Responding to the Unspeakable Killings at Newtown, Connecticut

15 Dec

 

 

Once again, perhaps in the most anguishing manner ever, the deadly shooting of 20 children (and 8 adults) between the ages of 5 and 10 at the Newton, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School, has left America in a stunned posture of tragic bemusement. Why should such incidents be happening here, especially in such a peaceful and affluent town? The shock is accompanied by spontaneous outpourings of grief, bewilderment, empathy, communal espirit, and a sense of national tragedy. Such an unavoidably dark mood is officially confirmed by the well-crafted emotional message of the president, Barack Obama.

 

The template of response has become a national liturgy in light of the dismal pattern of public response: media sensationalism of a totalizing kind, at once enveloping, sentimental, and tasteless (endless interviewing of surviving children and teachers, and even family members of victims), but dutifully avoiding deeper questions relating to guns, violence, and cultural stimulants and conditioning. What are called ‘difficult issues’ in the media reduce to what some refer to as ‘reasonable gun control’ (that is, a ban on assault weapons, large magazine clips, and somewhat stiffer gun registration rules) and to improved procedures for identifying those suffering the kind of mental disorders that could erupt in violent sociopathic behavior. These are sensible steps to take, but so far below the level of credible diagnosis as to promote collective denial rather than constituting a responsible effort to restore a semblance of security to our most cherished institutions (schools, churches, family dwellings). It is ironically relevant that almost simultaneous with the massacre at Newtown there occurred an attack on children in an elementary school in the Chinese city of Xinyang in the province of Henan, approximately 300 miles south of Beijing. The attacker slashed 22 children with a knife, and significantly there were no fatalities, suggesting the important differences in outcome that reflect the weapons deployed by an assailant. Although this is an anecdotal bit of evidence, it is suggestive that strict gun control is the least that should be done in light of recent experience, with seven instances of mass violence reported in the United States during 2012. It should be noted that Connecticut was one of the few states in the country that had enacted ‘reasonable’ gun control laws, but clearly without a sufficient impact.

 

If what is being proposed by politicians and pundits is so far below what seems prudent there is fostered a societal illusion of problem-solving while sidestepping the deeper causes, and the truly ‘difficult issues.’ It would be a mistake to attribute the overall concerns entirely to the violent texture of the American public imagination, but surely inquiry must address this atrocity-inducing cultural environment. America leads the world in per capita gun possession, violent crime, and prison population, and is among the few developed countries that continues to impose capital punishment. Beyond this, America vindicates torture and glamorizes violence in films, video games, and popular culture. Political leaders support ‘enhanced interrogation’ of terror suspects, and claim an authority to order the execution of alleged terrorist advocates in foreign countries by drone strikes oblivious to the sovereign rights of foreign states, a practice that if attempted against American targets would produce a massive retaliatory response preceded by an outburst of self-righteous outrage. At work, here, is American exceptionalism when it comes to lethal violence, with a claimed right to do unto others what others are forbidden to do unto us, a defiance of that most fundamental norm of civilized peoples an inversion of ‘the golden rule’ and basic biblical commandments.

 

There are other features of American political culture that are disturbing, including the uncritical celebration of American soldiers as ‘the finest young Americans,’ ‘true heroes,’ and the like. Or of America as the greatest country that ever existed, such a claim especially in light of recent history, is a rather pure form of hubris long understood as the fallibility that comes with excessive individual or collective inability to recognize and correct one’s own faults. It is certainly true that the government is asking American servicemen to risk their lives and mental health in ambiguous circumstances that produce aberrant behavior. To undertake counterinsurgency missions in distant countries at a lesser stage of development and much different cultural standards invites deep confusion, incites national resistance and hatred in the combat zones, and prompts responses driven by fear and rage. Recall such incidents in Afghanistan as American servicemen urinating on dead Afghan corpses, burning the Koran, and random shootings of Afghan unarmed villagers. In effect, this ethos of violence against others, constrained by the most minimal standards of accountability has to be part of the violence inducing behavior that is these days haunting civic life here in America.

 

In effect, until we as Americans look in the mirror with a critical eye we will not begin to comprehend the violence of Newtown, Portland, Aurora, Oak Creek, Tucson, Columbine, Virginia Tech. No amount of tears, however genuine, can make our children and citizens safer in the future, and even gestures of gun control seem likely, if treated as solutions rather than palliatives, are likely to be no more than a spit in a national ocean of sanctioned violence. What may be most depressing is that it seems ‘utopian,’ that is, beyond the horizon of possibility, to advocate the repeal of the Second Amendment on the right to bear arms or to renounce the kill doctrines associated with drone warfare or counterinsurgency rules of engagement.  Only moves of such magnitude would exhibit the political will to take measures commensurate with this disruptive and horrifying pattern of violence that has been an increasing source of national torment.

 

President Obama has called, as he has on prior occasions, for “meaningful action,” which is too vague to be of much encouragement. Almost certainly the main effort in American public space will be to explore the individuality of this shocking crime by way of mental disorder or tensions at home rather than to address its systemic character, which remains a taboo inquiry.

 

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54 Responses to “Responding to the Unspeakable Killings at Newtown, Connecticut”

  1. jeni thornley December 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Thanks for this; insightful, compassionate and analytic.

  2. imleif December 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    For a young person like the Newtown murderer, American warfare is probably not a strong influence directly. Young people, however, are heavily exposed to war surrogates: Hollywood entertainment, where scores of enemies are killed; extremely violent first-person shooter computer games; and sports events where violence/victory is celebrated.

    I’m not American, but I’ve been exposed to exactly the same propaganda in Europe, imported from mainly the USA. I was past 30, when I somehow broke out of the Matrix half a dozen years ago. Funny enough it was by reading random blogs by normal people, and discussing different topics also in my own blog, that a new world perspective emerged in my mind.

    I have never committed violence though, and I think that in most of Europe we have broken with violence in our daily lives, we know that what is real life, and what is “Tom and Jerry” entertainment. Very many people idolize the American ways, however, and ask no questions, just like I once didn’t.

    When I meet Americans in person once in a while, I find it characteristic that they are generally much more assertive than Europeans. Things are absolute to them, and they are confident that toughness and confrontation is the solution to winning, whereas Europeans are typically consensus seeking.

    I think that firearms, apart from being dangerous in themselves, make a society tougher. Once anybody can likely have a firearm, people will tend to see a stranger as dangerous. They will want to arm themselves, and demand toughness on crime and poverty to secure their local safety.

    • Albert Guillaume December 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      The above comment gives my sentiment exactly. I think, that Richard has a clear view of the malaise, that dominates the American psyche. For generations violence has been glorified and amply aided by the ridiculous exaggerations of Hollywood movies and the twisting of historical facts, where people actually start to believe all that garbage. Certainly America has its heroes, but so do other nationalities, races and cultures. It is their warped mindset about being ‘more equal’ than others, that makes them the laughing stock of a lot of people outside America and causes shame on those Americans, who are more enlightened. Americans claim to be a nation founded on Christian principles, but those are selectively applied as is made clear by Jesus, when He said: “Put your sword back in its sheath, because those, who live by the sword, shall perish under it”. The signs of that becoming true for America, are clearly beginning to show themselves.
      At one time America was the model of decency and democracy and now it has sunk well below the average world level. What caused the change? Can it be reversed? and if so, how?
      It is going to take people like Richard Falk, with a good understanding and high level of intelligence, to regain the sanity, safety and security, that the founding fathers fought for and established. It is at times like these, that I am proud to be a Canadian, who understands the values of peacekeeping and compromise.

      • imleif December 16, 2012 at 12:49 am #

        Thank you for your appreciation. I agree with your comment as well, however I wonder about the “laughing stock” phrase.

        I think the US has become increasingly feared even by close traditional allies. I suspect that even democratically elected world leaders feel accountable to the US rather than to their own voters regarding foreign policy. There is always the elephant in the room that there will be consequences for those who dare to step out of line, nobody dares to laugh or to challenge any absurdity or unjustness. Whatever the US decides, they simply have to “sell” to their voters.

        Ordinary people critical of the US don’t laugh either. It’s too heartbreaking, unjust and Orwellian what is going on. I don’t recall having seen any satire about the US in Europe, except the Michael Moore films maybe.

  3. Ivan December 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Much love for a wonderful article.

  4. pabelmont December 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I cannot pretend to understand the killings, but I do understand the sympathy and concern for young survivors’ mental health. Americans are basically kind.

    Therefore it seems to be that if they understood what the USA’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere are doing (let us pretend — ONLY to little children), they might not support those wars. And if they had any idea at all what Israel is doing to Gaza (by the blockade and by the military interventions) or what USA is doing to Iran by similar blockade, Americans would at the very least have second thoughts.

    Or so I hope. But of course our media (MSM that is) tend to prevent the sort of information from reaching Americans that could trigger such anti-regime attitudes.

  5. Dr Vacy Vlazna December 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    There is a sadness that the intrinsic tragedy of the death of the Connecticut innocents is, as you clearly point out Richard, demeaned by media sensationalism, by the lucrative armament industry (gun lobby), by America’s culture of violence as entertainment, by illegal warfare, – and by the cynicism of the world that views these deaths through the rightful perspective of US hypocrisy that bewails the deaths of its own innocents yet engages directly or indirectly (supply of arms) in the deaths of Afghani and Gazan children and in the horror defects and deaths of babies in Falluja.

  6. sudhan December 18, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    Thank you Dr Richard Falk for your perspective, which is always enlightening and inspiring.

    However, I see the tragic killings in a different contexct. Like many other people I also ventured to console myself with the thought that perhaps a tragic incident like the present school shooting in America may lead to some sort of soul searching and people may turn away from violence. But I know it is only an escapist illusion because the reality is something much different than our wishful reveries. America is a country where violence is glorified and it is regarded not something primitive and inhuman which civilised human beings ought to reject and seek other ways of dealing with conflicts and social tensions. The culture of violence, gun-toting, fast shooting, random killings and uncouth cowboyism provide the deep undercurrents that shape American psyche and outlook. Such a psyche and outlook at state level becomes a force utilised by American plutocrats for militarism and global hegemony of the American Empire. In short, America will continue to follow its traditional path as it has done in the past both at home and in foreign countries as long as it wields power and influence.

    Nasir Khan

    Peace and Justice Post

    • Richard Falk December 18, 2012 at 7:26 am #

      Of course, I agree with your comment, but your context of understanding
      is what I was also trying to express via the phrase ‘culture of violence.’
      I also agree that it is essential to link violence internationally with
      the kind of violent patterns we encounter at home.

      • Heidi Morrison December 18, 2012 at 10:19 am #

        Your article is very powerful. I agree that the violence at home is linked to the violence we conduct abroad. It is, as you say, a systemic issue. I wrote a short article about the idea that the children of Sandy Hook are dying from the same force (American violent culture) as the children in Yemen, Gaza, Pakistan: http://mondediplo.com/blogs/sandy-hook-america-s-culture-of-violence

      • Anne Benson December 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

        Many of us who know your decidely ugly, anti-semitic, pro-terrorist views, are relieved and thrilled that you are gone baby, gone. Should have happened long ago. Now to move on to the rest of those whose hateful postions make mockery of anything to do with Human Rights or the United Nations.

  7. Ms. Açelya Danoğlu December 18, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    Dear Professor Dr. Falk,

    I heard that the Human Rights Watch removed you from their board of directors! Is it true? Your name is no longer listed on the website: http://www.hrw.org/cities/santa_barbara/committee

    Did you resign because of the pressures from the UN Watch NGO which accused you of “antisemitism”? Did the board remove you? I do not understand.

    In peace,
    Açelya

    • Richard Falk December 18, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      I was asked to resign, but supposedly because of my connection
      with the UN, which is contrary to HRW policy. Perhaps, there
      is more to the issue than what I have been told.

      • Cheski December 18, 2012 at 11:55 am #

        I think it has more to do with your history, Richard.

      • larry schwartz December 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        Maybe the move had something to do with your recent declaration that it is the good and moderate version of Hamas that is the operative version rather than the real Hamas, whose founding charter declares it was the Jews who were responsible for the French Revolition of 1789. Not to mention the rockets and the terror and Palestine extending from the river to the sea.

        Larry Schwartz

      • Mark Brody December 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

        Hallelujah…………… Praise the Lord………….

    • Richard Falk December 18, 2012 at 9:34 am #

      Dear Acelya:

      I do not know the reason, but will try to find out. Thanks for calling this to my attention.

      With best wishes,

      Richard

      • Ms. Açelya Danoğlu December 18, 2012 at 9:49 am #

        Dear Richard,

        I am so sad to hear! When did this happen?

        Fondly,
        Acelya

      • Richard Falk December 18, 2012 at 10:06 am #

        Thanks, Acelya, for your concern. It was just yesterday that I was told..It is
        a sign of the times, I am afraid. I will let you know if there are any further developments.

        warm wishes, Richard

      • Anne Benson December 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

        Many of us who know your decidely ugly, anti-semitic, pro-terrorist views, are relieved and thrilled that you are gone baby, gone. Should have happened long ago. Now to move on to the rest of those whose hateful postions make mockery of anything to do with Human Rights or the United Nations.

    • rehmat1 December 18, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      The Geneva-based UN Watch, which claims to monitor United Nations on human rights violations – is one of many propaganda arms for American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Israeli Likud Party. According to a group that tracks organizations which influence US foreign policy, Right Web (December 1, 2011), the UN Watch is funded by AJC ($1.8 million between 2002-2007), Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) an Israeli Hasbara project, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, etc. Israel-Firsters Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol have used UN Watch’s office in Geneva.
      The UN Watch was established in 1993 by Morris B. Abram (died 2000), the former US permanent representative to United Nations in Geneva. Alfred H. Moses, former Jewish ambassador to Romania and honorary AJC president is chairman of UN Watch. AJC Executive Director David A. Harris serves as co-chair of UN Watch together with Per Ahlmark of Sweden and Hillel C. Neuer as executive director.
      Much of the UN Watch’s work involves critiquing criticism of Israel expressed by members of the UN Human Rights Council and promoting hard-line views toward Islamic countries. This frequently entails campaigns against the inclusion of anti-Israel countries on the council, including recent initiatives against Syria under Bashar al-Assad and Libya under the late Muammar Qaddafi.
      On December 31, 2009 – The UN Watch called on UN chief Ban Ki-Moon to remove professor Richard Falk for breaching his mandate for calling world sanctions against Israel and compared Israeli Jews to Nazis.

      http://rehmat1.com/2011/12/12/richard-falk-chased-by-pro-israel-un-watch-2/

      • Mikhael Izsak-Dicker December 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

        So what?

    • S. Lombart December 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      You won’t be missed, Mr Falk! Good on UN Watch for their tireless action and HRW for doing the right thing.

  8. John Severus December 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Given your obvious anti-Israel bias, it’s about time that you were removed. Calling Israel’s response to **months** of bombings an “Israeli attack” is disgusting. Those rocket attacks were war crimes. Period. Trying to justify them in any way, shape or form is wrong. Period. And that’s only the beginning of your horrific rhetoric.

  9. Frank December 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    The pathological hater of Israel and subhuman scum called Richard Falk has the hutzpa to pretend he is offended by the Newton killing while he supports and legitimates the Arab genocidal project against Israelis.

    Falk should lobby for a gun control for Arab terrorists.

    • Mikhael Izsak-Dicker December 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

      Nazis used to call others – Jews – subhuman. Now “Frank” embarks on the same boat by calling the Jewish Richard Falk by the same denomination. What a wonderful world :-(

      • Sanjay Dixit December 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

        To: Mikhael Izsak-Dicker
        You said India is a Pariah, an outcast – thanks. The education system never taught us what is caste, why caste and why caste hierarchies. People over here tell what caste they belong to and on matrimonial sites their caste is mentioned. I have faced some caste based rejections from matrimonial sites due to not belonging to same caste when otherwise things would have been sound between me and the woman. Due to this human relations over here are formal and lacking in emotional /human bonds. If a person from one caste marries a person from another caste, then that is an inter-caste marriage/alliance. There is a lot of caste based nepotism everywhere in India. Actually the caste system as it exists as of now is a hardy, inflexible, irrational, compartmentalizing cockroach type of ideology. The caste system is a complex, irrational, unsound and demonic concept to exist between humans. In reality there is no such ting as caste, it is about association. There are associated groups and subgroups of humans engaged in specific types of activities/engagements. Such as –
        A) Language based groups/subgroups – people who speak same language belong to one group
        B) Activity based groups/subgroups – such as of farmers, farm workers, construction workers, builders, accountants, IT professionals, factory workers, house wives, traders, students, business men, engineers, doctors, etc, etc
        Groups based on association bring in a lot of flexibility. I worked as an accountant previously and changed my associated group to become an IT professional. I was a clerk and became a farm worker.
        This not being so, India becomes homeland of pariah. You are right.

  10. Sanjay Dixit December 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Dear Hillel,
    Mr Richard Falk’s position was truly unbecoming of his professional stature given the fact that he was a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to say things like ‘It was the right thing to ask him to resign’ since I am just an ordinary person. All I can say is that by adamantly holding on to his view/position with respect to Jews and Israel, which was not in the least just and reasonable, he has done a great disservice to himself and to his own profession. I only hope that this action of Human Rights Watch of removing him from the high position that he held therein will commence a process of self-transformation for Mr Richard Falk, which will make him/force him to take a rational and a just position with respect to the Jews and Israel.
    With Best Wishes,
    Sanjay Dixit, Mumbai, India

    • deepaktripathi December 19, 2012 at 4:48 am #

      Mr. Dixit,

      I wish to make two brief points about your comment, which is vague and bereft of context.

      1. I find it odd that on Richard Falk’s blog, you post a comment addressing Dr. Hilal Elver, his wife? Do you feel embarrassed to address him in his own territory? Or have you posted a plea to Dr. Elver, hoping that she will somehow prevail upon Richard to “self-transform”himself to “self-transform himself? In either case, it is rather presumptuous.

      2. Supremacist ideology of any kind goes against the most remarkable of human values–that all humans are equal before God, and law. Above all, supremacist ideology can never bring peace. The idea of equality before God and law are not unrelated. Richard Falk represents the highest tradition of humanity, and has been a lifelong admirer and friend of India and Gandhi. I am sure you will agree that there is very strong tradition of equality in India, too, that has struggled against supremacist tendencies. Richard will say what he wants in light of his experiences in education and life.

      Deepak Tripathi

      • deepaktripathi December 19, 2012 at 5:25 am #

        Let me correct myself, Mr. Dixit, just in case you addressed your comment to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, whose name comes in one of the comments about Richard’s post. Your comment addressing Mr. Neuer here serves what purpose I fail to understand.

        Deepak Tripathi

      • Mikhael Izsak-Dicker December 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

        I disagree: The tradition of inequality is nowhere in the world stronger than in India, the homeland of the paria.

      • Sanjay Dixit December 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

        To: Mr Deepak Tripathi
        Yes, I had addressed my blog post to Mr Hillel Neuer because he had sent me UN Watch update mail informing me (Dear Sanjay) that Mr Richard Falk was removed from his official position as one of the key member of HR Watch, which is what he was expecting. To that effect he wrote –
        “I want to thank you for all your support of our work, which allows UN Watch to continue winning victories for the genuine cause of human rights. You can count on us to keep fighting for what is right.”
        I have respect for Mr Falk, except for his position on Jews and Israel regardless of whether he is a Jew or not. I have had prior communication with Mr Falk before and he is a respectable person given the fact that he was a professor emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. However –
        One of the key problems in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict of the Middle East is that UN ignores (turns a blind eye) Israel’s letters informing them about unprovoked Rocket/Missile fires from Palestinian side that may have resulted in death, injury, damage to property etc to Israeli civilians. But if Israel retaliates, then there is filthy clamor against Israel in the UN high offices. Why So? Could Mr Falk get justice to the Israeli people who have suffered as a result of this? So, what’s the use even if he is a Jew? Even if I say that his intelligence is comparable with that of Sir Albert Einstein’s, what is the use of that for the Jewish people and Israel? – comes to nothing for them.
        Secondly, India’s tradition of equality, in fact, is extremely weak and a sham. For one example, monies allotted to farmers by the government by way of farm subsidies and do get siphoned off by corrupt politicians and other people and just a fraction of the money allotted reaches the farmer. It is extremely tragic that due to this there are farmer suicides due to cruel parasitic exploitation. Many farmers have committed suicide. There are many different kinds of examples of exploitation due to inequality. I want Justice and dignity for farmers.

    • deepaktripathi December 20, 2012 at 1:43 am #

      Mr. Dixit,

      We are not going to agree on this, one of the most complex and tragic of the problems of the last century. You pick “unprovoked”rocket firing (actually very far from unprovoked if one cares to look at the context of the siege, occupation and expanding illegal settlements). I try to see the broader picture. May I suggest that you read primary archival material on this, if you have time and are interested enough to understand this conflict, instead of second, third and fourth hand regurgitated narrative?

      Incidentally, I would show the courtesy of addressing the person on whose blog I choose to comment, or reply to a comment about the original post, not simply copy a message sent to another person. It is disrespectful. I shall enter no further discussion on this matter.

      Deepak Tripathi

  11. rehmat1 December 19, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    On December 17, 2012 Hillel C. Neuer (Jewish) wrote: “We are shocked to discover that Richard Falk – the U.N. official whose antisemitic remarks and 9/11 conspiracy theories have been condemned by British Prime Minister David Cameron, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay – is a board member of your organization. By legitimizing this racist and enemy of human rights, your organization undermines its own founding principles. We urge you to remove him immediately.”

    Calling Richard Falk “antisemitic” is so funny considering Dr. Falk is Jewish himself!

    http://rehmat1.com/2012/12/19/hrw-expels-un-envoy-richard-falk/

    • ScubaMan December 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      There’s nothing funny about it… There are numerous examples of antisemitic Jews…

      • monalisa December 20, 2012 at 8:16 am #

        to ScubaMan:

        you should be much more precise:

        there are a lot of Jews worldwide who are opposing the Zionist settlements in Israel on stolen lands/properties from Palestinians.

        Being a Jew doesn’t mean to support murder and theft.

        monalisa

  12. J. Greene December 19, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Dr. Falk: Why not censor the most obnoxious comments? Why should we allow narrow minded bigots to pollute our spaces? And intimidate and drive out the greater majority of sensible people who worry they’ll be harassed if they say something in the least positive? Keep up the good work!

  13. Ms. Açelya Danoğlu December 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Sevgili Richard,

    Have you indeed found out why the Human Rights Watch asked you to resign? I read Rabbi Gilad Atzmon’s essay here: http://pacificfreepress.com/opinion/12284-watching-the-watchers-hrw-expels-richard-falk.html He posits you were expulsed from the HRW because of the Zionists Hillel Neuer, Geroge Soros and Kenneth Roth.

    I don’t even understand the Human Rights Watch policy about UN officials that they told to you, because I thought my own women’s rights hero Hina Jilani of the UN was a member and others who have been holding UN assignmentes.

    And of course why had they allowed you to serve there for this decade and only now they have this policy?

    You must explain, or fight back this decisions, because I seem to agree with Rabbi Atzmon!

    Allah rahatlık versin,
    Açelya

    • Richard Falk December 23, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      Dear Acelya:

      You ask me a question that I have been pondering myself, and will try to answer as best I can in a post later today. When friends disappoint it is in these ways it is particularly hurtful and harmful.

      In essence, HRW wanted to acquiesce in response to the UN Watch attack but
      hoped I would not notice, and miscalculated because UN Watch claimed credit quite reasonably for my ‘dismissal,’ and HRW reinforced the impression by refusing, despite my request, to take issue with that interpretation.

      warm greetings,

      Richard

      • Jim K December 24, 2012 at 11:39 am #

        A version of the email I sent you today.

        I’ve seen the UN Watch letter, denouncing you as a “racist and enemy of human rights” (and, of course, anti-Semite). I am outraged. That anyone would pay any heed to people who would characterize you this way is infuriating. It’s especially so for HRW, an organization which claims to be independent and progressive.

        Everybody knows what’s going on here. Everybody knows what UN Watch is. The Zionists, who are increasingly isolated in the world, are desperate to shut up and shut off anyone in the US who dares provide a challenging voice. Yours is precisely the kind of calm, reasonable voice of critique that is most threatening to the Israeli colonial (and the American imperial) project.

        As for the HRW’s rationale that you are not supposed to be on their board while working for the UN, well, I guess they hadn’t noticed that before. If I read your blog correctly, they gave you this rationale without revealing the UN Watch complaint. Weasels! I understand, too, that, when you learned how the complaint had been a factor, you asked HRW to clarify that they did not endorse the complaint, and would welcome you back once your UN duties were finished, and that they refused. Clearly, then, this is a capitulation to UN Watch and all that it stands for.

        I hope you know that it is you who should be proud, and HRW which should be ashamed. It is their credibility, which voices like yours gave them, that is lost. I will have nothing more to do with them unless they assure you are welcomed back once your UN appointment is over.

        Given their donor base and their ties to the US elite, and given the ever more blatant willingness of US and Israel to do anything they want with impunity, American-based human-rights organizations like HRW can no longer maintain their credibility unless they are willing to clearly and unequivocally denounce the outrageously illegal activities of the countries their donors are prone to identify with. Until and unless they call for American and Israeli politicians in the dock at the ICC, their denunciations of African and Third World dictators ring increasingly hollow.

        At any rate, you can be certain that you have my unequivocal support. I have been proud to know, work with you, and consider you a friend. It’s their loss.

      • walker percy December 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

        JIm,
        I was unable to reply directly to you, but I want to congratulate you for your correct characterization of this latest outrage perpetrated by the zionist machine of personal destruction. Everyone who is interested in seeing this mechanism in action need only review this discussion thread, to see how a group of enforcers coalesces to threaten a renegade with social ostracism and damage to his reputation. We now can confidently assume that this is what happened to Goldstone. But Falk is no Goldstone. It simply will not work, and we all get a delicious, teachable moment. Now that the world sees what is happening, I guess we should expect the pitchforks and torches to follow soon. Zionists will see this as proof of their bogus hypothesis that the world hates them for no reason, while the rest of us watch in horror, as Samson has a tantrum and brings down the building on all of us.
        Walker Percy

      • deepaktripathi December 25, 2012 at 2:56 am #

        I saw the following on the HRW website, and the plot thickened. With such distorted perspective, it is very difficult to keep the faith in human rights organizations such as HRW. The following article and the HRW’s decision regarding do not seem unrelated.

        http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/24/gaza-palestinian-rockets-unlawfully-targeted-israeli-civilians.

        Anyway, Merry Christmas everybody!

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin December 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

        Re: Prof. Falks Forced Resignation for the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Board

        I appreciate that being forced to resign from the Human Rights Watch (HRW) board must be profoundly hurtful for Prof. Falk, especially as the board’s action was elicited by a communication from his long-time nemesis Hillel C. Neuer of UN Watch (UNW), a Jewish organization, and was implemented by people he had regarded as friends. Whatever our differences might be, one cannot help but feel his pain.

        Drawing on my very limited knowledge of what actually transpired, I would add my impression that HRW’s handling of an extremely delicate situation was not as sensitive as it might have been. While its explanation that Prof. Falk’s membership on the board violated agency policy to exclude governmental functionaries was clearly a fig leaf intended to draw attention away from difficulties HRW was having with Prof. Falk’s positions and actions, an official communication expressing thanks for his years of service would have been the gracious thing to do. On the other hand, if Jim K is correct in reporting that Prof. Falk demanded a statement that he would be welcomed back once his UN duties were finished, an unacceptable demand under the circumstances, it may be that even a generous declaration of thanks would not have sufficed.

        This being said, I must take issue with Jim K, Walker Percy, rehmat1 and others on this blog who exploit the episode, and they exploit every episode that doesn’t comport with their biased distortion of reality, as “evidence” of a massive international Jewish conspiracy nefariously imposing their evil on the world.

        Parts of Hillel Neuer’s letter may have been overheated, but his essential message can be stated in plainspeak: a man with Prof. Falk’s record of statements and actions has no place on the board of an organization like HRW.

        Is Neuer’s charge valid? In endeavoring the answer this question, can we adhere to a procedure suggested by Prof. Falk: let’s focus on the message not the messenger.

        In fact, the approaches taken by Prof. Falk and HRW are so radically different as to be mutually exclusive. HRW strives for an even-handed posture, citing violations on both sides. In stark contradistinction, Prof. Falks cites only alleged Israeli violations, turning a blind eye on violations perpetrated by Palestinians. He calls this strategy “Constructive Imbalance,” sanitizing it in elegant academic and lawyerly jargon. But in fact, it’s nothing more than an outrageously one-sided narrative which never praises Israel nor criticizes Palestinians (I mean “never” literally: check back on this blog and try to find instances of the opposite.)

        In the recent Gaza conflict, for example, HRW condemned both Israel and Hamas for violating the other side’s human rights, and in its wake, called upon both sides to avoid future violations. In sharp contradistinction, Prof. Falk submitted an official report to the United Nations that omits any mention of the months of relentless Hamas rocket fire falling on Israeli civilians, and called for sanctions on Israel, only.

        Perhaps the last straw may have come in Prof. Falk’s whitewashing of a jihadist speech made by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal during a visit to Gaza, in which he called for a popular uprising to uproot the “Zionist enterprise” stone by stone. Instead of decrying the speech as threatening the very existence of a sovereign state and its people, which one might expect from a guardian of human rights, Prof. Falk argued that Mashaal didn’t mean what he plainly said, and that the Hamas Charter, which similarly calls for annihilating Israel, doesn’t mean what it says. This was an exercise in apologetics—what we Americans call “spin doctoring”—that has no place at a table convened to protect human rights.

        One can label Human Rights Watch as a Zionist tool by simply ignoring its record of strong criticism of Israel (check its website). One can weave a conspiratorial scheme that traces back to George Soros by disregarding the fact that Soros is anything but a Zionist extremist.

        Or one can draw this conclusion. Human Rights Watch is a premier organization that enjoys an international reputation for its acuity and integrity. If HRW determines that there’s no place on its board for Prof. Falk, instead of questioning HRW, perhaps one should question Prof. Falk.

        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • walker percy December 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

        Rabbi,
        You conclude by admitting that Falk’s speech is being suppressed, but you feel that is OK because his message reflects poorly on your group. That is not an acceptable position in america. When Zionists openly engage in this kind of coercion, they risk proving anti-semites right. It must stop.
        Walker

  14. Ms. Açelya Danoğlu December 27, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    My Tribute to Richard the Lionhearted
    (with help editing English from C.S. Underwood, friend from Istanbul)

    Richard the Lionhearted
    Knight of Right
    Writ right run wide to defeat wrong
    He would not trade the pain of his heart
    For the joys of the multitude.

    And he would not have the tears that sadness makes
    To run from me at every turn to laugh.

    Life he chose to remain a tear and a smile.

    Nablus, Gaza, Jenin, Ya Palestine
    A tear to purify his heart and give understanding
    Secrets of life and hidden things.
    A smile he will approach his son and kind
    To be a symbol of his glorification of the gods
    Whose blessings universal, human, equality and rights to all
    Were spoken and given life by our knight
    Richard the Lionhearted

    A tear for me together with those of broken heart;
    A smile as a sign of my joy in existence.

    He would rather that I died in the desire and longing that I live Weary and despairing.

    I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
    Back of my mind because I saw those
    Satisfied the most wretched of the population.
    I heard the sigh of those in desire and desire, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.

    With evening comes the flower closes its petals
    And sleeps, the desire embracing her.
    With the approach of morning, she opened her mouth to reply
    Kiss the sun.

    The life of a flower is longing and fulfillment.
    A tear and a smile.

    The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come
    Whole region and clouds.

    And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys
    Until he meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping
    For fields and joins with brooks and rivers to return to the sea, its home
    To Richard the Lionhearted.

    The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting.
    A tear and a smile.

    And if the mind is separated from
    The greater spirit to move in the world of matter
    The world of resistance
    And pass as a cloud over the mountain of pain
    And occupation divides the nation
    And the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death
    And back to where he came from
    Richard the Lionhearted

    To the ocean of Love and Beauty —- to Humanity, to Peace
    To God.

  15. lauraannham January 9, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    I’m so, so glad that some people realise this. I see the US from afar and it worries me. All the aspects you mentioned collude to create such a great inbalance and hysteria – and I feel attacked everytime I say something critical about the States. I can’t believe Piers Morgan is facing deportation for being against guns – it’s so reactionary, but we’re not reacting against the right things. But you’re right, gun control is not the whole issue, merely one layer of the onion. I’m British – Scottish actually – and I live in Qatar at the moment. In Scotland, when I was a kid a man shot several children in a school in a tiny village in Scotland, and the government tightened up gun control immediately. We’re a smaller country, yes, and we have a problem with knives and knifing, but they’re much less dangerous.

    As with all things, it boils down to money and power. It scares me.

  16. what scents attract women April 21, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Remarkable! this article is really wonderful. I’m a 25yr old British born 3 quarters Italian (Sicilian) and the rest Asian/Indian, and without having doubt majority of those qualities and characteristics outlined above arrive so quite normally to me, even without having acknowledging many of the time, despite the fact that I have extremely small Italian in me. I strongly agree on number eight I am certain other females in other cultures view motherhood as the very same, but I’ve to confess I individually see motherhood as a blessing from above and I’ll cherish the working day I am blessed (not that I am in any hurry to marry or have youngsters). Living in London and becoming mixed race I look just about like an Indian woman, Although I have all of the “typical” Sicilian look: Shoulder duration chestnut hair somewhat wavy but that is because from the Indian in me, slim physique, at times and never very pleased to mention quite flamboyant in my speech particularly if it is one thing I strongly really feel about, extremely hygienic my brother states I have OCD when it comes to cleaning, I am property proud along with a family kind lady from a large family members. My private look includes minimal but complimenting make-up, neutral coloured properly equipped tailored garments and i barely put on shoes as well high for me to stroll in. People presume I’m
    fully Indian. Regrettably I’m one and have already been for any whilst, I would love to fulfill an Italian guy as I feel that I’ll be properly suited with
    a man with Italian culture, birds on the exact same
    feather correct? But where are all of these single Italian guys hiding in Uk?
    ? Simply because I appear Indian (if I was in Sicily I’d look just like the common Sicilian) I only look to attract Indian men, I have no concerns with this particular and to be sincere I don’t have problems with any race or color, But due
    to the fact from the cultural variations and also other things
    my past associations did not perform out. I have tried spending the majority of my cost-free time around places exactly where you will find Italian communities, I’m not genuinely one for courting websites I prefer to day the classic means of conference someone etc. None of this functions for me unfortunately I have an excellent profession for my age and that i really feel that I am not too negative looking, Are there any suggestions it is possible to give me on attracting an Italian guy? I realize that I’m drifting in the subject but was asking yourself should you
    could give me any tips? Apologies for your essay.
    .. I adore to speak and can go on… Ok I’m gonna quit now lol

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