From Your Living Room to Your Lebensraum

Let's take another fun Interdome field trip to... the Headlines!

Well, what have we today? Some auto union is striking... ooh, Lindsay Lohan isn't going out this weekend... (guess I'll stay in too)... and, well, hmm... but what have we here:


Color me a-news-ed.

"But wait," ask the doe-eyed children gathered 'round the Interdome, "What does this mean?"

Let's delve into it, shall we? From the International Herald Tribune's 690 words on the subject, we learn that this resolution to name the murder of 1,000,000 Armenians in 1914-1918 a "genocide" could hurt our political relationship with the modern Turkish state, and therefore we shouldn't do it. It appears that the resolution is simply a push from some "interest groups" whose interest is that considering their cultural heritage, they would have qualified for the death camps back then.

This isn't the only recent time that American government has struggled to figure out what the definition of "genocide" is. In fact, the American government seems to have lots of trouble with definitions of words. But, I digress.

If we only read the IHT's article on the vocabulary discussion, we might just move onto the next headline, because, frankly, "genocide" is not a very happy word of the day, and there certainly is a big Interdome out there to read. But, for some retarded reason, I guess we are going to dig a bit deeper.

Turkey, as the IHT tells us, is one of the main transit points for American war supplies heading to Iraq. Therefore, improving relations with Turkey allows the Americans (let's try and pay attention so we don't get "Armenian" and "American" confused, eh?) wage war in the Middle East.

However, the actual way of things is that American-Turkish relations have been declining. After the Truman Doctrine established that Turkey was seeking support of America against the USSR (and other pro-Communist groups like the PKK--remember this, we'll come back to it!), an American military base was established in Turkey in 1954, that is used to the present day. But, ever since the end of the Cold War, and the end of the nice balance between East and West to divide the world, relations have been strained. Turkey has continued to be pro-US in order to support their foray into the EU, among other things, and they have backed this up by supporting American wars in the Middle East and recognizing Israel as a state despite how this has hurt them in their Middle East/Islamic relations.

So, for a country through which "the bulk of U.S. air cargo and about one-third of the fuel headed for Iraq passes," quoth the IHT, it would be important to keep them happy. So would a resolution about the Armenian genocide really be a thorn in the Turkish thumb?

Well, Turkey is not only a convenient conveyor belt to the hole in the desert into which we're currently pouring money. Like most so-called "resolutions", the matter itself is less resolved than other, more important, "strategic" things are alluded. Turkey is also the primary target, and major operating base of a group called the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK started in the 1970s as a Kurdish nationalist political group, and escalated to the level of a paramilitary organization. It's philosophy was Marxist-Leninist to begin with, but now has shifted to the Islamic hue post-Cold War.

These days, they are a "terrorist-organization"--a vocab word that was agreed upon by the US. The US has helped Turkey fight the PKK, allegedly with the CIA, and also through NATO paramilitary "stay-behind" forces that were placed in Turkey. The object of these forces was to remain hidden in the population so as to "stay behind" to conduct guerrilla operations in the event of a USSR invasion, but they were often utilized, at who-knows-who's behest to conduct paramilitary or domestic terrorism operations.

But, oh-so-surprisingly, in this crazy post-Cold War world things seem to have been getting confused. It seems that some of the weapons that the US has sent to Iraq (most likely through Turkey), you know, those weapons the US can't find, have ended up in the hands of the PKK.

And what's more, that very-lucrative-and-increasingly-popular contracting company Blackwater USA has been accused of directly smuggling weapons to the PKK! Horrors!

Now, why would the USA be smuggling weapons to a formerly Communist, avowedly terrorist, separatist group that they are simultaneously fighting in order to court their allies?

Why indeed!

Although I hardly claim to be in the neo-cons' brains, I would say that it is something along the lines of...

The PPK is a separatist nationalist group that while not having much of a positive effect for its own policy, is currently involved in destabilizing the ENTIRE Middle East region, and specifically the governments of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

Why would it help US policy to destabilize the region? Well, they've certainly done a good job of it so far, I don't see why they would not use any tool available to them to continue. Regardless of other positive and negative outcomes of the Iraq War for American interests, destabilization is an outcome that has only benefited the economic, political, and ideological status of the United States. And, if they didn't want to destabilize the region, there are certainly other ways they could be going about this project. Intimidation, fomenting armed conflict, and cross-border operations just speak so loudly, you know.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Congress is occupying its time with a history lesson on whether the killing of 1,000,000 or so constitutes a certain word, something that the New York Times had reported some 90 years ago. That's a pretty good way of avoiding a current problem.

It really boggles my mind that it so easy to hide the killing of millions in plain sight. I guess that the typical person, and by this, I mean the overwhelming majority of the population, just doesn't care about these sorts of deaths, especially if they occur on the other side of the globe.

It certainly never stops. Turks kill Armenians, Germans kill Jews, Poles, and others, Sudanese kill other Sudanese, Americans kill Iraqis, and others. You know what the estimated numbers are dead were for the Iraqi Economic Sanctions, even before the war started? The same as the Armenian Genocide, 500,000-1,500,000. It never stops.

I guess we'll conclude this field trip with a quote, from a guy of whom you may have heard, who goes by the name of Adolf Hitler. It was said during a military meeting in 1939, before the invasion of Poland.

"I have issued the command -- and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad -- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Where does American economic-lebensraum lie today? You can manifest that destiny for yourself, but one thing is certain, that were certainly have trouble to-day speaking of the annihilation of the Armenians.


Ancient Greek Animals

Kiki wanted to see my pictures of dogs in Athens, so here are some animals!

Woof, meow, baa!

This dog was collecting tickets outside of the Agora.

These cats were in the Acropolis.

This baby goat was foraging in the hills outside of Nemea.

The famous, "kitties of Delphi", who were very interested in this man's halibut.

An Olympian lizard.

Chickens outside the hotel window. There was also a turkey, but I didn't take his picture.

Kitty and gyros- 4 euro.

A cat on Santorini on stairs

Tortoise. I also saw two makin' little tortoises, but for their privacy I did not take a picture.

This is my aunt's dog, and so not really Greek (actually, Chinese by birth) but she is certifiably cute! And, her name is Zoe, which is Greek.



In one of those strange occurrences that hurl humans back and forth across the globe, I woke up one morning to find myself in Greece. It is a wonderful place. Mountains coming out of the sea, feta cheese, and lots of history. I took a lot of pictures, here are some of the best. I made them smallish so the site wouldn't take a long time to load (though it probably will anyway), but should be able to click on them to get a bigger view.

I'll insert my witty comments in between, to maybe give you some context. Here they are, in no particular order.

This is Nafplio (corrected spelling, thanks kiki and Betabug!). It was the original capital of Greece, and is now a quiet little town with many forts and dogs.

I think the trees in Greece are beautiful. Such greens, even though they are most conifers growing in rocky soil.

This is Santorini. You've probably seen this picture or one similar on a calendar somewhere. They sell lots of calendars on Santorini. I didn't buy one, because I took my own picture. Though now I don't know what day of the week it is.

There was much debate about what kind of tree this is. Maybe cyprus, maybe cedar? Either way, I can tell you these trees are at dusk. (Definitively, Cyprus trees).

This tree's most significant aspect is its size. It is very big.

This is the sun setting over Ia, on Santorini. The island is a volcano. The sun is the same one that you know.

This is Mycenae. Agamemnon lived there. He killed his daughter and was killed by his wife and her lover who were killed by his other daughter. All because sometimes the ancients liked to feed either other human as a joke.

This is the Omphalos; the belly-button of the world. It lives at Delphi. I wonder where the after-birth of the world is now?

This is the biggest olive grove in Greece (the trees in the bottom of the valley). I am looking at it from the modern city of Delphi. It is very pretty.

This is the temple of Poseidon, on the southern-most point of Attica. People live near there, like, just whatever, I live in Poseidonia. I, on the other hand, live near the drycleaners.

The greeks love graffitti! This graffitto loves autonomy. ("Freedom to G. Dimitrakis", an anarchist bank robber. Thanks Betabug!)

More graffitti. It's pretty impressive, though I don't really know what it is.

This is on the outside of the Monastiraki subway station.

I guess kissing on steps is pretty romantic.

For some reason this one made me think of Steve Erickson

It's a fish farm, you fishbag!

"Fjord" in Greek.

The theater of Epidauros, and my Saucony.

I really, really wanted to see a goatherd while in Greece. It's a good thing lots of roads aren't marked, otherwise we never would have gotten lost in the hills of the Peloponnese and I never would have seen these goats.


The theater of Dionysos in Athens. I'm imagining how nervous Sophocles must have been on the opening performance of Oedipus Rex.

When driving in Greece, you can pretty much go either way you like.

Pretty rock.

Part of the Epidauros site.

Fira, on Santorini. The island in the middle is the cone of the volcano.

Bye bye sun.

No diving.

Part of the boxing and wrestling practice space at Olympia.

The Corinth canal. Take that, isthmus!

A pretty little garden in Delphi.

The acropolis. They are rebuilding it, because I guess some of it has fallen down over the years.

The arch entering the stadium at Olympia. Can you tell I really like the blue/green filter on my camera?

The temple of Athena at Delphi. You would recognize it, but I took the picture from an "unconventional angle". Artistic!

Bell tower in Fira. Delicious sunshine.

Bridge connecting Attica and the Peloponnese. I forget the name of the town.

There are like 500 more (literally) but these are the best. I also pasted together a panorama of the Epidauros theater, that is at top. I'll leave it there for awhile.



The Noble Democrat

In the last post I read regarding racism/bigotry, I wrote about the difference between racists and bigots; the former run the systematically racist institutions of the country, under the perhaps believed pretense that the institutions are fair, because they have the support of the majority population. The majority opinion, however, is often largely composed of bigots, who actually have a believe that some class of people is better/worse than another (although maybe only unconsciously), and so allow--either positively or through lack of action--the racists to continue operating racist institutions under the auspices of "fairness".

I think that this conception of the problem is hard for many "critically-minded observers" to grasp, because we look at the problem of racism/bigotry as a singular issue, one of "hate vs. love", or "democracy vs. intolerance", whereas the difference between a person having some hatred within them is very different than the substantive and systematic problems that allow for material persecution to arise. In other words, in most (but not nearly all) places in America, a person can walk down the street in relative freedom without being harassed and threaten with bodily harm, but this does not mean that there are not systematic reasons why more "minority members" of society are in poverty, or incarcerated, or in other words put at a material disadvantage to the material benefit of others.

So, in yet "other words" again, many avowedly liberal elements take an altogether simplified critical view of a problem that they claim to be facing, and therefore do not help solve the problem, and instead, perhaps are complacent. "Democratic" ideals will not provide the "A.N.S.W.E.R." to racism, because it is through "democracy" that racist systems such as our immigration policy is "elected" by our nation of bigots. As I try to remind people often, and they just as often like to forget or shrug off as an fluke of history, many regimes of outright hatred, oppression, and bigotry (can I scream 1933 any louder?) have been democratically elected.

Anyway, this is all a recap, and a further emphasis. The real reason for this post was that I happened to come across a neat little articulation of this sort of dynamic between the "higher" culture element of racism and the "lower" element of bigotry. Often they work in concert, such as in an out-and-out fascist regime, where the leaders exploit the hatreds of the people in order to catapult their policies. I would theme anti-immigration politicians in this country under this category.

However, another sort is perhaps just as malignant while appearing to be helping to fight bigotry. This is the liberal attitude of which I gestured towards; in which bigotry perhaps is critically engaged, but with the favor being towards an ideal "liberal" society in which the values of democracy are identified as being counter to bigotry, when in fact, they allow it to roam free, and perhaps to gain power. The systematic racism may roam free, divorced by liberal democratic theory from the bigotry that is so obviously abhorrent.

Enter, if you please, Herman Melville. The man may have had certain prejudices; I cannot say, as I never had contact with a mid-19th century man, nor Melville himself. But I have had contact with some of his writing, such as Chapter 26, from his novel The Confidence-Man. The title of the chapter in this de-light-ful book is as follows:

Containing the metaphysics of Indian-hating, according to the view of one evidently not so prepossessed as Rousseau in favor of savages.

The chapter is an account of a backwoodsman who hates Indians; apparently not an uncommon character in Melville's day. The narrating character tells us about these persons:

"The backwoodsman is a lonely man. He is a thoughtful man. He is man strong and unsophisticated. Impulsive, he is what some might call unprincipled. At any rate, he is self-willed; being one who less hearkens to what others may say about things, than looks for himself, to see what are things themselves. If in straits, there are few to help; he must depend upon himself; he must continually look to himself. Hence self-reliance, to the degree of standing by his own judgment, though it stand alone."

This is not too far afield from most bigots; having little education or "social" rearing, they rely upon their own feelings in their politics as they have had to in their lives, and thus are given to the maxims of popular opinion rather than the ideals of learned society. A reliance upon one's own abilities may lead to a false sense of superiority. And even what he learns is often skewed:

"For however charitable it may be to view Indians as members of the Society of Friends, yet to affirm them such to one ignorant of Indians, whose lonely path lies a long way through their lands, this, in the event, might prove not only injudicious but cruel. At least something of this kind would seem the maxim upon which backwoods' education is based. ... 'As the twig is bent the tree's inclined.'"

A strong-willed, not-quite-supremely educated person is often a bigot. This seems plausible. But the most interesting part of Melville's chapter, to me, is the title. Although it isn't mentioned in the chapter itself, this backwoodsman is contrasted in subtle fashion to "one prepossessed as Rousseau in favor of savages".

Of the bigot/backwoodsman: "Suns and seasons fleet; the tiger-lily blows and falls; babes are born and leap in their mothers' arms; but, the Indian-ahter is good as gone to his long home, and "Terror" is his epitaph." However, the person who is enamored with the idea of the "noble savage", on the contrary, is a fickle creature--the vicissitudes of whose so-called steady, critically-reasoning gaze are subject to shift with the currents of popular theory. Is the concept of the "noble savage", a theory that intends to posit a pre-Fall (or perhaps pre-felix culpa) innocence of man, really the logical and theoretical opposite to bigotry? Is loving through false equality the fix to hating via false superiority?

Now, we can look back upon Rousseau's theory as a merry occasion in our history of colonialism, when those silly Europeans thought that the funny-colored people they were killing might have been a transference of their own misplaced innocence. Thank goodness for the Christ! If it wasn't for redeemers, we might have to actually deal with our issues in this life.

But is the humanism of today really any different? Or have we simply shifted our colonialism to within "us", letting the vegetables on the bottom of the melting pot burn and stick to the bottom, as long as the top is heated comfortably? Those of democratic theory try to convince us that only if everyone is equal, then hate will magically disappear as a relic of the dirty world before the "son of man" that is equality saved us all. As long as equality is resurrected in the Millennial future, we can say that it has merely died for our sins, and not for our taste for blood. By attempting to find the "soul" of humanity as an equal and innocent equivalent within us, those of the "noble human" philosophy neglect to deal with the hatred that is our actual existence. The fact is, this is not just an optimism; it is an avoidance of the reasons that people hate. How will nostalgia for the "noble savage" stop the Indian-hater from stalking his prey?

It really isn't so complicated. One only has to see what the problem is: the Indian-hater still exists. As long as he exists, he will conduct his war:

"Ever on the noiseless trail; cool, collected, patient; less seen than felt; snuffling, smelling--a Leather-stocking Nemesis."

Until, that is, we actually have a chance to inscribe that epitaph for him. And frankly, that isn't the responsibility of any noble savage.