Thursday, May 22, 2014

American Morning, American Night


A beautiful morning dawned on America,

Some Americans awoke early to have coffee and prepare for work to begin,

While the Senators being interviewed on the morning news gave lip service with lined pockets,

Young men and women were trampled under local court dockets,

While others slept late as routine,

And the House Representatives on the morning news gave lip service with lined pockets,

As corporate capitalists found loopholes in federal court dockets,

A score of young men lay lifeless in city morgues across the nation,

From the previous night’s senseless violence which has become basic recreation,

Crying families with no nation, no flag, no moment of silence,

History, capital and religion abolished human to human reliance,

Individualism and apathy reigned supreme as the sun peaked and declined,

And the so-called entertainment industry mass produced the opposite of what civilized behavior defined,

And made it glamorized in the mentality of American youth,

Which caused birth to what reality is under an uneducated roof,

Night fell on America,

And Americans slept deeply, but never remembered what they dreamed.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bleeding Kansas

The violence that erupted in the Kansas Territory after 1853 centered on pro-slavery components clashing with free soil/anti-slavery abolitionists, and the levels of violence reached such high enough level s to earn the territory the national nickname of ‘Bleeding Kansas’. The conflicting forces in Kansas reflected the national North-South conflict that would result in succession and civil war, only the situation in ‘bleeding Kansas’ was packaged into a smaller territorial area with an uncertain political future which resulted in much more unregulated and explosive results. The Kansas-Nebraska bill proposed by Stephen Douglas and passed by Congress in 1854, dissolving the Missouri Compromise of 1850, was the ignition point for contesting future control of Kansas between anti- and pro-slavery factions.

Mass immigration into the Kansas Territory aimed to impact the 1855 territorial legislative voting, the first for the territory, which would ultimately decide whether Kansas, upon becoming a state, would become free soil or slave state [1]. Missouri Senator Atchison led armed “ruffians” into the territory to set-up camp, strong arm election polls and cast pro-slavery votes which “yielded a heavy majority of pro-slavery men in the new legislature” [2].

Free soil supporters, denouncing the elections as a fraud after new slave codes were implemented by the elected legislation, quickly created their own territorial government with Lawrence as the capitol. The newly erected free soil antagonist government quickly began a scramble to create a state constitution and apply for entry into the Union. The pro-slavery territorial government was rushing the exact same plan, only with pro-slavery implications. In October of 1855, With “Northerners and Southerners in Kansas pledging allegiance to rival governments” [3], both pro-slavery and free soil governments attempted to hold elections for a congressional representative.

The area of Lawrence was one of the heaviest areas of violence during the years leading into the Civil War. The capital of the free soil territorial government was even “denounced as an outlaw regime” [4] by democratic president Franklin Pierce. As the national political conflict worsened between 1856 and 1859, violence increased in Kansas. In May 1856, Lawrence was attacked by armed pro-slavery Missouri mobs that burned buildings, printing presses and the home of the governor. Days afterwards, abolitionist John Brown and his sons murdered five pro-slavery settlers in the area of Pottawatomie Creek [5]. The slogan of ‘bloody Kansas’ quickly became a tool of the Republican Party leading into the presidential election of 1856 [6].

Buchanan and the Democrats managed to win the presidential election of 1856. Entering into his only term as president, Buchanan endorsed a pro-slavery constitution for Kansas and supported early statehood for the territory in order to secure it once and for all as a slave state. This caused a political politically fatal fallout with fellow democrat Stephen Douglas of Illinois, as Douglas split from and challenged Buchanan with demands for a popular vote in Kansas, which ultimately fragmented the entire Democratic Party and allowed the newly created Republicans to win the presidency in 1860, setting the stage for succession and war [7].

[1] Michael Holt. 2004. The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang: New York, 2004), 116.

[2] Michael Holt. 2004. The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang: New York, 2004), 116.

[3] Michael Holt. 2004. The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang: New York, 2004), 117.

[4] Michael Holt. 2004. The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang: New York, 2004), 117.

[5] Michael Holt. 2004. The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang: New York, 2004), 117.

[6] Michael Holt. 2004. The Fate of Their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang: New York, 2004), 117.

[7] Miller Center. American President: A Reference Resource. University of Virginia. Accessed on February 13, 2014. http://millercenter.org/president/buchanan/essays/biography/1

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review on Richard Hildreth's 'The White Slave': Slavery in the U.S.

The 'White Slave' is not well known within the modern American main stream, and as far as I know is not circulated heavily within academic circles.  It is certainly a highly recommended read for those interested in American history and domestic American slavery.  The author, Richard Hildreth, was an American historian, white, most known in academic circles for his six volume 'History of the United States', which I am anxious to now engage.  The 'White Slave', originally written in 1834 and final edition released in 1852, engages the political, economic, social, and moral components within the wretched environment of slavery in the United States at a level that most abolitionist pieces from the 19th century fail to reach.  During the first portion of the reading, I expected the plot to mimic  Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', thus explaining the book's lack of circulation, but the storyline expands and stretches across geographic locations, historical events, economic and political arenas, and decades.  The story itself holds traces of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Nat Turner, Count of Monte Cristo, and Olaudah Equiano.  Some of the most interesting areas covered in the book are:
1.  The topic of amalgamation and the mixing of the races through slave master and slave relations. The main character is a result of this practice. The theme of the slave master making advancements, raping, or entering into sexual relations with his female slaves has been covered in multiple slave narratives, most notably the narrative of Harriet Jacobs, and historian accounts, and this is a reoccurring theme in this book.
2.  The depiction of overseers, especially their economic backgrounds and the fact that many immigrated from the North, and the ignorance and poverty levels of poor whites is noted.  The differences in owners, overseers, and plantation methods are worth note, and the rapid degeneration of soil, and at times failure of cash crops, due mainly to improper irrigation techniques aimed at maximized profiting is very importantly covered in connection to the consolidation of regional wealth and the dilapidation, abandonment, and rebuilding of certain plantations.
3.  The North-South trade, as it was called, in slaves, and especially how the Fugitive Slave Acts impacted the economics of that 'business' trade is covered.  The North-South trade, not only in human slaves, had heavy impacts on how Congressional voting went for national laws such as the Fugitive Slave Acts.  Capital will always influence legislation.
4.  The political connection between the North and South.  In order for a northern candidate to get southern backing (whether in contributions or votes), it was important for that candidate to appease the Southern capital interests, which rested on slavery.
5.  The topic of runaway slaves were covered more in-depth here than in most slave narratives.  The book indicates not only a trade network between slaves of various regional plantations, but indicates that there were bands of escaped slaves that seemed to subsist over long durations of time by engaging in trade and raids.  The topics of rewards for escaped slaves and large slave hunting parties, and the capture (or murder) of escaped slaves were also brought to the reader's attention.
6.  The frenzy caused by the emergence of abolitionists is a very interesting area because it was not simply contained to the slave states (probably due to economic and political links between the so-called Northern free states and the southern slave states).  The author does an interesting job of presenting images of book burnings (considered propaganda inciting slave rebellion) and vigilance committees that would make drunken mob arrests, inquisition trails, and hangings (of slaves and suspicious whites).  It appears that the white American public was very fearful of slave uprisings during the last decades of slavery, and more notably that these fears were encouraged by pro-slavery forces in order to abate the spreading of abolitionism.
7.  The author did a solid job of covering the laws pertaining to slavery, inheritance, and restrictions on emancipation of slaves in some states, especially in the last portion of the book.  What is even more important to note with these historical laws, especially those restricting manumission, is the category of children born of a free white man and a slave mother (again, a constant theme in the book).
8.  The slave auction, both pre-event and event, is depicted on a few occasions within this book.  It is disturbing to read the description of the speculators examining slaves, especially female slaves, and the beseeching fathers and mothers pleading for possible buyers to keep a family together.

Overall, this is a recommended read for the American historian.  The only issue I had with the overall storyline was that it was somewhat over-romanticized and the element of romance kept pure, which realistically I found rather impossible under the historical horrors of American society during the epoch of slavery.  I would have to assume that the author purposely orchestrated this romantic characteristic to his storyline in order to draw the unconscious reader to the harsh images of slavery and the arguments against that institution during a time when the abolitionist movement was moving toward its height. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review on John Stuart Mill "On Liberty": Reflections on Current American Society


The Work by John Stuart Mill ‘On Liberty’ is more of a philosophical look at the boundaries of individual liberty and government responsibilities, and where the two areas meet and the injuries caused in those meetings.  The writing, obviously contemplated from a European view, was published during the industrial revolution and American Civil War timeframe and utilizes, in retrospective contemplation, the American and French revolutions as examples in early in the book along with several other historical references that will gain the interest of the modern historian.  Mill is able to present some great arguments without forcing his views, but the main variable that emerged from this read was the characteristics, capabilities, and culture (mentally, intellectually, morally, and economically) of the people under a government.  The self-reflection of this question, especially in the modern United States, would seem to determine the actual boundaries (if indeed those boundaries could ever be determined or agreed upon).

The following notes are brief looks at noteworthy areas of the writing ‘On Liberty’ by John Stewart Mill:

1. The first is the concept of the tyranny of the majority.  Mill states that “the tyranny of the majority is now generally included among the evils against which society requires to be on its guard”.  This statement and concept instantly makes me reflect on the easily swayed mass population in the U.S. as a population that has become, especially with the bloom in technology of the past three decades, diverted from vital political issues to forms of shallow entertainment sources such as movies, television, music, and even excessive sports.  I strongly believe that the technology in modern times, such as television channels that heavily rotate images and news reports, can create a strong influence, many times with social and political implications, on a mass population which can create the atmosphere of the tyranny of the majority.  Examples of this might range from heavily rotated news reports on Muslim terrorists, heavily rotated news reports that Iran wants nuclear weapons, or religious indoctrination that teaches Christians that Israel was promised to the Jewish people and that all Palestinians are terrorists even though it is quite irrational to base foreign policy on authorless writings.   In fact, the Israeli lobby organization, the politically powerful AIPAC, is primarily successful in procuring billions of dollars (of American tax payer money) each year for their foreign government, despite American debt, due to such influence as is described in the concept of ‘tyranny of the majority’.

“The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded.” - Mill

2.  “A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions, but by his inactions.” – Mill

“To make any one answerable for doing evil to others, is the rule; to make him answerable for not preventing evil, is, comparatively speaking, the exception.” – Mill

This brings to the forefront a serious philosophical question.  An example of this question, which we see in American news reports quite frequently, would be the unconscious woman who has consumed too much alcohol and is raped.  If the rape is observed by a friend of the rapist and the friend does not stop the victimization, should the state hold that observer accountable for not preventing, or for not attempting to stop, the victimization?  There are many other modern examples that could also be used for this question on responsibility and consequences for both the state and the individual.

3.  In the opening of chapter two, Mill mentions the freedom of the press.  The question on freedom of the press, especially in modern capitalist societies, comes when the majority of press outlets, whether in television or print or internet, are controlled by capital holders sharing the same political, economic, ethnic or religious interests.  What is the mainstream media?  At this point in the U.S., media seems to have become a strong method of influence on the mass population.  The lesser educational and intellectual development of a population, the more vulnerable to mass produced inorganic popular culture and media influence the population in question will be.

4.  “To discover to the world something which deeply concerns it, and of which it was previously ignorant; to prove to it that it had been mistaken on some vital point of temporal or spiritual interest, is as important a service as a human being can render to his fellow-creatures.” -Mill

Mill spends much time discussing grass roots change against the state, whether it was later discovered as positive or negative, and uses the example of the origins of Christianity and the early persecution of the Roman Empire against Christians before adopting Christianity as the legal religion of the Roman Empire several centuries after Saul ‘s creation of Pauline Christianity.  A similar state persecution can be seen in recent American history with race segregation.  When leaders such as Malcolm X and Dr. King led wide scale social and political campaigns for social change in the U.S., the state sponsored persecutions and resistance were strong handed and violent.  This example proves that state policy can be quite skewed and might never been altered for better or worse without the determined soul to challenge it.

“Those whose opinions go by the name of public opinion, are not always the same sort of public; in American they are the whole white population; in England, chiefly the middle class.  But they are always a mass.” – Mill

I would certainly say that in 2013, the U.S. has generally converted to the middle class model of England in 1859 although the American population is now extremely polarized due to the history of slavery, racial segregation, immigration, and vulture capitalism (both domestic and international).  Of course, the ultra-elite are able to conduct business and control representative democracy in any manner that increases profits as long as the mass population is polarized, divided, at each other’s throats.

“It will be said, that we do not now put to death the introducers of new opinions; we are not like our fathers who slew the prophets…” – Mill

No, prophets are no longer slain, but if those modern reformers obtain too much public support and following among the masses, and those reformers are teaching about economic injustices, certain foreign policy issues, or truthful history…you can expect them to be soiled by lies or slandered through the media over any error they may have made in their personal history.  I had a fool argue with me the other day when I brought up the Dr. King speech on Vietnam.  The fool was so hinged on accusations that Dr. King had committed adultery, that he obviously didn’t hear one word of the Vietnam speech.

“There have been, and may again be, great individual thinkers, in a general atmosphere of mental slavery” - Mill

5.    Mill makes an interesting observation on how religion is utilized as a control mechanism on the masses, especially Christianity:

“It holds out the hope of heaven and the threat of hell, as the appointed and appropriate motives to a virtuous life” – Mill

“It is essentially a doctrine of passive obedience; it inculcates submission to all authorities found established” – Mill

6.  “The spirit of improvement is not always a spirit of liberty, for it may aim at forcing improvements on an unwilling people.” – Mill

This is certainly true and from a modern American perspective, we can easily pull up two correlating examples.  One example appears in the name of free trade which allows American corporations to manufacture (and create jobs) in foreign states with lower wage requirements instead of in the U.S. where many people are unemployed or reliant on government assistance.  Why have not Congress and the American voters demanded, and passed legislation, enforcing heavy taxes to be placed on these American corporations that manufacture overseas with the hands of lower foreign wage workers (and easier labor laws) in order to sell the finished product back to the American people at maximum profit margin?  Would this infringe on personal liberty, improve the debt riddled American economy and unemployment of the U.S., or would it damage the individual rights of the private sector entity that assists in the election and reelection of congressional seats?  On the other side of the spectrum, we can consider the high amount of citizens on government assistance programs in the U.S.  It is evident that there is massive fraud and abuse within the U.S. assistance programs, but would tightening the reigns and requirements for this system, such as drug testing, be an infringement of individual rights?  Or is this a necessity for downsizing spending?  Many proponents of government assistance would certainly bring to attention that massive annual budget allotment for the Department of the Defense, which buys heavily from American corporations which manufactures overseas, and the billions of dollars in (American tax dollar) foreign aid being fleeced out of the American state each fiscal year.

7.  “How (it may be asked) can any part of the conduct of a member of society be a matter of indifference to the other members?  No person is an entirely isolated being” – Mill

This question is currently a major issue in the United States.  Drug dealing in lower economic areas is the first example that springs to mind.  How is it that the people of a community that is being slowly poisoned and destroyed by drugs, violence, and high incarceration rates will often turn the other way and ignore the issue?  Fear?  If the drugs are being heavily imported into those communities by shadowy devils, as is often the accusation, then ceasing the supply pipeline should be of even more importance.  And when I make the comment about the importation of drugs into a community, I can quickly remind the reader of the Iran-Contra CIA-crack revelation during the 1980s.  At any rate, when the city of Chicago has 500 murders in a single, and those 500 murders are mainly concentrated in specific demographic areas, the actions of these so-called individuals impact the entire collective (from property values to lack of future capital investment (no jobs) to lower tax revenues to be circulated back into schools and libraries for the future generation).  The following statement is made by Mill and presents the axiom that something negative cannot continue forever: “There must be some length of time and amount of experience, after which a moral or prudential truth may be regarded as establish; and it is merely desired to prevent generation and generation from falling over the same precipice which has been fatal to their predecessors.”

A strong beginning point would be to educate the lower economic youth concerning the popular and glamorous false idols that are mass produced and heavily rotated in music video and hip hop culture.  Not a flimsy and empty “It’s a bad thing” education, but a socio-economic education on the destruction of community in which these influences create (financed by wealthy entertainment industry xenophobes) and the path of self-destruction that gangsters actually result in.  Teaching lower economic men and women about the private prison system is paramount.

“The existing generation is master of the training and the entire circumstances of the generation to come” – Mill

8.  In the final essay of the book, Mill speaks on various areas concerning the responsibilities of the state to better conditions and whether these areas infringe on personal liberty despite the positive intention of the state mechanism. 

One area he discusses is “how far liberty may legitimately be invaded for the prevention of crime”.  A historical example of this debate could be the way Americans of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and treated after Pearl Harbor, or how Muslim women are treated at airports today.  Another example would be when a person on social media makes a joke that authorities consider a threat and local law enforcement, in great numbers, breaks down their front door and enters their home. 

Closing the essay, Mill mentions women’s rights well ahead of the suffrage movement in the U.S. and makes several interesting comments regarding education and testing.  Viewing American education in somewhat of a dilapidated state, I found the following question put forth by Mill an interesting one:

“Is it almost a self-evident axiom, that the State should require and compel the education, up to a certain standard of every human being who is born its citizen?”

I find this topic troubling due to the amount of American parents that enroll their children into kindergarten and expect the child or children to emerge from high school completely educated without ever personally engaging in the educational process on the home front as a responsible parent should do.

“The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it” - Mill 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Women in Islam: Polygamy and Hijab


The religion of Islam is often covered in a negative manner in the media within western capitalist nation-states.  These consolidated Zionist owned networks in the west continuously spread negative influences and slanted reports which contain many various criticisms and accusations which paint the religion as negative.  Two heavily covered areas of criticism are based on accusations of gender inequality and the repression of women.  As Americans, we should ensure that when weighing the topic of Muslim women and the early history of women in Islam, it is very important to understand, and respect, cultural relativity during the consideration process.  Two of the most popular areas for western criticism toward Islam are Islamic polygamy and the Hijab.  It is important to remember that these cultural norms are not exclusive to Islam, and have been shaped by geographic norms and values that pre-date Islam altogether.

Islamic Polygamy

                The majority of citizens in the West view Islamic polygamy as based merely on the assumption that women do not have equal rights in Islamic societies and that this polygamy is based merely on physical desire, harems and gender slavery.  In reality, the original concept of Islamic Polygamy was a result from war and conflict, and the death of many Muslim men, during the early origins of Islam as “Muslims experienced many battles against the pagans of Arabia, Jews, Christians and other tribes. As a result, Muslims had a major loss in number of men, which left behind it a number of widows, mothers and orphan females in need” [1].  With this being understood as collective welfare, the instruction contained in Quran verse 4:3 becomes much clearer: “And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course”[2].  Many Muslim women, depending on geographic cultural differences do not question the norm of polygamy, nor do they see it as cultural or social repression.  This is a solid example of cultural relativity.  In addition, Polygamy is not exclusive to the religion of Islam as it can be traced back and found in the Torah and Old Testament, along with several pagan religions that pre-date Abrahamic monotheism.

                The Quran Surah entitled “the Women” is an amazing piece of scripture dealing with legislation considering marriage contracts and male-female relations in early Islamic society.  Legislative topics covered in this Surah range from divorce and property ownership to death inheritances and marriage dowries.  While origins of Islamic polygamy are easily identified due to early conflict and a depopulation of Muslim providers, Quran passages on the topic of desertion such as “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them” make it very difficult to call the Quran a beacon of gender equality[3].  At the same time, passages of similar repressive nature towards women can be found in the scriptures of all three Abrahamic religions.

The Hijab

                One element that gets an excessive amount of negative press and criticism in western societies is the hijab and the requirement for Islamic women to cover their heads and bodies.  This protective practice appears in the Quran as revealed to Muhammad: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful”[4].  Looking closely at the revelation itself, it appears that the reference about the covered female ‘being known’ is a reference to her appreciation as a human being instead of a beautiful physical object.  A second reference on the evolution of Hijab is found within the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari: “The wives of the Prophet used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqi` at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. `Umar used to say to the Prophet "Let your wives be veiled," but Allah's Apostle did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam`a the wife of the Prophet went out at `Isha' time and she was a tall lady. `Umar addressed her and said, "I have recognized you, O Sauda." He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of "Al-Hijab"[5].       

Here, once again, cultural relativity must be applied.  Take a moment to consider how Muslim women living in the east, and also Muslims in the west, might view western teenage girls, especially in the United States, who run around in public places with their bodies barely covered.  Again, when considering the Islamic hijab, the covering of a female is not exclusive to Islam and “has a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Catholic nuns engage in the practice, of course, and there are several references to the practice in both the Old and New Testaments”[6].  As we noted in the Quran, Surah 33:59, the basic ideology behind females covering their heads and bodies is to provide them protection from the eyes and actions of the predator and to prevent physical desires that could disrupt collective society, prayer and individual morals, and overall submission to God.  The same motive is not the case in the early Christian scripture of Corinthians 11:3-9 where gender inequality is openly present: “[3] But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.  [4] Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.  [5] But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.  [6] For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.  [7] For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.  [8] For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.  [9] Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man”[7]. 

 

Notes

1. Nouchkioui, Fatima, The History of Head Covering and Polygamy Practice In Islam, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Accessed on May 19, 2013 from http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/2011/2/11.02.03.x.html

2. Quran 4:3

3. Quran 4:34

4. Quran 33:59

5. Hadith Sahih Bukari 1.148

6. Emory University, Department of Post-Colonial Studies, accessed on May 19, 2013 from http://postcolonialstudies.emory.edu/women-islam-and-hijab/

7. Corinthians 11:3-9

SUPPLEMENTAL

The First Four Caliphates


As seems to be the case with all man-made religions or reform movements throughout history, when a mass reform has occurred in history under the name of religion it has only been a matter of time before the original concepts and efforts of reform are reversed into regulated power and transformed into a political machine that often resembles the organization, influences or institutions that the original movement once strived to change.  This was the case with the religion of Judaism and the religion of Christianity, and was also the situation surrounding Islam.  Students of history can easily see the political regulation of the religion of Islam, as it expanded and became transformed into an Islamic state, beginning shortly after Muhammad’s death.  The first four caliphates were short lived, the Islamic empire greatly expanded, and an increasing political splintering and enhancement of regulated policies can be noted during this period early Caliphate period.

Abu Bakr: 632-634 CE

The political split in Islam which would emerge in 656 CE, especially regarding Muslims under the emerging Islamic state structure, was evident from the beginning between the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.  This split among early Muslims, which is still evident today, can be seen after the death of Muhammad as “the majority accepted Abu Bakr as the first caliph, but a small group believed that Muhammad wanted his son-in-law, Ali, to lead the Muslims”[1].  From the beginning, a political man-made conflict was in place to poison any future collective empire: The Shi’ites believed that Muhammad had named his son-in-law, Ali, to become his successor, while Sunni Muslims supported Abu Bakr. 

Abu Bakr only held the title of Caliph, or deputy of God, for two years and his largest challenges came in the form of the Bedouins and further Islamic expansion past Mecca and Medina.  The Bedouins had adopted Islam under Muhammad, but quickly renounced the religion after Muhammad’s death and led a troublesome revolt entitled in the history books as the Ridda, which was crushed in 633 CE.  With the Ridda broken and the vast majority of Arabia under Islamic rule, Bakr turned focuses on the further expansion of Islamic rule.

Umar: 634-644 CE

Before his death, Abu Bakr appointed Umar, another of the prophet’s father-in-laws, as his successor as caliph.  The appointment was not physically challenged by Sunni Muslims, but at the same time the appointment further deepened internal Sunni-Shi’ite divide.  Umar certainly carried on the Islamic offensive for territorial gains for the expanding Islamic state with conquests “in Syria, which he took from the Byzantines in 635. Damascus, an important city in Syria, fell to the Muslim forces that year, and Jerusalem - considered by Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike to be a holy city - followed in 637”[2].  Under Umar’s decade-long rule and the Islamic expansion of territory, which now spanned from Persia to Egypt, new tax systems, the Kharaj and Jizya, were introduced throughout the early empire.  While the Kharaj was a tax on agricultural lands, the Jizya was a tax aimed towards all non-Muslim subjects, subjects who enjoyed rights in exchange for taxation under the early Islamic empire, in order to fund the expanding empire.  Under Umar’s caliphate, Islamic expansion met fierce resistance in Persia.  In 644 CE, Umar was assassinated by a Persian Christian.  It would be a preview of future resistance.

Uthman: 644-656 CE

With the unforeseen murder of Umar, the third Caliph, Uthman, was selected by a council of elders.  As early forms of political imperialism can be seen in the Islamic expansion under Umar, the increase of political elements within the Islamic state continued under Uthman.  The expansion of the empire continued under Uthman, but not without internal strife and discontent.  Uthman was heavily criticized for the shrinking treasury of the empire, and also for attempting to consolidate the various scriptures of Quran lessons into one official state sanctioned Quran, which created strong suspicions of tampering with original passages in those scriptures.  In 656 CE, in similar fashion to Umar’s fate, Uthman was assassinated in his home by Egyptian rebels.   With the event of his murder, the caliphate passed to Ali, whom Shi’ite Muslims had believed was the rightful successor of Muhammad from the beginning, and instantly the Islamic world was ripped into internal strife.

Ali: 656-661 CE

The self-proclaimed caliphate of Ali was challenged from the beginning by Uthman’s cousin Mu'awiya, along with other candidates, which resulted in bloody civil battles being fought during the years 656 CE and 658 CE.   Mu'awiya proclaimed a separate caliphate from Jerusalem and received support from Egyptian and Syrian forces.  When Ali was murdered in 661 CE, Mu'awiya succeeded in establishing the first Islamic dynasty under the name of his family: the Umayyad Dynasty.

Conclusion

The short history of the first four caliphates was not lengthy in years, but the gradual political expansion and the constant human desire for more and more power are quite evident in this history.  The many basic lessons of reform that the prophet Muhammad once taught had been conveniently used and twisted into an organized religion woven into an expanding state empire resembling the same issues that Muhammad spoke against.  The same political evolutions can be seen with the history of the Hebrew tribes after the establishment and success of the Kingdom of Judah, and with the early Christian church after it was adopted by the Roman Empire, and even more so during the middle ages with the emergence of the Holy Roman Empire.   This is obviously the nature of man.

 

Notes

1. University of Calgary.  The Islamic World to 1600, The Caliphate and the First Islamic Dynasty, Abu Bakr, Sunni vs Shi’a, 1998.  Accessed on May 26, 2013 from http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/islam/caliphate/

2. University of Calgary.  The Islamic World to 1600, The Caliphate and the First Islamic Dynasty, Umar, 1998.  Accessed on May 26, 2013 from http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/islam/caliphate/

 



 

Monday, January 23, 2012

U.S Foreign Aid Support to Israel - A Sociological Analysis

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel:

A Sociological Analysis

The current event chosen for sociological analysis is the annual U.S. foreign aid program to the nation-state of Israel. This particular current event has not only been occurring for the last three months, it has been occurring annually for over 60 years. In a recent radio interview on NPR radio, Republican Congressman Ron Paul (2011) from Texas, a GOP presidential hopeful for 2012, provided his political position that all foreign aid should be cut and that the top annual U.S. foreign aid recipient, Israel, has become too economically and militarily dependant on the United States while the United States is in poor position to continue supporting other nation-states. Foreign analyst specialist Jeremy Sharp, in his Congressional Research Service report stating U.S foreign aid to Israel statistics (2010), illustrate the average U.S. foreign aid at over 3 billion dollars a year to Israel since 1947. The argument to cease foreign aid to Israel certainly has merit considering the facts that the United States is over 14 trillion dollars under debt and making domestic cuts across the board on education, law enforcement, medical care, and many other vital domestic areas while continuously battling high unemployment, poverty, dilapidating education and an epidemic of crime. Another troubling factor to consider when looking at irrationally high annual U.S foreign aid amounts to Israel are accusations of Israel’s human rights record against the Palestinians. Actions in Bahrain, Iran, Egypt and Syria have all received verbal and economic condemnation by the United States, while Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people has went reprimand for decades. While mass media reports and uneducated assumptions view Israel as being victimized by the Palestinians, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (2007) reported that for every Israeli killed there were twenty-five Palestinians killed in 2007. So why is the American government borrowing money to provide Israel U.S foreign aid and why is the American population quiet on the subject?

Before we can provide a sociological analysis of why, and how, this irrational foreign policy is maintained in the United States, we must look at the facts of the origins of modern Israel, and U.S.-Israeli foreign policy in order to understand the insanity of such a relationship from an American perspective and sociological reasoning for why this political phenomenon is able to exist at all.

The 1947 Creation of the Nation-State of Israel

On the modern international stage, the nation-state of Israel is a phenomenon itself because it is a Jewish state. The Zionist political movement worked for many decades to buy up land and set the political stage for the creation of Israel, a Jewish state, during the last decades of Ottoman rule over Palestine leading into World War I and during the British rule of Palestine emerging out of World War I. It is with the creation of the Jewish state of Israel that we will look at our first two sociological terms, race and ethnicity, and how they apply to the Jewish people. The Henslin text (2010) defines race as a people sharing physical qualities and ethnicity as sharing a cultural bond. The Jewish people seem to possess the attributes that allow them to be considered both, if we go by the textbook. The modern Jewish people certainly are considered a race by most Americans, even though there are actually two races within the Jewish people, those of the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic. The Jewish people are also an ethnicity, if we go by the textbook definition, due to their shared religion of Judaism and their long history of Diaspora, migrations, and direct and indirect population transfers. While it is difficult to gauge unbiased scholastic evidence of an indirect population transfer in the case of the Jewish people, Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union could be argued as a case. An example of direct population transfer can easily be seen in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition which peaked during the 16th century when Jewish people were expelled from Spain. The long stemming problem in the region of modern Israel, or as many people still refer to it as Palestine, stems from the withdraw of Britain and the establishment of the modern national state of Israel by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 in 1947 directly on top of a native Palestinian population that had lived and farmed on that land for centuries. The Palestinians were pushed into refugees like Gaza after the creation of Israel, and the 1967 expansion of Israel, and in recent years have watched all humanitarian supply routes sporadically cut off as Israel ensured that the Gaza borders were kept sealed tight on the weak pretense that the Palestinians were aggressors. Searching through the sociology terms in the Henslin text (2010), I was unable to find a clear definition or description to categorize the creation of the nation-state of Israel and the displacement of the Palestinian people. Colonization is not what occurred. There was no assimilation. The most industrialized nations in the world cast their vote in the United Nations General Assembly to create a new sovereign nation-state; a nation-state based on race and ethnicity, and then partitioned the land away from the native Palestinian people of a different race and ethnicity, pushing them into refugee camps. The closest term I can use would be apartheid, which is defined in the Henslin text (2010) as the separation of racial-ethnic groups.

The U.S Position on Israel and Why the Population Supports It

How is it that U.S Administrations, whether democrat or republican, place our nation in the position to blindly support Israel, regardless of accusations of human rights violations similar to the condemnations that we issue Iran, Syria or Bahrain? How is it that we find our U.S administrations, one after the other, standing on the international stage hypocritically claiming the ability to broker either a peace deal between the Palestinians and the nation-state of Israel or a two state settlement when at the same time our Congress ensures every year that U.S foreign aid and military aid to Israel is in the billions? How is it that Congress is allowed to funnel billions of American dollars to Israel in foreign aid every year while the United States is in debt over 14 trillion dollars and required to cut their own American children’s educational resources, law enforcement from their crime plagued streets and the nation continues to struggle with unemployment and poverty? Outside of apathy and ignorance on behalf of a majority of Americans, there are two major factors in American society that allow this to develop and to currently continue. The first factor is lobbyist pressure on Congressional votes. The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobbyist organizations in Washington, D.C. It consists of many powerful Jewish people, with help from Christians, to lobby every congressional vote, especially on foreign aid, based on a world networking of Jewish ethnicity and race on behalf of the Jewish state of Israel. Israel plays on the Jewish identities of Jewish Americans to support Israel as a Jewish nation-state and in some cases this pressure is so great that an American citizen, or one of dual citizenship, will place the priorities of the foreign nation-state of Israel above those of the United States. While the Jewish people of the United States are a small but politically powerful group, I am unable to term them a minority group according to the Henslin text definition. Henslin (2010) defines a minority group as people singled out for unfair treatment. While Jewish people have certainly been singled out in history and certainly use the history of the holocaust to continue to appear as a minority group, they actually possess very high status in the United States and hold great amounts of political, banking and entertainment influence for such a small overall population percentage. There are ignorant people in America that simply hate Jewish people for racist reasons, but these examples are often sensationalized in the mass media. So how does the Jewish Lobby influence a majority of gentile Congressmen to vote in favor of sending the foreign nation-state of Israel billions of American dollars every year even in the face of a 14 trillion dollar deficit? One answer would be individual greed, political ambition and deal making on behalf of the individual congress representative. That is the easy one to see and has little to do with sociology. Not even Marx or Weber could have foreseen the political treachery that representative democracy would open up on society. The second answer is, as Henslin (2010) reported Karl Marx coining, the opium of the people, religion (531). A large majority of Congressmen and Congresswomen are Christian and it is taught early on in the Christian belief system based off writings in the ancient text of the Bible that the land currently home to the nation-state of Israel was promised to the Jewish people. While it is should be politically unjustified in modern world society to displace a people and create a new nation-state based off an ancient religious writing, it is apparently perfectly legal by United Nation standards. When questioning annual foreign aid to Israel, it is difficult to gauge the Congress to decipher which Congressional votes are swayed by political ambition or Christian beliefs toward Israel when the pro-Israeli lobby comes knocking for votes. What is not difficult to decipher is the way a majority of normal working class Americans view the subject. Shockingly, Americans do not seem to mind that Congress is handing billions of dollars to Israel every year while American children have their educational resources cut at the state levels. How can this possibly be? The dominant religion in the United States is Christianity and regardless of the branch, Christians are indoctrinated early on to consider Israel sacred. In the Henslin text (2010), Durkheim used the term sacred as meaning something set apart, reverence or holding deep respect for. The Christian American population who blindly support Israel falls into two categories. The first are Christian Americans who have never read biblical history and do not even understand the difference between the modern nation-state of Israel and the tribe of Israel that is wrote about in the ancient biblical scripture in which Zionist justify ownership of the land (where the modern nation-state of Israel sits). In fairness to our working class American people, the educational system in the United States candy coats issues and not many adults have the leisure time to read the Bible or text books full of political history. The second category are Christian Zionists who believe so devoutly every word of Christianity that they will support the Jewish people in establishing, and building up the current state of Israel, regardless of how it impacts non-Christian people, or how it impacts the American national debt, because they believe that the recreation of Israel will eventually usher in the return of Jesus. Are we high on opium, yet? Even though the United States was created under the pretense of separation between church and state, religion is still a massive influence in American society and American politics.

I will close by using and arguing against one last sociological term from the Henslin text (2010) that pertains to the subject of this sociological analysis on American foreign aid support for Israel and that is the term of anti-Semitism. It is listed in the Henslin text book (2010) that anti-Semitism is prejudice, discrimination and persecution aimed against the Jewish people. Even if Jewish people were all Semitic, meaning the entire group descended from the bloodline of the Shemites and Hebrews, vocal opponents against blind and irrational U.S support to the foreign nation-state of Israel in the form of massive amounts of U.S. foreign and military aid, along with United States vetoes in the United Nations on behalf of Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians, are often labeled anti-Semites for their objections. This is incorrect. If we accepted the popular belief that all Jewish people are indeed Semitic and we found a person who simply hated Jewish people for being Jewish, then correctly that person would be a hateful and shameful anti-Semitic. Yet, when an American cares about his children’s future and questions U.S. foreign aid policy to Israel, or perhaps disapproves of the crimes that Israel continues to commit against the Palestinian people on a regular basis, that person is indeed criticizing a nation-state and is not an anti-Semitic. They are only loudly categorized as such in order to be silenced.

Annotated Bibliography

Chaplin, Colin. (2009). Premilleimial Theology, Christian Zionism, and Christian Mission. International Bulletin of Missionary Resreach, 33(3). 137-143.

Henslin, James M. (2010). Sociology a Down to Earth Approach (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Person Higher Education.

Peretz, Martin. (1999). Israel Irreversible. New republic, 220(22). 21-23.

Raim, Diane. (2011). Ron Paul Interview. National Public Radio. NPR. May 3, 2011.

Sharp, Jeremy M. (2010). U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel. Congressional Research Service.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2007). Israeli-Palestinian Fatalities Since 2000 – Key Trends.

Works Cited

Henslin, James M. (2010). Sociology a Down to Earth Approach (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Person Higher Education.

Raim, Diane. 2011. Ron Paul Interview. National Public Radio. NPR. May 3, 2011.

Sharp, Jeremy M. (2010). U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel. Congressional Research Service.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2007). Israeli-Palestinian Fatalities Since 2000 – Key Trends.

Letter to the Hip Hop Youth of America

Dear hip hop youth of America,

Since your favorite rappers, who have sold out their communities in order to become wealthy tools, by promoting glamorized lies of self destructive images, which promote a larger political agenda of keeping the lower economic youth chained to the lower economic caste in which their families are chained to , population control, and population growth for prison systems on the stock market, will not teach you as the mentors they are supposed to be, I will take this time to address a few issues of very negative nature which have been popularized by these tool rappers in our American society and our communities which impact your chances to advance and your families chances to advance...and survive. When I was your age, I did not think about the things I will address in this letter and no mentor explained these issues to me. One difference between your generation and mine is that the rap music of my time was mostly independently owned and free of outside control while, with the advancement of technology, your rap music, which fills every radio station, every video channel (and today there are so many) and can be found at any time of day or night on the internet, holds no serious substance or positive messages, and is purposely aimed at glamorizing a negative self destructive lifestyle due to the entire music industry being owned and operated by a devilish group of people who are players in a much larger political agenda (aimed at you).

First, let us analyze the most common themes in today’s main stream rap music industry from the most popular artists (and when I say most popular, I mean the artists in heaviest rotation because it is the conglomerate corporations who own the entire industry that decide which artists and songs are hot, not the actual fans of the music or rap artists. The most common trends that are constantly seen in today’s “hottest” rap artists are: 1) Being gangster, hard core. Not taking shit or being dissed. Gun clapping. Packing heat (or weapons). 2) Big money. Hustling. Gotta get the loot, by any means necessary. Usually by illegal methods. 3) Party and bullshit. Bling and living large. 4) "The bitches, the bitches". Look at the women portrayed in the majority of videos. The portrayed trend is to sex as many ladies as possible.

  1. The gangster factor: portrayed by the likes of Rick Ross and so many other unoriginal rap sell outs and destroyers of youth. This mindset, filtered early on into the American youth with no strong, positive mentors, purposely glamorizes being hard core and not letting anyone cross you. Point blank, I can tell you no other way, that this mindset is purposely instilled in the youth so that when the age of 18 or older is reached (if one mimicking this self destructive lifestyle makes it to 18) that the result will been imprisonment or death. It is this glamorized self-destructive gangster(ism) that has young adults on the block with illegal guns shooting each other down for no other reason than beef, drugs, money (with slave owner faces printed on the paper), or loose women. What are you killing and incarcerated yourselves over really? Over meaningless bullshit? How many innocent infants have caught your stray bullets? The only time you should be willing to lay down your life or sacrifice your freedom is when your family is endangered, and then you should defend them without fear of consequence to the death. It is a fine quality to be hard in nature, to be strong at fighting and shooting... but you must first and foremost develop the intellectual, conscious, moral and righteous mindset to go along with that hardcore position otherwise you have only become a beast, animal or monster. Stand for family and community; stand for something of righteous, important substance. Do not fight over government owned blocks! Do not simply murder and give away your freedom for meaningless pursuits...you are walking directly into the trap that the masters of the system have set for you.
  2. The pursuit of big money. Truth is, regardless of the lies that come across television and from the lips of these sell out, Uncle Tom destroyers of the youth who rap on microphone, you can only achieve success and money for a comfortable life through educating yourself and advancing opportunities and your positioning. These tool rappers today have the youth worshipping the slave owner faces on paper money like God and willing to follow the lies of these tool rappers to get some of that money in giant wads. These devilish tool rappers promote drug dealing, robberies, and all sorts of other uncivilized activities in order to achieve the falsehood of big money. The true problem is, this portrayed lifestyle and quick rich mentality is a lie developed by devils and unskillfully rapped by sell out tools that have accepted the silver in exchange with misleading you to your destruction. At some point, whether young in the game or old in the game, you are going to get hemmed up in the justice system for illegal activities. It doesn’t matter how corrupt the system is. Any old ‘G’ that doesn’t tell you this one evident truth is as pathetic and dishonest as all of the house slave rappers on television. One criminal charge for drugs, selling drugs, assault, robbery, and all other areas of self demise... diminish any chances of advancement for you and thus your family (or future family). Maybe you will even become incarcerated and for years make money for the stockholders who invest in private prisons (Correction Corporations of America are one of many). No, it is better to think wise and make money legally for yourself and family. Your criminal record, if not permanent, will set you back a decade at the minimum and possibly close off certain opportunities forever. Serious criminal charges can set you back for life and close the ceiling on any advancement. Bottom line: each criminal charge closes doors of advancement and it does not make since to wrack these charges up (just to get a rep) over meaningless pursuits, excessive slave money or beef. You are dealing with a system that has never apologized for 400 years of slavery, a system that has slave owner faces on the currency, and does not care what choices you make. You can’t fight or rebel against the system, but you can study the system, prioritize what is important to you and your family and understand what is worth fighting for (and what is not), and then work within the system to advance your position. Advancement within the established system does not change who you are, it allows you to change the system from within. Dispelling the lies of the sell outs should be a collective movement.
  3. Party and bullshit. Have you ever noticed how these tool rappers and these video channels only play “hit” songs about bullshit and party? Why is that? Do you think our American society and the future of that society is in any shape to party and bling? The nation is 14 trillion dollars under debt, people can’t find jobs, the streets are flooded with drugs and morally void crime, protests on wall street are being subdued, children are being abducted and sexually molested, home invasions on women and elderly, and all kinds of heinous shit is going on (daily). This nation, built on rotten wood, is collapsing. It doesn’t matter if we like it or not, once it collapses we are all still stuck here in the rubble fighting each other in civil unrest. So where have all the conscious observations gone from rappers like Chuck D, Poor Righteous, Jeru the Damaja, and others great rappers back in the day that gave knowledge back to the communities? I will tell you. After the rap industry was consolidated under the devilish hand of one ethnic ownership, they excluded and pushed out all of the positive and conscious voices of the community that kept the youth focused on important issues. Today, these devils use their house slave tool rappers to keep your mind focused on meaningless issues like party, party, and bullshit instead of the economy, the crimes being committed in Congress, unemployment, innocent deaths like Troy Davis, executions like Oscar Grant, history, demographics, military occupations on foreign soil, and all other areas of importance for your world. They do not want your generation to be critical thinkers because if your generation were critical thinkers on a collective level, you might stop the injustices happening. No, it is better to keep your uneducated minds focused on party and bullshit, fighting over meaningless issues while killing each other and filling up the private prisons. Hell, I can’t blame the youth, and that is why I am writing this letter, because many, many of our adults today are riding around town like buffoons blasting rap music marketed toward teenagers, like Lil Wayne and fucking Solja Boy while walking through the club “barefoot” without any conscious, critical and intelligent thoughts in their head (and it shows by their daily conduct and lack of education). It’s fucking sad.
  4. The women. Rap videos today portray our women, queens, mothers and daughters as sex freaks and you fathers, brothers and sons buy into the bullshit. Hell, on some levels just because we have bought into it...our women are living up to it. It has become a nightmare where 13 year old girls are pregnant and groups of 14 year old boys are charged with gang rapes. Our women are brainwashed just the same way as we are, with ignorant video tricks like lil Kim, Nicki Manaj (or whatever her name is) and the numerous other video harlots that damage the confidence of our daughters. These purposely created negative female stereotypes thrive on creating teenage mothers, single mothers, male incarceration due to lack of child support (which falling into the previously listed traps you couldn’t pay if you wanted to), and keeping the family structure divided, broken and dysfunctional in order to keep repeating the vicious cycle (which keeps lower economic people from advancing)! Throw drugs, guns, and criminal records into the mix and you never even had a chance to begin with, young man.

I write this letter to you, young men of America, not to preach at you and tell you not to enjoy your youth. I write this letter after forty years of life experience to warn you about the traps (aimed at you) in American society in the hopes that you will give consideration to what I am saying and have unfettered opportunities that I did not have. My advice to you is to break away from the blatant lies of these sell-out rappers who lead you daily into self destruction. Instead of concentrating on meaningless issues in life, focus on the real issues surrounding you, your family and your future family. Develop the ability to think critically, excel at self education which will allow you to dominate the public school systems, learn your history and the history of the United States, study the political system that you were born under so that you can understand how to maneuver that system and advance through that system (without falling into the social traps set to debilitate your advancement and the advancement of your family). Your life, your future, your family and the future of your family depends on your actions and planning today. I wish there were more mentors to speak honestly with you on these subjects and hopefully there are, but today I felt a need to write you this letter. I support you and I believe in you.

Sincerely,

J. Meeks