Liberty & Power: Group Blog
1) Increasingly, I hear the phrase"privatizing profits, socializing costs" (or losses) because, increasingly, the situation described is being imposed by politicians. The most notorious instance is the recent bail-out of the"Macs" -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- by which those quasi-private agencies are rewarded for almost criminal fiscal incompetence/irresponsibility by forcing taxpayers to absorb the cost. And, lest you believe the bailout is no more than some American taxpayers 'helping' some others who are Mac bond holders, heed these words from Freedom works, As politicians call for taxpayer bailouts and a government takeover of troubled mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, FreedomWorks would like to point out that a bailout is a transfer of possibly hundreds of billions of U.S. tax dollars to sophisticated investors and governments overseas. The top five foreign holders of Freddie and Fannie long-term debt are China, Japan, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Interestingly, on the same day the American taxpayer bailout of China was announced, another piece of news 'broke.' The Chinese government significantly reduced its subsidy of oil/gas...a subsidy that inflated gas prices and which the US government had exerted longstanding pressure to reduce.
2) A policy of zero tolerance has combined with the near-total monitoring of life by governments everywhere. Trivial behavior that either would not have been noticed before is now being scrutinized and punished....especially when such punishment is revenue enhancing. Consider two examples -- one British, one American.
This headline from the Daily Mail: Trader is fined £300 (approx. $600 US)by council for using black bin bags instead of grey. The article opens, Customers shopping for clothes at the Charli boutique watched in amazement when two uniformed men marched in and threatened staff with criminal prosecution. Their crime? Putting out rubbish in the wrong-coloured bin bags. Council officers announced that the shop in Muswell Hill, North London, would be fined £300 after using black bags because they had run out of the grey version issued by the local authority. The designer store had been waiting since July 1 for a delivery of new bags, but by the 17th staff decided they would have to put their rotting rubbish out in four standard black bags.
This headline from WorldNetDaily: Pet owners get 72 hours to clean their own yards. The article opens, Residents of one Denver suburb are being told by city officials they have only 72 hours to clean pet poop from their own yards or face fines of up to $999.
3) Whether McCain or Obama is elected, taxes will rise. I suspect they will go up more under Obama because (as far as can be gleaned from the vagueness of his campaign) he favors a drastic expansion of the federal government. Meanwhile, each day, the two men seem to move closer to holding the same position on the money pit of war in Iraq/Afghanistan.
4) More governments on all levels -- federal, state, city, etc. -- are likely to consider the same option being fielded by New York City. The New York Post reports, Warning of an approaching economic calamity, Gov. Paterson yesterday called an emergency session of the state Legislature - and raised the specter that New York may have to sell off roads, bridges and tunnels to close a massive budget deficit. In a rare televised address, the Democratic governor cited"private-public partnerships" involving the sale of state assets - widely condemned by critics as fiscal gimmickry - as one way to stem a tide of red ink brought on by the sagging economy and woes on Wall Street. In other words, taxpayers who paid for the infrastructure may have to pay private companies for the right to use them. At least, with the tolls etc. extorted by government, there was a patina of fairness in that the revenue allegedly went back into rebuilding infrastructure etc.
5) the phonebook length legislation (e.g. the 700-page Mac bailout) being passed contains measures that are massive both in number and in scope. Market Watch declares "Devil in the details: The hidden tax traps in the housing-rescue bill." For example, In a blow to eBay merchants and others accepting credit cards, debit cards, or third-party payments, your merchant bank will now be required to send a report to IRS and to you with your total annual gross payment card receipts. In other words, IRS will get your total merchant credit card gross receipts for the year.
6) the immediate goal of Bush, Bernanke, Paulson and Congress is to prop up the system for one more day...the long-run impact be damned. They are administering CPR on the corpse that is the economy and, then, yelling"stabilized!" when a heartbeat occasionally flutters. Their efforts will make an already deep recession plunge further toward depression.
7) over the last decades, politicians have become addicted to grand schemes, social programs WRIT LARGE, blank check promises. They are not likely to abandon this bad habit simply because tax revenues are falling. They will continue to crank out the money -- thus lowering the value of every dollar currently in your pocket -- while they also try to pick your wallet clean. Of course, the thieving in a noble cause (call it environmentalism, universal medical care...whatever) will be accompanied by laws that make it more difficult for you to make a living because the cost of doing business will be hiked even higher. For example, Justice Department officials are proposing new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 1990 law intended to prohibit discrimination on the basis of physical limitations. Among the new rules contained in a thousand-page Justice Department document are requirements that would affect most businesses, including miniature golf courses. The Associated Press reports that one proposal calls for miniature golf courses to make at least 50 percent of their holes accessible to people in wheelchairs. Disabled Americans indeed do need protection against discrimination. For example, public buildings such as courthouses should be accessible to them. But priorities need to be established, or the cost to the nation of complying with the ADA will become astronomical.
I could go on and on...But what's the point? Your taxes are going to go up, especially the"hidden" taxes that disguise themselves as fees or fines. Your hold on your own property is going to loosen. In some cases, there will be nothing you can do to preserve your wealth from the government thugs. In others, your greatest protection is privacy. For example, if you know that your trackable spending habits are going to be turned over to IRS. switch to cash only right now.
19. That's the estimated number of times the Ozark police tasered 16-year-old Mace Hutchinson whom they found lying underneath a highway overpass with a broken back that apparently resulted from fall. (News item here.) The police had been summoned by a 911 call that, one presumes, was placed by people who wished to help the teenager. Mace did not obey the policemen's orders but spoke incoherently instead and, so, they tasered him up to 19 times -- each time repeating the command -- before one of the police wondered aloud whether they should call an ambulance. In intensive care for the broken back and broken heel, Mace had to wait two days for surgery because the tasering had raised his white blood count and caused a fever.
The police use of tasers on Mace is not being officially questioned -- of course! The official reason offered for taser use: the officers were concerned about keeping him out of traffic, keeping him from getting hurt. Yeah. They were worried about his health.
"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business. I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."
might actually be worth the effort to vote for! Where's a pen to write him in?
Better yet, it was in the context of his introducing"a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance."
Is it too much to hope for that Rep. Frank includes economic activity other than drug purchases in the things that are in that"vast amount of human activity" that are none of government's business?
But the gender card will be played. The argument will run: women constitute 50 percent of the population; if women were truly equal, 50 percent of elected officials would be women; the percentage is far lower; therefore, women are not equal. This argument is false and reflects the changing definition of"equality" within feminism.
Equality used to refer to opportunity: women wanted their persons and property fully protected under the law and to have the same access as men to public institutions, such as universities and the courts. Women's call to vote grew so loud that"woman's rights" and"suffrage" briefly became synonyms. In 1920, ratification of the 19th Amendment assured the vote to American women. And, yet, few women were elected to political office.
Sixties feminists faced a problem.
Most legal barriers to women had been swept away. Yet"imbalances," such as the low ratio of female politicians, persisted and were viewed as proof that women were still oppressed. In their view, a true equality of opportunity would have rendered an equality of results.
The call for equality became a cry for women to have equal access to all aspects of society. This new view of equality broke with the old one in two important ways. First, the traditional distinction between"public" and"private" was erased. Equality of access no longer referred to public institutions but to privately-owned ones as well. Second, the law was asked to accord privileges to women in order to compensate them for past wrongs and to establish a"level playing field."
For example, affirmative action regulated whom a business owner could hire.
Today, almost two generations have been raised on this level playing field and have voted their conscience. Yet far fewer women than men are office holders.
One explanation is that '60s feminists were flatly wrong. Equal opportunity in life usually renders unequal results because outcomes depend on many factors other than the equality of either opportunity or access. For example, outcomes depend on the preferences of those involved, preferences that differ widely not only from group to group but also from individual to individual.
Consider how few female firefighters exist. This is not because women are barred from the profession. Indeed, fire departments actively recruit women to comply with affirmative action. The lack of female firefighters may be due to nothing more than the well-documented tendency of women to choose less dangerous, less physically demanding jobs that allow time for their families. In all likelihood, the imbalance has nothing to do with inequality.
Something similar may be at work regarding women office holders. If a majority of women do not choose a political career, if most women voters do not cast ballots for their own sex, this is a fascinating social pattern. But it doesn't necessarily say anything about women's equality: it only reveals women's preferences.
Nevertheless, politically correct feminists will proclaim that the election returns reflect the oppression of women. The definition of equality has changed once more to mean"equality of outcome," not of opportunity or access.
It is always instructive to read United Nations documents. The new term being used there is"substantive equality."
The International Women's Rights Action Watch is an organization with"special consultative status with the U.N.," that works to"facilitate the monitoring and implementation" of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). IWRAW speaks of CEDAW's demand that states"ensure an equality of results between women and men." To do so, CEDAW realizes that states need to treat women and men"differently." Women’s needs must be"specially recognised and catered for [sic] in the context of employment, education, financial services, politics and all other spheres of life."
In short, pervasive laws will benefit women and disadvantage men in order to achieve an equality of results.
Election results will probably be included, if only indirectly. For example, in Kosovo, the U.N. mandated a gender quota. Every third candidate in the 2001 election had to be a woman. Close to a third of the offices went to women. The elections were still called"free" because no one tried to rig the vote count, only the nominations. But, as the notoriously corrupt 19th century politician, Boss Tweed once declared,"I don't care who does the electing just so long as I do the nominating."
Dr. Mark Cooray has well expressed the difference between various concepts of equality within feminism."Equality of opportunity provides in a sense that all start the race of life at the same time. Equality of outcome attempts to ensure that everyone finishes at the same time." Cooray considers"equality of opportunity and freedom" to be"two facets of the same basic concept." Equality of results, however,"is the goal of radical socialism."
As long as women are as free as men to run for office and to vote as they choose, then whatever number of women are elected is the right number for an equality based on freedom.
David T. Beito
"The headteacher, Sitisak Sumontha, estimates that in any year between 10% and 20% of his boys consider themselves to be transgender - boys who would rather be girls."
"A ratio of 10% to 20% of boys calling themselves transsexual in a provincial high school does seem very high, but Mr Sitisak assured me that in his experience it was not unusual."
"[The headmaster] said that, in his 35 years of working in the Thai education system, he had come across many boys like this, and they never changed. Many go on as adults to have sex-change surgery, while others will live as gay men, he said."
So how many of the boys are transgenders (either transexuals or transvestites) and how many are gay or bisexual? There's a huge difference, of course. And how many are intersexuals? This is not a possibility discussed in this article. And what about the girls? Inquiring minds want to know. Seriously.
Amy H. Sturgis
[Although the article is 10 years old, the situation discussed remains the same.]
In March 1997, I spoke at the International Conference on Prostitution (ICOP), which was presented jointly by The Center for Sex Research at Cal State University Northridge and the sex workers' organization COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) L.A. To the casual observer, the conference appeared to run smoothly. Those who attended the luncheon address by the featured speaker -- former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders -- were treated to a good natured sight. As Elders warmed to her theme of sex education for the young, she slipped into an evangelical tent-shaking delivery that prompted shouts of"Preach it sister!" from a table of prostitutes by the dais. The laughter and spontaneous applause veiled a sad fact: the journalists, researchers and academics sat together in tight clusters, apart from sex workers. Overwhelmingly, the segregation of 'non-pros' had been instituted by the prostitute-activists.
ICOP billed itself as"An Interface of Cultural, Legal and Social Issues." The conference was meant to bridge misunderstandings between researchers and prostitutes. The four organizers were Norma Jean Almodovar, the head of COYOTE Los Angeles, and Professors James E. Elias, Vern Bullough and Bonnie Bullough. (Bonnie died several months before ICOP opened.) Norma Jean tended to dominate. She had superior organizational skills and the credibility needed to convince prostitutes -- women who are law-breakers -- to attend a conference where they might be photographed. By the advent of ICOP, however, the organizers had become bitter foes, who almost came to blows.
The breach had been foreshadowed. Although ICOP opened its general session on a Friday morning, certain sympathetic researchers had been invited to pre-conference sessions with prostitute-advocates. I declined because I suspected a disaster was brewing. For well over a year before ICOP, I had participated in a online private e-mailing list called Whorenet. The list was part of the Prostitutes' Rights Movement (PRM) -- a vocal coalition of 'liberated' prostitutes. Whorenet was established in 1996 to allow prostitutes, researchers, and 'activist johns' to share information on political, sexual and personal matters.
The list became an unofficial clearing-house for ICOP. Many, if not most prostitute-activists expressed unrelenting hostility against even the most sympathetic non-pro researchers based largely on identity politics. The central tenet of identity politics is that only the members of a group (such as"blacks" or"prostitutes") can understand the oppression of that group. The PRM believed that regular women (non-pros) could not understand the injustice done to 'the prostitute.' Therefore, non-pros should defer to prostitutes and act as vehicles for their voices. This demand was often expressed with hostility. And, indeed, the researchers who attended the pre-conference sessions later spoke of being insulted. Some were told to leave the meetings to which they had been invited and attended at their own expense.
Like ICOP, Whorenet quickly evolved into what Tracy Quan of PONY (Prostitutes of New York) called"a caste system." In an August 1997 article in the on-line magazine Salon, Quan explained the caste system"...with sex workers sitting at the top and johns at the very bottom." Non-pro women seem to fall somewhere in between the extremes, landing closer to the bottom. Quan commented on the factionalism caused by the caste system,"A prostitutes' rights activist can score points by hinting that an opponent 'has never really been a hooker'."
Hostility spilled over from Whorenet into ICOP. For example, Norma Jean had asked the anti-prostitution feminist Kathleen Barry to be a keynote speaker in order to explore the radical feminist slant. Although willing to consider the invitation, Barry eventually declined because of threats to drown out her speech by heckling from the audience.
The threat of disruption was a woefully counter-productive tactic. Barry focuses upon streetwalkers, for whom abuse is common, rather than upon call girls for whom abuse is rarer. At ICOP, Barry would have met prostitutes who contradicted her paradigm and, perhaps, she would have revised her opinions. In this one instance, at least, a radical feminist was willing to open a dialogue. The rage of the PRM ensured silence.
The research conducted by sympathetic researchers has been damaged by identity politics as well. Consider one of the panels on which I spoke --"Session 11: Studying Whores: Rethinking Research Methods and Ethics." My topic was"The Problem of Advocacy in Research." I explored the tension involved in being both an advocate who favored decriminalization and a researcher who strove for objectivity. For example, in conducting research interviews, there was pressure to 'respect the voices' of the research subjects by, for example, allowing them to rephrase questions. Thus, the subjects themselves partly determined the content of the research. This called the validity of the research into question. I also asked how researchers could ignore the critical voices of ex-prostitutes from anti-prostitution groups such as PROMISE.
From the podium, the researcher Priscilla Alexander later claimed that asking such a question encouraged the murder of sex workers on the streets. This backlash was not surprising. The conversations of several academics upon whose work I had drawn was more than surprising: it was shocking. One academic casually admitted to ignoring or skewing inconvenient data. Another spoke proudly about having sex and taking drugs with her subjects as part of"research."
Both the PRM and Whorenet had lost their value as sources of data on prostitution.
Research from the Opposing Side
In 1994, Christina Hoff Sommers, professor of philosophy at Clark University, published the book Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women. Sommers chronicled how a new style of feminist scholarship abandoned facts in order to pursue ideology.
Who Stole Feminism? caused a sensation because Sommers exposed some widely accepted"feminist" statistics as being utterly false. Perhaps the most notorious example was the feminist contention that approximately 150,000 females die each year of anorexia. The claim had caused a media furor, yet no one asked the most basic question: where did that number originate? Sommers followed the trail. Steinem's autobiographical Revolution from Within (1993) cited the figure, which came from Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth (1992), which came from Joan Brumberg's Fasting Girls (1988). Brumberg cited a 1985 newsletter of the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association as her source. When Sommers contacted the President of the Association, she learned that the figure 150,000 referred to the total number of females with any degree of anorexia. The death rate was less than 100 per year. Yet the inflated figures were being used to promote legislation and government grants.
Current feminist"data" on prostitution was particularly puzzling to me because the view of prostitution had shifted dramatically from the seventies to the eighties. When the PRM sprouted in the early '70s, mainstream feminism embraced it. For example, in 1973 NOW endorsed the decriminalization of prostitution. As late as 1979, COYOTE publicly aligned with NOW in an effort to secure the ERA.
By the mid-eighties, the AIDS epidemic had made prostitutes' rights politically unpopular, but the change in feminist perspective cannot be so easily explained. The change was ideological. Broadly speaking, mainstream feminism shifted from prosex liberalism toward an ideology that considered many forms of consensual sex to be forms of patriarchal oppression. This was the influence of radical feminism.
A key book behind the shift in position was Barry's Female Sexual Slavery (1979), in which she described women who are abducted or sold for sexual purposes. Translated into several languages, the book was the basis for a 1983 United Nations report that bluntly stated"prostitution is slavery". Also in 1983, Barry founded the International Feminist Network Against Female Sexual Slavery in Rotterdam, which was funded by the Dutch government and the Ford Foundation.
Soon, the most vocal feminist position on prostitution included an attack upon capitalism and women's self-ownership. For example, in her book The Sexual Contract, Carole Pateman explained that the principle 'a woman's body, a woman's right' enslaved women. She concluded,"...the individual as owner is the fulcrum on which modern patriarchy turns."(14)
If the feminist stance on prostitution was based on observable fact, how could the same act be liberating in the mid-seventies and enslaving a decade later? The realities of prostitution had not changed in ten years. Surely, the intelligence of researchers had not changed so significantly either. It seemed clear that research was being driven by ideology.
Unreliable Data on Both Sides
Emotion and ideology surround the issue of prostitution. And the people to whom the public looks for objective information -- researchers, journalists, and academics -- seem to distort the realities of the issue. It is difficult to trust studies or statistics, many of which contradict each other.
Yet reliable information is necessary to address social questions such as the relationship between prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), e.g. herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. The United States has the highest rate of STDs of all Western nations, and some forms of prostitution seem to be vectors of transmission. For example, The Economist commented,"Black gonorrhea rates [gonorrhea among black Americans] are almost seven times higher than among Americans as a whole, partly because blacks have less access to health services and partly because of the spread of prostitution in exchange for crack cocaine." ("Barometer: the Invisible Worm" May 17, 1997) Dependable data is essential.
Is prostitution within America a vector of transmission? Some women on Whorenet thought it could be. One e-mail advised,"Don't brush your teeth before seeing a client. Chew gum, use mouthwash, whatever, but brushing may disturb the gums -- which is great for your gums, but it may cause enough of a breach to allow infections in."
In discussing STDs, it is important to distinguish between prostitution in America and in the Third World. Within countries like Thailand, prostitution unquestionably spreads even AIDS -- a relatively difficult STD to transmit. Consider the following excerpt from a yet-to-be published paper (reprinted with author's consent),"Globally, the incidence of HIV seropositivity among prostituted women is devastating. 58% of prostituted women in Burkina Faso, West Africa and 52% of Kenyan women in prostitution tested positive for HIV (Lankoande et a.l, 1988; Kaul et al., 1997)."
The PRM counters that: 1) American prostitutes are no more likely to be HIV infected than the normal female population because of widespread condom use; 2) the real vector of transmission is drug use; 3) criminalizing prostitution would increase infection by making prostitutes reluctant to seek medical information or assistance.
Nevertheless, the same paper claims,"Rates of HIV among U.S. prostituted women vary. For example, 57% in New Jersey. In Atlanta, Georgia -- 12% among women, 29% among men, and 68% among transgendered people in prostitution. (Elifson et al., 1999)."
The most interesting aspect of the excerpted paper is its source. Entitled"Prostitution: a critical review of the medical and social science literature in press, women & criminal justice," the paper was written by Melissa Farley and Vanessa Kelly. Farley is what the PRM calls an 'anti-sex' feminist who believes prostitution is a form of violence against women. Recently, Farley and I have conducted a modest exchange of research. I am not aware of another instance in which two ideologically opposed feminists cooperated on data relating to sex work.
Yet there is a crying need to get beyond ideology to good data. The public discussion on prostitution has become an ideological brawl in which both sides bend research to promote political agendas and to slander opponents. Those on the sidelines who feel bewildered by a conflicting flood of arguments and evidence should find solace in the fact that some researchers are just as bewildered.
There is reason for hope. For one thing, some radical feminists now call for the 'decriminalization' of prostitution for women, although not for johns. True, they are using the word somewhat differently than the PRM and their ultimate goal is the elimination of prostitution. Mine is still decriminalization. But, perhaps, we are beginning to use the same words. And to co-operate... cautiously.
Roderick T. Long
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
Since her rediscovery in the 1970s, Zora Neale Hurston has been studied primarily by scholars in womens studies and African-American studies fields that, much like libertarian studies, tend to be enormously insightful in some areas and vastly ignorant in others. (Indeed, much of the knowledge generated by libertarian studies tends to lie in womens studies and black studies zone of ignorance, just as much of the knowledge generated by womens studies and black studies tends to lie in libertarianisms zone of ignorance.) As a result, academic scholars working on Hurston tend to be baffled by her politics. Again and again in the academic literature on Hurston, one finds some version of the puzzled question Why does she seem so sensibly left-wing on some issues and so horrifically right-wing on others? Libertarianism is so far off their radar that they dont even recognise that thats the best label for her. Hurston makes most sense when placed in conjunction with such other Old Right literary figures as H. L. Mencken, Isabel Paterson, Albert J. Nock, Rose Wilder Lane, Garet Garrett, and Ayn Rand but their works are largely terra incognita in contemporary academia.
That said, it must be conceded that labeling a Hurston a libertarian may alleviate only so much of the puzzlement. Hurston has a way of unpredictably lurching leftward on one issue and rightward on another in such a way that almost any reader, libertarian or otherwise, is likely to find her infuriating at some point. (But this is of course likewise true for the other writers listed above.)
For my recent Liberty Fund conference I re-read Hurstons best-known novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. What does the title mean? If youve seen the somewhat Hallmarkised tv-movie you may remember Halle Berry lying in the water, saying dreamily Im watching God; but that scene was invented, its not in the book. The title actually comes from the following passage. The context is one in which the main characters have made no preparation against a coming hurricane because those with greater social authority seem unworried: The folks [= poor and/or blacks] let the people [= rich and/or whites] do the thinking. If the castles thought themselves secure, the cabins neednt worry. But the people, and consequently the folks who relied on them, are wrong and the hurricane is devastating:
They huddled close and stared at the door. ... The time was past for asking the white folks what to look for through that door. Six eyes were questioning God. ... The wind came back with triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God. (ch. 18)
Despite the religious connotations of the phrase and title (in fact all four of Hurstons novels have titles with religious connotations), Hurstons meaning as I interpret it is not especially religious just as Hurston herself was not especially religious. (She wrote in her autobiography, Prayer seems to me a cry of weakness, and an attempt to avoid, by trickery, the rules of the game as laid down.) As I read this scene, and the novel as a whole, the phrase watching God, and likewise the novels theme, concerns the contrast between being directly oriented toward reality (watching God, questioning God) and viewing reality through the lens of other peoples opinions and expectations (asking the white folks what to look for) or in Randian terms, psycho-epistemological independence versus social metaphysics (though Rand would probaly not have used God as a metaphor for objective reality). Although the specific example involves blacks psycho-epistemological dependence on whites, the novels theme is not primarily racial, but is concerned at least as much with womens dependence on men, individuals dependence on the community, and the communitys dependence on its leaders.
Hence Janie, the heroine, learns to dismiss the intrusive opinions of the town gossips by saying If God dont think no mo bout em then Ah do, theys a lost ball in de high grass (ch. 1), and again advises her friend Pheoby: Yo papa and yo mama and nobody else cant tell yuh and show yuh. Two things everybodys got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got to go to God [in this case probably a metaphor for dying], and they got to tuh find out about livin fuh theyselves. (ch. 20)
This reading of the novels theme helps, I think, to explain why the character of Joe Starks, the black entrepreneur born with uh throne in de seat of his pants, is such an ambivalent figure, apparently both liberatory and oppressive (alike in his relation to the townspeople and to Janie). On the one hand, he encourages his fellow townspeoples psycho-epistemological indepedence in urging them to develop greater political autonomy, e.g. to start their own post office. Some of the townspeople insist: Yo common sense oughta tell yuh de white folks aint goin tuh allow [a black man] tuh run no post office. But Starks convinces others that Us talks about de white man keepin us down! Shucks! He dont have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down. And in fact the town does get its own black-run post office and much else beside.
Joe Starks is based on the real-life founder of Hurstons home town, Joe Clarke, as described in Hurstons autobiography:
Eatonville, Florida, is ... a pure Negro town charter, mayor, council, town marshal and all. It was not the first Negro community in America, but it was the first to be incorporated, the first attempt at organized self-government on the part of Negroes in America .... Joe Clarke had asked himself, Why not a Negro town? Few of the Negroes were interested. It was too vaulting for their comprehension. A pure Negro town! If nothing but their own kind was in it, who was going to run it? With no white folks to command them, how would they know what to do? Joe Clarke had plenty of confidence in himself to do the job, but few others could conceive of it. (Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings, pp. 561-565)
The fictional Starks, like the historical Clarke, expands the horizons of his townspeoples conception of what is possible for them thus turning their eyes toward God, in Hurstons metaphor.
On the other hand, Starks to a significant extent substitutes himself for the whites as the intermediary between the townspeople and objective reality. When he first shows up in town he asks: Aint got no Mayor! Well, who tells yall what to do? to which he receives the magnificent answer Nobody. Everybodys grown. But Starks in the end succeeds in getting himself elected mayor, and Hurston describes his rule in rather La Boétiean terms:
The town had a basketful of feelings good and bad about Joes positions and possessions, but none had the temerity to challenge him. They bowed down to him rather, because he was all of these things, and then again he was all of these things because the town bowed down. (ch. 5)
Janie expresses the central paradox of Joe Starks when she tells him: You have tuh have power tuh free things, and dat makes you lak a king uh something. (ch. 6)
Likewise in his relationship with Janie, Starks contributes to her independence by freeing her from a grim marriage and broadening her horizon, but he expects her to take on the role of passive beneficiary of his own independence, building a high chair for her to sit in and overlook the world, rather than becoming an active participant in that independence, with the result that she finds heself more oppressed than liberated at least until she learns to stand up for the truth that [s]ometimes God gits familiar with us womenfolk too, and talks his inside business, i.e., that women can be oriented directly to reality rather than dealing with it always through the intermediary of mens perceptions.
Ragged segue: Hurstons political essays are a mixed bag, thanks to the lurching-left-and-right mentioned above; but I want to close by quoting some particularly good passages on imperialism. While Hurston is sometimes accused of being an Uncle Tom, in the following passages she seems more like Malcolm X:
I know that the principle of human bondage has not yet vanished from the earth. I know that great nations are standing on it. I would not go so far as to deny that there has been ... progress toward the concept of liberty. Already it has been agreed that the name of slavery is very bad. No civilized nation will use such a term anymore. Neither will they keep the business around the home. Life will be on a loftier level by operating at a distance and calling it acquiring sources of raw material, and keeping the market open. It has been decided, also, that it is not cricket to enslave ones own kind. ... If a ruler can find a place way off where the people do not look like him, kill enough of them to convince the rest that they ought to support him with their lives and labor, that ruler is hailed as a great conqueror, and people build monuments to him. ...
Now, for instance, if the English people were to quarter troops in France, and force the French to work for them for forty-eight cents a week while they took more than a billion dollars a year out of France, the English would be Occidentally execrated. But actually, the British Government does just that in India, to the glory of the democratic way. ... I do not mean to single out England as something strange and different in the world. We, too, have our marines in China. We, too, consider machine gun bullets good laxatives for heathens who get constipated with toxic ideals of a country of their own. … The United States being the giant of the Western world, we have our responsibility. The little Latin brother south of the border has been a trifle trying at times. ... He must be taught to share with big brother before big brother comes down and kicks his teeth in. ...
But there is a geographical boundary to our principles. They are not to leave the United States unless we take them ourselves. Japans application of our principles to Asia is never to be sufficiently deplored. ... Our indignation is more than justified. We Westerners composed the piece about trading in China with gunboats and cannons long decades ago. Japan is now plagiarizing in the most flagrant manner. ...
All around me, bitter tears are being shed over the fate of Holland, Belgium, France and England. I must confess to being a little dry around the eyes. I hear people shaking with shudders at the thought of Germany collecting taxes in Holland. I have not heard a word against Holland collecting one-twelfth of poor peoples wages in Asia. That makes the ruling families in Holland very rich, as they should be. What happens to the poor Javanese and Balinese is unimportant; Hitlers crime is that he is actually doing a thing like that to his own kind. That is international cannibalism and should be stopped. Hitler is a bandit. That is true, but that is not what is held against him. He is muscling in on well-established mobs. Give him credit. He cased some joints away off in Africa and Asia, but the big mobs already had them paying protection money and warned him to stay away. The only way he can climb out of the punk class is to high-jack the load and that is just what he is doing. President Roosevelt could extend his four freedoms to some people right here in America before he takes it all aboard [sic, presumably for abroad], and, no doubt, he would do it too, if it would bring in the same amount of glory. ... He can call names across the ocean, but he evidently has not the courage to speak even softly at home. Take away the ocean and he simmers right down. ... Our country is so busy playing fence to the mobsters that the cost in human suffering cannot be considered yet. ...
As I see it, the doctrines of democracy deal with the aspirations of mens souls, but the application deals with things. One hand in somebody elses pocket and one on your gun, and you are highly civilized. ... Desire enough for your own use only, and you are a heathen. Civilized people have things to show the neighbors.
This is not to say, however, that the darker races are visiting angels, just touristing around here below. They have acted the same way when they had a chance, and will act that way again, comes the break. I just think it would be a good thing for the Anglo-Saxon to get the idea out of his head that everybody else owes him something for being blonde. ... The idea of human slavery is so deeply ground in that the pink-toes cant get it out of their system. It has just been decided to move the slave quarters farther away from the house. ...
To mention the hundred years of the Anglo-Saxon in China alone is proof enough of the evils of this view point. The millions of Chinese who have died for our prestige and profit! They are still dying for it. Justify it with all the proud and pretty phrases you please, but if we think our policy is right, just let the Chinese move a gunboat in the Hudson to drum up trade with us. The scream of outrage would wake up saints in the backrooms of Heaven. And what is worse, we go on as if the so-called inferior people are not thinking; or if they do, it does not matter. As if no day could ever come when that which went over the Devils back will buckle under his belly. (Folklore/Memoirs, pp. 790-93)
I see, too, that while we all talk about justice more than any other quality on earth, there is no such thing as justice in the absolute in this word. We are too human to conceive of it. We all want the breaks, and what seems just to us is just what favors our wishes. If we did not feel that way, there would be no monuments to conquerors in our high places. It is obvious that the successful warrior is great to us because he went and took things from somebody else that we could use, and made the vanquished pay dearly for keeping it from us so long. To us, our man-of-arms is almost divine in that he seized good things from folks who could not appreciate them (well, not like we could, anyway) and brought them where they belonged. Nobody wants to hear anything about the side of the conquered. Any remarks from him is rebellion. This attitude does not arise out of studied cruelty, but out of the human bent that makes us feel that the man who wants the same thing we want, must be a crook and needs a good killing. Look at the miserable creature! we shout in justification. Too weak to hold what we want! (Folklore/Memoirs, pp. 765-66)
[T]he powerful Kingdom of Dahomey, finding the slave trade so profitable, had abandoned farming, hunting, and all else to capture slaves to stock the barracoons on the beach at Dmydah to sell to the slavers who came from across the ocean. ... [Q]uarrels were manufactured by the King of Dahomey with more peaceful agricultural nations ... they were assaulted, completely wiped off the map, their names never to appear again, except when they were named in boastful chant before the King .... The too old, the too young, the injured in battle were instantly beheaded and their heads smoked and carried back to the King. He paid off on heads, dead or alive. The skulls of the slaughtered were not wasted either. The King had his famous Palace of Skulls. The Palace grounds had a massive gate of skull-heads. The wall[s] surrounding the grounds were built of skulls. You see, the Kings of Dahomey were truly great and mighty and a lot of skulls were bound to come out of their ambitions. While it looked awesome and splendid to him and his warriors, the sight must have been most grewsome and crude to western eyes. Imagine a Palace of Hindu or Zulu skulls in London! Or Javanese skulls in The Hague!
One thing impressed me strongly from this .... The white people had held my people in slavery here in America. They had bought us, it is true[,], and exploited us. But the inescapable fact that stuck in my craw, was: my people had sold me and the white people had bought me. That did away with the folklore I had been brought up on .... I knew that civilized money stirred up African greed. That war between tribes was often stirred up by white traders to produce more slaves in the barracoons and all that. But, if the African princes had been as pure and innocent as I would like to think, it could not have happened. No, my own people had butchered and killed, exterminated whole nations and torn families apart, for a profit before the strangers got their chance at a cut. It was a sobering thought. ... It impressed upon me the universal nature of greed and glory. Lack of power and opportunity passes all too often for virtue. If I were King, let us say, over the Western Hemisphere tomorrow, instead of what I am, what would I consider right and just? Would I put the cloak of Justice on my ambition and send her out a-whoring after conquests? It is something to ponder over with fear. (Folklore/Memoirs, pp. 707-08)
Be that as it may, I always relished the idea that the people of Canada and the United States had been peaceful neighbors for so long—memories having faded of U.S. attempts to conquer Canada at the outset of the War of Independence and at the outset of the War of 1812, not to mention the Fenian raids between 1866 and 1871 and the 1859 Pig War (certainly my all-time favorite war, inasmuch as no shots were fired, except the one that killed the pig). Because I have enjoyed so many warm friendships with Canadians and spent so many pleasant times in their country during the past forty years, I confess that the idea of warfare between the United States and Canada strikes me as flat-out preposterous.
So, I was somewhat taken aback when, searching for information on another matter, I stumbled upon a description of War Plan Red, which pertains to a war between the United States and the British Empire. The U.S. Army developed this plan, along with many other color-coded contingency plans, in the 1920s and kept it warm until the end of the 1930s, when new plans were made in which the United States and Canada would cooperate in military actions against common enemies, such as Germany and Japan.
War Plan Red envisioned primarily U.S. attacks on and occupation of various Canadian cities, including Halifax (to be subjected to a poison-gas first strike), Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Victoria. To imagine U.S. Army officers drawing up such a plan only a few years before I was born boggles my mind. What were they thinking?
As if War Plan Red were not bizarre enough, be advised that an enterprising Canadian soldier, Colonel James “Buster” Sutherland Brown (yes, Buster Brown—I am not making this up), drew up a plan in 1921 for Canadian forces to get the jump on the more powerful Americans before the Yankees could invade Canada. Brown’s Defence Scheme No. 1 called for quick Canadian military thrusts to seize various U.S. cities—Seattle, Minneapolis, and Albany, among others—before retreating from them in an orderly manner. The idea was to divert U.S. troops and buy time for the British Empire to bring more powerful forces onto the scene in Canada’s defense. The Canadian military abandoned the plan in 1928, which, strange to say, was shortly after the U.S. Army formulated War Plan Red, a design consisting, for the most part, of plans for an invasion of Canada. For letting down its guard against a possible—nay, a planned—U.S. invasion, I blame Canada. I’m sure you know the lyrics for my indictment.
David T. Beito
The campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has already gotten tedious. In a campaign appearance the other day, he said in his characteristically sanctimonious way, “I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.”
We ought to be jaded enough by politics to know that when a candidate says he’d rather lose the campaign than do X, Y, or Z, he’s being anything but courageous. Nothing is more calculated to help one win the White House than to say he’d “rather be right than president.” The last guy to say it and apparently mean it was Henry Clay in 1839.
People call me"an exception." They baldly state that most kids on the street would never choose low-paid honest jobs over well-paid criminal ones. How do they know? Government does not permit a comparison to exist. At sixteen, I decided that 'profits' are not all monetary -- but this was something I knew at fifteen and fourteen as well. I knew that prostitution and drugs were violent, disease-prone worlds in which I had no future. Even if only a minority of under-aged runaways would make the same choice, how can anyone in good conscience deny them that opportunity?
Another common comment is that I should have sought the assistance of a governmental agency. There are at least two things wrong with this advice. First, runaways are on the streets because authority figures in their lives have betrayed them. Most of them will not willingly relinquish control to yet another authority. Second, there is an assumption that government protects children, yet this is the same government that denies them the right to their own labor. History frowns upon the belief that government protects children's rights.
The History of Child Labor Laws
Consider child labor in 19th century Victorian Britain -- the well spring from which modern child labor laws evolved. Immediately, hideous snapshots flash in the mind: five-year-olds being lowered into coal mines, wan children at textile mills, a Dickenesque Oliver asking for"more". These images are used to condemn the free market and the Industrial Revolution against whose evils a humanitarian government is said to have passed child labor laws. This analysis is badly mistaken.
For one thing, it misses a key distinction. Early 19th century Britain had two forms of child labor: free; and, parish or 'pauper' children. Historians J.L. and Barbara Hammond, whose work on the British industrial revolution and child labor is considered definitive, clearly recognized this distinction. The free market economist Lawrence W. Reed, in his brilliant essay"Child Labor and the British Industrial Revolution," goes one step farther. He recognizes the importance of the distinction.
Free labor children lived with their parents or guardians and worked during the day at wages agreeable to those adults. But parents often refused to send their children into unusually harsh or dangerous work situations. As Reed notes,"Private factory owners could not forcibly subjugate 'free labour' children; they could not compel them to work in conditions their parents found unacceptable." For example, the unacceptable position of 'scavenger' in textile factories. Typically, scavengers were young children -- about six-years-old -- who had to salvage loose cotton from under the machinery. Because the machinery was running, the job was dangerous and injury was common.
Fortunately for businessmen willing to use the State to their advantage, government had no qualms about sending parish children to work under running machines. Reed explains,"These youngsters [parish children]...were under the direct authority and supervision not of their parents...but of government officials." Parish workhouses had existed for centuries, but Victorian society with its stern Protestant work ethic was unique in considering poverty to be a personal moral failure on the part of the poor. Sympathy for the downtrodden was also lessened by the fact that taxes for poor relief in 1832 were over five times higher than they had been in 1760. Gertrude Himmelfarb's book"The Idea of Poverty" chronicles this shift in attitude toward the poor from compassion to condemnation.
In 1832, partly at the behest of labor-hungry manufacturers, the Royal Poor Law Commission began an inquiry into the"the practical operation of the laws for the relief of the poor." Its report divided the poor into two basic categories: lazy paupers who received governmental aid; and, the industrious working poor who were self-supporting. The result was the Poor Law of 1834, which statesman Benjamin Disraeli called an announcement that"poverty is a crime." The Poor Law replaced outdoor relief (subsidies and handouts) with 'poor houses' in which pauper children were virtually imprisoned. There, the conditions were made purposely harsh to discourage people from applying. Virtually every parish in Britain had abandoned workhouse children who, being bought and sold to factories, experienced the deepest horrors of child labor. In this, the workhouses were merely continuing a practice common before the Poor Laws.
It is no coincidence that the first industrial novel published in Britain was"Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy" by Frances Trollope. Michael was apprenticed to an agency for pauper children. Nor is it coincidence that"Oliver Twist" was not abused by his parents, but by brutal workhouse officials in comparison to whom Fagin was a humanitarian. And, remember, at the age of twelve with his family in debtor's prison, Dickens himself was a pauper child who slaved at the Blacking Factory. Reed observes,"[t]he first Act in Britain that applied to factory children was passed to protect these very parish apprentices, not 'free labour' children." The Act was explicit in doing so.
Even workhouse children with solvent parents could not always escape the grasp of officials. The"Ashton Chronicle" (June 23, 1849) published an interview with pauper child Sarah Carpenter, who explained:"My father was a glass blower. When I was eight years old my father died and our family had to go to the Bristol Workhouse. My brother was sent from Bristol workhouse in the same way as many other children were - cart-loads at a time. My mother did not know where he was for two years. He was taken off in the dead of night without her knowledge, and the parish officers would never tell her where he was."
Thus, in advocating the regulation of child labor, social reformers asked government to remedy abuses for which it was largely responsible. Once more, government was"a disease masquerading as its own cure." To their credit, some reformers realized that regulations to help the poor did precisely the opposite. Thus, the classical liberal John Bright -- a leader of the Anti-Corn Law movement that championed the poor -- voted against the Factory Act of 1844 in the British House of Commons. The Act reduced the hours of work for children between eight and thirteen years old; it also reduced the ability of poor families to survive.
But what of the other side of the equation -- the businessmen willing to use pauper children as slave labor? Consider one example. To assuage labor shortages at his textile mills, Samuel Greg took children from workhouses. Indeed, children were offered to him. In February 1817, the Vicar of Biddulph wrote to him:"The thought has occurred to me that some of the younger branches of the poor of this parish might be useful to you as apprentices in your factory at Quarry Bank. If you are in want of any of the above, we could readily furnish you with 10 or more at from 9 to 12 years of age of both sexes." Usually, such children were apprenticed to an employer until the age of twenty-one.
When the local parishes no longer provided sufficient labor, Greg went as far as Liverpool and London for children. Some parishes paid businessmen like Greg between two and four pounds to take a child off their hands. The children received their board and lodging from Greg, as well as a small salary.
Greg saw himself as a humanitarian and, by contrast with workhouse officials, he probably was. In"The Philosophy of Manufactures" (1835), Andrew Ure wrote:"At...the great firm of Greg and Son....stands a handsome house, two stories high, built for the accommodation of the female apprentices. They are well fed, clothed and educated. The apprentices have milk-porridge for breakfast, potatoes and bacon for dinner, and meat on Sundays."
But no amount of decent treatment can obscure the fact that the children were stripped of the one thing they possessed -- their labor and the right to contract. Nothing can convert the violation of their rights as laborers into an act of benevolence by Greg or by government officials.
Contemporary Child Labor
Government's victimization of children through denying them their rights as laborers is not merely a matter of history. In September 1990, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), already adopted by the UN General Assembly, came into force. The human rights violations involved in child labor began to receive unprecedented attention.
There is no question: children around the globe are being coerced into slave labor situations that are appalling, and should be prohibited. No one -- not parents, employers, or governments -- should be able to coerce children into or prohibit them from entering work situations. Children old enough to be supporting themselves are old enough to make their own decisions.
The foregoing statement seems heartless. The reverse is true. The only real protections children can enjoy are the family structure and their ability to be self-sufficient. In an ideal world -- a Western world -- families are prosperous and supportive: children are protected and educated. In Third World countries, parents often cannot provide the basics of life for their children, who must trade their labor for sustenance. The greatest act of benevolence is to recognize their right to contract and to work in the same manner as adult rights are respected. Anything that interferes with the self-sufficiency necessary for their survival is child abuse.
This is what Third World governments, under pressure from the UN and the United States, are doing. They are denying children the right to their labor -- to self-sufficiency -- by prohibiting children under a certain age from working. In some countries, the minimum age is now eighteen. And the standards of abusive child labor are so broadenly defined as to prohibit the possibility of voluntary child labor. For example, Article 32 of the UNCRC affirms a child's right to be “protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development." These standards would virtually eliminate all forms of child labor, whether coerced or voluntary, abusive or not.
In an article within"Child Workers in Asia" (Vol. 15. No. 3, 1999), Sulaiman Zuhdi Manik describes a work situation in Indonesia. Namely, there are children"working on fishing platforms, called ‘Jermal’, in the middle of the sea" where conditions are brutal. The solution imposed,"An Indonesian Minister of Labour Circular Letter dated 1997 forbids child workers on Jermal and a 1998 Circular Letter from the Governor of North Sumatra forbids the Jermal owners to hire children under 18." Are the children who are seventeen there by choice? Did all Jermal owners coerce or abuse their child laborers? And what became of the suddenly unemployed children?
Only the latter question is answered in the article:"They are still being hired and forced to work under terrible conditions." What forces them? A coercive individual, or the reality of poverty through which they must survive?
The question of what happens to children by government decree is dealt with more candidly on the UNICEF web site. It describes garment factories in Bangladesh"following the introduction of the Child Labor Deterrence Act in 1992 by US Senator Tom Harkin. The Bill would have prohibited the importation into the US of goods made using child labour....[W]hen Senator Harkin reintroduced the Bill the following year...garment employers dismissed an estimated 50,000 children from their factories, approximately 75 per cent of all children in the industry."
UNICEF admitted to surprise at the consequences. The children"were trapped in a harsh environment with no skills, little or no education, and precious few alternatives." In follow-up visits to homes and villages, UNICEF discovered that the" children went looking for new sources of income, and found them in work such as stone-crushing, street hustling and prostitution - all of them more hazardous and exploitative than garment production. In several cases, the mothers of dismissed children had to leave their jobs in order to look after their children."
UNICEF's proposed solution: increased governmental involvement and programs. Having forced children into more hazardous labor and causing poor families to lose the income of mothers, the real solution to child labor never seems to occur to such agencies. Namely, to call for the labor rights of all children to be respected. Instead, they promote the opposite: they call for the inability of children to contract their labor as free human beings.
Some pieces of legislation seem to address the difference between voluntary and coerced child labor. For example, on June 12, 1999, the White House issued an Executive Order entitled"Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor." Moreover, the Order's definition seems adequate:"'Forced or indentured child labor' means all work or service (1) exacted from any person under the age of 18 under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily; or (2) performed by any person under the age of 18 pursuant to a contract the enforcement of which can be accomplished by process or penalties." Critics might and should decry the further intrusion of government into the sphere of business, how can the Order be criticized on the basis of harming voluntary child laborers?
It will do so in the same manner as the bill proposed by Senator Harkin. The Executive Order instructs the Department of Labor to"publish in the Federal Register a list of products, identified by their country of origin, that those Departments have a reasonable basis to believe *might* have been mined, produced, or manufactured by forced or indentured child labor."[Emphasis added] At the mere whiff of such a mention, any prudent American business will cease to deal with the suspected producer. At the mere possibility of being mentioned, foreign business -- like the garment industry in Bangladesh -- will dismiss child laborers, voluntary or not.
Thus,"The Economist" (January 15-21, 2000) advises rich nations who wish to ease the pain of Third World child labor"to send the children aid rather than impose harmful trade sanctions. If exports made by child labour are banned, children often end up unemployed or in unregulated sectors such as prostitution."
The foregoing analysis will seem callous to many. This is especially true of the many good hearted people who support child labor measures in the belief that passing a piece of paper through a governmental body will change a complicated social situation. Such people sleep better at night because they have"done something." One of the things they accomplish is to make fifteen-year-old runaways in their own back alleys turn to prostitution. The effect on Third World children may be far more devastating.
Amy H. Sturgis
Read the story by Rob Capriccioso:"Indigenous Grandmas Nearly Kicked Out of Vatican."
Amy H. Sturgis
Clicking through to the Atlas Shrugs blog revealed the headline ATLAS EXCLUSIVE: FINAL REPORT ON OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE FORGERY CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN. Near the end of the extensive analysis, the reader is pointed to a long list of earlier, similar pieces, which include [T]he [birth] certificate is still a horrible forgery", Mystery, Clarification and Obfuscation of Obama's Birth Certificate Forgery, Atlas Tech Expert Declares Obama Birth Certificate, Who died and made him the final word on Obama's, The"Missing" Obama Birth Certificate Seal, SUCH A LIAR: OBAMA'S FAKE BIRTH CERTIFICATE and, RELEASE OBAMA'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE!
My stumble? Why is this campaign being led by the Atlas Shrugs site? I hope this is an aberration within the Objectivism and not an indication of how, well, stupid the general Objectivist movement has become over Obama. (Stupid is the word Reason Magazine uses.) There are so many excellent reasons to lambast Obama that it just cheapens their opposition if this is all they come up with.
For a well-reasoned counter to the forgery charges, click here.
If you read The Times, the Srebrenica massacre involved"more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys."
If you read the Guardian, the massacre involved"nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys." Elsewhere the Guardian reminds us,"That the Serbian forces under Karadzic's command committed genocide against the Muslims of Srebrenica in July 1995 is an established legal fact."
If you read the Independent, the massacre involved"more than 7,500 Muslim men and boys."
And if you read the Telegraph,"Some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed in and around the town of Srebrenica in 1995."
Would it surprise you, dear reader, if I suggested that these accounts are far removed from what likely happened? According to Diana Johnstone's detailed inquiry into the Srebrenica massacre, some 3,000 persons were killed and the massacre did not constitute genocide as defined in international law. She also explains why the U.S. and the European Union have been keen to promote their own very dubious version of this event and thus how the name of a town—Srebrenica—has become a powerful propaganda symbol—"Srebrenica"—of the New World Order.