Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trial of Former Prison Guard Obscures Real Story of Nazi War Criminals: Canada -- Near Blissful Refuge for Nazis


- Dougal MacDonald - June 25, 2016


A great hullabaloo is being made by the ruling circles and their monopoly media about the trial and conviction of a single former concentration camp guard who worked at Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War. The former guard, a member of the Nazi SS, was convicted on June 16 in a German court and sentenced to five years in prison as an accessory to the murder of 170,000 Jewish prisoners during 1943-44. No one expects he will spend a single day in prison due to the long appeal process and the fact that he is 94 years old.

This whole charade helps conceal the truth about the fate of Nazi and fascist war criminals. In reality, due to the active intervention of the U.S., U.K., Canada and various European states, including the Vatican, tens of thousands of war criminals were protected, hidden, given new identities, brought both openly and secretly to countries like Canada as legitimate immigrants, and hired by governments and private industry, even though their backgrounds were well-known in official circles. A huge number were brought into countries like Canada directly following the Second World War, while others who took up Nazi and fascist causes following the war (and who were even trained by Second World War war criminals through organizations such as the World Anti-Communist League) were brought in after, later perpetrating hideous crimes in countries such as Guatemala in the interests of U.S. imperialism.

A special system of escape routes called "ratlines" was set up for Nazis and fascists fleeing Europe after the defeat of the Hitlerites. A prominent role in facilitating those escapes was played by the Vatican. The escape routes mainly led toward havens in South America, particularly Argentina and Paraguay, but destinations also included the U.S. and Canada. Not only individuals but whole groups of Nazis were openly brought in, often for specific purposes. Here are a few examples. The entire Nazi spy agency, still led by General Reinhard Gehlen, was hired to work for U.S. intelligence. Gehlen derived much of his intelligence from torturing Soviet prisoners of war. The U.S. government's Operation Paperclip brought about 1,500 Nazi scientists and engineers to work on the U.S. missile program.[1] Similarly, Canada's post-war Operation Matchbox brought Nazi scientists and engineers to Canada. In 1950, Canada admitted 2,000 members of the 14th Volunteer Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, aka the Galicia Division, largely comprised of Ukrainians who served with Nazi police battalions and death squads. In November 1997, the Jerusalem Post published a series of articles calling Canada "a near blissful refuge" for Nazis.

Overall, Canada provided a safe haven for thousands of Nazi war criminals, even after thousands of Canadians sacrificed their lives fighting Nazism. Beginning with the Mackenzie King Liberals, successive Canadian governments have protected war criminals, hidden them in Canada as "deported persons," and claimed that they were actually legitimate patriots of their countries of origin who just "opposed communism." This kind of statement reveals the underlying reason that so many Nazi war criminals were protected, which was that as soon as the Second World War ended, the so-called wartime allies of the Soviet Union began rebuilding Germany as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, the country which had done the most and suffered the most to defeat the Hitlerites. Today, reconstructed Germany is the strongest country in Europe, with its economy once again led by the very same monopolies that backed the Hitlerites and were given a mere slap on the wrist at the Nuremburg trials. One typical example of a Nazi war criminal who escaped to Canada was Latvian collaborator Alfred Valdmanis. Valdmanis served as special assistant to Reichsbank President Hjalmar Schact and became Latvian Minister of Finance under the pro-Nazi Ulmanis government where he helped deport Jews to concentration camps and form the Nazi-commanded Latvian Waffen SS to fight the Soviet Union. Valdmanis moved to Canada in 1949 and became an advisor to the Canadian Department of Immigration, where he called for 20,000 Waffen SS members to be admitted to Canada. In 1950 he became Newfoundland's Director-General for Economic Development where, true to his Nazi roots, he negotiated a number of economic projects with German monopolies that had backed the Nazis such as Krupp and Hoechst. In 1951 he was accused of being a war criminal but denied the charges and was never arrested or tried for war crimes.

Another example of a Nazi war criminal who found a safe haven in Canada was SS Rottenführer Helmut Rauca who came to Canada in 1950. He acquired Canadian citizenship just six years later. On October 29, 1941, Rauca selected over 11,000 men, women, and children at the Ninth Fort in Kaunas, Lithuania, and ordered their execution, the largest mass murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War. Evidence against Rauca was overwhelming, yet he lived peacefully in Toronto until 1982 when the public outcry forced the Canadian government to deport him to Frankfurt, Germany. He died the following year before he could be brought to trial.[2] The cases of Valdanis and Rauca represent the reality of the complete lack of consequences for the many war criminals of their ilk who have found a cosy niche under government protection in Canada.

It should be noted that the current posturing about "bringing war criminals to justice" is not unique, including in Canada. At times through the years, in order to try to pacify the people's outrage at the ruling circles' blatant collaboration with Nazis and fascists, Canadian governments have also pretended to take a strong stand against Nazi war criminals. One major example is the Mulroney government's Deschenes Commission which carried out an investigation in 1985-86, after the public outcry that followed a claim that Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele might be somewhere in Canada. The result was a complete whitewash. Although thousands of names were submitted to the Deschenes Commission by citizens and citizen groups and millions of dollars were spent on the investigation, in the end the Commission reported it had found prima facie evidence against only 20 individuals, of which exactly zero were ever successfully prosecuted. Most of the documentation compiled by the Commission is still secret and inaccessible to independent researchers.

Since the publicity about the trial and conviction of the former Nazi war criminal in Germany has nothing to do with rooting out war criminals, what is it really about? In essence, the whole charade is supposed to convince people that those who perpetrate war crimes will someday be brought to justice, as well as imply that the era of the Nazis is gone and that only a few creaky old men remain who pose no threat to anyone and should be allowed to die in peace. Meanwhile, under this facade, the modern-day Nazis are reorganizing, especially in Ukraine and the Baltic Republics. In Ukraine, they hold positions in government and seats in the Parliament, and command their own private armies. This is no surprise since during the Second World War the Nazi-funded criminal groups Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) posed as "patriots" in order to massacre Jews, Russians and Poles. In the Baltic states, Nazis and neo-Nazis hold annual parades to commemorate the crimes their predecessors committed during the Second World War. In other European countries, such criminals organize "nationalist" parties that spread violence, racism and anti-immigrant propaganda.

The trial and conviction on June 16 of the former Nazi war criminal is also a ploy to divert attention from the fact that the world's biggest war criminals are now the U.S. imperialists and their allies such as Israel. The U.S., which took up the mantle of the Hitlerites following the Second World War, routinely commits war crimes around the world, including invasions of other countries, use of weapons of mass destruction, killing of civilians, targeted assassinations, organization of coups d'état, financing of fascist and racist groups, and the list goes on. The U.S. also protects its war criminal allies such as Israel, ensuring that they too are never held to account for their crimes against the world's people. At the same time, across the globe people are both openly denouncing U.S. crimes and actively fighting back against U.S. domination. In the end, the U.S. war criminals will suffer the same fate as their role models, the Hitlerite Nazis, a resounding and final defeat at the hands of the world's people.

Notes: 

1. For more information, see Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America, by Annie Jacobsen (New York: Little Brown and Company, 2014).

2. For more information, see War Criminal on Trial: The Rauca Case, by Sol Littman (Toronto: Lester and Orpen Dennys, 1983).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

CVE: Civilizational rehab programs for Muslims

Dr. Hatem Bazian

April 12, 2016

The end of the Cold War witnessed a shift away from the typical Russian villain and into the Muslim as the threat to Western civilization that must be confronted at all costs.  While the Muslim villain has been present in Western imaginary for quite a long time, the contemporary reincarnation of this historically demonized and feared “enemy” was badly needed to keep the massive industrial complex humming.  The idea of the Muslim threat, as an all-encompassing peril facing Western civilization fits perfectly into an existing worldview, which managed to define the self through crafting the image of the feared other.  

Critically, the crafting of the all-encompassing “Muslim menace” trope translates into a never-ending intervention in the lives of Muslims at home and abroad to counter the threat as well as the deployment of a civilizational rehab program, known as Countering Violent Extremist (CVE).  

At present, the CVE initiative is the standing policy of the United States with some $141 million allocated to this effort in the hope of addressing the threat at hand.  Importantly, the existing CVE program is exclusively focused on the “Muslim menace” to the exclusion of all other national, ethnic, ideological and religious grouping.  The policy is constructed to say that Muslims have an embedded DNA Islam marker that causes violence if not treated through a 12-step CVE therapy program.  In some communities in the U.S. and Europe, Muslims are treated as if suffering from an acute sickness called Islam that needs daily psychiatrist intervention to remedy.

Notice, the lack of such CVE programs directed at various segments of the American society that account for 94% of terrorist activities as well as those responsible for some 32,000 murders and mass shootings annually.  No community should accept being treated collectively as guilty for the crimes of one or few, and that it must prove its innocence to a government that deliberately and systematically violates its civil and human rights. 

The current crop of CVE “experts” peddle half-packed theories on extremism, orientalist imaginaries from an ignorant distant past and a clash of civilization framing with ready-made conclusions to fit the needed mold.  Have an idea on how to identify a Muslim extremist walking down the street?  Then apply for a government grant and come down to a security training center — meaning a local mosque — near you to test your hypothesis regardless of how idiotic it might be.  You think I am exaggerating?  Muslim women wearing the hijab is a form of “passive terrorism,” was offered as a hypothesis by a so-called radicalization “expert.”  Reading through the CVE literature, one for sure gets the sense that the more absurd and farfetched the idea, the more likely it gets adopted. 

Don’t make the lack of any real knowledge, sound data or long-established research credentials stop you from making preposterous claims on how extremist are made since all CVE ideas seem plausible when one is firmly perched on well-paid seats of ignorance.  The new buzz word among CVE industry experts is resilience and how to foster it and build Muslim communities’ immunity around it with distorted set of analysis and erroneous remedies at play.  What came first, the identifying of a “Muslim menace” or the crafting of massive interventionist polices at home and abroad?     

Securitization start-ups are popping up all over the world with millions if not billions spent on supposed remedies that have no connections to reality.  The think tank industrial complex, with not much thinking occurring inside the tanks and propelled by self-serving and self-promoting agenda, is at work producing all types of civilizational rehab programs.  If you have a Muslim extremist problem then let me offer you a program with social media scalability, Twitter feed management and rapid Facebook response team to solve your problem at a million dollars cost for the testing and deployment phase.  Just make sure to use the buzz words that these think tank type know and love while hiring a supposedly recovering Muslim extremist, ex-Muslim or possibly the huggable type that does not bite so as to give it the needed authentic Islamic flavor.  

Extremists and terrorists do exist but the current CVE project underway is Islamophobic in nature since it approaches the problem through a religious identity prism rather than focusing on criminal and violent intent of individuals.  Monitoring mosques with informants, problematizing religiosity among youth in the community, entrapping individuals through fictitious terrorism cases and suppressing dissent on U.S. foreign policy are ideologically driven approaches that have nothing to offer in the area of security.  A motley crew of charlatans, extreme clash of civilization warriors, neo-conservative hacks, pro-Israel mouthpieces and not-for-profit industrial complexes are all acting as vultures in pursuit of government funding and opportunity to establish a national profile, but dammed is the targeted Muslim community.    

What is certain according to research is that a correlation between religious identity and violence can’t be established.  Furthermore, the research shows that those who committed terrorist acts have not had any direct engagement in the affairs of their community, running or operating of mosques and were highly areligious until a short period before getting recruited into violent networks.  Furthermore, many of those who participate in violent activities are highly educated but have faced economic, social and cultural disenfranchisement, which have acted as a major factor in losing hope and opting to lash out, be it in Muslim majority countries or elsewhere.  In reality, my own co-authored SF Bay Area study shows that religious identity and attachment to a mosque and community contribute to a greater level of civic engagement, volunteerism and charitable work.   

The CVE offers Muslims a new approach to integration and assimilation for the melting pot, salad bowl or mosaic conceptualization is not sufficient.  Muslims are being asked to accept integration through securitization, which boils down to the government demanding to know what undergarment is used by Muslims as a pre-condition to equality and dignity.  Integration through securitization leads to structural exclusion with a maliciously constructed perception of membership and access to civil society.  

Muslims today are offered conditional and controlled access to government and civil society with CVE integration through securitization being projected as the only forum of inclusion that some in the community are so ecstatic about and are ready to offer a prostration in a show of gratitude.  At present, the cities that have been the testing grounds for CVE show an increasing lack of trust between the Muslim community and security organizations, as well as an emerging distance from government institutions and services, the complete opposite of what is needed to foster inclusion, equality and authentic expressions of citizenship. 

Muslims don’t need a civilizational rehab program to give them a sense of identity, they already have one. What they demand and expect is to be treated with dignity and respect and not to be regularly considered as second-class citizens or Western citizens on probation.  Programs directed at addressing extremism should be de-linked from religious, ethnic, racial or culture identity and should focus on criminal and violent intent while grounded in sound research.  Lastly, the current use of CVE positing Muslims as the only specimen to be pursued preemptively for securitization is insulting and should be dispensed immediately.  Muslim communities are ready to work to protect themselves, their neighbors and society at large because of Islamic teachings, which should be recognized and celebrated rather than problematized as a possible mental state needing a psychiatrist intervention.   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The concept of "ilah" in Islam


By Shawn Smith --  Feb 9, 2016

When I write an article my primary purpose is not to instruct others, for I do not claim any superior knowledge or authority. What I aim to accomplish is to clarify in my own mind those issues which may be a bit confusing. For you see, my dear readers, I fully admit that I am slow learner. By writing about these issues I seek to bring order where there is chaos; and there is always chaos for my mind fritters about without knowing where to land. And even when a landing takes place there is always the possibility or sense that this landing is merely temporary at best and soon another flight will take place and thus chaos once again becomes the norm. So please indulge me, oh kind and gentle reader.  

When one enters the fold of Islam they utter with their mouths and believe in their hearts the following declaration of faith (shahadah): 'lā ilāha illā -llāh, muḥammadur rasūlu -llāh, which traditionally been translated as. There is no deity or god worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. 

In this brief article I will concentrate on the first part of the statement -- lā ilāha illā -llāh. The statement is basically deconstructed as follows:
no - la 
god / diety - ilaha
except/but - illa
God - Allah

Before I write further, however, please read the following select verses from the Quran. Click on the hyper-link to listen to the verses in Arabic:  

Allah witnesses that there is no deity except Him, and [so do] the angels and those of knowledge - [that He is] maintaining [creation] in justice. There is no deity except Him, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (3:18)

And your god is one God. There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. (2:163)

Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (2:255)

They have certainly disbelieved who say, "Allah is the third of three." And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. (5:73)

That is Allah , your Lord; there is no deity except Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Disposer of all things. (6:102)

Allah - there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names. (20:8)

[He is] the Lord of the East and the West; there is no deity except Him, so take Him as Disposer of [your] affairs. (73:9)

I want to here focus on the concept of "ilah" as the declaration of faith and the Quran clearly states that there is no "ilah" except Allah. The word "ilah" appears 147 times in the Quran. Click here to see all of the verses.

So what does "ilah" mean? To know the answer to this question is important for it is the very basis, the very foundation of the Islamic faith.

Translators have generally, and unsatisfactorily in my opinion, rendered "ilah" into English as "god" or "deity," but I feel this does not encompass the full meaning of the term and, in fact, obscures it. The word contains a much more comprehensive meaning than the English terms "god" or "deity" would suggest.

The following Quranic verse gives us a glimpse into the meaning of the word: "So, have you seen the one who has taken their desires as their god [ilah], and Allah has let that person go astray, despite having knowledge, and has sealed the person's ear and heart, and put a cover on the person's eye? Now who will guide such a person after Allah? Still, do you not take lesson?" (Quran 45:23

In this verse we see that someone can take his or her desires as their "ilah." This suggests that "ilah" means a thing, idea or notion which becomes the focal point of a person's existence around which they conduct all of their affairs. It is something which offers them guidance and direction and becomes the determining factor regarding how their lives are lived and decisions are made. It is their highest source of authority and anything which goes against that authority is summarily rejected. One can even refer to this as an idol for it is their sole source of ultimate devotion.

When the pre-Islamic pagans set up physical idols and became devoted to them they referred to them as their "ilah," and they consulted these idols in their affairs to bring them good luck or protection. On what divine authority did they do this other than that of their inwards desires and which induced them to pay homage to these object or productions of their desires? The answer is they did not have any divine authority to do so and thus are rebuked by Allah for their actions. 

The Arabic word used in the Quran for authority is "sul'ṭān," and is mentioned several times in the Quran. I cite the following verse as an example: "We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He had sent no authority [sul'ṭānan] ; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the wrong-doers." (3:151

Those who join others in worship with Allah -- that is those who worship or devote themselves to other than Allah -- have no authority to do so and are merely following their own desires. They have, in fact, taken an "ilah" other then Allah which is contrary to the the Islamic declaration of faith as well as numerous verses in the Quran.


And Allah says in the Quran: "And do not call, besides Allah, on another god [ilah]. There is no god [ilah] but Allah. Everything (that exists) will perish except Allah's Own Face. To Allah belongs the Command, and to Allah will you (all) be brought back." (28:88

So when a believer says "there is no 'ilah' expect Allah" what is being stated is that the very focal point of their existence, the very criteria by which they make decisions, the very object of their worship and devotion, the very one they call upon for help and guidance is Allah. And Allah makes it clear over and over again that Allah will not share that with anyone or thing for their is no "ilah" other than Allah. The Quran says: "Say, 'I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god [ilāhun] is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord - let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.'" (18:110)

So why is this important? It is important because the very source and purpose of our existence is Allah. For the believer there is no ultimate meaning to life without Allah. Allah is the one who gives us life and eventually takes it away. It is Allah who provides for us, protects us and is the ultimate source of our eternal salvation.  Nothing can happen to us without Allah's knowledge or permission, and none can protect us from Allah's decree. And of the believers Allah says in the Quran: "Who, when a misfortune befalls them, say: Surely we are Allah's and to Allah we shall surely return." (2:156)

'lā ilāha illā -llāh

Sunday, February 7, 2016

8 major barriers which hinder our relationship with God



by Shawn Smith -- February 7, 2016

One of the things which concerns me is the question of individual freedom when it comes to establishing a relationship with God. Sadly, as my readers most assuredly know, not everyone has the same level of freedom when it comes to working towards this goal because barriers have been set up which makes it more difficult and challenging for many individuals. These barriers are what I want to address in this brief article.  

I am of the opinion that those barriers, which hinder us from knowing God at a deeper and more personal level, must be understood and, to the best of our abilities, confronted head on if we wish to make progress.  

For the conscientious believer it's crucial to have a firm grasp of the message God is conveying to them. Anything which acts as a barrier to that understanding, as I stated above, must be solidly comprehended and confronted. 

For the believing Muslim, the main source of their knowledge of the Divine message is the Quran which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad some 14 centuries ago. Observant Muslims seeks to immerse themselves in the Quran not merely to acquire more knowledge, so that they can show off to others, but to establish a deeper relationship with God. But the believer, no matter where they happen to come from, will face barriers to achieving this. 

Here are 8 major barriers I have come up with, and perhaps you can think of more:

1) Not knowing the Arabic language. The Quran was revealed in the Arabic language and if people try to understanding it via another language they are merely reading someone else's interpretation. At best their knowledge is second hand and as a result a barrier has been set up from the beginning.

2) Lack of understanding of the social and political context in which the various parts of Quran were revealed. In the absence of a knowledge of this context there is a high likelihood the Quran will be misinterpreted or misapplied in a not so positive way. We see this happen by many so called Islamic groups or movements.

3) Some Hadeeth, sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, which may, in some instances, be contradictory to the Quranic message but which are embraced as authentic.

4) Layers of scholarly opinion surrounding the text of the Quran which influences our thinking and understanding, and not always in a positive way. We must also understand the social and political context in which those scholarly opinions were developed. Context is everything!!! 

5) Various ideologies which are read into the Quran but which many times distort its central message. I am thinking in particular of patriarchal ideologies.

6) Social and political pressure to adhere to a particular understanding uncritically. We all know of numerous examples of this phenomena. 

7) One's personal weakness or lack of resolve. People tend to give up when the going is a little tough. Furthermore, many people become displeased with what other people are doing or not doing and get involved in arguments and develop various factions which lead to division and animosity among the believers. Instead of fostering an inward relationship with God, they instead spend their energies finding fault with others and thus lose out in the long run. Correcting oneself takes precedence over correcting others. 

8) An environment which does not foster or encourage a relationship with God and which actually causes us to experience profound doubts, skepticism and even despair. We live and are immersed in an age of unbelief. 

We should not throw up our hands in despair and cry out that this is too much work or too difficult. My purpose here is not to make readers feel dejected or overwhelmed. What I want to achieve is to make people aware of these barriers and critically engage with them. In doing so they can perfect their understanding of God's message for their personal lives. 

I hold the view that this is all possible, but it does take some effort. The effort, however, is most assuredly worth it for we grow in the understanding of the Divine purpose in our lives. And Allah says in the Quran وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ -- "But as for those who strive hard in Our cause -We shall most certainly guide them onto paths that lead unto Us: for, behold, God is indeed with the doers of good." (Quran 29:69)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Stand: Twelve General Principles


by Shawn Smith 

February 3, 2016

As I was reflecting on my understanding of Islam this morning, I wrote down these 12 statements. I would love to hear from you and what you think. Do you agree or disagree? How can the list be improved upon? 

My email address is: shawnsmith1964@gmail.com 

**************
1) Any reading of Islam which demeans another human being, or group of human beings, must be rejected.

2) Any reading of Islam which does not affirm gender equality must be rejected. 

3) Any reading of Islam which privileges the few at the expense of the many must be rejected. 

4) Any reading of Islam which de-humanizes and ostracizes those who happen to be LGBTQ must be rejected.

5) Any reading of Islam which does not place compassion and respect for human rights at its center must be rejected.

6) Any reading of Islam which seeks to limit people's right to free expression and dissent must be rejected.

7) Any reading of Islam which seeks to forcibly compel someone to believe, or threaten those who chose not to believe, must be rejected. 

8) Any reading of Islam which justifies violence and murder to promote social and political objectives must be rejected.

9) Any reading of Islam which promotes patriarchal norms, homophobia,transphobia, sexism, racism, classism, ableism, ageism and all other forms of oppression and discrimination, must be rejected.  

10) Any reading of Islam which fails to portray Allah as being first and foremost compassionate and merciful towards all of humanity, regardless of who they are, must be rejected. 

11) Any reading of Islam which  seeks to divorce the revelations of the Quran from its initial social and historical context must be rejected. 

12) Any reading of Islam which is peddled by those in authority as being "The Islam" to the exclusion of all other readings or understandings must be rejected. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Clash of Civilization: A Racial Discourse

Dr. Hatem Bazian -- Nov 19, 2015

The often-cited clash of civilization thesis promoted by rightwing politicians, religious extremists, and public figures is predicated on extending and reformulating the already discredited notions of “scientific/biological racism” into new categories based on cultural, religious, and ethnic norms--nebulous and difficult to define terms, as the concept of race itself.  In the clash of civilization rhetoric, the theorized cultural, religious, and ethnic differences are given; essentially, fixed, undynamic and ahistorical meanings that are rooted in colonialist, racist, and orientalized epistemologies.  This essentialist clash of civilization conceptualization, then gets promoted by its advocates, into popular political discourses and enacts policies on its basis. 

Samuel P. Huntington popularized usage of the phrase clash of civilization first in a lecture at the neo-conservative den, the American Enterprise Institute, then, eventually, an article and an often-cited 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.  Huntington asserted, “that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic.”  Furthermore, adding: “the great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural.”  Conveniently, after the Cold War, Huntington posited that the future clash would emerge from the "Sino-Islamic connection" thus, enjoining the fear of Islam and China’s rising economic power.   

The clash of civilization argument was followed by another book, Who Are We?  The Challenges to America’s National Identity, which problematized Mexican and Latino immigration to the US.   Huntington projected Latinos as an emerging threat to the unity and cohesion of the country.  What was threatening to Huntington and his ilk is that the large scale Latino immigration could "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages."   The assumption is so spurious about America’s unity and the threat posed by Latinos.  This is the sophisticated racism of the upper-crusted dons of academia who use language, books, and articles to burn crosses with white robes and hoods into the collective meadows of our mental imagination. 

The clash of civilization rhetoric has been deployed against Mexican-Americans and Latinos in general, Blacks and Native Americans in the past and present, Muslim and African immigrants in Europe and North America, Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese as a byproduct of the current economic instability.  In all these cases, the evidence and data are irrelevant for the clash of civilization warriors and no need to examine the causes and stimuli for what is taking place across many parts of the world, since all are secondary to the real reason-- the inferior cultures, religions and ethnicities under scrutiny.   Trump, Carson and others in the Republican presidential primaries are crudely parroting Huntington’s arguments when speaking of immigration, Islam, minorities and China, for they have internalized the clash of civilization thesis and made it operative as a blueprint for their campaigns.

More alarmingly, cultural and ethnic differences in the present period are intentionally and sophisticatedly amplified by clash of civilization warriors, so as to serve a utilitarian function in empire’s efforts.  These are directed at hegemonic control and consolidation of power across the globe.  Empire needs the made to be feared other to justify its imperial power and militaristic ventures at home and abroad.  By accepting the clash of civilization as a point of departure, the civilizational warriors make it possible for empire to unleash total war on the Global South, which conveniently, is assigned the subhuman inferior epistemic and the made to be feared other.  If the Global South is inferior and is projected as a permanent and unchanging threat, then the natural and only conclusion to prevent the barbarians from storming the metaphorical civilization’s gates, is total war and constant intervention.  

A clash of civilization is a prerequisite for empire’s expansion, rationalization of violence, and constant direct and indirect interventions in the Global South.  The war and intervention by empire serves as a never-ending chemotherapy treating a terminal cancer case called civilizational deficiency syndrome.   A clash of civilization discourse makes it possible to reconfigure and reprogram the biological racial colonial epistemic in the post-colonial period into the vagueness of culture; while affirming a hierarchy of human and races values based on a fictitious assertion of Eurocentric universalism and uniqueness of Whiteness.   A clash of civilization discourse makes it possible for the ahistorical and fictitious to dominate and shape the empirically verifiable historical record.  

I have more questions than answers to conclude this essay, in the hope, it can lead to a deeper examination of the structures that creates and punishes the other.  How to view the immigration and refugee crisis, securitization policies, interventionist wars under the rubric of open-ended war on terrorism, economic and political interventions, as well as, social and educational projects as an extension of clash of civilization discourses?  More importantly, who, when, how, and by what methods will a response and a counter-narrative be constructed that does not only retort with a critique but offer an inclusive, diverse, truly multi-epistemic in approach, that de-center the Eurocentric center while being truly sustainable and non-hegemonic? 

Hatem Bazian, PhD is co-editor and founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, and a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Terrorism is wrongly framed!


by Dr. Hatem Bazian -- Nov 18, 2015


In the aftermath of Paris terrorist attacks, politicians took to the airwaves to shape public opinion and insert a heavy dose of Islamophobia and clash of civilization venom. Marc Rubio said these attacks are a “wake-up call” and urging the country to commit itself to “civilizational war against radical Islam.” Former Governor Jeb Bush wanted to outdo his understudy, Rubio, by declaring: “This is an organized effort to destroy Western civilization and we need to lead in this regard.” The moral and ethical low-grounds were claimed by none other than Senator Ted Cruz who called for altering rules of military engagement, in such a way as to, “not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life.” Defending civilization by killing civilians should be Cruz’s presidential motto!

On his part, Trump attacked Obama’s Middle East policy as weak and suggesting to an audience that he has “instincts” for terrorism in the same way that he has it for “a good location" in real estate deals. Critically, Trump emphasized his readiness to close down US mosques and urged security institutions “to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques." In France, Marie Le Pen wrote on Twitter: “For the sixth time in 2015, Islamic terrorism has hit our country,” and "French people are crying for the dead and I cry with them." 

What is clear from Republican candidates in the US and Le Pen in France, is that the extreme rightwing wasted no time in attempting to ride another terrorism tragedy into ballot boxes. The rightwing immediately shift away from the heinous crimes committed by terrorists into a debate about Syrian Refugees, immigration, the Iran deal and Muslims in Western society--this adding insult to injury of the attacks. Real questions must be asked and appropriate measures taken to address the crisis of terrorism holistically and not electioneering soundbites. 

The unequivocal point to be made first is that Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism and counterterrorism efforts. Terrorists kill Muslims so as to force them to adhere to their distorted worldview and likewise when Western states and their allies undertake military reprisals, Muslim civilians are the primary victims. While we should mourn every human life equally, however, in reality we rarely stop to mourn, humanize, and put a face and name to Muslim and Arab victims of terrorism and counterterrorism efforts. 

Terrorism is a tactic that has no religious identity. The constant proclivity of civilizational warriors on both sides to clothe the tactic in religious garb does a disservice to efforts at countering or addressing the problem of terrorism. A terrorist claim of defending Islam gets a long mileage when Cruz, Trump, and Le Pen place the “Islamic” adjective on that which is criminal and heinous. Inserting “Islamic” or “Islam” in the debate shifts away from the criminal terrorist as an individual and moves the focus instead to his/her faith and community (local and global) as the “real” problem. Precisely, this shift is the cause that makes it possible on the one hand for the terrorists to use it to claim a civilizational war on the West and the Islamophobes to push Muslims in Western societies to the margins because they don’t belong in the West.

The loudest voices are calling for another round of bombings and more intervention as if the past 15 years (more like 30 years) have not established the limitations and futility of this approach. The same neoconservatives and their allies will not concede failure and will bomb their way into Armageddon before admitting that their invasion of Iraq is the decisive factor in the ongoing chaos. In addition, no one in the US, Europe, or the Gulf will take responsibility for the Frankenstein laboratory that developed the Jihadi platoons in Afghanistan and unleashed it on the Russians in 1980s.

More intervention, bombing raids, and drones will not resolve this problem. In the absence of a real political, economic, social, and educational project in the region, terrorism becomes the instrument through which regional actors with support from global allies settle their disputes. 

If war is politics by other means then terrorism is politics by choice deployed by regional and global actors to prevent real change and alternatives from emerging. In reality, terrorism flourishes when politics runs into a dead-end wall. Look at the list: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Israel, Mali, Central African Republic, Chechnya, Pakistan, Somalia, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Ukraine all have run into a dead end wall where violence has become the only politics. 

Reducing terrorism to mere religious identity markers frames the problem wrongly and is driven by electioneering politics. It is easy to have a candlelight vigil but much more difficult to ask about the policies that brought the world to this point. Who supplied the weapons and ammunition to these groups? Why continue to sell weapons in a region soaked in blood? And who benefits from propping up and rewarding undemocratic regimes that have sent more of its young populations to Da’ish than to universities? 

Hatem Bazian, PhD is co-editor and founder of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project, and a senior lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at University of California, Berkeley.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Press Release CISSA-ACSEI - Immigrant and refugee serving agencies across Canada are ramping up contingency plans

November 5, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Immigrant and refugee serving agencies across Canada are ramping up contingency plans to respond to the largest refugee resettlement relocation movement in thirty five years.

VANCOUVER, BC - "As we welcome the appointment of Honourable John McCallum as Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, preparations have begun in refugee reception centres across Canada in response to the Government of Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement plan. We are now on stand-by putting in place significantly enhanced reception services to welcome an expedited increase of Syrian refugees – the full range of settlement supports services and expertise as we have undertaken in previous large refugee resettlement relocation movements," says Chris Friesen, Chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l’établissement des immigrants (CISSA-ACSEI).

While awaiting the timeframe and clarity on the multi-pronged approach necessary to undertake this bold refugee resettlement humanitarian goal CISSA-ACSEI member agencies are actively involved in various refugee readiness related activities across the country including such things as

- working with city staff in some parts of the country to explore the activation of emergency reception and housing procedures;

- putting in place regional refugee readiness planning sessions to develop coordinated response systems with key actors including school superintendents, health authorities, city governments, housing authorities;

- arranging an in-person meeting in Toronto Nov 28-29 with representatives of refugee reception centres and sponsorship agreement holders across Canada to assess current capacity in key areas -- long term housing needs, language class and daycare wait-lists, communication mechanisms, etc;

- issuing public calls for action and help with longer term housing needs, volunteers and free limited services from dentists, registered clinical counsellors, private sponsorship, etc;

- putting in place on going public education events on refugees and their settlement process to garnish ways that the public can be actively involved;

- setting up communication structures eg. telephone help lines, designated websites and systems that will ensure enhanced local and regional coordination on the ground as well as across Canada; and,

- beginning recruitment for a variety of additional staffing resources.

We fully understand and appreciate that Canadians want us, as a country, to do more to help respond to this growing refugee crisis through immediate resettlement. CISSA-ACSEI and its member agencies stand by to fully support and share our expertise and insights to assist Minister McCallum and his cabinet colleagues who will be critically important in addressing this possibly unprecedented mass refugee relocation movement in Canadian history. We welcome the opportunity to support future Syrian government assisted refugees. We have no doubt that with their determination, skills and resilience that Syrian refugees who for no fault of their own have had to flee their homes and will like other refugees before them contribute immensely to their new country. We, working with the Canadian public, will ensure that these refugee newcomers will have the best possible start in this country.

For further information:
Contact: Chris Friesen, Chair, CISSA-ACSEI
Phone: 778 995 3009

QUICK FACTS ABOUT CISSA-ACSEI:

The Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance- Alliance canadienne du secteur de l’établissement des immigrants (CISSA-ACSEI) is a pan-Canadian Association formed to represent the immigrant settlement sector in Canada and to bring the sector’s expertise to bear on public policies and programs for enhancing the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees.

BACKGROUNDER:

 The current government assisted refugee annual target was set by the former government at between 5,800 and 6,500 individuals. Canada is currently on track to resettle over 6,900 government assisted refugees in 2015 prior to PM designate Justin Trudeau 25,000 Syrian refugee response;

 There are thirty six (36) refugee reception centres across Canada that provide the initial transitional housing and first language resettlement services to all government assisted refugees.

 Unlike European and Middle East states and putting aside the sheer number of refugees in the region, Canada has well developed infrastructure, programs and systems to enhance the settlement and integration of refugees;

 Our member agencies have expertise and experience in providing reception and settlement services on military bases including during Operation Parasol in 1999;

 Although the refugee resettlement target was much lower, the last time Canada responded with a large refugee relocation movement within a short time period -90 days - was in the fall of 1972 when this country responded to the Asian-Ismaili refugee crisis in Uganda; and

 In 2014 refugees accounted for 9% of overall immigration to Canada in comparison to 1980 when refugees accounted for 28% of all immigration.

Caroline Dailly | Manager - Resettlement Assistance Program
530 Drake Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 2H3
T: 604-684-7498 Ext. 1611 | F: 604-684-5683