|Tiananmen Square, 1989 — Revisited|
Imagine it’s midsummer. Students from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Radcliffe, Columbia, Vassar, Smith, Brown, Wellesley, Cornell, Dartmouth and Penn are demonstrating outside the White House and flooding the Washington Mall with Dolce & Gabbana hoodies. They’ve been there for six weeks and, as their number has grown, their mood has darkened: corruption has triggered another downturn, there’s a crime wave and rampant inflation threatens employment prospects and the National Merit Scholarship program has been canceled. Student leaders—some sponsored by a shadowy Chinese NGO, and recently returned from Beijing—say the failure to prosecute bankers is evidence of criminal conspiracy and government illegitimacy. The returnees are taunting the crowd for its cowardice, urging them to ignore the snipers on every roof and rush the White House. Inside, nervous staffers with sons and daughters, nieces and nephews among the demonstrators—try to discover which of them have been conspiring with the agitators.
Suddenly, simultaneously, all White House doors burst open and uniformed officers rush out bearing either (a) submachine guns, with which they open fire, slaughtering the children of America’s leading families, or (b) bottles of mineral water, slices of the First Lady’s birthday cake and an invitation to join the President that evening on the White House lawn for a barbecue and serious discussion.
In 1989, fourteen million Americans, six percent of the population were in college. That year two million Chinese kids, 0.2% of the population—the first postwar generation whose education was uninterrupted—an entire generation of its future leaders. The idea that any elite—let alone the child-worshipping Chinese—would murder its own children for demonstrating peacefully over legitimate grievances is even sillier than the notion that they were demonstrating about democracy. They were demonstrating about money and sex. The only ‘democracy’ they wanted was the big character democracy they had learned under Mao: hence the re-appearance of big character posters—not seen since the government de-revolutionized the Cultural Revolution twenty years earlier. Mao had told them what to do when an incompetent government would force them to bear the burdens of its incompetence and corruption: bring out the Big Character Posters. He’d even tried to get big postering constitutionally guaranteed.
|Reason Magazine and Holocaust Denial||Source|
A few years ago I somehow heard about a ferocious online dispute involving a left-leaning journalist named Mark Ames and the editors of Reason magazine, the glossy flagship publication of America’s burgeoning libertarian movement. Although I was deep in my difficult programming work, curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to take a look.
During the Immigration Wars of the 1990s, I’d become quite friendly with the Reason people, frequently visiting their offices, especially during my “English” campaign of 1998, when I’d located my own political headquarters in the same small Westside LA office building they used. As my content-archiving software project began absorbing more and more of my time during the early 2000s, I’d gradually lost touch with them, but even so, the 40-odd years of their magazine archives had become the first publication I’d incorporated into my system, and I was now pleased to discover that both sides in the ongoing feud had put my software to good use in exploring those old Reason issues.
Apparently, the libertarians grouped around Reason had successfully been making political inroads into Silicon Valley’s enormously wealthy technology industry, and had now organized a major conference in San Francisco to gather together their supporters. Their left-leaning rivals decided to nip that project in the bud by highlighting some of the more unsavory ideological positions that mainstream libertarian leaders had once regularly espoused. Perhaps Ron Paul and other libertarians might oppose overseas wars and drug laws, and support cutting taxes and regulations, but they and their Republican Party allies were unspeakably vile on all sorts of other issues, and all “good thinkers” should therefore stay very far away.
The debate began in rather mundane fashion with an article by Ames entitled “Homophobia, Racism, and the Kochs” denouncing Reason for sharing a platform with a high-ranking Republican Congresswoman of Christian conservative views, as well as the magazine’s reliance upon Koch funding and its alleged support for Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s and 1980s. The response by the Reason editor seemed quite persuasive, and he rightfully dismissed the guilt-by-association attacks. He also outlined the gross errors and omissions in the charges regarding South Africa, and ridiculed Ames as a notoriously error-prone “conspiracy theorist.” Surely few outsiders would have paid any attention to such a typical exchange of mudslinging between rival ideological camps.
But then things took a very different turn, and a week later Ames returned with a 5,000 word article bearing a title sure to grab attention: “Holocaust Denial.” He claimed that in 1976 Reason had published an entire special issue devoted to that explosive topic.
Surely everyone on the Internet has encountered numerous instances of Holocaust Denial over the years, but for a respectable magazine to have allotted a full issue to promoting that doctrine was something else entirely. For decades, Hollywood has sanctified the Holocaust, and in our deeply secular society accusations of Holocaust Denial are a bit like shouting “Witch!” in Old Salem or leveling accusations of Trotskyism in the Court of the Red Czar. Progressive Sam Seder’s Majority Report radio show devoted a full half-hour segment to the charges against Reason, and Googling “Reason Magazine”+”Holocaust Denial” today yields thousands of hits. This substantial explosion of Internet controversy was what caught my own attention at the time.
|Life in Talibanistan||by Pepe Escobar|
Fatima, Maliha and Nouria
Dear reader: this is very special, a trip down memory lane like no other:
back to prehistoric times – the pre-9/11, pre-YouTube, pre-social network world.
Welcome to Taliban Afghanistan – Talibanistan – in the Year 2000. This is when photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed it overland from east to west, from the Pakistani border at Torkham to the Iranian border at Islam qillah. As Afghan ONG workers acknowledged, we were the first Westerners to pull this off in years.
|Phantom Time Theory|
The Colosseum, Rome
Little known German historian, writer, and publisher, Heribert Illig is perhaps one of the most eccentric conspiracy theorists out there. He developed the Phantom Time Theory in the late 1980s and early 1990s, eventually elucidating his ideas in several books, none of which has yet been translated to English. The Phantom Time Theory says that the years AD 614 through 911, a period commonly known in standard history as the Early Middle Ages, never happened. Get a grip on those words before moving on. Illig says that the Middle Ages – a period that includes the collapse of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, the rise (and fall) of the Byzantine Empire, and the Viking Age, among other foundational epochs – didn’t happen, and were at some point made up by the academic establishment, through a series of blunders and a heavy reliance on antique documents, which he believes are unreliable.
Illig says that the current year isn’t 2014, but rather is 1739; some 273 years out of date.