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Streetwise Professor

August 27, 2010

Mosque-ow on the Hudson

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 10:01 pm

At first blush, the full throated defense of Islam generally, and the Ground Zero Mosque specifically, by the progressive left is passing strange.  Given that the battle over the GZ Mosque is centered in New York, the leftist precincts of that city, notably the Upper West Side, hard by the Hudson, are particularly strident in their attacks on the mosque’s critics.

The progressive argument is couched in terms of religious tolerance, opposition to religious bigotry, and the importance of property rights.  But the progressive left has long been extremely antagonistic to the believers of other religions, especially evangelical Christians, traditional Catholics and Jews, and Mormons.  The antagonism often clearly degenerates into outright bigotry, which seldom brings a peep of protest from other progressives.  Ridicule, mockery, and insult are routine.

And progressives are stalwart defenders of property rights?  Who knew?

Moreover, many of the beliefs and behaviors shared by large numbers of Muslims, especially about women and homosexuality, are antithetical to strong progressive views.  Indeed, many progressive attacks against the adherents of non-Muslim denominations emphasize their benighted views on women and gays, even though those views are benign compared to those common in the Muslim world.

In this regard, it is particularly illuminating to note that the Reagan administration made common cause with Saudi Arabia and other reactionary Muslim states to oppose United Nations initiatives on reproductive matters (read: abortion) and women’s and gay rights that were the pet causes of the transnational progressive left.  Progressives were scathing in their criticism of Reagan for this alliance.

So any intellectually consistent and honest progressive would have to admit that the strange new respect for Islam is contradictory, and indeed, hypocritical.

What explains it then?  I think the answer is straightforward.  The progressive left is defined in the United States by its opposition to the beliefs of the majority of other Americans.  The progressive left detests the idea of American exceptionalism.  Most Americans are American exceptionalists.  Funny thing, that.  The progressive left believes that the United States is a deformed and malign nation, an oppressor.  (Don’t believe they believe that?  Read Howard Zin sometime, or the encomiums to him.  Or the recent cringe-making State Department report to the UN Human Rights Counsel.)  Most Americans admit to the nation’s flaws, but believe that it is truly the last, best hope of mankind, whose contributions to human freedom and dignity–and yes, progress–far outstrip its failings.  Most progressives identify themselves as elite who are intellectually and morally superior to the great unwashed, especially those living away from the coasts.

So, if the vast majority of those whom the progressive left loathes are offended by the thought of a mosque headed by an imam of troublingly ambiguous views being located so close to Ground Zero, as surely as night follows day, the progressives will rise in defense of the mosque and the imam.  All the more because said imam has expressed critiques of American policy and actions that sound eerily like those that are staples of the left’s bill of indictment against the US.  And American exceptionalism is an anathema to Islam as well.  The endless Muslim complaints–whines, really–about the transgressions of the West generally, and the US in particular, resonate loudly with progressives.  In this regard, progressives and Muslims–even the most reactionary of them–have a meeting of the minds.

In brief, the left’s alliance with Islam on the matter of the GZM and other matters, is purely an opportunistic one, and completely unprincipled.*  They share a common opponent.  A common enemy.  And it is us.  On virtually every other issue, they have nothing in common, and indeed hold completely contrary views.  But progressives have no problem putting those differences aside in order to use the mosque issue as another front in their continuing war against a mainstream American that remains stubbornly wedded to the belief that America is a pretty good country, damn it.

And I say go for it!  The left is wallowing in its self-righteousness, self-anointed moral superiority, and disdain for vast swathes of the American public: if you doubt that, just take a gander at Bloomberg’s speech (but only if you have a very strong stomach).  Hardly the recipe for political success in a country where such views are held by a decided minority.  What’s more, this particular issue stirs such intense passions among so many people.  Indeed, there are few other issues on which progressive lectures are likely to engender such an intense backlash.

So go right ahead.  Keep poking the big dog with a stick.  You all and Imam Rauf can have one big pity party when the big dog wakes up and does what big dogs do, when poked with a stick.

* And don’t even get me started on the sudden solicitude on the left for General Petraeus and the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.   As if the Taliban and Al Qaeda et al don’t have more than enough things that they hate about us that one more will make a difference.  After all, depriving them of “reasons to fight us” would require adoption of shariah and submission to the caliphate.  Is that what Bloomberg and Frank Rich and others that have raised this argument are proposing?; it is certainly the logical implication of their argument.  What a strategy!   Win a war by acceding to the enemy’s demands.  And where were these people when many of their political allies (and funders) were calling Patraeus “General Betray-us”?

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59 Comments »

  1. Twitter Trackbacks…

    Trackback by Anonymous — August 27, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  2. I totally agree. To see what kind of a vicious extremist this imam is, you just have to look at his backers/sponsors. His biggest sponsor is the Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, an America-hating crazed vakhabist extremist, who owns almost 8% of the Fox News corporation!

    Tell me: can a man, who signs Glenn Beck’s paycheck, be trusted with the lives of Americans?!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/20100820/bs_yblog_upshot/news-corps-number-two-shareholder-funded-terror-mosque-planner

    News Corp’s number-two shareholder funded ‘terror mosque’ planner

    The opponents of the proposed Cordoba Initiative Islamic center planned for Lower Manhattan are fond of suggesting, by way of lengthy and often confusing chains of causation and association, that its principal planner, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is connected to terrorism. “The imam has been tied to some shady characters,” Fox Business Channel’s Eric Bolling recently said, “so should we worry that terror dollars could be funding the project?” Blogger Pamela Geller, who has become a regular talking head on cable-news channels to denounce the mosque, has noted Rauf’s involvement with a Malaysian peace group that funded the group that organized the Gaza flotilla under the headline, “Ground Zero Imam Rauf’s ‘Charity’ Funded Genocide Mission.”

    On last night’s “Daily Show,” Jon Stewart skewered these antics as a “dangerous game of guilt by association you can play with almost anybody,” and proceeded to tie Fox News to al-Qaida by connecting Fox News parent News Corp’s second-largest shareholder, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, to the Carlyle Group, which has done business with the bin Laden family, “one of whose sons — obviously I’m not going to say which one — may be anti-American.” But Stewart didn’t need to take all those steps to make the connection: Al-Waleed has directly funded Rauf’s projects to the tune of more than $300,000. If Fox newscasters can darkly suggest “terror dollars” are sluicing into the Islamic center’s coffers via “shady characters,” then are Al-Waleed, and News Corp. leader Rupert Murdoch, by the same logic, also terror stooges? (The “Daily Show” video appears after the jump.)

    ————————-

    And BTW, notice the uncanny resemblance between this Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal character and my own father, Laszlo Toth Sr, aka Father Guido Sarducci aka Don Novello:

    Comment by Laszlo Tooth Jr. — August 28, 2010 @ 4:13 am

  3. Photos:

    http://mit.zenfs.com/5/2010/08/alwaleed.jpg

    and

    http://whatisthetrend.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Father-Guido-Sarducci.jpg

    Comment by Laszlo Tooth Jr. — August 28, 2010 @ 4:16 am

  4. The “progressive left” should be made to live in a sharia state for a while.
    That would cure them of their progressiveness.

    Comment by cafeafuh1 — August 28, 2010 @ 5:11 am

  5. “Most Americans are American exceptionalists”

    Replace Americans with Russians. True dat

    ” But progressives have no problem putting those differences aside in order to use the mosque issue as another front in their continuing war against a mainstream American that remains stubbornly wedded to the belief that America is a pretty good country, damn it.”

    ditto here, too

    Most Americans think America is a great country. Most Russians think Russia is a great country. Small minorities in both countries disagree and use various issues (GZM, Chechen terrorism, etc.) in opportunistic and completely unprincipled manners (your words). But the difference is that Russia does not overtly back the 2% of Americans – the Cindy Sheehans, Dennis Kucinichs, and Howard Zinns of the world – who are against American exceptionalism. America overtly and coverly backs the 2% of Russians who are against Russian exceptionalism.

    Comment by jack — August 28, 2010 @ 8:05 am

  6. Furthermore, jack’s point can be expected to completely fly over SWP’s head, or – if he’s lucky – elicit a Pavlovian rant on how America >> Russia.

    Re-the article. So full of anger, Western chauvinism and double standards. I really don’t know where to start, one can “fisk” virtually every sentence in it. But IMO, the conclusion here is the best:

    So go right ahead. Keep poking the big dog with a stick. You all and Imam Rauf can have one big pity party when the big dog wakes up and does what big dogs do, when poked with a stick.

    So what *will* the big dog do? Elect Palin? Nuke Iran? Designate “progressives” as enemy combatants? Pray tell.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 28, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

  7. Sublime, I have another furthermore to your furthermore.

    Furthermore, Russian exceptionalism is more or less confined to Russia itself. Modern-day Russia does not preach its values or interfere with sovereign governments to further its interests in other countries to the extent that modern-day America does. I’m talking about the governments because, granted, both Russian and American tourists have bad reputations of going into a country and thinking they owned that place. Tourists aside, American actually thinks that it has a free-hand to spread its interests around the globe. 340340 military bases. Colored revolutions. Cultural and religious and economic-system proselytism. Every president of every strategic nation needs to be pro-American (and anti-Russian because for America it’s still zero-sum game and Russia is still the number one enemy because the mineral wealth of Siberia is just so great). And on and on and on.

    So, if we want peace between America and Russia, America would need to
    a) respect the will of the overwhelming Russian population
    b) stop supporting fringe anti-Russian Russians
    and c) at least tone down its chauvenistic we-own-the-world and everyone must do what we say because every other nation is ape-like and only we define humanity attitude

    Comment by jack — August 28, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  8. Tourists aside, American actually thinks that it has a free-hand to spread its interests around the globe. 340340 military bases. Colored revolutions. Cultural and religious and economic-system proselytism.

    Of course, Russia never did any of this during seventy years of the Soviet Union! The only reason Russians are now complaining about it is because the Americans do it far better than they could ever manage. It’s kinda like complaining about the rules of a game once you’ve been thrashed 10-0.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 28, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

  9. Timmy, you just sunk yourself with that comment. It’s like saying ABC is a better thug than XYZ, therefore thugging is good? Descartes. 7th grade math stuff.

    I prefaced my entire comment above by saying modern-day Russia and modern-day America. You cannot compare modern to any other times. For a while, kings and queens were status quo. For a while, slavery was alright. For a long time, it was ok to prejudge a person’s character based on the color of their skin. We are comparing modern-day Russia and modern-day America and in the modern day, either you’re for every country being free or for America trying to control everything that’s going on in the world, and obviously you’re proudly for the latter of the two. You’re free to choose. I can care less about you. But just fyi budday your side will go down with those who defended slavery and colonialism.

    Comment by jack — August 28, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

  10. There may be a deeper dynamic involved and that is the satisfaction of the left’s appetite for violence. With the collapse of Marxism/Leninism, it may be that the progressive forces are being confronted with an historical choice, join with the Islamic jihadists or join with the Escobarians or be nothing.

    Comment by Ignim Brites — August 28, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  11. And more to the point, Tim, 1) I don’t make normative arguments against American cultural imperialism, and 2) jack is not Russian. So do specify which “Russians” you’re talking about.

    PS. Funny how you compare the US to the USSR, whose imperial overstretch played a substantial part in its collapse. Do you foresee the same happening to the US?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 28, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  12. @ Jack – for the record, the colored revolution in Ukraine was hardly an American creation. The general electoral pattern it represented (a slight Orange majority) was repeated in every subsequent Ukrainian election, including ones deemed generrally fair by Russian observers, until the most recent presidential one, which occured during a massive economic collpase, suggesting that the OR was not a sinister American coup, but merely an expression of the will of the Ukrainian people. Just because you feel that America (or specificaly, the neoconservatives) is imperialistic and wrong doesn’t mean that every political movement in the world that happens to be friendly to American (or neocon) interests is likewise sinister or inauthentic. Churchill was hardly a puppet of Stalin for allying with him, and Tymoshenko or Yushchenko (or Kaczynski, for that matter) were hardly puppets of Washington for seeeking and using Bush’s support. BTW recent Ukrainian polls show Yanukovich’s support dropping even more rapidly than did Yushchenko’s after his first six months – does this mean the Americans are on the loose again?

    Comment by AP — August 28, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

  13. Timmy, you just sunk yourself with that comment. It’s like saying ABC is a better thug than XYZ, therefore thugging is good?

    Erm, no it’s not. If you want to equate the actions of the US with thuggery, go ahead. But it’s you saying it, not me.

    I prefaced my entire comment above by saying modern-day Russia and modern-day America. You cannot compare modern to any other times.

    Translation: let’s quietly forget the USSR and pretend it happened so long ago that it cannot possibly be relevant to today’s events. Yet you want to talk about America’s military bases. Talk about selective history!

    We are comparing modern-day Russia and modern-day America and in the modern day, either you’re for every country being free or for America trying to control everything that’s going on in the world, and obviously you’re proudly for the latter of the two.

    The only reason Russia is not trying to control everything that is going on in the world is because they tried that already and found they were hopeless at it. Their restraint is for practical reasons, not some kind of benign concern on their part.

    I can care less about you. But just fyi budday your side will go down with those who defended slavery and colonialism.

    Yes, having pointed out the USSR’s failure to export its ideology, I am now a defender of slavery.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2010 @ 1:01 am

  14. And more to the point, Tim, 1) I don’t make normative arguments against American cultural imperialism, and 2) jack is not Russian. So do specify which “Russians” you’re talking about.

    1. Good for you! I’m going to the beach today.
    2. I’m talking about Russians in the collective, based on those who I met in my 4 years living there and the pronouncements of various Russian politicians (Putin and Sechin, to name two).

    PS. Funny how you compare the US to the USSR, whose imperial overstretch played a substantial part in its collapse. Do you foresee the same happening to the US?

    No. For a start, the collapse of the USSR was mainly down to idiotic economic policies rather than imperial overstretch. Secondly, whereas I compared the US and USSR, I did so on a very specific point, i.e. their policies of exporting their own ideologies beyond their borders. Were I to contrast the US and USSR, my post would be a long one. Finally, I don’t really associate imperial overstretch with anything the US is doing or has done.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2010 @ 1:08 am

  15. Well Jack, you must be pretty thick if you thing Russia is a peace loving friendly happy place.
    As for urthermore, Russian exceptionalism is more or less confined to Russia itself. Modern-day Russia does not preach its values or interfere with sovereign governments to further its interests in other countries to the extent that modern-day America does.

    Come on mate, see Russian actions against Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, its attempt to undermine governments all through the former Soviet Union as punishment for daring to look after their own peoples interests rather than doing Russian bidding.

    The Russian support for the violent overthrow of neighboring governments was shown in Osh recently, and what was the result? Race riots.

    As for its behavior in supporting separatism in places like Georgia and Moldova, while committing mass murder to stop separatism at home, well enough said. Funny how the separatist Abkhazian constitution states that all land belongs to the state, but they have just been forced to pass a law giving Russian citizens (and not their own one might add) the right to purchase land in Abkhazia.

    The difference between what the US asks other countries to do, ie Rule of Law, Human Rights, Freedom Of Religion, Freedom Of Expression, removal of corruption etc,etc,etc and what the Russians demand ie corruption, despotism, killing of dissenters, ease of criminal activities, racism, division etc,etc,etc is readily apparent to all but the most moronic “useful idiots”.

    I guess that like Ostap Bender/Lazlo Tooth Jnr and Sublime Arsehole that you are the sort of person that denies the horrors of the Gulags (which still exist one might add).

    Comment by Andrew — August 29, 2010 @ 3:15 am

  16. Getting lonely masturbating by yourself at LR, Andrew?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 29, 2010 @ 6:59 am

  17. Human Rights, Freedom Of Religion, Freedom Of Expression

    LOL

    Look at some of the comments by Americans on this article about the restoration of icons at the Kremlin:

    http://www.aolnews.com/discuss/religious-icons-of-kremlins-nicholas-and-savior-towers-are-restored-in-red-square/19611214

    fingernail19414:35 PM Aug 28, 2010
    (1) vote this comment up (0) vote this comment down Can you say Merry Christmas freely in Russia now without being fired like in the USA???

    denalai3:32 PM Aug 28, 2010
    (3) vote this comment up (1) vote this comment down Anyone see the irony in this????? We have less and less religious freedom in this country, while the former Soviet Union restores churches, religious art, etc. And all in the name of separation of church and state. I think I have lived too long.

    rbadman462:28 PM Aug 28, 2010
    (5) vote this comment up (2) vote this comment down Ironically, the more Christian Russia becomes, the more Communist America becomes.

    davmusgro9:51 AM Aug 28, 2010
    (8) vote this comment up (3) vote this comment down Funny how things change . We as americans can no longer do that. Even though religion is a part of our culture . 1 non believer out of a million wins the day here . How can one be offended by something they don’t even believe in. Now our left wing as use to be in russia does not like religion , the boy scouts or anything like that because they can not control it So then send the ACLU after it Would someone tell me where in the constitution it says separation of church and state . Thus far I can not find it Funny the constitution was written by one that was not religious but understood its value

    Comment by jack — August 29, 2010 @ 10:15 am

  18. S/O–So unfortunate that you felt necessary to resort to ad hominem, and rather than to engage very real differences that Andrew points out in his post.

    S/O, Jack, etc. I have stated that I do indeed agree that there is a Russian exceptionalism, just as there is an American exceptionalism. The contrast is similar to what Andrew points to.

    But that’s not a new point. De Toqueville made it about 175 years ago:

    There are at the present time two great nations in the world, which started from different points, but seem to tend towards the same end. I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and while the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly placed themselves in the front rank among the nations, and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

    All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and they have only to maintain their power; but these are still in the act of growth. All the others have stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these alone are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which no limit can be perceived. The American struggles against the obstacles that nature opposes to him; the adversaries of the Russian are men. The former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its arms. The conquests of the American are therefore gained by the plowshare; those of the Russian by the sword. The Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of the people; the Russian centers all the authority of society in a single arm. The principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude. Their starting point is different and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 29, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  19. “But the progressive left has long been extremely antagonistic to the believers of other religions, especially evangelical Christians, traditional Catholics and Jews, and Mormons. The antagonism often clearly degenerates into outright bigotry, which seldom brings a peep of protest from other progressives. Ridicule, mockery, and insult are routine.”

    ****

    Orthodox Christians have gotten a good share of venom from others, including those who aren’t from the “progressive left.”

    Comment by Dietrich — August 29, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  20. An even older point was made by de Custine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquis_de_Custine):

    “They are much less interested in being civilized than in making us believe them so… They would be quite content to be in effect more awful and barbaric than they actually are, if only others could thereby be made to believe them better and more civilized”

    Which means that statements to the tune of “Slavery is just another kind of freedom, and if you don’t think so it’s because you hate Russians” are not ending any time soon.

    Comment by Ivan — August 29, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

  21. The former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its arms.

    An alternate interpretation: The Westerners pollute the environment and exterminate the peoples living in harmony with the environment. Everyone with a conscience, be they Russian or not, should fight to stop them and throw their rapacious “civilization” into the dustbin of history where it belongs!

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 29, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  22. S/O. Puh-lease. Not defending the US on treatment of the indians, but if you seriously believe that Russia trumps the US on “pollution” and treatment of “peoples living in harmony with the environment” you are truly delusional.

    And btw, the Romantic notions of the Noble Savage Living in Harmony With the Environment are pretty much bunk. Non-romanticized scholarship documents pretty well the efforts and successes of native peoples in shaping the environment, changing it, not just adapting to it in a passive way.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 29, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

  23. @Ivan–Quoting Custine is like waving a red flag :) The reactions are often quite amusing.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 29, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

  24. The Westerners pollute the environment and exterminate the peoples living in harmony with the environment.

    Hmmm. Russia has a cleaner environment than that of western Europe, the USA, or Canada? I don’t think so.

    And as for the people living in harmony with the environment, Jared Diamond put the myth of the noble savage to bed once and for all in Guns, Germs, and Steel: the native American was responsible for the eradication of the north American mega-fauna centuries before whitey showed up.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

  25. Hah! Sorry prof, I posted my comment before reading yours! I guess we’ve both read the same books. :)

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

  26. So? I’ve read that book too. No primitive people – with the exception of those in particularly fragile environments, like Easter Island – have succeeded in ravaging their environment like 20th century industrial capitalism. (Not enough technology and energy flows for that).

    Nonetheless, the consolation is that this repressive System will Collapse (incidentally, also the title of Diamond’s next book) after it exhausts its material base, finally bringing all global imperialisms to an end!

    @SWP,
    The US does pollute more than Russia, going from the pollutant that most. (Annual CO2 emissions in 2007)
    United States 5,838,381.00
    Russia 1,537,357.00

    My real beef with your quotations is that you actually take racist imperialist dead white Europeans from the early 19th century seriously.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 29, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  27. No primitive people – with the exception of those in particularly fragile environments, like Easter Island – have succeeded in ravaging their environment like 20th century industrial capitalism.

    Right, so if we stay as primitives we’d all be okay. Is that your point? Or is it that capitalism is the culprit and not advancement per se? If so, I’ll point out that the USA – which is about as ravagingly 20th century capitalist as it gets – has an environment in vastly better shape than the former Soviet Union, which shunned capitalism to practice 20th century communism.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  28. Nonetheless, the consolation is that this repressive System will Collapse (incidentally, also the title of Diamond’s next book) after it exhausts its material base,

    Ah yes, the stone age ended when they ran out of stone, thus allowing the ones who owned the iron deposits to take over.

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 29, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

  29. What you are studiously ignoring is that both the US and the West in general have exported their most of their pollution to the Third World.

    E.g., the Rhineland get the smokestacks; Bangladesh gets the great inundation; the Americans get the cars, the Pakistanis get the drying rivers and spreading deserts.

    But that’s OK, of course, because brown people are inferior (in the neocon, cultural imperialist, Western chauvinist, reactionary worldview that is).

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 30, 2010 @ 2:49 am

  30. What you are studiously ignoring is that both the US and the West in general have exported their most of their pollution to the Third World.

    I’m not ignoring it, studiously or otherwise. True, the dirty industries have now been exported leaving only clean ones behind, although how this is a condemnation of capitalism over, say communism (or Russia’s version of capitalism) which merely kept (and continues to keep) its dirty industries in far worse condition than those of the west I don’t know. But I was more thinking of the oil industry, which is pretty clean (Macondo notwithstanding) in the capitalist west compared to those of say, Russia which happily allows oil to leak all over the place (provided it is from a Rosneft operation and not Sakhalin Energy) or the state-owned behemoths of the Middle East. So I’m still not quite convinced by your assertion that the capitalist countries pollute more than that of any other economic system, short of staying a bunch of primitives.

    But that’s OK, of course, because brown people are inferior (in the neocon, cultural imperialist, Western chauvinist, reactionary worldview that is).

    Nice little strawman you’ve built there. Are you going to knock it down here or elsewhere?

    Comment by Tim Newman — August 30, 2010 @ 4:38 am

  31. S/O. Send us a postcard from Norilsk or the Aral Sea and we’ll talk. And spare us the cherry picking about what you define as a pollutant (your choice of which, the EPA notwithstanding, is dubious).

    And how you tie in Bangladeshi inundations is beyond me. (You’re not old enough to remember, but the concert for Bangladesh, to raise money for victims of a massive inundation, was in 1970–well before anthropogenic CO2 could have had any noticeable impact on climate, let alone sea levels. Not a new problem, and not plausibly caused by anthropogenic global warming). And desertification–what’s your theory of causation there? CO2 again? Hardly. Desertification is often human caused, but it’s usually the result of appalling land use practices in very poor countries with extreme population pressures. I’m sure they’re thinking full time in Berkeley how to blame that on the US and Capitalism, red in tooth and claw, but here on earth we know otherwise.

    And your insinuations of racism are just so much bullshit. I mean seriously. It should be beneath you. If you have a serious argument, fine, let’s hear it. But this tedious, knee jerk “progressive” response of labeling everyone whom you disagree with a racist is the lowest form of rhetoric. And it is counterproductive. All you lefties can feel so good about how superior you are. In preening before the world, the world just writes you off as pretentious, condescending jerks unable to respond with serious arguments or evidence, but who just resort to ad hominem accusations of racism. It’s a conversation stopper. If you want people to tune you out–you’ve succeeded!

    Grow up. Get out of Berkeley. While there’s still time.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 30, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  32. One always has to view Russian government statistics with suspicion (unless you are Sublime Oblivion of course in which case they are gospel) but on the subject of polution, well they are definitely BS.

    “Nothing better illustrates the extent of that devastation than the River Tom, which rises in the snowy peaks that separate Russia from Mongolia and runs for 827 kilometers (500 miles) through the Kuzbass before flowing into the Ob, one of Siberia’s trio of great rivers. The Kuzbass covers just 4 percent of Siberia’s territory but is home to 22 percent of Siberia’s people, drawn there by industrial work. Nine out of ten of them live in a narrow north- south strip along the Tom, which is lined with some of Russia’s grimiest factories. As it flows through Kemerovo, the river serves both as the city’s only source of drinking water and as its sole sewer.

    The Tom collects sewage and industrial waste for most of its length. In winter, hot clouds billow above the edges of the icy river–hints of the 4.8 million tons of poisons that industry dumps into the Tom each year. Carcinogenic benzene and petroleum products in the Tom average two to three times the government’s legal level, according to a recent study, and during the spring thaw exceed it 15-fold. Formaldehyde measures 34 times the permissible load.

    According to Yuri Kaznin, who heads the Department of Public Health of the Kemerovo Medical Institute, the river contains as much as 48 times the legal level of bacteria, 40 times the arsenic and as much as 8.5 times the phenol, a poison derived from coal tar. Groundwater is even worse, he says. It contains 150 times the acceptable level of these toxic contaminants.

    A journey up a tributary of the Tom leads to Leninsk-Kuznetski, home to 160,000 people. From the center of town, an hour and a half to the south of Kemerovo, smokestacks tower in every direction, and the streets are covered with coal dust and ash. Like most of the factories here, the largest of the city’s nine mines are downtown. Residents take their drinking water in pails from the Inya, the local river. Because it contains more chemical waste than water, it flows even when winter temperatures drop far below freezing.

    A few hours further up the Tom, in Novokuznetsk, the air grows even worse. During the spring thaw, the city’s mammoth metalworks mock environmental laws, releasing into the sky three or four times the maximum legal level of heavy metals. In winter and summer, the climate conspires to trap poisonous air above the city for weeks at a time. A report by the regional Health and Epidemiology Survey indicates that sulfur levels near an agglomeration plant run as high as 312 times the acceptable level. Near a 5.4 million-square-foot pharmaceutical plant, fluoride is 300 times the norm.

    Two-thirds of the city’s air pollution comes not from its monster factories but from the low stacks of its centralized, and massively inefficient, coal- burning utility plants. According to municipal authorities in Novokuznetsk, the city’s air averages 10 times the legal level of benzopyrene, a carcinogen found in coal. One industrial district is burdened with 48 times the legal level. On bad days, the authorities say, nitrous oxide runs 15 times the norm, ammonium 10 times and soot 7 times. Studies around the world have implicated these pollutants in a variety of human ailments, some fatal, ranging from asthma and sore throats to cancer. By winter’s end, according to a local chemist, snow on the city’s streets contains 200 times the level of pollutants that the law allows.

    Residents add more than 800,000 tons of solid trash and waste yearly to a dump at the center of town, near the river bank, polluting the groundwater and carrying 1 million cubic meters (225 million gallons) of contaminated runoff into the Tom daily–more, authorities admit, than the purification system can handle. Industries illegally dump thousands of tons of toxic waste throughout the city each year.

    Though its extremes may stand out, the Kuzbass is not unique among the many tragedies that choke the 21 million square kilometers (8 million sq.mi.) of the former Soviet Union. For example, scientists who helped develop nuclear power plants and atomic test sites acknowledge that the nuclear industry pumped billions of gallons of deadly waste into the earth–including, near three of Russia’s most important rivers, an amount equal to 60 times the radiation released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear-power-plant accident. According to a 1994 World Bank report “virtually all” of the country’s radioactive-waste storage sites fail to meet modern standards.

    Due north of the Kuzbass, near the Arctic Circle, acid rain from the smelting of nickel, copper and platinum has deforested 880,000 acres, according to Russian newspaper Izvestiya. Solid-waste processing facilities can handle barely more than a quarter of the 7 billion tons produced annually. According to a 1994 report by the Security Council of President Boris Yeltsin, three-quarters of Russia’s water is unpotable. Other studies place the figure still higher.

    According to Russia’s Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, the country’s 1.2 million miles of oil and gas pipelines experience about 1,000 spills yearly. As much as 1.5 trillion cubic feet of the gas that rises with extracted petroleum is simply burned up. ITAR-TASS, the official news agency, reported recently that in the Komi Republic alone, where a horrific 1994 oil spill dumped as much as 300 million gallons onto the tundra and into rivers, about 40 more leaks have occurred.

    Comment by Andrew — August 30, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  33. By the way SO, your lack of intelligence is showing in this gem:

    have exported their most of their pollution to the Third World. e.g., the Rhineland get the smokestacks; Bangladesh gets the great inundation; the Americans get the cars, the Pakistanis get the drying rivers and spreading deserts.

    But that’s OK, of course, because brown people are inferior (in the neocon, cultural imperialist, Western chauvinist, reactionary worldview that is).

    The Professor called you out on the last 2 but is the Rhineland really a third world victim full of little brown victims of western imperialism?

    And it is interesting to note that you were/are much better off having been a victim of western Imperialism than a victim of Russian Imperialism.

    Interesting how the current Vietnamese government considers the relationship with the US its most important, and wants little to do with Russia.

    Comment by Andrew — August 30, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  34. Here’s some more on Noble Savages. This is what Putin’s “law officers” do abroad: http://www.news24.com/World/News/Driver-bites-off-cops-finger-20100830.

    Dare to imagine what they do in Russia?

    Comment by Ivan — August 30, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  35. Maybe I will send a postcard from Norilsk one day in the not too distant future!

    The melting of the Arctic is going to open up fascinating new opportunities in maritime transport, energy & minerals exploitation, and agriculture – and associated services.

    Increased desertification and sea level rise are standard in almost all GW models. Sorry, not going to argue this one.

    My points about racism were semi-tongue in cheek. They were meant to make a wider spiritual point about the dead end that is Western chauvinism.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 31, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

  36. Sorry SO, but you don’t get off that lightly. Try thinking before opening your mouth, unfortunately you would find your world view crumbling if you ever actually did any rational thinking, but hey thats the problem with being a left wing pro Soviet/Russian whacko like yourself, thinking is detrimental to the fantasy world in which you live.

    As for western chauvinism, well obviously you know very little about the vile cesspool that is Russian culture, particularly their penchant for “Great Russian” chauvinism.

    All those lovely little racists in Russia must be your best mates SO.

    Why exactly do you think Russia is loathed in its former imperial possessions, while countries like Vietnam, India, South Africa etc all have very good relations with the west (but are turning away from Russia in droves)?

    Once again, grow up little boy.

    Comment by Andrew — September 1, 2010 @ 12:42 am

  37. LOL.

    Every nation of the Rest that isn’t ruled by pro-Western lapdogs (which is to say the majority of them nowadays – Brazil, Turkey, Russia, China, etc) are rejecting Western cultural hegemony.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 1, 2010 @ 3:22 am

  38. Lapdogs e.g. your beloved bumboy Saakashvili.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 1, 2010 @ 3:32 am

  39. “But this tedious, knee jerk ‘progressive’ response of labeling everyone whom you disagree with a racist is the lowest form of rhetoric.”

    ****

    Should be aptly directed at the Russia/Russians is/are racist mantra, which is peddled by people with suggestively bigoted attitudes themselves.

    It’s fair to consider de Custine a bigot. She’s at the level of rationalizing the view of how the Jews have historically created their own problems.

    For some, it’s “open-minded” to be bigoted against certain groups unlike others.

    Not in the world that I prefer.

    Comment by Dan — September 1, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

  40. Andrew,

    How come Georgia is the third fastest shrinking country in terms of population:

    http://images.businessweek.com/ss/10/08/0813_fastest_shrinking_countries/24.htm

    No. 3 Georgia

    2010 Population: 4,638,000
    Forecast 2050 Population: 3,591,000
    Percent Decrease: 22.6 percent
    2010 Population over age 65: 14 percent
    Fertility Rate: 1.7
    Net Migration Rate: -2

    —————–

    Isn’t it because all capable Georgians are emigrating by the millions to Russia? I just watched a Georgian-born tennis player Gabashvili (sp?) give one hell of a match to Rafa Nadal. He proudly represents Russia.

    Look, during the Soviet period, millions of the most talented Georgians migrated to Moscow and other Russian cities. This genetic drain is continuing now. Soon only highly genetically inferior people will remain in Georgia, and Georgia’s loss will be Russia’s win.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — September 1, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

  41. There’s a fairly prominent female ethnic Georgian Russian tennis player as well.

    A not so distant poll shows Georgians preferring Russians over any other ethnic group. We know that Ossetians and Abkhaz prefer Russia over Georgia.

    In summation, anti-Russian propaganda is authoritatively debunked with no help from sources like RT and InoSMI personnel.

    Comment by Dan — September 1, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

  42. Hey Dan! You weren’t called Siegfried a few weeks ago, were you?

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 2, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  43. Hey dope!

    Get a life instead of trolling in a way that reflects a feeble mind.

    Comment by Dan — September 2, 2010 @ 2:26 am

  44. Neocon Russophobe vs. Loser Troll – The Showdown.

    LOL, should be fun. *gets beer & popcorn*

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 2, 2010 @ 2:44 am

  45. Ha ha! I take that as a yes!

    You can change the name, but the awful, truncated writing style remains. Welcome back, Averko!

    Comment by Tim Newman — September 2, 2010 @ 3:09 am

  46. Hey bender boy, Georgians may emmigrate, but funnily enough very few go to Russia these days.

    However, at least Georgia has a positive birth rate unlike Russia, oh well never mind.

    Not to mention a much longer life expectancy for men, not hard to be better than Russia’s sub-Saharan statistics.

    As for Ossetians, well that depends really, try watching the film “Russian Lessons” by a pair of Russian journalists dealing with the was in 2008.

    Most Ossetians interviewed had little time for Russia.

    Comment by Andrew — September 2, 2010 @ 7:04 am

  47. LOL Sublime O does it again: Every nation of the Rest that isn’t ruled by pro-Western lapdogs (which is to say the majority of them nowadays – Brazil, Turkey, Russia, China, etc) are rejecting Western cultural hegemony

    So that explains why Chinese kids eat McDonalds, watch western films, wear western fashions, and want to buy all those western brands and speak English, listen to rock and hip hop, and generally love the west, and that goes for Iran, Vietnam, most of Africa etc.

    You are pathetic SO.

    Far from rejecting western cultural hegemony, the youth of the world race to embrace it.

    Comment by Andrew — September 2, 2010 @ 7:53 am

  48. Would that be Mike Averko, Serbian ultra nationalist supporter, worshiper of Mladic, denier of Serbian war crimes, and pathetic poster at RFE as “BS Buster” which should be spelled “BS Spewer”?

    Explains why his posts are so moronic.

    Next thing you know he will be denying the holocaust, but then being a supporter of genocide that would not be surprising, and we all know the Russian/Serbian attitude to those pesky Jewish types…..

    Comment by Andrew — September 2, 2010 @ 7:57 am

  49. “Neocon Russophobe vs. Loser Troll – The Showdown”

    The above comments are from an ass kissing left of center twit and “Russophile” phony.

    Comment by Dan — September 2, 2010 @ 8:26 am

  50. @Andrew,

    However, at least Georgia has a positive birth rate unlike Russia, oh well never mind.

    Interesting, I didn’t know you could get a negative birth rate. So are Russians crawling back into wombs or something.

    So that explains why Chinese kids eat McDonalds, watch western films, wear western fashions, and want to buy all those western brands and speak English, listen to rock and hip hop, and generally love the west, and that goes for Iran, Vietnam, most of Africa etc.

    LOL. Funny how you associate the West with crass material things. In any case, a casual perusal of Chinese, Arabic, etc., forums will reveal that you are not liked very much in the world of the Rest at all.

    @Daverko,

    Don’t stop posting – I’m enjoying the show & still have plenty of beer and popcorn.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 2, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  51. Andrew!?

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Germany_To_Serbia_Its_Time_To_Toe_EU_Line_On_Kosovo/2137640.html

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Is_There_A_Foundation_For_Peace_Between_Russia_And_Georgia/2144230.html

    Karlin has a twisted liking for freaks and freak shows, while sucking up to some comparitvely lame crap.

    I’m here as a form of slumming, inclusive of carrying on like the beasts.

    This is minor league from the kind of big league pitching that I hit out of the park.

    Later punks.

    Comment by Dan — September 2, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

  52. Now Sublime Oblivion, we both know that “Positive Birth Rate” means that the birth rate exceeds the death rate.

    Russia still has a negative rating, and that includes data from the highly reproductive north Caucasians.

    Ethnic Russians are dying out fast.

    Comment by Andrew — September 3, 2010 @ 12:23 am

  53. Ah Michael, the usual dismissive rubbish from a chronic under achiever like yourself.

    Carrying on like a beast is pretty typical of the rubbish you spout.

    Such as your denial of Serbian war crimes.

    A good account of your idiocy can be found here, including links to fairly decisibe slap downs of your asinine views on what happened at Srebrenica

    http://michael-averko-mike-averko.blogspot.com/

    Srebrenica Genocide Denier Michael Averko Harrasses a World Renowned Academic, Dr. Marko Attila Hoare

    In attempting to portray the deaths of 8,000 to 10,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) as an exaggeration or a fabrication, Srebrenica genocide deniers, such as Michael Averko, wildly manipulate geopolitical data, reference works, bedrock historical facts, judicial findings and other sources of information and reportage. Another centerpiece of “revisionist” propaganda attacks the objectivity and legal validity of the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where the general history of the genocide was first established. As such, Michael Averko’s credibility is shattered. Opinion is cheap, everybody has it. Srebrenica genocide is not a matter of anybody’s opinion, it’s a judicial fact.
    Srebrenica genocide denier and a collumnist for the Serb-nationalist web site Serbianna, Michael Averko (aka: Mike Averko), has been circulating unsolicited emails trying to discredit a world renowned scholar, Dr Marko Attila Hoare. Apparently, he was upset because Dr Hoare condemned Averko’s Srebrenica Genocide denial comments at Global Voices. After embarrassing himself on Global Voices and admitting that he has reduced himself to a Srebrenica genocide denier, he quickly run away to Guardian forums and opened a new topic attempting to rally support from other deniers, revisionists, and conspiracy theorists. As a result, Dr Marko Attila Hoare responded by issuing a statement on his blog, condemning ongoing Srebrenica genocide denial, and Michael Averko’s unsolicited spam.

    Michael Averko’s actions are calculated, but useless, considering that in his E-mail he refers to the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal “kangaroo court,” and praises himself as being “considerably more objective than Hoare.” But, even a fool knows that if Michael Averko had any objectivity, dignity, or intelligence, he wouldn’t be what he is – a pathetic Srebrenica genocide denier and an apologist for radical ultra-nationalist Serbian politics in the Balkans.

    What Srebrenica genocide deniers don’t realize is that opinions are cheap, in most cases worthless, as everybody has them. On the other hand, Srebrenica Genocide is a fact. At the end of the day, Michael Averko is irrelevant.

    Comment by Andrew — September 3, 2010 @ 12:31 am

  54. Now Sublime Oblivion, we both know that “Positive Birth Rate” means that the birth rate exceeds the death rate.

    No, I’m afraid you’re quite alone in that “knowledge”.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 3, 2010 @ 1:17 am

  55. Now Sublime O, it is not my fault you are an uneducated troll.

    Thus France becomes one of the two European Union states with a positive birthrate; Ireland is the other. The contrast with their neighbors is very marked. Germany, Italy and Spain all have birthrates under 1.4. The rates in the new EU members, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and even Roman Catholic Poland, are below 1.3.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/opinion/29iht-edpfaff.4387451.html?_r=1

    Britain will overtake Germany and France to become the biggest country in the EU in 50 years’ time, according to population projections unveiled yesterday. A survey of demographic trends finds Britain’s positive birth rate contrasting strongly with most other large countries in Europe.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/27/population.eu

    Both France and the UK have a situation where births outnumber deaths, leading to the term “positive birth rate”

    Try again SO, and don’t choke on the popcorn.

    Comment by Andrew — September 3, 2010 @ 1:57 am

  56. By the way Dan/Averko/Whatever, preferring Russians as people is different to preferring their government.

    On that subject Georgians hate the Russian state in no uncertain terms.

    However, unlike Abkhaz and Russians, the Georgians are not rabid racists and quite like Russians as everyday people.

    Comment by Andrew — September 3, 2010 @ 4:28 am

  57. Any journalist hack who writes things like “have birthrates under 1.4″ should not be taken seriously – at least on the matter of demographic terminology.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 3, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  58. So, Andrew, if Georgia has such a natural population growth and the “fastest growing economy”, why is it losing population faster than almost any other country? Why is it expected to lose yet another 23% of its population in 40 years? Are people simply running away from the fascist regime of Saakashvili? Or has this exodus been going on under the previous administrations – Gamsakhurdia and Shevardnadze as well? If so – why? What is it about Georgia that makes Georgians run away from it?

    Comment by Ostap Bender — September 4, 2010 @ 3:33 am

  59. Good old SO, wrong as usual.

    Describing birth rates as “positive” or “negative” in relation to deaths is quite normal.

    Obviously you are so uneducated that we can safely ignore anything you have to say on this (and probably any other) subject.

    Estonia’s birth rate could become positive in 2009

    If current trends continue, Estonia could again become a country with positive birth rate next year.

    The last time that Estonia’s birth rate was positive was in 1990, writes Postimees.

    While in 1990 the birth rate was positive by about 5,000 people, it turned negative by 300 people already in 1991.

    The worst year was 1994 when the birth rate was negative by 8,000 people, but the trend started to slow down in 1999 and the year 2007 birth rate was negative by only 1,634 people.

    According to authorities, this year’s birth rate is likely to remain negative by about 400 people. By end of November, there had been 14,897 births and 15,369 deaths.

    Also Professor Ene-Margit Tiit agrees that the trend were the number of births is increasing and the number of deaths is falling is promising.

    “However, we should not forget that birth rate went up strongly during the economic boom. During recession, the number of deaths tends to increase, as a rule,” she explained.

    Tiit adds that because of economic difficulties, many young Estonian men and women could move to abroad in search of better life.

    http://www.balticbusinessnews.com/?PublicationId=efa64fc2-9cde-4f41-b0bd-b7c105202a8c

    @ Ostap the Bender,

    Lets see, having Russia as a neighbor for starters, ethnic cleansing by separatists, the deliberate attempt by Russia to destroy the Georgian economy by embargo, that sort of thing.

    Most small countries with weak economies due to decades (and in Georgia’s case centuries) of despotic occupation and asset stripping by a genocidal neighbor have high emigration rates, but in the case of Georgia the majority of emigrants do not intend to settle permanently in their destination country, but intend to return to Georgia and start businesses at a later date.

    Russia has conducted a deliberate campaign of economic damage against Georgia, including bombing such targets as the cement works in Gori (such a high value military target) and a multitude of other non military economic targets, including attempts to bomb the BTC pipeline which failed due to the fact that the Russians were using unguided weapons. This campaign began in the early 90′s and continues today.

    Comment by Andrew — September 4, 2010 @ 5:24 am

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