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Cancelling history: Red Guards and philistines are running riot across the Western world – The Times of India Blog

Posted: July 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm

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Western societies seem bent on committing suicide. The best lack all conviction, wrote WB Yeats, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. With no moral core to hold them together, societies are falling apart. The cancel culture virus originated in the US, is already firmly implanted in the UK and strains have been found in Australia. Its highly infectious, has no known vaccine or cure and is extremely lethal to the careers of actors, athletes, authors, celebrities, comedians, commentators, editors, journalists and professors. In the drive to cancel history, statues of perceived racists and slave traders Mahatma Gandhi (in Ghana, Washington, London), Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes and even sons of slave traders are toppled and vandalised. But Rhodes scholars are reluctant to renounce their scholarship and the role of Africans and Arabs in the slave trade seems curiously neglected. Literary, childrens, movie and TV classics are given the chop.

Like its close chronological cousin the Wuhan virus, initially its main targets were the elderly with mental comorbidities, but now its also infecting the young. The main carriers of the virus are, in the words of Free Speech Union founder Toby Young, offence archaeologists: people who trawl through past pronouncements hunting any objectionable phrase and mobilise an online posse that swarms into action to shame cowering victims and have them fired. Truth is secondary to narrative, facts to feelings and biology to ideology. Innocent kids subjected to massive amounts of harassment because theyve been incorrectly identified are just roadkill on the moral highway of vicious teenage bullies.Theres been a fierce backlash to a Washington Post story about warmed over vindictive behaviour bytwo women of colour, whose 54-year-old Caucasian target was fired from her job.

During my college years in Kolkata, I fell in love with the beauty, solitude and serenity of Victoria Memorial. Should that symbol of the Raj be destroyed? In an article for the International Herald Tribune, I condemned Talibans destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues. A comparable act of vandalism would be to destroy the Taj Mahal. Taliban are owed an apology. Far from atavistic, they were decades ahead of their time in cancelling history. Universities were once bastions of critical inquiry. Operating behind impregnable ramparts of intellectual freedom, they interrogated every kernel of religious dogma. Todays campuses are hotbeds of enforced right-think. In the name of tolerance and enlightenment they promote bigoted intolerance. Offensive speech is literally violence, but literal violence is speech by other means. David Shor, a data analyst for the Democratic Party, was fired for retweeting a scholarlypaper that non-violent protests are more politically effective.

Like the reign of terror after the French Revolution, mobs are caught in a vicious purity death spiral. Indifferent to context, rejecting human fallibility with the possibility of contrition and redemption in favour of ritualistic confessions and self-abasement as during Chinas Cultural Revolution, policed by wrong-think lynch mobs as the current avatars of the Red Guards: thats a vision of dystopia.The philistines want to cancel history, art, literature and humour. We can be certain that some words and acts of the presently ascendant self-righteous will cause deep moral offence to future generations. Perhaps they should cancel themselves instantly. If nuance is banished because it can become a booby-trapped offence tomorrow, most people will be frightened off from entering the public arena for the contest of ideas on difficult societal challenges.

The Western world has entered a perfect social justice storm with a heady brew of every form of real and confected identity grievance. If you believe all lives matter, there is only one race, the human race, women deserve to be safe in women-only spaces, climate alarmism needs fact-checking: Out! People not personally responsible for past injustice must take the knee but those personally responsible for current violence and looting are celebrated as heroes. The blood-dimmed tide is indeed being loosed upon the world.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Cancelling history: Red Guards and philistines are running riot across the Western world - The Times of India Blog

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July 3rd, 2020 at 5:47 pm

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Lets Finish the American Revolution – The New York Times

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As baffling as it is to find statues of traitors, slaveholders and killers of Union soldiers ensconced in many a prominent square, consider the historical discordance of Custer County, S.D.

The hard beauty of the Black Hills, sacred land to Native Americans, overshadows the county, the main town and the state park, all named for George Armstrong Custer. The hard history was shaped by the slayer of those native people. Custers willful trespass into territory promised by treaty to the Sioux set the stage for the last violent encounters between New World and Old.

Just under 20 miles from Custer is Mount Rushmore, which President Trump plans to visit this Fourth of July weekend. A mere seven miles from Custer is the Native American Rushmore a still unfinished carving of the Oglala Sioux leader Crazy Horse, 641 feet long and 563 feet high.

Here is the American paradox in a grid of stark geology.

No country can last long without a shared narrative. You wonder, on an Independence Day when the mood of the country is more angry and fearful than its been in a long time, if this nation can ever have such a thing again.

I think we can. But to make that happen, it will take an imaginative projection of the best instincts of those four imperfect men whose visages are chiseled into stone, as well as the Sioux warrior honored just down the road.

Before we get to them, lets talk about him. Trump wants a fireworks display in the pine forest around Rushmore in the middle of fire season. There will be no required social distancing for the crowd. And the worlds most powerful narcissist will be projecting his dream to have his face carved next to those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

There you have it everything that is so awful about him in one appearance, putting the lives of American citizens and a national landmark at risk to protect his eggshell ego.

But what about them? Rushmore was created by Gutzon Borglum, a confidant of leaders of the revitalized 20th-century Ku Klux Klan. Before Borglum took his jackhammers to the Black Hills, he had started work on the largest shrine to white supremacy in the world the bas-relief sculpture of Confederate leaders in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Still, few people think of Borglum when they gaze up at the four presidents. Instead, the visitor is prompted to think of what those men did for a fragile democracy.

Most revolutions dont end well. From the kindling of the Enlightenment, France was consumed by a wildfire of fratricide and state-sanctioned beheadings in the late 18th century. Russias 1917 revolt eventually led to an epic of mass murder rivaled by Hitlers Holocaust. And the Irish finally threw off centuries of British rule only to plunge into a bloody civil war in the 1920s over the terms of that independence.

The American Revolution, birthed in part by the looting of British merchant ships in Boston Harbor, was the exception, until our own Civil War over the Original Sin that had been ignored in the founding documents. The protests of 2020 are a legacy of rage dating to 1619.

Each of the Rushmore presidents furthered the ennobling sentiments of men who tried to fashion a democracy from a revolution. Some may never forgive Washington for his slave ownership. But among the nine presidents who owned slaves, only Washington freed them all in his final will.

He also kept the United States from becoming a monarchy when the Trumpians of the day wanted to make him king.

Jefferson was a slaveholding racist who wrote all men are created equal in the Declaration of Independence. The words outlive, and outshine, the man.

Lincoln needs no defense, except to say that those who want to destroy his statues now should read Frederick Douglasss nuanced take. Lincoln fought the anti-immigrant Know-Nothings, the Trumpians of his day, and ensured that the radical truths of Jefferson would apply to four million formerly enslaved people.

Teddy Roosevelt was no friend of the continents original inhabitants. But he evolved. His Rough Riders were multiracial warriors. And as the 20th centurys most influential progressive president, he invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him, the first time any president had broken bread with a Black man at the White House. This, at a time when it was difficult for a Black man to get a meal in a restaurant.

Each of them pushed the revolution closer to an ideal of true equality. And Roosevelt was the first to add universal health care among the truths we hold self-evident.

You can honor the work they started, and desperately needs to be finished, by ignoring Trumps ahistoric histrionics this weekend and watching Hamilton, which is streaming to many parts of the world starting Friday. This founder was an orphan, son of a whore, Washingtons better half, and in the person of Lin-Manuel Miranda, hes a face of the American tomorrow.

At the core of the musical is the founding reimagined, re-mythologized, rough-edged. A mess of contradictions, like this nation on its 244th birthday.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. Wed like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And heres our email:

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Timothy Egan (@nytegan) is a contributing opinion writer who covers the environment, the American West and politics. He is a winner of the National Book Award and the author, most recently, of A Pilgrimage to Eternity.

Lets Finish the American Revolution - The New York Times

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ISSUES OF FAITH: Be grounded in gratitude, compassion – Peninsula Daily News

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STOP WHINING AND feeling sorry for yourself, we often hear people say. Why dont you just learn to count your blessings? Youd be so much happier if you did.

Unfortunately, such urgings no matter their good intent rarely help us. Why?

Because shifting our focus from what our lives lack to the abundance that is always present is difficult spiritual work.

It takes practice. And if youre like me, it takes daily practice.

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what we have, independent of monetary worth.

Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of the gift and goodness of life.

It is a recognition that we are not alone, that life has meaning, and that there is reason to be giving thanks even when life has brought us to our knees.

Yes, it is true: gratitude will make us happier.

It strengthens relationships, reduces stress, improves our health and helps us stay resilient in the face of hardship.

Whether we choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that we have, giving thanks transforms us in many important and helpful ways.

So, how do we ground ourselves in gratitude when so much in life seems difficult and uncertain?

Cultivating gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in life, such as the natural beauty, clean air and abundant water of the Olympic Peninsula.

Or the people who care about us, make us laugh or inspire us with their music, art and ideas.

Or the animals that bring us delight with their antics.

Or the fact that our hearts are still beating and another day beckons.

These types of gifts are so easy to overlook while living in a materialist culture that encourages constant wanting, and that names possessions as the primary source of happiness.

Its so human to forget about them while being consumed with the pandemic details, the political debates or with our human tendency to separate humanity into us versus them.

Unfortunately, envy, fear, judgment and cynicism are the very thieves of gratitude. They are of no help to us now.

No matter the challenges in our individual lives, each of us has so many reasons to be grateful today and every day.

Recognizing this helps us stay open to life, and to become more aligned with the loving goodness at the heart of creation.

But if you are still struggling to find your way to gratitude, allow me to share some tips from someone who has experienced great suffering and yet is known the world over for his joy, the Dalai Lama:

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

I am not a Buddhist, but I like many of the Dalai Lamas perspectives on living a good and meaningful life.

He argues that the purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility and forgiveness.

I think hes onto something.

Staying open to life during stressful times is not an easy thing to do.

Whining and venting do have their short-term benefits, and I wouldnt ask anyone to forgo them completely. But if youre tired of being stressed out, grumpy and unhappy, Id like to suggest grounding yourself with the practice of gratitude today and every day.


Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Kate Lore is a minister at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Townsend. Her email is [emailprotected]

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ISSUES OF FAITH: Be grounded in gratitude, compassion - Peninsula Daily News

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Men Jeans Market Segmented by Applications and Geography Trends, Growth and Forecasts 2024 – 3rd Watch News

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Men Jeans Market Segmented by Applications and Geography Trends, Growth and Forecasts 2024 - 3rd Watch News

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Contending with racial justice in Vermont goes back years. So does the backlash. – Burlington Free Press

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Thousands of Vermonters attended protests and rallies over the last month to stand in solidarity with Black Americans, but not all were free from disruption. To some, this didn't come as a surprise.

People around the state joined in national protests against the deaths of Black Americans, such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, at the hands of police. Events stretched beyondBurlington, regarded as one of the more left-leaning hubs. But calls for Black Lives Matter in Vermont, with awhite population of 94%,have not been openly receivedby all.

"I believe that Vermonters think of themselves as very enlightened advocates of racial equality," said Stephen Wrinn, author of "Civil Rights in the Whitest State: Vermont's Perceptions of Civil Rights, 1945-1968." The book explains "why residents' reactions to the movement did not conform to their self-perceptions of racial enlightenment."

He pointed out that Vermont was the first to prohibit slavery and sent large droves to fight in the Civil War.

"Despite that attitude," Wrinn said, "I think the perception from outside of Vermont is, you know, they talk the talk. But do they walk the walk?"

The state has had a fractured relationship with race through the years.

"Vermonters were very much in favor of the national Civil Rights Movement when it was an effort to desegregate the south in the north's image," Wrinn said, an enthusiasm that didn't always sustain in Vermont when it came to the state changing its own laws and practices.

Wrinn pointed toracial unrestthat has come to the forefront of Vermont's history, including:

More: Kiah Morris: The Vermont incidents that led to a black lawmaker's resignation

The "Protest for George Floyd!" filled Battery Park, and then during a march spilled onto North Avenue and the parking lot at the Burlington Police Department.(Photo: Leonora Dodge/courtesy)

Recent efforts to address racism have seen support across the state. But they also received some local push back last month.Examples include:

A video posted on Twitter showed an altercation between an individual and protest attendees at a Black Lives Matter protestin Craftsbury.

The video opens with a shot of a pickup truck, with two individuals seated in the bed. One held a Confederate flag, the other a "Don't Tread on Me" flag. Someone can be heard repeatedly asking the driver of the truck if he doesn't believe Black lives matter. The man eventually yelled that he does not.

"Is that what you wanted?" he asked. At the end of the video, he said he doesn't have a problem with Black Lives Matter. "I have a problem with what most of it stands for."

Pablo Coddou, one of the organizers of the protest, said he expected maybe 30 attendeesto show up to the rally, but estimated the actual turnout likely exceeded 200. He wasn't surprised the incident occurred but didn't necessarily expect it, either.

He has since come to acknowledge that this is part of the reality. Coddou didn't think his rally brought problems into town, but just exposed what was already there.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 14, 2020, the Montpelier Police Department located spray painted graffiti applied to the city sidewalk and Vermont Statehouse walkway across from 120 State St. The messages referenced government spending and did not appear to reference the Black Lives Matter community mural project nearby.(Photo: Courtesy of Montpelier Police Department)

Hundreds gatheredin Montpelier last month to create a mural replicated across the country, as large yellow letters declared "Black Lives Matter" in front of the statehouse.

More: Black Lives Matter mural in Vermont vandalized with mud, oil

It didn't last untouched for long.

The mural got "smeared with mud, dirt and oil"that same weekend, according to police. Graffiti included messages like "Put it back call Trump."

"Sadly, I wish I were really more shocked that somebody vandalized this," City Manager William Fraser said.

While it might not be the majority, acurrent of racism exists in Vermont, he said. Fraserfelt mostin Montpelier supported messageslike those expressed in front of the statehouse.

"But not all."

"The First Amendment protects speech that a lot of us would find incredibly offensive," Gene Policinski said. "There's nothing in the 45 words that says we have to be polite, even make sense and certainly nothing that prevents us from being crude andrude and insulting."

Policinski is thechief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute, an organization dedicated to advocacy and education surrounding the First Amendment.Not all speech is fair game, including that which can be interpreted asa true threat.

Policinski offered an example: Getting into an argument with someone and saying you hope a meteor flies out of the sky and kills them likely won't fit this standard. Holding a knife during an argument and threatening to kill someone with it, however, could be interpreted as a true threat.

"The antidote to speech you don't like is not to try to suppress the speaker you don't like," he said. "But to speak out loudly with your point of view."

The Institute defines a few other categories that are generally not protected by the First Amendment. These include:

More: Winooski man accused of hate crime in verbal assault case involving child

More: Black Lives Matter: Burlington crowd protests for George Floyd, marches to police parking lot

More: Black Lives Matter flag in Milton torn down, stolen

Contact Maleeha Syed at or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter@MaleehaSyed89.

This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.Sign up today for a subscriptionto the Burlington Free Press.

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Contending with racial justice in Vermont goes back years. So does the backlash. - Burlington Free Press

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INTERVIEW: Mahmoud El-Werwary reveals the recipe for renaissance and equation of obstruction – Books – Ahram Online

Posted: June 15, 2020 at 3:50 am

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The forthcoming fall of the values of capitalism in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a recipe of progress for the Arab and Islamic worlds, and the obstruction of enlightenment and the quest to reach it are among the ideas explored in this interview with Mahmoud El-Werwary.

Releasing his latest book Ahl Al-Aql (People with Brains) in January, El-Werwary had just finished introducing a full Ramadan season of radio production under the same title on the Sawt Al-Arab (Voice of the Arabs) Egyptian Radio Service, continuing his research for the reasons of the Arab and Islamic civilisation's rise and fall, a project he has been working on on Al Arabiya TV throughout his four-year programme.

The well-known TV news presenter, being among the pioneers of the 1990s in Egyptian TV before appearing, leading and founding some of the prestigious TV channels across the Islamic region, such as ART, Mehwar, Al Arabiya, Al-Alam, Alarabiya Alhadath, has been busy with the cause of enlightenment for long years.

El-Werwary is a prominent columnist with Asharq Al-Awsat and Al Ain Al Ekhbariya and has an outstanding impact on literature as well, publishing over 22 books from novels, plays, documents, media and enlightenment publications. Some of his novels competed for regional prestigious awards, including the Arab Poker for 'Halet Soqout' and the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for 'Kharf Al-Balad Al-Kabir'.

The 1990 Cairo University's Economic and Political Science graduate has covered news from the majority of hot zones in critical times, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Palestine and Egypt, of course, being among the most significant news presenters of the 2011 revolution times.

He produced a large collection of analytic political programmes like 90 Minutes, Al-Hadath Al-Masri and Manarat, in addition to a few documentaries, like a five-hour documentary series about the Salafi current in Egypt.

While presenting Ahl Al-Aql on the radio, Ahram Online interviewed the veteran media person during his quarantine in Dubai in an attempt to shed light on his valuable efforts to enlighten the Arab and Muslim civilisation.

AO: You choose the radio medium to discuss such an important topic at the age of social media. What is the future of radio amid the foggy future of print newspapers and TV channels?

MW: Each medium has its own followers. There are enough fans for the radio, same as print newspapers and television. Some follow more than one medium as well and radio fans are always nostalgic for it.

Ahl El-Aql started on Al Arabiya channel in a programme called 'Manarat' (Beacons) that continued for almost four years. It was a huge project where we roamed the Arab and Islamic world to scan various ideologies. For example, we went to Mauritania to meet thinkers like Islamic philosophy professors, sociologists or known historians, thinkers of the weight of El-Jabri, Arkoun, Mohammed Sabila, and Hassan Hanafi.

The project became a book published by Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah at the 20th Cairo International Book Fair, January 2020 under the title of 'Ahl El-Aql'. This book was written out of the inspiration of these important interviews.

I was able to scan and document the thinking movement from Mauritania to Afghanistan, asking two questions mainly. One question revolves around the idea of the religious brain, the topic of extremism, violence, Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the phrase of 'renewing religious thought'. The other question is an enlightenment question about why we, Arabs and Muslims, fell behind while others progressed. The project was already on TV and in book forms, so I introduced it on the radio as well.

Radio has its own fans and it is an easy medium. Radio goes from ears to hearts directly. I admire the radio and I am deeply attached to it. Throughout my TV career across the Arab countries and the Gulf, I always made my work connected to the radio. I love it.

In the peak of print newspapers and TV journalism problems, radio was less vulnerable to TV virus diseases, especially in Egypt. Radio will always be there. It could face some challenges just as much as print journalism in the game of media generations. In the 90s, we argued that printed books were going to be a thing of the past amid the rise of visual and audio books, but eventually printed book dominated. The same goes for printed newspapers in the early 2000s. It is true they are weaker now and some papers closed due to the increasing internet websites but believe me; they will always remain, same as radio and TV and other media. No medium cancels another. Media could rise or fall amid competition but each medium will always remain. Thus radio will always remain.

AO: The majority of your writings, programmes and interviews revolve around enlightenment and the conditions for the progress of Arab and Islamic countries. How much do you believe media can make an influence, and from where does change begin?

MW: Enlightenment is a national project. At some point, all factors will meet to form enlightenment. There are always movers and receivers. Meaning, there are many who are pushing towards enlightenment and others who are making it happen.

When I met the great Moroccan philosophy professor Mohammed Sabila, he said the media is part of the problem and he thought that the Arab media has been unintentionally involved in making Arab brains more shallow and silly. I respect this point of view deeply.

Media people are accused of being shallow and part of the problem. Yes, I agree that we in the Arab media, since the start of the satellite era in the early 90s, were part of this crisis, failing to be enlightened. I can't say this is an absolute judgement but it's part of the truth indeed.

The first Arab satellite experience was Egyptian, in December 1990, followed by MBC within weeks and then all the Arab world followed. Unhappily, this occurred during a huge global transformation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union that meant the falling of the communist model and resulted in the rise and spread of the capitalist liberal example with all of its market economy values.

So, the Arab media was forced to deal with the greed of capitalism and the media became a tool in businessmen's hands. This appeared clearly in the Egyptian experience that delivered a disfigured product that can't be described as television, radio or journalism.

In TV today, you see someone talking for two or three hours in front of a camera in a form that you can't name as a visual opinion piece, radio programme or TV. If you close your eyes, it's radio and if you open them it's TV and if you pay attention; you'll find the anchor revealing his former post as a journalist in a known newspaper and because of his relationship with a businessman.

In fact, Arab satellite media was launched in the victorious time of greedy capitalism, to turn into a commodity and the mouthpiece of capitalism which is always against the concept of enlightenment. Enlightenment works on values, while capitalism works on commoditisation.

Hence, you cannot be so surprised when you see the idea of commoditisation of religion that produced the new preachers phenomenon. Commoditisation of arts ended with the collapse of valuable theatre and good artists. Those we used to call messengers of values in the Arab world turned into servants at the court of gluttonous capitalism, shooting advertisements of boxers and fancy cars.

Therefore, the media has unintentionally got involved -- and I am aware of the intentions of people working in the field -- in the concept of commoditisation while enlightenment became an arduous value for a society that is, frankly, chasing only profits.

The media may play its role when someone poor like me presents an enlightening programme knowing that his audience will be very few, but in the end if I can get to just one person this could lead to a big change in the brains around him.

AO: What is the recipe for progress, and how long does it need to effect change?

Answering this key question took me over 30 episodes of 'Ahl El-Aql' programme and it wasn't actually enough. The renaissance question has been inquired during the 1930s by the great Lebanese thinker, Amir Al-Bayn; Shakib Arslan when he wondered in his important book 'why Arabs have fallen behind while others progressed?'

In search of this progress; I thought let's scan the civilisations that rose up and check their paths. We're not reinventing the wheel because their path was not intentional or planned but it actually is the normal movement that is based on the function of human brain's response.

In the 30 episodes of Ahl El-Aql, I only tried to answer just the second half of Arslan's question, which is 'why non-Muslims progressed' and I took the closest civilisation to us, the West, to which we handed the torch of culture. Civilisations don't die but rather move, said Hadi Al-Alawi. Therefore, the Western civilisation is actually the Muslims' civilisation that reached its peak during the Abbasid era.

The West took the Islamic culture, including Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Al-Ghazali, Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi. No civilisation was ever born completely on the carpet of a specific nation. But when people of a civilisation are weakened, it is carried by those who are capable. But it's the same torch of culture in the end.

The torch of the civilisations of the Romans and Greeks was handed to the Muslim nation who too eventually became weak so the West carried the torch.

The Islamic culture was based on the translations of Ibn Ishaq, Plato, Aristotle and other Greek intellectuals and their ideas moved to the Islamic world.

The renaissance recipe that, I claim, I presented in such inclusivity and accuracy in 'Ahl El-Aql' is 'to develop, you must first go through a path of progress'. At first, you need to solve your problem with the religious brain to reach the square of the brain of knowledge, philosophy and enlightenment that leads to the maturity of the scientific brain, the industrial brain that leads to positive full-change political revolutions to eventually reach the renaissance. To prove this theory, let's scan the Western culture and see how they developed.

The West progressed by a group of individuals. Martin Luther, the most important reformer, not to confuse him with the American Martin Luther King, in 1540s started the reform of the church so he solved the religious brain problem in his 95 thesis we call today 'renewal of religious speech'. The man renewed the Christian speech at his time inspiring the founding of the Lutheran and the Orthodox Church by translating the Bible and completely blowing the church's concepts of indulgences and mediation between people and God.

This renewal or correction of the religious brain consequently created brains like Immanuel Kant and Ren Descartes who would not exist without the earlier existence of Martin Luther. He launched freedom of thinking and killed fear as if he were saying; go ahead, think freely without worrying that we would consider you faithless or hit you with a death penalty for heresy. So Descartes and Kant who shaped the same philosophy also produced Hegel, Rousseau and all these genius intellectuals.

This opened the door to scientific brains like Copernicus in the 1600s, only a century later. Copernicus clashed with the church, with all of its insensitive powers at this era. The Church believed the earth is the centre of the universe then Copernicus dared to differ, saying the sun is. But he died before accomplishing his victory. Then Galileo continued the clash and eventually won. That was the first time Western brains accepted the idea that the church could be wrong.

After Galileo comes James Watt, 60 or 70 years later, to shift the Western society from riding horses to using the steam engines he invented. Then after another 60 or 70 years came Adam Smith to establish the economy before the West moved to the enlightenment era. Accordingly, the final change occurred, the three important revolutions took place; the British in the 1600s, the French and the American in the 1700s to change the Western culture. Later came the great pioneers of enlightenment, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu to turn the world into what it is today.

Have all these steps occurred intentionally? Of course not, but the human brain must go through these stages and the same applied as a salvation recipe for the Arab world where you must start from solving problems with religion. As Mohamed Abdu said "When revelation stopped, there became no authority over thinking" and Imam Al-Shafii said earlier that all is debatable except the Prophet Mohamed.

The prophet's death rendered all people equal and none was infallible, including Abu Bakr and Omar who are humans that may be right or wrong. With this mentality you re-read everything, including jurisprudence of the companions of the prophet to conclude that it belongs to its age and can't work at the current time so you need to filter it and come up with new jurisprudence that fits. Imam Al-Shafii when moved from Iraq to Egypt changed his mind about more than 30 issues.

Do we have bold jurisprudents capable of clashing like Abdu in the 19th century? We need brave and powerful religious reformers to face the society that created its own fear. When you free the religious mind and give power to poor thinkers and philosophers that can't afford to make ends meet when the lowest-standard belly-dancer in the Arab world is more famous than Mohamed Abed Al-Jabri, Arkoun, Hassan Hanafi. Shakoosh is more famous than all of these. This is an upside-down society, where a footballer's price is more expensive than the most important brains in the Arab world. This is absolutely wrong. This is the recipe you asked about.

AO: What is the role of countries and people who travelled faster down the path of progress and enlightenment towards countries still suffering dark accumulations, especially with occupation?

MW: We'd better ask, 'what have you lost from your drop?' This is a very important question as you'd better read the reasons of your defeat for yourself not for others.

This questions lead to another which is 'Is the West also to blame for our drop?' In fact, they are responsible too. Algerian thinker Malek Bennabi spoke about the readiness of being colonised. This is a very significant theory.

The West conquered the Arabs only because we were ready to be defeated. We are that kind of people who have the willingness of being conquered because weakness creates passion and curiosity for powerful others to 'ride' us. Iranian thinker Ali Shariati wrote a book that discussed the concept of ride-ability that developed Malek Bennabi's ideas. He says that the donkey is the only animal that doesn't resist its rider, unlike the horse that needs taming. People turn to ride-able nations that could be dominated by the worst people on earth.

Colonialism led to isolation and boycott. What happened? We were in the front line during the Abbasid eras of Harun Al-Rashid, Al-Maamun and other regimes that followed. What happened is that we experienced a period of boycott. For around 500 years, it was the responsibility of the Ottoman colonialism and 300 years earlier it was the Mameluke's. They created a boycott experienced by hundreds of generations who lived during these dark ages inheriting their ignorance. Ignorance turned into heritage.

This boycott is also the responsibility of British and French colonialism. The French campaign in Egypt was documented by some as a contribution to the renaissance that resulted in intellectuals like Mohamed Abdu, Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani, Rashid Rida, Rifa'a Al-Tahtawi and others. But at the same time, the occupation also strengthened boycott because people got busy with the idea of liberation more than the idea of enlightenment.

This is what Al-Afghani thought in his disagreement with Abdu. This is very important. Al-Afghani said there was no enlightenment without liberation, accusing Abdu of being discouraging and depressing because the latter thought you cannot fight in two battles at the same time while you're weak. He thought you would either struggle against conquest, like what the Algerians did against the French, or you either fight in an enlightenment battle.

Another question: how come the enlightenment led by Abdu and Al-Afghani occurred during the British conquest and when the occupation ended and Egypt was ruled by an Egyptian the fall down started? You were liberated from a former conquest to experience a nationalistic tyranny.

The unity in the struggle against the British conquest turned into an approval of Arab oppressive rules that proved their failure, like the Arab Nationalism and these kinds of ideas that all broke down on the rock of the 1967 defeat. After the failure of the Arab nationalism concept, the Islamic current popped in the 70s claiming to be a solution or an alternative. Sheikh Ali Abdel-Raziq, one of Mohamed Abdu students, revenged after losing his scientific degree and job when he opposed the concept of the caliphate in his book 'Islam and the Foundations of Rule'. In 1928, Hassan El-Banna's ideas were brought to the fore as a result. These are consecutive accumulations. El-Banna came out after you turned off the light of Sheikh Abdel-Raziq: bats come out when the light goes out.

AO: What's next after Ahl El-Aql?

MW: I feel my hands are tied although I try to use any opportunity to say something that could benefit the people. When you tell anyone that you want to produce an enlightening programme, he will laugh at you but if you pitch him a series of episodes about Hassan Shakoosh, Hamo Bika, Oka and Ortiga, he will agree.

Although the capitalism model is actually falling down in this time of coronavirus, still enlightenment is in eeriness. The world walks upside down. Compare the price of a footballer and a big thinker you will find out the show is up and the brain is down. As Mustafa Mahmoud once said 'As if the world is thinking with its feet' not brain. We are driving, my friend, with the speed of a rocket but backwards not forward.

I will tell you what our crisis is. We have lots of brains and thinkers and lots of genius projects. Mohamed Abed Al-Jabri worked on the criticism of the Arab brain discussing its problems and how to solve them in a big series. Georges Tarabichi replied back deconstructing Al-Jabri's criticism. Arkoun criticised the religious brain in a huge referential project. Then came the Egyptian genius Hassan Hanafi deconstructing the heritage. So we already have solutions for our three major crises in the Arab world but who would accomplish the change? That is the question. Where is the will? Who crippled the turning of thinking into action?

I call this 'the equation of obstruction'. Look, some thinking is like crude oil and its refining produces different fuel oils, vaseline, kerosene, shampoo and all these derivatives. Who turns this crude oil into derivatives that could be daily used by the people? To turn crude thinking into usable ideas by the people, you need three elements: a businessman, a political decision and a religious opinion that says it's lawful to use this shampoo.

These three pillars are what I meant by the 'equation of obstruction' that hinders pure thinking from reaching people's daily lives. The first obstructer is a tyrannical politician whose benefits would be influenced by people's thinking as they rule by enforcing hunger and ignorance. The second is a retroactive jurist that forbids everything.

You know that coffee was prohibited for decades, same as photography, and even trousers were debated. A very stupid story. The third obstructer is a greedy capitalist that could produce a series about Hassan Shakoosh but cannot produce a series about Ibn Rushd.

These are the three main factors of the Arab and Islamic world's crisis. Throughout history, these three used to be enemies but today they are friends and they agreed to be against the Arab and Islamic world's nations.

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BLM spreads the virus of anti-Semitism – The Conservative Woman

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THE squabbles over Dominic Cummings might seem a faint memory but politicians from all parties are still demonstrating their double standards. They happily cheer on Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrators, gathering in their thousands around the country, while its stillillegal for the rest of us to visit our elderly parents. Whatever the one rule for them and another for us judgmentover Cummings, it is nowquite clearthere is one rule for law-abiding citizens who obey the draconian lockdown and one for the thugs creating havoc in the name of protesting against racism.

Of the absurd as well as shocking images weve been besieged with from these protests worthy of Chairman Maos show trials during the Cultural Revolution the most obscene has been the sight of politicians and police taking the knee.

Its high time that those who have participated in this craven gesture understand exactly what they are doing and who they are bowing down to.The uncomfortable truth is that as an organisation BLM is in danger of becoming less about human rights and more aboutvirulent racismand anti-Semitism.

Although the Movement for Black Lives coalition, of which BLM is a prominent member, has largely coalesced around charges of mass incarcerations of black people in the US, police violence against them and other domestic issues (disputed by American academic John McWhorterhere) it has also called for the ending of military aid to Israel,falsely accusing it of being an apartheid state, despite the country arguably being the only democracy in the Middle East.

Four years ago theMovement for Black Livescame out with a manifesto called A Vision for Black Lives,a truly Marxist revolutionary document which inter aliaaccuses Israel of genocide against Palestinians. This is a lie and a blood libel.A string of sympathetic Jewish organisations, from the Anti-Defamation League to the Reform movement and the National Council of Jewish Women, condemned this use of genocide and apartheid language.

Underling this gross defamation is the activists oxymoronic belief that by allying with Islamist agendas, including the destruction of Israel, they are fighting racism.So anyone who criticises their anti-Semitism by definition is pronounced a racist and this becomes, in this mindset, yet another form of racism, a recent phenomenon on which I have written several times.

Two years ago I questioned the political motives of BLM and warned about their anti-Semitism and connection with the Islamist group,the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).I also warned thatBLM were tragically demolishing most of the good work done by equal rights campaigners over the past 50 years: As they up their anti-Semitic rhetoric, pitting black Americans against Jewish ones, the once-supportive alliance between the two groups is being forgotten and eroded.

The liberal elite appear as ignorant of BLMs anti-Semitism as they are of its perverse and conspiracy theory world-view of white supremacistand patriarchal oppression.A man from Mars reading A Vision for Black Lives would be forgiven for believing there was no one man one vote, no equality under the law and no human rights in theUS at all, that its capitalism was as oppressive and brutal as Stalinism.

In their enlightenment, the woke prefer to castigate President Trump while remaining wilfully ignorant about the revolutionary cult theyare endorsing.In the last week, since the protests began inLos Angeles home of the woke celebrity Jewish business owners have been targeted.BLM protesters have vandalisedtheir shops and synagogues. One Iranian Jewish stallholder had his business targeted and destroyed by more than 50 thugs wielding bats and crowbars.

Being taught to hate Israel is shamefully having an effect. Free Palestine and Kill the Jews, war cries of the far Left and Islamists, were scrawled on to the walls of these shops and synagogues. So far BLM have not raised any objections to this vandalism.

Last week at a BLM rally held with the Rhodes Must Fall mob at Oxford University, anti-Semitic slurs and conspiracy theories about Israel abounded.

When some students objected, they were made to feel so uncomfortable that they left the rally.

Its not only Jews who have been subjected to the wrath of the BLM mob. Churches have also been attacked.

Anti-Semitism, like anti-capitalism, is a virus and it spreads.

Britains politicians need to wake up and get a grip. They are foolishly letting an increasingly supremacist BLM, with an anti-Semitic obsession, lead the narrative on racism. Their own overt anti-Semitism, extreme intolerance and prejudice makes theirown claim to fight racism ring hollow. Liberals must never forgethistory norever give anti-Semites a free pass.

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Why the virtual exhibition ‘Inception’ is a bit hit and miss – The Kathmandu Post

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This is the new normal, I say to myself as I gaze into my laptop to venture into the Museum of Nepali Arts 360-degree virtual exhibition: InceptionA collection of Nepali masterpieces, which celebrates paubha works. The show was put up on June 5, and it is MoNAs second virtual exhibition as the country remains in an eased lockdown. But Inception steers away from anything to do with Covid, except it comes to viewers via a virtual platform because of the gloomy reality that still overcasts us.

The exhibition is a collection of paubha works from 15 Nepali artists. And all the works are stories wrapped in strokes, if one takes the time and effort to understand them that is. While some artworks presented deviate from traditional paubha paintings, they all talk about Buddhism and Hinduism and the functioning of the universe. And each artists stylistic is distinctively discernible. The variety of the exhibition also shows how the practice of paubha has evolved with generations.

The first painting is Ganesha, by Raj Prakash Man Tuladhar, and perhaps the exhibition purposely begins with it as the belief goes that the deity is a remover of obstacles. A mandala ignites behind the deity like a nimbus and it seems the artist is drawing a convergence of Hinduism and Buddhism together. The mandala also embodies the principle of life and is considered as the vehicle to seek enlightenment. And so, the exhibition sets its premise in wisdom and philosophy. And the title Inception carries the show, giving an outlook into these works to understand the theory of life.

The exhibition also presents veteran paubha artist Lok Chitrakars Chakrasamvara with consort Vajravarahi which represents the enlightened tantric form of Buddha. And although it might seem like a sexual union between two deities for people, the underlying metaphor is the fastening between compassion and wisdom to work selflessly for the benefit of all. The painting reveals the philosophy with various symbolic elements emulating good and bad emotions telling viewers one must transcend beyond dualities because there is good and bad in everything. The art discusses emptiness and bliss to reach enlightenment.

As stated earlier, some works in the exhibition differ from traditional paubha strictures, particularly in the use of materials and presentation: like Prem Man Chitrakars Dipankara Buddha, which illustrates Dipankara Buddha with meditative buddhas Amitaba and Vairochana in acrylic painting, and the late Manik Man Chitrakars Bratabandha of Siddhartha Gautam Shakya, which is a pigment painting on canvas. Theres also contemporary paubha artist Samundra Man Singh Shresthas oil on canvas painting of Green Tara that represents the element of air and compassion.

Nevertheless, all the works are incredible to marvel at. But perhaps if the exhibition had been in a physical space, the scale of the paintings would have given an even more gratifying experience.

Paubha is a traditional religious painting of deities in Hinduism and Buddhism and is unique to the Newar community. It has traditionally been practised as devotional work, which over the years has commercialised. But earlier, paubha works could only be made by artists who had taken necessary initiation on the subject, locally known as dekha, and required artists to follow ground rules. The latter is still relevant. Unlike other art, paubha has specific norms like these works should follow a story of a deity, reflect their philosophies and should strictly pertain to the articulate iconographies of the deities.

Those who purchase paubha also see a difference between buying a paubha and buying other art works, as they believe paubha transcends the beauty of art and has religious significance and ties. Many Newar communities also consecrate these paintings to use them in their esoteric chambers and are used as a tool for meditation. Paubha making is also part of the Newar tradition where family members commission their priest or artist to make new paubha in various festivals, like Janko, which is celebrated when an elderly person reaches a certain age. And so paubha in itself becomes a powerful work that not just represents a story of a deity, but our intricate connection with this world that evokes spirituality in us. And this perhaps is also why we hesitate to critique paubha works.

Consequently, this leaves us to do what we usually do when we dont understand the depth of certain works: we say they are beautiful and significant; we say we should take pride in the artists skills. But when we say such things, we should be wary of the fact that beyond the aesthetics there is a gap in the discourse of paubha. Yet, without addressing that gap, we just see them as traditional paintings and abide by the deference that our elders have asked from us. And for many, this exhibition may just be that.

The virtual show will make you revel in this art form and make you feel proud. After all, paubha paintings are much more than just art; they are heritage. But here is the catch: sometimes beauty alone cannot make things meaningful. Sure, the work can be alluring, but its allure will be fleeting. And we need to get past this. While MoNA does bring paubha to people, the gap remains un-bridged. And that is something not just for the museum to work at; it is also for the artists and the community to make an effort to see that the knowledge of the artwork is transferred beyond its beauty.

But it is commendable that MoNA is keeping its ambition to promote Nepali art and support Nepali artists despite the outbreak of the virus disrupting our lives. It is continuing with works that will spark discussions about native art like paubha. The museum was also one of the first institutions to shift its focus to the digital medium after the covid outbreak with a 360-degree virtual exhibition that explores the setting of the Kathmandu Guest House where the museum is. And in recent days, their exhibition Inception has received rave reviews from international museums.

Their enthralling beauty makes them accessible on an emotional level even without a knowledge of tantric iconographies they embody, writes Dr John Clarke, curator of Asian Department in Victoria & Albert Museum, in London, on MoNAs website.

But I cant help but think about the possibilities of enriching the virtual experience with this exhibition. The curatorial experience could have benefitted from using sounds to pull in the audience, maybe voiceovers of artists explaining their work or their experience. It could have used the museum space itself to give a context into its storytelling and explored an innovative presentation.

Not that the exhibition looks unimaginative, but it falls short because the digital world is fast-paced. MoNA emphasises the artists voice, and it also provides information to the audience, but they are not engaging enough. Navigating through buttons that take time to respond means losing the audience halfway. And if this digital medium is to become the new normal or a new asset to explore art, the curatorial experience needs to experiment and go beyond just uploading works digitally. It needs to be immersive and interactive because, in the virtual world, its easy to hop from one place to another.

Those who have an interest in paubha will strive to click through all the works, but perhaps not everyone will. Nevertheless, the exhibition is a good start for Nepali art in the virtual world.

Heres the link to the exhibition:

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Why the virtual exhibition 'Inception' is a bit hit and miss - The Kathmandu Post

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June 15th, 2020 at 3:50 am

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earthquake that shocked Europe: how Lisbon recovered after 1755 Recovery podcast series part two – The Conversation UK

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In this second episode of Recovery, a series from The Anthill Podcast exploring key moments in history when the world recovered from a major crisis or shock, were looking at what happened after the earthquake, tsunami and fires that devastated Lisbon in 1755 and shocked Europe.

In 1755, the grand and prosperous city of Lisbon was devastated by a huge earthquake. The Portuguese capital we see today is a product of the reconstruction and recovery after this catastrophic event. But the impact of the earthquake went far beyond the city it destroyed. It affected politics, trade, philosophy and religion across Europe. It has been described as the first modern disaster.

We talk to three academics whose expertise covers the impact and recovery from the Lisbon earthquake in the days, months and years that followed.

Mark Sabine, associate professor in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American studies at the University of Nottingham, tells us about the relief efforts immediately after the quake and how the city was rebuilt. The decisive actions of one of the kings ministers Sebastio Jos de Carvalho e Melo, the Marquis of Pombal fundamentally changed Portuguese politics, religion and society.

David McCallam, reader in French 18th century studies at the University of Sheffield, outlines the media sensation caused by the earthquake. News of the disaster followed the shockwaves across Europe. In its wake, Enlightenment philosophical beliefs like optimism, which claimed that the world is the best version of itself it could be, suddenly seemed untenable.

Finally, we hear from Katie Cross, research fellow in the school of divinity, history and philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. She explains the questions about divine judgement the earthquake prompted in a profoundly Catholic population, and how it shaped ideas about religion and punishment in 18th century Europe.

This episode was produced by Grace Allen, Gemma Ware and Annabel Bligh, with sound design by Eloise Stevens.

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earthquake that shocked Europe: how Lisbon recovered after 1755 Recovery podcast series part two - The Conversation UK

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June 11th, 2020 at 4:52 am

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#JewishHistoryMatters | Eli Birnbaum | The Blogs – The Times of Israel

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Trudging through thick mud, a 14-year-old boy entered Berlin via the Rosenthaler Gate. He had walked, most probably barefoot, from his hometown of Dessau some hundred miles away. Frail, malnourished and hunchbacked, he would in time become one of Jewish historys most famous characters. The year was 1743. Berlin was under the firm control of King Frederick II The Great, a self-declared supporter of the Enlightenment who became the first European ruler to formally declare more than two decades before the American Declaration did similar:

All religions must be tolerated. Every man may seek spiritual salvation in his own manner.

Perhaps young Moses Mendelssohn trudged through the Rosenthaler hoping to encounter that tolerance in his quest for knowledge. Or perhaps he was struck by the confusing irony that, as a Jew, that gate was his only legal point of entry into the free city. The gatekeepers log that day simply read: Today there passed six oxen, seven swineand a Jew.

The Rosenthaler Tor, 1860. (WikiCommons)

The subsequent decades saw unprecedented Jewish assimilation into the upper circles of Prussian society; an era that produced household names such as Rothschild and Oppenheim. In time, Napoleon Bonaparte himself would ride triumphantly through the city, bringing in his wake the French Revolution and its glorious promise of Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite. Jews crowded the streets to catch a glimpse of their saviour.

The glimpse was short-lived. At the Congress of Vienna following Napoleons surrender in 1815, dignitaries met to redraw the future. Jewish representatives, formally invited to attend, had just one request: Let not the gradually increasing tolerance and equality of the preceding decades be an illusion. Let not European nations enlightened, progressive and finally at peace fail to grant us the universal liberty that had still failed to clearly form on the horizon.

German delegates responded with derision. Peace, freedom, opportunity: these were commodities to be enjoyed by the Jew in theory rather than practice. After all, his place was through the Rosenthaler with the oxen and swine. This derision rapidly led to the Hep-Hep! Riots, which swept through a country yearning for revised legislation free of meddling French influence, to rewind the Jewish story back to the squalor and humiliation of the Middle Ages.

Eye-witness accounts and police reports surrounding Hep-Hep! made clear that the rioters were comprised of the entire spectrum of German society; from illiterate peasants to cultured professionals. Jew-hatred united people who otherwise would not have been seen dead in each others company.

Etching of the Hep-Hep! Riots in Frankfurt, Johann Michael Voltz (1819). Notice the well-dressed rioter at the right of the etching. Notice also how there is little overtly Jewish about the victims: They are German in theory, but not in practice. (WikiCommons)

But the uprising of 1819 carried another, far more sinister characteristic: The governments official position was that the riots were illegal. After all, Jews were card-carrying citizens too, right? Wrong. Local authorities showed little to no interest in dispersing the mobs unless their violence turned fatal. Jews could be insulted, their homes and businesses trashed and their families beaten, but no further. You see, deaths make headlines; and even Germany in 1819 was concerned about its public image in the newspapers of the civilized world. The Jew must remain equal in theory, but never in practice.

This abysmally, impossibly complex contradiction granting the Jews life but hating them for living was captured perfectly by socialite Rachel Varnhagen. She was very much the epitome of the Jewish Enlightenment story: A convert to Christianity, friends with Mendelssohns daughters and one of Berlins most sought-after women. Varnhagens Jewish soul still tugged at her heartstrings when she cried:

What should this mass of people do, driven out of their homes? They want to keep them, only to despise and torture them further!

The contradiction persisted unresolved for decades, until a kangaroo court brought it to the attention of the entire world. Alfred Dreyfus, like Mendelssohn, Oppenheim and Rothschild, was a success story; living proof of the indisputable fact that the Jew was fully welcome in society: Dreyfus was wealthy, well-educated, and the only Jewish officer in the French Armys General Staff.

But then, the facade fell. French counter-intelligence became aware of a spy in the General Staff headquarters who was passing crucial information to his German handlers. The investigation was a farcical fait accompli: Who else but the Jew? Dreyfus was arrested on false charges of treason in October 1894. Within 3 months he was convicted by court martial, stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devils Island, all to the backdrop of a frenzied throng chanting Death to the Jews!.

The wheels were turning. In January 1898, author and journalist Emile Zola published his famous letter JAccuse! on the front page of LAurore. It caused an uproar. Dreyfus was summoned back and offered an official pardon, but not the full exoneration that would have restored his rank and admitted quite openly we are sorry. He, like Varnhagen years earlier, decried the same contradiction: The Jew was free to live, but hated for living:

The government of the Republic has given me back my freedom. It is nothing for me without my honor.

The Degradation of Alfred Dreyfus, 1895 (WikiCommons)

Elsewhere in the crowd that day was another journalist who, like Zola, was profoundly affected by the events unfolding in the center of civil, enlightened Paris. That man was Theodor Herzl, and those events were the labour pains accompanying the birth of political Zionism a desperate attempt to resolve that age-old contradiction. Herzl lampooned it superbly when he wrote:

We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and [yet] our appearance there gives rise to persecution!

But to my mind, no-one captured its essence more elementally than Max Nordau, the brain behind the First World Zionist Congress in 1897. His address is well worth reading in its entirety. For now, here is its essence:

In order to produce its full effect, emancipation should first have been completed in sentiment before it was declared in law. But this was not the caseThe emancipation of the Jews was not the consequence of the conviction that a grave injury had been done to a raceand that it was time to atone for the injustice of a thousand years; it was solely the result of the geometrical mode of thoughtIn this manner, the emancipation of the Jews was pronounced, not through fraternal feeling for the Jews, but because logic demanded itThe men of 1792 emancipated us only for the sake of principle.

Equal in theory, but not in practice. In word, but not in deed. Almost precisely two centuries after Moses Mendelssohn first encountered that contradiction on his way into Berlin, Hannah Arendt caught one of the last trains out before the borders closed noose-like around Europes emancipated Jews. In exile, she completed her biography of Rachel Varnhagen. And thus, the Jewish story came full-circle, driven in a downward spiral relentlessly and inevitably toward a Kristallnacht whose destruction and screams echoed those of Hep-Hep! over a century prior.

That story, propelled onward by this Great Contradiction, reached its heartbreaking conclusion when the peoples of Europe stood by in silence as millions of its free and equal Jewish citizens trudged in thick mud, frail and malnourished, through the gates of the gas chambers.

The story of how little Jewish lives mattered for so much of history is one that needs to be heard. It is the story of how racism insidiously persists, hidden beneath the clouds of contradiction in an ostensibly open and free society. Jewish history matters.

It is a cautionary tale of how a society can be legally, politically and philosophically against racism. But that amounts to almost nothing unless at grassroots level, the population sings from the same hymn sheet. Unless, as Nordau so brilliantly put it, public sentiment matches private principle.

A friend once asked me: What is the difference between tolerance and acceptance?

I gave a simple analogy in response:

Imagine you have a sore throat. You try to rest up, drink lemon tea, and wait patiently until it goes away. You tolerate the sore throat because, well, it cant be helped. But at the same time, youre pretty happy when it goes away and certainly wouldnt wish it stuck around longer than necessary.

Acceptance is a totally different level of thinking. It means appreciating something. It means being reluctant to see that thing disappear. It means regret if it does.

Tolerance is what we show sore throats. Not people.

People who we tolerate we welcome into our lives through the Rosenthaler with the oxen and swine. And we are just as glad to see the back of them. People who we accept we welcome into our homes, through the front door. And we are sad to see them go.

Acceptance requires us to ask hard-hitting, brutally self-honest questions. Do I value that person? Do I celebrate the fact that we are different, and seek to learn from them at every opportunity? Do I desire for them to be fully-integrated members of my society, because I cannot imagine it being better for their absence?

Acceptance manifests itself in many forms. But it is not, as Mendelssohn, Varnhagen, Dreyfus, Nordau and Arendt understood, to be found in laws and policy. Acceptance cannot be legislated. It can be found in the heart of the Average Joe on the street; in a solidarity that exposes leaders as frauds and elevates ordinary people into heroes. It can be found in the courage to take a stand and turn theory into practice, word into deed, principle into sentiment.

It can be found in ordinary stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Like Louis I, Grand Duke of Baden, who barely months into his reign risked everything by moving in with a Jewish family in Karlsruhe, stopping the Hep-Hep! rioters in their tracks. Like Caroline Brock, a run-of-the-mill American who simply took the time to ask her black repairman about his experiences in our accepting society. His story has to date been shared online by close to 160,000 people.

I am a 45 year old white woman living in the south, and today was the first time I spoke frankly about racism with a

Caroline Crockett Brock - , 30 2020

The story of Black Lives Matter is one that should be all too familiar to us as Jews. For centuries, we were Europes sore throat. Tolerated, but never accepted. Granted life, but despised for living. A contradiction between sentiment and principle eventually cleansed from the map to the thunderous sound of civilized silence.

It took a Holocaust to teach the enlightened world the difference between reluctant tolerance and loving acceptance. And there is a painfully long road still to walk out of Auschwitz to reach the dream of the Promised Land.

It is our duty and indeed our heritage as Jews to walk that road hand in hand with those who deserve to hear unequivocally: Your Lives Matter.


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#JewishHistoryMatters | Eli Birnbaum | The Blogs - The Times of Israel

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June 11th, 2020 at 4:52 am

Posted in Enlightenment

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