An American Crackup?

There are many fissures in Western societies, and there are individuals and nations who wish to exploit them. Lets look at the fissures in both the United States and Europe.
The New York Daily News carried this headline on June 24, 2016 – And now Texit: Texans consider seceding after Brexit — especially if Donald Trump loses election.
But after Trump won, I got message on Facebook that in response to this awful event, California should secede from the union.  I took a look at the website of the California secession movement, and they say they feel they are subsidizing the other states, and are hampered by protectionism (I agree with them there) and that the rest of the country is not doing enough about global warming!
According to the Los Angeles Times, these Texas secessionists AND California secessionists AND Hawaii secessionists cozied up with other Western separatist groups at a Kremlin-funded conference in Moscow, hosted by a seven-foot Russian dude “who wears crocodile leather shoes” and leads Russia’s Anti-Globalist Movement.
According to Alexander Ionov—the aforementioned crocodile-shoe wearing leader of the small anti-American group that organized the conference—the Russian government chipped in part of the cost of the conference at a swanky hotel close to the Kremlin.
My guess is that the Ukraine secessionist movement (they want no part of Russia) was not represented.
texassecede
Texas Secession?
So what are a few (not all) of the other fissures in our society?)
Some of the fissures that could be exploited cross the traditional boundaries of left and right.  For example, some believe that “neo-conservatives” (generally Jewish) got America into a war in Iraq which turned out to be a huge disaster.  Some believe that those same neocons want us to be belligerent toward Russia, which, according to this line of thinking, is simply asserting its rightful place in the world.
And of course there are racial fissures.
The “Black Lives Matter” movement believes that policemen kill blacks due to racism.
Conversely, we read a police officer, Jeff Roorda, saying that:
Genocide, constabulicide, the great blue massacre … whatever term you choose to use, you should consider – strongly – the possibility that what we’re witnessing now has escalated into something beyond just a war on police. If Dallas, Baton Rouge and Palm Springs didn’t convince you of that, the eight police officers that have died in a recent eight-day span should. The ambush-style execution of police has become a common occurrence in 2016, and now the cowardly assassination of the two Des Moines area police officers on Nov. 2 culminated a bloody spree of anti-police violence that took the life of an average of one American hero in blue per day starting on Oct. 26.
He adds:
I was on the streets of Ferguson and I heard the seething words of hatred that came from the mouths of the antagonists who overthrew an American city. More than just the words, it was the intensity of expression in their faces…
This mob mentality that has spread like cancer across America and has soaked our streets in blue blood should be recognized for the genocidal movement that it is. To write it off as anything else imperils the lives of even more cops and the very fabric of our democracy.
jeffroordaThen there are the culture wars:
a U.S. government letter of guidance stated that under Title IX, schools were prohibited from forcing students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.   Obviously if you tell people that their teen age girl has to share a bathroom with any male who claims  he’s a woman, you will create a fissure.  These people will feel they are beleaguered and attacked by their own government.
The final fissure I’ll mention is due to a leftist tactic… An SDS radical once wrote, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”  He is not alone in saying that, and if ‘issues’ and ’causes’ are waystations toward the ultimate goal, then you would expect leftists to look for issues to inflame and exploit.
Looking at the rest of the world, Douglas Shoen wrote a book about Russia with the paranoid sounding title Putin’s Master Plan.  He says this:
…Russia’s proxies [include]…far-right nationalist parties that admire Putin’s muscular, boldly chauvinistic leadership style, such as Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France or Jobbik in Hungary. And some are far-left radical parties that share Putin’s antipathy toward the economic and political institutions of the West, such as Greece’s infamous SYRIZA or the newly ascendant Podemos in Spain. In some countries, including Greece, France, and Germany, Putin has allies on both the left and the right who compete fiercely, but what’s important to him is that both answer the phone when Moscow calls..
Its interesting that several (not all) of these groups share 1) a protectionist attitude toward trade  2) anti-American attitudes   and 3) pro-Russian attitudes.    For instance, Hungary’s Jobbik party and the French National Front and the Spanish Podemos share all three.  You can be a leftist, or you can be a rightist, it doesn’t matter, you share these three attitudes.
Shoen piles on more examples:
Greece’s infamous neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has deep connections with and receives considerable support from Russia’s right-wing activists, who operate only with Putin’s approval and implicit imprimatur. Golden Dawn’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, even received a letter in prison from Putin adviser and Kremlin insider Alexander Dugin, one of the ideological architects of Putin’s Eurasianist ideology, expressing support for Golden Dawn’s geopolitical positions and requesting a line of communication between Golden Dawn and Dugin’s Kremlin-linked think tank in Moscow.
In Germany, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party advocates a set of policies similar to those of France’s National Front: It is against Islamic immigration, against the EU, and against America. In July 2015, the AfD elected Frauke Petry as its leader based on “promises to make every effort to convince Berlin to strengthen ties with Russia.
podemos
( Unfortunately Europe is not the bulwark it used to be.  For instance, a Pew Research Center study conducted in spring of 2015 finds that “at least half of Germans, French and Italians say their country should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if attacked by Russia. . . . Americans and Canadians are the only publics where more than half think their country should use military action if Russia attacks a fellow NATO member.”)
The Interpreter, the online magazine of the Institute of Modern Russia, a prodemocracy group, says that Russia spreads conspiracy theories in the West.
Conspiracy theories can take a valid complaint, but attribute it to the wrong cause. Take ISIS.
ISIS, the Russian president suggests, is a Western creation— specifically, a creation of the United States, which, after all, housed the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as a POW in Iraq. The Russians have helped foster this conspiracy theory among many Iraqis, which doesn’t make the American project in that beleaguered country any easier. The truth about ISIS is far different, as Putin— and Bashar al-Assad— well know. Assad funded ISIS’s predecessor organization, al-Qaeda in Iraq, for nearly a decade, as it fought against American forces there.
According to the website “WarOnTheRocks”, Russia encourages
…wide-ranging conspiracy theories promote fear of global calamity while questioning the expertise of anyone who might calm those fears. Russian propaganda operations since 2014 have stoked fears of martial law in the United States, for instance, by promoting chemtrails and Jade Helm conspiracy theories….
Conspiracy sites [may]…repeat and repackage the same basic content for both right- and left-wing consumers. Sometimes, these intermediaries will post the same stories on sites with opposite political orientations.
Sincere conspiracy theorists can get vacuumed up into the social networks that promote this material.
In at least one case, a site described by its creator as parody was thoroughly adopted by Russian influence operators online and turned into an in-ironic component of their promoted content stream, at least as far as the network’s targeted “news” consumers are concerned.
Sloppy thinking, and misattribution of negative events, lead to mischief-making dictators like Putin making inroads with their propaganda, much of which does not have the label “from Russia” on it.  But if real issues – such as the real problems that came with Muslim immigration, the high unemployment in many countries in Europe, and so forth, can be dealt with by responsible leaders who admit there is a problem, and that their constituents are not “deplorables” or whatever other name they come up with, then perhaps that democracies can defuse the power of the movements that Putin wants to make common cause with.
Sources:
Schoen, Douglas E.. Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence –  Encounter Books. Kindle Edition. 2015
http://www.wnd.com/2016/11/is-it-war-on-police-or-genocide-on-police/
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/3095927/posts
http://warontherocks.com/2016/11/trolling-for-trump-how-russia-is-trying-to-destroy-our-democracy/
 http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/texit-forces-welcomed-russian-separatist-conference/

Coercive debating in an Iranian Jail

maziarbahari
Maziar Bahari – 118 days in Evin Prison
Maziar Bahari  had left London in 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, promising his fiancée Paola that he’d be back in just a few days.  The Iranians arrested him and those few days stretched into three months of violent interrogation in Evin Prison, Iran.
The interrogator, who Maziar called “Rosewater” due to his perfume, explained that Maziar was an agent of foreign intelligence organizations – the CIA, M16, Mossad, and Newsweek.  Maziar thought Rosewater was joking about Newsweek, but he was serious, he believed that Newsweek was a part of the American intelligence apparatus.  Plus, Maziar was supposedly the mastermind of the Western media in Iran.  The editors of most of the American media, Rosewater explained, were assigned by the CIA.
As various more accusations came, Maziar tried to answer them, but got nowhere.  He writes
 In high school, one of my favorite subjects had been logic.  I’d always thought I could follow people’s reasoning…But I had no idea what Rosewater was talking about….All I could do was follow out a logical sequence of my own:
These people are in charge of my life.
They are ideological, ignorant, and stupid.
I am screwed.
There were very weird moments.  Rosewater brought up the topic of the state of New Jersey, and said
All I know is that it is a godless place, like the one you were trying to create in this country.  With naked women and Michael Jackson music!….You were planning to eradicate the pure religion of Mohammad in this country and replace it with ‘American’ Islam.  A New Jersey Islam.
Rosewater backed up his arguments with violence.  This included punching Maziar in the head or slapping him on the legs with a belt, or punching him in the shoulders.
One instance of this was interesting, First Rosewater reminded Maziar of a martyr of the revolution who had said “Tell America to be angry with us and die of that anger!”
Maziar had known that martyr’s family, and also knew that the martyr’s son had been arrested by the current Iranian government.  So he pointed out the irony “I find it ironic that you quote a statement form the heyday of the revolution while you have arrested the son of the man who said it.”
This was a mistake.
Rosewater ‘grasped my left ear and his hand and started to squeeze it as if he were wringing out a lemon.  As the cartilage tore, I could feel the pain, like a slow fever…
Rosewater and his bosses offered a deal to Maziar, he just had to incriminate the reformist politicians he had interviewed as being part of an American plot.
In reality, Maziar was what he presented himself to be – a journalist.  He says that though it is likely that M16 and the CIA did what they could to help dissidents in Iran, it was absurd to blame millions of people’s disenchantment with their government on foreign intelligence agencies.  He also says that in Iran the journalists are often at the service of the government, and a free press was an alien concept.  So the interrogators assumed the same thing was true of the Western press.
Rosewater believed he was doing something good by putting Maziar through all of this.  He said to him:
The whole country is in a turmoil because of you, How can you answer all of the mothers who’ve lost their children because of you?  How can you answer for all the blood you’ve shed since the election?
If we were to compare debate vs interrogation, there was a big difference.  Even though in a normal debate, both debaters may have a predetermined conclusion that they won’t give up, there isn’t the omnipresent threat of violence when one debater says the wrong thing.  In prison, however, you can always win an argument if you can inflict pain when the opposing debater – your prisoner – says something you don’t like.
There is another interrogation that I’ll mention here, it was of a man named Menachem who was sentenced to eight years in a concentration camp in Stalin’s Russia for being a dangerous element in society.  He was a Zionist, and before he was shipped up north, in endless nights of interrogation he debated, with his interrogator, the Russian Revolution, Zionism, the Russian commune and the Jewish kibbutz, Capitalism and Communism, the Spanish Civil War and the French Popular Front.  There was no violence in this interrogation.
Menachem says:
My interrogator was young, tall and handsome, and almost polite in his manner.  He no more doubted my “guilt” than I that his accusations were nonsense.
His basic assumptions was astounding nonsense, but the dialectic super-structure he built up on this foundation was nearly perfect.  During those long nights…[he] told me:
“Zionism in all its forms is a farce and a deception, a puppet show.  Its not true that you aim to set up a Jewish State in Palestine, or that you  intend to being millions of Jews there.  Both these aims are utterly impractical….This talk of a ‘State’ conceals the true purpose of Zionism–which is to divert the Jewish youth from the ranks of the revolution in Europe and put them at the disposal of British imperialism in the Middle East.”
Like Maziar with his statement about irony, which provoked Rosewater, Menachem got his interrogator angry when he pointed out a contradiction – he said that Paragraph 129 of Stalin’s Constitution lays down clearly that the Soviet Union will give refuge to citizens of foreign States persecuted for fighting for national liberation.  So, added Menachem naively, “You have no right to keep me in gaol.”
At these words, the Russian’s face went alternately red and white.  No longer the polite officer, he clenched his fist and raised his voice:  “Stop this nonsense, you stupid lawyer!  You dare quote the Stalin Constitution?
The Russian went on to explain that the quote was out of context, but Menachem tells us it was certainly not out of context.
Menachem says that being in isolation can break revolutionaries.  This isolation is not only physical, but also mental and political, since there is nobody out there who will even be aware of your stand, who your words will reach.
Maziar too talks of psychological methods being more effective than pain in getting prisoners to give up.
The story ended well for both Menachem and Maziar
menachembegin
Menachem Begin

Menachem Begin, being a Polish citizen, was released when Sikorski signed his pact with Stalin.  Menachem made his way to Palestine, became the leader of the Irgun, which rose up against the British.  Eventually, he became Prime Minister of Israel.

Maziar returned to England, and later found out the real identity of “Rosewater”.  He leaves us with a final thought about his interrogator:
The man who woke me up on that morning in June 2009 and put me through a nightmare for 118 days lives a nightmare every day.  He is the one who spends his time in Evin, in a small dark room, beating and humiliating innocent people.  He is just another employee of a bad system, a by-product of ignorance and religious zealotry.
One of these days, Maziar jokes, he will send Rosewater a plane ticket to New Jersey.

newjersey

Sources:
Then They Came For Me – Maziar Bahari with Aimee Molloy (2011)
The Revolt – Menachem Begin – (1951, 1977)

Who are the people around us?

Recently, with the astonishing victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election, various Hillary supporters have been trying to figure out what happened.  Meghan O’Rourke speculates that Hillary’s “defeat was a visceral reminder that misogyny and unconscious bias remain powerful forces.”  David Remnick says that  his election was “a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism.”
So these two people, and many others, usually on the left side of the political spectrum, now believe there is this huge racist, sexist hinterland that they had ignored up to now.  If they are more charitable, they say that people in the heartland “gave into their fears”.
A conservative commentator, Daniel Greenfield, saw it differently:
It’s midnight in America. The day before fifty million Americans got up and stood in front of the great iron wheel that had been grinding them down. They stood there even though the media told them it was useless. They took their stand even while all the chattering classes laughed and taunted them.
They were fathers who couldn’t feed their families anymore. They were mothers who couldn’t afford health care. They were workers whose jobs had been sold off to foreign countries. They were sons who didn’t see a future for themselves. They were daughters afraid of being murdered by the “unaccompanied minors” flooding into their towns. They took a deep breath and they stood.
They held up their hands and the great iron wheel stopped.
danielgreenfield
Greenfield
Meghan O’Rourke and David Remnick on the left side of the political spectrum, and Daniel Greenfield on the right are all quite literate, intelligent, educated writers – and yet – look at the vast divide of how they see reality.
So who are all those Trump voters out there?   Some certainly are racist and are proud of it.  But many are not.
Liberal movie maker Michael Moore described some of them:
Donald Trump came to the Detroit Economic Club, and stood there in front of the Ford Motor executives, and said, ‘If you close these factories as you’re planning to do in Detroit and build them in Mexico, I’m going to put a 35 percent tariff on those cars when you send them back, and nobody is going to buy them.’ It was an amazing thing to see. No politician, Republican or Democrat, had ever said anything like that to these executives. And it was music to the ears of people in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Brexit states. … Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting. And it’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff, who used to be part of what was called the middle class, loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they’ve been waiting for. The human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them. And on Nov. 8, Election Day, although they’ve lost their jobs, although they’ve been foreclosed on by the bank, next came the divorce and now the wife and kids are gone, the car’s been repo’d, they haven’t had a real vacation in years, they’re stuck with the sh–ty Obamacare bronze plan, where you can’t even get a f—ing Percocet. They’ve essentially lost everything they had, except one thing. The one thing that doesn’t cost them a cent and is guaranteed to them by the American Constitution: the right to vote. They might be penniless, they might be homeless, they might be f—ed over and f—ed up, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s equalized on that day: a millionaire has the same number of votes as the person without a job,…
mooremichael
Michael Moore
And some of the Trump voters are just conservatives who don’t like the Democratic party’s agenda.  This is quite hard for liberals to understand.  Liberals see President Obama as a man of integrity and honor, and Hillary as a mildly flawed but well intentioned stateswoman, and they just don’t comprehend how any well-meaning person could oppose them.
And that brings us to another contingent of people out there.
A former Marxist progressive says this:
Ever since I abandoned the utopian illusions of the progressive cause, I have been struck by how little the world outside the left seems to actually understand it…the ruthless cynicism behind its idealistic mask.. the fervent malice that drives its hypocritical passion for “social justice”….No matter what slogans we chanted, or ideals we proclaimed, our agendas always extended beyond the immediate issues we championed to the destruction of the constitutional order of the society in which we lived.
The writer of the above lines was David Horowitz, who now often has to have bodyguards when he speaks at American Universities.  And how does this former Marxist revolutionary view Hillary Clinton, who was the alternative candidate to Trump?  He sees her as a liar in the way she presents herself, hiding the fact that she is a progressive missionary, like many of the people both she and Horowitz associated with in the sixties and seventies.
My point here is not to say who is right or wrong here.  The point is that there are sizable contingents of people out there in society who don’t understand other sizable contingents.
I remember one conservative woman saying about the Obama administration – “we are ruled by sociopaths”.  And a day ago, I read one liberal citing some Trump acquaintance who described Trump as a sociopath.   Again, I’m not saying either person is right or wrong.  I’m trying to illustrate a problem in knowing who people are.
Leaving politics, lets look at another type of person in our environment, namely criminals.
Criminals are not always people just like us, who just happened to have less inhibitions about getting what they want.  There is a subset that are very different than us.
For instance it has been shown that children from Mauritius who show slower heart rates and reduced skin responses when annoyed by loud tones or challenging questions tend to have criminal records when they get older…

There is a theory behind this, and it’s about being insensitive to fear. Normally, a startling noise races the heart and sends the body into a high state of alert, which is what the skin electrodes pick up. But research indicates that children who are not alarmed don’t react to the threat of punishment when they misbehave. Nor do they react to the distress shown by other people. They don’t learn that their bad actions, like causing others pain, have bad consequences for those people.

Neuro-criminologist Adrian Raine had the idea to look for a defect that begins before birth and can still be detected in adults. He knew that in a fetus,

a thin wall of brain tissue develops to separate a cavity into two cavities, and that this becomes the amygdala and other brain areas as development proceeds.
When the wall doesn’t form completely, a condition known by the jawbreaking name of cavum septum pellucidum, it’s usually a sign of abnormal development in the amygdala and other structures. Years later, in adults, the failed wall can be spotted in a brain scan.
Raine found that the condition is also associated with dangerous minds. In a 2010 paper, he and his colleagues compared people with and without the feature on several fronts. The groups were tested for antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and aggression. Their records were searched for criminal arrests and convictions. In every single one of those areas, there were a lot more men and women with the wall defect….

Raine himself is a big believer in protective factors. “You can’t make a lesion to the prefrontal cortex and, hey presto, you get a criminal. It’s not like that,” he says. “Of course social factors are critically important.”

adrianeraine
Adrian Raine

Nonetheless, this indicates that there are people around you who look normal on the outside, but are not normal on the inside, in a way that means they don’t feel the way you expect normal people to feel.
People may not understand their own children.

As the families of autistics or schizophrenics wonder what happened to the apparently healthy people they knew, other families grapple with children who have turned to horrifying acts and wonder what happened to the innocent children they thought they understood.
On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, seniors at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., … held the whole school hostage, killing 12 students and one teacher before turning their guns on themselves. Dylan’s mother, Sue Klebold, said this to an interviewer afterwards: “I used to think I could understand people, relate, and read them pretty well,” Sue said. “After this, I realized I don’t have a clue what another human being is thinking…”
People are very diverse. I knew a man who was upset whenever he saw “roadkill”. But there are people who hurt animals for fun.  Some get sexually aroused by hurting animals.
Some men hurt animals in front of their wives and children, to intimidate them, so they won’t speak about domestic abuse within the home.

Why do some people and not others pull the wings off butterflies, toss firecrackers at cats, and shoot the neighbors’ dogs with BB guns?
The trait that is responsible is sadism.

The research was dreamed up by Dan Jones at the University of British Columbia (now at the University of Texas at El Paso). The experiment was, as my former psychology teacher Howard Polio used to say, “so good it makes your teeth hurt.”
The researchers constructed a bug crunching machine designed to give cheap thrill to latent sadists. The bug-cruncher was a modified coffee grinder with a tube attached to the top where you could drop live bugs. When a bug was dumped into the machine, the device would make a gruesome crunching sound. The animals used in the study were three pill bugs named Muffin, Tootsie, and Ike. About the size of coffee beans, pill bugs are actually crustaceans and more related to lobsters than true insects (here). Sometimes called roly-polis, pill bugs are cute (sort of), and are sometimes even kept as children’s pets. To enhance their likability, each bug was placed in a individual cup labeled with its name.
After being told the researchers were studying “personality and tolerance for challenging jobs,” the participants completed a battery of questionnaires. These included a measure of the three Dark Triad variables (narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.) and a scale designed to measure individual differences in sadistic tendencies (ex., “I have fantasies which involve hurting people.”). They were then told they had to conduct one of four noxious tasks. They could either kill live bugs by dropping them into the crunching machine, help the experimenter kill bugs, clean a dirty toilet, or place their hand in ice cold water (very painful). If a subject chose to kill bugs, they had to actually drop at least one of the bugs into the cruncher. At the end of the experiment, the participants were asked to rate how much pleasure they got from participating in the study.
(Note that subjects who opted to clean the toilet or to put their hand in ice water were stopped before they started the task. And my animal activist pals will be happy to learn that none of the pillbugs were injured in the study—a hidden barrier prevented them from coming into contact with the crusher blades.)Did any of the subjects choose to kill Muffin, Tootsie, or Ike? Yes. Twenty-seven percent of them personally dropped bugs into the crusher, and another 27% choose to help the experimenter kill the bugs. Were the personalities of the bug killers different from the other subjects? Yes. The bug killers had the higher sadism scores than the other groups. Further, the bug killers could either stop at Muffin, or they could also, for kicks, toss Ike and/or Tootsie into the machine. The researchers found that bug killers with high levels of sadism reported they got more pleasure from their dastardly deeds than non-killers. And, as you might expect, the more pleasure the subjects got out of crunching animals, the more bugs they killed.
The most interesting aspect of the study (other than the creativity of the design and the fact that a quarter of college students opted to kill Muffin, Ike or Tootsie), was that a statistical analysis revealed that sadism was a bigger factor in predicting animal cruelty than the Dark Triad variables. …

So to sum up this very disorganized blog post,
1. a quarter of your fellow college students enjoy killing cute bugs.
2. a percentage of people who demonstrate noisily for a cause may not really be all that interested in the cause – it can be a means to an end
3. if you are suddenly shocked by the political choice of large numbers of people, it might be worthwhile to actually investigate why they made that choice, rather than dismiss them as ignorant or worse.
4. Some of your townsfolk may superficially look like everyone else, but may be sadistic, and of them, a smaller subset may have no moral brakes. The evil they do is only limited by their fear of consequences, and that fear may be very muted.

Is usury evil? Is Capitalism?

Lending at interest has seemed wrong to many people through history.
Charging interest is classed in the Book of Ezekiel as being among the worst sins.  The Koran does not like it either, and one famous devotee of the Koran, Osama bin Laden, said this in his ‘Letter to America’ (2002):
You are the nation that permits usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions.  Yet you build your economy and investments on usury.  As a result of this, in all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your  economy, through which they have then taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense..
binladen
Jihadist kills thousands of Americans, then educates us on “Usury”
Throughout history some have assumed  that all economic gain not derived from physical labor was suspect, and in its extreme form, that led them not only to condemning finance, but also to condemning trade and commerce.
Most writers of the Classical period (of ancient Greece and Rome) saw no justification for deriving income from the merchant’s role of buying and selling goods.  The material wealth of humanity was assumed fixed, so one person’s gain must mean another person’s loss.  This reminds me of modern leftists who believe the “middleman” is unnecessary, and getting rid of him saves money.
But lending at interest makes sense.  You can give a loan of money to a friend who is willing to pay it back, but why should you give a loan to a stranger unless he gives you something in return?  He could pay you an initial sum for the loan, but obviously he doesn’t have the money to do that (otherwise he would not ask for the loan) so he promises to pay you in future.  That payment is interest.  Also you have to factor in risk – even if he is honest, he might not have the money to repay you at the end of the lending period, due to factors beyond his control.  And since you have choices in what to invest in, you should be rewarded in directing your money to more productive uses rather than less.  That is also factored into interest.
Obviously a peasant who got a loan from a Jewish moneylender in the Middle Ages might not feel it was fair if his harvest failed, and the loans came due.  In that period, Christians were not allowed to lend interest, but Jews were allowed to lend to Christians.  Moreover, Jews were often pushed out of the standard occupations, so they ended up in commerce and finance.  Unfortunately, the Jewish moneylenders had to charge high interest, because they had high risks.  One of the risks was that their loans often had to be written off because of pressure from the Christian public.  And royalty put high taxes on any money the Jews made.
jewishmoneylender
Karl Marx, one of the most disastrous thinkers in history, had a problem with usury – to him it was making money from money.  In his view there was no real value to it.
Marx argued that private property in general led to egotism, and cutting oneself from others.  In a bourgeois society, supposedly everyone is interested only in one thing – getting richer.   And Marx believed that capitalists got rich on the backs of the workers.  Marx uses metaphors of vampires and werewolves and cannibals for capitalists.  Lenin called capitalists bloodsuckers. Neither believed that people who started companies, such as Bill Gates or John D Rockefeller, actually created value.
paul-allen-and-bill-gates-in-the-early-days-jpg
Paul Allen and Bill Gates in the early days of Microsoft
It is interesting that various Nazi thinkers believed that Capitalism had to be rescued from its “Jewish” aspects.  Aryan Capitalism was supposedly industrial and creative, but Jewish Capitalism was parasitic. Idealists who liked romantic communitarianism saw Capitalism as a negative force.
The influential economist, John Maynard Keynes, did not like the deferred gratification that came with Capitalism.   It supposedly detracted from the enjoyment of life here and now.
Keynes said this:
I see us free…to return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue–that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable, that those walk most truly in the paths of virtue and sane wisdom who take least thought for tomorrow.
Admittedly Capitalism can be very disruptive.  For instance when a big box store moves into town, little stores go out of business.  It is natural for people who own little businesses to want stability, security, and a steady income without worries.
Perhaps this desire for stability, security, and predictability explains this observation by  Friedrich Hayek, who was pro-Capitalism.  He said that there was a common thread in Socialism, Nazism, and Fascism – and that was the notion that the state “should assign to each person his proper place in society.”
On another issue that comes up periodically: Capitalism is about satisfying needs, but what if those ‘needs’ are just vices?  For instance, suppose you are a drug dealer providing heroin to heroin addicts, or a salesman offering marijuana gummy bears to kids.  The consumer wants the product, the salesman wants to sell it to him, so what’s the problem?  And yet there is a problem, in that the consumer wants a product that harms him, and harms the wider society as well.
Capitalism also implies that some people will do better than others.  This can cause resentment.  In our society, people who are good at math generally get better jobs than those who do not.  Is that fair?  And if not, is the blame to be laid, for example, at the feet of the callous employer who won’t hire Pierre, who is poor at math, to the well paid computer-analyst job, even though Pierre has four children to support plus two divorced spouses?
Capitalism also engenders movements that have an anti-economic focus. Once you have a wealthy class with time for leisure, its members may join movements that damage the jobs of ‘the little guy’. For instance, environmentalists have put whole communities that used to make their money out of natural resources, out of work. (one such community is Del Norte, California).
So does anyone praise Capitalism? There were pro-Capitalist intellectuals. One of the early modern ones, Georg Simmel (born 1858),  pointed out that Capitalism led to the virtue of weighing tradeoffs, and having a less impulsive and emotional way of making decisions.
Some of the information above was taken from a book titled “Capitalism and the Jews’ by Jerry Muller.  The part that interested me was not the Jews per se, but the general animosity that eventually targets a free-market society.  Some of that animosity got directed at Jews, and Protestant Huguenots, and overseas Chinese in various parts of the world where they took on specific roles and succeeded disproportionately.
Free markets have created great wealth in some places – like Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and the Western countries at some periods of their history.
The ideas of anti-capitalists have created huge misery and death, which is surprising – if, as I believe, Marx was sincere in his desire to help the workers.  Nonetheless, the ideas of Marx and Engels and Lenin have led tens of millions of needless deaths, and horrible regimes like Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, and Stalin’s Russia.  There is a mystery there.
 I don’t think Capitalism in general deserves the kind of opposition it has engendered.   Nonetheless, many of the Western countries are staggering with high debts and high unemployment and huge bureaucracies.  The big irony now, if we deplore usury, is that many desperate Capitalist countries are charging negative interest rates.

How to produce racists

When some regrettable behavior of mine became known and widespread, I was called various names.  The names included:
1. Hebe
2. Jew,
3. Swine,
4. filthy A-rab,

5. faggot  (etc)
The word “Hebe”, even though its one syllable and uttered with great conviction, is really a set of assertions that can be unpacked and examined.  In effect these people were saying:

  • your regrettable behavior is due to the fact that you are of the Hebrew race
  • This behavior is due to a character flaw that is genetic, and common to most or all members of the Hebrew race.

Obviously, I personally would like to believe that my regrettable behavior was not due to some genes that run in my family, let along all “Hebrews”, but that’s just my bias.  What if its true?
After all, the people who say it believe its true.  And they say it with conviction.  Its a simple direct explanation, and so what if I don’t like it?
However, simplicity and conviction are not everything:
We should be aware of the statement by the influential satirical writer Henry Louis Mencken.  He said this:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

If we go by pure reason, then becoming aware that some Jew acted in what I euphemistically call “regrettable” fashion does not prove much.  It doesn’t take much searching to locate non-Jews of all races and religions who have committed evil acts, or disgusting acts, or hilariously foolish acts.
On the other hand, the idea that character is partly genetic is backed up by research.
For instance:
Researchers from Edinburgh University studied more than 800 sets of identical and non-identical twins to learn whether genetics or upbringing has a greater effect on how successful people are in life.
Twins are useful in such studies because almost all twins share the same home environment as each other, but only identical twins share exactly the same genetics.

Prof Timothy Bates, who led the study, said: “Previously, the role of family and the environment around the home often dominated people’s ideas about what affected psychological wellbeing. However, this work highlights a much more powerful influence from genetics.”
The study was focused on personality traits which contribute to our chances of success in life by dictating whether, for example, how determined we are to overcome challenges.
Prof Bates said: “If you think of things that people are born with you think of social status or virtuoso talent, but this is looking at what we do with what we’ve got.
“The biggest factor we found was self control. There was a big genetic difference in [people’s ability to] restrain themselves and persist with things when they got difficult and react to challenges in a positive way.
Interestingly, my own problems started as a teen, with a total lack of self-control in many domains.
But again, presumably Prof Bates was studying Scotsmen, and these Scotsmen differed in the amount of self-control they had.  They were not all the same.  You could not tar all Scotsmen with the features of one egregiously out-of-control type.
Criminality is partly genetic, but interestingly, sometimes a particular environment will bring out the criminality in susceptible individuals.  If genes affect the brain, and the brain affects behavior, then this is not so surprising. To take just one example, research has shown that criminality is strongly correlated with low arousal levels in the brain.
Even political attitudes are correlated with genes, to some extent.  This is hard to believe – we like to think our beliefs come from reasoned consideration of evidence.
But lets look at the second assertion that comes out of “Hebe”.  And that is, that most or all members of an entire group (or race) could share genes for a particular obnoxious character trait.  After all, we see that most people below the Sahara have a gene for lots of melanin, which protects them from sunburn, while most people in Northern Europe have much less melanin.  So if that particular trait can be selected for, why not character traits?  Or if, as happens in some cases, a few people give rise to a huge number of descendants, then you might expect certain character traits to become common.
This might not mean the racism directed at me is correct in a strong sense – but it might be correct in a weaker sense – that the distribution of character traits is different in different groups of genetically related people.  This could result in the average behavior being different.
To test this assertion you would have to do statistical studies of behavior across groups, controlling for environment.   Or you would have to show that gene X affects character trait A, and that group 1 has a more common incidence of X than does group 2.
I’ve seen minorities criticized for
1. having high crime rates
2. having low IQs
3. being slobs and inherently filthy
4. hating white people, or Christian people
5. being treacherous
6. being deceitful and being conspiratorial
and so forth.
I haven’t seen criticisms on some other traits (such as being prone to conspiracy theories, or to acceptance of ideologies without thinking)
Here are some racist quotes from surprising sources:
“Mexicans are a rabble of illiterate indians.” (Ernesto “Che” Guevara, June 1956.)
I might note that Che loved to execute Cubans, and believed in the Marxist nonsense that has killed tens of millions of people throughout the world)
Communist North Korean Central News said this about President Obama.  They said he is a “dirty fellow” who “still has the figure of a monkey while the human race has evolved through millions of years,” and declares that he should “live with a group of monkeys in the world’s largest African natural zoo and lick the breadcrumbs thrown by spectators.”
I might note that the theory of evolution says that North Koreans are descended from apes.
The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist site that supports Donald Trump says this about (filthy Jew) Mark Levin, a conservative talk show host who criticized Mr. Trump.
You might say that anyone who would trust a Jew gets what they deserve. But this guy’s listeners don’t even know that he’s a Jew. He pretends to be one of them. That has long been the top Jew stratagem.
And a positive quote from Winston Churchill on the Jews:
the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.
If you do not want to manufacture racists, you have to avoid certain policies.

In this country, we have had a federal lawsuit to prevent companies from discriminating in hiring on the basis of an applicant having a criminal record.  Why?  Because this discriminates against Blacks, who have a higher crime rate.

We have an initiative now to bring low income people into higher income areas, and house them there with government housing.  Why?  Because there are more whites in prosperous suburbs than blacks, and that is not fair.

Muslim refugees are being settled in small towns and rural areas and inner cities across the country, and opponents  of this policy, who cite fears of terrorism or anti-Democratic attitudes by the new arrivals are told they are “racist”.  And yet, if you look at France and Sweden and Germany, the record on the behavior of the new arrivals is often very bad.
If you want to make good-natured people into racists, make them feel unsafe.  Make them feel that they have to work alongside a guy with a criminal record who has a history of petty theft and violence, and tell them to complain would be racist.
Tell them that the random residents from low income areas with a high number of shootings every night will be coming, in public housing projects, into their suburb.
To make people feel even more insecure, tell them that you are bringing in large numbers of neighbors from the Middle East, people who it is impossible to do background checks on, because the place is such a war-zone.
The issues come together in ironic ways.
After escaping war in their homeland, some Syrian refugees are afraid of getting shot in their new home – in north St. Louis.
[They complain of]  gunfire in the night, roaches, mice, and rats.
One Syrian woman, speaking through a translator, says it’s so bad she phoned friends at a refugee camp in Jordan to warn them not to come to St. Louis.
If you have a new phenomenon of economic stagnation, especially for the less educated, and you then tell them that the large welfare state that their taxes pay for will also subsidize costs of illegal immigrants, then you will get objections.  You cannot have a welfare state with unlimited immigration.  You end up going bankrupt.
Having said all this, I must be a closet racist, right?  Well, unlike racists, I have noticed that every group I’ve seen has good-natured, honorable, admirable people.  On the other hand, I have an open-mind as far as whether different groups could vary (on the average) by character due to genetic influence and/or environmental influences.   I’ve seen both blacks and whites say they are prejudiced against Jews, so implicitly, members of both groups can believe this.
I’ve been called a racist by a liberal relative of mine (who actually is quite admirable), because I have doubts on Muslim immigration.  That is silly, because the Jews are related to various peoples in the Middle East, including the Syrians, and the Kurds and the Armenians and the Anatolian Turks.  The Biblical Abraham came from Ur, which is in Southeast Iraq.
However, even if we should all be one happy family, we get tweets like this in Muslim Turkey (after a Jewish leader, Shimon Peres, died).

“Shimon Peres died, there is now one fewer Jew. I wish the same for other Jews and their sperm…”
“Shimon Peres died. One fewer Jew. The world has got rid of one more piece of dirt.”
“Shimon Peres, you’ll get a nice tan there. May your hellfire be fierce. Jewish dog.”

There is a big difference between Islam and Judaism, and each religion in turn has affected the history, and possibly, if you want to bring in evolution, the “selection process” of its adherents.   Its also silly, to call me a “Hebe” because I truly doubt I am the typical Jew – I’m not religious, and my behavior has been downright weird – you name it – eating disorders, compulsive behaviors (like Bulimia), excessive fatigue with freezing extremities,  a few months where I had a mysterious desire to act as bizarrely as I could (I succeeded, unfortunately)  – plus being treated with shock treatments, anti-depressants, Zyprexa, Thorazine, Imipramine, imprisonment in a mental ward (for believing there was a movie of me loose in the land), and so forth.  And on top of this, I currently believe I’ve been targeted by a Mafia – despite my admitting that for a few months I so deviated from reality that the temp “delusional paranoid” was accurate.  How many Jews do you know that fill that description?.  Plus, I hate gefilte fish.
Of course looking at people as products of genes and brains is distasteful, we want to look at them as friends, as team-mates, as companions.  But having been called “Hebe” by a fair number of people, (years ago) I feel that some kind of effort to take the issue head-on is reasonable.  If people believe something is true, but just are too nice to discuss it in public, or are intimidated from discussing it in public, they still believe it.  Discussion is better than suppression.
Sources:
http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/jones.html
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hlmencke129796.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/9267147/Its-nature-not-nurture-personality-lies-in-genes-twins-study-shows.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/05/09/north_korea_releases_racist_screed_against_obama.html
http://www. dailystormer.com/filthy-jew-mark-levin-attacks-glorious-leader/
https://www. washingtonpost.com/national/the-white-flight-of-derek-black/2016/10/15/ed5f906a-8f3b-11e6-a6a3-d50061aa9fae_story.html
http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2013/06/feds-sue-cos-because-criminal-checks-eliminate-too-many-blacks/
http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2016/05/feds-order-colleges-stop-checking-criminalschool-discipline-history-discriminates-minorities/

How to hide in plain sight

gershompals

During the third Reich, some Jews managed to hide in Germany until they either managed to escape or the war was over.  While Jews in camps lived (and died) in a constant nightmare,  life for the Jews hiding in plain sight could appear normal, but they were surrounded by a fog of evil, and any of the normal people around them might turn them in.  There was a sword dangling over their heads.
One of those who had to hide wrote a book about what hiding is like.  He says of himself (pseudonym ‘David’) and his sister Toni and his brother Leon and his brother’s girlfriend Lore:
We oscillated violently between dull despair and wide-awake terror, between hope and revulsion, bitterness and frivolity.   We faced inconceivable horrors every day of our lives–but we were healthy young people, and we were still capable of laughing.
So what was it like to hide in Nazi Germany?
Initially, some of the Jews were employed in the war effort.  David was not, but his sister Toni was, so David hid in her apartment.
During the day, David had to maintain absolute silence.  If he wanted to flush a toilet, he had to wait until a toilet was flushed on another floor, so that the sounds would coincide with his own flushing.  He took off his shoes to avoid making noise as he walked.  He oiled every hinge on every door.  He learned to suppress coughs and sneezes, and when they would not be suppressed, to bury his head under a cushion.
When this situation was not longer possible, a Christian shoemaker who was friends with David’s parents took in both David and his sister.  The sister made herself useful, cooking and cleaning, but it was harder for David to make himself useful.  The shoemaker had two sons at the front, and eventually one of the shoemaker’s sons came back on leave, found David in his room, and then had a major fight with his father.
David realized he had to find another place to live.
When finding new shelter became so important, David describes walking with his brother Leon  through the Tiergarten and on up the avenue called Unter den Linden to the old Royal Palace.  Before the war, this was a pleasant stroll to take, but
…how differently we looked at Berlin now!  Our eyes examined everything in terms of its potential as a hiding-place….We envied the birds their nests.
 Leon was so desperate that he was considering impractical ideas such as making a shelter out of the cab of a long-disused construction crane, or the interior of an abandoned van he came across, or of a hut that was used to store deck-chairs.
During the day, one refuge that David used was the city zoo.  To get warm he ducked into the tropical houses, visiting the lions and tigers and parrots and monkeys, but the smell and the noise pushed him to go to the aquarium.
So at a half past eight every morning, David would go off to study salamanders and turtles and crocodiles, and when visiting hours were over, he would ride around in circles on the S-Bahn, until it was late enough to go back to the shoemaker.
Finally, he landed a job with an engineer, Dr. Sell, who ran a small company making instruments and appliances for the air force and the navy.  As part of the job, he had to deliver these items to factories with portraits of Hitler and signs inside such as “beware of spies” or slogans such as “Leader, command us — we shall obey!”
When David’s situation got dire enough, he told the engineer that he was Jewish.
Sell replied as follows:
“You realise, don’t you, that you’re like an unexploded shell in my house, now that you’ve let me into your secret–a bomb that may go off at any moment.”
David looked at  him in consternation.
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about me,”, Sell added quickly, “I’m an old Social Democrat…It’s my duty as a human being to help you.”
As the engineer talked, his voice rose in anger.
I’m forced to let my son and daughter join the Hitler Youth, and then I have to be constantly on my guard against my own children!  Day and night that fiendish propaganda hammers away at one’s eardrums…They stand everything on its head with their lying and their ranting…
Oh yes, the enthusiasm’s falling off now.  Suddenly we’re getting pangs of conscience–ever since what happened at Stalingrad!  Many people now admit–in the privacy of their own homes–that there’s something not altogether healthy about this Third Reich…now we’re hearing people’s excuses, the reasons why they voted for him.  He wasn’t as bad as his speeches, they thought.  To begin with he seemed quite moderate.  He just had a bee in his bonnet about the Jews, otherwise he was quite a decent fellow…The most depraved hoodlum in the land–and they elected him head of state!  In error, they now claim.  To stop something worse happening!  They swore allegiance to a criminal fanatic!  By mistake!
Later, when David got to Vienna with a plan to get smuggled into Hungary, he says that he saw that
Stalingrad had put paid to Austria’s enthusiasm for the Fuhrer… Vienna, safe from air raids [by the allies], had become one vast field hospital.  You came across whole groups of crippled servicemen in the streets.  A new symbol adorned the walls of public lavatories: the swastika shown hanging from a gallows.
David was in the uniform of the Hitler Youth, and he says when he asked directions, he was cordially pointed in the wrong direction, and sometimes prevented from boarding the tram.
Eventually David did get to Hungary, but the Germans invaded Hungary.  Nonetheless, he finally got to Palestine.
Are there any take-home lessons for us?
Today, in the year 2016, People like Salman Rushdie and various cartoonists have had to go into hiding from believers in Jihad. Jews hide their identity in many parts of Europe, at least in public, because they don’t want to be assaulted by Palestinians or Palestinian sympathizers.   Still, its not as difficult as having to hide from your whole society.
I would expect that people with contacts in the criminal world would find it easier to escape, and if not to escape, to find illegal means of income and also places to hide.  I actually read once a survey of teenagers claimed that if many of them needed to get an illegal gun, they knew where to obtain one.
It is not easy to hide today, in the United States, if you have to earn a living.  You would basically have to forge an entire identity, from your social security card on up, to really get away from people who are determined to find you.  Interestingly, we do have an underground economy, employing millions of illegals.  There is a large underground economy in Europe too, some of it criminal, but some of it based on normal economic transactions that escape taxation and government regulation.
Perhaps we should pay more attention to the possibility that our lives could change drastically and quickly and be able to join that underground economy if we end up in a situation where our government cannot protect us, or worse, becomes part of the problem.  Or at least we should be able to live off the grid for a while.  A terrorist attack could plunge us into cold and darkness in the depths of the winter, or remove our water supply in heat of the summer.
Its doubtful that our government would come after us, but you never know, society changes rapidly.  My great-grandfather got along with his neighbors in his small village in Germany.  In fact, they organized a little commemorative parade when he died.  My grandmother would swim with the neighboring girls in the Rhine, and went to school with them.  After she got married and observed the rise of Hitler, the last straw was when a child told my father “I’m not allowed to play with you anymore”, and so grandma persuaded her husband to move to Palestine.
But the point is, there was a period when these rural folk got along reasonably well with their Christian neighbors.
(My sundry ancestors would turn in their grave to find out how their descendant (me) behaved, but that’s in another post)
Even if you live in a society where you absolutely trust your government, you can run afoul of either ideologues or criminals.  Here is what a brave man, Roberto Saviano, author of the international bestseller Gomorrah: Italy’s Other Mafia now has to do:
For the last eight years, I have travelled everywhere with seven trained bodyguards in two bullet-proof cars. I live in police barracks or anonymous hotel rooms, and rarely spend more than a few nights in the same place. It’s been more than eight years since I took a train, or rode a Vespa, took a stroll or went out for a beer. Everything is scheduled to the minute; nothing is left to chance. Doing anything spontaneous, just because I feel like it, would be ridiculously complicated.
Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician who believes Islam is irredeemably anti-Democracy.  As such:
[He was] Expelled from Britain, banned from Indonesia, denounced by the UN Secretary General, prosecuted in court for his beliefs, forced into government safe houses, and constantly threatened with death.
Wilders wrote a book about this, titled “Marked for Death“.

In June 2010, Alexander Poteyev allegedly betrayed a network of 10 Russian agents — including Anna Chapman, the now-famous redheaded Russian spy — operating illegally in the United States.

He may have been assassinated in the U.S., at any rate, Russia claims he is dead.

Russian 800-meter runner Yulia Stepanova and her husband exposed the systematic state-sponsored doping regimen pervasive in Russian athletics and then the couple and their young son fled to the United States, fearing for their safety. Hackers found out their address, and they have fled again.

yulyastpanova
Yulia Stepanova

These people stuck their necks out.  Most of us don’t.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a plan-B, in case the legal world fails us.

Sources:
http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba278
David – Testimony of a Holocaust Survivor  – Ezra Ben Gershom (1988 – Berg Publishers Limited)
https://www.amazon.com/Marked-Death-Islams-Against-West/dp/1596987960

Sex, drugs and a suicide

We’ve heard of kids being mercilessly bullied to the point of suicide, and while tragic it seems to be a topic that doesn’t need much more ink devoted to it.  However, one surprise came immediately when I picked up Emily Bazelon’s book “Sticks and Stones”, and that was that the story that shook the country, about an Irish girl who came to Massachusetts and was bullied to the point of taking her own life, was inaccurate.
Emily talked to the bullies involved, one of them a girl named Flannery.  And she did an in-depth investigation.  This is what she found:
bazelon
Emily Bazelon

Phoebe was 15 years old, and was sought after by the popular boys.  Flannery by contrast did not have a lot of friends, and had no use for cliques.  But despite the popularity, Phoebe had history of cutting herself back in Ireland.  “Cutting” is what it sounds like, people slice their arms or chest or other parts of their body, and there is a link between it and depression.  Phoebe even wrote an essay about it explaining that it was an effort to “transfer the pain from emotional to physical pain which is a lot easier to deal with…”

Phoebe’s mother would leave her daughter alone at home on Saturday nights, while she visited her sister in Springfield.  One time Phoebe sent an email to a friend about how one Saturday night went:
a few seniors came over and brought weed and beer and vodka……they had so much weed and we rolled blunts and man they put some coke in one of the blunts…aww…it was like better than sex!
Talking of sex, Phoebe was having sex with the football star of the school, who did have a long running romantic relationship with a girl named Kayla, though the relationship was in a lull at the time.  When caught in bed with Sean, Phoebe claimed he was gay, and that they had not had sex.  This was of course not true.
Bazelon continues the story:
As Phoebe spent more time with Sean, she talked about them being together for real, the way Kayla had been.  This wasn’t what Sean had in mind.
Phoebe did not take Sean’s dismissal well, and eventually was comforted by a boy named Austin, who happened to be Flannery’s boyfriend.  I’m not totally clear how far that comfort went, but eventually both Austin and Sean were charged with having sex with a 15 year old (formally known as ‘statutory rape’).   I believed Austin denied that particular allegation.
phoebe
Phoebe

Flannery vented some of her anger on Facebook.   Talking about an equestrian event she attended, she said to a friend “‘we kick it with the true Irish not the gross slutter poser ones🙂.”

Then a friend of Flannery’s name Sharon Velasquez decided to call Phoebe out.  She walked up to her in the cafeteria and called her a “whore”, and warned her to stay away from “people’s men”.
It wasn’t long after this that Phoebe took a scarf and hanged herself in a stairwell.
We could take various lessons from this.  One lesson, to me, is that secondary sources can be suspect.  At the time, the story, which went nationwide, if not worldwide, seemed to be simple – a bunch of “mean girls” had harassed an Irish visitor for months until she killed herself.  There was a lot of understandable anger at this, and Flannery was one of the targets of this anger.  But the story was too simple, and also inaccurate – there wasn’t three months of bullying as claimed.
Another lesson might be this.  We know that marijuana can increase the likelihood of psychosis.  So a person who already had mental problems, like Phoebe, should perhaps stay away from pot-parties.  In fact, judging from the studies of what pot does to the brain, maybe we all should stay away from that drug.  (Our current presidential candidate on the libertarian ticket was CEO of a recreational marijuana company, and also smoked the stuff.  Obama was a big pot user, at one time.  Former president Bill Clinton also smoked it.)   My feeling is that we should not ingest substances that have unknown effects on the brain, let alone ones that have known bad effects.
The other lesson might have to do with sex in high school.  Other fifteen year old girls were “doing stuff” with boyfriends, but Phoebe was overstepping some line.  But where do you draw the line?  I don’t want to be hypocritical here, I’ve been called a “swine” and the description fit, though I’ve never had sex with anyone while conscious (though I believe (with rather strong evidence) that I have been molested while drugged).
I wonder if parents teach their children not to hook up in high school, and whether the children listen when they do.  Maybe you can’t argue with hormones, and there may seem to be no downside in the minds of the kids who do this.  But looking at the above story, Phoebe, who did have her good points, might be alive today in a world of men who acted like Victorian gentlemen.
 victoriangentleman
People do get bullied to death, but this particular incident was not exactly an example of that.  It caused huge problems for the people involved inspiring comments online such as:
I think the names, home addresses, current photos, license plate numbers, routes to school…should be posted on billboards all over town, so that those little bitches can find out what it REALLY means to live in fear all the time.
I don’t think we should give a blank pass to the bullies in this case either.  Before her death, girls had told Phoebe they hoped she’d go kill herself and then after her death, had written “She deserved it” and “Mission accomplished” on Facebook.
We should not assume that Ireland is a healthier environment for kids to grow up either.  It probably is, but that did not explain Phoebe, though she wanted to go back.  According to Phoebe’s mother “Phoebe’s started cutting herself while she was at a private Irish boarding school. A close friend of Phoebe’s in Ireland told the police that she and Phoebe both had trouble with other girls because they were dating older boys.”
betterinireland
Ireland: a better place to grow up?
Putting this story aside, there are a few interesting points about bullying that come from Emily’s book and elsewhere.  One is that schools are not easy to police.  The corridors, the playgrounds and the school buses are all spots of attack.
Also, some kids really are persecuted for longer periods of time.  Sending children repeatedly to places where they are called names or physically assaulted would seem to be child-abuse, but many parents see no choice but to do that.
 And some bullies themselves have cognitive distortions, including a difficulty in distinguishing a provocation from an accident.
Studies reliably show that they have a distinctive cognitive make-up – a hostile attributional bias, a kind of paranoia.  They perpetually attribute hostile intentions to others.
The last point is from Bazelon’s book, she says there are five types of bullies.  These are:
1. Malicious bullies.  (these types often grow up to be criminals)
2. clueless (not malicious) bullies.
3. People who are both bullies and victims of other bullies
4. Popular, socially adept boys and girls who are good at manipulating others.
5. The Facebook bully.  “Many of the kids I spoke to … talked about girls who tried on brasher meaner personas online than they’d ever displayed in person.”
 Maybe there is a sixth example: “the imaginary bully”.  I believe that I have been persecuted for the last 22 years by an organized mafia of bullies who feel that justice requires that I be persecuted.  I’m told they don’t exist by every sane person who I talk to.
One recommendation that Emily gives is that a bullied child have a support system. Other children who give the victim support, even if they don’t fight the bullies directly, can make a big difference.  If you have a child who is being bullied, read the concluding sections of the book (if not the whole book).  It has some interesting findings and suggestions and resources.
sticksandstones