Archive for June, 2014

Luis Suárez the Racist

As a person who favours a belt and braces, stitch in time, spare the rod and spoil the child approach to dealing with racism I am glad Luis Suárez was punished for whatever he might have said to Evra. However, the drumbeat of “Suárez the racist” over the last few hours on social media is getting on my tits.

1.“Negro” in Rioplatense Spanish is so not the equivalent of “nigger” in English.
2.It may be used to form part of a racial insult but it doesn’t have to be.
3.My wife’s family uses it to refer to her late father; “en la época del Negro..”, “el Negro alguna vez dijo..” etc. Are they racists?
4.You don’t even have to be black to be “un negro”. Those who want an example of a “negro rosarino” should look no further than Gerardo Martino.
5.“But you would never say that if he had, for example, referred to a Jewish player as a ‘kike’.” Indeed I would not; ‘kike’ has only one clear and racially insulting meaning.
6. So am I sure Suárez was not trying to racially insult Evra? Of course not, I wasn’t there. It was his word against Evra’s. But I am glad, to be on the safe side, he was punished. I can think of other cases I wish the FA had taken a similarly firm approach to.
7. Apart from his own recklessness, Suárez gets this treatment not because he is a new Himmler but because he fits the uppity dago stereotype: not quite white, cheeky, always looking for a shortcut, indifferent to gentlemanly customs, better at his job than he is perceived to have a right to be etc. And as – thank God – we have to treat black players with proper respect these days, some find it necessary to look elsewhere to display their moral superiority, in some cases even their racial superiority. All in the name of anti-racism, of course.

ISIS in Mosul, Iraq in 2003 And Iraq Now

1.

The early years of the occupation of Iraq by the US and its allies were appallingly fucked up at every level. The responsibility for that is mainly political but some of it also falls to the senior military leaders, especially Sánchez and Casey.

2.
The Americans eventually got a grip. Competent military leaders were put in place. The Sunni gunmen were put on the payroll. Fairish and freeish elections were held. Things improved quite a bit.
3.
I forgot to mention that all this time the Kurds were also consolidating their proto-state in the north. Yes, it had been developing prior to the invasion under cover of the no fly zone but its continued existence was always threatened as long as Saddam was in power.
4.
BO came to power thinking, “Not my circus, not my monkeys, how do we get out of here fast?”. While they remained the Yanks put some kind of brake on Al Maliki’s sectarianism but when they high tailed it, then it all went tits up again.
5.
And the situation was aggravated by the war in Syria. Almost any determined course of action by the US government, fully supporting the status quo, fully supporting the secular opposition before they were all killed, or nearly all, or even supporting and disciplining some kind of Islamist resistance. Any one of those courses of action could have kept some of the pressure off the Iraqi state.
6.
Instead we got tacit cooperation with Iran (mustn’t endanger the nuclear talks) and the use of a wide range of admonitory adjectives.
7.
Now it’s “all options are on the table” again. Ha! Ha! Ha!
8.
So, it’s a clusterfuck of giant proportions. Plenty of blame to go around, a good deal of it to the present US administration.
9.
If you opposed the 2003 invasion, good for you. There were clear reasons to think the occupation might be fucked up. But you had no way of knowing how things would turn out 11 years later. So back the fuck off with the “I told you so” line as your 2003 position committed you to the survival of Baathism in Iraq, a concentration camp more than a country at the time. You can’t avoid some responsibility for the horrors Saddam and his family would have gone on to commit.

“But that’s ridiculous, you are saying I am responsible for all the human rights abuses in all the countries we don’t invade”. No, I am not. There is no plan to/call for the overthrow of the Khartoum regime, for example, so there is no need to take a stand on it one way or the other.

And in the case of some countries, no matter how bestially they act, nothing can be done. If China starts regular barbecues of live Tibetan babies in Tianmen square, there is nothing we can do about it.

Each case has to be judged on its merits.
10.
If you were in favor of the 2003 invasion, good for you too. The Saddam regime was a genocide committing, neighboring country invading non-stop horror show. But there was good reason to suppose the occupation would be monumentally fucked up and that might lead to terrible consequences. And it has. So you have some of the responsibility for that.
11.
So whatever stand you took on the invasion of 2003, you are not innocent.

Ari Shavit and Zionism’s “Black Box”

OK, I haven’t read the book (I will, I will) and people whose opinion I value tell me Shavit is a great guy. But I have read this interview and I still don’t know what the fuck he means by language like this,

“Lydda is our black box … in it lies the dark secret of Zionism … if Zionism was to be, Lydda could not be.”

In spite of the reasonable enough stuff he says in response to Alan Johnson’s question about it, I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that he attributes a unique evil, (perhaps to do with hiding its true nature and crimes) to Zionism. He points out that the Palestinians and Arab forces also committed atrocities during the same conflict but I see no similar language applied to them.

There’s no dark secret or black box in Zionism, there’s just a nationalist movement and the violent struggle to build and secure a state. There’s a willingness to get covered in the mud and gore of history and not to feel too sorry about that. Just like every other successful nationalist movement. Mine for sure, yours too.



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