(October 8, 2012)
[Please include your first and last names, and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]
Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012)
To the Editor:
I only met Hobsbawm once -- in London in 1965 -- at his home and he was warm and generous -- in a word, comradely. I knew some of his comrades -- same generation -- who were also in the British Communist Party and intellectuals and professors. They were inspiring -- inspired me, certainly, to ignore the Cold War intellectuals and to use Marx's writings and ideas to understand the world. By Vietnamese or Chinese standards, the British CP members seemed mild, indeed, but of course not by the standards of the anti-Communist crusaders. They left a mark on me I am happy to say.
Santa Rosa, California, USA - October 1, 2012
Konrad Lorenz's Nazi past: Michael Barker's carefully researched work On Konrad Lorenz
To the Editor:
I was trying to e-mail the author and independent UK researcher Michael Barker who wrote two pieces on ethologist Konrad Lorenz. I wanted to invite him to join the newly formed Yahoo group naziethology at Subscribe: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or anybody else has an interest in this subject please subscribe. For too long Nazi Konrad Lorenz has escaped appropriate public censure for his activities during the Third Reich. Even today there is the Austrian based Konrad Lorenz Institute on evolutionary research and cognition and many still read his books with little or no knowledge of his Nazi past or how his ethological theories lent themselves to the racial hygiene principles of the Third Reich. I'm not a scientist, but I don't think Lorenz's career has been adequately been publicly made known, especially his Nazi past.
Triangle, Prince William County, Virginia, USA - September 25, 2012
Of Mice and Men: Gilles d'Aymery's Blips #129
Hey Mr. d'Aymery:
Want to get rid of your mice invasion? Get 3 or 4 cats and don't feed them too much so that they won't get lazy and overweight. They'll hunt and eat the rodents. Problem solved!
Regarding the much more serious, sensitive, and controversial topics of freedom of expression and Muslims in France, you are vastly underestimating the extent of the problem. Perhaps this is because you live in the U.S. where Muslims are only 0.2 percent of the population and many were wealthy and highly educated when they immigrated, and because you have not visited France in some 25 years. Things have changed in the past 25 years. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe, 5 million and counting, half French, the other half immigrants -- legal and illegal -- from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mali, Turkey, etc. who came for economic opportunities and were for the most part poor and uneducated (as were their predecessors in the 1960s). Their number is growing very fast and may reach 10 percent of the French population in a few years. In just 10 years locales for prayer have gone from about 1,000 to almost 2,400. The largest mosque in France has just been inaugurated by the minister of the interior in Strasburg. Two hundred additional ones are being planned or built, often partly financed by foreign countries. People fear the Islamization of the society and the loss of its social cohesion.
It does not help that an increasing segment of the Muslim population are calling themselves "Muslim French" (hello communitarism! -- which may be considered okay in the U.S. but is anathema in France). Demands for special food (halal, no pork, etc.) in schools, segregated beaches, special women-only hours in public swimming pools, making blasphemy illegal, etc. do not help either. Add the 10 or 15,000 Salafists that reject secularism and the laws of the Republic, and stroll along the streets with the bearded man dressed in a djellaba followed in his back by his wife (or wives) fully veiled (burqa, niqab) and then the assembly of kids trotting behind, and you should not wonder why people are getting very upset. Manuel Valls, the secretary of the interior, said that he would deport the integrists that do not respect the laws and secularism to their country of origin. Easy to say, but harder to do. Where to deport an integrist born in France? The most virulent integrists are often enough French converts...
More than all of the above people are scared by the deadly attacks, the violent demonstrations that can pop up at a moment's notice, the recurring claims of victimization and stigmatization, and that "they," the "Muslims," are up to no good and want to take over France -- and the world. Close to 80 percent of the French people consider that Islam is growing too fast, and over 50 percent see Muslims as a threat to society and their way of life.
Whether these attitudes are fair or not, they are a reality, which you are ignoring or downplaying. People tend not to speak publicly about this. They don't want to be accused of racism, and they don't want to play into the hands of the National Front and Marine Le Pen. So they whisper instead in offices and cafés -- my friends included -- about agreeing with Le Pen on this issue. Ask your family and other French correspondents and you will get an earful or e-mail-full sense of the fear and rejection that permeate the country.
Be glad to only have a mouse problem... I could, of course, proffer an opinion about the 2013 French "serious" budget that was divulged today. It's a "fighting budget," said the French president -- €20 billion in new taxes and €10 billion in savings, which can only help competitiveness, so they claim ironically -- but I am not an economist and my 4-month pregnancy is tiring me. Time to go to sleep.
Allez, bon vent.
Paris, France - September 28, 2012
Thougths and Clarifications on "Beyond Voting," by Ken Knabb of the Bureau of Public Secrets
Gilles d'Aymery here: This, I feel, is a good addition or complement to Manuel García's three-part analysis on the upcoming US presidential election, which third part, "Voting Illusions And Reality 2012," is published in this issue.
Ken Knabb first includes an excerpt of his 1997 The Joy of Revolution that covers "the limits of electoral politics." Then, he appends to the excerpt a series of clarifications and observations regarding the US elections in 2008, 2010, and 2012.
These are thoughtful observations that, while different from García's own analysis (which I much agree with), will bring another perspective to our readers regarding the state of voting and democracy in the U.S.
Again, the link to Knabb's text is: http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/beyond-voting.htm
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