Thursday, April 28, 2011

Emergency Managers

If Governor Snyder can legally appoint an emergency manager for any city in Michigan deemed in financial distress, by what logic would it be inconceivable for the President of the United States to appoint an emergency manager for a state like Michigan which is in economic distress.

First they came for our cities and I didn't act because it wasn't my city. Then came for my state, but by then they had already taken over the Presidency and there was no need to appoint an emergency manager. Goldman Sachs had already done that.

Imagine the White House under Donald Trump. They would call it "The Trump House."

Time to Strike

The GOP leadership has challenged the MEA to strike, threatening to decertify the union and fire the teachers.

Surely, it is time to act. We need to close down every school in the state – come the first day of class in the Fall. If the Republicans take the actions they threaten, we will have to keep the schools shut and begin a struggle that will determine whether we shall be free people or abject cowardly dogs. The choice is ours to make. It is time for those of us who still have the courage to speak out, to stand against the rising tide of oligarchy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We will miss you, Manning...

Manning Marable died Friday 1 April 2011.
In 1983, he was kind enough to recognize my
work in his column, From the Grassroots.

Dr. Manning Marable, “Academic Racism,” (July 2, 1983):

Part of the renaissance of racism today is found on college campuses. As most of us know, racism has taken the form of attacks against affirmative action in the hiring and promotion of black faculty and staff.

Consider also the decline in the recruitment of black graduate and undergraduate students at white schools: the attack against black studies departments; and the loss of federal and private funding for historically black universities. There is one other component of “academic racism” which must be evaluated – the growth of new eugenics research which describes blacks as “generically inferior” to whites.

As documented in a recent issue of “Science for the People”, Barry Mehler notes that there is a direct connection between racist white academic researchers, the New Right and politics of the Reagan Administration.

Over recent years the Pioneer Fund, an academic foundation has funded a number of racist college professors. The officers and directors of the Pioneer Fund in 1981 included Thomas Ellis, a major financial contributor to Reagan, and John B. Trevor, a founder of the American Coalition of Patriotic Societies.

The Pioneer Fund has given thousands of dollars to British fascist Roger Pearson, author of “Eugenics and Race”, and an organizer of a large “neo-fascist and antisemitic” conference in Washington, D.C. in 1978; the fund has also supported notorious racist William Shockley, who has written major studies trying to “prove” whie supremacy; Arthur Jensen, “America’s leading proponent of black inferiority”, University of Georgia professor Frank McGurk and Audrey Shuey, authors of “The Testing of Negro Intelligence”, termed by Mehler, “a book that has formed the basis for numerous racist studies.”

What kind of academic research in the fields of biology, psychology and sociology is being distributed to thousands of college students and public policy makers? A brief passage from the 1978 book, “Human Variations”, edited by R. Travis Osborne, Clyde E. Noble and Nathaniel Weyl, is clear enough: “(During slavery) the environment was more favorable that anything (blacks) had experienced in Africa. As slaves they improved in health and increased in numbers. When the Negroids were liberated from agricultural slavery, they were thrown free to shift for themselves in largely Caucasoid societies… These simple, unskilled rural people were suddenly offered irregular urban employment combined with opportunities of drink and drugs, gambling and prostitution, and no reliable means of productive, creative or congenial labor.” The authors conclude that there is no “scientific and historical evidence” that blacks are equals of “the intellectually well-endowed races.”

Mehler notes that the goal of this new eugenics research “is a world of racially pure stocks living in separate geographic areas, with strict apartheid practiced in areas where racial groups share one geographic land mass. The extreme wing of this movement openly advocates the elimination of all non-white races, Jews and homosexuals.”

Some of us might think that this racist garbage could not possibly be taken seriously in respected universities. Think again: Jensen’s writings have appeared in the “Harvard Educational Review”, and his “theories on the inferiority of black children”, have been published in the “New York Times”, “Newsweek”, the “Educational Digest”, “National Review” and “Science News”.

Former University of Chicago professor Dwight Ingle has widely published his view that “Negroids” problems are “not caused by racism” but the “Negroid-Caucasoid IQ gap.”

The task of uprooting white supremacy was only begun when we removed the Jim Crow signs and when Civil Rights legislation was passed in the 1960s. Now we must develop a serious campaign to destroy racist ideology in every form in the campuses across this country.

Dr. Manning Marable is director of Third World Studies, Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y. “From the Grassroots” appears in 150 newspapers internationally.

Remembering Pumbedita


Abaye haveh mesader seder Hamaracha...
Abaye listed the order of the alter service based on the tradition according to Abba Shaul.
The arrangement of the large pyre preceded that of the secondary pyre for the incense offerings; the secondary pyre for the incense offerings preceded the placement of the two logs; the placement of the two logs preceded the removal of the ashes from the inner alter...
Talmud Yoma 33a

This esoteric listing of the order of the alter service, virtually incomprehensible even to most Orthodox Jews who include the morning “Korbonot” service as part of their morning prayer service, has been completely dropped by Conservative Jews and is not even included in their prayer books.

Abaye (278-338 CE) listed this order at a time when the Temple itself had been destroyed over two centuries earlier. As the head of the Academy of Pumbedita in Babylonia, Jerusalem and the Temple were only distant memories.

The Academy at Pumbedita (pum=mouth, Bedita=a tributary of the Euphrates) was a major institution of Jewish learning for 800 years (220-1058). It lasted nearly as long as Plato’s famous academy (378-529 CE). The dialogues between Abaye and Rava (Havayot d’Abaye v’Rava) formed the foundation for the dialectic method of Talmudic study. In one such complicated debate over inheritance law between Rav Sheishet of Nehardea and Rav Amram, Rav Sheiset joked, “Are you from Pumbedita, where they push an elephant through the eye of a needle? (Bab Metzia 38b).

The last Rosh Yeshiva, Hezekiah ben David was tortured to death on orders of the Caliph. The Academy was closed, the Jews driven out and name of the city changed to Fallujah. Today, Fallujah is Judenrein, like much of the rest of Iraq.

And every morning, I am reminded of the order of the alter service and the great Academy of Pumbedita, where my intellectual roots were nourished on the dialectics between Abaye and Rava, and just as Abaye prayed for the restoration of the Temple, I dream of the restoration of that great institution of Torah scholarship that was once part of the thriving city of Pumbedita. I imagine a world were Jews can live in Mecca and Mexicans can live in Arizona.

Walter Benjamin writes, “Our image of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the image of redemption. There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth. Like every generation that preceded us we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power to which the past has a claim. That claim cannot be settled cheaply. Historical materialists are aware of this.” (Second Thesis on the Philosophy of History).

For me, the most esoteric parts of the morning service are the most meaningful. We read recipes for incense that has not been burned in two thousand years, details of services abandoned for centuries, rescued from oblivion by the heroic efforts of teachers who believed that if the incense could not be smelled, at least the recipe could be recited. If the meal could not be eaten, at least the order of its preparation could be recalled, reminding us always of how much we have lost; of our hunger.