodies all painted, some white, some red, some black, some partie colour, but every one different. He then described being invited back to their lodging where they more tormented him than ever, with crowding, and pressing, and hanging upon him, most tediously crying, love you not mee? Similar, although less colorful, accounts were provided by colonist and company secretary William Strachey, who declared that the local women were most voluptious and eager to embrace the acquaintance of any Straunger.

In order to prevent desertions to the native villages and lessen the attractions of native women, colonial leaders described white/Indian relationships as religiously prohibited. In his 1609 sermon, the colonial Reverend William Symonds railed against the dangers of miscegenation. Symonds cited the biblical injunction that Gods people in Canaan keepe to themselves, and not marry nor give in marriage to the heathen, that are uncircumcized, and he warned that the breaking of this rule jeopardized ones chance for eternal salvation and risked all good succese of this voyage. Symondss religious admonishment did little to stem the flow of desertions, and even within the colony, some determined men found ways around this prohibition. The most famous intermarried colonist was John Rolfe. In his letter to Governor Dale seeking permission to marry Pocahontas, Rolfe acknowledged the heavie displeasure which almightie God conceived against the sonnes of Levie and Israel for marrying strange wives. Nevertheless, he argued that this concern was inapplicable to his own relationship, because Pocahontas was converting to Christianity and, thus, their marriage would actually be furthering Gods work and assisting with Rolfes owne salvation. Rolfes arguments were persuasive and earned Dales endorsement of the marriage.

By 1619, it had become clear that neither religious prohibitions nor capital punishment was a sufficient deterrent against intermarriage. The company, therefore, concluded that the best way to reduce desertions and ensure the colony remained racially and ethnically distinct was to provide colonial men with a viable marriage alternative to native women. Understandably, the women recruited to fulfill this important task were chosen with care. They were not prostitutes, criminals, or beggars. In fact, out of the thirty-eight women whose social status is known, eight had links to the gentry. According to the company records, four of the women were the daughters of gentlefolk; two others had uncles and one cousin (once removed) who were knights; and the eighth was described as the daughter of Mr. Gervase Markham, of the Nottinghamshire gentry. In addition, the company insisted that all the women had been received . . . upon good recommendation.

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Zeal & Ardor Devil is Fine: Album Stream – The Independent

Posted: at 7:07 pm

There is a gross falsehood proliferated by those whose horizons stretch no further than the end of their nose. The fallacy is that all modern music is simply repetitions of ideas and concepts from yesteryear, that there isnt a single riff, lick, chord or note that has never been played before. Apart from the fact that this is an incredibly fatuous, narrow-minded view that completely ignores essential components of music such as craft, composition, personality, chemistry, technology, instrumentation, dynamics and tone (to name but a few), it also leads perfectly rationale people to spout nonsense;how many times have we heard the ridiculous notionthatThe Beatles invented every idea found in modern music and nobody's come up with a solitary original idea since?

Unless theres an unreleased album of Black Metal mixed with African-American Slave music by Messrs McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr hiding in a dusty Abbey Road vault, we can probably nip that particular falsity in the bud. Instead, this particular combination of disparate genres can be credited to songwriter Manuel Gagneux, the brainchild behind Zeal & Ardor. If you really do think youve heard every trick that modern music has to offer, you might want to listen to the stream of their debut album Devil is Fine above; its unlikely you will have heard anything quite like it before.

The genesis for Zeal & Ardor came when Gagneuxbecame frustrated workingon a different musical project, his incredibly diverse, difficult to define, alternative chamber pop projectBirdmask.Whenever Gagneux would run in to a creative stumbling block, he would go on to 4Chan, an internet bulletin board where anyone can post anonymously on a wide variety of topics, and ask people for two musical genres. He would then combine them and write a song within half an hour, purely as a means to get his creative juices flowing once again. It wasn'teven my idea to mix these two genres Gagneux says humbly I totally stole it! The first iteration of this combination was pretty horrible to be honest, but the idea stuck with me and I pursued it

Gagneuxs enthusiasm for black metal started, as it does for most fans of the genre, as a teenager. I was trying to listen to listen to the most extreme music I could find, you know how teens are. My friend introduced me to Burzum and Darkthrone and told me that they were the most evil people on the planet of course, I was intrigued! I became so enthralled by black metal because it's all enveloping sound; its very aggressive but even tender in some moments.

Chain gang music, whilst not something Gagneux listens to on a regular basis, was introduced to him as a child by his Swiss father and American mother. My parents listened to these old Lomax recordings for a while when I was growing up. They were something I'd totally forgotten about but recently re-discovered and I dove into them for this project.'

Mixing genres is all well and good but if the individual strands of the hybrid are no good, youll be falling at the first hurdle. Gagneux has efficaciously captured the essence and sentiment of African slave music; the authenticity is so convincing, accusations were made against him, saying hed stolen old Lomax recordings and sampled them without permission (he didnt, he just sang loudly into a shit microphone with too much signal to get that authentic, lo-fi recording sound of the 30s and 40s).

As Gagneux began putting the music together, images began to form in his head of African chain gangs rebelling against their Christian captors by invoking Satanism. He took this idea and ran with it as a thematic thread to pin on to the record. Devil is Fines artwork shows signs of the extensive research Gagneux put into the project; the photograph is of a real enslaved African-American, Robert Smalls, who managed to free himself and 17 other slaves during the American Civil War by commandeering a Confederate transport ship stacked with Howitzer guns and several hundred rounds of ammunition. It was a daring escape for such a young man; Smalls was just 22 when he put his perilous plan into action and he lived to the age of 75, very respectable for someone born in the 19th century. Once he was free, Smalls lived a very full life, serving as a civilian pilot and armed transport captain for the military and later got into politics as a member of the US House of Representatives.

Superimposed over the image of Smalls is The Sigil of Lucifer, sometimes referred to as the Seal of Satan. One of the lesser known symbols in modern Satanism, its believed to hold connections to a greater, supernatural power, in this case, Satan himself. I think superimposing Lucifers sigil over the image of Robert Smalls neatly sums up the intention and theme of this record to me says Gagneux. Without trying to sound too corny, its meant to represent these African slaves summoning something sinister and liberating themselves through Satan. Imagine if slaves in America had rejected the Christianity that was foisted upon them and embraced Satanism instead. Rather than being forced to accept the will of God, they choose defiance and rebellion; thats the world in which this album is rooted. Im an atheist, I dont really believe in God, but parts of modern Satanism do gel with me whilst other parts dont. Its fiction at the end of the day but it's well researched; I've put an embarrassing amount of time into reading occult books to get this stuff right!

The album artwork superimposes the Sigil of Lucifer over an image of freed slave Robert Smalls

Whilst the black metal and slave music hybridisation has got the most media attention thus far, theres actually a large pool of various genre influences that Gagneux is drawing from on Devil is Fine; elements of electronica, cradle songs, spiritual chanting, delta-blues licks and funk are all touched on throughout Devil is Fines 25minutes. Childrens Summon sounds like Dragonforce put through a Watain filter. Whats a Killer Like You Gonna Do Here? evokes a darker, more sinister Tom Waits. Given the somewhat purist attitude of a certain breed of metal fan, Zeal & Ardor have and will continue to provoke strong reactions, both positive and negative.

It's not a primary intention of mine to aggravate those people but it is funny to see some of the reactions says Gagneux. Black metal used to be the most extreme music known to man, but now, it's almost classical. It seems natural to want to evolve it and figure out alternatives and evolutions. There's been quite a few polarising opinions but actually I really appreciate them because some of them mention things where there might be room for improvement. Zeal & Ardor to me is not done, I'm still trying to figure out how it could be better and some of these negative comments are quite helpful because they point out what I could do better.

Zeal & Ardor is just the latest in a long line of developments in the world of music, an artform that continues to develop and metamorphose, despite the protestations of those stuck in the past or who fear change. Music is a force that is constantly changing and evolving; the notion that the well will run dry and that everythings already been done is an idea that says more about the person expressing it than it does about the state of modern music. Some may dismiss Zeal & Ardor as a gimmick but Gagneux is determined to not let that happen. As a live unit, the project will be expanded from just Gagneux to six musicians, including two backing singers. It's a fine line to walk because I don't ever want the music to be secondary to the show, but I have a few ideas. The record is only 25 minutes long but if we do a 25 minute set, people will kill us and will have every right to do so! So theres a few new ideas and songs for people that come to see us live. I'm in the process of distilling the project, making it more extreme in both directions and gelling the two elements together a little more precisely.

Devil is Fine is released through MVKA on 24th February on vinyl, CD and digitally. Zeal & Ardor commence a European tour in March including a date at The Underworld in Camden, London on 20th April

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Deconstructing Pagan religions – Daily News & Analysis

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:03 am

Before the birth of Abrahamic religions and other monotheistic cultures, most parts of the world followed a variety of Pagan religions. These were mostly polytheistic religious practices with deities representing forces of nature as that is what man feared most. In what is commonly referred to as classical antiquity, and later in the middle-ages, Paganism, was widespread among Nordic, Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes.

Pagan cultures existed across the world. In fact, most traditional Indian religions that were brought under the umbrella of the common Hindu way of life shared many similarities with Pagan religions from regions as far as Greece and Central Asia. In fact, the Greek and Roman pantheon is identical, just the names are different.

Meanwhile, Indian goddess Saraswati has Greco-Roman counterparts in Athena/Minerva. Pagans also worshiped goddesses associated with rivers and water for their ability to create and sustain life. These include Anahita (Zoroastrian), Ganga (Indian), Tethys (Greek), Chalchiuhtclicue (Aztec) and Dewi Danu (Balinese).

The word Pagan comes from the Latin word Paganus which meant related to the country side or village dweller. It came to mean a person with little or no knowledge or what is popularly called village bumpkin. But the word Pagan wasnt used until the early Christian Church began using it to describe people from distant rural places who were considered backward because they did not practice monotheism.

Pagan was therefore considered a derogatory term until the early 20th century when Wiccans made Paganism cool and acceptable again and re-branded it as neo-Paganism. Neo-Paganism is a group of new religious movements inspired by historical Pagan beliefs of pre-Christian Europe. Polytheism and animism is common among all these movements, however, they do not share any common text and maintain separate identities. Lets take a look at some modern Pagan movements:

It is a worship of the sacred feminine, something that was lost to patriarchal religions. Here the female form, sexuality and maternity are celebrated. The followers of this movement see matriarchy as natural, egalitarian and pacifistic as opposed to destructive and aggressive patriarchal cultures. Goddesses worshipped vary from region to region and include Diana, Hecate, Isis, Ishtar, Saraswati and Kali.

This is also a neo-Pagan movement which aims at reviving the cultural beliefs and religions of Germanic people from the Iron Age and Early Medieval Europe. Heathen communities rely on historical records, archeological evidence as well as folklore for information about lifestyles in pre-Christian Europe. Scandinavian and Icelanding Old Norse mythological texts and old Anglo-Saxon folk tales are popular in this regard. Heathen communities are known as kindreds or hearths, who gather together in specially constructed buildings to conduct their rituals which always involve raising a ceremonial toast of an alcoholic beverage to their deities. Some Heathens have however, unfortunately become rather racist and started associating with white supremacist movements.

Druidry originated in England in the 18th century mainly as a cultural movement aimed at increasing appreciation for nature and how people are connected with it. The movement subsequently became spiritual and developed religious undertones with an increasing emphasis on nature worship and environmental protection. The neo-Druids adhere to no dogma and there is no central authority, it is just a form of nature-centred spirituality. Almost all Druids are animists, but some have elaborate ancestor worship rituals. Their festivals include celebrating the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes and Winter and Summer Solstice. Most rituals are carried out in day light outdoors. Neo-Druidry is popular in Britain and North America.

It is the fastest growing religion in the world. It was developed in England in the early twentieth century by Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente. While Wicca has no central authority, its core values are similar across various traditions (sects and denominations). Wicca is duotheistic, i.e., it has two deities, the Moon Goddess and the Horned God. You have probably seen the five point star or pentacle associated with witchcraft. It is just a harmless image depicting the five elements: Earth, Fire, Air, Water and Spirit. While Wicca talks about magic as a part of its rituals, it is actually defined as channelising ones will to achieve a goal. An important Wiccan rule is that a follower of Wicca can never do any harm to another person. There is also the concept of Threefold Return, according to which if you do good or bad, it will ultimately come back to you with thrice its original intensity. This is a bit like the Indian concept of Karma. Though often used interchangeably with witchcraft, Wicca is distinct from Satanism and Luciferianism, whose followers also call themselves witches and wizards.

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Weekly roundup of world briefs from JTA – Heritage Florida Jewish … – Heritage Florida Jewish News

Posted: at 4:03 am

Large swastika painted on car in Florida Jewish neighborhood

(JTA)A large swastika was spray-painted on the side of a car in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Boca Raton, Florida.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning, according to local report. The white swastika took up the entire drivers-side door of the black Ford Mustang.

The owner of the car is a teenager who is visiting Israel, the Miami Herald reported. It is not know if the teens visit to Israel made him the intended target.

This is a direct hate message, Yona Lunger, an activist in South Floridas Jewish community, told the Miami Herald. We are shocked, devastated.

Many Holocaust survivors live in the neighborhood, residents told local media.

The Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office has launched an investigation into the incident. Residents have asked the local police for increased patrols and some plan to install surveillance cameras, according to reports.

The swastika comes on the heels of several bomb threats on Jewish community centers in South Florida, part of a wave of bomb threats on JCCs across the country.

Poll: Americans nearly split over support for Palestinian state

(JTA)Americans are nearly evenly divided over support for a Palestinian state, according to the latest Gallup poll.

Some 45 percent of Americans back the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 42 percent oppose it, according to the poll taken during the first week of February. Some 13 percent said they have no opinion.

One year ago, support for a Palestinian state was at nearly the same level, 44 percent, but a lower percentage, 37 percent, opposed it. At that time, 19 percent said they had no opinion.

Broken down by political party affiliation, 61 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Independents are in favor of a Palestinian state.

The results are from Gallups annual World Affairs poll conducted Feb. 1-5. A random sample of 1,035 Americans over 18 was polled. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The poll also asked respondents if their sympathies lie more with the Israelis or the Palestinians.

Some 62 percent of Americans said they sympathized more with the Israelis and 19 percent with the Palestinians in numbers that are similar to the past several years. Another 19 percent responded with no preference, broken down into 5 percent who say they sympathize with both equally, 6 percent who sympathize with neither, and 8 percent who responded that they have no opinion.

In the splits by political party, 82 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents said they sympathized with Israel.

Asked about their opinions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some 49 percent of respondents said they viewed him favorably and 30 percent unfavorablyboth figures the highest recorded in the pollwith 13 percent saying they never heard of him and 8 percent saying they have no opinion.

Broken down by party, 32 percent of Democrats viewed Netanyahu favorably and 41 percent unfavorably, and 73 percent of Republicans viewed Netanyahu favorably and 11 percent unfavorably. In 2015, before Netanyahu spoke against the Iran nuclear deal in Congress, a speech that was boycotted by several Democratic members of Congress, 31 percent of Democrats viewed him favorably and 31 percent unfavorably, and 60 percent of Republicans favorably and 18 percent unfavorably.

McGill student leader doubles down on punch a Zionist today message

MONTREAL (JTA)A McGill University student leader who advised on Twitter to punch a Zionist today is refusing to resign or retract the comment amid rising Jewish anger on campus against him.

Council member Igor Sadikov did not relent at what was described as a tense meeting of the student union legislative council on Thursday.

According to witnesses who attended, Sadikov appeared to double down on his stance, arguing that Jews were not a a legitimate ethnic group, according to Bnai Brith Canada.

I have never felt so targeted, disgusted or disappointed in my life, Jewish McGill student Molly Harris later wrote in a post on Facebook.

Sadikov, who also is active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, has denied he is anti-Semitic, noting that his father is Jewish and his mother is half-Jewish. He said his original tweet, which he later deleted, was meant to criticize a political philosophy, not Jews.

McGill has condemned Sadikov, joining the Jewish groups Bnai Brith, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

The universitys undergraduate arts society formally called on Sadikov to resign and Bnai Brith asked police to investigate whether Sadikov had incited hatred with his tweet.

But the mass condemnation seemed to do little to appease pro-Israel students at McGill, who say they feel increasingly isolated and vulnerable on campus.

At the Thursday meeting, according to reports, council members voted by a wide margin against censuring Sadikov, while a leader of McGills BDS group asked why an individual pro-Zionist member of the council was not being impeached.

Critics at the meeting charged that council members stayed silent as Sadikov took his stand and also in reaction to the pro-BDS speaker.

McGills student union also has the power to impeach Sadikov, but has not moved to do so.

The campus newspaper, The McGill Daily, which Sadikov once served as editor, recently enacted a policy to ban pro-Zionist opinion from its pages.

British government proposes guideline to prevent municipal boycotts against Israel

(JTA)The British government has unveiled a proposed guideline that is meant to counteract and prevent the passing of resolutions in favor of boycotting Israel by local municipalities.

The Department for Communities and Local Government published its plan for ending such initiatives on Monday in a leaflet containing proposed additions and revisions to a document titled the Revised Best Value Statutory Guidance, which offers guidelines on various issues pertaining to local government, including procurement policies.

Authorities should not implement or pursue boycotts other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government, the proposal reads.

The British government has a longstanding policy of value for money in public procurement, the document further reads. Procurement legislation in the United Kingdom and the European Union requires public authorities to treat suppliers fairly and equally and this guidance has been updated to reflect that and make it clear that boycotts in public procurement are inappropriate outside where formal legal sanctions have been put in place.

Individuals who want to offer their feedback to the government, including arguments in favor and against the revision, must do so before March 28, the document states.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the national umbrella of the Jewish community of the United Kingdom, said his group warmly welcomes the Governments measures since these boycotts are divisive and undermine good community relations. The new steps will ensure that all suppliers of goods and services receive equal treatment and do not need to fear prejudice.

Resolutions favoring boycotts of Israel were passed recently in several municipalities in Britain, including the Leicester City Council in 2014. Similar measures were discussed but not taken in Nottingham.

The Conservative-led British government has threatened to fine municipalities that vote on boycotting Israel and has announced plans for laws making such initiatives illegal.

Amazon selling books in US, UK online stores that deny the Holocaust

(JTA)Amazon has removed books that deny the Holocaust from online stores in countries where Holocaust denial is illegal, but they remain available in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The British newspaper The Independent reported that the books were removed in some countries, including Italy, France and Germany, after Amazon was contacted about the sale of such books by The Sunday Times of London.

Among the books still available on Amazons U.S. and U.K. online stores are Did Six Million Really Die? by Richard Harwood; The Six Million: Fact or Fiction?, and The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews.

Gideon Falter, chairman of the British charity Campaign Against Antisemitism, told The Independent: Every day, Amazon promotes a selection of literature advocating Holocaust denial and Jew hatred. Anybody searching Amazon for books about the Holocaust, including children working on school projects, will inevitably be shown Amazons squalid cesspool of neo-Nazi titles.

One Amazon customer who complained to the company told The Sunday Times he received a message from Amazon saying, If you feel this book constitutes hate speech and malicious lies, then please check out the other hundred thousand books we carry to find something you like. I hope this helps!

Steven Goldstein, executive director of the U.S.-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, called for a boycott of Amazon until it stops selling the books everywhere.

When Amazon sells Holocaust denial books and even offers readers an opportunity to borrow Holocaust denial books on Amazon Kindle, Amazon is a repugnant accomplice to Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism of historic proportions, Goldstein wrote in a statement. This makes Amazon a worldwide embarrassment to human decency. We call on everyone to stop shopping at Amazon until all divisions of Amazon in every part of the world stop selling Holocaust denial books and other works immediately.

Russian lawmaker: Ancestors of Jewish politicians boiled us in cauldrons

(JTA)A Russian lawmaker in President Vladimir Putins party said the ancestors of two Jewish opposition politicians had killed Christians.

Christians survived despite the fact that the ancestors of Boris Vishnevsky and Maksim Reznik boiled us in cauldrons and fed us to animals, Vitaly Milonov said Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Jewish groups and leaders condemned Milonovs statement.

For a State Duma deputy, it is unacceptable to make such irresponsible statements, said Rabbi Boruch Gorin, the spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, AFP reported.

The president of the Russian Jewish Congress told AFP that it was clear to any normal person that these lawmakers are of Jewish descent and that he means Jews.

The National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, an American nonprofit advocating for Jews in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, urged the Russian government to condemn the remarks.

Milonovs rhetoric invokes dangerous anti-Semitic hatred that has historically been used to justify widespread violence against Jews in Russia, the group said Monday in a statement. NCSEJ urges Russias local and national government to repudiate Milonovs remarks and make clear that he does not speak for the government of Russia or the Russian people.

In 2014, Milonov made statements suggesting that Jews killed Jesus.

They vilify any saint, it is in their tradition of 2,000 years, beginning with the appeals to crucify the Savior, ending with accusations of anti-Semitism against St. John of Kronstadt, Milonov said during a speech before the citys legislative council.

Milonov was advocating a bill to declare June 14 a municipal holiday in honor of John of Kronstadt, a 19th-century leader of the Orthodox Russian Church. His legacy remains controversial because of his membership in the Black Hundred, an ultranationalist and declaredly anti-Semitic movement that supported pogroms against Jews.

But Milonov said such criticism was based on complete lies, a modern neo-liberal fable with a sulfuric, deep history of Satanism.

Populist party in Germany set to oust member for denigrating Berlin Holocaust memorial

BERLIN (JTA)Germanys rising right-wing populist party voted to begin proceedings to oust a prominent member for calling Berlins Holocaust memorial a monument of shame.

Bjoern Hoecke, leader of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, in the former East German state of Thuringia aroused ire nationwide with remarks in January denigrating the memorial and suggesting that more attention be paid to German victims of World War II.

Frauke Petry, who heads the 3-year-old AfD, said Monday that the expulsion procedure could take quite a while, but that she was convinced most party members would support the move.

Critics within the AfD said Hoeckes remarks threatened to destabilize the party, which hopes to become the third largest in the Bundestag in national elections in September.

The partys decision followed a legal and political evaluation of Hoeckes remarks.

He had told young supporters in Dresden on Jan. 17 that We Germansthat is, our peopleare the only people worldwide that has planted a memorial to shame in the heart of our capital.

Ten days later, the Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial barred Hoecke from entering for a memorial ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Hoecke has enjoyed some support from party leaders in his own state, as well as those in the former East German state of Brandenburg. Alexander Gauland, chair of the Brandenburg faction, told German radio rbb that no one should be thrown out after making one mistake. He also said he feared people would leave the party in protest.

In Thuringen, party leaders suggested the decision was politically motivated to force certain people and opinions out of the party

Petrys co-chair, Jrg Meuthen, reportedly also opposed her on the matter, saying he did not believe the expulsion procedure was likely to succeed, even though his speech was really very bad.

AfD President Georg Pazderski told the daily newspaper Tagesspiegel in Berlin that he thought Hoeckes speech had the potential to frighten off voters. Pazderski said Hoecke had endangered the partys goal of representing mainstream conservative Germans.

Following Mondays vote, Hoecke told reporters he was worried for the unity of the party. But he expressed confidence that the arbitration panel would not find him guilty of transgressing the partys legal statutes or principles. If he is found guilty, he can appeal.

The anti-immigrant party has been struggling with its extreme right-wing flank. Last July, it began proceedings to expel politician Wolfgang Gedeon over anti-Semitic writings. He remains a member of the Baden-Wrttemberg state parliament, though was forced to step down from the AfDs bloc.

One year ago, a court in Brandenburg rejected accusations that AfD party member Jan-Ulrich Weiss had published an anti-Semitic caricature.

Elena Roonan AfD candidate for the Bundestag from Nurembergrecently shared a photograph of Adolf Hitler online with the caption, Missing since 1945: Adolf, please call home! Germany needs you! The German nation!

The German media reported that Roon also shared an image of Hitler tearing his hair out in frustration, with the caption Islamists... I forgot about them!

The party chair in Bavaria has launched an investigation.

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