Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Postcolonial Theory and its consequences — Why the academic-activist demonisation of Israel is so dangerous

Ingo Elbe:

Since the pogrom of October 7, a wave of hatred against Israel has flooded Western universities. What we are currently seeing is a significant radicalisation of left-wing actors, even if the trend of which this is the result itself goes back a long way.

What is playing such a significant role in all of this is a type of thinking that has become increasingly popular in many areas of academia, namely postcolonial theory. It is a theory that claims to be able to detect traces of colonialism within forms of knowledge and social structures long after colonial rule itself has formally ended.

The motif of “coloniality” — a collective term for the diagnosis of a Western world order that is supposed to have covered the so-called global South with racist exclusion and genocide for some 500 plus years—is declared to be the main yardstick for historical analysis and social criticism.

Adepts of this new grand narrative are convinced that with the notion of “coloniality” they have also hit upon a key for the understanding of Judaism, Zionism, Antisemitism, and the Shoah. Which leads to deep-seated theoretical distortions that are systematic: Antisemitism is dissolved conceptually into racism, the Holocaust is relativised as a colonial crime, Israel is demonised, and Islamic and Arab antisemitism is ignored.

The Israeli historian Anita Shapira puts it aptly: “The Jew as victim becomes an ideal.”

The demonisation of Israel is a long-standing practice in this movement, and it can take various forms. A direct transference of antisemitic motifs onto Israel is common. For example, an icon of the postmodern left, Judith Butler, speaks of Israel “murdering children”. In her accusation that Jews who defend a nation state are betraying their essence, there is an echo of the legend of the Jew condemned to eternal exile, to a diaspora existence of surrender to the Other. In an apt formulation by the Israeli historian Anita Shapira, “The Jew as victim becomes an ideal.”

This is where the notorious formula ‘National Socialism equals Israel’ kicks in. Here’s the source of the idea of Israel supposedly continuing the process of nationalism leading to the Holocaust, which is why prominent postcolonials resort to such grotesque analogies: the situation in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank is supposed to remind of Nazi concentration camps or the Warsaw Ghetto.

For Ramón Grosfoguel, “Hitlerism as a continuation of colonial racist ideology came back to hunt Palestinians, this time at the hands of European Jews”. In the fight against Israel, “the future of humanity is at stake”, no less. According to this redemptive anti-Zionism, “The Palestinian victory will take humanity to a higher level of consciousness.”

Israel is seen as the incarnation of all Western colonial crimes, “eliminating” the “indigenous people”, in this case the Palestinians. The US activist Linda Sarsour goes so far as to defend the dehumanisation of the supposedly white Jewish settlers. Pointing to the Zionists, she warns: “If you’re on the side of the oppressor, or you’re defending the oppressor, or you’re actually trying to humanize the oppressor, then that’s a problem”.

So it’s no wonder that London professor Gilbert Achcar, who as recently as June 2022 was still a guest at the “Hijacking Memory” conference organised by the Centre for Research on Antisemitism (ZfA) and the Einstein Forum, celebrates the Hamas massacre of October 7 as a “quasi-desperate act of bravery”.

The more elegant strategy, however, is the humanistically draped demonisation of Israel through the de-realization of the antisemitic brutality itself, as can be found in the popular “contextualisations” of the October pogrom. An open letter signed by leading representatives of Postcolonial Studies such as A. Dirk Moses and Michael Rothberg, but also by the director of the ZfA, Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, states: “Seventy-five years of displacement, fifty-six years of occupation, and sixteen years of the Gaza blockade have generated an ever-deteriorating spiral of violence that can only be arrested by a political solution.”

Here, Arab pogroms against the Yishuv in the 1920s and 30s, the Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state, the wars of aggression by Arab armies against Israel and its peace offers in 2000 or 2008 are completely ignored—in such Manichean formulations by leading academics, there is apparently room only for one victim and one perpetrator.

At the root of this type of demonisation, within postcolonial studies, there is however a very basic methodological and political deficit.

If one takes, as a point of departure, Edward Said’s idea of Orientalism—a key example for this way of thinking—then the West invents the image of a degraded Oriental Other in order to define itself, to purge its self-image from all that is negative, to create a self-justication for its imperial claim to power.

Much of the writing from the postcolonial movement cultivates a double standard: one needs only to take a closer look at the representation of how the “West” is said to discuss the “global South”. This is always represented as the exercise of illegitimate colonial power, with the substance of such discourse being entirely dismissed.

The “global South” is often presented as victim, or is treated as a mute object for projection.

The “global South” comes to be seen as a victim or as a mute projection surface, and thereby presented as conceptually incapable. The Islamic Studies scholar Bernard Lewis has spoken ironically of the “white man’s burden of guilt”, a negative superiority mindset that assumes that only white Europeans can be responsible for the world’s ills.

The “Other”, Islamist regimes and movements such as Iran or Hamas for instance, seldom feature as protagonists at all. Should their acts of violence and power relations be discussed, they are not taken seriously, antisemitic statements are trivialised as the mere rhetoric of desperate victims, and their behaviour is interpreted as merely reactive to the actions of the West or those of Israel.

At the same time, what are presented as more complex variants of postcolonial thinking suffer from systematic flaws all of their own. Coloniality and liberal democracy are presented as two sides of the same coin. With the result that what is to follow on from ‘colonial modernity’ remains obscure. A ‘multipolar world order’ is often praised as an alternative, following a notion of left-wing ethnopluralism, which lends legitimacy to authoritarian powers such as Russia, Iran or China. Such ‘alternative modernities’ are presented under the heading of ‘hybridity’.

Where this leads, is that the colonised (whether real or imaginary) are encouraged to engage in a subversive reinterpretation of concepts such as human rights or democracy from within their own specific ethnocultural perspective: culturally specific human rights or ‘Islamic democracy’ thus become desirable goals in the struggle against Western hegemony. It is this that leads to ideological alliances between postcolonial leftists and jihadists—one needs merely to read the unambiguous statements of left-wing protagonists like Judith Butler, Susan Buck-Morss, Walter Mignolo or Ramón Grosfoguel.

Preventing insight through the simulation of overcomplexity.

Large swathes of the academic left, however, are engaged in a defence against critique: one labours to block understanding through the simulation of over-complexity—one proclaims that postcolonial theory, as a unitary idea, does not exist. Or one claims that there is an enormous gulf between highly differentiated postcolonial studies and their simplistic reception in activist circles. But for all that, for all the internal differences of postcolonial approaches, the above-mentioned argumentation patterns appear so regularly and so often, especially amongst its high-profile representatives, that it is necessary to speak of a dominant mindset.


And finally, these academics themselves often act as activists, presenting themselves as such. Manifesting itself not only in the manichean* and simplistic arguments—sometimes reaching excruciating levels—to be found in the now almost endless number of open letters against Israel.

Jews have nothing good to expect from such academic activism in the 21st century.

*Manichean or thinking in “dualities,” solely in black and white.


FBI Suspends Employee’s Clearance After Probing Trump Support, COVID-19 Views

The FBI revoked the security clearance of an employee after asking colleagues questions–under threat of discipline–about his support for former President Donald Trump and views on the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a complaint to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.

The employee attended the rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington before it turned into a riot, and reported his presence to the FBI the next day, according to the whistleblower advocacy group Empower Oversight, which issued a complaint to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on June 8, in a letter made public Monday night with the client’s name blacked out.

The complaint comes on the heels of the FBI reinstating the security clearance of whistleblower Marcus Allen, a former FBI staff operations specialist, after allegations of politicized retaliation.

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The 12-year employee also volunteered to an FBI polygraph, in which the Office of Inspector General found “no deception” when he said he did not enter the Capitol or a restricted area.

In March 2022, then-FBI Executive Assistant Director Jennifer Leigh Moore suspended the employee’s security clearance, and made an indefinite suspension without pay. The employee then made confidentiality protected disclosures to the House Judiciary Committee that alleged politicization of the security clearance process.

“The FBI Security Division (“SecD”) improperly pursued a broad, sweeping investigation into our client’s political opinions, questioning other protected First Amendment activity and Second Amendment advocacy while off-duty,” Empowerment Oversight President Tristan Leavitt said in the cover letter of the complaint to Horowitiz, the inspector general.

Empower Oversight obtained the investigative files from the FBI. Leavitt said the “shocking documents” demonstrate the FBI Security Division’s “political bias and abuse of the security clearance process to purge the FBI of employees who expressed disfavored political views or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.”

The FBI sent the former employee’s colleagues a questionnaire, asking such questions as whether the employee did “Vocalize support for President Trump,” “Vocalize objection to Covid-19 vaccination,” and “Vocalize intent to attend 01/06/2021.”

“Instead of limiting its investigation to legitimate issues, SecD [the FBI’s Security Division] acted as if support for President Trump, objecting to COVID-19 vaccinations, or lawfully attending a protest was the equivalent of being a member of Al Qaeda or the Chinese Communist Party,” the Empower Oversight complaint to the inspector general says. “The FBl’s intentions are made clear by the questions it chose to put in black and white on a government document.”

Whistleblowers and former FBI agents have come forward with stories about the FBI focusing on pro-life protesters, developing a “threat tag” to monitor parents who spoke up at school board meetings, and relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left organization that brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations “hate groups,” putting them on a map with the Ku Klux Klan.

The FBI’s Richmond office cited the SPLC in targeting “radical traditional Catholics” for surveillance in a memo last January, before the national office officially rescinded the memo. The Justice Department took a briefing with the SPLC when it released a “hate” report in 2023.

According to documents obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, FBI agents worked about 16,000 more hours during the pay period after the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, than they did during the pay period of the 2020 riots in Washington, D.C.


French voters have delivered a damning verdict on Macron

I sensed something significant was going to unfold on Sunday as I took my morning coffee at our village café. Enjoying the June sunshine I watched as a steady stream of men and women walked past on their way to the voting booth in the village hall. Forty-eight per cent of them cast their ballot for Jordan Bardella of the National Rally. The next best was Valerie Hayer, representing president Macron’s party; she managed 12 per cent.

The people chose Macron, and got chaos

The voter turnout in my village in Burgundy was 60 per cent, an eight per cent increase on the 2019 elections and 17 per cent superior to 2014. Overall in France, the turnout was 52.5 per cent, the highest in European elections since 1994.

But this election was never about Europe. It was a French mid-term, an opportunity for the people to pass judgement on president Macron two years into his second term. That judgement is damning.

Macron has never been a popular president. He was elected in 2017 almost by default. The favourite, the centre-right former prime minister Francois Fillon, was brought down by a financial scandal, and the Socialist candidate was punished for the sins of the outgoing president, Francois Hollande. That left Marine Le Pen.

Macon styled it as a choice between ‘me or chaos’, a phrase first coined by Charles de Gaulle during the 1965 presidential campaign.

The people chose Macron, and got chaos. Crime, immigration, Islamism and the cost of living have all risen sharply under Macron. In the two years since he was re-elected – defeating Le Pen once more but with a reduced majority – these increases have soared. It’s almost as if Macron, knowing the Constitution precludes his running for a third successive term, has forsaken boring domestic issues for the glamour of the global stage.

He may enjoy playing this attention but his people are increasingly concerned by his belligerent rhetoric towards Russia. As Marine Le Pen put it last week, ‘you get the feeling that Macron wants a war’.

Furthermore, the French can’t help contrast his bullishness towards Putin with his cowardice towards Islamism. In a long television interview on Thursday evening, Macron spoke of the need to defeat Russia, and to that end France would be supply some fighter jets to Ukraine.

In the same interview he lamented the 300 per cent increase in acts of anti-Semitism in France this year, calling it ‘inexplicable’.

The right-wing leader of the Reconquest party Eric Zemmour, himself a Jew, swiftly offered the president an explication. ‘We are suffering from imported anti-Semitism from the Arab-Muslim culture,’ he said. ‘The more immigrants there are from these countries where this culture has a foothold, the more anti-Semitism there will be in France.’

In one of his first major television interviews as president, in October 2017, Macron vowed that any illegal immigrant who committed an offence ‘of any kind will be deported’. He made his announcement a few days after two young women were stabbed to death at Marseille railway station by a Tunisian.

It was the first major security crisis of his presidency and a stony-faced Macron assured the French ‘he would be ‘uncompromising on this issue’ and he acknowledged that border control had become shambolic. ‘We no longer take all the measures that need to be taken. Well, that’s going to change.’

It hasn’t. It’s got worse. And the two young women murdered in Marseille were the first of a long list of people killed by people who were in France illegally.

During campaigning for the European elections, Macron’s go-to issue was Ukraine and Bardella’s was immigration/ insecurity. The result of the election proves what troubles the French most.

Among the many guests who were in Normandy last week for the D-Day commemorations was Keir Starmer. According to a report in the Sunday Times, the Labour leader made the most of Rishi Sunak’s decision to cut short his time in France by rubbing shoulders with Macron. One of the president’s aides told Starmer that he ‘really liked’ him because he is ‘fascinated by men like him who can suddenly achieve stunning results’.

Presumably then Macron is also a fan of Jordan Bardella, as the result he achieved on Sunday was stunning. His victory in the European elections has forced Macron to call a snap election on 30 June. The second round of voting takes place on 7 July, just three days after Britain goes to the polls to choose its prime minister.

If Starmer is elected Premier he would be advised to look to Macron only as an example of how not to lead. His divisive presidency has been a disaster for France. Anger and demoralisation hangs in the air wherever one goes. It is as well that Macron has called a snap election; had he ignored Sunday’s result and carried on as arrogantly as ever, I suspect there may have eventually been some form of uprising.

Consequently, there is a strong likelihood that the Republic’s next prime minister will be Jordan Bardella, the working-class lad from the Parisian suburbs. One can’t see him and Sir Keir doing much to improve the entente cordiale.


‘There’s no safe level’: Carcinogens found in tap water across Australia

Not PFOS again! This scare is like Global Warming: No facts will dent belief in it.

The WHO study referred to was just a meta-analysis, which is very vunerable to manipulation, but even its conclusion was very weak. It found that PFOS is "possibly carcinogenic to humans". Note the "POSSIBLY". It was no basis for any action at all. It was actually an exoneration of PFOS. No matter how hard they tried, they could find no evidence against it

Tap water across parts of Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Victoria, Queensland and the tourist havens of Rottnest and Norfolk islands has been found to contain contaminants that US authorities now warn are likely to be carcinogenic, with “no safe level of exposure”.

Experts say widespread testing of Australia’s drinking water must be an urgent priority after the US Environmental Protection Agency’s dramatic policy shift in April found there was no safe level of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water and they were likely to cause cancer.

The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency has gone a step further, concluding in December that PFOA is carcinogenic to humans.

Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith, a toxic chemicals campaigner who has served on United Nations expert committees, slammed it as a “national disgrace” that PFOA is now permitted in Australia’s tap water at 140 times the maximum level the US will allow.

This masthead has analysed publicly available data which indicates the chemicals have been found in the drinking water of up to 1.8 million Australians since 2010, including in the Sydney suburbs of North Richmond, Quakers Hill, Liverpool, Blacktown, Emu Plains and Campbelltown, along with the NSW regional centres of Newcastle, Bathurst, Wagga Wagga, Lithgow, Gundagai and Yass.

The pollutants have also been detected in tap water in Canberra, the inner Melbourne suburb of Footscray, inner-city Adelaide, the Queensland regional centres of Cairns and Gladstone, Kingborough in greater Hobart and locations across Darwin and the Northern Territory.

The most comprehensive data comes from a federally funded University of Queensland study published in 2011, which sampled 34 locations across the country.

Various water providers have carried out their own localised surveillance in recent years, which confirms the chemicals are still turning up in some of the same locations they were first found in 2011, in some instances at even higher concentrations.

However, this masthead wasn’t able to locate any further widespread studies of Australian tap water funded by Commonwealth agencies since the 2011 study.

During the past decade, the federal government has been defending class actions over its use of the chemicals in firefighting foam and denying they cause “important” health effects.

It reached the first of settlements with 11 communities collectively worth $366 million in the weeks after the Federal Court’s expert umpire concluded there was good evidence the chemicals potentially cause harmful health effects, including cancer.


My other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

https://immigwatch.blogspot.com (IMMIGRATION WATCH)

https://awesternheart.blogspot.com (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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