Bookshelf update: Anne Applebaum’s “Gulag”

January 22, 2015

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Anne Applebaum’s “Gulag: A History.”

 

book cover applebaum gulag

I’ve only just started it, so I can’t comment on my impressions of the writing or the quality of the Kindle formatting, but the topic is compelling: a complete history of the Soviet prison camp and slave labor system from its foundation under Lenin to its final dissolution in the 1980s. Like reading a book on the Holocaust, I suspect this is the kind of history that will have me hating humanity by its end. Gulag is available in both Kindle and softcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. Wouldn’t you?


#JeSuisCharlie — the massacre in Paris and freedom of speech

January 7, 2015
Fatwa this!

Fatwa this!

You’ve probably heard the awful news from France this morning:

Shouting “God is great” in Arabic, masked gunmen stormed the offices of a French satirical magazine Wednesday, killing 12 people including the magazine’s editor, his bodyguard and a prominent cartoonist.

Police said two or three hooded attackers armed with at least one Kalashnikov rifle and pump-action shotgun infiltrated the building near the Bastille monument around 11:40 a.m. local time and opened fire on a staff meeting at the magazine Charlie Hebdo. The weekly publication has published controversial depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad that angered Muslims around the world.

The gunmen went to the second- and third-floor editorial offices and attacked journalists and then fled, authorities said. The men were reported to have spoken earlier in fluent, unaccented French as they entered the building.

Let’s be clear, Charlie Hebdo‘s only “crime” was to publish satirical pictures of Islam’s founder, Muhammad. For this exercise of the natural right of all human beings to speak their mind, a dozen civilians and two cops had to die, murdered by brave knights of Allah sociopathic jihadi scumbags waging jihad fi sabil Allah. This mass-murder was terrorism pure and simple. It was meant not only to punish Charlie Hebdo and its employees, but to tell the rest of us to shut up — or else.

It was an attack not just on freedom of speech, but the very idea of human liberty and the worth of the individual by religious fanatics determined that we should all be slaves to Allah and second-class citizens under Islam’s totalitarian and degrading Sharia law.

This was another atrocity in the war of barbarism against civilization. Not a “clash of civilizations,” Islamic versus Western, because there is nothing civilized about life under Sharia, which is inseparable from Islam. Under Sharia, to mock Muhammad is blasphemy, and blasphemy is punishable by death. Just as Muhammad had the poet Ka’b bin al-Ashraf assassinated for mocking him, and as Muhammad’s deeds stand as a shining example for all mankind for all time (al-insan al-kamil  see 1.C), so the jihadis felt justified by religious duty to massacre a bunch of satirists and office workers.

Over some cartoons.

This is my reply:

muhammad jyllandsposten_censor2

…and…

Muhammad jyllandsposten_virgins2

…and…

Muhammad jyllandsposten_crescent

Images courtesy of Zombie, at whose gallery you can see more. And yes, death threats were made over these, too.

RELATED: More from the scene via Claire Berlinski. From John Schindler: Parisian Terror: Will Europe Finally Wake Up?


Free to speak your mind in Scotland, as long as the police approve

December 30, 2014

This from the land of Adam Smith and the Scottish Enlightenment, which informed so much of our own political thinking, from before the Revolution to the present day:

Most of the replies were what one would expect from stiff-necked Scotsmen, along the lines of “Go bugger yourself!” Quite apart from the police having almost no business monitoring what anyone says on the Internet, one has to wonder at the resources being diverted from solving real crimes — you know, against life and property.

Of course, this isn’t the first instance of criminalizing thought in the UK in recent years. Just last year, a minor politician was arrested for reading from a work by Winston Churchill, on the grounds it might have been offensive to Muslims. Before that, another man was hauled in for posting online a couple of mildly tasteless jokes about Nelson Mandela when the former South African president was dying. Do some searching and you’ll quickly find more.

Freedom of thought and speech isn’t quite dead in the nation that gave birth to it, but it’s clearly on life support.

PS: In case they pull the tweet, here’s a graphic:

Scotland police

Carry on, Citizen.

 


North Korea: officials executed for watching soap operas

October 29, 2014
"Dear Leader, Jr."

“Secretly records ‘Days of Our Lives'”

Well, they were South Korean soaps, and thus vehicles for dangerous wrong-thought. So the viewers had to be killed. Or something:

At least 10 North Korean officials have reportedly been put to death recently for the crime of watching South Korean soap operas.

The latest public executions reportedly bring to at least 50 the number of people put to death by the hard-line regime for taking in the unauthorized day-time dramas from south of the DMZ, The Independent reports, quoting South Korean sources familiar with a National Intelligence Service (NIS) briefing.

Go to the original article in The Independent and you’ll see that smuggling in South Korean soaps and action shows is big business. It apparently pays well enough that smugglers are willing to risk their lives to get it into the North, while political activists will launch balloons carrying the “subversive” programming over the DMZ.

There’s a reason North Korean authorities would liquidate anyone caught watching these: they really are subversive of Pyongyang’s preferred, neo-Stalinist order. And they don’t have to be overtly political to be dangerous; it’s not the family drama or the wild car chase that poses the threat — it’s what North Koreans see in the background, glimpses of life in the South. Nice homes and furniture. The latest electronics. The ability to say what one thinks without being shot for it. Plenty of food. And, while seeing all that, they might begin to think “Why can’t we have those things?” As the late Andrew Breitbart often said, “culture is upstream of politics.”

That is what scares the tar out of Kim Jong Un and his handlers, and that’s why they’re willing to shoot people who are willing to defy them by watching those forbidden programs. They’re desperate to stop a cultural virus from spreading, but it’s already too late. More and more people are going to see what life is like without a Dear Leader Man-Child Who Thinks He Is A God ruling them and, one day, they’re going to do something about it.  At that point the regime will collapse like a house of cards, just like Poland, East Germany, and even the USSR. It may not be for many years, but it will happen, and these TV programs will have played a role.

via

PS: I’d hate to think what they’d do to someone caught watching reality TV! smiley worried


Climate Change: scratch a Green, find a Red

September 24, 2014
Watermelons

Watermelons

The anonymous photo-blogger Zombie does an invaluable service by visiting the People’s Climate March in Oakland to record for posterity the ideological core of the modern environmentalist movement: bare-naked statism in the form of totalitarian communism:

Communists along with a few environmental groups staged a “People’s Climate Rally” in Oakland, California on Sunday, September 21, in conjunction with the larger “People’s Climate March” in New York City on the same day.

Wait — did I say communists? Isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration?

Well…no.

At the New York event, many people noticed that gee, there sure are a lot of communists at this march. But in Oakland — always on the cutting edge — the entire “climate change” movement at last fully, irrevocably and overtly embraced communism as its stated goal. Any concerns about “optics” or operating in “stealth mode” were abandoned.

The “climate change” “crisis” is now nothing but the latest justification for “total revolution” and getting rid of capitalism forever.

Zombie Climate March Oakland

(Photo credit: Zombie)

Be sure to read the whole thing. Remember, it’s not about polar bears and rising seas, it’s about control.

RELATED: For more about the Socialist origins and nature of the global-warming scare, read Christopher Booker’s “The Real Global Warming Disaster” and James Delingpole’s “Watermelons.”


The Left’s obsession with the Redskins

July 1, 2014
Everything is political

Everything is political

Amidst all the other outrageous outrages that outrage the outraged Left these days, you may have noticed a controversy (well, controversial to the Left) over the team name of the Washington Redskins, a name the team has used for over 80 years with no one complaining (1).

Well, no one until Harry Reid, the national Democrats, and the Left (but I repeat myself) decided they needed something, anything, to distract people from the failures of Obamacare and the lousy economy (and the crashing foreign policy and… Well, you get the idea.). Hence, in the last year or so, the professional Left has turned on the Redskins, decrying their name as offensive, hateful, and …brace yourselves… “racist” against American Indians. (2) The way they carry on, you’d think they were fighting the civil rights battles of the 50s and 60s all over again.

And, in fact, according to Dennis Prager, that is indeed one of the reasons the Left has gone bonkers over the team name: it makes them feel good, as if they’re reliving the battles of their fathers and grandfathers. Call it a self-esteem booster shot. Writing at Real Clear Politics, he give four additional reasons for the Left’s mania. It’s a good article, so click through for the rest, but I want to highlight one that I think cuts to the root of the matter:

Fifth, and finally, the left is totalitarian at heart. Whenever possible, they seek control of others; and they love to throw their considerable weight around. The left-wing president does it so often that the Supreme Court has unanimously shot down his attempts on a dozen occasions. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, under huge pressure from leftists, just dropped conservative Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist George Will. Under pressure from left-wing professors and students, Brandeis and other universities dropped the few conservative speakers they had invited to this year’s commencement exercises. Forcing the Redskins to do their will is just the left’s latest attempt to force its views on the vast majority of its fellow citizens. That’s why it’s worth fighting for the Redskins. Today it’s the Redskins, tomorrow it’s you.

Emphasis added. Ever hear the expression “the personal is the political?” It was a rallying cry of the student movement and leftist feminists in the 60s that argued there was no separation between daily life (work, play, family, sports, &c.) and what we think of as traditional politics (elections, legislation, and so on). Every aspect of your personal life, including your recreation, is as much open to politics as is your choice of party to support. Support a team the name of which some faction finds politically incorrect, and you’ll be subject to political action to make you change your ways and the way you think. Our Betters on the Left know what’s best for us all and they have a driving urge to make sure we all conform.

Even if all you want to do is watch your favorite team and forget about the world for a while.

Footnote:
(1) There’s a survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center showing that less than ten percent of American Indians find the name “Redskins” offensive. It’s from 2004, however, so it might be interesting to resurvey that.
(2) No disrespect intended to members of the various tribal nations, but I’ve never liked the term “Native American” when referring to the descendants of the people who were here before the European colonization. I was born here, my parents were born here, my grandparents were born here, and so were most of my great-grandparents. I’m native to America, too, and I refuse to use a term that in any way slights my right to be here.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: the nightmare of living under a god

April 11, 2014

North Korea Yeonmi Park

There’s an interesting and frightening interview posted to Business Insider today with Yeonmi Park, a woman who escaped from North Korea with her family as a teenager, but needed years to get over the brainwashing she endured there. An indoctrination so intense, she believed the late Kim Jong Il could read her mind:

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, under the watchful eye of then-leader Kim Jong-il.

Though she escaped with her family when she was 15, it took her years to get over the intense brainwashing she experienced. In a recent interview with Australian public broadcasting channel SBS, Park went into unbelievable detail about growing up in the totalitarian state.

Growing up in North Korea, according to Park, was like “living in hell.” She describes constant power outages, no transportation, and watching classmates and friends disappear without a trace. While that may be unsurprising, the most interesting part of Park’s experience is her admission that she believed Kim Jong-il to be “a god” who could literally read her mind.

“I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear,” Park said.

Ms. Park’s story is part of a larger program on mind-control shown by SBS, the Australian public broadcaster.  The whole show is worth watching.

In an article at SBS, she tells more of her own story:

I lived in North Korea for the first 15 years of my life, believing Kim Jong-il was a God. I never doubted it because I didn’t know anything else. I could not even imagine life outside of the regime.

It was like living in hell. There were constant power outages, so everything was dark. There was no transportation – everyone had to walk everywhere. It was very dirty and no one could eat anything.

It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.

I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.

George Orwell’s 1984 depicts the UK after an atomic war and a Socialist revolution. Big Brother is a de facto god to the people: his every word the undeniable truth, no matter how it contradicted what he might have said just the day before. Your innermost thoughts known to him, and he held the power to make you willing to accept your own death and the deaths of those close to you as just. His Animal Farm is a parable of a just revolution hijacked by an anti-democratic cadre, who maintain power by turning the other animals against each other and all into slaves. Both are taught as works of fiction, but Yeonmi Park’s story reminds us that they were more like docu-dramas and that the story hasn’t come to an end.

It reminds me of a saying of John Adams:

“It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power”

Our second president was right, but left something out: it’s not just that Mankind is too morally weak for any one person to hold absolute power, but there is also the weakness that makes us willing to surrender our responsibilities as citizens and entrust a small group of people or a single person with unlimited power. It is dangerous because, eventually and inevitably, that power will fall into the hands of evil men.

And then what is to stop them from proclaiming themselves gods?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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