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Racist Uniformity

It was evening

and it was morning.

We learned that Nazi websites had posted a call to burn our synagogue.

A frail, elderly woman approached me as I stood on the steps in front of our sanctuary, crying, to tell me that while she was Roman Catholic, she wanted to stay and watch over the synagogue with us. At one point, she asked, “Why do they hate you?” I had no answer.

I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer. John Aguilar, a 30-year Navy veteran, took it upon himself to stand watch along with our armed guard. He just felt he should.

Here is what I witnessed:

For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil.” Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols. A guy in a white polo shirt walked by the synagogue a few times, arousing suspicion. Was he casing the building, or trying to build up courage to commit a crime? We didn’t know.

Later, I noticed that the man accused in the automobile terror attack wore the same polo shirt; apparently it’s the uniform of a white supremacist group. Even now, that gives me a chill.

Alan Zimmerman, President, Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville, VA

(all words by Alan Zimmerman, edited by David Sanders)

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Comments 6

  1. I was on the board at Iliff School of theology. I met Dr George Tinker,the chief of the Osage nation at the university, and I started attending Native American ceremonies on Sundays at the Four winds church in Denver. Here I got a very different narrative of how the west was LOST….a tale of the Native american GENOCIDE. An raw Indian take of the American romance of how the west was WON. The history of Native displacement was not a pleasant history,a horrific story of 500 years of the natives being treated as the Canaanites of old, to be removed from their lands,as it is the promised land for the NEW CHOSEN ONES. It made it possible for good christian folk, to kill other folk and steal their land. Native Americans got safely parked on reservations, so far away from urban centers, where they could be ignored in their poverty, except for the CASINO Indians. In the Pine Ridge reservation, the unemployment rate is at 87%-90%. The Nazi rhetoric is one of violence. Unless America begins to own its history of violence, none of us will be healthy, as we will continue to denigrate our environment, continue to pursue a militarized foreign policy, to use violence or the threat of violence to get our way in the world…If we told our stories as TRAGEDIES, rather than romances…may be we would be more open to learn about our selves with greater transparency. God did not send any body to the continent to kill any of our ancestors. The history of christianity in the modern world has gone hand in hand with colonialism, and the object was conquest. From the early 15th century to now.1900 European nations controlled 84% of the land mass on the planet. We have to own this tragic history of violence and do some thing right. The Nazi symbols, go hand in hand, with the belief, that god is gracious to this special group of people who landed on Plymouth Rock, and the enemy is handed to them to destroy. This is the under side of the story that got swept under the rug. The Nazi’s chanted…”You will not replace us”…Really…Whose story of replacement are they projecting????
    We vote our first black president into office and there is a back lash so deep and illogocal. Next I hear of the killings at the synagogue…It challenges us to stir up the mud from the bottom of the pot. We don’t get to transform the world by making disciples for Christ,nor white supremacy. The birthing pangs of America, were carried on the broken backs of Blacks and Native Americans. We have to own this tragic history of violence and do some thing right. Let us start by living with harmony with all our relatives…the buffalo, eagles,mountains,jewish believers, non believers, blacks,brown…It is not about who gets the most riches out of this world, by making sure some others get less… We have to live in harmony and balance again…and look at the past…What keeps TRAUMA rearing its ugly head in the complex interplay of past and present?…How do we put our haunting memories to rest? as we all carry culpability…I felt this raw fear when Trump got elected…My PTSD and trauma went up a HUGE notch, when Charlottesville buried lady grace a year ago. My deepest fears for my jewish friends came to pass in the Pittsburgh synagogue shootings. Our pain and love for each other are two sides of the coin. The coin can’t be flipped to chance any more,as much too much has been lost already…

  2. One cockemamie idea of the Nazi’s is that JEWS OWN THE INTERNATIONAL BANKING SPHERES…They don’t understand the real cause and effect policies that disenfranchised so many people as a result of globalism. You have to understand what neoliberalism is to get a hold of the policy changes that have contributed to tribalism on a global scale. JEWS WILL NOT REPLACE IS is a wrong analysis of a deep seated problem, that haunts us.
    What is Neoliberalism?

    A Brief Definition for Activists
    Publisher Name:
    National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
    Article Author:
    Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia

    “Neo-liberalism” is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

    “Liberalism” can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate “liberals” — meaning the political type — have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

    “Neo” means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation’s economy to develop. Such ideas were “liberal” in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged “free” enterprise,” “free” competition — which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

    Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence, that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President Roosevelt’s New Deal — which did improve life for many people. The belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.

    But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking
    profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That’s what makes it “neo” or new. Now, with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.

    A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos at the Zapatista-sponsored Encuentro Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism) of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: “what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there ….” and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico.”

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

    THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.

    CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.

    DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.

    PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

    ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”

    Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, “Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America.”

    In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs;
    attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and
    cutbacking social programs. The Republican “Contract” on America is pure
    neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to
    children, youth, women, the planet itself — and trying to trick us into
    acceptance by saying this will “get government off my back.” The
    beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world’s people. For
    the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering
    without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without
    end.

    Elizabeth Martinez is a longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including “500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs.”

    Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico.

    Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, held July 27 – August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.

  3. “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”

    ― Martin Luther King Jr.

  4. A far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion political party in Spain has made gains in regional elections, prompting protests in the streets. Members of Spain’s younger generation are too young to remember the brutal 40-year military dictatorship under General Francisco Franco. But a remarkable new documentary titled “The Silence of Others,” or “El Silencio de Otros,” hopes to remind Spaniards of the country’s fascist past, lest history repeat itself. The film follows several survivors of the Franco regime in their pursuit of justice. We speak with Spanish filmmaker Almudena Carracedo, who, along with Robert Bahar, wrote, produced and directed “The Silence of Others.”

    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Monday, thousands marched across southern Spain to protest the rise of the far-right Vox party, which recently won multiple seats in a regional parliamentary election in Andalusia. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon threw his support behind Vox earlier this year and has apparently been advising the far-right party. Vox campaigned on an anti-immigrant, anti-abortion platform and has many worried about the rise of far-right political populism in Spain. This is Ana Gonzalez, a resident of Madrid.

    ANA GONZALEZ: [translated] Unfortunately, I think they will keep on rising. And I think it’s like a marketing technique, as the one Trump had. I think it’s very dangerous, because it’s a marketing technique which is gathering people and taking them on its side, people that perhaps don’t have a very clear ideology.
    AMY GOODMAN: Vox’s victory marks the first successful election for the far right in Spain since the country returned to democracy in the ’70s after the death of the fascist military dictator Francisco Franco. Today, many Spaniards are too young to remember General Franco’s brutal 40-year dictatorship, but a remarkable new film hopes to remind the younger generation of Spain’s past, lest history repeat itself. The film is called The Silence of Others. It follows a number of survivors of General Franco’s regime in their pursuit of justice as they organize an international lawsuit to investigate crimes against humanity. This is the film’s trailer.

    XABIER ARZALLUZ [translated] It’s simply a forgetting, an amnesty for all, by all, a forgetting for all, by all.
    MARÍA MARTÍN: [translated] I was 6 years old when they came for my mother. This is the gravesite. This is the mass grave.
    JOSÉ MARÍA GALANTE: [translated] I lived just meters from the person who tortured me.
    MARÍA MARTÍN: [translated] The thing is, all this has been covered up until now.
    CARLOS SLEPOY: [translated] There’s not a town in Spain without victims of the Franco regime, right?
    UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] We want our children, alive or dead.
    JOSÉ MARÍA GALANTE: [translated] This is not about looking at the past. We’re fighting for the future.
    PAQUI MAQUEDA: [translated] It’s the first time the voice of the victims will be heard before a court—10,000 kilometers away from our country.
    ASCENSIÓN MENDIETA: [translated] In this case, there are several protagonists. Time is one of them.
    JOSÉ MARÍA GALANTE: [translated] We, and hundreds of thousands of victims, have been denied the right to justice.
    UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Perhaps all of us, perhaps we have all collaborated in that silence.
    MARÍA MARTÍN: [translated] How unjust life is. Not life. We humans, we are unjust.
    AMY GOODMAN: The trailer for the new film The Silence of Others.

    For more, we’re going to Los Angeles, where we’re joined by the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Almudena Carracedo, who, along with Robert Bahar, wrote, produced and directed The Silence of Others.

    Almudena Carracedo, welcome to Democracy Now! I know you’re headed back to Spain, where you live. This is just an astonishing film. But before we go deeply into the film, if you could comment on what’s taken place in Spain and how it so directly relates to what you cover in this film?

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: Right. Well, thank you, Amy, and thank you for having me on the show. It really is beautiful to be here to share the story of the film.

    So, what’s happened in Spain is that, yes, for the first time since the death of Franco in 1975, the far right has taken over certain parcels of power. What we tried to do in the film was precisely to bring back the past, to make a film about the legacy of the Franco regime in the present, so that new generations could actually learn what had happened, because if you don’t know what happened in the past, it is very hard to fight for your future and for your present. We just never understood that the future that we were trying to avoid was going to become present, like so fast.

    AMY GOODMAN: And talk about your film, the lawsuit that it is based on, and who the people are who have brought this lawsuit.

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: Right. So, the film follows, for six years—we filmed for six years—the journey of a group of survivors, victims and survivors, who decide to take on this international lawsuit. It is based on the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows courts in any part of the world to prosecute crimes in other parts of the world, if the country where they occurred refuses to do so. This is actually the same principle that was used to detain Augusto Pinochet in London and to start trying some of the military junta in Argentina. And so, based on the same principle, but with the reversal that now it is Argentina that is trying Spain, is that the characters in the film embarked on this journey.

    And so, the film tries to actually get into their skin and understand, you know, to feel what it feels like to be them, you know, go through their moments of success and their moments of sadness and moments of frustration, so that people can actually understand what it feels like to be a victim and survivor in Spain, 40 years in silence, and with their—even with their status as victims completely denied, you know?

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Almudena, you mentioned this issue of universal jurisdiction. Spain passed an amnesty law in 1977. Part of the reason that Spain can’t try people who were associated with Franco’s dictatorship is because of this amnesty law. But as you point out in the film, this law was followed by many in Latin America, but once countries in Latin America became democratic, they overturned this amnesty law. Spain did not. Could you explain why, and then this issue of universal jurisdiction and this case taking place in Argentina?

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: Right. So, there are all these reversals that are played in the film, right? Because Spain was a pioneer in the application of universal jurisdiction, but when it was the turn of Spain to judge its own crimes, then the judge that started to do that, Judge Garzón, was actually disbarred. And so, what’s really sort of fascinating now is that Spain is an outlier in international law right now, because it breaks international law.

    So, all these countries, yes, modeled after Spain; Spain’s sort of model of transition and amnesty law was very much a model in many other countries transitioning from a past dictator. But now a lot of these countries have actually, as you well mentioned, have put it behind, and they have overturned their amnesty laws and are dealing with their past differently.

    And this is kind of something that the film tries to do. It actually puts a mirror to many other countries, as well, and say, you know, there are many ways to deal with your past and with the legacy of the past in the present. And so, it actually allows people to think about those past crimes that their countries or those dark shadows that the country has and that project themselves into the present, you know?

    AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s really interesting that the way this law is referred to by many in Spain is called the pact of forgetting, the idea—and you see this repeated over and over in the film, Spanish officials saying, “We must move forward. We must forget together.”

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: Right.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a clip from The Silence of Others, the first few minutes of your film, in which an 84-year-old woman, María Martín, walks through her village to lay flowers at the side of a road, a highway. Martín’s mother was killed when she was 6 years old.

    MARÍA MARTÍN: [translated] This is the gravesite. This is the mass grave. Look, there, in those brambles. They threw the clothes and left the women naked. How unjust life is. Not life. We humans, we are unjust.
    AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s María Martín, and we follow her story throughout, this haunting, breathless, whispery voice of this elder sick woman, who could not make it to Argentina to testify with the others. Tell us what happened to her mother.

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: So, María Martín’s mother was captured. Her hair was shaved, and she was eventually executed along thousands and thousands of Spaniards at the very beginning of the Spanish Civil War, in areas, actually, were not experiencing war. They were areas that had been taken over by Franco in his coup d’état.

    María has been fighting since she was little. And then, you know, when her father passed away, he asked her, in his bed—that we would call it the—you know, he was dying—to please bring his wife to him. And she fought all her life for that. And, you know, her case really represents the case of so many thousands and thousands of people in Spain who are passing away without seeing something so fundamental as to be able to bury your loved ones in a dignified way.

    And that’s exactly what we try to do. We didn’t want to deal with this issue from a political point of view. It’s a fundamentally political film, because it deals with issues that are around us, but we wanted to deal with it through the human stories, right? It transcends politics in that way, to be able to understand what it feels like to be María Martín, when you have to go for all your life to sit by the side of the road to put flowers to your mother.

    NERMEEN SHAIKH: Almudena, I want to ask about, you know, what Amy mentioned earlier, which is the fact that in the film you show, repeatedly, government officials saying that it’s their collective responsibility to focus on the future and to not dwell on the past. One of the most striking moments in the film itself is when you take your cameraman and go into a square and ask all of these young people, you know, what they know of Franco, and they say—you know, and whether anything should be done, and they say either they don’t know or that it’s not relevant. So, could you talk about the significance of that, and also the fact that the executive producer of your film is this world-renowned director, award-winning director, Pedro Almodóvar? So, you know, how many people give this moment significance? And is it a generational thing?

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: Right. So, in the transition to democracy in Spain, there was this pact of forgetting, el pacto del olvido, el pacto de silencio, this pact of silence, that basically forced people or basically stated that it was much better to leave things behind. Let’s put everything under the carpet. Let’s start over. And obviously, the problem is that you cannot legislate forgetting. You know, forgetting is something individual, and people have the right to memory, precisely so we learn about the past so we can avoid future issues the same, right?

    And so, during the whole transition—and it’s been 40 years of democracy in Spain right now, where, essentially, it’s taken all this time for new generations to actually come into the political sphere or come into a position where they can actually demand to know and to learn. This is not taught in schools. It’s not taught in the streets. It’s not talked about in the families. And a lot of people under 40 come to us very indignant and say, “They stole my history,” you know?

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s—

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: And so, it is a different—

    AMY GOODMAN: You illustrate this so—

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: Yes, go ahead.

    AMY GOODMAN: —so well in the film, and we want to go to two more clips. This is the first, from The Silence of Others.

    CARLOS SLEPOY: [translated] There’s not a town in Spain without victims of the Franco regime, right?
    JOSÉ MARÍA GALANTE: [translated] This is not about looking at the past. We’re fighting for the future.
    UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] We’re joining as Lora del Rio’s Historic Memory Association.
    UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] We’re joining this project, with great enthusiasm.
    JOSÉ MARÍA GALANTE: [translated] We want to bring this to little towns, to gather signatures and also statements of support from town halls, one town hall at a time.
    CARLOS SLEPOY: [translated] If the judge decides to issue international arrest warrants for these people, our possibilities open up completely. All this is going to snowball.
    AMY GOODMAN: So, this lawsuit continues, interestingly, being brought in Argentina, which has universal jurisdiction, the very place where Human Rights Watch attempted to get the crown prince of Saudi Arabia arrested, Mohammed bin Sultan [sic], when he went there—Mohammed bin Salman, when he went there for the G20, for crimes against humanity. In this last 10 seconds, Almudena, the response in Spain to this film?

    ALMUDENA CARRACEDO: We really feel like Spain was needing a tool, another tool, but like a really powerful, emotional tool, to be able to discuss, for families to talk about it, for people to bring their parents into the theaters. Theaters keep filling out. We’re in our fourth week in theaters. And there’s been viral videos that are seen millions of times. So, it’s been a really amazing and beautiful moment to bring the film in to the people.

    AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there. I thank you so much. Almudena Carracedo, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, together with Robert Bahar, produced and directed The Silence of Others. Thank you so much.

  5. Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes— movie

    How I wish “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes” could be seen by everyone in America. Right-wing thinkers will be at a loss to condemn it as partisan because it is composed of live footage of the participants themselves. Left-wing thinkers will be stunned at how little they themselves actually knew. This is a portrait of the man who rose from designing Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign to creating Fox News as a national power. It is the tale of a man hungry for personal power who achieved it on a level rarely seen in a democracy.

    In 1996, Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News hired Roger Ailes who then spent years creating and covering scandals in the lives of public figures as Fox News became enormously powerful. On screen we watch Ailes tell the women reporters how to dress, what to say, what stories to cover. We watch him mold presidents as he creates the now strongest of all behind-the-scenes manipulators: The Media Advisor. After becoming the strongest example of his own invention, he filled that role himself until the day he died.

    As the first Media Advisor in history, he became both a kingmaker and a puppeteer. The people who hired him, needed him. He made so many enemies that he had his office lined in bullet proof glass. He grew to be a nasty kingmaker so powerful that he engineered Republican political campaigns from George H.W. Bush forward.

    When we look at what this movie triggers about the secret manipulations of presidential elections, several things are clear. First, Roger Ailes built Fox’s staggering power with the blessing of founder Rupert Murdoch. Second, Fox now stands supreme in its power over presidential elections. Third, in the month of November 2018, American President Donald Trump announced aloud for all to hear that what our country needs is one national television program that would report “the truth.” We can only ask: “Whose truth?”

    Given the fact that in this film Trump is already in conversations with the Murdoch family, point three is nothing less than terrifying. This is a man who saw clearly the record of the Ailes/Murdoch alliance and wants to be next in line for their help. This documentary stops short, as it should, of predicting what would happen if a Trump/Fox alliance dominated the distribution of the national news.

    Imagine, if you can, our country dependent on one source of information. A president who believes in rule by one man could wrap his beliefs and intentions in a single government news outlet for distribution to the public. Does that sound familiar? Sadly, much of our population is too young even to know that Hitler did exactly that in the 1930s. Is it too much to hope that of Americans of all ages will see this documentary that clarifies the dangerous roots planted by Roger Ailes? Now that he is dead, will Fox News reconsider their manipulation?

    — Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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