Tag Archives: politics

Tom Brokaw, liberal Democrat – Power Line (blog)

Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:46 am

In the introduction to Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?, the anthology of conservative thought he edited for publication in 1970, William F. Buckley memorably declared: Blindfold me, spin me about like a top, and I will walk up to the single liberal in the room without zig or zag and find him even if he is hiding behind a flower pot. Which reminds me.

As a young lawyer new to private practice but fresh from a clerkship on the Eighth Circuit, I was asked to work with South Dakota attorney Larry Piersol as local counsel on an appeal pending for one of Larrys clients in that court. Larry worked in private practice in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and was a South Dakotan through and through.

In late 1981 or early 1982 Larry came to town for the oral argument of the appeal in St. Paul. We had Larry over for dinner and got to talking about matters political. Larry had served in the South Dakota House of Representatives as Democratic minority whip and even for a term as majority leader. His success in politics was no accident; he was both likable and intelligent. Indeed, his legal skills and political service resulted in his appointment to the bench as a district judge by Bill Clinton in 1993. (Judge Piersol took senior status in 2009.)

In the course of our conversation Larry told me that he was an old friend of South Dakota native Tom Brokaw. Brokaw, he confided, is an interesting guy. You really cant get a good handle on his politics, he told me.

I disagreed. Hes a liberal, I asserted.

You really cant tell, Larry responded.

I can tell, I said. Hes a liberal.

How could I tell? I cant remember. Im not bragging; its not hard to tell. Bill Buckley would not have had to exert his great analytical powers to find Brokaw out. You can just tell.

If youve heard any of Brokaws brief commentaries served up in recent years as An American Story, or heard him opining on any of the NBC/MSNBC gabfests, you know hes a liberal, and an earnest one at that.

I love the tagline he uses for his American Story commentaries. This is Tom Brokaw reporting, he says. Hes still deep under cover. Its almost funny.

Reading Brokaws New York Times column yesterday about the opportunity he was offered to serve as President Nixons press secretary in late 1969, I thought back to my conversation with Larry. Brokaw writes in the Times column:

White House press secretary to Richard Nixon? I had been raised in a family of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman Democrats. My parents were skeptical about John F. Kennedy, but my wife and I were generational enthusiasts.

I worked hard at keeping personal beliefs out of my work, but there were limits. My first job, in a deeply conservative Omaha newsroom, was a test. Most of my colleagues thought I was a crazed liberal for supporting Medicare and the voting rights and civil rights bills.

Not a crazed liberal, Tom, just a liberal. A decent liberal, a patriotic liberal, but a liberal nevertheless, of the Democrat variety.

This is Scott Johnson reporting.

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Religious Freedom Is a Progressive Value – AlterNet

Posted: February 18, 2017 at 4:07 am

American flag and old church steeple reflect separation of church and state Photo Credit: Bobkeenan Photography

To read press coverage about it, one might think that religious freedom is a concern only for religious and political conservatives, and not one of the most liberatory ideas in history. One would also think religious freedom and civil rights are at odds with one another. Indeed, U.S. history is filled with examples of such competing claims, as resistance to everything from African American civil rights to marriage equality have been cast as matters of religious freedom. But stepping back from the heat of our political moment, there is a different, more fully accurate, story to be told, one I think that as progressives, we need to know and be able to tell.

Religious freedom is a powerful ideathe stuff from which revolutions are sometimes made. It includes the right of individual conscienceto believe or not believe as we choose, without undue influence from government or powerful religious institutions, and to practice our beliefs free from the same constraints. Its no surprise that the first part of the First Amendment guarantees freedom of belief. The right to believe differently from the rich and powerful is a prerequisite for free speech and a free press. Grounding our politics, journalism, and scholarship in a clear understanding of what it means and where it came from could serve as both an inoculation and an answer to the distorted, self-serving claims of the Christian Right.

It was religious freedom that allowed for Quakers, evangelicals and Unitarians to lead the way in opposition to slavery in the 19th Century. Religious freedom also allowed Catholics and mainline Protestants to guide society in creating child labor laws early in the 20th Century, and later made it possible for religious groups and leaders to help forge wide and evolving coalitions to advance African American Civil Rights and womens equality, to oppose the Vietnam war, and eventually fight for LGBTQ civil and religious rights.

Such coalitions arent always easy. When North Carolina Disciples of Christ minister Rev. Dr. William Barber, a leader in the progressive Moral Mondays movement, was asked about squaring religious freedom and marriage equality, he looked to the lessons of history and the wisdom of his own religious tradition. Working within a coalition that had long included LGBTQ advocates, Barber noted that the Christian Right was trying to divide our ranks by casting doubt either among the LGBTQ community or among the African American community about whether our moral movement truly represented them.

In the last century the NAACP had faced a similar challenge over the question of restrictions on interracial marriage. They ultimately opposed the bans, he wrote, as a matter of upholding the moral and constitutional principle of equal protection under the law. Faced with yet another fear-based tactic today, Barber wrote, our movements response had to be the same. He found his response in the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of churches, synagogues, and mosques to discern for themselves what God says about marriage, free from governmental attempts to enforce its preferred religious doctrines.

The Revolutionary era Virginians who created our approach to religious freedom, understood religious freedom to be synonymous with the idea of the right of individual conscience. James Madison wrote that when the Virginia Convention of 1776 issued the Virginia Declaration of Rights (three weeks before the Declaration of Independence), the delegates removed any language about religious toleration and declared instead the freedom of conscience to be a natural and absolute right. Madison was joined in supporting the rights of conscience by evangelical Presbyterians and Baptists who also insisted on a separation of church and state for fear that mixing would corrupt both.

Invoking the words of the Founders may seem hokey or sound archaic to some. But they knew that the freedom they were seeking to establish was fragile, and likely to be opposed in the future. Understanding the thru-line that connects the struggles for religious freedom at the founding of the country to todays helps us fight to defend the principle from redefinition and cooptation.

Such an understanding helped the United States Commission on Civil Rights in 2016 when it issued a major report on issues involving religious exemptions from the law. “Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others,” said Commission Chair Martin R. Castro, who also further denounced the use of religious liberty as a “code word” for “Christian supremacy.”

The Commission found that overly broad religious exemptions from federal labor and civil rights laws undermine the purposes of these laws and urged that courts, legislatures, or executive agencies narrowly tailor any exemptions to address the need without diminishing the efficacy of the law.

Religious freedom advocates of the colonial era faced powerful entrenched interests who actively suppressed religious deviance and dissent that might upset their privileges. In the Virginia colony attendance was required at the Sunday services of the Church of England, and failure to attend was the most prosecuted crime in the colony for many years. Members of church vestries were also empowered to report religious crimes like heresy and blasphemy to local grand juries. Unsurprisingly, the wealthy planters and business owners who comprised the Anglican vestries were able to limit access to this pipeline to political power. Dissenters from these theocratic dictates were dealt with harshly. In the years running up to the Revolution, Baptists and other religious dissidents in Virginia were victims of vigilante violence. Men on horseback would often ride through crowds gathered to witness a baptism, historian John Ragosta reports. Preachers were horsewhipped and dunked in rivers and ponds in a rude parody of their baptism ritual Black attendees at meetings whether free or slave were subject to particularly savage beatings.

This was the context in which Jefferson drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1777, which took nearly a decade to become law. The statute effectively disestablished the Anglican Church as the state church of Virginia, curtailing its extraordinary powers and privileges. It also decreed that citizens are free to believe as they will and that this shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. The statute was the first in history to self-impose complete religious freedom and equality, and historians as well as Supreme Court justices widely regard it as the root of how the framers of the Constitution (and later the First Amendment) approached matters of religion and government.

The principle of religious equality under the law was a profoundly progressive stance against the advantages enjoyed and enforced by the ruling political and economic elites of the 18th Century. Then, for example, as John Ragosta writes in Religious Freedom: Jeffersons Legacy, Americas Creed, Marriages had to be consecrated by an Anglican minister, making children of dissenters who failed to marry within the Church of England (or pay the local Anglican priest for his cooperation) subject to claims of bastardy, with potentially serious legal consequences.

Such abuses may seem like a relic of the past, but in recent years some Christians have tried to outlaw the religious marriages of others. In 2012 Christian Right advocates in North Carolina sought to build on existing laws limiting marriages to heterosexual couples by amending the state constitution, using language that would effectively criminalize the performance of marriage ceremonies without a license. This meant that clergy from varied religious traditions, from Judaism to Christianity to Buddhism, would be breaking the law if they solemnized religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. And the motive was explicitly religious. State Senator Wesley Meredith, for example, cited the Bible in explaining, We need to regulate marriage because I believe that marriage is between a man and woman.

This issue was part of the 2014 case General Synod of the United Church of Christ vs. Resinger, wherein a federal judge declared that laws that deny same-sex couples the right to marry in the state, prohibit recognition of legal same-sex marriages from elsewhere in the United States, or threatens clergy or other officiants who solemnize the union of same-sex couples with civil or criminal penalties were unconstitutional. It was an historic victory for a progressive version of religious liberty but one soundly rooted in the history of religious freedom. Clergy could now perform same-sex marriage ceremonies without fear of prosecution,” said Heather Kimmel, an attorney for the UCC.

Jefferson and his contemporaries saw religious freedom as the key to disentangling ancient, mutually reinforcing relationships between the economic and political interests of aristocrats and the institutional imperatives of the church: what Jefferson called an unholy alliance of kings, nobles, and priestsmeaning clergy of any religionthat divided people in order to rule them. His Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was intended to put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizens the freedom of the mind.

A quarter-millennium later, we are still struggling to defend religious freedom against erosion and assaults by powerful religious institutions and their agents inside and outside of government. Aspiring clerical aristocrats debase the idea of religious freedom when they use it as tool to seek exemptions from the generally applicable laws of the United Statesparticularly those that prohibit discrimination.

Religious freedom and civil rights are complementary values and legal principles necessary to sustain and advance equality for all. Like Rev. Barber, we must not fall for the ancient tactic of allowing the kings, nobles and priests of our time to divide and set us against one another.

We have come a long way since the revolutionaries who founded our country introduced one of the most powerfully democratic ideas in the history of the world. The struggle for religious freedom may never be complete, but it remains among our highest aspirations. And yet the kinds of forces that struggled both for and against religious freedom in the 18th Century are similar to those camps today. We are the rightful heirs of the constitutional legacy of religious freedom; the way is clear for us to find our voices and to reclaim our role.

This article will appear in the Winter issue of The Public Eye magazine.

Frederick Clarkson is a senior fellow at Political Research Associates and a member of the Public Eye editorial board. He is the editor of Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America, and the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.

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Religious Freedom Is a Progressive Value – AlterNet

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Go whole hog in war on drug lords – The Standard (press release)

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 1:50 am

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Deputy President William Ruto. (Photo: Beveryne Musili/Standard)

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have declared war on Kenyas drug lords. The two made the declaration in Mombasa, which in international circles is perceived to be the golden gate for drugs from Asia and South en route to Europe and US.

Listening to them you are left with no doubt they have a list of suspects and the dragnet is closing in. The declaration was made at the Coast, which has suffered two misfortunes. One is the radicalisation of the youth and relocation to Somalia to train with Al Shabaab.

Secondly, many families have suffered the agony of seeing their children sink into drug abuse and eventually die an excruciating death in the grip of heroine or cocaine.

One painful case was a former Mombasa Kanu supremo whose drug addicted son once interrupted his press conference only to ask for Sh200 presumably, for the next dose. There is no illusion that Kenya has a strong, well-connected network of drug traffickers. The US Government in 2010 gave a list of suspects to then Minister for Internal Security, George Saitoti.

He read it to Parliament and they were the familiar people Kenyans call pharmacists; The Boss John Haroun Mwau, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho, Kiambu Governor and former aide of Mr Mwau, William Kabogo, Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, businessman Ali Punjani and the usual culprits the Akasha brothers; Baktash and Vijaygiri. Last month, the two brothers were extradited to US in handcuffs and on a chartered plane.

The people whom Prof Saitoti named in Parliament in 2010 have denied the charges, including Mr Mwau who is fighting to get back his assets and cash, to the tune of millions of dollars frozen by US authorities.

ALSO READ: War on narcotics: Ring exposed as dirty money, drugs seized

Mr Joho meanwhile has asked Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to go for the main culprits, insisting he was not a pharmacist. But it is important to note the third reason why the President and his deputy made their declaration on drug cartels in Mombasa.

It was not just to get the message closer to Mr Johos ear but also a political strategy to pluck some feathers from the wings of his rising popularity in the region and in Raila Odingas Orange party.

It probably can be argued that Mr Kenyatta is keen on slowing Mr Johos star but for Mr Ruto, you can safely bet he wouldnt mind breaking the Governors leg as part of the effort to clear the stumbling blocks to his 2022 race. It happens that the Mombasa governor who is also battling questions about his university degree, has been on the lip in Coast as either a serious contender after 2022 or a bankable running-mate with deep pockets.

The war against drugs isnt an easy one because even for those named by the late Saitoti, the claims against them have been very speculative. The drug cartels have survived regimes.

They mutate and adopt well to changing circumstances. They have strong connections in the police, Judiciary and the Executive.

We may never know whether the chopper carrying Saitoti and his Assistant Joshua Orwa Ojode was brought down over the Ngong Forest, but we must take cognisance of the fact that drug cartels and Al Shabaab were mentioned as likely suspects. But there was also talk of mechanical failure or human error.

But even as we wish the President and his deputy luck in this war we also have a duty as good citizens to point out that politicising this fight on drugs is the first indicator it is not going far. After all, drug traffickers must surely be on both sides of our politics, with loyalty to no one in particular but the protection of their wealth and the camouflage of their operations.

ALSO READ: Why war on drugs fires up our soft political underbelly

They also suffer no indignity, so long as the money is coming. Remember that the senior Akasha and the lord of them all, Ibrahim was brought back a dead man in a sealed coffin. The pathologists removed the naked body, put it on a slab at City Mortuary, then turned it round to take pictures of every mark in the body. They also took fingerprints.

The Government had to be 100 per cent sure this was not a decoy but that he had indeed died in the hands of a cycling assassin in an Amsterdams street coincidentally named Bloedstraat (Blood Street).

Reports suggest that he was taken out by a rival group over a deal gone sour in the Sodom and Gomorrah of The Netherlands. Next, you hear that his sons have taken over, with rumours that they too, even got to killing each other in battle to control his businesses.

That is how enriching and bewitching this business Mr President and DP is. These cartels will fight back and when you forewarn them they just lie low, like antelopes, but just for a while.

They also have connections right through the arms of government and as usual, they buy their loyalty, through well-connected people. We can be sure that some of them are even secretly financing both your party and the Opposition for that is their survival strategy.

Yes, go for them but go the whole hog, not along party lines. You lose the confidence of the Kenyans when it appears you have 100 arrows in your quiver, one of them poisoned, na umetengea just one suspect.

ALSO READ: Joho opens up on drugs claims

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Drought-crazed utopia flushes away common sense – NewHampshire.com

Posted: at 1:43 am

HANOVER Dartmouth Department of Theatre serves up a send-up of greed, political movements, love and musicals in a future where water is worth its weight in gold.

A 25-member cast will sing, dance, pun and romance its way through its production of the Tony Award-winning Urinetown Friday through Feb. 26 in The Moore Theater of the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

The story of a drought-crazed dystopia in which a malevolent company profits from one of humanitys basic needs began in the mind of actor/playwright Greg Kotis when, in the mid-1990s, he took an ill-financed trip to Paris during which the citys pay-per-use toilets were a strain on his meager means.

Back in the States, he shared an idea for a new show with theater friend Mark Hollmann. Deciding to self-produce a production, they got the show accepted to the New York Fringe Festival in 1999.

From the standing ovation opening night, the show became a runaway hit, its popularity moving it first to Off-Broadway, where it won an Obie, and then to almost 1,000 shows on Broadway and multiple Tony wins.

The story centers on a longterm drought, and heartless corporate control of dwindling water resources mean common citizens must pay increasingly steep fees to relieve themselves in sanctioned facilities.

Along the way, the characters make witty, self-aware commentary on the conventions of musical theater and hilariously skewer the genre with numbers reminiscent of Les Miserables, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Threepenny Opera.

Director Jamie Horton, a Dartmouth theater professor and actor, likes how the satirical treatment still manages to deal with substantial issues. Its unabashedly entertaining but also profound.

That opposition is what makes it the kind of work it is, he said.

In program notes, he elaborated: I have loved this musical since I first saw it in 2003, because of the boldness of the questions it asks, certainly, but even more so because of the brilliance of its form its wit, its sense of humor about itself, its biting, entirely modern, no-holds-barred approach.

In addition to a production team of faculty and visiting theater artists, Dartmouth senior Julie Solomon is serving as associate scenic designer.

In conjunction with Dartmouths staging of the show, a panel discussion titled Our Dystopian Moment: 2017 and the Politics of Urinetown will take place at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Shows are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. It then continues at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.

Tickets are $15, with a $5 discount for youth.

For information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 646-2422.


Drought-crazed utopia flushes away common sense – NewHampshire.com

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Corey Lewandowski and Free Speech: New at Reason – Reason (blog)

Posted: at 1:07 am

Anthony Behar/ZUMA Press/NewscomPresident Donald Trump’s penchant for lies and demonization has thoroughly polluted political discourse. He has blurred the line between reality and fiction in a way that North Korean propagandists must envy. He has also converted many of his followers to ideas they once rejectedsuch as the ineffable charm of Vladimir Putin.

But he has also driven some on the left mad. On Feb. 1, at the University of California, Berkeley, self-styled anarchists attacked police and civilians, started fires and smashed windows in a successful effort to prevent an appearance by the venomous Breitbart News contributor Milo Yiannopoulos.

This time, the offending party is the president’s first campaign manager and notorious apologist, Corey Lewandowski. He was invited by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, headed by longtime Barack Obama adviser David Axelrod, to participate in a closed, students-only seminar on Wednesday. Naturally, some at the university demanded that he be disinvited. Steve Chapman explains what happened next.

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When religion rules social life – Daily News & Analysis

Posted: February 12, 2017 at 7:03 am

The expressions of communal harmony such as Muslims distributing water and eatables to Hindus during the Ramanavami procession to the kawariyas in Sawan, or Hindus giving sweets to Muslims during Eid Milad-un-Nabi and Muharram juloos, or Sikhs organising langars (free food distribution) for the poor are, today, rare occurrences in our communally-charged society. We cherish such instances of communal harmony, but the truth is that the secular fabric of our country is in grave danger. We must not forget to realise how the politics of religion has transformed after Indian independence. The idea of coexistence has to be looked at historically, with respect to pre-colonial and colonial India.

Mughal Emperor Akbar ruled on the basis of Sufi doctrines of Mohabbat-i Kul (Love for God) and Sulh-i Kul (Tolerance for All). These gave Akbar an ideological basis to rule, where there was room for debate on religious matters based on reason, scepticism, and questioning: abolition of Sharia, prohibition of cow slaughter, checks on sati are just some instances. These doctrines provided a non-discriminatory and non-sectarian foundation to the Mughal state during the late sixteenth century. Today, however, the very notion of religious tolerance and coexistence has eroded.

In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, rationalists, who criticise or ridicule religious leaders in an attempt to advocate rationalism and scientific temper, are facing persecution and are even murdered. Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi, who propagated rational ideas, were killed by Hindu fanatics, Avijit Roy in Bangladesh was killed by Islamic fundamentalists because he did not conform to their religious teachings and doctrines. In contrast, during Akbars regime, when a Brahmin in Mathura was executed for his blasphemous crime of allegedly insulting a prophet, Akbar was appalled and immediately intervened to abolish Sharia. It is also interesting to analyse the thoughts of Abul Fazl on prophets, which were radical as well as blasphemous in nature. He says, Prophets have pretended that they can be rulers of the world by virtue of their religious character. They are tricksters. Abul Fazl also says, What kind of society are we living in where anger is quick to break out over supremacy of one religion over another, and there are clashes among people.

In colonial India, the British resorted to divide and rule to further their imperial agenda. During the British period, communal clashes were widespread. Can the killings of millions during the Partition be attributed to the British policies towards religious communities? Probably. On the other hand, there were several cross-cultural traditions which planted roots in Indian society. Phoolwalon ki sair was one such tradition started in 1811 by Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Akbar II, for the safe return of her son, Mirza Jahangir, who was exiled by the British. She commissioned the flower sellers of the city and organised a procession from the dargah of Sufi saint Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki to the temple of goddess Jog Maya. This practice is continued even today with great pomp. The festival of Basant Panchami too continues to be celebrated in Nizamuddin Dargah.

We live in a society which showcases not merely diversity in culture, traditions, and rituals, but most importantly, differences in ideologies, opinions, and thought. Paradoxically, while we are progressing towards an era of bullet trains and 5G spectrum, we have stagnated ourselves with our rites and rituals, which are devoid of scientific validation and rational thinking. Recently, a Jain girl died after fasting for 40 days, as part of a religious practice. Triple talaq is still prevalent in the Muslim community; women are falsely accused of witchcraft and even burnt to death. Today, it is very easy to identify Muslim and Hindu localities with flags on their rooftops. We must rethink secularism. If we really want a peaceful, harmonious, and secular society, the State must do away with religion in the public space. The society should be built on an intellectual basis, for justice and welfare, peace and harmony, and promotion of knowledge and rationalism. Religion is a matter of personal faith and therefore belongs in the private sphere.

Send your edits to gennextedit@dnaindia.net

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The Truth about Soviet Science and Darwinian Evolution Isn’t as Darwinists Would Like Us to Believe – Discovery Institute

Posted: February 11, 2017 at 8:30 am

As an article at The Conversation by Professors Ian Godwin and Yuri Trusov observes, “The tragic story of Soviet genetics shows the folly of political meddling in science.”

There is much truth in the article, but its authors assume that during the era of Trofim Lysenko the Soviet government persecuted people who “embraced evolution and genetics.” On this point, they quote “Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, [who] mentioned him [that is, Lysenko] during a speech at a meeting of chief scientists in Canberra.”

They continue:

The emerging ideology of Lysenkoism was effectively a jumble of pseudoscience, based predominantly on his rejection of Mendelian genetics and everything else that underpinned [Nikolai] Vavilov’s science. He was a product of his time and political situation in the young USSR.

In reality, Lysenko was what we might today call a crackpot. Among other things, he denied the existence of DNA and genes, he claimed that plants selected their mates, and argued that they could acquire characteristics during their lifetime and pass them on. He also espoused the theory that some plants choose to sacrifice themselves for the good of the remaining plants — another notion that runs against the grain of evolutionary understanding.

In fact, the Soviet government embraced Darwinian evolution (which according to Darwin’s own writings contained Lamarckian elements), and persecuted Mendelian genetics, which was considered to be a threat to Darwinism. For more, see the abridged excerpt below from Chapter 16 of my 2006 book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design:

American Lysenkoism

When Mendelian biologists criticized Trofim Lysenko, he simply evaded their arguments and declared that Mendelian genetics was unacceptable because it contradicted Darwinian evolution.1 By then, many Western biologists were accepting the “modern synthesis” of Darwinian evolution and Mendelian genetics, but Soviet Minister of Agriculture Jakov Jakovlev supported Lysenko by declaring Mendelism to be incompatible with true Darwinism. In 1937, Prezent praised Lysenko for “marching under the banner of reconstruction of biological science on the basis of Darwinism raised to the level of Marxism,” while he demonized the Mendelians as “powers of darkness.”2

If government officials and Darwinist ideologues had not come to Lysenko’s rescue, the Mendelians would probably have prevailed — as they did outside the Soviet Union — because they had better science on their side. Lysenko’s Stalinist suppression of Mendelians in the 1940s made matters much worse, but the underlying problem was that the government-supported scientific establishment had chosen to support one side in a scientific dispute. For many years, biologists in the Soviet Union were persecuted by the government if they challenged the official view of Darwinian orthodoxy or defended Mendelian genetics.3

So, contrary to the claims of [American Darwinists], the scientific conflict underlying Lysenkoism was not Lamarckism against Darwinism, but classical Darwinism (which had undeniably Lamarckian elements) against the new Mendelian genetics. The present conflict between neo-Darwinism and intelligent design resembles Lysenkoism in the sense that the Darwinists are still opposing new ideas.

Darwinists would like us to believe that ID proponents — like Lysenko — want to use the government to oppose evolution. But as often happens, Darwinists have things exactly upside-down. Stalin and Lysenko were Darwinists who persecuted Mendelians, just as modern Darwinists persecute IDers (though, thank God, they haven’t imprisoned us). In fact, Darwinism is at the root of the persecution in both cases. And like Mendelism, ID is better science than Darwinism.

So the lesson is legitimate: Don’t allow the government to use its power to enforce a particular view on a scientific question. If only the government would stay out of the evolution-ID controversy!


(1) Nils Roll-Hansen, The Lysenko Effect: The Politics of Science (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2005), 86-89. Valery N. Soyfer, Lysenko and the Tragedy of Soviet Science (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994), 63. David Joravsky, The Lysenko Affair (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), 208, 238-239. Zhores Medvedev, The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), Chapter 3.

(2) Roll-Hansen, 218-220. Medvedev, 46-49.

(3) Medvedev, Chapter 11. Loren R. Graham, What Have We Learned about Science and Technology from the Russian Experience? (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), Chapter 1 and Conclusions. Roll-Hansen, Chapter 10.

Photo: Trofim Lysenko (left) at the Kremlin, with Stalin (far right), via Wikicommons.

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The Channels : Keep protests peaceful; don’t weaponize First … – The Channels

Posted: at 7:56 am

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Madeline Nathaus, Channels Staff February 10, 2017 115 views Filed under Columns, National, Opinion, Politics, Protest

The First Amendment was included in the Constitution by the founding fathers to guarantee citizens of the United States freedom of the press, religion, assembly and petition. It is this amendment that separates America from more than 40 percent of the worlds population.

Along with this right to freedom of speech comes the right to peacefully protest, march, and to publicly state ones beliefs in hopes of bringing attention to an issue or cause.

Protests and marches have been a vital part of forming modern day America and upholding democracy. Without citizens rising up against the government African Americans would not have civil rights, women would not be able to vote, and gay couples would not be able to get married.

Though most protests and marches remain relatively peaceful, there are times when they take a violent turn and end up disproving the point they are trying to make. For example, in the days following Trumps election, protests broke out among major cities and college campuses across the country. Unfortunately, protests in Los Angeles, Denver and especially Portland became violent in some form.

It is because of the First Amendment and the rights it provides that the Ku Klux Klan can legally march through the streets spreading a message of hate towards non-white citizens. It is why the Westboro Baptist Church can stand on corners chanting God hates fags all in the name of freedom of speech.

However, contrary to these organizations messages of discrimination and unacceptance, the Black Lives Matter movement spreads a message of lawful fairness towards African Americans.

The Womens March, which took place a couple weeks ago, brought attention to the constant sexism that women still face in the 21st century.

There is a reason why Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for peaceful protests. Imagine a mother yelling at her daughter for neglecting to wash the dishes, the daughter is less inclined to listen to her mothers reasoning if she is being aggressive.

Violent protesters ruin the movement for peaceful and lawful protesters. Peaceful and disruptive protests are the most effective forms of defiance. Vandalism, destruction of property, physically attacking other civilians, setting fires and other violent acts are illegal and indecent.

As long as protesters dont break any laws, police officers are more than happy to defend the rights of citizens. They are not the bad guys. After all, it is their job to prevent unlawful activities.

I respect everyones constitutional rights, as long as [the protests] are peaceful. Thats all that we can ask for, said Paul Espinosa, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Love sends a stronger message than hate. People will be more open to listening to a message that contradicts their own ideology if their personal beliefs are tolerated and their rights and properties are respected.

Protests and marches are the most effective form of displaying civilians disagreement with certain government choices, but they must be used as a tool, not a weapon. Do not abuse your rights.

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Turkey’s HDP Women’s Assembly issues feminist call-to-arms against ‘one man rule’ – Left Foot Forward

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:52 am

Left party launches ‘NO’ campaign for Erdogan’s referendum

Photo: HDP Womens Assembly

Turkeys Peoples Democratic Party, or HDP, Womens Assembly launched its No campaign for the upcoming referendum on Turkeys constitution, with an event in Ankara on February 5. The proposed changes would award President Erdogan more executive powers.

Here is the full text of the HDP Womens Assemblys declaration: (Emphasis has been added in bold for ease of scanning)

Dear Women;

We have struggled for our freedom against dominance based on singularity throughout history.

We have opposed the domination of one gender over the other; the dominance of one person over the entire family; the rule of kings, emperors and sultans over the peoples; the oppression of one nation over others; capitalists domination over labor and nature, and the oppression of a single belief system over other belief systems.

We have struggled hand in hand against all oppressive forms of government in cities, in the countryside, at work, at home, on the street, at the resistance and intifada zones.

While the Turkish Penal Code and the Civil Code were enacted during 2000s, we have made sure that changes empowering women were included. We, tens of thousands of women, have raised our voices/risen up against abortion law, femicide, remissions to sentences and the and the rape-law.

We have pushed back the sexist pressures and achieved great gains. On the International Womens Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, with our female comrades all over the world, we have been out on streets to realize freedom, equality. We have raised the womens rebellion to establish cohabitation.

As women from HDP; we have been the subjects of the fight for freedom and equality through historical experience, and the tradition of womens liberation struggle.

We struggled to build the New Life with the help of transforming power of women. We put womens will and management style into practice in all areas of life by co-chairing and equally acting in all institutions, specifically within political parties and local governments.

We have not only pushed the AKP government back in June 7 elections, but also entered the parliament with 26 women MPs and established the first Female Deputies Group. We stood by the women of Rojava, [northern Syria] who have been struggling against ISIS selling women in slave markets, building female revolution step by step.

Consequently, the AKP government first attacked women, trying to destroy womens achievements. Women who resisted were slain, their bodies exposed, detained, arrested.

Our Co-chair Figen Yksekda, the Speaker of the Womens Assembly Besime Konca and female MPs, DBP Co-chair Sebahat Tuncel, KJA spokeswoman Ayla Akat Ata, Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality Co-chair Gltan Kanak, municipal co-chairs, municipal councilors, party executives and members were taken hostage through arrests.

Our elected local governments, representatives of the will of the people, were usurped by appointed trustees. The first thing these trustees did was to stop municipal practices pertaining to women.

Women Centers and Violence Relief Lines were shut down, womens directorates were abolished, and femaleemployees were fired.

With statutory decrees issued during the state of emergency period, many female employees were fired; womens associations, womens cooperatives and news agencies were shut down. Attacks purging women from political life, working life, media, and social life have accelerated.

The AKP/palace ruling dictates how we should live each and every moment. They continuously talk and talk about how we should speak, how we should laugh and work, whether we should wear headscarves, how many children we should have.

In the environment of violence and hatred created by the war and militarist policies of the current government, we do not feel safe as women on the streets, buses, or on the metro trains, even in our homes and workplaces, for those who attack women can comfortably wander around.

Impunity leads to new violence practices every day. Femicides do not stop; everyday a woman is murdered by men.

Bombs fall on our lives; our daughters and sons have been losing their lives due to wars raged in the country and abroad. War and death are the only pledges of the government, while we, women, pledge to live and let live.

That is why we say NO to the politics of war and death. Once again we declare that we will provide permanent and fair peace through our struggle for equality and freedom.

We are getting poorer due to the economic policies that ignore the people but favour the interests of business and a handful of government cohorts!

The economic crisis deepens everyday. Our bread is getting smaller, our food diminishes with the price hikes coming one after the other.Unemployment is on the rise; we, the women, are the first on the firing line.

For these reasons we say NO to business-focused and war-oriented economic policies. Together we are going to build a secure new life in which we share what we produce on the basis of equality, a life in which the rights of labor is respected, a life in which the nature and life is protected.

They want to hand over the authority to a single person, as if it was not enough that they undermined our democratic rights and freedoms by using their power in an unlimited way during their 14 years of government.

Under the name of constitutional amendment, they are trying to make the regime that gives all power to one person, permanent.

Process of negotiating the constitutional amendment in the parliament was initiated by arrests of our co-chairs and our deputies. Later, the methods amounted to violence during the parliamentary sessions gave the clues about the type of administration they aimed.

Under the attacks of racist and misogynist hostility, the speeches of the members of the parliament were restricted, votes were carried out by orders, female deputies were physically attacked and the proposal was passed through the Assembly by force.

Now a vote awaits us all that will predestine all our future, polarize the society, deepen the war, enlarge the poverty, and purge women from every aspect of life. They call this freak a Presidential System, which actually is a ONE MAN REGIME.

This monist and authoritarian regime they intend to bring aims to make the rule of state of emergency and statutory decrees permanent by sustaining fascism, oppression and exploitation, based on hostility against women.

Power that can not be controlled by any other power is absolute power. History has also shown that all absolute powers are dictatorships. There is no democracy where everything is monist. This change aims at engulfing our existing rights and abolishing them as well.

We know that the ONE MAN REGIME is even worse than junta legislation of September 12 1980 coup, and it is determined to institutionalize fascism.

However, they know us well, too. We, women, have not bowed to repression, and we will not. We are not giving up our achievements obtained through struggles. No matter how it is formulated, we as women have said NO to fascism hidden behind epaulettes or neckties, we will continue to say NO.

We know how the centralization of legislative, executive and judiciary powers under under a single person poses a threat against the non-hegemonic and masterless New Life we have been aiming to establish; making politics more male-dominated, reinforcing the sexist and nationalist structures and excluding women.

We will not allow this. We say NO to both the ONE and the MAN regime.

Women are the guarantee of pluralism, diversity, and different people living together in equality and respect. The ceaseless struggle of women for equality and freedom is at the same time the struggle of building A NEW LIFE. We will not allow ONE-MAN RULE to stand in the way of our hope, we say NO!

-Say NO to stop polarization, to stay friends with our neighbors -Say NO for the responsibility we owe to those burned in Cizre basements, and those who were killed in the middle of the street by stray bullets -Say NO for Taybet Ana -Say NO to put a stop to rape and violence -Say NO to put a stop to violence against women -Say NO to the darkness of ISIS and its backward repressions being made law. -Say NO to provide freedom of religious beliefs -Say NO for our ways of life -Say NO for our labor, our body, and our identity -Say NO to the mentality of obey and be comfortable -Say NO to serving others slavishly -Say NO for equal representation, equal life -Say NO for a safe future against the exploitation of labor and workers deaths -Say NO for living together, for growing old together -Say NO for local democracy -Say NO for ecological life -Say NO for nature, for our cities, for our villages to not be plundered -Say NO for hope -Say NO for smiling children and a peaceful future -Say NO for peace, justice and freedom -Say NO for a democratic republic, a common homeland, a new life

Rally, women!

We are turning our faces to the sun we are going house to house, square to square and calling women to the colour of the earth; on behalf of life in all its colors, we say NO.

With the spirit of resistance of March 8 [International Womens Day] and the enthusiasm of [the Turkish Newroz festival], we are calling women to come together everywhere, in every language, hand in hand, to be the rainbow, to turn WINTER into SPRING.

Against all forms of hegemony; for the sake of equality, freedom, peace, hope and happiness, we are calling to build and organize in full force to say NO. This is our call Let us not forget that we succeeded on June 7 [see above]! We will succeed again. WELL DEFINITELY WIN

Peoples Democratic Party Womens Assembly February 5th, 2017

The Peoples Democracy Party (HDP) is a left-wing coalition in Turkey. Follow HDP on Twitter @HDPEnglish

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter@AdamBarnett13

See:Turkeys Left calls for democratic front against military coups and Erdogans iron fist

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Turkey’s HDP Women’s Assembly issues feminist call-to-arms against ‘one man rule’ – Left Foot Forward

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Little Libertarians on the Prairie: The Hidden Politics Behind a … – History

Posted: February 7, 2017 at 10:53 pm

Laura Ingalls Wilder as a schoolteacher, c. 1887. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Born on the American frontier on February 7, 1867, Laura Ingalls Wilder turned her memories of being a pioneer girl into the Little House on the Prairie books, one of the most popular childrens series of all time. Unknown to many, however, is that Wilder didnt write the books alone. On the 150th anniversary of Wilders birth, learn about her secret collaborator on the Little House on the Prairie books and her little-known connection to the Libertarian Party.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wasnt your typical debut novelist when her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published in 1932. She was 65 years old, decades removed from the childhood memories that provided the foundation for her colorful story of hardship, adventure and survival on the Wisconsin frontier that struck a chord in Depression-era America.

Children devoured the wholesome tales celebrating family, self-reliance, hard work and neighbor helping neighbor. There had never been anything like this for children, telling them what the pioneer daysa time in history that was still pretty recentwere like, says Christine Woodside, author of the new book Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books.

Wilder authored seven more books over the next 11 years, including Little House on the Prairie, which chronicled the exploits of the itinerant Ingalls family as they endured everything from blizzards of grasshoppers to plagues of snow as they rattled westward in their covered wagon across the wilderness and plains of the upper Midwest in the late 1800s before finally settling in the Dakota Territory.

While only the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder was emblazoned on the book covers of one of the most popular series in American literary history, scholars researching her family papers slowly came to the conclusion in the decades following her 1957 death that the beloved stories of Pa, Ma and sisters Mary, Carrie and Grace were the product of not just one womanbut two.

Unknown to readers at the time, Wilder secretly received considerable assistance from her only adult child, Rose Wilder Lane. While Wilder was an unknown author when Little House in the Big Woods was published, Lane was one of the most famous female writers in the United States, having penned novels, biographies of Charlie Chaplin and Herbert Hoover and short stories for magazines such as Harpers, Cosmopolitan and Ladies Home Journal.

Unlike her mother, however, Lane had little affinity for the hardscrabble life of the American heartland and left the familys Missouri farm as a teenager, eventually moving to San Francisco. Able to speak five languages, she traveled extensively and by the 1920s was living in Albania in a large house staffed by servants. Although she always had a tense relationship with her mother, Lane began to long for home and returned to the family farm in 1928.

Knowing a good story when she heard one, Lane prodded her mother to put her childhood experiences to paper. Wilder, however, had little literary experience outside of pieces that she wrote for rural newspapers. Lane, though, knew how to make a manuscript sing and hold chapters together, and she used her contacts in the publishing industry to sell Little House in the Big Woods.

Laura had lived the life. She had the memory. However, she didnt have any experience making a novel, Woodside tells HISTORY. Rose knew how to do that. They were each crucial to the book. Laura couldnt have written the books without Rose, and Rose couldnt have written them without Laura.

Lane not only polished her mothers prose but infused Wilders stoic outlook with the joy and optimism that connected with many readers. The authors secret collaborator also sanitized Wilders real-life experiences for an audience of children, scrubbing away the hard edges such as the death of a baby brother at 9 months of age and replacing stories of murders on the frontier with images of swimming holes and bonneted girls in dresses skipping through tall grasses and wildflowers.

Woodsides book also shines light on the political views of Wilder and her secret collaborator that were below the surface of the Little House series. Like many Americans, the Wilders were hit hard by the Great Depression. Both mother and daughter were dismayed with President Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal and what they saw as Americans increasing dependence on the federal government. A life-long Democrat, Wilder grew disenchanted with her party and resented government agents who came to farms like hers and grilled farmers about the amount of acres they were planting.

They both hated the New Deal, Woodside says of Wilder and Lane. They thought the government was interfering in peoples lives, that individuals during the Depression were becoming very whiny and werent grabbing hold of their courage. The climate of America was really irritating them. The New Deal, for a lot of farmers and definitely the Wilders, made them change their politics.

An acquaintance of Ayn Rand and a critic of Keynesian economics, Lane would become an early theorist of the fledgling political movement that would eventually form the Libertarian Party in 1971. Neither woman set out to indoctrinate children with their political views, but their beliefs in individual freedom, free markets and limited government can be seen in the pages of the Little House books. Lane didnt explicitly use it as a political manifesto, Woodside says. She was being who she was, and they both felt strongly that the pioneers should be examples to people. It was inevitable she was going to flesh out the story by focusing things like free-market forces at work in the general store and farmers being free and independent.

While the Little House books emphasized self-reliance, at least two instances of government assistance that benefited the Ingalls family were downplayed. In addition to receiving their land in the Dakota Territory through the Homestead Act, it was the Dakota Territory that paid for the tuition of Mary Ingalls at the Iowa School for the Blind for seven years. Its an inconvenient fact, Woodside says. Rose suppressed that detail.

Ultimately, close quarters and close collaboration caused the fault lines between mother and daughter to reappear. The pair became estranged, and Lane moved to Connecticut, where in 1943 she wrote The Discovery of Freedom: Mans Struggle Against Authority, considered to be a libertarian manifesto. By World War II, Lane refused a ration card, grew and canned most of her food and deliberately curtailed her writing in order to pay as little tax as possible.

After inheriting the royalty rights to the Little House series after Wilders death in 1957, Lane donated money to the Freedom School in Colorado, a free-market academy that taught libertarian theory. When she died suddenly in 1968, future Little House royalties were bequeathed to her sole heir and political disciple, lawyer Roger Lea MacBride. In addition to becoming the first person to cast an electoral vote for a Libertarian Party ticket in 1972, MacBride was the Libertarian Party candidate for president four years later.

Both mother and daughter carried the secret of their collaboration to their graves. By the time a new generation of children were becoming exposed to Wilders stories through the Little House on the Prairie television show, on which MacBride served as a co-creator and co-producer, scholars were learning of the partnership from the womens letters and diaries. Laura and Rose were very clearly collaborators from day one on these books, Woodside says. Our understanding and celebrating that is essential to understanding why these books are so wonderful.

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Little Libertarians on the Prairie: The Hidden Politics Behind a … – History

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