Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Feds Move Against The Aryan Brotherhood

The Aryan Brotherhood seems to be a bunch of generally unpleasant people. Members of the white power prison gang make up less than 0.1% of the national inmate population, yet are responsible for 18% of all murders committed behind bars. The truly hardened members of the gang are the lifers, guys who have already been sentenced to life without parole. As the imposition of further years in prison means nothing to them, these lifers act with impunity within prisons, particularly in states that do not have a death penalty. Which is why the federal government recently charged 40 Brotherhood members and associates in a giant racketeering indictment. Twenty-one of those charged are facing the death penalty for ordering or carrying out murders inside the prison system. As one federal prosecutor said of the case, “Capital punishment is the one arrow left in our quiver… I think even a lot of people who are against the death penalty in general would recognize that in this particular instance, where people are committing murder repeatedly from behind bars, there is little other option." As a person who in general opposes capital punishment, I would say that he might have a point.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Abe Foxman Takes On The Christian Right

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is the most prominent and influential Jewish organization in the United States. The group usually keeps itself busy by acting as an unofficial mouthpiece for the state of Israel in the U.S. and throwing a spotlight on anti-Semitism both in this country and abroad. Recently the ADL’s chairman, Abe Foxman, has raised quite a lot of hackles by declaring that one of the greatest threats currently faced by the Jewish community is the theocratic ambitions of the American Christian right. His speech was actually quite effective in pointing out just how scary some of these people are, and illustrating that all Americans should be concerned with the growing power of these religious fanatics. Predictably, the theocrats responded rather negatively to Foxman’s speech, noting that evangelical protestants have been some of Israel’s most vocal supporters in the U.S. (This is of course true, but not out of any love for the Jews. The evangelicals believe that the existence of the state of Israel is a necessary precondition to fulfill the Book of Revelation’s projected sequence of events that will lead to the second coming of Christ.) Conservative Jews were just as critical, accusing Foxman of fear mongering in an effort to increase donations to the ADL, as well as ignoring the greater threat posed by Islamic radicals. Foxman recently penned a reply in which he pretty well demolished these criticisms. It is refreshing to see such a prominent American stating the plain truth regarding the threat posed by the Christian right to our pluralist society. One can only hope that other American media personalities will also begin to draw public attention to this issue.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Extreme Fashion Statements

Totalitarianism has become something of a trendy look in recent years. From the nauseating pimping of Che Guevara’s likeness by the pseudo-socialist band Rage Against the Machine, to t-shirts bearing the image of Chairman Mao, to the whole bizarre “Soviet Kitsch” thing, Communism is a hot statement. A couple of things are interesting about this. First, no one seems to be offended by the fact that these images reflect a political ideology that was the cause of the deaths of between 60 and 85 million human beings (and continues to be so in places like Nepal and North Korea). And pointing out this fact in the presence of commie-clad hipsters will only get you written off as a hopeless right-wing nut. Secondly, no assumptions are usually made as to the political affiliations of the people wearing this stuff: It is not normally assumed that you’re a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party just because you’re wearing a Mao shirt. The reaction one gets in the U.S. to wearing Nazi gear is, shall we say, a bit more interesting. Back in the 70’s, a few people in the punk scene got away with wearing swastikas as a shock tactic. Since them, the display of any sort of Third Reich imagery in public is defiantly a big no-no. If you do, you will get a lot of justified criticism (and quite possibly an ass-kicking) from people who feel you are in some way supporting the atrocities of the Nazi regime. It will also likely be assumed that you are in some way supportive of the white supremacist cause.

But it’s not like that everywhere. In Asia, “Nazi Kitsch” is about as popular as Soviet kitsch is here. It is not uncommon in Hong Kong to see young men wearing t-shirts bearing the likeness of Hitler, as well as Nazi-themed karaoke bars (!) and magazines devoting photo essays to hot girls in SS gear (see photo above). The most likely explanation of the difference in attitudes is probably Asia’s almost total lack of Jewish population. Without a group of persons to act as a personal reminder of the unique horror of the Holocaust, most Asians don’t consider the Nazis to be any worse than say, the Turks who launched a campaign of genocide against the Armenians in the early 1900’s. Although considering the atrocities committed by the Japanese army in China during WWII, wearing a t-shirt bearing an Imperial Japanese crest in Hong Kong would probably engender a reaction similar to that of wearing a swastika armband here.

My point is that both cultures are inconsistent on this topic. If genocide is too offensive a subject to be reduced to the frivolity of an ironic t-shirt, than it shouldn’t matter weather a German or a Russian carried out that genocide.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I’m Still Here

As the regular readers of this blog (all six of you) have no doubt noticed, I’ve been posting a bit more sporadically recently than in the past. When I started Extreme Politics, I had the intention of updating it 3-4 times a week. A combination of commitments at work and home has made that schedule unrealistic. For the time being, expect to see new posts about 1-2 times a week. Hopefully when things calm down a bit I’ll be able to get back to my regular schedule.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Jewish Terrorist Earl Krugel Bites It

It would appear that terrorists, particularly Jewish ones, don’t do so well in prison settings. Earl Krugel was the former west coast organizer of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), a racist Jewish supremacist organization that has been linked to several acts of murder and arson over the years. In 2001, Krugel and the JDL’s national leader Irv Rubin were arrested for conspiring to blow up an LA area mosque as well as the office of a Lebanese-American congressman. Krugel turned state’s evidence and managed to avoid prison until recently. After spending only three days at a federal prison in Arizona, he was beaten to death in the exercise yard with a concrete block. The prison officials are not releasing any statements until they’ve conducted an investigation, but the culprits are most likely members of the Aryan Brotherhood or perhaps the Nation of Islam. Irv Rubin met a similar fate in 2002. According to federal prison officials, Rubin slit his own throat with a razor and then threw himself over a cellblock railing to the floor eighteen feet below. And if you believe that one, I have some wonderful oceanfront property here in Missouri for sale.