Recent Resources for Feminists
USA: Betsy Hartmann's latest book exposes the apocalypse obsession as dating back to the Puritans Print E-mail

 (With liberty and justice for all...) May 23, 2017

How the Threat of Apocalypse Justifies American Empire

A new book argues that in the military’s hands, warnings of world’s end become self-fulfilling prophecies.

BY Chris Lehmann

“Everything is in place for the battle of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ,” said Ronald Reagan of the Cold War in 1971. (Getty Images)

We should break the American addiction to world-disfiguring apocalyptic fantasy in favor of a “practical and inclusive radical optimism."

As any casual visitor to a multiplex or a megachurch will attest, the American imagination is in the grip of apocalyptic fantasy. We continually rediscover that the end is nigh, be it in the popcult fables of a zombie apocalypse or the Revelation porn of the Left Behind novels.

In The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and Our Calls to Greatness, Betsy Hartmann traces our apocalypse obsession back to the Puritans. Her argument is pointed: America’s centuries-long courtship with world-ending calamity is crucial to the distinctively American brand of warmaking. By continually seeing ourselves on the brink of catastrophe, we rationalize catastrophic military interventions, one after another. This compulsion to cast ourselves as the chief actors in the drama of history’s end stems, in Hartmann’s view, from our Protestant culture, which created a self-ratifying sense of our national chosenness. “That Americans are special and exceptional, a chosen people to carry out God’s will or else suffer dire consequences, are held to be self-evident truths,” she writes. “So, too, is the belief that war is divinely justified.”

King Philip’s War­a 17th-century campaign to exterminate Native Americans ­spurred the colonists into reveries over their role as the protectors of Christian civilization. Cotton Mather memorialized the Puritan migration to the New World as “the last conflict with the anti-Christ and the harbinger of the impending millennium.”

Hartmann argues that we should break the American addiction to world-disfiguring apocalyptic fantasy in favor of a “practical and inclusive radical optimism like the kind expressed in the inscription on the side of the Scottish Parliament building: ‘Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.’ ”

She also critiques the apocalyptic rhetoric of modern environmentalism. In two closing chapters on the overblown specter of overpopulation and the all-too-genuine threat of climate change, she shows how far the militarist-apocalyptic mindset has overtaken the movement to save the planet. The predicted “population bomb” now comes off as racist and imperialist folly. Of Malthusianism, she writes:
It convinces many otherwise well-meaning people that it is morally justified to curtail the basic human and reproductive rights of poor people at home and abroad in order to save ourselves and the planet from otherwise certain doom.
Likewise, the effort to curtail carbon emissions slips too easily into a vision of an anarchic, violence-ridden social order at the outer reaches of Western civilization, marked by waves of “climate refugees” fleeing rising oceans and deforestation. As Hartmann notes, these civilization-engulfing hordes often turn out, on closer inspection, to be standard-issue economic migrants. They may be fleeing conditions exacerbated by climbing temperatures, but many are already long engaged in migratory searches for geographically and seasonally dispersed work.

Political leaders from John Kerry to Barack Obama to Bernie Sanders all signed on to a version of this fantasy by attributing the Syrian refugee crisis to climate-induced drought­distancing the resource-depleting regime of Bashar al-Assad from the consequences of its own actions. This “creates the impression that such a mass migration is a neverending “new normal.” Hartmann writes, “Rather than seeing the current crisis as politically rooted and time-limited, we’re encouraged to believe that we’re entering a world of ‘permanent emergency.’ ”

Enter the American national security state. The defense establishment has already rallied to designate climate change as a first-order national security threat­a move welcomed by many environmentalists.

But, Hartmann writes, we should be careful what we wish for:
Through the securitization of climate change and disaster response, we are being taught to fear the dark people global warming will supposedly set loose. … The more we accept that racialized apocalyptic vision of the future, the more we concede control to the military.
And that, in turn, seems our shortest available path to apocalypse now.

Chris Lehmann, a contributing editor of In These Times, is editor-in-chief at Baffler and the author of The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream

UK: BBC Punishes Lily Allen for Daring to hold Media to Account on Grenfell Tower Inferno Print E-mail
 Friday June 16 2017

Grenfell Tower fire: BBC denies Lily Allen was pulled from Newsnight due to controversial remarks

Singer had earlier accused government of 'downplaying' real number of fatalities

Jacob Stolworthy ?    @Jacob_Stol
BBC responds to claims Lily Allen was pulled from Newsnight over controversial Grenfell Tower remarks
The BBC has denied it cancelled Lily Allen's Newsnight appearance because of her controversial comments about the Grenfell Tower blaze on Channel 4 News.

Allen seemed to suggest on social media that she had been pulled from the political show's line-up and replaced by “someone from the council” because of her refusal to hold back on views regarding the catastrophic London fire which destroyed a Kensington tower block and ended the lives of 30.

A spokesperson for the BBC insisted that Allen's appearance was cancelled so as to allow presenter Kirsty Wark the opportunity to conduct a “thorough” interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council who the channel had signed up to appear late on in the day.

The BBC said:
“With live news programmes like Newnight final decisions on guests are often made late in the day which can mean the line up changes at short notice. Newsnight secured an interview with the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council late on Thursday evening and dropped Lily in order to allow time for Kirsty Wark to conduct a thorough accountability interview. Like other BBC outlets, Newsnight has reported official casualty figures but also made it clear that they are expected to rise substantially.”

BBC Newsnight editor Ian Katz elaborated the decision on Twitter, writing: "We generally prioritise iviews with people who can be held accountable."

Allen had earlier appeared on Channel 4 News where she accused the government of "downplaying" the real number of fatalities which, at the time of reporting, was 17.

“I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media,” she told newsreader Jon Snow.

Allen continued “Seventeen? I'm sorry but I'm hearing from people that the figure is much closer to 150, and that many of those people are children.

“Those are off the record numbers I've been given from policemen and from firemen.”

Snow played devil's advocate. While acknowledging that the fatalities will likely increase “very considerably,” the broadcaster suggested that the death toll reports may be clouded due to the difficulty in identifying victims.

Allen later expressed her views on Twitter throughout the evening, taking into account Snow's comments.

“I appreciate the difficulties with identifying bodies, but there are people out here clinging to hope when I don't think there is any,” she wrote before posting a note detailing why she's linking the tragedy to politics.

Allen isn't the only figure from the world being vocal about politics following the incident: Mobo award-winning artist Akala expressed his belief that the victims died “because they were poor.”

UK: The [cricket] band played on, even as Grenfell Tower's under-estimated were burnt alive Print E-mail

A reminder: On Wednesday June 14, even as the Grenfell Tower inferno raged burning many residents alive, Britain's hosting and appearance at the Int. Cricket Champions Trophy took off as scheduled in Cardiff:

1st Semi-final: England v Pakistan at Cardiff - Jun 14, 2017
England 211 (49.5/50 ov); Pakistan 215/2 (37.1/50 ov)  Pakistan won by 8 wickets (with 77 balls remaining)

Join the dots: Were London bombed by foreign missiles on June 14 would a cricket match have proceeded? Fat chance! Shame on the priorities in today's world.

 Friday June 16 2017

Grenfell Tower: Lily Allen accuses the media of 'downplaying' death toll

Most publications have been reporting official death counts from the Met

By Christopher Hooton

Singer and activist Lily Allen has accused the media of dishonesty with regards to its coverage of the number dead in the Grenfell Tower fire.

"I have never in my entire life seen an event like this where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media," she said during a Channel 4 News interview with Jon Snow.
"Seventeen? I'm sorry but I am hearing from people the figure is much closer to 150 - and that many of those people are children."

On Twitter, she retweeted users saying: "Death toll of #grenfelltower being suppressed by UK MSM" and "when i was down there they said well into triple figures so is probably even more than 150.good on you for telling some truth" (sic).

Most outlets, including The Independent, report official death counts from the Metropolitan Police first and foremost, acknowledging if they are likely to rise but trying to steer clear of estimating the dead.

Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy has said that the death toll is expected to rise significantly, but the tower is currently still too dangerous for firefighters to recover many of the bodies.

“It may be - and I just don't know - it may be that ultimately some victims remain unidentified,” he said.

"I won't know that until we've gone through the full recovery from Grenfell Tower and we know exactly what we've got and I anticipate that is going to take a considerable period of time.

"Not just the immediate recovery of the bodies we have found but the full search of that whole building we could be talking weeks we could be talking months - it is a very long process.

"There is a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody."

Six bodies have been recovered from outside the 24-storey tower and identified so far, while 11 bodies have been located inside but cannot yet be removed
 Friday June 16 2017

Grenfell Tower: Using fire-resistant cladding on Kensington block 'would have cost £5,000 extra'

Type of panels used on flats building reportedly banned in US on tall structures

By Jon Sharman
Smoke and flames rise from Grenfell Tower in west London (AP)

Installing fire-resistant cladding at Grenfell Tower would have cost just £5,000 extra, it has been claimed, after the spotlight fell on the building's facade as a factor in Wednesday's devastating fire.

The Kensington tower block was totally incinerated in the blaze and at least 17 people were killed. It was refurbished in 2016 at a cost of about £8.6m and new aluminium panels were added to the exterior.

A salesman for the US company Reynobond, which produces the panels, told The Times the type of material believed to have been used on Grenfell Tower was banned on tall buildings in the US “because of the fire and smoke spread”.

According to the paper, a flammable version with a plastic core was used at Grenfell Tower, in place of a fire-resistant one that cost £2 more per square metre.

Kensington and Chelsea council documents show the refurbishment, which also included new windows, was intended to provide better insulation and energy efficiency.

Rydon Construction, which refurbished the building, said that it was confident the construction was up to standards.

It said it was "shocked to hear of the devastating fire" but that all the work "met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded a public inquiry, ordered by the Government, produce an interim report so residents and politicians can get answers sooner about how the disaster happened.

And thousands of homes in tower blocks across the UK are undergoing urgent safety reviews following the fire.

Seema Mustafa: Corp & politically controlled patriarchal hierarchy undermines India's Press Freedom Print E-mail
 Saturday, June 10,2017

The Patriarchal Line Up For Press Freedom


NEW DELHI: It was a large, and hence reassuring turn out at the Press Club of India in support of press freedom. The issue of course was narrowed almost entirely to the CBI raids on NDTV with former Indian Express editor Arun Shourie perhaps being the only one to strike out into the larger issue of the state versus media, and what scribes today could do to resist what he felt would become far more aggressive efforts to curtail the media.

NDTVs Prannoy Roy appeared to be the master of ceremonies, although all media organisations including the normally reticent Editors Guild, Press Club of India, Indian Women Press Corps, and the most constant Delhi Union of Journalists had supported the meeting. NDTV staff were there in full strength, again unusual for such a meeting that the channel has rarely participated in. Roy has rarely been seen in the premises of the Press Club, or in protests and marches for smaller banner---although no less important---media.

However, reassuring becomes an important word as often circumstances throw up unusual lynchpins for such protests and struggles. And if the attack on NDTV can draw support of the kind seen so be it. And as Shourie said, it is not the time for dfferences and nor the time to buy peace by giving space to government Ministers and functionaries in the belief that this will ease pressure on the concerned media house. It will not, he warned as the intention of the government will not change, and as it comes under increasing pressure from sections of the population it will get more aggressive in its deaiings with the media.

But it was very disconcerting to see the complete marginalisation of women journalists in this patriarchal line up of speakers selected for the occasion. And struggles cannot be fought by half the population, as should be evident to those who call themseves journalists and report the news which one would like to believe rests on facts. All meetings by concerned citizens, students and other sections today spend time in ensuring that there are women speakers to break the male shackles on discussions on strategy, security, communalism, militarization----all seen as “male” issues by the establishment but where several well known women professionals have done commendable work. Yes there was a token woman at one end, and was given the task of giving a vote of thanks!

At this media meet there was not even basic effort to ensure that senior women journalists spoke as well for press freedom. IWPC supported the meeting but none of the women members were invited to speak. Everyone crowded in to take the chair, be it NDTVs Prannoy Roy who could have asked one of his many women colleagues, or even his wife, to speak on the issue, or Press Club of India that has several women editors as members, or the Editors Guild that has a woman treasurer. Interestingly, the Delhi Union of Journalists that has been in the forefront of freedom for the media was not invited to speak at all.

We as young reporters in journalism had to fight for our space. First to get a job, where I myself became the first woman reporter in The Pioneer in the 1980’s with others following only later. And where there were no toilets for women, as there were no women. Then to cover the crime beat that all newspapers were not keen to assign women to. And then to move into the Bureau and cover hard politics, where women were always discouraged, often shifted to the feature pages of the Sunday magazines as the male bosses felt more comfortable with that arrangement.

It was an uphill struggle for most of us to one, convince the editors that we could do a better job covering politics that meant the political parties, the Ministries, conflict such as Punjab, Assam, Kashmir during the 1980’s onwards . An indeed looking back one feels that we worked harder than our male colleagues, to gain a foothold in this essentially male preserve. I do remember that if a woman hesitated to accept an assignment she immediately became the butt of caustic comments. “Oh you have a date,” “you want to go to the parlour” kind of remarks that we learnt to tackle with a thick skin and a rude “shut up.” A factual mistake too invited sarcasm and criticism, while for men these were hardly commented upon.

At Press Club yesterday I realised not much has changed. There were several women editors in the audience, as well as senior anchors from NDTV, but not one had been invited on to the platform in what was a carefully structured meeting. I also realised that all editors in chief of the main newspapers and television channels are men. Women, if they even make it that far, stop at resident editors, assistant editors and so on. The top post is with the man, as again those who pay for the channel and do business with it cannot tolerate women no matter how professional at the top of political, financial news. Yes of course women can head fashion magazines, housekeeping journals, even the feature sections of the major newspapers but certainly not become editors in chief. Of not just the big players, but also of the smaller media newspapers or outlets.

When women journalists formed the Womens Press Club, I resisted. And remember many conversations with the office bearers from time to time, where I passionately spoke of how we had spent our growing years in the profession fighting for our space, and for the recognition and acknowledgement that we were not women journalists but journalists. Like actors, lawyers, doctors our profession is not determined by our gender, but by our work. But perhaps I now understand why the women journalists felt the need to pull away, as perhaps this space gives them a sense of equality and with it freedom.

Many of the speakers referred to the Emergency when the press was censored by the government, and journalists like Kuldip Nayar sent to jail. Black days indeed. But there was again little reference to the new reasons between 1974 and 2017 that have curtailed the media and taken away our freedom. The political-corporate-media nexus that has cripplied functioning as well. The contract labour system, where hundreds of journalists are fired in one stroke by television channels and big media houses. The government is party to these mass lay offs but remains silent, as do the journalists for fear of falling foul of managements, not getting the money owed to them, and being seen as too irreverent by potential employers who also, after all, come from the same side of the fence.

There has not been a word from the big owners about the individual journalists challenging the might of the state, at great risk to their personal security. In Chhatisgarh, in the North East, in Kashmir, in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere where many have been killed, many attacked and threatened, and many others implicated in court cases. They have been the first casualties, and continue to be the targets even today. There is a long list, with the stringers and free lancers being hit the hardest as they are seen as the most vulnerable too.

The government today has acted within this framework. It knows of the differences and the weaknesses within. After all most of the working editors of newspapers and television channels chose to stay away and not attend the meeting. One did send a message, but his channel is in violation of basic media ethics like many others.

So while one extends full support to NDTV in the current battle---one hopes there will be no samjhauta in the backroom as has happened in the past---it is necessary to point out that the fight cannot be strong and sustainable unless the strategy is comprehensive, and respect is given where respect is due. In that the stage is not occupied by those who have held positions but is managed on the basis of inclusiveness and without absurd, corporate and politically controlled patriarchal hierarchy.There should be no differences, and there will not be when it comes to battling a government for press freedom, but at the same time the media should become free from within as well.

Martina Navratilova: Margaret Court's 2nd serve nothing less than a sick & dangerous double fault Print E-mail

 Thursday June 1 2017

An open letter from Martina Navratilova to Margaret Court Arena

By Martina Navratilova

Dear Margaret Court Arena,

Sporting venues named for athletes, or any place, really, named for whoever, are so named for one reason. That reason is their whole body of work. In other words, it is not just for what this person did on the field, on the court, in politics, arts or science, for instance, but also for who they are as human beings.

When you were named after Margaret Court, it seemed like the right thing to do. After all, Rod Laver already had the big stadium and Court is one of the all-time greats. I had long ago forgiven Court for her headline-grabbing comments in 1990 when she said I was a bad role model because I was a lesbian.

What I did not know about until now were the unabashed racist statements she made in the '70s about apartheid in South Africa. Saying that South Africa dealt with the "situation" (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world, particularly the US: what exactly did she mean by that?

Martina Navratilova says it's time for a name change to Margaret Court Arena. (AP)

Fast forward to today and Court's announcement of her boycott of Qantas because of its chief executive's support of same-sex marriage, which basically means support for the LGBT community in general. That was bad enough. Now she is doubling down with her ridiculous comments about older women luring young girls on the tour to parties to turn them into lesbians [Scroll down to read]. It's a good thing she didn't name anyone as I am pretty sure she would be sued for defamation.

It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere.

And now, linking LGBT to Nazis, communists, the devil? This is not OK. This is in fact sick and it is dangerous. Kids will suffer more because of this continuous bashing and stigmatising of our LGBT community.

How much blood will be on Margaret's hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different? This is not OK. Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and yes, this kind of bullying. This is not OK.

Court has said homosexuality was an ungodly "lust for the flesh" and that LGBT tendencies in young people were "all the devil". (AP)

We celebrate free speech, but that doesn't mean it is free of consequences - not punishment, but consequences.

We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour, this kind of philosophy. The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger.

Which is why I think it's time to change your name. And I think the Evonne Goolagong Arena has a great ring to it. Now there is a person we can all celebrate. On every level.

Yours, Martina Navratilova

 Wednesday May 31 2017

'The devil's after our kids': Margaret Court's second serve

By Greg Baum

Far from modifying her denouncement of gay marriage, tennis champion Margaret Court has broadened it, saying that it was causing huge problems in countries where it was legalised, that homosexuality was an ungodly "lust for the flesh" and that LGBT tendencies in young people were "all the devil".

"That's what Hitler did. That's what communism did," Court said, "get in the minds of the children. There's a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get in the minds of the children."

Radio rambling: Margaret Court says homosexuality is an ungodly "lust for the flesh" and that LGBT tendencies in young people are "all the devil". (Vince Caligiuri)

In the face of polls that show 65 per cent of Australians support gay marriage, Court said: "We know the statistics are very, very wrong. They're after our young ones, that's what they're after."

Court was speaking on Vision Christian Radio, elaborating on a previous letter to the West Australian and an appearance on The Project in which she said she would boycott Qantas from now on because of chief executive Alan Joyce's backing for gay marriage.

Court's issue has become Tennis Australia's problem. Calls for her name to be removed from the No.3 stadium at Melbourne Park after her first broadside had seemed excessive. But a series of players, when asked at the French Open, have criticised Court and Sam Stosur, Australia's No.1-ranked woman, has raised the possibility of a player boycott of Margaret Court Arena. Andy Murray, the world No.1-ranked man, said Tennis Australia would be wise to sort it out long before January's Australian Open.

Court, 74, is pastor at the Victory Life Centre in Perth. She said she was driven to speak out by an open, but little-publicised letter written by Queensland businessman Stuart Ballantyne, also condemning Qantas and Joyce for his gay marriage stance, linking it to Qantas' decline as a business on Joyce's watch, affecting "customer franchise and investor returns".

"This week, I have come off a Qantas flight from the US, and the plane is best described as old and shabby," Ballantyne wrote. "It needs to be clear that the personal crusade of the CEO has not impacted on the extraordinarily poor performance of the national carrier during his tenure."

Court's radio elaboration was rambling and syncopated. "It's very sad that they would use my tennis for something that is a now thing," she said, overlooking that it was her tennis that gained her a public platform in the first instance and that she was repeatedly acclaimed by the interviewer as "the greatest tennis player in history".

She said the gay lobby was a minority, yet somehow was bullying the majority. She said she had nothing against gay people, who could do as they pleased, except marry in the Christian tradition. But she also said homosexuality was a sin. "So is adultery. So is fornication," she said. "All those things are a lust for the flesh. We know it's not God. They know it, too."

In America, she said "92 per cent were abused sexually or emotionally when they were young even to be this way".

Tennis was full of lesbians, she said. In her day, there were only "a couple", but they were disproportionately influential. "They took the young ones to parties and things," she said.

Schoolchildren who struggled with their sexual identities must have been raised by parents who "don't care", surmised Court. She said she was a tomboy who liked to wear shorts and could kick a footy, prompting her mother to say: "You should have been a boy." But she never had any doubt.

"If you feel like being a girl, you can dress like a girl," mused Court. "What confusion to a child. I get confused talking about it. You can think, 'I'm a boy', and it affects your emotions and feelings and everything else. That's all the devil."

In her tennis-playing day, there was Renee Richards, a man who became a woman, "not a very good player".

Court said God's law on gay marriage was as clear and unambiguous as a policeman flagging down a car. "You pray there is enough people who will stand up and flag this nation down," she said. "And say, no, we are not going the way of some other nations, because they are having so many problems."

A caller hailed Court as "a prophetess, a judge", anointed by God, but "To link same-sex marriage champions to Nazism and the Holocaust is "profoundly offensive, betrays an utter lack of understanding of the historical truth and only fans the flames of hatred and demonisation", says Dr Dvir Abramovich, chairman of civil rights group the Anti-Defamation commission. "This absolute lack of compassion also insults the memory of the victims, which included gay people, as well as survivors and all those Diggers who fought against the Nazis," he said. "We urge Margaret Court to apologise for appalling and hurtful rhetoric."

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