Meet Donald Trump’s Ambassador to…

the insurrection. Federico Klein goes all-out for Trumpism.

“The scandal of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind… The scandal of the evangelical mind seems to be that no mind arises from evangelicalism.”

Michael Luo, in the New Yorker, quotes from Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, thereby entering the timely … no, urgent question of why so many American evangelicals believe so much socially destructive bullshit. As Luo notes, “Recently, some pastors and other evangelical leaders have begun to express alarm at how unmoored some members of their congregations have become.”

This lack of mooring is no innocuous weirdness: “During the Trump era, it became clear that the wasting of the evangelical mind could even have dire consequences [for] American democracy.” As in, the terrorist assault on the Capitol was way evangelical Christian.

**************

Once again UD will point out that a cult is a cult is a cult: Luo’s description of the evangelicals is point by point a description of ultraorthodox Jewish cults – you need only switch a few words:

Fundamentalists also believed that they needed to separate themselves from an increasingly secular society. All of this had a dampening effect on Christian thinking about the world: there was little need to pay attention to history, global affairs, and science, because the present epoch would soon pass, ushering in Jesus’s return; saving souls was all that mattered. “Evangelicals pushed analysis away from the visible present to the invisible future,” Noll writes. “Under these influences, evangelicals almost totally replaced respect for creation with a contemplation of redemption.”

It’s utterly haredim (a contingent of ultraorthodox Jews was also, by the way, Cap-trashing): The vulnerability to any conspiratorial swill; the separation from any world outside themselves; the ignorance of history, global affairs, science; the hopped-up slopping about in end times. And of course the propensity toward violence.

Solution? Hey, “the cost of education for haredi boys is covered by the [Israeli] state, in spite of the fact that they study no core state curriculum after age 13. No math. No science. No English.” The system of ultraorthodox yeshivas here in the States is an exact replica, folks. The closed world of Jewish and Christian fundamentalism threatens democratic culture very directly, yes? But as long as the state takes no interest in the education of these lost souls (fear: they’re violent; cynicism: they’re powerful voting blocs) we remain at their mercy.

Another Bit of Light Editing from UD.

Go here for my previous work.

****************

MARCH 4: CAPITOL SHUT DOWN: QANON DRIFTS

FARTHER FROM THE AMERICAN MAINSTREAM

Speaking recently to a reporter about Donald Trump’s controversial pronouncements, the leader of The Proud Boys stated plainly: “Nobody here is crazy,” adding that the “most important thing in the world is the return of President Donald Trump. Without him there is no point to anything… Trump is coming,” he declared, without a trace of irony. “Trump will come on March 4 and we will make America great again.”

This reporter’s conversation with the Proud Boys leader meandered, at one point touching on murdered policemen at the Capitol. He nearly exploded with anger. “It wasn’t us,” he insisted. “It was Antifa. They did all of this to make us look bad.”

Sadly, Americans have become accustomed to scenes of violent Trumpist protests, including full-on abuse and assaults on law enforcement officers.

Corona has amplified everything and everything is elevated to crisis levels. Civil disobedience is not just a disturbance but becomes a “super-spreader event” where mass numbers congregate, accelerating contagion and leading to extreme health consequences.

*****************

Original, unedited article here.

*****************

As Gertrude Stein (edited) wrote, A cult is a cult is a cult.

Sentences that make UD Laugh.

Pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood has been banished from a private lawyer’s club in Atlanta after calling for former Vice President Mike Pence to face a firing squad.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm scathes through…

this response, by Human Rights Watch, to the Shamima Begum decision. (Put “Begum” in my search engine for background.)

The first mistake Yasmine Ahmed makes has nothing to do with her writing. It’s about timing. The British court threw out Begum’s appeal almost a week ago, and the news cycle on this latest rejection is basically over. I’ve got no idea why HRW waited so long to weigh in, but their outrage on Begum’s behalf is getting much less attention than it might have simply because responses to the decision have already happened.

Okay, so first sentence:

The United Kingdom’s highest court delivered a shocking blow to justice when it ruled that Shamima Begum, who was just 15 when she left for Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS), could not return to Britain to challenge the government’s stripping of her citizenship.

Where to start? No one is shocked by this latest unanimous (shocking!) decision; it followed many other forms of rejection Begum has experienced since her citizenship was… stripped? Stripped is a wonderfully nasty word, so bravo Ahmed; but she might have mentioned that in becoming a citizen of the Islamic state Begum basically stripped herself of British citizenship. And when you consider that Britain has revoked the citizenship of several other ISIS enthusiasts, things become even less shocking.

The shocking thing in Ahmed’s sentence is that a fifteen year old girl, excited by watching Youtubes of ISIS beheadings, secretly left England for a life of Yazidi slave-owning, suicide vest-sewing, and ISIS brood mare sex. That. Is. Far. Out.

Another sentence:

With the Supreme Court’s blessing, the UK government has left Begum de-facto stateless and prevented her from effectively challenging the decision that did so. If Begum did commit crimes during her time with ISIS, she should be brought home and given a fair trial.

Begum’s mother is from Bangladesh, but there’s no indication she has attempted to get citizenship there. I don’t know why she hasn’t. She is not stateless until she finds out whether Bangladesh – which, according to some legal experts, is compelled to take her – will take her.

If Begum did commit crimes there is little chance a court will be able to find that out. Do you think ISIS kept records of her “crimes”? The slaves and beheadees who might have testified against her are dead or scattered. She’ll be released back to the community due to lack of evidence.

To turn [our] back on [people like Begum] is not only a legal and moral aberration, but a long-term security risk.

Maybe. Maybe. But here’s one thing we know: As long as dangerous people like Shamima Begum are in prison camps, they’re not free to kill us. It’s sheer sexism to cluckcluckcluck about what a poor misguided babe she is. Why do feminists like Ahmed deny women like Begum ideological agency? She herself has said repeatedly that the decision to join ISIS was hers alone. She spent years as a serious adherent. Grotesque as it is for normal people to imagine commanded sex with one stranger after another for the sake of the caliphate (her “husbands” kept dying in combat), it seems not to have been the slightest bit extraordinary to Begum. She was – and probably still is – a twisted, risky person.

I’m perfectly willing to listen to her argue that she has undergone radical moral reform; but that argument should be broadcast from Bangladesh.

When Haredim Met Sally

Israel’s successive governments must of course take ownership of the large group of people in their country who, while they must be counted among the worst subcultures in the world, consider themselves the absolute best. Israel itself allowed its ultraorthodox to cultify and stultify, to rule the private, public, and spiritual lives of millions of normal Israelis, and to ransack any conception of Israel as a gathering place of diverse Jews. The sickening behavior Israel has brought upon itself only grows, as that country now attempts to legislate itself away from ultraorthodox control.

One of the younger, more prominent haredi politicians just shat on a woman serving in Israel’s military as a “shiksa” because she converted in an IDF conversion.

****************

The ultraorthodox party just released a political ad snickering at Jewish converts as dogs.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid tweeted in response: “My father once told me that there was a big sign in the parliament in Budapest: ‘No entry for Jews and dogs.’ Anti-Semites in every generation always compared Jews to dogs. Now United Torah Judaism has joined them. Disgusting.”

‘No one in Switzerland wears a burqa and only around 30 women wear the niqab, the University of Lucerne estimates.’

I love this shit. We estimate: No one! You can go to Google Image and easily find pictures of burqas and niqabs being worn in Swiss cities; you can ask yourself why several cantons already have burqa bans (Psychotic cantons! Seeing things that aren’t there!); you can ask yourself why 65% of Swiss will probably vote for an upcoming national ban (Psychotic Swiss! Bigoted Swiss!).

This article also begins with the Swiss far right’s complaint about the burqa; it doesn’t mention anywhere that there’s some left and plenty of center support and of course plenty of moderate right support as well. The article’s list of other European countries with full or partial bans is curiously incomplete:

France banned wearing a full face veil in public in 2011 and Denmark, Austria the Netherlands and Bulgaria have full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public.

Tons more than that, mes petites.

*************

UD has long noted the game plan for trying to keep women in burqas:

You dismiss burqa-wearing as in any way a significant social phenomenon.

You dismiss bans as nothing more than far-right bigotry.

You gas on about everyone’s right to appear in public in any way they damn well choose.

You gas on about religious freedom, but fail to take the time to note the history/controversy revolving around the burqa as religious or tribal.

You condemn the bigoted European Court of Human Rights for upholding burqa bans.

You condemn the stupid bigoted super-majorities in country after country that vote in favor of bans.

You never ever calm down, take a deep breath, and spend a few moments considering why so many people – not just Europeans; there are full/partial niqab/burqa bans all over the world – want to ban burqas. You do not take the time to wonder why Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria all have bans, while Egypt is well on its way to one. One third of the members of the Swiss Socialist party support the ban.

None of this appears in what you write, even though it is exactly what you need to reckon with.

*************

The only truly intelligent response to burqa/niqab bans comes from rich guys who pledge to pay the fines of women penalized for wearing the garment. Go for it, lads.

Straight Outta Flannery O’Connor

Betty Baucom McConnell said she witnessed the events from her front door.

‘I couldn’t believe it,’ she told KODT-TV. 

‘It looked like the wild, wild west. I couldn’t get my phone to work. I tried to go live. 

‘I didn’t know what to do,’ McConnell said. ‘The police did a great job.’

McConnell said she was enjoying a birthday dinner at home when she heard gunshots outside.

‘[I] looked out the front door and there was this lady in front of my house with a gun and she was trying to get in my daughter’s car and my daughter was at the door hollering at her to “get away from my car”,’ McConnell said. 

‘Next thing I knew she pulled out the gun and she got in her stance and she was shooting at the police and police was shooting back at her.’ 

**********

Details.

For those of us who have long wondered what the point of Monaco is:

Prosecutors said Mr. Sarkozy sought to illegally obtain information from Gilbert Azibert, then a magistrate at the court, including by promising to use his influence to secure a job for the judge in Monaco.

UD’s subjects a New York Times article to slight editing.

The former American president Donald Trump was found guilty on Monday by a court in New York on charges of corruption and influence peddling.

The verdict was the culmination of just one of several long-running legal entanglements that are coming to a head for Mr. Trump, 74, who led the United States from 2017 to 2021 and is still widely popular among conservatives…

He received a three-year prison sentence, with two of those years suspended. However, it was widely expected that Mr. Trump would appeal, a process that would place the sentence on hold…

Mr. Trump, who lost his bid for re-election in 2021, has denied wrongdoing in a complex web of financial impropriety cases that has plagued him since he left office.

UD’s…
… wee bairn.
Les Girls!

Shamima Begum may have committed heinous acts, but she was then a fifteen year old girl failed by the British state. She is now a twenty-one year old woman who has been failed by the British state once more... [Revoking citizenship] deprives someone of their home and their family,  forcing them into a country that they do not know, and that does not want to know them. 

******************

Having read pretty much everything on this ISIS convert [see post below this one for details and update] who now wants to go back to England, I conclude that everyone and everything failed her. Not just the state. Her parents failed her. Her school failed her. Her acquaintances who groomed her failed her. The men who trafficked her (yes, some defenders go so far as to claim this — with no evidence) failed her. The culture of infatuation and romance failed her, making her vulnerable — innocent and lovesick — to the groomers.

A British man who went to Syria to fight against ISIS writes:

She was fifteen [when she joined ISIS]. When I was fifteen I knew rape, murder, and kidnapping were wrong. There’s no indication that she has any remorse or that she’s any less dangerous.

Oh but he’s a guy! Fifteen year old girls are moral idiots, I guess. And they’re certainly too idiotic for us even to begin to imagine that rather than having been failed by everyone, they simply read ISIS literature, watched ISIS videos, thought about it, and made an ideological commitment to its goals. You can read – as UD has – scads of opinion pieces about Begum and you’ll never encounter that claim – that this A-student (apparently Begum was a gifted student) read, understood, and so fervently agreed with one particular form of fundamentalist Islam that she made a considered, life-altering commitment to it. (It reminds ol’ UD of the fate of fascism. Apparently no one was ever a fascist – no one ever absorbed the tenets of fascism, liked them, and became a committed fascist. The fault lay with the state, or history, or coercion, or the church, or charismatic leaders…)

Funny, though. Here’s Begum’s own take on the matter:

Ms Begum said she made the choice to go to Syria and could make her own decisions, despite being only 15 at the time. She said she was partly inspired by videos of fighters beheading hostages…

Although Patrick Cockburn, unsurprisingly, comes to conclusions about the Begum problem very different from mine, he is more scathing than I in his description of her moral responsibility and depravity.

****************

[Revoking citizenship] deprives someone of their home and their family,  forcing them into a country that they do not know, and that does not want to know them. 

Strange thing to say. Begum broke – exultantly – with her home and family; she willingly went to a state – the Islamic State – that very much wanted her.

Maybe it mainly wanted her womb – she was there, as she has subsequently noted, to be knocked up as often as possible. This was fine with her – to act as a caliphate-womb, to be “married,” instantly, on arrival, to some random fighter and start having babies. Fine too were the abuse of Yazidi slaves, the sewing of human bomb vests, and the witnessing of beheadings. All in a day’s work. All in service to an ideal.

Look. Shamima Begum has a state. At the moment, it is reconstituting itself. When it is strong and stable enough, it will send for her. Maybe she will decide – as she decided with England – to break with that state. Then she will have to start looking for a third one.

It’s one thing for a country like America to deal with citizen-terrorists.

Turns out we have quite a few, so we have to up the physical protection of the Capitol, authorize commissions, etc., etc. Latest thing is that a bunch of them want to blow up the Capitol during Biden’s State of the Union address.

So okay, Trump-radicalized home-grown terror cells pose a terrible threat to the nation and we need to act on this.

Non-citizen terrorists are a whole nother thing. Most people I think would agree that a country doesn’t troll for foreign terrorists held in Syrian camps just to add more spice to the stew. Yet this is one way of thinking about what England has been faced with in the long court case of Shamima Begum, who, having left England to join ISIS, lost her citizenship.

ISIS futures don’t look very robust at the moment, and Begum wants back in; and plenty of well-intentioned people argue that she was young and stupid and groomed when she did what she did, and that she should at least be allowed back in to argue her case for renewal of British citizenship.

Yet there’s a pretty solid bottom line here: British intelligence services have determined that Begum remains a really dangerous person who should not under any circumstances be allowed back to England. They’d rather not go into detail, since that would compromise all sorts of people and things, but intelligence assures us that Begum remains a significant threat to national security.

An appeals court did rule that she should indeed be allowed back in Britain to plead her case; but now the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected that appeal, noting that the court of appeal “mistakenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing… came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail.”

UD, who has followed Begum’s case closely [scroll down], has long shared with her readers her confidence that Begum will never be allowed back into the country she betrayed and attacked. The decision of the court does not surprise UD, and neither does its unanimity. The way forward for Begum is to attempt Bangladeshi citizenship (her parents are from Bangladesh); and, if that fails, she should try to gather funds from supporters to buy citizenship in a country that offers that possibility.

A Decision seems to have been made, at the New York Times, to Up the Alert Levels about Israel’s Devastatingly Anarchic Haredim.

One long, highly produced, article after another appears there, highlighting the destructive primitivism, and the law-breaking, of Israel’s large, politically powerful, and often violent, ultraorthodox population. Today’s piece recounts the sickening synergy of a government that refuses to deal with the covid-burdened haredim, and the determination of many ultraorthodox to flout any form of compliance with health rules.

I mean, literally sickening. A recent El Al flight full of secular and religious Israelis returning from New York featured a group of ultraorthodox – maskless and gathered in groups in the aisles, both against all safety/security rules – boasting among themselves about having forged documents declaring that they were not covid positive. Of course some were indeed infected, so everyone on that flight has had to enter isolation, etc., etc.

[D]ozens of passengers were notified by the Health Ministry that 11 of those on board were found to be infected with the coronavirus and that they must enter quarantine.

A woman on the plane claimed that she heard ultra-Orthodox passengers boasting that they had used fake coronavirus tests to get on the flight, Hebrew media reported. Other passengers said that during the flight ultra-Orthodox passengers did not wear masks at times and that the cabin crew did little to encourage them to cover up.

Tal, a passenger on the flight, told the Ynet website that as passengers were getting on the plane she noticed a group of young ultra-Orthodox men boasting that they had obtained faked tests “and saying that they hadn’t taken them at all.”

Tal said that she had approached staff about the matter and was told there was nothing they could do. She also said that although the cabin crew assured her they would require all passengers to wear masks during the flight, the ultra-Orthodox passengers moved around, stood in groups praying, and did not wear masks.

“I pleaded with the stewardesses to ask them to put masks on but I got the response ‘you are hysterical, you have nothing to fear,’” she said.

Another passenger, who declined to be identified, told Channel 12 News that the cabin crew did not intervene when he raised the issue of the masks.

“We approached the cabin staff, we asked that they make sure they wear masks, but they assured us that everything was okay and we are panicking for nothing,” said the passenger.

“They were playing with our lives,” he said. “The flight attendants were afraid to confront them and we paid a heavy price.”

You bet they were afraid. Angry, massed haredim are a nasty business on the ground; you really don’t want to rile them in the air.

Like most cults, ultraorthodox have cults within cults, breakaways that get up to even more violent stuff than the mainstream ultraorthodox.

In the 1980s, the “operations officer” of the extremist Jerusalem sect Eda Haredit, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, led a gang that, among other violent acts, set fire to all Jerusalem bus stops that featured advertisements with images of women.

The descendants of such groups today torch buses, not just bus stops. They spit and shout “whore!” at primary school girls whose skirts fall an inch too short. Tinier and tinier sectarianism has made accommodation to covid measures weak at best:

[S]ome in the community now adhered to the [finally rabbi-mandated] regulations even more avidly than the secular population. But not every sect agreed. Followers of the radical “Jerusalem Faction” — who split from the main community years ago, arguing that [the larger group was] too soft in their attitude toward the secular state — and other extreme splinter groups refused to obey the new orders.

And maybe it’s because years of living with absurd cultists have made Israel itself absurd, but its not uncommon to hear even people in responsible positions say things like this:

“We are talking about a community with values, with a lot of love for mankind. But it does not think of itself as belonging to Israeli civil society.”

What a pretty cliche, love for mankind. But of course for this value-community Israeli civil society can curl up and die.

And, given their mindless defiance, these lovers of mankind are killing themselves too. They’ve already cut quite a swathe among their oldest, and they’re making impressive inroads among younger people.

Among the ultra-Orthodox, the percentage of those testing positive is more than double that of the rest of the population. The true impact of the pandemic is expressed in the death toll: One in every 100 ultra-Orthodox people over the age of 60 has died from the disease, three and a half times as many as in the general population.

Expect more NYT features, as the drama of state failure emanating from powerful, destructive cults plays on.

Ted Cruz’s Complaint About his “Asshole” Neighbors Brings to Mind…

… the Grass Clippings War between Rand Paul and one of his neighbors. That event inspired UD to write one of her better songs, she thinks… drawn from The Mikado…

These guys seem to rub everyone – far and near – the wrong way, and sometimes open hostilities erupt.

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