War on Terror 2.0

War on Terror 2.0

Last Sunday I walked past the Tower of London with friends from abroad. What we saw there compelled (rather than inspired) a lap of the place out of us. Half of the old grassed over moat was filled with ceramic red poppies. Their green stalks being driven into the ground by flocks of volunteers, including army cadets and children. More»

Solidarity is Not a Cliché

Solidarity is Not a Cliché

Wheelchairs and rainbow flags blocked Berlin’s Kotbusser Damm.  Equal parts pride parade and disabled rights protest, the pairing made sense. This was an in-gathering of the margins, not normally linked at this level, considering the degree of recognition accorded gays and lesbians today. Their equalization was a strong reminder of the shared discrimination both communities could once claim in the Nazi era. More»

'Devil Worship' in Armenia

‘Devil Worship’ in Armenia

“My nation is Yezidi, my language is Ezdiki, my religion is Sherfedin” reads a poster in Cyrillic script on the wall of a Yezidi family home in Zovuni, a village on the outskirts of Armenia’s capital of Yerevan. A portrait of the tomb of Sheikh Adi in Lalish, northern Iraq – a major pilgrimage site for Yezidis – hung on the wall beneath it. More»

Latest entries
Hipsters Go Middle Age

Hipsters Go Middle Age

For most people, the middle of life isn’t so much marked by crisis as by a general, if heightened, anxiety. As your body gradually succumbs to entropy and gravity, you realize that history has taken place, and you have barely participated. You weren’t Madonna, you never won Wimbledon, you didn’t stop global warming. More»

Playing the Police

Playing the Police

When I was little, anti-war sentiments were pervasive. Enough people remembered the horrors of the two world wars to make the notion of military action as policy by other means deeply problematic. Repugnance at the futility of the Vietnam War made returning soldiers feel abandoned and ashamed. Nuclear annihilation loomed. But every boy I knew still wanted a G.I. Joe. More»

Jihadist Civil War

Jihadist Civil War

When Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden in his Abbotobad compound, they also seized a number of important documents. Among them were communications between senior members of al-Qaida, discussing everything from press releases to financial affairs. Some (not all) of these files were declassified, and seventeen were included in a study by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point. More»

Humanity is Passé

Humanity is Passé

The Khmer Rouge got off easy. No act of genocide is as misunderstood as the murderous campaign that the Maoist revolutionaries undertook during the second half of the 1970s. Two million Cambodians were murdered in the space of four years. The scale of the killings, and the ruthlessness with which they were conducted, shocked the West, which was still struggling to get its head around the Holocaust, just three decades earlier. More»

The Belgian Nazi

The Belgian Nazi

European intellectuals can be divided between those who embrace history, and those fleeing from it. Marx and his intellectual progeny (up to Louis Althusser) represent the first sort. Men make their own history, as Marx once averred, but they do not do so under conditions of their own choosing. For structuralists and post-structuralists, by contrast, the role of history is, at best, secondary for understanding human life. More»

From Famines to Austerity

From Famines to Austerity

From Brussels to Turin, the flyers read the same. The 2008 economic crisis continues on, slowly but surely transforming the European Union’s weakest member states into Third World countries in all but name, quasi-colonial holdings of their wealthier neighbors, and the banks bailing them out. More»

The AK-47 Era

The AK-47 Era

The AK-47 assault rifle and the state of Israel are almost exactly the same age. Although this is purely a coincidence, it provides a useful opportunity to ponder their relationship. Throughout the Cold War, the AK-47 signified resistance to the hegemony of the free-market West, both during the final decades of traditional colonialism and the confusing post-colonial period that followed it. More»

Warsi's Gaza

Warsi’s Gaza

Operation Protective Edge has claimed its first political casualty. The victim is neither Palestinian, nor Israeli. In a delightfully ironic turn of events, it’s the chief executive of Mandate Palestine’s former colonial parent state, the United Kingdom. Fittingly, David Cameron received the resignation letter of his best-known Muslim minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who quit over his support for Israel’s campaign in Gaza. More»

Their Ideal Israel

Their Ideal Israel

Larry Gordon assured me that it was all a big misunderstanding. Sure, his Long Island newspaper, the 5 Towns Jewish Times, printed an article by his son and staffer, Yochanan, titled “When Genocide Is Permissible.” In considering how Israel can protect itself from rocket fire the author ponders the unthinkable, and while the paper officially apologized, Gordon insisted that the outraged public got it wrong. More»

Nazi Skinhead Economics

Nazi Skinhead Economics

Tom Metzger’s WAR (White Aryan Resistance) was always the archetypal Nazi skinhead group. Their newspaper was filled with crass cartoons of Jews and African-Americans (picture big noses and big lips,) but it was his cable-access TV show, Race and Reason, that was most popular with the neo-Nazi skinheads in the Deep South community I grew up in. More»

Ravaged by War

Ravaged by War

Viktor produced a thick volume from the Yugo’s trunk for me to read while he drove. Inside were maps and graphics of red replacing blue with each subsequent year, reminiscent of the famous map of Palestinian displacement. The landscape itself was not so different either. More»

Blame the Americans

Blame the Americans

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is America’s fault, I am told. Washington egged on the fascists in Kiev, who were trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin’s plane, but somehow got the wrong one.  Everything bad that happens in the world is the United States’ fault. It always is. More»