Friday, April 7, 2017

The Russian Emperor's New Clothes - Ann Coulter

by Ann Coulter

Now we know why Democrats concocted their wild Russia-Trump conspiracy theory.

The Susan Rice bombshell at least explains why the Democrats won't stop babbling about Russia. They need a false flag to justify using national intelligence agencies to snoop on the Trump team.

Every serious person who has tried to locate any evidence that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election -- even Trump-haters at the New York Review of Books and Rolling Stone magazine -- has come away empty-handed and angry. We keep getting bald assertions, unadorned with anything resembling a fact.

But for now, let's just consider the raw plausibility of the story.

The fact-less claim is that (1) the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win; and (2) They thought they could help him win by releasing purloined emails from the Democratic National Committee showing that the Democrats were conspiring against Hillary Clinton's primary opponent, Bernie Sanders.

First, why on earth would Russia prefer a loose cannon, untested president like Trump to an utterly corrupt politician, who'd already shown she could be bought? The more corrupt you think Russia is, the more Putin ought to love Hillary as president.

The Russians knew Hillary was a joke from her ridiculous "reset" button as secretary of state. They proceeded to acquire 20 percent of America's uranium production, under Hillary's careful management -- in exchange for a half-million-dollar speaking engagement for her husband and millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton Foundation.
(Politifact rates this claim FALSE! -- LIAR, LIAR PANTS ON FIRE! -- because Trump referred to 20 percent of America's "uranium," not to 20 percent of America's "uranium capacity." This is the sort of serious reporting we get from our watchdog media.)

The last thing our enemies want is unpredictability in an American president, and Trump is nothing if not unpredictable. Actually, that's only the second-to-last thing Putin wants. Russia's only export is energy: The last thing Putin wants is a president who vows to drill and frack, driving down the world oil price.

But let's say the Russians were morally offended by a woman who could be bought (by them) for a $500,000 speaking fee, and what they really longed for was a bellicose American president promising to put our interests first.

Why would anyone, least of all trained spies, think that it would help Trump to release emails showing the DNC had its thumb on the scale against Bernie Sanders?

How was that supposed to work again? I forget.

Accepting everything else the most deranged Trump-hater believes, normal people lose the thread of the conspiracy at the moment when the Russians are supposed to have said to themselves, "HEY, I KNOW -- LET'S TRY THIS!”

Even experts in American politics haven't the first idea how to affect an election. The best minds of the GOP bet $140 million of their own money that Jeb! would be the nominee. (Maybe they should have hired Putin.)

Throughout the primaries, Democrats were openly praying that the GOP would nominate Trump. Democrats had the same hope in 1980 for Ronald Reagan. In 2008, Republicans hooted at the idea of Al Franken running for the U.S. Senate.

Days before the election, America's premier journal of liberal opinion, The New York Times, gave Hillary a 91 percent chance of winning. The Princeton Election Consortium calculated her chances at 99 percent. The Huffington Post's polling aggregator put Hillary's odds at 98 percent.

But we're supposed to believe that a country practiced in spycraft was confident that it not only knew what was likely to happen in a U.S. presidential election, but also knew how to swing it? And no one in Moscow thought to ask: "What will be the predictable, certain outcome of releasing the DNC's 'Get Bernie' emails?”

The DNC leaks might have ended up being the best thing that ever happened to the Democrats. What if they had pulled a Torricelli, and forced Hillary to drop out, so they could run Joe Biden instead? Biden is a lot more popular than Hillary!

Isn't the more logical leaker someone within the DNC who'd had enough with David Brock and Debbie Wasserman Schultz steering the party into a ditch? The actual leaker probably thought: I've got to save the party! She's going to destroy us!

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as well as his associate, former British ambassador Craig Murray, both say that the DNC emails came from a whistleblower within the DNC. Murray has even identified the precise location where a DNC insider passed him the emails -- a park near American University.

Assange may be a misguided zealot, but neither his friends nor his enemies call him a liar. His image is very nearly the opposite: a self-righteousness fanatic -- not a slippery con man.

Hey, did anyone else notice that last week, very quietly, every single staffer at the DNC was fired?

The claim that Russia hacked the DNC's emails to help Trump is the sort of crackpot theory that can only be concocted after the fact.

They would prefer to say that North Korea or ISIS "hacked" our election and somehow installed Trump. But unfortunately, Trump has no business dealings with ISIS or the Pyongyang regime. He -- or people he knows -- have had some vague business dealings with Russia. So the left is stuck with its insane Russia conspiracy.

And now, just as the whole story is collapsing, their need is even more urgent, to distract from the Obama administration's use of national security intelligence-gathering agencies to spy on domestic enemies like Donald Trump. 

Ann Coulter


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump? - Lee Smith

by Lee Smith

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

One clue: The Russia story is a replay of how the former White House smeared pro-Israel activists in the lead-up to the Iran Deal

The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.


Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Times reported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

West Bank Construction Can Help Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

The new understandings overturn the language of UNSCR 2334 and the “purist” interpretation of “international legitimacy.”

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 442, April 6, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The understandings reached between the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government, and approved by the Israeli Security Cabinet (despite some protests), show that a reasonable program of settlement construction is not the root of all evil in the region. In fact, a peace deal is more likely if space is given to the mainstream settler community. The new understandings overturn the language of UNSCR 2334 and the “purist” interpretation of “international legitimacy.” Such a return to the recognition of existing realities – which was granted in the exchange of letters between Bush and Sharon in April 2004 – would help all sides come closer to a realistic compromise.

The idea that a reasonable program of settlement construction (not the free-for-all some Israelis had hoped for) might be politically beneficial sounds counterintuitive, certainly in the minds of those who see the existing settlements as an obstacle to peace. But the view that a settlement halt is required for a peace deal to be achieved is short-sighted. It proceeds forwards from the present state, whereas a morally responsible policy should flow backwards from the desired end-state.

For many around the world, any construction activity whatsoever by Israelis beyond the so-called “Green Line” of 1967 (or, to use its proper name, the Armistice Line of 1949) is neither legal nor logical. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 asserted, with the active support of the Obama administration, that such construction is a breach of international law as well as an obstacle to peace. Those who agree, and who raised their hands or abstained at the Security Council, are wrong on both counts.

It is not, however, the purpose of this Perspective to put forward the legal case for settlement building beyond saying that it can, in fact, be argued in some detail. The focus here is on the practical aspects: the accusation that settlement activity is an obstacle to peace, and the rebuttal that the opposite is true.

The “obstacle” case is straightforward. Since the existence of any settlements, let alone the significant presence they have established over the years, presumably makes it more difficult to draw a reasonable line of partition based on the 1967 lines, it makes no sense to add so much as a single covered balcony to the problem. As the saying goes, “If you are in a hole, stop digging.” The situation is already serious enough, encompassing some 700,000 Jews (if Jerusalem is included, as it usually is), and need not be compounded. The Palestinians paint a dark picture of the remaining land in the West Bank being devoured bit by bit, with little or no prospects left for a contiguous Palestinian state.

It cannot be denied that for some Israelis, the explicit purpose of further construction is indeed to make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. They say this loud and clear. But this is not the policy of the prime minister or the Defense Ministry (which holds the keys to any construction in the West Bank). While Netanyahu and the Defense Ministry are reluctant to commit irretrievably to a two-state solution (not least because if they do, it will be Israel rather than the Palestinians who will be asked to pay the full price for it), they do not wish to foreclose the option. Nor do they wish to alienate friendly neighbors in Jordan and Egypt or quarrel with a mercurial Trump administration. Hence the willingness to come to a detailed (and restrictive) understanding with the American team, including people in key positions who are holdovers from the Obama era.

The understandings reflect a realization in Washington that one of the worst miscalculations of the previous administration was the discarding of Bush’s letter to Sharon of April 14, 2004, in which he recognized the need for territorial changes that would take into consideration the existing realities on the ground. This was later compounded by the demand for a total freeze, which generated totally unrealistic Palestinian expectations, narrowed Mahmoud Abbas’s room for maneuver, and eventually collided with the Jerusalem question (which was bound to happen from day one). Obama hoped to create “daylight” between the US and Israel, so as to be better placed as an “honest broker”. In fact, he gave peace no chance, for two reasons that should now be avoided.

To begin with, lumping together all Jews who live beyond the “Green Line” – including those who repopulated the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem! – is to put the achievement and implementation of any future compromise at grave risk. It generates Palestinian hopes for a coercive outcome that would involve the uprooting of Jews from their homes on a massive scale. No Israeli government, not even one of the left, would accept such demands in full. Thus, a policy that signals that there might ultimately arise a prospect of total or near-total withdrawal feeds the fantasy, delaying the achievement of a practicable compromise.

Moreover, the legacy of a “total freeze” would make implementation of a peace deal impossible. Israeli governments have been willing in the past to make painful sacrifices. The present prime minister used such language in his speech before the two houses of Congress in May 2011 (not to be confused with his speech to Congress on Iran in March 2015). But for sacrifices to be made without igniting a potential civil war, any Israeli government – the left even more than the right – will have to isolate the radicals and “dead enders” from the mainstream settler community. For that mainstream, a sovereign national decision taken by a solid majority and based on a reasonable compromise, with provisions made for security and mutual recognition of the Palestinian and Jewish right to self-determination, might be acceptable. But the political conditions for such an acceptance will not exist in an atmosphere of severe hostility towards the existing settlements and towards all settlers as such.

Thus, thinking backwards from the end game, it is necessary for any Israeli government – not only for “political” reasons in the narrow sense (i.e., coalition calculations or internal Likud dynamics) – to stay hand-in-hand with the mainstream settler community. This entails some reasonable scope for construction within the existing footprint, as agreed to with the US administration. This is now understood by some of the founding fathers of the Oslo process, as well as by center and center-left leaders. The alternative is unthinkable. If all the settlers, as well as the Jews of East, South, and North Jerusalem, are driven to stand as one against implementation, and they are joined by millions “within” the Green Line, any attempt at implementation will collapse.

The understandings just agreed to are therefore much more conducive to the pursuit of peace – specifically, to the drawing of a future border – than the misguided “purist” line of 2334. True, it is not the free-for-all in Judea and Samaria that some Israelis had hoped for (which disregards the complex regional calculus that neither Trump nor Netanyahu can ignore). But it should be enough to lay the foundations for a diplomatic effort that would be more realistic, in its underlying premises, than the futile efforts of 2009-10 and 2013-14.

View PDF
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman -
(Ph.D. London School of Economics) Member of Faculty, Shalem Academic Center. Former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office. Held senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence for over 20 years. Also served as Israel director of the American Jewish Committee.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

"Deaths of Despair" and Left-Wing Hostility to Poor Whites' Narratives - Danusha V. Goska

by Danusha V. Goska

Where there is no vision the people perish.

In March, 2017, Anne Case, the Alexander Stewart 1886 Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and her husband, Sir Angus Deaton, a Nobel laureate, gained much media coverage for their work. They reported that death rates are rising among those American whites who are classified as "working class," "non-college educated," or simply "poor." Suicide, drug addiction, and alcoholism cause a significant enough number of these anomalous deaths that the researchers dubbed them "deaths of despair." There is no similar rise in death rates among Europeans in roughly comparable socioeconomic cohorts, or African Americans or Hispanic Americans, whose death rates are improving.

Case and Deaton are economists. They seek the cause and the solution to the problem they describe in facts and figures. I seek the cause and any potential solution to "deaths of despair" in narrative: in the stories that people tell about themselves, and the stories their opponents tell about them. Abundant examples of warring narratives are readily found in the comments sections of online discussions of Case and Deaton's work.

In The Atlantic, the most popular comment is from an anonymous "middle-aged white man." He wrote,
"We feel downtrodden, but we don't even get to use the language of the oppressed since we're universally acclaimed as the oppressor. And we don't even get to take on the role of an oppressor since we're powerless. We used to be breadwinners, but now we're not. We used to be fathers, but more and more often our kids aren't with us. We're certainly not the heads of household … We've abandoned religion, so there's no hope of a reward in the next life. We have no faith in a government who doesn't seem to care about us … the world has passed us by and doesn't need or want us anymore."
Responses to this plaintive confession are unsympathetic. Posters allege that poor whites are racist, ignorant, lazy, junk-food eating, beer-swilling opiate addicts who cause their own problems by voting Republican.

One April, 2016 Salon headline reflects the attitude: "We Must Shame Dumb Trump Fans: The White Working Class Are Not Victims."

In December, 2016, after Markos Moulitsas advised his readers to rejoice over coal miners losing health insurance, The New Republic suggested, "Liberals Should Try Not Having So Much Contempt for the Poor."

In October, 2015, In These Times asked "Why The Left Isn't Talking About Rural American Poverty." Their answer: the left assumes "that rural white voters are racist and illiberal and intolerant" and unworthy of concern.

Case and Deaton's work on "deaths of despair" among poor whites is a challenging topic for me. As my fingertips hover over a silent keyboard, my guts begin to twist and my breath becomes shallow. I am poor and white. My father mined coal and carried rich men's bags at a country club. My mother was a cleaning woman and factory worker. My grandparents, in the Old Country, were peasants. There are no princes, bishops, or admirals in my family tree. There are lots of folks who withstood Nazis, Soviets, kulturkampf, and czars. As a child visiting Slovakia I met an aunt who was gang raped by Red Army soldiers and I saw the beaten, animal look in the eyes of my loved ones when talk turned to the Nazi occupation. 

By merely mentioning left-wing prejudice against poor, white people, I risk being demonized as a flesh-and-blood embodiment of the very stereotype I am attempting to reject. I must be a KKK member. Silencing me earns the silencer points as a Politically Correct knight – not in white – oh, no, not in white – but in multicultural armor.

There isn't even a name for what I am trying to describe, no "Islamophobia," "transphobia," "looksism," or "ableism." Liberal contempt for poor whites is the hate that dare not speak its name. What do you call someone who chooses to condemn people he dislikes as "white trash," "rednecks," "Bohunks," "honkies," "crackers," "hillbillies," "greasers," "trailer trash," "Okies," or "knuckle-dragging-wife-beater-t-shirt wearing Neanderthals"? Possibly you call him "professor," "author," "congressman," "minister," or "late night comedian." Maybe you call him "Mr. President." During his successful, 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama told wealthy donors in San Francisco that poor whites are bitter xenophobes who cling to guns and religion. One blogger paraphrased Obama's message as, "Vote for me, you corncob-smokin', banjo-strokin', chicken-chokin', cousin-pokin', inbred hillbilly racist morons."

Yes, right-wingers support cutting government programs, and right-wingers can be snobs. But a right-wing person's ideological adherence to small government, free market principles, or even merely his own fist tightening around his earnings that the taxman craves to requisition is one thing. What I have felt in encounters with some-not-all leftists is something different. While the left protects some groups with speech codes and concepts like "microaggression," ugly slurs against poor whites are met with laughter – or a sense of righteousness. Not only is it okay to mock poor whites; doing so elevates the virtue status of the speaker. Why? Left-wing hostility to poor American whites is not caused by mere chance, but by real conflicts in how left-wingers and poor whites tell their respective stories.

During the mass immigration c. 1880-1924, the left passionately courted coal miners, steel smelters and garment workers. Marx wrote, "Workers of the world, unite!" but these immigrants didn't want to identify as workers. They identified as Poles, or Italians or Americans, or Catholics. And they didn't especially want to unite with other workers. In spite of robber barons' harsh treatment, the immigrants wanted to succeed at capitalism, not overturn it. Marx wrote that religion is the opiate of the masses, but these immigrants clung to their faith.

I tasted some of poor white's rejection of leftists' unrequited love back in the 1980s, when I was a fellow traveler with Manhattan's card-carrying communists. "Don't you see," a comrade instructed, "when chivalrous Polish men kiss your hand, they are silently demanding that you use those hands to wash dishes?" Being a Polish-American woman who runs a clean home is a cherished part of my self-identification. I could never adopt his ideal of a communist woman, who, apparently, is anti-dish-washing.

I repeatedly pelted my comrades with this question: Marx taught that the onset of the dictatorship of the proletariat was an historical inevitability. Communism was so appealing to the workers that humanity would eventually evolve into the workers' paradise. And yet, no one was less interested in bringing on communism than the workers themselves. Communism smashed "bourgeois" values. Free love, violence, and sedition were all morally acceptable. But in left-wing thought, there was original sin, and that sin was rejecting communism. American workers were not only uninterested in reading my comrades' free pamphlets, American workers, by ignoring Marx and living by capitalist and Christian values, were deeply immoral.

My comrades replied to my question by identifying themselves as the "vanguard," a more advanced and more enlightened version of the working class. It was the vanguard's job to bring the workers into alignment with the party. They were, in short, an intellectual and moral elite whose goal it was to educate, lead, and save American workers. Working class Americans were not yet quite smart, moral, or trustworthy enough to run their own lives. The vanguard's self-definition condemned American workers to a contrasting definition: "You reject us because you are stupid."

The left realized that poor whites were not embracing them. They moved on to more revolutionary populations. Poor whites were abandoned for blacks.

Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, himself a black man, remarks that young African Americans, as a group, perform worse than other groups academically, and yet they have among the highest self-esteem. Why? Their positive self-image "has powerful support from some of America's largest corporations." Drugs, crime, sexual conquests, and hip-hop music earn blacks "a great deal of respect from white youths." American culture has worked hard to elevate the self-esteem of African Americans, and to marginalize any critique of them. When poor whites attempt to adapt to and succeed in American capitalism, leftists dismiss them as contemptible, counter-revolutionary suckers. Patterson describes powerful whites rewarding blacks for playing the role of the outlaw. Blacks who don't play the outlaw, from Booker T. Washington to Sidney Poitier to Ben Carson, are derided as "Uncle Tom."

The left has shown that it can abandon blacks, too, and move on to even more revolutionary Muslims. In 2010, black journalist Juan Williams said that when he sees passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes, he gets nervous. NPR fired Williams for this comment. NPR's president, Vivian Schiller, publicly stated that Juan Williams, because he fears Muslims on airplanes, requires the ministrations of a psychiatrist. 

The left's self-definition as a vanguard who is leading the less enlightened masses to a Utopian future plays into another, related reason why the left has such a problem with poor whites. It's a blunt and primal urge: everyone wants someone to feel superior to. African Americans traditionally supplied that need in the US. The Civil Rights Movement rendered taboo overt displays of white-over-black. The need to feel superior to someone did not disappear. Poor white people filled the gap. Two kinds of poor white people, Poles and Southerners, were selected as epitomes of everything that was supposed to be wrong with the entire class.

UC Berkeley folklorist Alan Dundes described how Polak jokes suddenly became popular in the 1970s, shortly after the previous decade's Civil Rights advances. Dundes wrote, "Lower-class whites are not militant and do not constitute a threat to middle-class white America ... with the Polack [joke] cycle, it is the lower class, not Negroes, which provides the outlet for aggression and means of feeling superior."

Poet Lloyd van Brunt is from the south. He, too, saw the Polak joke as an expression of contempt for all poor whites.

"Unlike blacks and other racial minorities, poor and mostly rural whites have few defenders, no articulated cause ... And they have been made to feel deeply ashamed of themselves – as I was. This shame, this feeling of worthlessness, is one of the vilest and most self-destructive emotions to be endured. To be poor in a country that places a premium on wealth is in itself shameful. To be white and poor is unforgivable ... That's why I call them the Polish-joke class, the one group everybody feels free to belittle, knowing that no politically correct boundaries will be violated ... trying to hide some shameful secret, some deep and unreachable sense of worthlessness ... is the legacy of America's poor whites."

This culture-wide treatment of poor whites as inferior is so powerful poor whites resort to it themselves. As a graduate student, I worked on the Polak stereotype. One day I was seated at a staff table with other university personnel. One of my peers proudly remarked that she had received her degree at one of the best universities in the South. The following words popped out of my mouth, "'The South' and 'best university' cancel each other out."

Everyone at the table laughed, except for the Southern woman. Her face fell. I had hurt and humiliated her in public, and no one at the table had the sense to come to her defense, and to chastise me.

It took me years to recognize that in the same way that my fellow Americans had been brainwashed into unquestioningly accepting prejudice against Polaks like myself, I had been brainwashed into unquestioningly accepting prejudice against all Southerners.

Not only did I feel it was acceptable to make such a nasty comment to a peer and friend, I felt righteous doing so. I had been brainwashed to locate the sin of racism in the South. By making fun of a Southerner in public, I was avenging Emmett Till. More on this point, below.

White working class culture, or cultures, are simply different. My grandparents didn't speak English. Two of them could not read or write. I've been hungry enough that I think throwing food away is sinful. In a million, similar, small ways, I am culturally closer to other low class whites, from north or south of the Mason Dixon line, than I am to middle class people.

Rich liberals have learned, at least publicly, to interpret black people's cultural differences as "different not worse" and often "different and better." Black people are soulful, musical, good athletes. Illiterate black grandmothers are griots, warehouses of unique tribal wisdom. Illiterate white grandmothers are slobs, proof of poor whites' inferiority.

When I served in Peace Corps in Africa I saw this romanticization and exoticization of non-whites run amok. I knew a volunteer, a daughter of two Ivy League professors and a descendant of Mayflower arrivals, who hired an African man to clean her house, because, as she told me without any hesitation, she enjoyed watching his scantily clad, heavily muscled black body performing domestic chores. She was a thoroughgoing political liberal.

Recently a wealthy, liberal friend remarked to me how much she admires and envies black and Hispanic women's body attitudes. "They parade their fat in midriff-baring tops and spandex tights, even if they have cellulite." She found this beautiful. For herself and her family, this friend maintains a strict regime of diet and exercise. She keeps her husband and children slim with Fitbits, a fridge full of wilting kale, and, affixed to household surfaces, notes recording weights, exercise routines, and optimal food choices. 

This romanticization of "people of color" may have reached the point of self-parody in the opening sentence of best-selling author Emma Donoghue's 2017 book, The Lottery Plus One: "Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman. The two couples became best friends and had a baby together. When they won the lottery, they gave up their jobs and found a big old house where their family could learn and grow." This fantasy would lose its allure if it were about "cisgendered," working class whites. Who wants to read about Stan and Heather and Frank and Jane, who work at Walmart and live in Buffalo?

Having black friends earn points for rich liberals. Poor white friends earn scornful glances and inquisitorial questions: "Slumming?" Once I visited a friend's summer home. His spinster aunt was weirdly protective of her handsome young nephew. Every vocabulary word, every item of clothing, every food choice, made me feel like a witness in the dock giving high-stakes testimony to prove a case I never really understood. I had never eaten lobster; indeed, I had never been on premises where lobster was served. I tasted and it found I didn't like it. Scandalous! I went to bed early. I heard my friend's "liberal" aunt harangue him, in a voice certainly loud enough for me to overhear. "What's this all about? What's she doing here? She is not our type. She lives in New Jersey. And not the desirable part. I've never heard of anyone like us living there." I rose at dawn and left, truncating my visit. John and I had been friends for a year – but I had never met his family, nor visited his exclusive zip code. John's aunt won. We never spoke again. I've not eaten lobster since, either.

With the power of the new invention, TV, the Civil Rights Movement tarnished white supremacy. TV brought police dogs and lunch counter hooligans into American homes and changed how we assessed Jim Crow. Rejection of American racism was propelled with America's horror over Nazism's crimes committed in the name of a master race. We came to understand racism as America's original sin. We needed a scapegoat – someone to be blamed for that sin. Empowered whites chose poor whites as that scapegoat, as their trash receptacle. Numerous observers, writing in the 1970s, noted how popular culture was beginning to insist that racial prejudice was a phenomenon to be found exclusively among poor, not rich, whites. These observers also pointed out that when it came to real, measurable behavior and attitudes, poor whites were no more racist than rich ones. Sociologist Richard Hamilton's "Liberal Intelligentsia and White Backlash," which appeared in Dissent in 1972, sounds like it could have been written today. "In the world view of liberal intellectuals, those persons who share decent and humane values form a tiny minority standing on the edge of an abyss … there are so few people who share those values." Not included among those who share decent values are "the dangerous white working class." Hamilton cited a series of opinion polls proving that working class whites are not the bogeyman that the liberal intelligentsia were making them out to be.

In Archie Bunker, Norman Lear, a Hollywood producer, put race hatred in the mouth of a fat, cigar-chomping, working class slob in Queens. South of the Mason-Dixon line, somehow slavery and Jim Crow became, not a blot on rich white landowners, but on the kind of poor white sodomizers, idiot-savant banjo virtuosi, and inbred cannibals and serial killers who inhabited the Grand-Guignol fantasies of Deliverance, Prince of Tides, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Racism has been contained – in the bodies of poor whites. Like hazardous waste, we must be quarantined.

Of course there are racists among poor whites, as there are among rich ones. But liberals use a distorted, self-serving metric to differentiate between racist and non-racist. When it comes to how one talks about race, there are differences between poor whites and rich, white liberals. In this instance, poor whites are again defined, not as black people might be, as different-but-equal or even different-and-superior, but rather as different-and-sinister.

I have lived among black people all my life – my childhood next-door neighbors and playmate were black, and I live in a majority-minority city now. To me, black people are no better or worse than anyone else, and I employ no conversational kabuki to talk to or about black people. There are no Magical Negroes in my narratives.

"A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged," quipped Irving Kristol. Given statistical realities, poor whites are more likely to have been victims of black crime than rich white liberals. There is an historic, silenced narrative in New Jersey. Many Italians, Jews, and other immigrants' children, all of them over fifty years old, have recounted to me detailed narratives about their family arriving in the US, struggling to reach home ownership in Newark, Paterson or Camden, and being driven out after their white child was singled out for a beating by black bullies, or their store was burned, or their street hosted a National Guard tank. They know these details of their biographies are taboo, so they merely speak these stories, and never commit them to print. These stories are whispers, and when the tellers die, they may leave no trace.

In print, in official narratives, in college classrooms, in journalism, all of these working class Italians, Jews, and Irish are simply racists. When blacks began to move to northern cities, those city's white residents engaged in an historic "white flight" whose only motivation was white supremacy. The official story is that poor whites are ignorant racists who remade American demographics and ruined American cities with their irrational hatreds.

Economically better off and liberal whites are more likely to have had ancestors who owned slaves, killed Indians, or exploited natural resources. They may have had black servants. They are more likely to suffer from white guilt. As Shelby Steele describes, rich and liberal whites expiate their guilt by becoming the magnanimous saviors of blacks. They do this through government programs like welfare and affirmative action. They assume that all whites should feel as they do – that high taxes and government programs are the only non-racist approach.

Poor whites are much more likely than rich whites to experience any of the goods of life – home, wealth, achievement – as coming after lifetimes of hard work, delayed gratification, self-sacrifice, and stoically swallowing biblical amounts of insult, frustration, and disappointment. Poor whites may conclude that African Americans' surest route to advancement is through right-wing solutions like a work ethic rather than through left-wing solutions like government handouts. Given this, poor whites are likely to be positioned as the philosophical and economic opponents of rich white liberals' narrative of white guilt and its expiation through paternalistic government programs.

I have never seen my rich, white, liberal friend "Tom" interact with a black person. I've attended parties at Tom's house with dozens of guests, all of them white. Tom proves his virtue by adopting stilted speech codes when discussing black people. 

When I say to Tom that I think that LBJ's Great Society may have damaged the black family and developed a crippling dependency, Tom reacts as if I had said, "Let's go lynch someone." He has concluded that I am a hardcore white supremacist because I question welfare. Tom doesn't give me enough space to mention that I reached my conclusion at least partly by reading the work of black economists, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams.

Poor whites cannot tell their own life stories in a left-wing environment. If they attempt to do so, poor whites must be silenced, or, most generously, "corrected."

I attended college decades ago, shortly after the Civil Rights successes of the 1960s, and during the rise of the Polak joke, and the evil redneck Southerner as the most reliable go-to cinematic villain. Deliverance was released in 1972, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974, and The Deer Hunter, about a bunch of working class, rust belt Bohunks who are somehow single-handedly both responsible for and victims of the Vietnam War, was released in 1978.

Like a lot of poor whites, I attended a "non-selective" school. We worked as waitresses, gas station attendants, and landscapers, took a shower, and went to class. Our professors, with Ivy League degrees and attitudes, held us in open contempt. In English classes, we were assigned to read, of course, the canon: Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Hemingway. We were also assigned to read works newly appearing on college syllabi, like The House on Mango Street, about Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, and The Color Purple. Our professors divided the world into elite whites and struggling, noble "people of color." I was never assigned anything that reflected the life I or my friends lived. There were no struggling white people on our syllabi. No one like my mother who worked two minimum-wage jobs: running a noisy, stinking wick machine in a candle factory during the day and cleaning offices at night. My mother told me that she once saw a police officer kick my downed father in the stomach. This story could not be told at college; in the professors' world, only black men were ever mistreated by police. There were no white girls like me who worked full time as nurse's aides, attended school full time, and got straight A grades. No, I enjoyed "white privilege," the equivalent of a comic book hero superpower, that magically protected me from all harm and delivered into my lap whatsoever my heart desired.

My friends and I survived on contraband wordsmiths we passed around with urgency, as if they were bits of bread in a distant prison. I didn't learn of Anzia Yezierska, Jean Shepherd, Jack Kerouac, Bruce Springsteen, or Dorothy Allison from teachers; I learned about them from friends, and they kept me going. When I mentioned to my betters how much their work meant to me, I was given little lectures about why their work was not "art."

If we told our stories, our professors' stories, about rich, empowered whites and struggling, noble minorities, would crumble. We poor, white college students were not allowed either sympathy for our struggle nor pride in our successes. If we had to work menial, minimum-wage jobs, it was because that was all we deserved. If we got A grades in spite of lives that left us exhausted and tuition bills that left us eating potatoes for a week, we got those A grades because we were privileged.

The white privilege dogma receives religious defense. Even for the purposes of discussion, it cannot be questioned. Somewhere some poor white person is trying to tell a liberal that he had to defy odds and work very hard to acquire everything that he has. In response, the liberal screams, "Oh yeah? Well, slavery was much worse!"

The poor white person might respond, "I know. I've read Frederick Douglass' Narrative. I've also read John Guzlowski's Echoes of Tattered Tongues, about his Polish parents' enslavement under the Nazis. Have you? I've read about the Muslim Slave Trade that, in time, geography, and number of victims, dwarfs the Atlantic Slave Trade. Have you? I've read about my ancestors, who were serfs until 1861. Have you?"

The liberal, as sure as night follows day, will respond, "You are a beneficiary of structural racism!" "White privilege" and "structural racism" are no poor white person's superpowers; rather, they are rich liberal's kryptonite; they exist to erase poor whites' biographies. 

Leftist dogma locks poor whites into the bottom rung of a human classification system as rigid as the Darwinian hierarchy of species. Given how "privileged" poor white people's lives are, given "structural racism" that greases their chutes to pots of gold, if a white person has not succeeded, that person must be especially worthless. Right-wing people who invest in the Horatio Alger narrative do not imprison poor whites in such a rigid system. They believe that if we try hard, we can make it. Right-wing people, in my experience, unlike liberals, have no ideological need to silence poor whites' mention of their own struggles, or poor whites' pride in their accomplishments.

Finally, of course, contempt for religion supplies rich liberals with yet another a Politically Correct excuse for their contempt for poor whites. Not all liberals are wealthy or atheist, and not all poor whites are religious, but atheism is more frequently found among high-income people, and religiosity is correlated with poverty. Bill Maher has said that religion is "stupid and dangerous," and that Americans' belief in the Bible is "proof that this is a stupid country." Maher called the God of the Bible a "dick." Richard Dawkins compared religion to smallpox. Sam Harris called Christianity an "engine of stupidity." Christopher Hitchens said that people who believe in Jesus Christ would believe in anything. The Bible provides the most important, life-affirming narrative for millions of poor whites. To rich white liberals, the Bible is the opiate of the people and a seal of poor whites' stupidity. 

Rich liberal contempt for poor whites is not a victimless crime. Richard D. Kahlenberg has shown how Affirmative Action programs, meant to elevate African Americans, victimized poor whites – and disproportionately aided rich and middle class blacks, including recent African immigrants whose ancestors never experienced antebellum slavery or Jim Crow. Marie Gryphon makes the case that Affirmative Action has done more harm than good to African Americans. Princeton sociologists Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford demonstrated that "diversity" "punishes poor whites." Diversity programs are designed in such a way that poor whites and white Christians are underrepresented on elite college campuses. George J. Borjas, the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, has shown that recent immigration trends have hurt poor whites.

I'm no Nobel-Prize winning economist. I don't know if any of the above cultural trends and hostilities contribute to shortening the lives of Case and Deaton's subjects. Whoever wants to address "deaths of despair," though, must at least take these trends into consideration.

Danusha V. Goska is the author of Save Send Delete.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Europe's Out-of-Control Censorship - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media.

  • If Facebook insists on the rules of censorship, it should at the very least administer those rules in a fair way. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness.
  • Posts critical of Chancellor Merkel's migrant policies, for example, can be categorized as "Islamophobia", and are often found to violate "Community Standards", while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook's "Community Standards".
  • Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook's bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah's Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews -- despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and murder of Jews.
Germany has formally announced its draconian push towards censorship of social media. On March 14, Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas announced the plan to formalize into law the "code of conduct", which Germany pressed upon Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in late 2015, and which included a pledge to delete "hate speech" from their websites within 24 hours.

"This [draft law] sets out binding standards for the way operators of social networks deal with complaints and obliges them to delete criminal content," Justice Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement announcing the planned legislation.

"Criminal" content? Statements that are deemed illegal under German law are now being conflated with statements that are merely deemed, subjectively and on the basis of entirely random complaints from social media users -- who are free to abuse the code of conduct to their heart's content -- to be "hate speech". "Hate speech" has included critiques of Chancellor Angela Merkel's migration policies. To be in disagreement with the government's policies is now potentially "criminal". Social media companies, such as Facebook, are supposed to be the German government's informers and enforcers -- qualified by whom and in what way? -- working at the speed of light to comply with the 24-hour rule. Rule of law, clearly, as in North Korea, Iran, Russia or any banana-republic, has no place in this system.

Maas is not pleased with the efforts of the social media companies. They do not, supposedly, delete enough reported content, nor do they delete it fast enough, according to a survey by the Justice Ministry's youth protection agency. It found that YouTube was able to remove around 90% of "illegal" postings within a week, while Facebook deleted or blocked 39% of content and Twitter only 1%. The German minister, it seems, wants more efficiency.

"We need to increase the pressure on social networks... There is just as little room for criminal propaganda and slander [on social media] as on the streets," said Maas. "For this we need legal regulations." He has now presented these legal regulations in the form of a draft bill, which provides for complaints, reporting and fines.

There also appears to be no differentiation made between primary-source hate speech, as in many religious tenets, and secondary-source hate speech, reporting on the former.

According to the draft, social media platforms with more than two million users would be obliged to delete or block any criminal offenses, such as libel, slander, defamation or incitement, within 24 hours of receipt of a user complaint. The networks receive seven days for more complicated cases. Germany could fine a social media company up to 50 million euros for failing to comply with the law; it could fine a company's chief representative in Germany up to 5 million euros.

It does not stop there. Germany does not want these measures to be limited to its own jurisdiction. It wants to share them with the rest of Europe: "In the end, we also need European solutions for European-wide companies," said Maas. The European Union already has a similar code of conduct in place, so that should not be very hard to accomplish.

Facebook, for its part, has announced that by the end of 2017, the number of employees in complaints-management in Berlin will be increased to more than 700. A spokeswoman said that Facebook had clear rules against hate speech and works "hard" on removing "criminal content".

If Facebook insists on operating under rules of censorship, it should at the very least aim to administer those rules in a fair manner. Facebook, however, does not even pretend that it administers its censorship in any way that approximates fairness. Instead, Facebook's practice of its so-called "Community Standards" -- the standards to which Facebook refers when deleting or allowing content on its platform in response to user complaints -- shows evidence of entrenched bias. Posts critical of Merkel's migrant policies, for example, can get categorized as "Islamophobia", and are often found to violate "Community Standards", while incitement to actual violence and the murder of Jews and Israelis by Palestinian Arabs is generally considered as conforming to Facebook's "Community Standards".

Facebook's bias, in fact, became so pronounced that in October 2015, Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center filed an unprecedented lawsuit against Facebook on behalf of some 20,000 Israelis, to stop allowing Palestinian Arab terrorists to use the social network to incite violent attacks against Jews. The complaint sought an injunction against Facebook that required it to monitor incitement and to respond immediately to complaints about content that incites people to violence. Shurat Hadin wrote at the time:
"...Facebook is much more than a neutral internet platform or a mere 'publisher' of speech because its algorithms connect the terrorists to the inciters. Facebook actively assists the inciters to find people who are interested in acting on their hateful messages by offering friend, group and event suggestions ... Additionally, Facebook often refuses to take down the inciting pages, claiming that they do not violate its 'community standards'. Calling on people to commit crimes is not constitutionally protected speech and endangers the lives of Jews and Israelis".
In 2016, Shurat Hadin filed a separate $1 billion lawsuit on behalf of five victims of Hamas terrorism and their families. They are seeking damages against Facebook under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, for Facebook's having provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook services, which Hamas then used to carry out their terrorist activities. The US has officially designated Hamas a "Foreign Terrorist Organization" which means that it is a criminal offense to provide material support to such an organization.

Notwithstanding the lawsuits, Facebook's bias is so strong that it recently restored Palestinian Arab terrorist group Fatah's Facebook page, which incites hatred and violence against Jews -- despite having shut it down only three days earlier. In 2016 alone, this page had a minimum of 130 posts glorifying terror and the murder of Jews.

It is only a small step from imposing censorship on social media companies to asking the same of email providers, or ordering postal authorities to screen letters, magazines and brochures in the event that citizens spread supposed "xenophobia" and "fake news". There is ample precedent for such a course of action on the continent: During the Cold War, people living behind the Iron Curtain had their private letters opened by the communist authorities; those passages deemed to be out of line with the communist orthodoxy, were simply blacked out.

Who would have thought that more than a quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989), Western Europe would be reinventing itself in the image of the Soviet Union?
Judith Bergman is a writer, columnist, lawyer and political analyst.

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.