Juifs utiles: Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ? (Dissolve your own people: US Jewish philosopher comes up with the ultimate solution to all world problems)

20 mars, 2013
http://www.endru.de/joom/images/stories/politik/Wir-sind-das-Volk.gifL’antisémitisme religieux dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous si vous restez juif. L’antisémitisme politique dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre parmi nous. L’antisémitisme racial dit : Vous n’avez pas le droit de vivre. Raul Hilberg
J’apprends que le gouvernement estime que le peuple a "trahi la confiance du régime" et "devra travailler dur pour regagner la confiance des autorités". Dans ce cas, ne serait-il pas plus simple pour le gouvernement de dissoudre le peuple et d’en élire un autre ? Bertold Brecht
Que signifie le peuple juif ? Existe-t-il ? Peut-on parler du peuple juif comme on parle du peuple français ? Ou comme on parle du peuple basque ? La seule réponse valable me paraît celle-ci : si l’on parle du « peuple juif », on emploie la notion de peuple en un sens qui ne vaut que dans ce seul cas. Raymond Aron (cité par Shlomo Sand)
Si l’on a pu affirmer, un jour, que la patrie constitue l’ultime recours de l’impie, on pourrait, aujourd’hui, dire que la Shoah est devenue l’ultime recours des démagogues prosionistes! Shlomo Sand
La conclusion, proprement perverse, de son livre est d’attribuer au peuple palestinien ce qui a été dénié aux juifs, à savoir qu’ils sont – eux, les Palestiniens – les vrais descendants génétiques des Hébreux originaires ! Cet épilogue est le révélateur de la finalité du livre. On y trouve le principe mythologique de l’inversion dont le peuple juif est la victime coutumière : les juifs deviennent des non-juifs et les Palestiniens les juifs génétiques. On peut, dès lors, en déduire qui est l’occupant légitime du pays. En ne déconstruisant pas radicalement la notion d’héritage génétique, en en faisant, au contraire, bénéficier le peuple palestinien, Sand révèle tout l’impensé qui obscurément pourrit ce qu’il tient pour être une entreprise libératrice. Il montre que la méthode substitutive qu’il emploie est tout simplement mystificatrice, et ce d’autant plus qu’elle voudrait être au service de l’entente entre les ennemis. Eric Marty
On a parlé de multiples fois des habits neufs de l’antisémitisme: non seulement celui-ci s’est fait faire des habits neufs, mais il a toute une garde-robe, qui va du prêt-à-porter bas de gamme, au charme hypocrite et discret de la haute couture, qu’affectionnent les diplomates de haut vol. Guy Millière
Americans take for granted the world in which they grew up—a world in which, for better or worse, the U.S. was the ultimate security guarantor of scores of states, and in many ways the entire international system. Today we are informed by many politicians and commentators that we are weary of those burdens—though what we should be weary of, given that our children aren’t conscripted and our taxes aren’t being raised in order to pay for those wars, is unclear. The truth is that defense spending at the rate of 4% of gross domestic product (less than that sustained with ease by Singapore) is eminently affordable. The arguments against far-flung American strategic commitments take many forms. So-called foreign policy realists, particularly in the academic world, believe that the competing interests of states tend automatically toward balance and require no statesmanlike action by the U.S. To them, the old language of force in international politics has become as obsolete as that of the "code duello," which regulated individual honor fights through the early 19th century. We hear that international institutions and agreements can replace national strength. It is also said—covertly but significantly—that the U.S. is too dumb and inept to play the role of security guarantor. Perhaps the clever political scientists, complacent humanists, Spenglerian declinists, right and left neo-isolationists, and simple doubters that the U.S. can do anything right are correct. Perhaps the president should concentrate on nation-building at home while pressing abroad only for climate- change agreements, nuclear disarmament and an unfettered right to pick off bad guys (including Americans) as he sees fit. But if history is any guide, foreign policy as a political-science field experiment or what-me- worryism will yield some ugly results. Syria is a harbinger of things to come. In that case, the dislocation, torture and death have first afflicted the locals. But it will not end there, as incidents on Syria’s borders and rumors of the movement of chemical weapons suggest. A world in which the U.S. abnegates its leadership will be a world of unrestricted self-help in which China sets the rules of politics and trade in Asia, mayhem and chaos is the order of the day in the Middle East, and timidity and appeasement paralyze the free European states. A world, in short, where the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must, and those with an option hurry up and get nuclear weapons. Eliot Cohen
President Bashar Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery have been slaughtering Syrian people for two years. More than 70,000 have been killed. Yet the international community has shown neither unity of purpose nor the political will to act. Many in the world would do well to learn the lesson that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is not the oft-cited failure to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war, and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Ehud Barak
Réalisé sur un échantillon de 7.500 européens, la question était parmi une liste de 15 nations (dont les Etats-Unis, l’Irak, l’Iran, l’Afghanistan et la Corée du Nord) de "dire si le pays présente ou non une menace pour la paix dans le monde". Quelque 59% des sondés ont désigné Israël. Selon El Pais, les Néerlandais, les Autrichiens et les Luxembourgeois sondés sont ceux qui ont le plus placé Israël en tête des menaces. Les Français ont au contraire été les moins enclins à désigner l’Etat hébreu. L’Irak (52%) n’arrive qu’en cinquième position dans cette enquête d’opinion. Derrière Israël (59%), trois pays occupent la deuxième place, à égalité (53%): il s’agit des Etats-Unis, de l’Iran et de la Corée du Nord. Viennent ensuite l’Afghanistan (50%), le Pakistan (48%), la Syrie (37%), la Libye et l’Arabie saoudite (toutes deux à 36%). Le Nouvel Observateur (2003)
L’idée même d’un Etat juif est non-démocratique. Joseph Levine

 Et si le prétendu peuple juif se dissolvait lui-même ?

A l’heure où l’évidence du problème juif comme source unique de tous les maux du monde s’impose peu à peu à l’ensemble de l’opinion éclairée mondiale …

Pendant que son principal porte-parole de la Maison Blanche s’est enfin décidé en ce moment même à en informer, entre deux visites touristiques, le dernier petit peuple de la planète à empêcher le monde de tourner …

Et que, sur nos télévisions, nos petites mains (noires elles aussi comme il se doit) nous font ânnoner notre leçon (co-lon, co-lo-nie, co-lo-ni-ser, co-lo-ni-sa-tion, o-ccu-pa-tion, o-ccu-pé, on répète après moi – pas moins de treize fois en, quoi, 2 minutes 30 !) sans lamais mentionner une seule fois en face le refus de négocier ou même de reconnaitre l’existence d’Israël …

Comment ne pas voir, proposée de surcroit par un philosophe juif de New York, la géniale simplicité de la solution ultime à la paix mondiale ?

Qui, surprise, redécouvre avec la caution morale supplémentaire du sommet de la réflexion philosophique et de la judéité proclamée de son auteur, la même mesure radicale que l’antisémitisme racial de grand-papa ….

A savoir la bonne vieille (dis)Solution finale !

On Questioning the Jewish State

Joseph Levine

The NYT

March 9, 2013

I was raised in a religious Jewish environment, and though we were not strongly Zionist, I always took it to be self-evident that “Israel has a right to exist.” Now anyone who has debated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have encountered this phrase often. Defenders of Israeli policies routinely accuse Israel’s critics of denying her right to exist, while the critics (outside of a small group on the left, where I now find myself) bend over backward to insist that, despite their criticisms, of course they affirm it. The general mainstream consensus seems to be that to deny Israel’s right to exist is a clear indication of anti-Semitism (a charge Jews like myself are not immune to), and therefore not an option for people of conscience.

Over the years I came to question this consensus and to see that the general fealty to it has seriously constrained open debate on the issue, one of vital importance not just to the people directly involved — Israelis and Palestinians — but to the conduct of our own foreign policy and, more important, to the safety of the world at large. My view is that one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism. The first step in questioning the principle, however, is to figure out what it means.

One problem with talking about this question calmly and rationally is that the phrase “right to exist” sounds awfully close to “right to life,” so denying Israel its right to exist sounds awfully close to permitting the extermination of its people. In light of the history of Jewish persecution, and the fact that Israel was created immediately after and largely as a consequence of the Holocaust, it isn’t surprising that the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” should have this emotional impact. But as even those who insist on the principle will admit, they aren’t claiming merely the impermissibility of exterminating Israelis. So what is this “right” that many uphold as so basic that to question it reflects anti-Semitism and yet is one that I claim ought to be questioned?

The key to the interpretation is found in the crucial four words that are often tacked on to the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” — namely, “… as a Jewish state.” As I understand it, the principle that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state has three parts: first, that Jews, as a collective, constitute a people in the sense that they possess a right to self-determination; second, that a people’s right to self-determination entails the right to erect a state of their own, a state that is their particular people’s state; and finally, that for the Jewish people the geographical area of the former Mandatory Palestine, their ancestral homeland, is the proper place for them to exercise this right to self-determination.

The claim then is that anyone who denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is guilty of anti-Semitism because they are refusing to grant Jews the same rights as other peoples possess. If indeed this were true, if Jews were being singled out in the way many allege, I would agree that it manifests anti-Jewish bias. But the charge that denying Jews a right to a Jewish state amounts to treating the Jewish people differently from other peoples cannot be sustained.

To begin, since the principle has three parts, it follows that it can be challenged in (at least) three different ways: either deny that Jews constitute “a people” in the relevant sense, deny that the right to self-determination really involves what advocates of the principle claim it does, or deny that Jews have the requisite claim on the geographical area in question.

In fact, I think there is a basis to challenge all three, but for present purposes I will focus on the question of whether a people’s right to self-determination entails their right to a state of their own, and set aside whether Jews count as a people and whether Jews have a claim on that particular land. I do so partly for reasons of space, but mainly because these questions have largely (though not completely) lost their importance.

The fact is that today millions of Jews live in Israel and, ancestral homeland or not, this is their home now. As for whether Jews constitute a people, this is a vexed question given the lack of consensus in general about what it takes for any particular group of people to count as “a people.” The notion of “a people” can be interpreted in different ways, with different consequences for the rights that they possess. My point is that even if we grant Jews their peoplehood and their right to live in that land, there is still no consequent right to a Jewish state.

However, I do think that it’s worth noting the historical irony in insisting that it is anti-Semitic to deny that Jews constitute a people. The 18th and 19th centuries were the period of Jewish “emancipation” in Western Europe, when the ghetto walls were torn down and Jews were granted the full rights of citizenship in the states within which they resided. The anti-Semitic forces in those days, those opposing emancipation, were associated not with denying Jewish peoplehood but with emphatically insisting on it! The idea was that since Jews constituted a nation of their own, they could not be loyal citizens of any European state. The liberals who strongly opposed anti-Semitism insisted that Jews could both practice their religion and uphold their cultural traditions while maintaining full citizenship in the various nation-states in which they resided.

But, as I said, let’s grant that Jews are a people. Well, if they are, and if with the status of a people comes the right to self-determination, why wouldn’t they have a right to live under a Jewish state in their homeland? The simple answer is because many non-Jews (rightfully) live there too. But this needs unpacking.

First, it’s important to note, as mentioned above, that the term “a people” can be used in different ways, and sometimes they get confused. In particular, there is a distinction to be made between a people in the ethnic sense and a people in the civic sense. Though there is no general consensus on this, a group counts as a people in the ethnic sense by virtue of common language, common culture, common history and attachment to a common territory. One can easily see why Jews, scattered across the globe, speaking many different languages and defined largely by religion, present a difficult case. But, as I said above, for my purposes it doesn’t really matter, and I will just assume the Jewish people qualify.

The other sense is the civic one, which applies to a people by virtue of their common citizenship in a nation-state or, alternatively, by virtue of their common residence within relatively defined geographic borders. So whereas there is both an ethnic and a civic sense to be made of the term “French people,” the term “Jewish people” has only an ethnic sense. This can easily be seen by noting that the Jewish people is not the same group as the Israeli people. About 20 percent of Israeli citizens are non-Jewish Palestinians, while the vast majority of the Jewish people are not citizens of Israel and do not live within any particular geographic area. “Israeli people,” on the other hand, has only a civic sense. (Of course often the term “Israelis” is used as if it applies only to Jewish Israelis, but this is part of the problem. More on this below.)

So, when we consider whether or not a people has a right to a state of their own, are we speaking of a people in the ethnic sense or the civic one? I contend that insofar as the principle that all peoples have the right to self-determination entails the right to a state of their own, it can apply to peoples only in the civic sense.

After all, what is it for a people to have a state “of their own”? Here’s a rough characterization: the formal institutions and legal framework of the state serves to express, encourage and favor that people’s identity. The distinctive position of that people would be manifested in a number of ways, from the largely symbolic to the more substantive: for example, it would be reflected in the name of the state, the nature of its flag and other symbols, its national holidays, its education system, its immigration rules, the extent to which membership in the people in question is a factor in official planning, how resources are distributed, etc. If the people being favored in this way are just the state’s citizens, it is not a problem. (Of course those who are supercosmopolitan, denying any legitimacy to the borders of nation-states, will disagree. But they aren’t a party to this debate.)

But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish (mainly Palestinian) citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them — whether by virtue of their ethnic membership, or for any other reason — from full political participation in the state under whose sovereignty they fall. Of course Jews have a right to self-determination in this sense as well — this is what emancipation was all about. But so do non-Jewish peoples living in the same state.

Any state that “belongs” to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group.

If the institutions of a state favor one ethnic group among its citizenry in this way, then only the members of that group will feel themselves fully a part of the life of the state. True equality, therefore, is only realizable in a state that is based on civic peoplehood. As formulated by both Jewish- and Palestinian-Israeli activists on this issue, a truly democratic state that fully respects the self-determination rights of everyone under its sovereignty must be a “state of all its citizens.”

This fundamental point exposes the fallacy behind the common analogy, drawn by defenders of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, between Israel’s right to be Jewish and France’s right to be French. The appropriate analogy would instead be between France’s right to be French (in the civic sense) and Israel’s right to be Israeli.

I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic. But the harm doesn’t stop with the inherently undemocratic character of the state. For if an ethnic national state is established in a territory that contains a significant number of non-members of that ethnic group, it will inevitably face resistance from the land’s other inhabitants. This will force the ethnic nation controlling the state to resort to further undemocratic means to maintain their hegemony. Three strategies to deal with resistance are common: expulsion, occupation and institutional marginalization. Interestingly, all three strategies have been employed by the Zionist movement: expulsion in 1948 (and, to a lesser extent, in 1967), occupation of the territories conquered in 1967 and institution of a complex web of laws that prevent Israel’s Palestinian citizens from mounting an internal challenge to the Jewish character of the state. (The recent outrage in Israel over a proposed exclusion of ultra-Orthodox parties from the governing coalition, for example, failed to note that no Arab political party has ever been invited to join the government.) In other words, the wrong of ethnic hegemony within the state leads to the further wrong of repression against the Other within its midst.

There is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic state. I want to emphasize that there’s nothing anti-Semitic in pointing this out, and it’s time the question was discussed openly on its merits, without the charge of anti-Semitism hovering in the background.

Joseph Levine is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he teaches and writes on philosophy of mind, metaphysics and political philosophy. He is the author of “Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness.”

Voir aussi:

Choose Your Side: The New York Times or Judaism

Edward Alexander

The NYT

March 18, 2013

“How long halt ye between two opinions?” – 1 Kings 18:21

American Jewry is often said to be divided between those who judge Judaism by the principles of the New York Times and those who judge the New York Times by the principles of Judaism. The former group was elated by Professor Joseph Levine’s recent clarion call “Questioning the Jewish State” (NY Times of March 9), which advocated the expulsion of Israel from the family of nations. The latter group was dismayed and nauseated, and confirmed in its view that expecting ordinary decency from “progressive” Jewish professors is like trying to warm yourself by the light of the moon. The former, composed in large part of what Gershom Scholem called “clever Jews” who fear nothing in this world (and maybe the next as well) so much as being called “reactionary,” agreed with Levine’s insistence that he not be labelled antisemitic just because he singled out Israel, among all the nations of the world, as deserving of dissolution; the latter thought the real question is whether Levine should be called a moral nonentity because he has made himself an accessory before the fact to the genocide dreamt of (and already inspiring murderous action) by Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah, Erdogan, Hamas, and numerous other “Islamist” eschatologists. (I’ve heard some ill-tempered members of this second group say that they looked forward to a Times discussion of whether Levine himself has an inalienable “right to exist.”)

Those Jews who judge the New York Times by the standards of Judaism believe that the creation of the state of Israel was one of the few redeeming events in a century of blood and shame, one of the greatest affirmations of the will to live ever made by a martyred people, and the most hopeful sign for humanity since the dove returned with the olive branch to Noah. They tend also to cling to Orwell’s view that some ideas–like the virtue of Jewish powerlessness–are so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them.

Those who judge Judaism by the standards of the New York Times boast of not having “danced in the streets when Ben-Gurion declared that the Jews, like other peoples, had a state of their own.” They believe (as does a majority of today’s Germans too) that Israel is the chief obstacle to world peace, a diversion from such compelling goals as gay marriage and unlimited access to abortion, and indeed the principal cause of most of the world’s evils with the (possible) exception of global warming.

Professor Levine’s polemic draws on sources both ancient and modern. It harkens back–albeit in the clumsy and verbose manner of somebody who “unpacks” rather than articulates ideas–to the earliest known ancient, non-Jewish document that mentions Israel by name. It is found on a monument from 1215 BCE (possessed by the British Museum) in which King Merneptah, the Egyptian forerunner of Chmielnicki, Hitler, Nasser, and Ahmadinejad, declares that “Israel is extinguished, its seed is no more.”

Levine, to be sure, is a philosopher, and not–on the surface, at least–a political agitator and propagandist, although he identifies himself (who could have guessed?) as a man of the left. Up to a point, Levine has some respectable predecessors among fellow-philosophers. In 1932, for example, Julien Benda, French philosopher (and novelist) addressed the “European nation” as follows: “Intellectuals of all countries, you must be the ones to tell your nations that they are always in the wrong by the single fact that they are nations…Plotinus blushed at having a body. You should blush at having a nation.” But whereas Benda called for philosophers of ALL nations to blush, Levine believes in blushing only by Jews for the Jewish nation. Although the imperfections he imputes to Israel because it calls itself “Jewish” manifest themselves–a hundred fold–in scores of members of the United Nations, he demands the dissolution only of the Jewish nation–not the 22 Arab nations or the numerous Christian ones or the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Like all Israel dissolutionists–one-state solution advocates, no-state solution advocates, and (this from the tone-deaf George Steiner) “final solution” advocates–he insists that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic. Perhaps the Times will soon invite him to cast his philosophic eye over a country called the United Kingdom, widely reputed to be democratic, and yet possessed of an official Protestant church, a Protestant monarch, a Protestant educational system (and all this in a once-Catholic country).

Levine has also attached himself, not unwittingly, to what Raul Hilberg called the last version of that ever-shortening sentence which expressed Europe’s anti-Jewish policies over the centuries. “The missionaries of Christianity,” wrote Hilberg, “had said in effect: You have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: You have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: you have no right to live.” Levine admits to a slight uneasiness about the resemblance between his challenging Israel’s “right to exist” and the Nazis’ disputing the Jews’ “right to live.” But confidence in his own infallibility carries him quickly over this abyss, as if it were just an unfortunate coincidence of diction and phrasing. In fact, of course, it makes him complicit in what Hannah Arendt famously defined as the crime against humanity, “an attack upon human diversity as such, that is, upon a characteristic of the ‘human status’ without which the very words ‘mankind’ or ‘humanity’ would be devoid of meaning.”

Hannah Arendt’s colleague (and critic) Saul Bellow put the matter more tersely in “To Jerusalem and Back” (1976): “The subject of all this talk is, ultimately, survival–the survival of the decent society, created in Israel within a few decades….The Jews, because they are Jews, have never been able to take the right to live as a natural right.”

Edward Alexander’s most recent book is THE STATE OF THE JEWS: A Critical Appraisal (Transaction Publishers).

Voir également:

With Obama’s Israel Visit, an Opportunity

Forming a ‘strategic triangle’ to ensure Middle East security.

Ehud Barak

The WSJ

March 19, 2013

President Obama’s visit to Israel comes at a decisive juncture for the Middle East and offers the opportunity for new strategic thinking. Over the past two years, a geopolitical earthquake has shattered a generations-old regional order. What is replacing that order are unstable, transformational regimes or, even worse, failed states.

These dramatic changes offer some important lessons. For instance: Be modest when it comes to predictions. Who predicted the revolutions in Egypt and elsewhere? Who could have predicted them?

Another lesson: It is unwise to rely on "the world" to act when a man-made disaster is unfolding. Consider Syria. President Bashar Assad’s jet fighters, tanks and artillery have been slaughtering Syrian people for two years. More than 70,000 have been killed. Yet the international community has shown neither unity of purpose nor the political will to act.

Many in the world would do well to learn the lesson that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is not the oft-cited failure to solve the conflict with the Palestinians. Even if a peace agreement with the Palestinians had been signed and sealed a long time ago, the Muslim Brotherhood would still have come to power in Egypt, Syria would still be mired in a bloody civil war, and Iran would still be pursuing nuclear capabilities and hegemony in the Persian Gulf.

The major challenges in the Middle East today are failed or failing states armed with thousands of rockets and missiles, the presence of global terror groups such as al Qaeda, and, of course, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

In the face of these serious challenges, I see an opportunity for the United States, moderate Arab regimes and Israel to tackle these challenges together.

First, these countries should build a Regional Security Framework that will focus on fighting terror, protecting border security and maintaining a missile defense.

Second, Israel, backed by the U.S. and moderate Arab regimes, should launch a daring peace initiative vis-à-vis the Palestinians. A two-state arrangement is the only viable solution. While its absence is not the fountainhead of all regional troubles, its achievement would help secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. The status quo offers only a slippery slope toward a binational state that would endanger Israel’s future.

If a final-status agreement for a two-state solution is not feasible at this time—and I suspect it is not—Israel and the Palestinians should try to reach interim agreements. Start with security and borders, for example. But if interim agreements also prove impossible to achieve, unilateral steps that move both Israelis and Palestinians closer to their legitimate goals in a final peace agreement should be taken. Such steps might include an Israeli decision to build solely within the widely accepted settlement blocks, or programs that would reduce Palestinian dependence on the Israeli economy.

Third, Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, which is the paramount challenge facing Israel, the region and the world today, must be eliminated. An Iranian regime with hegemonic ambitions and armed with nuclear weapons would spell the end of any conceivable nonproliferation regime.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and later Egypt would soon follow suit. The danger of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terror groups would increase exponentially. Iran’s Gulf neighbors would be intimidated and Iran’s terror proxies would be emboldened—operating under the umbrella of a nuclear Iran—to spread death and destruction throughout the world.

Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons now is no simple task, and it is not without significant risks. But dealing with a nuclear Iran a few years down the road will be far more complicated, much more costly, and it could produce horrific consequences.

Diplomats are still working to find a solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. Tough sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy. As a long-time observer of Iranian machinations, though, I do not believe that diplomacy and sanctions alone will lead to a moment of truth when the ayatollahs will decide to give up their nuclear program. Thus all options, including the military one, must remain squarely on the table. And when we say that all options are on the table, we must truly be prepared to use them.

The strategic triangle of a Regional Security Framework, a reinvigorated peace process with the Palestinians, and an effective halt of the Iranian nuclear program is the most effective approach to deal with the dynamic challenges on our horizon.

But this strategic triangle will not emerge on its own. It demands U.S. leadership, and it demands an even stronger U.S.-Israel alliance. President Obama’s visit to Israel could not be more timely because it offers an opportunity to kick-start an effort to accomplish just that.

Mr. Barak was Israel’s minister of defense from 2007 until this week.

Voir enfin:

American Withdrawal and Global Disorder

As Obama ends U.S. security guarantees, nuclear weapons and violence will spread.

Eliot Cohen

The WSJ

March 19, 2013

Since the days of the Monroe Doctrine, American foreign policy has rested on a global system of explicit or implicit commitments to use military power to guarantee the interests of the U.S. and its allies. The current administration has chosen to reduce, limit or underfund those commitments, and the results—which we may begin to see before President Obama’s term ends—will be dangerous.

Some of America’s commitments are enshrined in treaties, such as Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, which says of NATO’s 28 member countries that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all." Other commitments are less formal. The U.S. has no defense treaty with Israel, but repeated presidential declarations, including those Mr. Obama will make during his trip this week, amount to nearly the same thing.

Some commitments are moral and humanitarian, such as the "responsibility to protect" that led American decision makers racked with guilt over the Rwanda massacres of 1994 to intervene in the Yugoslav civil war in 1998. All amount to a web of obligations that have been central to the American role in the world since World War II.

Over the past four years, the U.S. has scaled down its presence, ambitions and promises overseas. Mr. Obama has announced the end of the early-21st-century wars, though in truth the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are merely shifting to new, not necessarily less-vicious phases. He has refrained from issuing unambiguous threats to hostile states, such as Iran, that engage in bellicose behavior toward the U.S., and he has let his staff speak of "leading from behind" as a desirable approach to foreign policy.

He has reduced the U.S. military budget and is willing to cut more. His preferred use of force when dealing with terrorism is a protracted campaign of assassination by drone strike—which he says has succeeded fabulously, yet which curiously requires indefinite expansion.

In Mr. Obama’s second term the limits of such withdrawal from conventional military commitments abroad will be tested. In East Asia, an assertive China has bullied the Philippines (with which the U.S. has a 61-year-old defense pact) over the Spratly islands, and China has pressed its claims on Japan (a 53-year-old defense pact) over the Senkaku Islands.

At stake are territorial waters and mineral resources—symbols of China’s drive for hegemony and an outburst of national egotism. Yet when Shinzo Abe, the new prime minister of an understandably anxious Japan, traveled to Washington in February, he didn’t get the unambiguous White House backing of Japan’s sovereignty that an ally of long standing deserves and needs.

In Europe, an oil-rich Russia is rebuilding its conventional arsenal while modernizing (as have China and Pakistan) its nuclear arsenal. Russia has been menacing its East European neighbors, including those, like Poland, that have offered to host elements of a NATO missile-defense system to protect Europe.

In 2012, Russia’s then-chief of general staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, declared: "A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens." This would be the same Russia that has attempted to dismember its neighbor Georgia and now has a docile Russophile billionaire, Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, to supplant the balky, independence-minded government loyal to President Mikhail Saakashvili.

In the Persian Gulf, American policy was laid down by Jimmy Carter in his 1980 State of the Union address with what became the Carter Doctrine: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." America’s Gulf allies may not have treaties to rely upon—but they do have decades of promises and the evidence of two wars that the U.S. would stand by them.

Today they wait for the long-promised (by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush) nuclear disarmament of a revolutionary Iranian government that has been relentless in its efforts to intimidate and subvert Iran’s neighbors. They may wait in vain.

Americans take for granted the world in which they grew up—a world in which, for better or worse, the U.S. was the ultimate security guarantor of scores of states, and in many ways the entire international system.

Today we are informed by many politicians and commentators that we are weary of those burdens—though what we should be weary of, given that our children aren’t conscripted and our taxes aren’t being raised in order to pay for those wars, is unclear. The truth is that defense spending at the rate of 4% of gross domestic product (less than that sustained with ease by Singapore) is eminently affordable.

The arguments against far-flung American strategic commitments take many forms. So-called foreign policy realists, particularly in the academic world, believe that the competing interests of states tend automatically toward balance and require no statesmanlike action by the U.S. To them, the old language of force in international politics has become as obsolete as that of the "code duello," which regulated individual honor fights through the early 19th century. We hear that international institutions and agreements can replace national strength. It is also said—covertly but significantly—that the U.S. is too dumb and inept to play the role of security guarantor.

Perhaps the clever political scientists, complacent humanists, Spenglerian declinists, right and left neo-isolationists, and simple doubters that the U.S. can do anything right are correct. Perhaps the president should concentrate on nation-building at home while pressing abroad only for climate- change agreements, nuclear disarmament and an unfettered right to pick off bad guys (including Americans) as he sees fit.

But if history is any guide, foreign policy as a political-science field experiment or what-me- worryism will yield some ugly results. Syria is a harbinger of things to come. In that case, the dislocation, torture and death have first afflicted the locals. But it will not end there, as incidents on Syria’s borders and rumors of the movement of chemical weapons suggest.

A world in which the U.S. abnegates its leadership will be a world of unrestricted self-help in which China sets the rules of politics and trade in Asia, mayhem and chaos is the order of the day in the Middle East, and timidity and appeasement paralyze the free European states. A world, in short, where the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must, and those with an option hurry up and get nuclear weapons.

Not a pleasant thought.

Mr. Cohen directs the Strategic Studies program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.


Nankin/160e: C’est les Occidentaux et leur maudite religion, imbécile ! (I came not to send peace: Looking back at one of the worst civil wars in history)

19 mars, 2013
http://thebrightestman.wikispaces.com/file/view/China_imperialism_cartoon.jpg/52470429/343x494/China_imperialism_cartoon.jpgNe croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus
Un des grands problèmes de la Russie – et plus encore de la Chine – est que, contrairement aux camps de concentration hitlériens, les leurs n’ont jamais été libérés et qu’il n’y a eu aucun tribunal de Nuremberg pour juger les crimes commis. Thérèse Delpech
Il est malheureux que le Moyen-Orient ait rencontré pour la première fois la modernité occidentale à travers les échos de la Révolution française. Progressistes, égalitaristes et opposés à l’Eglise, Robespierre et les jacobins étaient des héros à même d’inspirer les radicaux arabes. Les modèles ultérieurs — Italie mussolinienne, Allemagne nazie, Union soviétique — furent encore plus désastreux. Ce qui rend l’entreprise terroriste des islamistes aussi dangereuse, ce n’est pas tant la haine religieuse qu’ils puisent dans des textes anciens — souvent au prix de distorsions grossières —, mais la synthèse qu’ils font entre fanatisme religieux et idéologie moderne. Ian Buruma et Avishai Margalit
On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament. Fouad Ajami
Les Israéliens ont eu leur propre guerre civile en 1948, bien qu’elle n’ait duré que dix minutes. L’artillerie du premier ministre de l’époque David Ben-Gourion a coulé le transporteur d’armes Altalena avec le futur premier ministre Menachem Begin à son bord. L’Altalena appartenait au groupe d’opposition Irgun, qui a alors placé ses forces armées sous le commandement de Ben Gourion. Spengler
Le mouvement Taiping n’est pas fondamentalement différent des mouvements millénaristes d’Afrique, d’Océanie ou d’autres régions où s’exerce au XIXe et au XXe siècle la domination de l’Occident chrétien. Jacques Chesnaux

C’est les Occidentaux et leur maudite religion des droits de l’homme, imbécile !

Après l’Angleterre (9 ans, 100 000 morts), les Etats-Unis (4 ans, 600 000 morts),  la Suisse (1 mois, 100 morts), Israël (10 minutes, zéro morts) …

Secte puritaine christiano-confucéenne anti-manchous, rebelles aux cheveux longs, communisme avant l’heure (partage des terres, mise en commun des biens de base, prohibition opium, tabac et alcool), émancipation des femmes, renonciation à la polygamie, l’esclavage ou au bandage des pieds, millénarisme ("Royaume céleste de la Grande Paix"), occupation de 600 villes et de 11 provinces sur 18, 11 ans, 20 millions de morts …

Retour, en ce 160e anniversaire de la prise de Nankin et avec le site Hérodote, sur l’une des pires guerres civiles de l’histoire …

Et au moment où, avec le 10e anniversaire du lancement de l’Opération Liberté pour l’Irak, nos belles âmes vont nous ressortir les couplets habituels sur les dizaines de milliers de victimes (pardon: centaines) de la "guerre de Bush" …

Sur la première guerre civile chinoise dite Révolte des Taiping

Qui, en près de douze ans et avant les dizaines de millions de morts des Lénine-Staline-Mao-Pol Pot du siècle suivant, fera deux fois plus de victimes que la Première Guerre mondiale …

Et sera, comme souvent, à la fois inspirée et arrêtée par les Occidentaux et leur maudite religion

19 mars 1853

Prise de Nankin par les Taiping

Le 19 mars 1853, une troupe de «rebelles aux cheveux longs» aux ordres d’un certain Hung Xiuquan s’emparent de Nankin, la prestigieuse capitale de la Chine du sud, sur le fleuve Yang Tsé Kiang.

Leur révolte va se solder par 20 millions de victimes (deux fois les pertes de la Première Guerre mondiale) sur un total d’environ 330 millions de Chinois. Tout cela pour déboucher sur une nouvelle intervention des Occidentaux !

Joseph Savès.

Hérodote

Communistes avant l’heure

Les rebelles doivent leur surnom à ce qu’ils rejettent le port de la natte imposé par les empereurs de la dynastie Tsin.

Indignés par l’abaissement de la cour impériale face aux «Barbares roux» (les Occidentaux), ils veulent installer à la tête du pays une dynastie chinoise au lieu de ces empereurs originaires de Mandchourie, une région à moitié barbare. Par la même occasion, ils veulent instaurer en Chine une société plus juste et plus égalitaire, fondée sur un partage des terres, l’émancipation des femmes…. Ils prônent la renonciation à la polygamie, à l’esclavage ou encore à la vieille coutume de bander les pieds des Chinoises.

Des illuminés à l’oeuvre

Les rebelles appartiennent à la secte Taiping (ou T’ai P’ing), ou secte de la Grande pureté. Ils sont guidés par une personnalité étrange autant que puissante, Hung Xiuquan.

Hung Xiuquan est le fils d’un paysan du Kwangsi, une province arriérée et montagneuse de l’ouest de Canton. Il a échoué aux examens pour devenir mandarin (énarque en quelque sorte). Mais il s’est consolé de son échec en entrant dans une secte protestante et en tirant de la Bible la conviction qu’il est… le frère de Jésus-Christ. Il échafaude ainsi un curieux syncrétisme du christianisme et de la doctrine traditionnelle de Confucius. Et il promet à ses disciples l’avènement d’un «Royaume céleste de la Grande Paix» destiné à durer mille ans.

Après la prise de Nankin, devenue capitale provisoire de leur royaume, les Taiping s’immiscent dans toutes les provinces de l’Empire du Milieu (ainsi se dénomme la Chine) et font vaciller le trône de l’empereur. Ils occupent jusqu’à 600 villes et onze provinces sur les dix-huit que compte l’empire chinois. Le 30 octobre 1853, ils atteignent Tientsin et menacent même Pékin, où réside l’empereur.

On pourrait s’attendre à l’émergence d’une nouvelle dynastie conformément à une vieille tradition de l’Histoire chinoise. C’est compter sans les Français et les Anglais, qui vont sauver les Mandchous, mais au prix d’une nouvelle humiliation, la «Seconde guerre de l’opium», conclue par la convention de Pékin (24 octobre 1860)…

Les Occidentaux restaurent l’ordre mandchou

Énivré par ses succès, Hung Xiuquan commet l’erreur de menacer Shanghai, le grand port marchand de la Chine centrale, où sont établis un grand nombre de négociants européens. Ceux-ci recrutent dès 1856 un corps de volontaires européens et américains pour protéger leur centre d’affaires.

Sous le commandement des Américains Ward et Burgevine, ces officiers constituent une armée de 5000 combattants chinois. Sous le nom mérité d’«Armée toujours victorieuse», la troupe s’illustre avec succès contre les rebelles et repousse leurs assauts sur Shanghai.

Après que l’empereur mandchou ait renouvelé son allégeance aux Occidentaux par un nouveau «traité inégal», le 24 octobre 1860, les Anglais apportent leur concours à la dynastie Qing. C’est ainsi que l’«Armée toujours victorieuse» est autorisée à s’allier à l’armée impériale, elle-même sous le commandement d’un énergique fonctionnaire chinois, Li Hong-tchang.

En 1862, suite à la mort de Ward, Li Hong-tchang obtient des Britanniques de le remplacer par l’un de leurs meilleurs officiers, le capitaine Charles Gordon (29 ans) qui ne tardera pas à accéder au grade de lieutenant-colonel.

Face à cette coalition improbable mais dotée de chefs énergiques et d’un armement moderne, les Taiping ne font pas le poids. Eux-mêmes ne disposent que d’un armement traditionnel et sont conduits par des chefs incompétents et qui n’hésitent pas à s’entretuer. Aussi cèdent-ils peu à peu du terrain.

Le 11 mai 1864, la prise de la citadelle de Changchow par le commandant Gordon consacre la fin de leur résistance. Le 19 juillet 1864, Nankin est reprise par l’armée impériale. Les rebelles sont massacrés tandis que leur chef se suicide… en avalant de l’or. 100.000 rebelles sont passés au fil de l’épée.

Voir aussi:

LE MILLÉNARISME DES TAIPING

Eugène P. BOARDMANN, « Millenary aspects of the Taiping rébellion (1851-64) » dans Sylvia Thrupp, éd. Millennid Dreams in Action. Essays in comparative study, La Haye, Mouton & Cô, 1962, pp. 70-80.

I l était parfaitement normal que les organisateurs de la Conférence de Chicago sur les mouvements millénaristes (1), même s’ils étaient tenus de faire un choix et de se limiter à quelques cas typiques, y aient inclus la révolution Taiping en Chine. Cet extraordinaire épisode, qui fascina les Occidentaux de l’époque et tout particulièrement les missions protestantes, vit pendant plus de douze ans (1851-1864) des provinces entières de Chine centrale échapper à l’autorité impériale et proclamer l’avènement d’un « Royaume céleste de la Grande Paix » (Tai-ping Tian-guo) dont l’idéologie était un curieux mélange de christianisme et de cultes paysans chinois primitifs.

M. Boardman, auteur d’une thèse fort intéressante sur Les éléments chrétiens dans la religion Taiping, s’est efforcé ici de réexaminer ce problème, par rapport au phénomène du millénarisme. Acceptant les trois termes de la définition du millénarisme donnée par Norman Cohn (salut collectif, terrestre et imminent) il pense que le millénarisme Taiping était certainement collectif et terrestre, mais non imminent au sens religieux du terme ; les Taiping luttèrent avec acharnement pour une victoire politique et militaire qui n’avait rien d’assuré. Il souligne aussi le souci de purification personnelle des Taiping, tant par le baptême que par un rituel approprié, et leur sens du péché (au nom duquel ils dénonçaient comme pécheurs leurs adversaires des armées impériales). Il montre comment leur religion combine des éléments de millénarisme traditionnel chinois (le terme de Grande Paix, Tai-ping, évoque un vieux thème politico-religieux chinois, un rêve très ancien), et des éléments chrétiens ; ceux-ci, pense M. Boardman, étaient d’ailleurs sélectionnés dans un souci d’efficacité politique : on adopte le décalogue, qui fournit une excellente base pour assurer la discipline morale des troupes, on se réclame du Christ, dont le chef des Taiping s’est proclamé frère cadet, on promet le pardon des péchés (dont ne bénéficieront pas les Impériaux), mais on néglige les paraboles, le sermon sur la montagne et quantité d’autres éléments du Nouveau Testament.

Il nous semble pourtant que, même dans les brèves limites qui lui étaient imposées, l’auteur aurait pu pousser plus loin l’analyse et l’effort d’explication. Sa description des aspects religieux du mouvement Taiping est satisfaisante,

(1) Cf. Arch., 9, 1960, p. 105, et Arch. , 15, n« 227. 122

Voir enfin:

Taiping rebellion

Encyclopedia britannica

Under the Taipings, the Chinese language was simplified, and equality between men and women was decreed. All property was to be held in common, and equal distribution of the land according to a primitive form of communism was planned. Some Western-educated Taiping leaders even proposed the development of industry and the building of a Taiping democracy. The Ch’ing dynasty was so weakened by the rebellion that it never again was able to establish an effective hold over the country. Both the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Nationalists trace their origin to the Taipings.

The Taiping Rebellion changed the face of China. Every revolution that it inspired brought the country closer and closer to the rest of the world. Although the Taipings had heard neither of Karl Marx nor of Communism, they shared many of the same ideals. The Heavenly Kingdom of the Taipings is not so distant from the commune-oriented Marxist utopia. The Taiping leaders had attempted to establish a caste-free society based on egalitarian precepts. They did carry out this primitive Communism. Land was evenly distributed. Slavery and the sale of women was outlawed, as were foot-binding, prostitution, arranged marriages and polygamy. The Taipings were strongly against opium, alcohol, and tobacco. In short, the Communist Revolution may have been but a realization of an underground movement in China which began in the mid eighteen-hundreds.

The Taiping Rebellion played a significant role in ending China’s isolationist outlook. The Nian Rebellion, Boxer Rebellion, and the Communist Revolution all stem from the emotions and ideas which emerged from the Taiping vision. The influx of strange, new things had started in China an unsettling movement, away from the old ways of the ancestors and into the Western sphere of influence. The attempts of the Taipings to end this unrest and to reinstate a golden era are similar in many points to the Communist attempts in the same direction. After the Taiping Rebellion, China would never again be a realm unto herself. With the failure of the Taiping movement, the age of the emperors was finished.

The Taiping movement itself was a product of the clash between the East and the West which took place in the nineteenth century. The people of China, on the verge of joining the forming world community, took refuge briefly in their unique blend of traditional culture and modern idealism. For a time they fended off the foreigners, the weak Emperors, the crowding countries and strange cultures with this faith. When the Taiping Rebellion was crushed, the Chinese once again fled to an idealistic society, listening eagerly to the promises of Mao and Communism. In each of these cases, there was an inherent wish to return to the golden age of China, when the only threat to the unity of their lives was nature itself. The Taiping Rebellionwas a reaction against progress, more importantly against change. That action continues to mold the current events in China, a sign that the people, not the central authority, can control the future of China.


Irak/10e: Attention, un mensonge peut en cacher un autre ! (When everyone agreed about Iraq)

17 mars, 2013

La paix, bien sûr, mais la démocratie et la liberté ne sont-elles pas aussi des valeurs précieuses pour les chrétiens? Florence Taubman
If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow. Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal. President Clinton (February 1998)
[La mission des forces armées américaines et britanniques est d']attaquer les programmes d’armement nucléaires, chimiques et biologiques de l’Irak et sa capacité militaire à menacer ses voisins (…) On ne peut laisser Saddam Hussein menacer ses voisins ou le monde avec des armements nucléaires, des gaz toxiques, ou des armes biologiques. » (…) Il y a six semaines, Saddam Hussein avait annoncé qu’il ne coopérerait plus avec l’Unscom [la commission chargée du désarmement en Irak (…). D’autres pays [que l’Irak possèdent des armements de destruction massive et des missiles balistiques. Avec Saddam, il y a une différence majeure : il les a utilisés. Pas une fois, mais de manière répétée (…). Confronté au dernier acte de défiance de Saddam, fin octobre, nous avons mené une intense campagne diplomatique contre l’Irak, appuyée par une imposante force militaire dans la région (…). J’avais alors décidé d’annuler l’attaque de nos avions (…) parce que Saddam avait accepté nos exigences. J’avais conclu que la meilleure chose à faire était de donner à Saddam une dernière chance (…).  Les inspecteurs en désarmement de l’ONU ont testé la volonté de coopération irakienne (…). Hier soir, le chef de l’Unscom, Richard Butler, a rendu son rapport au secrétaire général de l’ONU [Kofi Annan. Les conclusions sont brutales, claires et profondément inquiétantes. Dans quatre domaines sur cinq, l’Irak n’a pas coopéré. En fait, il a même imposé de nouvelles restrictions au travail des inspecteurs (…). Nous devions agir et agir immédiatement (…).  J’espère que Saddam va maintenant finalement coopérer avec les inspecteurs et respecter les résolutions du Conseil de sécurité. Mais nous devons nous préparer à ce qu’il ne le fasse pas et nous devons faire face au danger très réel qu’il représente. Nous allons donc poursuivre une stratégie à long terme pour contenir l’Irak et ses armes de destruction massive et travailler jusqu’au jour où l’Irak aura un gouvernement digne de sa population (…). La dure réalité est qu’aussi longtemps que Saddam reste au pouvoir il menace le bien-être de sa population, la paix de la région et la sécurité du monde. La meilleure façon de mettre un terme définitif à cette menace est la constitution d’un nouveau gouvernement, un gouvernement prêt à vivre en paix avec ses voisins, un gouvernement qui respecte les droits de sa population. Bill Clinton (16.12.98)
Dans l’immédiat, notre attention doit se porter en priorité sur les domaines biologique et chimique. C’est là que nos présomptions vis-à-vis de l’Iraq sont les plus significatives : sur le chimique, nous avons des indices d’une capacité de production de VX et d’ypérite ; sur le biologique, nos indices portent sur la détention possible de stocks significatifs de bacille du charbon et de toxine botulique, et une éventuelle capacité de production.  Dominique De Villepin
Il est maintenant clair que les assurances données par Chirac ont joué un rôle crucial, persuadant Saddam Hussein de ne pas offrir les concessions qui auraient pu éviter une guerre et le changement de régime. Selon l’ex-vice président Tareq Aziz, s’exprimant depuis sa cellule devant des enquêteurs américains et irakiens, Saddam était convaincu que les Français, et dans une moindre mesure, les Russes allaient sauver son régime à la dernière minute. Amir Taheri
Comme l’exemple d’usage chimique contre les populations kurdes de 1987-1988 en avait apporté la preuve, ces armes avaient aussi un usage interne. Thérèse Delpech
Les inspecteurs n’ont jamais pu vérifier ce qu’il était advenu de 3,9 tonnes de VX (…) dont la production entre 1988 et 1990 a été reconnue par l’Irak. Bagdad a déclaré que les destructions avaient eu lieu en 1990 mais n’en a pas fourni de preuves. En février 2003 (…) un document a été fourni [par Bagdad] à l’Unmovic pour tenter d’expliquer le devenir d’environ 63 % du VX manquant. Auparavant, les Irakiens prétendaient ne pas détenir un tel document. » Idem pour l’anthrax, dont l’Irak affirmait avoir détruit le stock en 1991. Mais, « en mars 2003, l’Unmovic concluait qu’il existait toujours, très probablement, 10 000 litres d’anthrax non détruits par l’Irak... Comme pour le VX, l’Irak a fourni à l’ONU, en février 2003, un document sur ce sujet qui ne pouvait permettre de conclure quelles quantités avaient été détruites … Thérèse Delpech
Je pense que c’est à cause de l’unanimité, tout le monde était contre la guerre, les gens étaient contents de lire dans les journaux combien la guerre était mauvaise, comme le président français l’avait prédit. (…) Dans la phase du Saddamgrad Patrice Claude et Rémy Ourdan du Monde ont inventé des atrocités, produit des témoignages en phase avec ce qu’ils ne pouvaient voir. (…) Sur les fedayyin de Saddam, les gardes les plus brutaux du dictateur, ses SS, Ourdain a dit que les fedayyin n’ont pas combattu parce qu’ils étaient effrayés de la façon dont les GI’s tuaient tout le monde, dont un grand nombre de civils. Alain Hertoghe
Even when viewed through a post-war lens, documentary evidence of messages are consistent with the Iraqi Survey Group’s conclusion that Saddam was at least keeping a WMD program primed for a quick re-start the moment the UN Security Council lifted sanctions. Iraqi Perpectives Project (March 2006)
Captured Iraqi documents have uncovered evidence that links the regime of Saddam Hussein to regional and global terrorism, including a variety of revolutionary, liberation, nationalist, and Islamic terrorist organizations. While these documents do not reveal direct coordination and assistance between the Saddam regime and the al Qaeda network, they do indicate that Saddam was willing to use, albeit cautiously, operatives affiliated with al Qaeda as long as Saddam could have these terrorist operatives monitored closely. Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a de facto link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust. Though the execution of Iraqi terror plots was not always successful, evidence shows that Saddam’s use of terrorist tactics and his support for terrorist groups remained strong up until the collapse of the regime.  Iraqi Perspectives Project (Saddam and Terrorism, Nov. 2007, released Mar. 2008)
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 « good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm » in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting « Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, ‘the Gulf,’ and Syria. » It is not clear from available evidence where all of these non-Iraqi volunteers who were « sacrificing for the cause » went to ply their newfound skills. Before the summer of 2002, most volunteers went home upon the completion of training. But these camps were humming with frenzied activity in the months immediately prior to the war. As late as January 2003, the volunteers participated in a special training event called the « Heroes Attack. » This training event was designed in part to prepare regional Fedayeen Saddam commands to « obstruct the enemy from achieving his goal and to support keeping peace and stability in the province.  » Study (Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia)
The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are impossible, and that they have changed their tactic. Captured Iraqi document  (« Letter from Russian Official to Presidential Secretary Concerning American Intentions in Iraq », March 25, 2003)
Est-ce que les peuples du Moyen-Orient sont hors d’atteinte de la liberté? Est-ce que des millions d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants sont condamnés par leur histoire et leur culture au despotisme? Sont-ils les seuls à ne pouvoir jamais connaître la liberté ou même à ne pas avoir le choix? Bush (2003)
La raison pour laquelle je continue de dire qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak, Saddam et Al-Qaida est parce qu’il y a un lien entre l’Irak et Al-Qaida. (…) Cette administration n’a jamais dit que les attentats du 11/9 ont été orchestrés entre Saddam et Al Qaeda. Nous avons dit qu’il y avait de nombreux contacts entre Saddam Hussein et Al Qaeda. George W. Bush (Washington Post, 2004)
Avec notre aide, les peuples du Moyen-Orient s’avancent maintenant pour réclamer leur liberté. De Kaboul à Bagdad et à Beyrouth, il y a des hommes et des femmes courageux qui risquent leur vie chaque jour pour les mêmes libertés que nous apprécions. Et elles ont une question pour nous : Avons-nous le courage de faire  au Moyen-Orient ce que nos pères et grands-pères ont accompli en Europe et en Asie ? En prenant position avec les chefs et les réformateurs démocratiques, en donnant notre voix aux espoirs des hommes et des femmes décents, nous leur offrons une voix hors du radicalisme. Et nous enrôlons la force la plus puissante pour la paix et la modération au Moyen-Orient : le désir de millions d’être libres. (…) En ce tout début de siècle, l’Amérique rêve au jour où les peuples du Moyen-Orient quitteront le désert du despotisme pour les jardins fertiles de la liberté – et reprendront leur place légitime dans un monde de paix et de prospérité. Nous rêvons au jour où les nations de cette région reconnaitront que leur plus grande ressource n’est pas le pétrole de leur sous-sol – mais le talent et la créativité de leurs populations. Nous rêvons au jour où les mères et les pères de tout le Moyen-Orient verront un avenir d’espoir et d’opportunités pour leurs enfants. Et quand ce beau jour viendra, les nuages de la guerre seront balayés, l’appel du radicalisme diminuera… et nous laisserons à nos enfants un monde meilleur et plus sûr. Bush (11/9/2006)  
Le projet de révolution démocratique mondiale peut faire sourire. Mais ce n’est pas totalement sans raison que les néoconservateurs, qui l’ont inspiré, se targuent d’avoir contribué, sous le deuxième mandat de M. Reagan, à la démocratisation en Asie, en Amérique latine et en Europe. Ils souhaitent aujourd’hui mettre un terme à «l’exception moyen-orientale» : à la fois par intérêt et par idéalisme, l’Administration américaine veut rompre avec des décennies d’accommodement avec les dictatures de la région au nom de la stabilité (condition nécessaire, notamment, à l’accès régulier à un pétrole bon marché). Il s’agirait en effet de gagner la «quatrième guerre mondiale», comme a été gagnée la «troisième», c’est-à-dire la guerre froide. Le pari est évidemment difficile. Pour des raisons tactiques, les États-Unis doivent aujourd’hui ménager des régimes autoritaires tels que l’Arabie saoudite, dont ils ont besoin pour la lutte antiterroriste. (…) De ce fait, Paul Wolfowitz n’a pas tort de suggérer que le combat engagé par les États-Unis durera plus longtemps que la guerre froide et sera plus dur que la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Mais, si le résultat est incertain, le mouvement lui est bien engagé. Les révolutions pacifiques en Géorgie et en Ukraine ont été appuyées discrètement par des organisations publiques et privées américaines. Certes, ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler le «printemps arabe» repose aussi sur des dynamiques locales et a bien sûr bénéficié d’événements imprévus tels que la mort de Yasser Arafat ou l’assassinat de Rafic Hariri. Mais la pression américaine a joué un rôle non négligeable. En mai 2004, choisissant de «se couper les cheveux avant que les Américains ne les tondent» – selon les termes d’un diplomate, les dirigeants de la Ligue arabe se sont engagés à étendre les pratiques démocratiques, à élargir la participation des citoyens à la vie publique et à renforcer la société civile. Même le président Assad semble aux abois lorsqu’il dit publiquement qu’il «n’est pas Saddam Hussein» et qu’il «veut négocier»… (…). La question géopolitique centrale de notre temps reste donc bien celle qui avait été au coeur de l’affrontement franco-américain de 2002-2003 : faut-il préférer la stabilité au risque de l’injustice, ou la démocratisation au risque du chaos ? Optimiste et risqué, le pari américain n’en reste pas moins éthiquement défendable et met du coup l’Europe, qui se veut une «puissance morale» (si l’on en croit le président de la Commission, M. Barroso), en porte-à-faux. L’Union européenne s’est révélée être une force capable de promouvoir simultanément la stabilité et la démocratisation, mais seulement dans son environnement immédiat. Pour le reste, elle n’a pas de stratégie alternative, le «processus de Barcelone» ayant eu du point de vue politique des résultats plus que mitigés. Il lui reste donc à choisir entre approuver, s’opposer ou accompagner le combat américain. Bruno Tertrais (mars 2005)
By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction. Wired magazine (2010)
It’s more than a little ironic that, with its newest document dump from the Iraq campaign, WikiLeaks may have just bolstered one of the Bush administration’s most controversial claims about the Iraq war: that Iran supplied many of the Iraq insurgency’s deadliest weapons and worked hand-in-glove with some of its most lethal militias. The documents indicate that Iran was a major combatant in the Iraq war, as its elite Quds Force trained Iraqi Shiite insurgents and imported deadly weapons like the shape-charged Explosively Formed Projectile bombs into Iraq for use against civilians, Sunni militants and U.S. troops. A report from 2006 claims “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons from Iran were smuggled into Iraq. (It’s one of many, many documents recounting WMD efforts in Iraq.) Others indicate that Iran flooded Iraq with guns and rockets, including the Misagh-1 surface-to-air missile, .50 caliber rifles, rockets and much more. As the New York Times observes, Iranian agents plotted to kidnap U.S. troops from out of their Humvees — something that occurred in Karbala in 2007, leaving five U.S. troops dead. (It’s still not totally clear if the Iranians were responsible.) Wired
A partir de la Guerre Froide, cette région est devenue stratégique de par ses ressources nécessaires au premier consommateur mondial d’énergie, mais aussi de par la rivalité idéologique entre l’URSS et les Etats-Unis. Cette époque fut dominée par la pensée de Kissinger qui prôna en conformité avec la « Realpolitik », l’immobilisme politique des régimes arabes comme option nécessaire à la consolidation de l’influence américaine. En échange d’une approbation de la diplomatie américaine, les régimes se voyaient soutenus. Les limites de cette politique ont commencé à se faire sentir lorsque les Etats-Unis en 1979 ont continué à appuyer le Shah d’Iran, ignorant alors qu’une population était en train de se soulever, donnant naissance à l’islamisme politique. Dans les années 80, le président Reagan introduisit une vision opposée au réalisme, attenant à une vision idéaliste d’une mission américaine d’exporter les justes valeurs au reste du monde. C’est dans son discours de Juin 1982 que Reagan parla « d’une croisade pour la liberté qui engagera la foi et le courage de la prochaine génération». Le président Bush père et Clinton reprirent une vision plus « réaliste » dans un nouveau contexte de sortie de Guerre Froide. Malgré « le nouvel ordre mondial » prôné par Bush père, son action n’alla pas jusqu’à Bagdad et préféra laisser un régime connu en place. Le 11 Septembre 2001 a révélé les limites de l’immobilisme politique des pays arabes, lorsque certains régimes soutenus n’ont pu s’opposer aux islamistes radicaux. Les néo-conservateurs qui participaient alors au gouvernement de G.W Bush, décidèrent de passer à l’action et de bousculer l’ordre établi dans la région, afin de pérenniser leur accès aux ressources énergétiques, mais aussi probablement pour d’autres raisons. Notamment selon G. Ayache « pour montrer (leur) force par rapport à la Chine dont le statut international ne cesse de croître et dont les besoins énergétiques sont appelés à concurrencer ceux des Etats-Unis(…), et dans l’objectif proclamé de lutte contre le terrorisme.» Les néo-conservateurs se sont dès le début prononcés pour la redistribution des cartes politiques dans cette région, donc un changement de régimes. Le nouveau président américain voulut se poser dans la lignée des présidents qui ont marqué l’histoire. Lors de son discours du 11 Septembre 2006, il s’est adressé en ces termes au peuple américain : « Ayez la patience de faire ce que nos pères et nos grands-pères ont fait pour l’Europe et pour l’Asie.» En fait, le vieux projet de Reagan d’exportation de la démocratie fut remis au goût du jour à travers l’annonce du projet de Grand Moyen-Orient en Novembre 2003 qui prôna la nécessité d’une démocratisation sans limites. Les néo-conservateurs qui avaient participé au deuxième mandat de Reagan revendiquèrent leur apport à la démocratisation en Asie, en Amérique latine et en Europe dans les années 80 et 90. Il était donc temps selon eux de mettre fin à la situation stagnante au Moyen-Orient. La théorie des dominos était censée s’appliquer à la région en partant de l’Irak, même si elle pouvait mettre un certain temps à se réaliser selon les dynamiques locales. Alia Al Jiboury
Depuis la chute de la dictature de Ben Ali en Tunisie, les dictateurs et autres despotes arabes tremblent devant le vent de liberté, transformé en tempête. Les peuples arabes, compressés depuis des décennies, rêvent de liberté et de démocratie. Ils finissent, à tour de rôle, par réaliser le projet de George W. Bush, qu’ils avaient tant dénoncé. Mediarabe.info (février 2011)
Though the Iraq War later became a favorite Democratic club for bashing George W. Bush, Republicans and Democrats alike had long understood that Saddam was a deadly menace who had to be forcibly eradicated. In 1998 President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, making Saddam’s removal from power a matter of US policy. "If the history of the last six years has taught us anything," Kerry had said two years earlier, "it is that Saddam Hussein does not understand diplomacy, he only understands power." But bipartisan harmony was an early casualty of the war. Once it became clear that Saddam didn’t have the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that were a major justification for the invasion, unity gave way to recrimination. It didn’t matter that virtually everyone – Republicans and Democrats, CIA analysts and the UN Security Council, even Saddam’s own military officers – had been sure the WMD would be found. Nor did it matter that Saddam had previously used WMD to exterminate thousands of men, women, and children. The temptation to spin an intelligence failure as a deliberate "lie" was politically irresistible. When the relatively quick toppling of Saddam was followed by a long and bloody insurgency, opposition to the war intensified. For many it became an intractable article of faith that victory was not an option. The war to remove Saddam was not merely "Bush’s folly," but – as Senate majority leader Harry Reid called it in 2007 — "the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country." But then came Bush’s "surge," and the course of the war shifted dramatically for the better. By the time Bush left office, the insurgency was crippled, violence was down 90 percent, and Iraqis were being governed by politicians they had voted for. It was far from perfect, but "something that looks an awful lot like democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq," reported Newsweek in early 2010. On its cover the magazine proclaimed: "Victory at Last." And so it might have been, if America’s new commander-in-chief hadn’t been so insistent on pulling the plug. In October 2011, President Obama – overriding his military commanders, who had recommended keeping 18,000 troops on the ground – announced that all remaining US servicemen would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Politically, it was a popular decision; most Americans were understandably weary of Iraq. But abandoning Iraqis and their frail, fledgling democracy was reckless. (…) The invasion of Iraq 10 years ago ended the reign of a genocidal tyrant, and ensured that his monstrous sons could never succeed him. It struck a shaft of fear into other dictators, leading Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi, for example, to relinquish his WMD. It let Iraqis find out how much better their lives could be under democratic self-government. Like all wars, even wars of liberation, it took an awful toll. The status quo ante was worse. Jeff Jacoby
Iraq, I suggested, would wind up “at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world, and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving.” I’ll stand by my worst-case scenario there. Unlike the emerging “reforms” in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria, politics in Iraq has remained flawed but, by the standards of the grimly Islamist Arab Spring, broadly secular. So I like the way a lot of the trees fell. But I missed the forest. (…) Granted that most of the Arab world, from Tangiers to Alexandria, is considerably less “multicultural” than it was in mid century, the remorseless extinction of Iraq’s Christian community this last decade is appalling — and, given that it happened on America’s watch, utterly shameful. Like the bland acknowledgement deep in a State Department “International Religious Freedom Report” that the last church in Afghanistan was burned to the ground in 2010, it testifies to the superpower’s impotence, not “internationally” but in client states entirely bankrolled by us. Foreigners see this more clearly than Americans. As Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore, said on a visit to Washington in 2004, “The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America’s credibility and will to prevail.” Just so. If you live in Tikrit or Fallujah, the Iraq War was about Iraq. If you live anywhere else on the planet, the Iraq War was about America, and the unceasing drumbeat of “quagmire” and “exit strategy” communicated to the world an emptiness at the heart of American power — like the toppled statue of Saddam that proved to be hollow. On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, mobs trashed U.S. embassies across the region with impunity. A rather more motivated crowd showed up in Benghazi, killed four Americans, including the ambassador, and correctly calculated they would face no retribution. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, these guys have reached their own judgment about American “credibility” and “will” — as have more potent forces yet biding their time, from Moscow to Beijing. (…) Nevertheless, in the grim two-thirds-of-a-century roll call of America’s un-won wars, Iraq today is less un-won than Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan, and that is not nothing. The war dead of America and its few real allies died in an honorable cause. But armies don’t wage wars, nations do. And, back on the home front, a vast percentage of fair-weather hawks who decided that it was all too complicated, or a bit of a downer, or Bush lied, or where’s the remote, revealed America as profoundly unserious. A senator who votes for war and then decides he’d rather it had never started is also engaging in “alternative history” — albeit of the kind in which Pam Ewing steps into the shower at Southfork and writes off the previous season of Dallas as a bad dream. In non-alternative history, in the only reality there is, once you’ve started a war, you have two choices: to win it or to lose it. Withdrawing one’s “support” for a war you’re already in advertises nothing more than a kind of geopolitical ADHD. Mark Steyn

Attention, un mensonge peut en cacher un autre !

Bill Clinton, le Congrès, Madeleine Albright, l’inspecteur nucléaire Richard Butler, Gore, Hillary Clinton, Kerry, Edward Kennedy, John Edwards, Tom Daschle, Biden, Harry Reid, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd, Jay Rockefeller, 72% de l’opinion publique …

Y avait-il, aux Etats-Unis mêmes sans parler de notre Villepin national et des services secrets allemands, quelqu’un qui ne croyait pas en mars 2003 à l’existence (confirmée d’ailleurs depuis par Wikileaks) d’ADM en Irak ?

Retour, à la veille du 10e anniversaire du lancement de l’Opération Liberté pour l’Irak  et avec  le professeur du United States Naval War College  Stephen F. Knott, sur le mythe devenu depuis vérité d’évangile (et motivation d’ailleurs, pour le contrer, de tant de blogs dont celui-ci) des prétendus "mensonges" de l’Administration Bush sur les raisons de la guerre  …

Qui, avec tous ses risques, apporta le premier régime élu démocratiquement, Israël mis à part, du Moyen-Orient …

Et sans lequel il n’y aurait probablement pas eu, aussi mitigé soit son bilan, de "printemps arabe"

When Everyone Agreed About Iraq

For years before the war, a bipartisan consensus thought Saddam possessed WMD.

Stephen F. Knott

WSJ

March 15, 2013

At 5:34 a.m. on March 20, 2003, American, British and other allied forces invaded Iraq. One of the most divisive conflicts in the nation’s history would soon be labeled " Bush’s War."

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime became official U.S. policy in 1998, when President Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act—a bill passed 360-38 by the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate. The law called for training and equipping Iraqi dissidents to overthrow Saddam and suggested that the United Nations establish a war-crimes tribunal for the dictator and his lieutenants.

The legislation was partly the result of frustration over the undeclared and relatively unheralded "No-Fly Zone War" that had been waged since 1991. Saddam’s military repeatedly fired on U.S. and allied aircraft that were attempting to prevent his regime from destroying Iraqi opposition forces in northern and southern Iraq.

According to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Hugh Shelton, in 1997 a key member of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet (thought by most observers to have been Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) asked Gen. Shelton whether he could arrange for a U.S. aircraft to fly slowly and low enough that it would be shot down, thereby paving the way for an American effort to topple Saddam. Kenneth Pollack, a member of Mr. Clinton’s National Security Council staff, would later write in 2002 that it was a question of "not whether but when" the U.S. would invade Iraq. He wrote that the threat presented by Saddam was "no less pressing than those we faced in 1941."

Radicalized by the events of 9/11, George W. Bush gradually concluded that a regime that had used chemical weapons against its own people and poison gas against Iran, invaded Iran and Kuwait, harbored some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, made lucrative payments to the families of suicide bombers, fired on American aircraft almost daily, and defied years of U.N. resolutions regarding weapons of mass destruction was a problem. The former chief U.N. weapons inspector, an Australian named Richard Butler, testified in July 2002 that "it is essential to recognize that the claim made by Saddam’s representatives, that Iraq has no WMD, is false."

In the U.S., there was a bipartisan consensus that Saddam possessed and continued to develop WMD. Former Vice President Al Gore noted in September 2002 that Saddam had "stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country." Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton observed that Saddam hoped to increase his supply of chemical and biological weapons and to "develop nuclear weapons." Then-Sen. John Kerry claimed that "a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his [Saddam's] hands is a real and grave threat to our security."

Even those opposed to using force against Iraq acknowledged that, as then-Sen. Edward Kennedy put it, "we have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing" WMD. When it came time to vote on the authorization for the use of force against Iraq, 81 Democrats in the House voted yes, joined by 29 Democrats in the Senate, including the party’s 2004 standard bearers, John Kerry and John Edwards, plus Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Sen. Joe Biden, Mrs. Clinton, and Sens. Harry Reid, Tom Harkin, Chris Dodd and Jay Rockefeller. The latter, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed that Saddam would "likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years."

Support for the war extended far beyond Capitol Hill. In March 2003, a Pew Research Center poll indicated that 72% of the American public supported President Bush’s decision to use force.

If Mr. Bush "lied," as the common accusation has it, then so did many prominent Democrats—and so did the French, whose foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, claimed in February 2003 that "regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of [Iraq's] capacity to produce VX and yperite [mustard gas]; in the biological domain, the evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxin." Germany’s intelligence chief August Hanning noted in March 2002 that "it is our estimate that Iraq will have an atomic bomb in three years."

According to interrogations conducted after the invasion, Saddam’s own generals believed that he had WMD and expected him to use these weapons as the invasion force neared Baghdad.

The war in Iraq was authorized by a bipartisan congressional coalition, supported by prominent media voices and backed by the public. Yet on its 10th anniversary Americans will be told of the Bush administration’s duplicity in leading us into the conflict. Many members of the bipartisan coalition that committed the U.S. to invade Iraq 10 years ago have long since washed their hands of their share of responsibility.

We owe it to history—and, more important, to all those who died—to recognize that this wasn’t Bush’s war, it was America’s war.

Mr. Knott, a professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College, is the author of "Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics" (University Press of Kansas, 2012).

Voir aussi:

WikiLeaks Show WMD Hunt Continued in Iraq – With Surprising Results

Noah Shachtman

Wired

10.23.10

By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction.

An initial glance at the WikiLeaks war logs doesn’t reveal evidence of some massive WMD program by the Saddam Hussein regime — the Bush administration’s most (in)famous rationale for invading Iraq. But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.

In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base.

Three months later, in northern Iraq, U.S. scouts went to

look in on a “chemical weapons” complex. “One of the bunkers has been tampered with,” they write. “The integrity of the seal [around the complex] appears intact, but it seems someone is interesting in trying to get into the bunkers.”

Meanwhile, the second battle of Fallujah was raging in Anbar province. In the southeastern corner of the city, American forces came across a “house with a chemical lab … substances found are similar to ones (in lesser quantities located a previous chemical lab.” The following day, there’s a call in another part of the city for explosive experts to dispose of a “chemical cache.”

Nearly three years later, American troops were still finding WMD in the region. An armored Buffalo vehicle unearthed a cache of artillery shells “that was covered by sacks and leaves under an Iraqi Community Watch checkpoint. “The 155mm rounds are filled with an unknown liquid, and several of which are leaking a black tar-like substance.” Initial tests were inconclusive. But later, “the rounds tested positive for mustard.”

In WikiLeaks’ massive trove of nearly 392,000 Iraq war logs are hundreds of references to chemical and biological weapons. Most of those are intelligence reports or initial suspicions of WMD that don’t pan out. In July 2004, for example, U.S. forces come across a Baghdad building with gas masks, gas filters, and containers with “unknown contents” inside. Later investigation revealed those contents to be vitamins.

But even late in the war, WMDs were still being unearthed. In the summer of 2008, according to one WikiLeaked report, American troops found at least 10 rounds that tested positive for chemical agents. “These rounds were most likely left over from the [Saddam]-era regime. Based on location, these rounds may be an AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] cache. However, the rounds were all total disrepair and did not appear to have been moved for a long time.”

A small group — mostly of the political right — has long maintained that there was more evidence of a major and modern WMD program than the American people were led to believe. A few Congressmen and Senators gravitated to the idea, but it was largely dismissed as conspiratorial hooey.

The WMD diehards will likely find some comfort in these newly-WikiLeaked documents. Skeptics will note that these relatively small WMD stockpiles were hardly the kind of grave danger that the Bush administration presented in the run-up to the war.

But the more salient issue may be how insurgents and Islamic extremists (possibly with the help of Iran) attempted to use these lethal and exotic arms. As Spencer noted earlier, a January 2006 war log claims that “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons were smuggled in from Iran.

That same month, then “chemical weapons specialists” were apprehended in Balad. These “foreigners” were there specifically “to support the chemical weapons operations.” The following month, an intelligence report refers to a “chemical weapons expert” that “provided assistance with the gas weapons.” What happened to that specialist, the WikiLeaked document doesn’t say.

Voir également:

Chemical Weapons, Iranian Agents and Massive Death Tolls Exposed in WikiLeaks’ Iraq Docs

Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman

Wired

10.22.10

As the insurgency raged in Iraq, U.S. troops struggling to fight a shadowy enemy killed civilians, witnessed their Iraqi partners abuse detainees and labored to reduce Iran’s influence over the fighting.

None of these phenomena are unfamiliar to observers of the Iraq war. But this afternoon, the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks released a trove of nearly 392,000 U.S. military reports from Iraq that bring a new depth and detail to the horrors of one of America’s most controversial wars ever. We’re still digging through the just-released documents, but here’s a quick overview of what they contain.

(Our sister blog Threat Level looks at how Friday’s document dump could affect Bradley Manning, who’s already charged in other WikiLeaks releases.)

It Was Iran’s War, Too

No one would accuse WikiLeaks of being pro-war. Not when the transparency group titled its single most famous leak “Collateral Murder.” Not when its founder, Julian Assange, said that its trove of reports from the Afghan conflict suggested evidence for thousands of American “war crimes.”

So it’s more than a little ironic that, with its newest document dump from the Iraq campaign, WikiLeaks may have just bolstered one of the Bush administration’s most controversial claims about the Iraq war: that Iran supplied many of the Iraq insurgency’s deadliest weapons and worked hand-in-glove with some of its most lethal militias.

The documents indicate that Iran was a major combatant in the Iraq war, as its elite Quds Force trained Iraqi Shiite insurgents and imported deadly weapons like the shape-charged Explosively Formed Projectile bombs into Iraq for use against civilians, Sunni militants and U.S. troops.

A report from 2006 claims “neuroparalytic” chemical weapons from Iran were smuggled into Iraq. (It’s one of many, many documents recounting WMD efforts in Iraq.) Others indicate that Iran flooded Iraq with guns and rockets, including the Misagh-1 surface-to-air missile, .50 caliber rifles, rockets and much more.

As the New York Times observes, Iranian agents plotted to kidnap U.S. troops from out of their Humvees — something that occurred in Karbala in 2007, leaving five U.S. troops dead. (It’s still not totally clear if the Iranians were responsible.)

High Civilian Death Tolls

Over 66,000 deaths classified as “civilians” are listed in the documents, which span the years between 2004 and 2009. According to an initial assessment by the Iraq Body Count, an organization that tallies reports of civilian casualties, that’s 15,000 more dead Iraqi civilians than the United States has previously acknowledged.

“This data should never have been withheld from the public,” Iraq Body Count told the Guardian.

In one incident highlighted by The New York Times, Marines who couldn’t get a car carrying an Iraqi family to stop at a Fallujah checkpoint after warning them with a flare opened fire on the car, killing a woman and wounding her husband and two children. Confusion at checkpoints was a common feature of the Iraq war, placing U.S. troops who didn’t speak Arabic in a murky situation of judging who posed a threat to them.

Iraqi Detainee Abuse

The United States spent billions to train and equip Iraqi security forces, a mission that continues to this day. But while under U.S. tutelage, Iraqi soldiers and police abused detainees in their custody. And even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib detainee-abuse scandal, U.S. troops sometimes tolerated accounts of Iraqi abuse, writing “no investigation is necessary” in one case.

That wasn’t uniformly the case: In a 2005 report, U.S. troops discovered “a hand cranked generator with wire clamps” at an Iraqi police station in Baghdad where a detainee claimed to have been brutalized. The report says the Americans took the generator as evidence and reported the incident to a two-star general — but it doesn’t specify if the general was American or Iraqi.

As expected, the Pentagon denounced WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the nearly 400,000 documents. “We deplore Wikileaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies,” e-mails Geoff Morrell, spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. By disclosing such sensitive information, Wikileaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us. The only responsible course of action for Wikileaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their websites as soon as possible.”

WikiLeaks appears to have learned from the criticism of its last document dump, however. According to the Guardian, which has pored through the documents under a press blackout for weeks, WikiLeaks didn’t release all the information in an Iraq-deaths database, in order to protect the identities of Iraqis who worked with the United States — a correction for something that it didn’t sufficiently do when releasing U.S. military documents from Afghanistan this summer.

We’re still digging through the documents. We’ll bring you more soon. And in comments, tell us what you’re seeing — and what you’re interested in learning more about.

Voir encore:

WikiLeaks docs prove Saddam had WMD, threats remain

Seth Mandel

Weekly blitz

October 28, 2010

WikiLeaks’ latest publication of Iraq war documents contains a lot of information that most reasonable people would prefer remained unknown, such as the names of Iraqi informants who will now be hunted for helping the U.S.

And although the anti-war left welcomed the release of the documents, they would probably cringe at one of the most significant finds of this latest crop of reports: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

"By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Wired magazine’s Danger Room reports. "But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction."

That is, there definitively were weapons of mass destruction and elements of a WMD program in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq when U.S.-led coalition troops entered the country to depose Hussein.

Predictably, the liberal media did their best to either ignore the story–like the New York Times and Washington Post did–or spin it. It’s not an easy choice to make, since ignoring the story makes you look out of the loop and hurts your reputation as an informative publication, yet spinning the story means actively attempting to confuse and mislead your readers. CBS News chose the latter.

"WikiLeaks Iraq War Logs: No Evidence of Massive WMD Caches" read the headline on CBS News’ online. Here is the story’s opening paragraph:

"The nearly 400,000 Iraq war log documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday were full of evidence of abuses, civilian deaths and the chaos of war, but clear evidence of weapons of mass destruction–the Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq–appears to be missing."

There are two falsehoods in that sentence, demonstrating the difficulty in trying to spin a clear fact. The Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq was much broader than WMD–in fact, it was similar to the litany of reasons the Clinton administration signed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which specifically called for regime change in Iraq as the official policy of the United States government (Iraq had repeatedly violated international law, Iraq had failed to comply with the obligations that ended the Gulf War, Iraq had circumvented U.N. resolutions, etc.).

"If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow," President Clinton said in February 1998. "Some day, some way, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal."

The second falsehood was the phrase "appears to be missing." In August 2004, American soldiers seized a toxic "blister agent," a chemical weapon used since the First World War, Wired reported. In Anbar province, they discovered a chemical lab and a "chemical cache." Three years later, U.S. military found buried WMD, and even as recent as 2008 found chemical munitions.

This isn’t the first time Iraq war documents shattered a media myth about Saddam’s regime. In 2008, a Pentagon study of Iraqi documents, as well as audio and video recordings, revealed connections between Saddam’s regime and al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Called the Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP), the report–based on more than 600,000 captured original documents and thousands of hours of audio and video recordings–proved conclusively that Saddam had worked with terrorist organizations that were plotting attacks on American targets around the world.

One way to identify a media narrative in deep trouble is the naked attempt to draw conclusions for the reader instead of just presenting the story. The CBS report on the leaked WMD documents is a case in point of the reporter telling the reader what they ought to think, knowing full well that otherwise the facts of the case would likely lead the reader to the opposite conclusion.

"At this point," CBS reporter Dan Farber desperately pleads, "history will still record that the Bush administration went into Iraq under an erroneous threat assessment that Saddam Hussein was manufacturing and hoarding weapons of mass destruction."

That’s as close as the liberal mainstream media will get to admitting they were wrong. It’s their version of a confession. The myth that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was WMD-free has met its demise.

And these weapons couldn’t simply be the lost scraps of Saddam’s attempts to destroy the stockpile, as Ed Morrissey points out.

"Had Saddam Hussein wanted those weapons destroyed, no lower-ranking military officer would have dared defy him by keeping them hidden," he writes. "It would have taken dozens of officers to conspire to move and hide those weapons, as well as a like number of enlisted men, any and all of whom could have been a spy for the Hussein clique."

But now that we’ve answered the question of whether there were actual weapons of mass destruction in Iraq–there were and are–we may have a more significant question to answer: Who has possession of these weapons now?

"But the more salient issue may be how insurgents and Islamic extremists (possibly with the help of Iran) attempted to use these lethal and exotic arms," Wired reports. In 2006, for example, "neuroparalytic" chemical weapons were brought in from Iran.

"That same month, then ‘chemical weapons specialists’ were apprehended in Balad," the Wired report continues. "These ‘foreigners’ were there specifically ‘to support the chemical weapons operations.’ The following month, an intelligence report refers to a ‘chemical weapons expert’ that ‘provided assistance with the gas weapons.’ What happened to that specialist, the WikiLeaked document doesn’t say."

Seth Mandel is the Washington DC based correspondent of Weekly Blitz.

Voir encore:

President Clinton explains Iraq strike

CNN/TIME and Congressional Quarterly

December 16, 1998

CLINTON: Good evening.

Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors.

Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States, and indeed the interests of people throughout the Middle East and around the world.

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas or biological weapons.

I want to explain why I have decided, with the unanimous recommendation of my national security team, to use force in Iraq; why we have acted now; and what we aim to accomplish.

Six weeks ago, Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors called UNSCOM. They are highly professional experts from dozens of countries. Their job is to oversee the elimination of Iraq’s capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability.

The inspectors undertook this mission first 7.5 years ago at the end of the Gulf War when Iraq agreed to declare and destroy its arsenal as a condition of the ceasefire.

The international community had good reason to set this requirement. Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.

The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

The United States has patiently worked to preserve UNSCOM as Iraq has sought to avoid its obligation to cooperate with the inspectors. On occasion, we’ve had to threaten military force, and Saddam has backed down.

Faced with Saddam’s latest act of defiance in late October, we built intensive diplomatic pressure on Iraq backed by overwhelming military force in the region. The UN Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn Saddam’s actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance.

Eight Arab nations — Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman — warned that Iraq alone would bear responsibility for the consequences of defying the UN.

When Saddam still failed to comply, we prepared to act militarily. It was only then at the last possible moment that Iraq backed down. It pledged to the UN that it had made, and I quote, a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors.

I decided then to call off the attack with our airplanes already in the air because Saddam had given in to our demands. I concluded then that the right thing to do was to use restraint and give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.

I made it very clear at that time what unconditional cooperation meant, based on existing UN resolutions and Iraq’s own commitments. And along with Prime Minister Blair of Great Britain, I made it equally clear that if Saddam failed to cooperate fully, we would be prepared to act without delay, diplomacy or warning.

Now over the past three weeks, the UN weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq’s cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and last night, UNSCOM’s chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to UN Secretary-General Annan.

The conclusions are stark, sobering and profoundly disturbing.

In four out of the five categories set forth, Iraq has failed to cooperate. Indeed, it actually has placed new restrictions on the inspectors. Here are some of the particulars.

Iraq repeatedly blocked UNSCOM from inspecting suspect sites. For example, it shut off access to the headquarters of its ruling party and said it will deny access to the party’s other offices, even though UN resolutions make no exception for them and UNSCOM has inspected them in the past.

Iraq repeatedly restricted UNSCOM’s ability to obtain necessary evidence. For example, Iraq obstructed UNSCOM’s effort to photograph bombs related to its chemical weapons program.

It tried to stop an UNSCOM biological weapons team from videotaping a site and photocopying documents and prevented Iraqi personnel from answering UNSCOM’s questions.

Prior to the inspection of another site, Iraq actually emptied out the building, removing not just documents but even the furniture and the equipment.

Iraq has failed to turn over virtually all the documents requested by the inspectors. Indeed, we know that Iraq ordered the destruction of weapons-related documents in anticipation of an UNSCOM inspection.

So Iraq has abused its final chance.

As the UNSCOM reports concludes, and again I quote, "Iraq’s conduct ensured that no progress was able to be made in the fields of disarmament.

"In light of this experience, and in the absence of full cooperation by Iraq, it must regrettably be recorded again that the commission is not able to conduct the work mandated to it by the Security Council with respect to Iraq’s prohibited weapons program."

In short, the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.

Saddam’s deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.

This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.

And so we had to act and act now.

Let me explain why.

First, without a strong inspection system, Iraq would be free to retain and begin to rebuild its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in months, not years.

Second, if Saddam can crippled the weapons inspection system and get away with it, he would conclude that the international community — led by the United States — has simply lost its will. He will surmise that he has free rein to rebuild his arsenal of destruction, and someday — make no mistake — he will use it again as he has in the past.

Third, in halting our air strikes in November, I gave Saddam a chance, not a license. If we turn our backs on his defiance, the credibility of U.S. power as a check against Saddam will be destroyed. We will not only have allowed Saddam to shatter the inspection system that controls his weapons of mass destruction program; we also will have fatally undercut the fear of force that stops Saddam from acting to gain domination in the region.

That is why, on the unanimous recommendation of my national security team — including the vice president, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of state and the national security adviser — I have ordered a strong, sustained series of air strikes against Iraq.

They are designed to degrade Saddam’s capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction, and to degrade his ability to threaten his neighbors.

At the same time, we are delivering a powerful message to Saddam. If you act recklessly, you will pay a heavy price. We acted today because, in the judgment of my military advisers, a swift response would provide the most surprise and the least opportunity for Saddam to prepare.

If we had delayed for even a matter of days from Chairman Butler’s report, we would have given Saddam more time to disperse his forces and protect his weapons.

Also, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this weekend. For us to initiate military action during Ramadan would be profoundly offensive to the Muslim world and, therefore, would damage our relations with Arab countries and the progress we have made in the Middle East.

That is something we wanted very much to avoid without giving Iraq’s a month’s head start to prepare for potential action against it.

Finally, our allies, including Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, concurred that now is the time to strike. I hope Saddam will come into cooperation with the inspection system now and comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. But we have to be prepared that he will not, and we must deal with the very real danger he poses.

So we will pursue a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction and work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people.

First, we must be prepared to use force again if Saddam takes threatening actions, such as trying to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction or their delivery systems, threatening his neighbors, challenging allied aircraft over Iraq or moving against his own Kurdish citizens.

The credible threat to use force, and when necessary, the actual use of force, is the surest way to contain Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction program, curtail his aggression and prevent another Gulf War.

Second, so long as Iraq remains out of compliance, we will work with the international community to maintain and enforce economic sanctions. Sanctions have cost Saddam more than $120 billion — resources that would have been used to rebuild his military. The sanctions system allows Iraq to sell oil for food, for medicine, for other humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

We have no quarrel with them. But without the sanctions, we would see the oil-for-food program become oil-for-tanks, resulting in a greater threat to Iraq’s neighbors and less food for its people.

The hard fact is that so long as Saddam remains in power, he threatens the well-being of his people, the peace of his region, the security of the world.

The best way to end that threat once and for all is with a new Iraqi government — a government ready to live in peace with its neighbors, a government that respects the rights of its people. Bringing change in Baghdad will take time and effort. We will strengthen our engagement with the full range of Iraqi opposition forces and work with them effectively and prudently.

The decision to use force is never cost-free. Whenever American forces are placed in harm’s way, we risk the loss of life. And while our strikes are focused on Iraq’s military capabilities, there will be unintended Iraqi casualties.

Indeed, in the past, Saddam has intentionally placed Iraqi civilians in harm’s way in a cynical bid to sway international opinion.

We must be prepared for these realities. At the same time, Saddam should have absolutely no doubt if he lashes out at his neighbors, we will respond forcefully.

Heavy as they are, the costs of action must be weighed against the price of inaction. If Saddam defies the world and we fail to respond, we will face a far greater threat in the future. Saddam will strike again at his neighbors. He will make war on his own people.

And mark my words, he will develop weapons of mass destruction. He will deploy them, and he will use them.

Because we’re acting today, it is less likely that we will face these dangers in the future.

Let me close by addressing one other issue. Saddam Hussein and the other enemies of peace may have thought that the serious debate currently before the House of Representatives would distract Americans or weaken our resolve to face him down.

But once more, the United States has proven that although we are never eager to use force, when we must act in America’s vital interests, we will do so.

In the century we’re leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we’ll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace.

Tonight, the United States is doing just that. May God bless and protect the brave men and women who are carrying out this vital mission and their families. And may God bless America.

COMPLEMENT (18.03.13):

Ten Years Ago, an Honorable War Began With Wide Support

Now the U.S. has bailed out of Iraq leaving behind little trace. And a strongman is in charge.

Fouad Ajami

The WSJ

March 18, 2013

Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists’ Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators’ prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds.

America’s previous venture into Iraq, a dozen years earlier, had been a lightning strike: The Iraqi dictator was evicted from Kuwait and then spared. Saddam Hussein’s military machine was all rust and decay by 2003, but he swaggered and let the world believe that he had in his possession a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Arab redeemer, as he had styled himself, lacked the guile that might have saved him. A great military expedition was being readied against him in London and Washington, but he gambled to the bitter end that George W. Bush would not pull the trigger.

On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament.

Those unburdened by knowledge of the ways of that region would come to insist that there had been no operational links between the Iraqi despot and al Qaeda. These newborn critics would insist on a distinction between secular terrorism and religious terrorism, but it was a distinction without a difference.

The rationale for the war sustained a devastating blow in the autumn of 2004 when Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, issued a definitive report confirming that Saddam had possessed no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The war now stood on its own—and many of its former supporters claimed that this wasn’t what they had signed up for. Yet the "architects" of the war could not pull the plug on it. They soldiered on, offering a new aim: the reform and freedom of Iraq, and the example of a decent Iraq in the "heart of the Arab world."

President Bush, seen in this image from television, addresses the nation from the Oval Office at the White House, on March 19, 2003. Bush said U.S. forces launched a strike against targets of military opportunity in Iraq, describing the action as the opening salvo in an operation to disarm Iraq and to free its people.

There were very few takers for the new rationale. In the oddest of twists, American liberalism now mocked the very idea that liberty could put down roots in an Arab- Muslim setting.

Nor were there takers, among those watching from lands around Iraq, for the idea of freedom midwifed by American power. To Iraq’s east lay the Iranian despotism, eager to thwart and frustrate the American project. To the west in Syria there was the Baath dictatorship of the House of Assad. And beyond there was the Sunni Arab order of power, where America was despised for giving power to Shiites. For a millennium, the Shiite Arabs had not governed, and yet now they ruled in Baghdad, a city that had been the seat of the Islamic caliphate.

A stoical George W. Bush held the line amid American disaffection and amid the resistance of a region invested in the failure of the Iraq campaign. He doubled down with the troop "surge" and remained true to the proposition that liberty could stick on Arab soil.

There is no way of writing a convincing alternative history of the region without this war. That kind of effort is inherently speculative, subject to whim and preference. Perhaps we could have let Saddam be, could have tolerated the misery he inflicted on his people, convinced ourselves that the sanctions imposed on his regime were sufficient to keep him quarantined. But a different history played out. It delivered the Iraqis from a tyranny that they would have never been able to overthrow on their own.

The American disappointment with Iraq helped propel Barack Obama to power. There were strategic gains that the war had secured in Iraq, but Mr. Obama had no interest in them. Iraq was the "war of choice" that had to be brought to a "responsible close," he said. The focus instead would be on that "war of necessity" in Afghanistan.

A skilled politician, Mr. Obama made the Iraqi government an offer meant to be turned down—a residual American force that could hardly defend itself, let alone provide meaningful protection for the fledgling new order in Baghdad. Predictably, Iraq’s rulers decided to go it alone as 2011 drew to a close. They had been navigating a difficult course between Iran and the U.S. The choice was made easy for them, the Iranian supreme leader was next door, the liberal superpower was in retreat.

Heading for the exits, Mr. Obama praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as "the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq." The praise came even as Mr. Maliki was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the country’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.

Two weeks ago, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, issued his final report, called "Learning from Iraq." The report was methodical and detailed, interspersed with the testimonies of American and Iraqi officials. One testimony, by an Iraqi technocrat, the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, offered a compelling image: "With all the money the U.S. has spent, you can go into any city in Iraq and you can’t find one building or project built by the U.S. government. You can fly in a helicopter around Baghdad or other cities, but you can’t point a finger at a single project that was built and completed by the United States."

It was no fault of the soldiers who fought this war, or of the leaders who launched it, that their successors lacked the patience to stick around Iraq and safekeep what had been gained at an incalculable cost in blood and treasure.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of "The Syrian Rebellion" (Hoover Press, 2012).

COMPLEMENT (20.03.13):

On balance, was the Iraq war worth it?

Jeff Jacoby

The Boston Globe

March 20, 2013

TEN YEARS AGO this week, the United States led an invasion of Iraq with the explicit purpose of overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The preceding months had been filled with vehement protests against the impending war, expressed in editorials, in advertisements, and in rallies so vast that some of them made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. With so many people against the invasion, who supported it?

Well, if you were like the great majority of Americans – you did. In February and March 2003, Newsweek’s polls showed 70 percent of the public in favor of military action against Iraq; Gallup and Pew Research Center surveys showed the same thing. Congress had authorized the invasion a few months earlier with strong bipartisan majorities; among the many Democrats voting for the war were Senators John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.

The invasion of Iraq 10 years ago ended the reign of a genocidal tyrant, and ensured that his monstrous sons could never succeed him.

Though the Iraq War later became a favorite Democratic club for bashing George W. Bush, Republicans and Democrats alike had long understood that Saddam was a deadly menace who had to be forcibly eradicated. In 1998 President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act, making Saddam’s removal from power a matter of US policy. "If the history of the last six years has taught us anything," Kerry had said two years earlier, "it is that Saddam Hussein does not understand diplomacy, he only understands power."

But bipartisan harmony was an early casualty of the war. Once it became clear that Saddam didn’t have the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons that were a major justification for the invasion, unity gave way to recrimination. It didn’t matter that virtually everyone – Republicans and Democrats, CIA analysts and the UN Security Council, even Saddam’s own military officers – had been sure the WMD would be found. Nor did it matter that Saddam had previously used WMD to exterminate thousands of men, women, and children. The temptation to spin an intelligence failure as a deliberate "lie" was politically irresistible.

When the relatively quick toppling of Saddam was followed by a long and bloody insurgency, opposition to the war intensified. For many it became an intractable article of faith that victory was not an option. The war to remove Saddam was not merely "Bush’s folly," but – as Senate majority leader Harry Reid called it in 2007 — "the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country."

But then came Bush’s "surge," and the course of the war shifted dramatically for the better.

By the time President Bush left office, Iraq had been transformed from a "republic of fear" into a relatively peaceful constitutional democracy.

By the time Bush left office, the insurgency was crippled, violence was down 90 percent, and Iraqis were being governed by politicians they had voted for. It was far from perfect, but "something that looks an awful lot like democracy is beginning to take hold in Iraq," reported Newsweek in early 2010. On its cover the magazine proclaimed: "Victory at Last."

And so it might have been, if America’s new commander-in-chief hadn’t been so insistent on pulling the plug.

In October 2011, President Obama – overriding his military commanders, who had recommended keeping 18,000 troops on the ground – announced that all remaining US servicemen would be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Politically, it was a popular decision; most Americans were understandably weary of Iraq. But abandoning Iraqis and their frail, fledgling democracy was reckless.

"It freed Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to be more of a Shiite sectarian than he could have been with the US looking over his shoulder," military historian Max Boot observed this week. And with Maliki moving against his Sunni opponents, some of them "are making common cause once again with Al-Qaeda in Iraq, [which] has recovered from its near-death experience" during the surge. It is cold comfort that so many urgently warned of just such an outcome in 2011.

So was the Iraq war worth it? On that, Americans are a long way from a consensus. It is never clear in the immediate aftermath of any war what history’s judgment will be. Two decades ago, the 1991 Gulf War was regarded as a triumph. In retrospect, the decision to leave Saddam in power – and to let him murderously crush an uprising we had encouraged – looks like a tragic blunder.

But this much we do know: The invasion of Iraq 10 years ago ended the reign of a genocidal tyrant, and ensured that his monstrous sons could never succeed him. It struck a shaft of fear into other dictators, leading Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi, for example, to relinquish his WMD. It let Iraqis find out how much better their lives could be under democratic self-government. Like all wars, even wars of liberation, it took an awful toll. The status quo ante was worse.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe. His website is http://www.JeffJacoby.com).

COMPLEMENT (22.03.13):

Geopolitical ADHD

Mark Steyn

National Review online

March 22, 2013

Ten years ago, along with three-quarters of the American people, including the men just appointed as President Obama’s secretaries of state and defense, I supported the invasion of Iraq. A decade on, unlike most of the American people, including John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, I’ll stand by that original judgment.

None of us can say what would have happened had Saddam Hussein remained in power. He might now be engaged in a nuclear-arms race with Iran. One or other of his even more psychotic sons, the late Uday or Qusay, could be in power. The Arab Spring might have come to Iraq, and surely even more bloodily than in Syria.

But these are speculations best left to the authors of “alternative histories.” In the real world, how did things turn out?

Three weeks after Operation Shock and Awe began, the early-bird naysayers were already warning of massive humanitarian devastation and civil war. Neither happened. Overcompensating somewhat for all the doom-mongering, I wrote in Britain’s Daily Telegraph that “a year from now Basra will have a lower crime rate than most London boroughs.” Close enough. Major General Andy Salmon, the British commander in southern Iraq, eventually declared of Basra that “on a per capita basis, if you look at the violence statistics, it is less dangerous than Manchester.”

Ten years ago, expert opinion was that Iraq was a phony-baloney entity imposed on the map by distant colonial powers. Joe Biden, you’ll recall, advocated dividing the country into three separate states, which for the Democrats held out the enticing prospect of having three separate quagmires to blame on Bush, but for the Iraqis had little appeal. “As long as you respect its inherently confederal nature,” I argued, “it’ll work fine.” As for the supposedly secessionist Kurds, “they’ll settle for being Scotland or Quebec.” And so it turned out. The Times of London, last week: “Ten Years after Saddam, Iraqi Kurds Have Never Had It So Good.” In Kurdistan as in Quebec, there is a pervasive unsavory tribal cronyism, but on the other hand, unlike Quebec City, Erbil is booming.

What of the rest of the country? Iraq, I suggested, would wind up “at a bare minimum, the least badly governed state in the Arab world, and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving.” I’ll stand by my worst-case scenario there. Unlike the emerging “reforms” in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria, politics in Iraq has remained flawed but, by the standards of the grimly Islamist Arab Spring, broadly secular.

So I like the way a lot of the trees fell. But I missed the forest.

On the previous Western liberation of Mesopotamia, when General Maude took Baghdad from the Turks in 1917, British troops found a very different city from the Saddamite squat of 2003: In a lively, jostling, cosmopolitan metropolis, 40 percent of the population was Jewish. I wasn’t so deluded as to think the Jews would be back, but I hoped something of Baghdad’s lost vigor might return. Granted that most of the Arab world, from Tangiers to Alexandria, is considerably less “multicultural” than it was in mid century, the remorseless extinction of Iraq’s Christian community this last decade is appalling — and, given that it happened on America’s watch, utterly shameful. Like the bland acknowledgement deep in a State Department “International Religious Freedom Report” that the last church in Afghanistan was burned to the ground in 2010, it testifies to the superpower’s impotence, not “internationally” but in client states entirely bankrolled by us.

Foreigners see this more clearly than Americans. As Goh Chok Tong, the prime minister of Singapore, said on a visit to Washington in 2004, “The key issue is no longer WMD or even the role of the U.N. The central issue is America’s credibility and will to prevail.” Just so. If you live in Tikrit or Fallujah, the Iraq War was about Iraq. If you live anywhere else on the planet, the Iraq War was about America, and the unceasing drumbeat of “quagmire” and “exit strategy” communicated to the world an emptiness at the heart of American power — like the toppled statue of Saddam that proved to be hollow. On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, mobs trashed U.S. embassies across the region with impunity. A rather more motivated crowd showed up in Benghazi, killed four Americans, including the ambassador, and correctly calculated they would face no retribution. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, these guys have reached their own judgment about American “credibility” and “will” — as have more potent forces yet biding their time, from Moscow to Beijing.

A few weeks after the fall of Saddam, on little more than a whim, I rented a beat-up Nissan at Amman Airport and, without telling the car-hire bloke, drove east across the Iraqi border and into the Sunni Triangle. I could not easily make the same journey today: Western journalists now require the permission of the central government to enter Anbar Province. But for a brief period in the spring of 2003 we were the “strong horse” and even a dainty little media gelding such as myself was accorded a measure of respect by the natives. At a rest area on the highway between Rutba and Ramadi, I fell into conversation with one of the locals. Having had to veer onto the median every few miles to dodge bomb craters, I asked him whether he bore any resentments toward his liberators. “Americans only in the sky,” he told me, grinning a big toothless grin as, bang on cue, a U.S. chopper rumbled up from over the horizon and passed high above our heads. “No problem.”

“Americans only in the sky” is an even better slogan in the Obama era of drone-alone warfare. In Iraq, there were a lot of boots on the ground, but when it came to non-military leverage (cultural, economic) Americans were content to remain “only in the sky.” And down on the ground other players filled the vacuum, some reasonably benign (the Chinese in the oil fields), others less so (the Iranians in everything else).

And so a genuinely reformed Middle East remains, like the speculative scenarios outlined at the top, in the realm of “alternative history.” Nevertheless, in the grim two-thirds-of-a-century roll call of America’s un-won wars, Iraq today is less un-won than Korea, Vietnam, or Afghanistan, and that is not nothing. The war dead of America and its few real allies died in an honorable cause. But armies don’t wage wars, nations do. And, back on the home front, a vast percentage of fair-weather hawks who decided that it was all too complicated, or a bit of a downer, or Bush lied, or where’s the remote, revealed America as profoundly unserious. A senator who votes for war and then decides he’d rather it had never started is also engaging in “alternative history” — albeit of the kind in which Pam Ewing steps into the shower at Southfork and writes off the previous season of Dallas as a bad dream. In non-alternative history, in the only reality there is, once you’ve started a war, you have two choices: to win it or to lose it. Withdrawing one’s “support” for a war you’re already in advertises nothing more than a kind of geopolitical ADHD.

Shortly after Gulf War One, when the world’s superpower assembled a mighty coalition to fight half-a-war to an inconclusive halt at the gates of Baghdad, Washington declined to get mixed up in the disintegrating Balkans. Colin Powell offered the following rationale: “We do deserts. We don’t do mountains.” Across a decade in Iraq, America told the world we don’t really do deserts, either.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.


Musique: Comment une comptine moquant la légendaire rivalité Haendel-Bononcini devint une histoire d’amour entre les rois mages et l’étoile du Berger (How Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum turned into a love story between the Magi and the star of Bethlehem)

17 mars, 2013
http://img3.photographersdirect.com/img/262/wm/pd650918.jpg
John Gay's Beggar's opera (Hogarth, 1728)http://o4.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/PATCH/resize/600x450/http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/patch/25aff7ef6ca1fd64514d692c99068fc9http://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/tweedle-dee-tweedle-dum.jpgJe vous parle d’un temps que les moins de vingt ans ne peuvent pas connaitre. Aznavour
When Greeks joined Greeks, then was the tug of war. The Rival Queens or the Death of Alexander the Great (Nathaniel Lee, Act iv., Sc. 2, 1677)
Nathaniel Lee’s reputation was made in 1677 with a blank verse tragedy, The Rival Queens, or the Death of Alexander the Great. The play, which deals with the jealousy of Alexander’s first wife, Roxana, for his second wife, Statira, was a favourite on the English stage right up to the days of Edmund Kean. Wikipedia
Née à Parme, d’où son surnom de La Parmigiana, (Francesca Cuzzoni) fait ses débuts en 1716 aux côtés de Vittoria Tesi. Elle est engagée par le King’s Theatre et arrive à Londres en décembre 1722 après une campagne médiatique bien orchestrée. Dans le bateau qui l’amène, elle épouse le claveciniste Pietro Giuseppe Sandoni. Elle participe à la première d’Ottone de Haendel le 12 janvier 1726 et pendant cinq ans sera de toutes les créations des opéras de Haendel et de Bononcini. Wikipedia
Faustina Bordoni fait ses débuts en 1716, et chante en 1718 une première fois aux côtés de Francesca Cuzzoni qui deviendra sa grande rivale. Elle passe par Munich et Vienne et acquiert une réputation internationale. Elle est embauchée le 4 septembre 1725 par le King’s Theatre de Londres, où elle partage la vedette avec La Cuzzoni et le castrat Senesino. Deux clans se forment pour ou contre la Bordoni ou la Cuzzoni, et l’ambiance devient lourde. Le 6 juin 1727, on donne Astianatte de Bononcini dans un désordre inouï. Les invectives et les sifflets poussent les deux divas à s’empoigner sur scène, un pugilat qui crée un scandale sans précédent. Les esprits se calment et l’on reverra sur scène les deux chanteuses ensemble. Wikipedia
Handel’s "rival queens" were not feuding royals, but two of the most celebrated (or not, depending on whose viewpoint is taken) operatic divas of his time: Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni (…) Cuzzoni, then, was "short and squat, with a doughy cross face" (Charles Burney); "a ‘native warble’ enabled her to execute divisions with such facility as to conceal their difficulty. So grateful and touching was her natural tone that she rendered pathetic whatever she sang… Her trill was perfect… Her high notes were unrivalled in clearness and sweetness" (Mancini). (…) The descriptions of Cuzzoni’s great rival, Faustina Bordoni (simply known as "Faustina"), were no more or less flattering. The German composer J.J. Quantz described her as possessing a "mezzo-soprano voice, that was less clear than penetrating… In her action she was very happy; and as her performance possessed that flexibility of muscles and face-play which constitute expression, she succeeded equally well in furious, tender, and amorous parts… she was born for singing and acting". (…) It was finally clear that the rivalries that existed were not, in fact, between the singers, but between their respective unruly patrons. Bachtrack
One can only imagine the frenzy that would have occurred in the late 1950s had one of the leading opera composers of the day (Britten? Poulenc? Menotti?) written an opera for Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi—with Franco Corelli as their leading man. That’s what it must have been like in 1726 London when Handel composed Alessandro for perhaps the three most famous (and expensive) singers of the day. Despite its initial runaway success, today it remains one of Handel’s least performed works; however, that may be changing with the release of not one, but two new recordings. Established by a collective of the British aristocracy to assure a steady stream of Italian opera in London, the Royal Academy of Music opened in 1720 with Giovanni Porta’s Numitore quickly followed by Radamisto by Handel. His trio of masterpieces (written in less than year)–Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano, and Rodelinda– premiered there, their casts headed by the great castrato Senesino and reigning soprano Francesca Cuzzoni. Ever a pragmatic businessman, Handel soon realized he needed a new sensation to keep interest in the Academy high, so he invited Faustina Bordoni to join his ensemble. That both Cuzzoni and Faustina (as they were popularly known) would regularly be sharing the stage with Senesino created the necessary resurgence of public interest. The two sopranos soon became known as The Rival Queens, a pithy encomium probably derived from their first London appearances together in Alessandro and from Nathaniel Lee’s 1677 verse drama The Rival Queens, or the Death of Alexander the Great. The excitement created by Faustina’s debut soon led to two ferocious cliques, each fiercely committed to its diva. In a letter at the time, Lord Harvey observed that “in short, the whole world is gone mad upon this dispute. No Cuzzonist will go to a tavern with a Faustinian; and the ladies of one party have scratched those of the other out of their list of visits.” The conflict boiled over at the 6 June 1727 Academy performance of Bononcini’s Astianatte when the opposing factions broke out in “Hissing on one Side, and Clapping on the other” and gave rise to “Catcalls, and other great indecencies.” Despite the urban legend that the two sopranos themselves came to blows, no evidence has been found to corroborate that claim. However, the near-riot led to the cancelation of the remainder of the season and precipitated the demise of the Academy, a collapse no doubt furthered by the concurrent success of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera which not coincidentally included a scene parodying Handel’s warring prima donnas. Most commentators offer that the five operas Handel wrote for The Rival Queens—Alessandro, Admeto, Riccardo Primo, Siroe and Tolomeo–are among his weakest. Forced to create two leading female roles of equal prominence no doubt impaired the composer and his librettists. However, all five contain fine music, although only Admeto provides a fully satisfactory music drama. Yet Alessandro became a remarkable popular success and was, after Rinaldo, Handel’s most performed operatic work in his lifetime. (…) Any resemblance to the real Alexander the Great is purely accidental although both Rossane and Clito are also historical figures. Alexander would have been well known as a great hero to most 18th century audiences, but Handel’s work paints him instead mostly as a lover (and a pretty ineffectual one at that). Although there is a subplot involving an attempted coup, so much attention is paid to the two ladies vying for the Emperor’s affections that one is almost surprised when anyone else gets to sing an aria. In fact, of the score’s 36 arias, accompanied recitatives and duets, a full 30 are sung by the leading trio, with the remaining six shared by the other four characters! Although an opera seria, Alessandro runs closer to comedy about a love triangle in which each character’s true feelings remain oddly opaque. Although in love with Rossane, Alessandro toys with Lisaura’s affections—partially for political reasons but also because he likes to play love games. He eventually ends up with Rossane, while Lisaura remains alone, refusing the attentions of King Tassile who has been patiently waiting on the sidelines all along. DeCaffarrelli
Que diriez-vous, d’une pastorale qui se déroulerait à Newgate parmi les voleurs et les putains qui s’y trouvent ? Jonathan Swift (lettre à Alexander Pope,1716 )
Mentionnons les fameuses Faustina et Cozzoni et l’un des frères Senezini, qui passent pour avoir les plus belles voix de l’Europe […]. La Cour, et la Ville, tant hommes que femmes sont divisées en deux partis à leur sujet; l’un pour la Faustina et l’autre pour la Cozzoni. Saussure
TWO of a Trade seldom or ever agree … But who would have thought the Infection should reach the Hay-market and inspire Two Singing Ladies to pull each other’s Coiffs, to the no small Disquiet of the Directors, who (God help them) have enough to do to keep Peace and Quietness between them. … I shall not determine who is the Aggressor, but take the surer Side, and wisely pronounce them both in Fault; for it is certainly an apparent Shame that two such well bred Ladies should call Bitch and Whore, should scold and fight like any Billingsgates. John Arbuthnot ("The DEVIL to pay at St. JAMES’s: Or A full and true ACCOUNT of a most horrid and bloody BATTLE between Madam FAUSTINA and Madam CUZZONI")
Tweedledum et Tweedledee Convinrent d’une bataille ; Car Tweedledum dit que Tweedledee Avait gâté son beau hochet neuf. C’est alors que vola bas un monstrueux corbeau, Noir comme un baril de goudron  Qui effraya tellement les deux héros, Qu’ils en oublièrent complètement leur querelle. Byron
Certains disent, comparé à Bononcini, que Mein Herr Handel n’est qu’un abruti, d’autres affirment qu’à Haendel, il est à peine apte à lui tenir la chandelle Etrange qu’il doive y avoir toute cette différence, entre Tweedle-dum et Tweedle-dee ! Byron
Oh Tweedle Dee Oh Tweedle Dum. La mélodie que fredonnait toujours McDougal alors qu’il combattait son clan rival des McGregor jamais il ne déshonorerait le tartan de son clan. Middle of the road
Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée suivaient confiants l’étoile du Berger Mon Amérique, ma lumière biblique Ma vérité cosmique, c’est de vivre avec toi. Jean Schmitt et Claude Carrère

Pour ceux qui se sont vu trainer par leurs (petits-) enfants voir "Boule et Bill" et ont dû subir à nouveau le fameux tube de Sheila de 1971 …

Et qui n’ont rien d’autre à faire que de se demander d’où pouvait bien venir un tel ovni …

A savoir au départ, si j’ai bien compris, d’une chanson d’un groupe écossais sur une histoire de dispute entre clans écossais ("Tweeldledee tweedledum" issue à l’origine d’une comptine reprise dans un épigramme de Byron moquant la légendaire rivalité, par cantatrices interposées (les fameuses "rival queens" Bordoni et Cuzzoni), Haendel-Bononcini puis par Lewis Carroll et qui veut dire en gros aujourd’hui des gens qui ne savent pas pourquoi ils se disputent: "Tralalère et Tralali" ou "Bonnet blanc, blanc bonnet") …

Les rois mages

Jean Schmitt et Claude Carrère (pour Sheila, 1971)

Refrain

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient des yeux l’étoile du Berger

Je te suivrais, où tu iras j’irais

Fidèle comme une ombre jusqu’à destination

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient des yeux l’étoile du Berger

Comme Christophe Colomb et ses trois caravelles

Ont suivi le soleil avec obstination

Plaise au ciel que j’ouvre mes fenêtres

Le matin au bord d’un étang bleu

Plaise au ciel que rien ne nous arrête

Dans ce monde aventureux

Refrain

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient confiants l’étoile du Berger

Mon Amérique, ma lumière biblique

Ma vérité cosmique, c’est de vivre avec toi

bam bam bam bam bam bam

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient des yeux l’étoile du Berger

Je te suivrais, où tu iras j’irais

Fidèle comme une ombre jusqu’à destination

Plaise au ciel que s’ouvrent les nuages

L’éclaircie dévoile le chemin

Plaise au ciel qu’au terme du voyage

Son triomphe soit le mien

Refrain

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient confiants l’étoile du Berger

Comme Christophe Colomb et ses trois caravelles

Ont suivi le soleil avec obstination

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient des yeux l’étoile du Berger

Je te suivrais, où tu iras j’irais

Fidèle comme une ombre jusqu’à destination

Comme les Rois Mages en Galilée

Suivaient des yeux l’étoile du Berger

Je te suivrais, où tu iras j’irais

Fidèle comme une ombre jusqu’à destination

Voir aussi:

Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum (1970)

CAPUANO, GIOSAFATTE / CAPUANO, MARIO / STOTT, HAROLD (Middle Of The Road)

Do you recall

some years ago ?

Up in the mountains that were white with snow

inside a cavern

McDougal he was plannin’

there’s gonna be a showdown with somebody he knows.

Well he’s been there

a year or so

something will happen very soon I know

I hear him playin’ his bagpipes every mornin’

I think that it’s a warmin’

he’s gathering the clan.

Soon you’ll hear the sound of people shouting

you will see the claymores in their hands

if you knew the reason for their fighting

you would never understand.

Oh

Tweedle Dee

Oh Tweedle Dum.

The tune McDougal always used to hum

While he was fightin’ his rival clan McGregor

Dishonour he would never

the tartan of his clan.

Do you recall

some years ago ?

Up in the mountains that were white with snow

inside a cavern

McDougal he was plannin’

there’s gonna be a showdown with somebody he knows.

Soon you’ll hear the sound of people shouting

you will see the claymores in their hands

if you knew the reason for their fighting

you would never understand.

Oh

Tweedle Dee

Oh Tweedle Dum.

The tune McDougal always used to hum

While he was fightin’ his rival clan McGregor

Dishonour he would never

the tartan of his clan

Voir enfin:

Comptine

En anglais:

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Agreed to have a battle;

For Tweedledum said Tweedledee

Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a monstrous crow,

As black as a tar-barrel;

Which frightened both the heroes so,

They quite forgot their quarrel.

Ce qui signifie à peu près :

Tweedledum et Tweedledee

Convinrent d’une bataille ;

Car Tweedledum dit que Tweedledee

Avait gâté son beau hochet neuf.

C’est alors que vola bas un monstrueux corbeau,

Noir comme un baril de goudron ;

Qui effraya tellement les deux héros,

Qu’ils en oublièrent complètement leur querelle.

Epigramme de Byron:

Some say, compar’d to Bononcini

That Mynheer Handel’s but a Ninny

Others aver, that he to Handel

Is scarcely fit to hold a Candle

Strange all this Difference should be

‘Twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee!

Certains disent, comparé à Bononcini,
Que Mein Herr Handel n’est qu’un abruti
D’autres affirment qu’à Haendel
Il est à peine apte à lui tenir la chandelle
Etrange qu’il doive y avoir toute cette différence
Entre Tweedle-dum et Tweedle-dee !


Impostures littéraires: Les Indiens aussi ! (Ethnic transvestism: From Long Lance to Grey Owl, Iron Eyes Cody to Little Tree, Nasdijj to Ward Churchill and Elizabeth Warren – what does it tell us that we are so easily deceived?)

16 mars, 2013
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Iron Eyes Cody ad (1971)
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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/dc/KilltheIndian.jpg
http://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/warren-harvadflaw.jpeg?w=275&h=240Etrange destinée, étrange préférence que celle de l’ethnographe, sinon de l’anthropologue, qui s’intéresse aux hommes des antipodes plutôt qu’à ses compatriotes, aux superstitions et aux mœurs les plus déconcertantes plutôt qu’aux siennes, comme si je ne sais quelle pudeur ou prudence l’en dissuadait au départ. Si je n’étais pas convaincu que les lumières de la psychanalyse sont fort douteuses, je me demanderais quel ressentiment se trouve sublimé dans cette fascination du lointain, étant bien entendu que refoulement et sublimation, loin d’entraîner de ma part quelque condamnation ou condescendance, me paraissent dans la plupart des cas authentiquement créateurs. (…) Peut-être cette sympathie fondamentale, indispensable pour le sérieux même du travail de l’ethnographe, celui-ci n’a-t-il aucun mal à l’acquérir. Il souffre plutôt d’un défaut symétrique de l’hostilité vulgaire que je relevais il y a un instant. Dès le début, Hérodote n’est pas avare d’éloges pour les Scythes, ni Tacite pour les Germains, dont il oppose complaisamment les vertus à la corruption impériale. Quoique évoque du Chiapas, Las Casas me semble plus occupé à défendre les Indiens qu’à les convertir. Il compare leur civilisation avec celle de l’antiquité gréco-latine et lui donne l’avantage. Les idoles, selon lui, résultent de l’obligation de recourir à des symboles communs à tous les fidèles. Quant aux sacrifices humains, explique-t-il, il ne convient pas de s’y opposer par la force, car ils témoignent de la grande et sincère piété des Mexicains qui, dans l’ignorance où ils se trouvent de la crucifixion du Sauveur, sont bien obligés de lui inventer un équivalent qui n’en soit pas indigne. Je ne pense pas que l’esprit missionnaire explique entièrement un parti-pris de compréhension, que rien ne rebute. La croyance au bon sauvage est peut-être congénitale de l’ethnologie. (…) Nous avons eu les oreilles rebattues de la sagesse des Chinois, inventant la poudre sans s’en servir que pour les feux d’artifice. Certes. Mais, d’une part l’Occident a connu lui aussi la poudre sans longtemps l’employer pour la guerre. Au IXe siècle, le Livre des Feux, de Marcus Graecus en contient déjà la formule ; il faudra attendre plusieurs centaines d’années pour son utilisation militaire, très exactement jusqu’à l’invention de la bombarde, qui permet d’en exploiter la puissance de déflagration. Quant aux Chinois, dès qu’ils ont connu les canons, ils en ont été acheteurs très empressés, avant qu’ils n’en fabriquent eux-mêmes, d’abord avec l’aide d’ingénieurs européens. Dans l’Afrique contemporaine, seule la pauvreté ralentit le remplacement du pilon par les appareils ménagers fabriqués à Saint-Étienne ou à Milan. Mais la misère n’interdit pas l’invasion des récipients en plastique au détriment des poteries et des vanneries traditionnelles. Les plus élégantes des coquettes Foulbé se vêtent de cotonnades imprimées venues des Pays-Bas ou du Japon. Le même phénomène se produit d’ailleurs de façon encore plus accélérée dans la civilisation scientifique et industrielle, béate d’admiration devant toute mécanique nouvelle et ordinateur à clignotants. (…) Je déplore autant qu’un autre la disparition progressive d’un tel capital d’art, de finesse, d’harmonie. Mais je suis tout aussi impuissant contre les avantages du béton et de l’électricité. Je ne me sens d’ailleurs pas le courage d’expliquer leur privilège à ceux qui en manquent. (…) Les indigènes ne se résignent pas à demeurer objets d’études et de musées, parfois habitants de réserves où l’on s’ingénie à les protéger du progrès. Étudiants, boursiers, ouvriers transplantés, ils n’ajoutent guère foi à l’éloquence des tentateurs, car ils en savent peu qui abandonnent leur civilisation pour cet état sauvage qu’ils louent avec effusion. Ils n’ignorent pas que ces savants sont venus les étudier avec sympathie, compréhension, admiration, qu’ils ont partagé leur vie. Mais la rancune leur suggère que leurs hôtes passagers étaient là d’abord pour écrire une thèse, pour conquérir un diplôme, puisqu’ils sont retournés enseigner à leurs élèves les coutumes étranges, « primitives », qu’ils avaient observées, et qu’ils ont retrouvé là-bas du même coup auto, téléphone, chauffage central, réfrigérateur, les mille commodités que la technique traîne après soi. Dès lors, comment ne pas être exaspéré d’entendre ces bons apôtres vanter les conditions de félicité rustique, d’équilibre et de sagesse simple que garantit l’analphabétisme ? Éveillées à des ambitions neuves, les générations qui étudient et qui naguère étaient étudiées, n’écoutent pas sans sarcasme ces discours flatteurs où ils croient reconnaître l’accent attendri des riches, quand ils expliquent aux pauvres que l’argent ne fait pas le bonheur, – encore moins, sans doute, ne le font les ressources de la civilisation industrielle. À d’autres. Roger Caillois (1974)
If the individual wishes, he can add touches to his clothes to make them a costume, expressing whatever he feels at the moment. With the magic deftness of state sorcery, a headband can produce an Indian, a black hat a cowboy badman. Charles Reich (The Greening of America, 1970)
Mythologies or national stories are about a nation’s origins and history. They enable citizens to think of themselves as part of a community, defining who belongs and who does not belong to the nation. The story of the land as shared and developed by enterprising settlers is manifestly a racial story. Sherene H. Razack (Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society)
Depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, les ethnologues nous ont accoutumés à voir dans l’Indien un être rivé à sa communauté fermée au reste du monde. En privilégiant la vision d’informateurs censés préserver la tradition ancestrale, ils excluaient de leur champ d’observation tout ce qui faisaient des Indiens des êtres pareils à nous – c’est-à-dire inauthentiques, avides de changements et d’innovations. La vulgarisation … a fait le reste (…) l’Indien est devenu le dépositaire d’un savoir millénaire miraculeusement préservé; il entretiendrait avec la nature des relations d’une harmonie parfaite; figé hors du temps et de l’Histoire, il échapperait aux mélanges et aux contaminations qui seraient notre sort … Serge Guzinski
D’après Denys Delâge, historien de l’université Laval, les Amérindiens n’étaient pas plus écologiques que nos ancêtres paysans. Les pigeons sauvages étaient pour les Amérindiens ce qu’étaient les poules ou les vaches pour les Canadiens, c’est-à-dire des animaux domestiques. Les tourtes faisaient «partie de l’ordinaire», de leur vie de tous les jours. Les tuer était donc l’équivalent pour le colon de voir un Amérindien abattre une de ses vaches. L’habitant de la Nouvelle-France, tout comme ses descendants vivant dans les campagnes québécoises jusqu’au milieu du XXe siècle, possédait aussi ses propres habitudes écologistes. Selon Delâge, les habitants comprenaient bien qu’il ne fallait pas exterminer tous ses animaux durant une même année, au risque de mourir de faim l’année suivante. Pas question non plus de gaspiller les restes: tout était récupéré. On salait, on congelait ou on mettait en conserve les surplus. Les restes de table servaient de nourriture aux chiens et aux chats, on n’utilisait ni emballage de plastique ni produit chimique. Les vêtements étaient faits de fibres naturelles, de lin et de laine, et lorsqu’ils étaient trop usés, ils étaient recyclés en tapis et en courtepointes. Le bois servait à construire, à chauffer et à récolter de l’eau d’érable. Aucun habitant n’aurait songé à couper à blanc le petit bois si utile près de chez lui. Presque aucun déchet ne venait donc polluer l’environnement de ces habitants. Même le contenu des «bécosses» était parfois utilisé comme engrais. Lequel vivait alors le plus en harmonie avec la nature: le Blanc ou l’Indien? En fait, chacun adaptait son style de vie à ses besoins et ses croyances. Ce style de vie était marqué dans les deux cas par l’autosubsistance, où il fallait gérer habilement ses ressources pour survivre. Les choses ont changé lors du passage à une économie de marché. Pour les cultivateurs, c’est à ce moment que l’agriculture à grande échelle s’est imposée et qu’ils ont commencé à détruire la nature avec la machinerie, la surexploitation des sols et l’utilisation d’engrais chimiques. Pour les Amérindiens, c’est surtout lorsqu’ils ont été intégrés dans un réseau d’échanges international par l’intermédiaire de la traite des fourrures qu’ils ont adopté des gestes jugés aujourd’hui dangereux pour l’environnement. Par exemple, le castor était disparu de plusieurs régions du Québec aussitôt qu’au XVIIe siècle. Le Jésuite Paul Le Jeune, dans la Relation de 1635, s’inquiétait déjà de la surexploitation du castor. Il relate de quelle façon les Montagnais les tuaient tous dans leurs cabanes, alors qu’il leur conseille d’y laisser au moins quelques petits afin qu’ils se reproduisent. Cette surchasse est extrêmement contradictoire avec la vision du monde des Amérindiens évoquée plus haut.  (…) Charles A. Bishop par exemple, un historien américain, croit plutôt que malgré le respect voué à la nature, il n’y avait rien dans les croyances des Amérindiens qui les empêchait de tuer beaucoup d’animaux, à condition que leurs restes soient bien traités et que la traite rapporte quelque chose de bénéfique. C’était bien le cas, puisque un grand nombre d’objets utiles étaient échangés contre des fourrures. Il s’agit peut-être là d’une piste d’explication de l’apparente absence de scrupules des Amérindiens à chasser le castor presque jusqu’à l’extinction complète de l’espèce. (…) Bien que la plupart d’entre eux tuait d’abord les animaux pour survivre, ils considéraient aussi que ces animaux se donnaient et venaient s’offrir à eux. «Cela aurait paru mesquin de ne pas prendre tous les animaux offerts: on pouvait, on devait même, en certains occasions, tuer au-delà des besoins», affirme-t-il. Des sacrifices étaient également réalisés, particulièrement de chiens. Le Père de Charlevoix écrivait dans son Journal historique en 1721 comment les chiens étaient parfois immolés ou suspendus vivants à un arbre par les pattes de derrière jusqu’à la mort lorsque les Amérindiens devaient franchir des rapides ou des passages dangereux. Des pratiques qui auraient fait frémir les défenseurs des droits des animaux d’aujourd’hui… Plusieurs autres gestes pouvaient aussi avoir des conséquences assez graves pour l’environnement. Le père Louis Nicolas racontait dans son Histoire naturelle des Indes qu’il avait vu des Amérindiens couper des arbres entiers pour ramasser les noix ou accéder aux nids d’oiseaux. Les autochtones allumaient également des feux pour toutes sortes de raisons. On fertilisait les terres avec des feux, on régénérait les forêts de pins et d’épinettes ou encore on facilitait le transport. Mais les Amérindiens perdaient parfois le contrôle de ces incendies et en plus de la pollution qu’ils provoquaient, ils détruisaient d’autres plantes et animaux qui n’étaient pas utilisés par la suite. Le grand respect des Amérindiens envers la nature répondait donc surtout à des croyances religieuses. On est bien loin des grands principes écologistes du XXe siècle! Pourquoi cette image de l’Amérindien écologiste existe-t-elle aujourd’hui si elle ne correspond pas à la réalité passée? Selon l’anthropologue américain Shepard Krech III, ce sont les Blancs qui ont créé ce mythe durant les années 1960, parce qu’ils avaient de nouvelles préoccupations pour l’environnement. Krech croit que les Amérindiens n’ont jamais été écologistes, mais qu’ils ont peu à peu adhéré à ce stéréotype et qu’ils l’utilisent maintenant eux-mêmes pour revendiquer de meilleures conditions d’existence. Et s’ils n’ont pas véritablement fait de dommages malgré des comportements parfois nuisibles pour la nature, c’est tout simplement parce qu’ils n’étaient pas assez nombreux et qu’ils n’exploitaient pas les ressources dans le but de faire des profits. Sylvie LeBel
Archie se crée un monde imaginaire très tôt dans son enfance malheureuse. Abandonné de ses parents, il est élevé par deux tantes sévères qui sont déterminées à ne pas laisser leur neveu suivre les traces de son vaurien de père. Il se réfugie dans la lecture et dans un univers peuplé d’images romantiques des Indiens d’Amérique du Nord. Quand il arrive au Canada en 1906, Belaney se dirige vers le lac Témiskaming, une contrée sauvage à la frontière du Québec et de l’Ontario. C’est là qu’il entreprend de créer son propre mythe familial lui donnant des origines apaches du Sud-Ouest américain. Il épouse une Ojibwa du nom d’Angèle et commence à s’approprier des bribes de langue et de culture pour tisser sa propre histoire. Il se teint les cheveux en noir, assombrit sa peau avec du henné et passe des heures devant un miroir à s’exercer au stoïcisme « indien ». Il quitte Angèle et se présente dans son nouveau personnage à Gertrude Bernard, une jeune iroquoise. Archie aime et respecte Gertrude, qu’il appelle Anahareo, mais il ne pourra jamais lui révéler la vérité sur ses véritables origines. (…) Pour assurer sa subsistance, Archie s’essaie à l’écriture. Dans son premier article, destiné à la revue anglaise Country Life, il se présente comme un « écrivain indien » et, pour la première fois, signe « Grey Owl ». Il se lance avec acharnement dans un manuscrit qui paraîtra en 1931 sous le titre de La Dernière Frontière (Men of the Last Frontier). Le livre de Grey Owl relate l’histoire de sa famille inventée, mais révèle aussi son merveilleux talent de conteur et, après sa « conversion » sous l’influence d’Anahareo, sa propension à la conservation et à la défense des castors alors menacés d’extinction. Grey Owl parsème délibérément son style d’imperfections orthographiques et grammaticales qu’il insiste pour que ses éditeurs respectent. Le livre connaît un grand succès, et l’auteur devient l’enfant chéri de la presse canadienne. (…) En 1936, Grey Owl fait un retour triomphant en Angleterre sous le nom de Hiawatha, un personnage que, enfant, il avait imaginé. Partout, il fait salle comble et répète le même message : « La nature ne nous appartient pas, nous lui appartenons." Sa peur d’être découvert croît avec son succès. Au moins un journaliste, Ed Bunyan du Nugget de North Bay, sait que Grey Owl est un imposteur, mais opte de ne pas ébruiter la chose. Les autochtones que rencontre Grey Owl savent généralement qu’il n’est pas des leurs, mais ils apprécient la valeur de son discours. Alors que des anthropologues comme Marius Barbeau rabaissent le mode de vie des autochtones, Grey Owl le célèbre. Toujours en Grande-Bretagne, son succès atteint un summum en 1937 lorsqu’il rencontre le roi et la reine. Il effectue ensuite une frénétique tournée de conférences au Canada et aux États-Unis, mais sa santé, rendue fragile par l’alcool et l’épuisement, il meurt le 7 avril 1938. Dès que le Nugget apprend sa mort, il publie enfin l’article, vieux de trois ans, qui cite Angèle affirmant que Grey Owl est « un blanc pure race ». Les journaux du monde entier s’empare de l’histoire, mais hésitent à condamner Grey Owl. Anahareo réagit avec incrédulité, mais avoue avoir eu l’affreux sentiment d’avoir été mariée pendant toutes ces années à un fantôme. Certes, la vie de Grey Owl relève de la fiction. Elle aura souillé ses relations personnelles, mais sa compassion pour la nature, les animaux sauvages et le mode de vie des autochtones l’auront racheté. À travers sa supercherie complexe, Grey Owl aura réussi à sensibiliser les Canadiens à des questions qu’ils estiment aujourd’hui essentielles à leur bien-être. Encyclopédie canadienne
Quand il ne fut plus possible de douter que l’homme enseveli en Saskatchewan sous le nom de Grey Owl était bel et bien né Belaney en Angleterre, je compris mieux quel extraordinaire excentrique venait de nous quitter, d’une espèce comme seule l’Angleterre sait en produire. Lovat Dickson
Naturellement, la valeur de son œuvre n’est pas compromise pour autant. Tout ce qu’il a accompli en tant qu’écrivain et défenseur de la nature lui survivra. The Ottawa Citizen
Set the blood quantum at one-quarter, hold to it as a rigid definition of Indians, let intermarriage proceed as it [has] and eventually Indians will be defined out of existence. Ward Churchill
At some point after I was hired by them, I . . . provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. My Native American heritage is part of who I am, I’m proud of it and I have been open about it. Elizabeth Warren
Beaucoup de signataires de ce document de soutien n’approuvaient pas le mariage civil entre personnes de même sexe. D’autres n’avaient pas d’idée arrêtée sur la question. Ceci dit, depuis que le Massachusetts (nord-est) et d’autre Etats ont fait du mariage civil entre personnes de même sexe une réalité, (les signataires), comme beaucoup d’Américains, ont réexaminé les faits et leur position et ont conclu qu’il n’y a pas de raison légitime ou basée sur des faits pour refuser aux couples homosexuels la même reconnaissance légale qu’aux couples hétérosexuels. Lettre de personnalités républicaines (dont Clint Eastwood) à la Cour suprême
Adolescent and adult readers have warmed to the uplifting story of how this well-known writer of westerns — author of "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales" and "Cry Geronimo" and friend of Clint Eastwood — came to know the wisdom of his Cherokee ancestors. In the wake of the success of "Dances With Wolves," there is even talk of a Hollywood film. Unfortunately, "The Education of Little Tree" is a hoax. The carefully constructed mask of Forrest Carter — Cherokee cowboy, self-taught writer and spokesman for Native Americans — was simply the last fantasy of a man who reinvented himself again and again in the 30 years that preceded his death in 1979. His real name was Asa (Ace) Earl Carter. (…) Between 1946 and 1973, the Alabama native carved out a violent career in Southern politics as a Ku Klux Klan terrorist, right-wing radio announcer, home-grown American fascist and anti-Semite, rabble-rousing demagogue and secret author of the famous 1963 speech by Gov. George Wallace of Alabama: "Segregation now . . . Segregation tomorrow . . . Segregation forever." He even organized a paramilitary unit of about 100 men that he called the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy. (…) But anyone who transformed himself into a new-age wise man for the greening of America while taking the name of "Forrest" Carter couldn’t have been entirely humorless. Mr. Carter, after all, took his new name from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the tobacco-chewing ex-mule skinner, slave trader and Civil War general who founded the original Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee in 1866. Can this be the same man who wrote "The Education of Little Tree" with its saccharine environmentalism and patronizing descriptions of imaginary Cherokee grandparents? ("They gave themselves . . . to nature, not trying to subdue it, or pervert it, but to live with it. And so they loved the thought, and loving it grew to be it, so that they could not think as the white man.") (…) In his lifetime, Forrest Carter was able to move from Klan rabble-rouser to speech writer for George Wallace’s white backlash to successful author and screenwriter by finding a voice in harmony with a changing America. In Asa Carter’s first book, the rebel outlaw Josey Wales seeks common ground with the Commanche chief, Ten Bears, in a soliloquy that Clint Eastwood repeats in his film. "What ye and me cares about has been butchered . . . raped," Wales tells Ten Bears. "It’s been done by them lyin’, double-tongued snakes that run guv-mints. Guv-mints lie . . . promise . . . back-stab . . . eat in youre lodge and rape youre women and kill when ye sleep on their promises." Even the gentle Little Tree, Mr. Carter’s newly popular hero, learned to despise all representatives of organized society — teachers, politicians, religious leaders — as "powerful monsters who had no regard for how folks had to live and get by." From Tom Mix to Gary Cooper, the task of the traditional western hero was to replace the savage world of the desperado with the civilized community governed by the rule of law. Americans might feel a loss at the end of the frontier, but the word "outlaw" was seldom a compliment. All that changed in the 1960’s. American moviegoers flocked to see Clint Eastwood in "A Fistful of Dollars," his grimy spaghetti western, and by the 1980’s, Rambo was king of the box office. Asa Carter’s celebration of sadomasochistic violence and thinly veiled vigilantism in his westerns of the 1960’s and 70’s had become a powerful theme of American popular culture. In the last three years of his life, with his books on "The Education of Little Tree" and "Cry Geronimo," Mr. Carter changed course. But there are threads that stretch from Asa Carter’s racist pamphlets to his new-age novels of the Native American: We live unto ourselves. We trust no one outside the circle of blood kin and closest comrades. We have no responsibilities outside that closed circle. Government and all its agencies are corrupt. Politics is a lie. What does it tell us that we are so easily deceived? Dan T. Carter

Attention: un bon sauvage peut en cacher un autre !

Faux Pied Noir métis (Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance alias Sylvester Clark Longle), faux Indien anglais (Archibald Belaney dit Grey Owl – Chouette Grise en français, né la même année que le célèbre dhimmi Lawrence d’Arabie : La dernière frontière, Un homme et des bêtes, Sajo et ses castors, Récits de la cabane abandonnée, Ambassadeur des bêtes, L’arbre), faux Indien pleurant sicilien (Iron Eyes Cody alias Espera DeCortile), faux indien ancien suprémaciste et plume de George Wallace et Clint Eastwood (Little tree, alias Forrest Carter et Asa Earl Carter), faux Navajo gay (Nasdijj), fausse petite indienne noire adoptive des quartiers pauvres de Los Angeles (Margaret Seltzer alias Margaret B. Jones), faux universitaire Cherokee qui avait comparé les victimes du 11/9 à des "petits Eichmann" (Ward Churchill), sans parler de Richard Penn Smith (alisas Davy Crockett),  Opal Mehta (plagiaire originaire d’Inde), Laura Albert (fausse transexuelle) ou Herman Rosenblat (faux rescapé des camps nazis) ou la blondissime Elizabeth Warren

A l’heure où, sondages ventriloques obligent et malgré son malencontreux soutien de Romney l’une des dernières images de la virilité occidentale comprise,  les Républicains aux Etats-Unis comme l’UMP en France voire le nouveau pape au Vatican, se voient sommés de revoir leur copie et de se plier au nouveau diktat médiatique du mariage obligatoire pour tous c’est-à-dire en fait pour le dernier bon sauvage en date de notre postmodernité …

Retour, dans notre série des impostures littéraires et outre leur esclavagisme ou leurs vélléités de nettoyeurs ethniques, sur cette longue tradition américaine de travestis ethniques revendiquant une plus ou moins prétendue indianité ….

Qui, comme le rappelait dans le NYT l’historien Dan T. Carter, en dit si long sur l’incommensurable appétit de notre âge pour toute cause dument étiquetée victimaire

The Transformation of a Klansman

Dan T. Carter

The New York Times

October 04, 1991

"Surprising best sellers often provide publishing’s sweetest stories," began a story that appeared in USA Today on Tuesday about the nonfiction paperback hit of the summer, "The Education of Little Tree."

First published in 1976 by Delacorte Press and reprinted in 1986 by the University of New Mexico Press, the late Forrest Carter’s gentle memoir of his Native American childhood has remained in first or second place on The New York Times paperback best-seller list for 14 weeks.

Adolescent and adult readers have warmed to the uplifting story of how this well-known writer of westerns — author of "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales" and "Cry Geronimo" and friend of Clint Eastwood — came to know the wisdom of his Cherokee ancestors. In the wake of the success of "Dances With Wolves," there is even talk of a Hollywood film.

Unfortunately, "The Education of Little Tree" is a hoax. The carefully constructed mask of Forrest Carter — Cherokee cowboy, self-taught writer and spokesman for Native Americans — was simply the last fantasy of a man who reinvented himself again and again in the 30 years that preceded his death in 1979.

His real name was Asa (Ace) Earl Carter. We share a common Southern heritage and he may be a distant relation of mine. Between 1946 and 1973, the Alabama native carved out a violent career in Southern politics as a Ku Klux Klan terrorist, right-wing radio announcer, home-grown American fascist and anti-Semite, rabble-rousing demagogue and secret author of the famous 1963 speech by Gov. George Wallace of Alabama: "Segregation now . . . Segregation tomorrow . . . Segregation forever."

He even organized a paramilitary unit of about 100 men that he called the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy. Among its acts, these white-sheeted sociopaths assaulted Nat (King) Cole during a concert in Birmingham in 1956. In 1957, the group, without Mr. Carter present, castrated a black man they chose at random in a Birmingham suburb as a warning to "uppity" Alabama blacks.

His agent and publishers have described Mr. Carter as a self-taught writer. Indeed he was. For almost 30 years he honed his skills by spewing out racist and anti-Semitic pamphlets. In 1970 he wrote that all N.A.A.C.P. presidents "have been Jews . . . the same gang who financed the Russian Communist Revolution with millions out of New York City."

The same year, in a disquisition on the prospect of black policemen, he wrote: "SOON, you can expect your wife or daughter to be pulled over to the side of the road by one of these Ubangi or Watusi tribesman wearing the badge of Anglo-Saxon law enforcement and toting a gun . . . but [ he will be ] as uncivilized as the day his kind were found eating their kin in the jungle."

Those who knew the gun-toting Ace Carter never found him very amusing, certainly not the two fellow Klansmen who were critically wounded by Mr. Carter in a 1957 shootout over Klan finances. Though Mr. Carter was indicted for assault with intent to murder, the Jefferson County district attorney, influenced by the highly charged racial climate in Alabama, ultimately decided to drop the charges.

But anyone who transformed himself into a new-age wise man for the greening of America while taking the name of "Forrest" Carter couldn’t have been entirely humorless. Mr. Carter, after all, took his new name from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the tobacco-chewing ex-mule skinner, slave trader and Civil War general who founded the original Ku Klux Klan in Tennessee in 1866.

Can this be the same man who wrote "The Education of Little Tree" with its saccharine environmentalism and patronizing descriptions of imaginary Cherokee grandparents? ("They gave themselves . . . to nature, not trying to subdue it, or pervert it, but to live with it. And so they loved the thought, and loving it grew to be it, so that they could not think as the white man.")

One explanation is suggested by the Calhoun County High School yearbook for 1943. The senior class prophet predicted he would return to Calhoun County as a "famous movie star." When he died in Abilene, Tex., of heart failure at the age of 53, he was on his way to California with a screenplay for his second Josey Wales book. Handsome, energetic, ambitious, always the actor, his classmates had known that Asa Carter would do whatever he had to to escape the sleepy little Alabama town of Oxford.

In his lifetime, Forrest Carter was able to move from Klan rabble-rouser to speech writer for George Wallace’s white backlash to successful author and screenwriter by finding a voice in harmony with a changing America.

In Asa Carter’s first book, the rebel outlaw Josey Wales seeks common ground with the Commanche chief, Ten Bears, in a soliloquy that Clint Eastwood repeats in his film. "What ye and me cares about has been butchered . . . raped," Wales tells Ten Bears. "It’s been done by them lyin’, double-tongued snakes that run guv-mints. Guv-mints lie . . . promise . . . back-stab . . . eat in youre lodge and rape youre women and kill when ye sleep on their promises."

Even the gentle Little Tree, Mr. Carter’s newly popular hero, learned to despise all representatives of organized society — teachers, politicians, religious leaders — as "powerful monsters who had no regard for how folks had to live and get by."

From Tom Mix to Gary Cooper, the task of the traditional western hero was to replace the savage world of the desperado with the civilized community governed by the rule of law. Americans might feel a loss at the end of the frontier, but the word "outlaw" was seldom a compliment.

All that changed in the 1960’s. American moviegoers flocked to see Clint Eastwood in "A Fistful of Dollars," his grimy spaghetti western, and by the 1980’s, Rambo was king of the box office. Asa Carter’s celebration of sadomasochistic violence and thinly veiled vigilantism in his westerns of the 1960’s and 70’s had become a powerful theme of American popular culture.

In the last three years of his life, with his books on "The Education of Little Tree" and "Cry Geronimo," Mr. Carter changed course. But there are threads that stretch from Asa Carter’s racist pamphlets to his new-age novels of the Native American: We live unto ourselves. We trust no one outside the circle of blood kin and closest comrades. We have no responsibilities outside that closed circle. Government and all its agencies are corrupt. Politics is a lie.

What does it tell us that we are so easily deceived?

Dan T. Carter, professor of history at Emory University, is working on a biography of George Wallace.

Voir aussi:

The education of Little Fraud

How did a racist speechwriter for George Wallace turn into a "Cherokee" sage and author of a revered multicultural text? The weird tale of Asa ("Forrest") Carter.

Allen Barra

Time

Dec 20, 2001

Twenty-three years ago this past June 7, Forrest Carter was laid to rest in the Carter family plot at D’Armanville Cemetery near Anniston, Ala. A short time later, family members yanked out the old headstone and put in a new one inscribed with the words “Asa Earl Carter, Sept. 4 1925-June 7 1979.”

Forrest must have been spinning in his grave. For the last few years of his life, he tried hard to kill off Asa. And if he had stayed off television, he might have pulled it off.

Forrest Carter was the bestselling author of “The Education of Little Tree: A True Story,” a literary phenomenon that was published 25 years ago this fall and is credited by many as the book that touched off the boom in what is still referred to in publishing as “Native American Lit.” Carter also wrote another famous book, “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales,” whose eponymous ex-Confederate superhero was played by Clint Eastwood in the most influential western since “The Searchers.”

But “Forrest Carter’s” most memorable creation was himself. “Forrest Carter,” revered author of the beloved “Little Tree,” was actually Asa Carter — virulent segregationist, former Klansman, speechwriter for George Wallace and professional racist. In both incarnations, Carter is the focus of new interest. Diane McWhorter’s critically acclaimed history of the civil rights struggle in Birmingham, Ala., “Carry Me Home,” has revealed more about the role of “Ace” as a warrior for white supremacy, while the 25th anniversary publication of Forrest’s “The Education Of Little Tree” — minus the “True Story” subtitle — continues to exalt him as a pillar of New Age wisdom and a multicultural hero.

For a man with just three slim volumes published in his own lifetime, Forrest Carter made a significant impact on American culture. (A fourth book, “Cry Geronimo,” published posthumously, has influenced two screen depictions of the Apache chief.) “The Education of Little Tree,” about an orphan boy named Forrest who learns about life from his sage Cherokee grandparents, has never been out of print since it was first published in 1976 to rave reviews in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere. According to an editor at the now-defunct Delacorte Press, the book sold more than a million copies in hard and soft covers before the University of New Mexico Press picked it up in 1985. Since then, it has become the biggest seller in the publisher’s history and one of the great publishing successes for any university press, selling more than 1,440,000 copies in paperback and at least 56,000 more in cloth.

The sales for “Little Tree” don’t begin to tell the story of the book’s influence. Schoolchildren have been so moved by it that they have formed Little Tree fan clubs. For years there were rumors in Hollywood that Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, and even Stephen Spielberg were interested in filming “Little Tree”; many think “Little Tree” helped shape the depiction of Indians in Costner’s “Dances With Wolves.” In 1991, 15 years after its publication and 12 years after Carter’s death, “Little Tree” won the coveted Abby Award and climbed onto the New York Times’ bestseller list.

Even though “Little Tree” was publicly exposed as fraudulent the very year of its publication, most readers simply refused to believe the evidence. This despite the fact that the Asa/Forrest Carter scandal was known far and wide, at least in academia: The distinguished African-American literary critic Henry Louis Gates wrote a widely discussed piece about it, for example. (In one of the many peculiar twists of the Asa-Forrest saga, some teachers acknowledge the controversy and include it in their lesson plans.) But while some know about the book’s peculiar history, years after the exposé many, perhaps most, new readers and fans who discover the book through the well-received movie version for young adults don’t even know there’s a controversy. That “The Education of Little Tree” was written by the same man who immortalized George Wallace by writing his racist manifesto, the famous “Segregation forever!” speech, is an inconvenient fact that hundreds of thousands of people seem willing to ignore.

Leading the way in the ignoring department is the University of New Mexico Press, which is apparently not about to do anything that might kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Incredibly, UNM’s handsome new 25th anniversary edition (with a cover painting by the Oklahoma Cherokee artist Murv Jacob) makes no mention of Asa Carter or the controversies that have surrounded the book over the years — an omission that Diane McWhorter equates to “publishing a book of Hitler’s paintings without mentioning the word ‘Nazi.’” The specious “biography” that appeared on the book’s back cover in the original UNM edition, which moistly gushed that “Forrest Carter, whose Indian name is Little Tree, was known as ‘Storyteller in Council’ to the Cherokee Nations … His Indian friends always shared a part of his earnings from his writing,” is gone, as is the subtitle “A True Story.” Only the words “Young Adult Fiction” in small print on the corner of the back cover hint at the book’s stormy history. The introduction (which has remained unchanged since the first UNM edition in 1985) by Rennard Strickland, a professor of law at the University of Oregon, blandly tells us that Forrest Carter “wrote a number of important books,” and that “‘Little Tree’ speaks to the human spirit and reaches the very depth of the human soul.”

The University of New Mexico Press declined to comment about its nonacknowledgment of “Little Tree’s” unseemly provenance, referring a reporter to Rennard Strickland. Strickland said he was not consulted by the University of New Mexico about updating his introduction and that his purpose in writing the introduction was to “tell readers what they’d find in this book. I wasn’t doing a history of the controversy.” He added, “I have given my last interview on the subject.”

One of the remarkable things about Forrest Carter’s self-reinvention is how few reminders of his Asa existence still remain. Indeed, aside from a couple of slim pieces of physical evidence, it might be difficult to prove now that Asa and Forrest Carter were the same man.

A few years ago, Buddy Barnett, a childhood friend of Carter’s, produced a first edition of “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales” with an inscription in Carter’s handwriting that reads “Forrest (Asa) Carter.” Veteran Alabama journalist Wayne Greenhaw, who first broke the story of the Asa-Forrest Carter connection, had the handwriting in Barnett’s copy of “Wales” checked against the sample in Asa Earl Carter’s own biography, submitted when he ran for governor in 1970. They matched. In the biography, Carter said that he was born in Oxford, Ala., on Sept. 4, 1925. He claimed his parents, who were dairy farmers, had Cherokee blood in their background, which is either true or a “damn lie,” depending on which family member you speak to. Carter’s brother Doug insists that the family had no Cherokee ancestors, but Barnett claims that “Asa’s mother’s people were Cherokee, and Asa was proud of that fact.”

Some family members recall that while growing up in the Appalachian hills of north Alabama, young Asa Carter pestered older family members for details about Confederate ancestors on both sides of the family. One rode with Morgan’s Raiders, another was a guerrilla fighter with Col. Mosby, the legendary “Grey Ghost.” Maybe Carter had heard family stories of Cherokee ancestors, or maybe he heard stories about the Cherokee when growing up near Chocoloco Creek. Both “Wales” and “Little Tree” feature Cherokee Indians who were Confederate officers. In “Little Tree” the boy makes one of them into his own ancestor: “Granma and Granpa spoke of his Pa in his last years. He was an old warrior. He had joined the Confederate raider, John Hunt Morgan, to fight the faraway, faceless monster of “the guv’mint” that threatened his people and his cabin.” In “Little Tree” Carter brings together the two strains of his ancestry — one real and one, it would appear, assumed — to account for the famed “Rebel Yell”: “Exultation … brought the rebel Indian yell rumbling from his chest and out of his throat, screaming, savage.”

Carter graduated from high school in 1942, joined the Navy and became, like his future boss George Wallace, a boxing champ. He told friends he turned down the Army because he wanted to fight the Japanese rather than the Germans, his “racial kin.” After the war, Carter married Thelma India Walker, a high school sweetheart, moved to Colorado, and attended the state university. After graduating, he returned to Alabama and established a career as a full-time racist.

Around Birmingham, you can still find copies of the Southerner, a monthly magazine devoted to white supremacy, which Carter helped found. Collectors of civil-rights era memorabilia have copies of his radio broadcasts and pamphlets from his 1970 campaign for governor. In one of these, he warned white Alabamians about the prospect of black policemen: “Soon, you can expect your wife or daughter to be pulled over to the side of the road by one of these Ubangi or Watusi tribesmen wearing the badge of Anglo-Saxon law enforcement and toting a gun… but (he’ll be) as uncivilized as the day his kind were found eating their kin in a jungle.”

After getting fired from a radio station for criticizing National Brotherhood Week, Carter formed a group called the White Citizens Council, an organization that espoused the same fundamental views as the KKK. Carter’s association didn’t last; he couldn’t stomach the idea of making a common cause with anti-integrationist Jews, even to segregate blacks.

Instead, he helped create a new and even more virulent organization, the original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy, whose members wore Confederate gray robes instead of white. In Carter’s view, the old KKK had become too soft and compromised. Various acts of violence were associated with the new Kluxers, the most famous being the assault on Nat “King” Cole at a concert in Birmingham in 1957. Less well known but far uglier was the 1957 abduction of a black handyman named Edward Aaron who had offended members of Carter’s group with inflammatory talk of forced integration. The abductors, never identified, sliced off Aaron’s scrotum and poured turpentine on his wounds. According to his childhood pal Buddy Barnett, Carter — who openly advocated violence in his speeches and articles — was appalled by the coldbloodedness of the attack. But Don Carter, who wrote a biography of George Wallace, took a darker view, saying, “[Carter] had a long history of violence, in fact, it’s not an exaggeration to call him something of a … psychopath.”

By 1958, disillusioned with the new Klan’s leadership, whom he called “a bunch of trash,” he quit the group. With few prospects and four kids to feed in Anniston, Asa Carter took an ill-advised turn into politics, running for state lieutenant governor. He finished fifth in a five-man field.

Alabama’s most powerful moderate in the second half of the decade was George Wallace. In 1958, stunned over his loss in the governor’s race to Klan-backed John Patterson, Wallace famously swore to an aide that he’d never be “outsegged” again. (Or, as some of Wallace’s less flattering biographers have phrased it, “outniggered.”) The solution was the talented but unstable Asa Carter, whom Wallace’s aides thought they could keep, as one of them now admits, “under wraps.”

Till the day he died, George Wallace denied that he ever knew Asa Carter. He may have been telling the truth. “Ace,” as he was called by the staff, was paid off indirectly by Wallace cronies, and the only record that he ever wrote for Wallace was the word of former Wallace campaign officials such as finance manager Seymore Trammell. “He lived out of back offices in Wallace’s headquarters,” says Wayne Greenhaw. “He’d see his wife and kids on weekends and be a family man. During the weekdays he’d hole up in his room with his typewriter, a quart of whiskey, a dozen packs of Pall Malls and a gun.” Adds a former campaign official: “A revolver, an Old West type of gun.”

From this back room, Asa Carter wrote the most famous racist rhetoric of the civil rights era, words that would reach and be remembered by more people than anything published by Forrest Carter. From the steps of the Alabama state capitol building, on Inauguration Day, 1963, Wallace delivered the speech that, for sheer grandiloquence, rivals Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.” “In the name of the greatest people that ever tread the earth,” thundered Wallace, “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny. And I say: Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Wallace’s national reputation was made.

When Wallace ran his wife, Lurleen, for governor in his place, there was talk of making Carter her press secretary, but cooler heads among Wallace’s advisors suggested that this might be too high-profile for a man with Carter’s past. He was kept on for a while as a speechwriter until Lurleen Wallace died of cancer. By 1968 Wallace was ready to run for president and had to clean up his rhetoric. All ties to “Ace” were cut. Deserted and, he felt, betrayed, Carter ran against Wallace for the governor’s seat in 1970. In his TV commercials, Carter looked large, thick-set and barrel-chested, with dark, thick, Russian-like hair and eyebrows. He looked like George Wallace’s bigger, meaner brother. Positioned in front of a Confederate flag, he railed against “race-mixing,” Communists in Hollywood and anything else he could tie to the “guv’mint” in Washington. He finished last.

Wales was born out of the ashes of Asa Carter’s political defeat, just as, in Carter’s novel, Wales rises from the ruins of the old Confederacy. In 1973 Carter and his wife, Thelma, sold their Alabama home and moved to Florida where Carter could get away from his political debacle. Within a year, a new Carter emerged, slimmer, darker (all that Florida sun) and with a new name: Forrest. The name was chosen in homage to Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, the infamous Confederate cavalry general and a founder of the Ku Klux Klan. And, like Wales, Forrest Carter went to Texas to begin a new life — one that was to definitively disprove F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that there are no second acts in American life.

From writing racist speeches, Carter turned to writing genre fiction. In 1973 Eleanor Friede at Delacorte Press accepted his first novel, “Gone to Texas,” for publication. Carter was now spending time around Abilene, visiting his sons (whom he referred to, for reasons that remain unclear, as his nephews) and making new friends. He told them that he was from Florida, that he had Cherokee family in north Alabama and that he was an official “story teller” and “oral historian” for the Cherokee nation. He dressed in jeans and string ties and affected a folksy speech pattern. He performed what he called Cherokee songs and dances for his friends. To the surprise of his friends and family, and probably Carter himself, “Gone to Texas” was published and, thanks to Friede’s clout, even got reviewed in publications that ignored westerns. It sold well, pleasing the vast readership of Louis L’Amour, but also impressing a handful of readers beyond the western audience that an intense new sensibility was at work in the tired and predictable genre. Carter was delighted to promote his book with personal appearances. An Austin bookseller recalls that “He was such a great storyteller that people who heard him, people who didn’t buy westerns, bought his books.”

What kind of people have bought Forrest Carter’s books? Certainly the Wales novels appealed to the readers of pulp westerns and action-adventure novels. But Carter also seemed to make fans of thousands who wanted something more from their pulp — and the story he told shared important themes with his lone wolf, white-supremacist past. The character of Wales is a superhero-like conflation of several Confederate guerrilla fighters of the Civil War and post-Civil War era, particularly Jesse James and Cole Younger. Wales is a child of the mountains, and “he preferred the mountains to remain wild, free, unfettered by law and the irritating hypocrisy of organized society.” Wales is white, but “His kinship . . . was closer to the Cherokee than to his social brothers of the flatland.” Like thousands of ex-Confederates, he hangs a “G.T.T.” sign on his door — “Gone to Texas” — and flees through Indian country, pursued, long after it would seem necessary, by federal soldiers and marshals. Before the novel ends, the Goya-esque landscape is cluttered with corpses, almost in anticipation of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.”

In contrast to the Wales stories, “The Education of Little Tree” is a sweet, sad idyll, a pastiche of pop Zen and New Age homilies crossed with a dash of down-home red-in-tooth-and-claw Darwinism. On the surface “Little Tree” is a story of peace and tolerance; at its heart it shares much with the bloody Wales books. Carter’s philosophy of implacable nature is displayed in a passage where Little Tree is saddened when a hawk tears a harmless quail to pieces. “Don’t feel sad, Little Tree. It is the Way. Tal-con caught the slow and so the slow will raise no children who are also slow … and so Tal-con lives by the Way. He helps the quail.” And so, in nature’s harmony, the dominant species rules. Man upsets the harmony by empowering the weak. Government corrupts nature by helping the weak.

In addition to wisdom from Granpa and Granma, Little Tree learns life lessons from a kindly Jewish peddler, “Mr. Wine.” Mr. Wine, anticipating Milton Friedman by half a century, says, “If you was loose with your money, then you would get loose with your time, loose with your thinking and practically anything else. If a whole people got loose, then politicians seen they could get control. They would take over loose people and before long you had a dictator. Mr. Wine said no thinking people ever had a dictator.” Fascists, of course, do not regard their leaders as dictators but as expressions of their own will.

Perhaps no two books by the same author have ever had so few readers in common. But scratch the surface of “Little Tree’s” Native American worldview and you’ll find a Confederate-minded noble savage. In fact, the Cherokees in both “Little Tree” and the Wales’ books are honorary Confederates, fighting the evils of what both Little Tree and Wales call “guv’mint.”

Sometime in late 1973 Bob Daley, a producer for Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions in California, received a book with a note for Eastwood. “The letter spoke of Clint’s ‘kind eyes,’” says Daley. “I thought, ‘Who in the world thinks that Clint Eastwood has ‘kind eyes’? I was curious.” Daley didn’t read westerns, but he gave “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales” a try. Intrigued, he talked Clint into giving it a try; the next day Eastwood told Daley to buy it for Malpaso. Carter’s cut was $25,000 for screen rights — not bad for a first-time author writing in a pulp genre — with an additional $10,000 if the film was made.

A short time later Carter called to say he’d be in the area and wanted to stop by. “Fine,” said Daley, “where will you be? Los Angeles? He said, ‘No, I’ll be in Dallas.’ I just looked at the phone, wondering what kind of character we’d gotten involved with.” Daley had no idea. When Carter arrived, he was staggeringly drunk and proceeded to piss all over the office carpet. Daley had an assistant hustle him to a hotel.

The next day, sober, he made his way back to Daley’s office. “He no sooner got there,” Daley recalls, “than he said, ‘Well, it was fine meetin’ ye, but I reckin’ I’d better be gittin’ ta home.’ It took me a moment to realize that he was talking like Wales. I thought, ‘This is worse than I thought.’ I talked him into staying another night to have dinner with some of my people from the production office. Again, he showed up drunk, and he pulled a knife and held it to the throat of one of our secretaries. He later said it was all a joke.”

The film’s first director, Philip Kaufman, was not impressed by “The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales.” “‘Fascist’ is an overworked word,” says Kaufman from his California home, “but the first time I looked at that book that’s what I thought: ‘This was written by a crude fascist.’ It was nutty. The man’s hatred of government was insane. I felt that that element in the script needed to be severely toned down. But Clint didn’t, and it was his movie.” Eastwood eventually fired Kaufman and went on to direct himself.

Then, the same year as the release of “Josey Wales” came the publication of “Little Tree,” and Carter was on the verge of superstardom. But Carter’s gift for promotion became his undoing. In 1975 Carter appeared on the Barbara Walters show, doing pre-publicity for the Eastwood film “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and Carter’s upcoming books, “Little Tree” and his second western, “The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales.” He smiled, winked and squinted under the brim of his black cowboy hat, but moments after his appearance NBC was bombarded by calls from area code 205. A handful of his old cronies in Alabama had made him. Forrest Carter’s days were numbered.

The mask was crumbling, and 1976 brought with it a double blow from which Carter never recovered. First, his distant cousin Dan Carter, a historian and future biographer of George Wallace, wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times blowing the whistle on the identity of the new literary lion from Texas. Shortly after, Carter’s nemesis, Alabama journalist Wayne Greenhaw, wrote a piece — also for the New York Times — digging even deeper into his sordid past. But neither story would have any effect on book sales; indeed, at first, it seemed as if the stories would have no effect on Carter’s career at all. Delacorte Press’s Eleanor Friede publicly denied any connection between Ace and Forrest; for Carter’s new friends in Texas, many of whom weren’t disposed to give the New York Times much credence anyway, that was good enough.

For two years, Forrest Carter hung on in Texas, playing the local celebrity and trying to let Asa Carter fade back into the past. In 1978, in Dallas, he appeared at the Wellesley Book and Author Patron Party, sitting on a distinguished panel including historians Lon Tinkle, Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey and, incredibly, Barbara Tuchman. He played the folksy noble savage to the hilt, winning over both the panel and the audience. Tuchman laughed out loud when Carter embraced her and called her “a good ol’ Jew girl.”

I met Forrest Carter shortly after that at the Houston airport, working on a profile for the Houston Post. He was lean and sunburned and had a bushy mustache; he reminded me of an old photo of Wyatt Earp. Wearing a broad Stetson, he looked like a figure in a Remington painting in sunglasses. As a student in Birmingham I had watched him on TV when he ran for governor, but I wouldn’t have recognized him as Asa if he had been pointed out to me.

I knew him only as the author of “The Education Of Little Tree,” a book that I had regarded as inconsequential when I first read it, and of “Gone to Texas,” which seemed a brutal but above-average genre piece. I vaguely remembered having seen something in the New York Times about Asa Carter’s having gone off somewhere and started a new life for himself, but I never connected the bellowing hatemonger on TV with the grizzled-looking urban cowboy who mumbled as if he was the character in Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” who spoke in “authentic frontier gibberish.” We talked about his second Wales novel and about his recently finished book on Geronimo. I asked him if Clint Eastwood would be involved in the rumored next movie about Wales. He looked at me warily from under his hat, puffed on a cigarette and said, “I think Clint’s had all he can take ‘a me.” He offered that “Robert Duvall kinda looks more like my Josey” and would make a “good ‘un.”

I told Carter that I thought his Wales novels were an attempt to win back the values on a mythical level that the Confederacy had lost on the battlefield. Carter squinted at me, smiled and said, “The values of a civilization never die so long as they’re kept alive in legend.”

I never got a chance to write my story. Shortly afterward, Forrest Carter was dead. Exactly how and why has never been made clear. Friends said that he had been drinking; rumors of Asa were starting to reach Abilene. One Texas friend said Carter aged 10 years between 1976 and 1978, largely because of his fear of the trickle-down from Dan Carter’s piece. Though it took a year and a half for Carter’s Op-Ed to have an effect, Carter began to feel the heat. A canceled speaking gig at a university here, a call from a local paper wanting to discuss the controversy there. By the summer of ’78, said a friend, “Forrest was a mess. None of us understood at the time, but after the tragedy we could see in retrospect he was turning into a nervous wreck.”

One night in June, Carter stopped off to visit one of his sons in Potosi, just south of Abilene. Perhaps two hours later, an ambulance arrived to pick up Forrest Carter’s body. The death certificate listed “aspiration of food and clotted blood” as probable cause. It also mentioned a “history of fights.” A story circulated that Carter had gotten into a drunken fight with his son and choked on his own vomit; one of the ambulance drivers said the scenario fit. An old friend from Birmingham conjectured that a fight between father and son broke out over the treatment of Carter’s wife, whom he apparently deserted in Florida. Thelma Carter later resurfaced in Alabama, and has gone into seclusion, refusing to discuss her years with Asa.

Most of Forrest Carter’s friends received a triple shock the next day when they picked up the papers. First was the news of his violent death. Added to that was the fact that many did not know he really was, or was suspected of being, the notorious Asa Carter. Finally, most had never heard Carter talk of having a son.

The question of whether the “The Education of Little Tree” represented a conscious attempt by Forrest Carter to rehabilitate himself can never be answered. In the essay mentioned above, Henry Louis Gates argued, as others have, that the sordid past of the author is irrelevant to the book’s message and theme, which is one of tolerance and acceptance. The problem is that when one scratches the surface of the idyllic world of “Little Tree” one finds a philosophy as harsh and unforgiving as the one Josie Wales lives, a world where even the mention of “guv’mint” inspires hatred, paranoia and fear. One might even question whether “Little Tree” is really the plea for racial tolerance that its supporters have always maintained. American Indian activist Vine Deloria Jr. long ago noted that white American men who would bristle at the suggestion that they had African or Asian blood are often quick to claim Indian ancestry so long as the connection is on the mother’s side (as Carter said his was) and Cherokee (also as Carter claimed). Why? Perhaps out of guilt at the deposal of the Cherokee from the eastern states, but more likely because it seems the safest connection to the “real” America, the one experienced by noble savages before the corrupting influences of civilization — of “guv’mint.” Like Asa Carter, many American males see a spiritual kinship between their ancestors, the savage Celts and Anglo-Saxons, and the American Indian, and to be born with Indian blood somehow better justifies being born with a chip on one’s shoulder than being born white.

There appears to be no simple answer to who Carter was, or exactly what his books are about, but for some the solution is to simply deny the apparent contradiction between the legacy of Asa and Forrest. Indeed, some continue to deny that they were even the same man. Eleanor Friede, who manages the Carter literary estate, no longer goes that far, but insisted to the New York Times after Carter’s death that “There was nothing anti-black or anti-Jewish about the man I knew.” (Friede, who is Jewish, says she is retired and declined, through a representative, to be interviewed for this story). To Buddy Barnett, his childhood friend, “Forrest wasn’t no bigot, just somebody who wanted to see right done to Indians.”

However his books should be interpreted, as works of the imagination they pale before the most remarkable creation of Asa Carter’s strange, short literary life: that half-breed ancestor of Confederate soldiers and Cherokee warriors named Forrest Carter.

 Voir également:

Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance: The Glorious Impersonator.

Donald B. Smith.

Red Deer, AB: Red Deer Press (Distributed by Raincoast Books), 1999.

400 pp., pbk., $19.95.

ISBN 0-88995-197-7.

Review by A.D. Gregor.

****

excerpt:

He was one of the most famous North American Indians of his day.

Newspapers and magazines hungered for stories about him but kept their research to a minimum. Reporters reveled in his many achievements: athlete, war hero, journalist, biographer, full-blooded Indian chief, public lecturer, Indian rights advocate, actor pilot. The story went that he had once trained with the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe; he had once sparred with none other than Jack Dempsey. An American president had granted him a special appointment to West Point; a grateful French nation had awarded him the Croix de Guerre for exceptional military valor. Born a Blood Indian in a teepee in the Sweetgrass Hills near the Canadian-American border, Long Lance had risen in celebrity through intellect, charm, courage and tremendous will. He was, one reporter claimed, one hundred percent American.

Written by a history professor at the University of Calgary, Long Lance is a carefully researched and well-illustrated study, presented in a fashion that would very much appeal to any adolescent reader (and to any adult reader, for that matter). It is a remarkable story that bears some interesting resemblance to the more familiar Grey Owl legend. Long Lance was an American black born in 1890 in North Carolina, who through the next four decades, until his suicide in 1932, assumed the persona of a full-blood Aboriginal (Canadian or American, as the story evolved). Despite reckless lies and ever-changing personal histories, he was able to fool most of the people most of the time, rising to international prominence as the spokesman of the aboriginal peoples. That he was not entirely able to fool all the people all the time lends the edge of a mystery novel to the story, as time and again he narrowly evades eventual and inevitable disclosure. But while the invented identity held, Long Lance attained wealth and fame, as a writer, editor, speaker, socialite, and even movie star.

In part the fraud began as an attempt to elude the foreordained fate that his birth had allotted him; but as he entered the aboriginal culture and history, he turned his talents and prominence to becoming a champion of their cause. Indeed, the theme of his story is balanced between the poles of celebrity (actively seeking fame and material rewards), and service to his adopted culture. He shamelessly used his fabricated persona for personal advancement: entry to educational institutions (including West Point, though this was not taken up) and to high-paying jobs. At the same time, the prominence he thereby acquired was put to important social use in bringing the plight of the aboriginal population to a public that might not otherwise have paid attention.

Long Lance’s story involved a number of settings and institutions in both Canada and the United States ranging from black communities in the American south to Indian Reservations in Canada, and from an American military academy to the Canadian army. It involved as well a significant cast of players: from Indian Commissioners, to newspaper proprietors. In all of these settings and with all of these people, the author provides careful detail and interpretation. The reader is moved along by a story of adventure and intrigue; but is in the process acquiring some very valuable insights into aspects of our history and culture. As self-styled (and self-invented) champion of he aboriginal cause, Long Lance wanted to "tell their story." This he did for his own generation; but his life and influence have faded over the intervening decades. In tracing Long Lance’s remarkable life, Donald Smith has allowed that important story to be re-told to a new generation.

Highly Recommended.

Alexander D. Gregor is a professor of educational history in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

Voir encore:

La grande supercherie de Grey Owl

L’Encyclopédie canadienne

Si les héros ne sont pas parfaits, Archie Belaney, alias Grey Owl, l’est moins que la plupart. En effet, alors qu’il était le plus célèbre des Canadiens de son époque, ses œuvres, pourtant bonnes et considérables, reposaient, à la base, sur un mensonge.

Archie se crée un monde imaginaire très tôt dans son enfance malheureuse. Abandonné de ses parents, il est élevé par deux tantes sévères qui sont déterminées à ne pas laisser leur neveu suivre les traces de son vaurien de père. Il se réfugie dans la lecture et dans un univers peuplé d’images romantiques des Indiens d’Amérique du Nord.

Quand il arrive au Canada en 1906, Belaney se dirige vers le lac Témiskaming, une contrée sauvage à la frontière du Québec et de l’Ontario. C’est là qu’il entreprend de créer son propre mythe familial lui donnant des origines apaches du Sud-Ouest américain. Il épouse une Ojibwa du nom d’Angèle et commence à s’approprier des bribes de langue et de culture pour tisser sa propre histoire.

Il se teint les cheveux en noir, assombrit sa peau avec du henné et passe des heures devant un miroir à s’exercer au stoïcisme « indien ». Il quitte Angèle et se présente dans son nouveau personnage à Gertrude Bernard, une jeune iroquoise. Archie aime et respecte Gertrude, qu’il appelle Anahareo, mais il ne pourra jamais lui révéler la vérité sur ses véritables origines.

Anahareo travaille à ses côtés, mais déteste la souffrance que les pièges d’Archie font subir aux animaux. Un jour où il attrape et tue une mère castor, il entend les cris de ses petits et s’apprête à leur donner le même sort, Anahareo le supplie de les épargner et, étonnement, il y consent. Au fil de l’hiver et de l’été 1929, les deux castors font sa conquête. Ils réveillent en lui « la tendresse qui dort dans le cœur de l’être humain », dira-t-il. Dès lors, tuer ces bêtes lui apparaît monstrueux et il ne pourra plus le faire.

Pour assurer sa subsistance, Archie s’essaie à l’écriture. Dans son premier article, destiné à la revue anglaise Country Life, il se présente comme un « écrivain indien » et, pour la première fois, signe « Grey Owl ». Il se lance avec acharnement dans un manuscrit qui paraîtra en 1931 sous le titre de La Dernière Frontière (Men of the Last Frontier).

Le livre de Grey Owl relate l’histoire de sa famille inventée, mais révèle aussi son merveilleux talent de conteur et, après sa « conversion » sous l’influence d’Anahareo, sa propension à la conservation et à la défense des castors alors menacés d’extinction. Grey Owl parsème délibérément son style d’imperfections orthographiques et grammaticales qu’il insiste pour que ses éditeurs respectent. Le livre connaît un grand succès, et l’auteur devient l’enfant chéri de la presse canadienne. À sa lecture, le commissaire des parcs James Harkin décide d’inviter Grey Owl à assurer « l’intendance des animaux du parc » au parc national du Mont-Riding, au Manitoba, puis au parc national de Prince-Albert, en Saskatchewan.

En 1936, Grey Owl fait un retour triomphant en Angleterre sous le nom de Hiawatha, un personnage que, enfant, il avait imaginé. Partout, il fait salle comble et répète le même message : « La nature ne nous appartient pas, nous lui appartenons. »

Sa peur d’être découvert croît avec son succès. Au moins un journaliste, Ed Bunyan du Nugget de North Bay, sait que Grey Owl est un imposteur, mais opte de ne pas ébruiter la chose. Les autochtones que rencontre Grey Owl savent généralement qu’il n’est pas des leurs, mais ils apprécient la valeur de son discours. Alors que des anthropologues comme Marius Barbeau rabaissent le mode de vie des autochtones, Grey Owl le célèbre.

Toujours en Grande-Bretagne, son succès atteint un summum en 1937 lorsqu’il rencontre le roi et la reine. Il effectue ensuite une frénétique tournée de conférences au Canada et aux États-Unis, mais sa santé, rendue fragile par l’alcool et l’épuisement, il meurt le 7 avril 1938.

Dès que le Nugget apprend sa mort, il publie enfin l’article, vieux de trois ans, qui cite Angèle affirmant que Grey Owl est « un blanc pure race ». Les journaux du monde entier s’empare de l’histoire, mais hésitent à condamner Grey Owl. Anahareo réagit avec incrédulité, mais avoue avoir eu l’affreux sentiment d’avoir été mariée pendant toutes ces années à un fantôme.

Certes, la vie de Grey Owl relève de la fiction. Elle aura souillé ses relations personnelles, mais sa compassion pour la nature, les animaux sauvages et le mode de vie des autochtones l’auront racheté. À travers sa supercherie complexe, Grey Owl aura réussi à sensibiliser les Canadiens à des questions qu’ils estiment aujourd’hui essentielles à leur bien-être.

James H. Marsh est rédacteur en chef de L’Encyclopédie canadienne.

L’Encyclopédie canadienne Copyright © 2013 Fondation Historica du Canada

Voir encore:

Grey Owl

Un moment de notre histoire…

RESOURCES PÉDAGOGIQUES

Alias " Grey Owl ", il a persuadé le monde entier qu’il appartenait aux Premières Nations, et est devenu l’un des personnages canadiens les plus célèbres. D’origine anglaise, la véritable identité de Grey Owl a été mise à jour peu après sa mort et, dans le tollé général qui suivit cette découverte, on en vint à ignorer complètement sa lutte pour la protection de la nature. Mais la génération suivante a reconnu en Grey Owl un ardent défenseur de notre patrimoine naturel, et le message écologique qui se dégage de ses textes est encore actuel aujourd’hui. Sans sa détermination et sa passion, le Canada aurait bien pu perdre des grands pans de sa beauté naturelle. Grey Owl a sensibilisé un pays entier à la protection de la flore et de la faune.

Issu d’un milieu riche, Archibald Belaney est né en 1888, à Hastings, en Angleterre. Fasciné par les Autochtones de l’Amérique du Nord, il avait une connaissance impressionnante des groupes linguistiques autochtones et de leurs tribus. À l’âge de 17 ans, il quitta l’Angleterre pour le Canada, dans l’intention d’y faire de la trappe.

Au lac Temagami, en Ontario, ses amis Ojibwa le surnommèrent " petit hibou ", soulignant ses talents d’observation et sa soif de tout connaître sur le mode de vie des Amérindiens. En 1915, il entra dans les forces canadiennes et subit, en France, des blessures qui allaient le tourmenter toute sa vie. À son retour au Canada, Archie prit l’identité de son alter ego, Grey Owl, le fils d’un Écossais et d’une Apache.

En 1925, il épousait selon la coutume autochtone une iroquoise appelée Anahareo. Ensemble, ils s’établirent comme gardes forestiers et commencèrent à trapper le castor. Mais la vie de trappeur était cruelle et répugnait à Anahareo. Elle persuada Grey Owl de construire des colonies de castors plutôt que de les trapper pour le commerce. Converti à l’écologie, il se fit le défenseur de la nature et des animaux dans ses articles et ses livres.

En 1931, Grey Owl devint le " gardien des animaux " du parc national du mont Riding, au Manitoba. Des milliers de personnes ont pu apprécier sa passion pour la faune dans le premier film qu’il prépara pour le Service des parcs nationaux. Dans la même année, on écrivit des critiques dithyrambiques à la sortie de son premier ouvrage, The Men of the Last Frontier. Il publia plus tard Pilgrims of the Wild, ainsi qu’un livre pour enfants, intitulé Sajo and Her Beaver People.

Sa renommée était telle qu’il entreprit un voyage en Angleterre, en 1936, pour donner des conférences. On s’arrachait ses livres lorsqu’il publia son quatrième ouvrage, Tales of an Empty Cabin. Sa tournée anglaise connut un grand succès, mais elle l’épuisa et ébranla son mariage ainsi que sa santé mentale. En 1936, Grey Owl quitta Anahareo et se remaria. Il tomba malade après une série de conférences en Angleterre, au Canada et aux États-Unis. On l’hospitalisa sur-le-champ, mais il mourut trois jours plus tard, le 13 avril 1938.

Bibliographie:

Anahareo. Devil in Deerskin: My Life with Grey Owl. Toronto : New Press, 1972.

Dickson, Lovat. "Half-Breed: The Story of Grey Owl." London : Peter Davies, 1939.

Dickson, Lovat "The Green Leaf: A Memorial to Grey Owl." London : Lovat Dickson Limited, 1938.

Owl, Grey "Tales of an Empty Cabin." Toronto : Key Porter Books, 1998.

Ruffo, Armand Garnet. "Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney." Regina : Coteau Books, 1997.

Smith, Donald. "From the Land of Shadows: The Making of Grey Owl." Saskatoon : Western Producer Prairie Books, 1990.

"The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia.[en ligne]" " Grey Owl " McClelland & Stewart, 1997.

Voir de plus:

Iron Eyes Cody

Snopes

Claim: The actor known as Iron Eyes Cody was a true-born Native Indian.

Status: False.

Origins: Although no one could say exactly when we humans first began to have concerns about the effects our activities have on our environment, most of us baby boomers could pinpoint 1970-71 as the Iron Eyes Cody timespan during which we first became aware of the « ecology movement, » as the era when concern for what humans were doing to the world they lived in ran at a fever pitch. Protecting the planet’s resources by calling upon each person to pitch in and do whatever he or she could do to limit the abuse was seen as the right and proper focus of the times. High schools offered classes in ecology. Public school students painted posters decrying pollution. And television ads worked to remind everyone that the problem was real, here, and now.

Three events which occurred during the year between March 1970 and March 1971 helped bring the concept of « ecology » into millions of homes and made it a catchword of the era. One was the first annual Earth Day, observed on 21 March 1970. The second was Look magazine’s promotion of the ecology flag in its 21 April 1970 edition, a symbol that was soon to become as prominent a part of American culture as the ubiquitous peace sign. The third — and perhaps the most effective and unforgettable — was the television debut of Keep America Beautiful’s landmark « People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It » public service ad on the second Earth Day in March 1971.

In that enduring minute-long TV spot, viewers watched an Indian paddle his canoe up a polluted and flotsam-filled river, stream past belching smokestacks, come ashore at a litter-strewn river bank, and walk to the edge of a highway, where the occupant of a passing automobile thoughtlessly tossed a bag of trash out the car window to burst open at the astonished visitor’s feet. When the camera moved upwards for a close-up, a single tear was seen rolling down the Indian’s face as the narrator dramatically intoned: « People start pollution; people can stop it. »

That « crying Indian, » as he would later sometimes be referred to, was Iron Eyes Cody, an actor who throughout his life claimed to be of Cherokee/Cree extraction. Yet his asserted ancestry was just as artificial as the tear that rolled down his cheek in that television spot — the tear was glycerine, and the « Indian » a second-generation Italian-American.

(The spurious use of Native Americans to promote « save the Earth » messages was not limited to this one instance. A moving exposition on the sanctity of the land and the need for careful stewardship of it is still widely quoted as the bona fide words of Chief Seattle. Though the chief was real, the speech was not — the words came not from the chief’s own lips in 1854 but flowed from the pen of a screenwriter in 1971.)

Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera DeCorti on 3 April 1904 in the small town of Kaplan, Louisiana. He was the son of Francesca Salpietra and Antonio DeCorti, she an immigrant from Sicily who had arrived in the USA in 1902, and he another immigrant who had arrived in America not long before her. Theirs was an arranged marriage, and the couple had four children, with Espera (or Oscar, as he was called) their second eldest. In 1909, when Espera was five years old, Antonio DeCorti abandoned his wife and children and headed for Texas. Francesca married again, this time to a man named Alton Abshire, with whom she bore five more children.

As teenagers the three DeCorti boys joined their father in Texas. He had since altered his name from Antonio DeCorti to Tony Corti, and the boys apparently followed suit as far as their surname was concerned. In 1924, following their father’s death, the boys moved to Hollywood, changed « Corti » to « Cody, » and began working in the motion picture industry. It was about this time Iron Eyes began presenting himself to the world as an Indian. Iron Eyes’ two brothers, Joseph William and Frank Henry, found work as extras but soon drifted into other lines of work. Iron Eyes went on to achieve a full career as an actor, appearing in well over a hundred movies and dozens of television shows across the span of several decades.

Although Iron Eyes was not born an Indian, he lived his adult years as one. He pledged his life to Native American causes, married an Indian woman (Bertha Parker), adopted two Indian boys (Robert and Arthur), and seldom left home without his beaded moccasins, buckskin jacket and braided wig. His was not a short-lived masquerade nor one that was donned and doffed whenever expedient — he maintained his fiction throughout his life and steadfastly denied rumors that he was not an Indian, even after his half-sister surfaced to tell the story in 1996 and to provide pointers to the whereabouts of his birth certificate and other family documents.

Cody died on 5 January 1999 at the age of 94.

Iron Eyes Cody wasn’t history’s only faux Indian. Others also falsely claimed this mantle:

* Long Lance, the 1928 thrilling first-person account of Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance, was the work of Sylvester Long, an African-American who conned the literary world into believing he was a Cherokee, and then a Cree. While the ruse lasted, Buffalo Child Long Lance was a hit on the lecture circuit and one of the darlings of New York society. His spree ended when the truth about his background was exposed in 1930, and he killed himself with a shot to the head in 1931.

* Grey Owl, a noted Canadian naturalist and author, lived as an Indian and claimed to be half-Apache. Only after his death in 1939 did the world discover he was really an Englishman born Archibald Belaney.

* One of the most popular books on Indian life is Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree, the story of a boyhood spent with Cherokee grandparents. This « autobiography » was yet another fake, penned by Asa Carter, a white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan member.

Even if Iron Eyes was not a true-born Native American, he certainly did a lot of good on behalf of the Native American community, and they generally accepted him as one of them without caring about his true ancestry. In 1995, Hollywood’s Native American community honored Iron Eyes for his longstanding contribution to Native American causes. Although he was no Indian, they pointed out, his charitable deeds were more important than his non-Indian heritage.

Barbara « going native » Mikkelson

Additional information:

People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It « People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It » public service ad

(Keep America Beautiful)

Last updated: 9 August 2007

Aleiss, Angela. « Native Son. »

The Times-Picayune. 26 May 1996 (p. D1).

Cody, Iron Eyes. Iron Eyes: My Life As a Hollywood Indian.

New York: Everest House, 1982. ISBN 0-89696-111-7.

Russell, Ron. « Make-Believe Indian. »

New Times Los Angeles. 8 April 1999.

Schmitz, Neil. « The Other Man. »

The Buffalo News. 8 October 1995 (Magazine, p. 12).

Waldman, Amy. « Iron Eyes Cody, 94, an Actor and Tearful Anti-Littering Icon. »

The New York Times. 5 January 1999 (p. A15).

The Boston Globe. « Iron Eyes Cody: Actor Known for Anti-Littering Ad. »

5 January 1999 (p. A13)

Voir encore:

Navahoax

Did a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists by passing himself off as Native American?

Matthew Fleischer

LA Weekly

Jan 23 2006

January 3, 2012

“So achingly honest it takes your breath away.”

—Miami Heraldon The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping

In June of 1999 a writer calling himself Nasdijj emerged from obscurity to publish an ode to his adopted son in Esquire. “My son is dead,” he began. “I didn’t say my adopted son is dead. He was my son. My son was a Navajo. He lived six years. They were the best six years of my life.”

The boy’s name was Tommy Nothing Fancy, and Nasdijj wrote that he and his wife adopted Tommy as an infant and raised him in their home on the Navajo reservation. At first, Tommy seemed like a healthy baby, albeit one who consistently cried throughout the night. “The doctor at the Indian Health Service said it was nothing. Probably gas.”

But it wasn’t gas. Tommy suffered from a severe case of fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS. Though Tommy looked normal, his crying continued and as he grew older he began to suffer massive seizures. “I thought I could see him getting duller with every seizure. He knew he was slowly dying.”

Nasdijj knew too, and he tried to give his son as full a life as time would allow. Fishing was Tommy’s favorite thing to do and they went often — sometimes at the expense of his medical care. “For my son hospitals were analogous to torture. Tommy Nothing Fancy wanted to die with his dad and his dog while fishing.”

Nasdijj’s wife wanted Tommy in the hospital receiving modern medical treatment. “She was a modern Indian. .?.?. She begged. She pleaded. She screamed. She pounded the walls. But the hospitals and doctors never made it better.”

Though the conflict tore his marriage apart, Nasdijj continued to take his son fishing and, true to his last wish, Tommy died of a seizure while on an expedition.

“I was catching brown trout,” Nasdijj wrote. “I was thinking about cooking them for dinner over our campfire when Tommy Nothing Fancy fell. All that shaking. It was as if a bolt of lightning surged uncontrolled through the damaged brain of my son. It wasn’t fair. He was just a little boy who liked to fish. .?.?. I was holding him when he died. .?.?. The fish escaped.”

The Esquire piece, as successful as it was heartbreaking, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and helped establish Nasdijj as a prominent new voice in the world of nonfiction. “Esquire’s Cinderella story,” as Salon’s Sean Elder called it, “arrived over the transom, addressed to no one in particular. ‘The cover letter was this screed about how Esquire had never published the work of an American-Indian writer and never would because it’s such a racist publication,’ recalls editor in chief David Granger. ‘And under it was .?.?. one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’d ever read.’ By the time the piece was published in the June issue, the writer (who lives on an Indian reservation) had a book contract.”

The contract was for a full-length memoir, The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2000 to great acclaim. It was followed by two more memoirs, The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping(Ballantine, 2003), and Geronimo’s Bones: A Memoir of My Brother and Me (Ballantine, 2004). As if losing a son was not enough, the memoirs portray a lifetime of suffering.

Nasdijj was born on the Navajo reservation in a hogan in 1950, he claims, the son of an abusive white cowboy “who broke, bred, and bootlegged horses” and a Navajo mother. “My mother,” he writes, “was a hopeless drunk. I would use the word ‘alcoholic’ but it’s too polite. It’s a white people word. .?.?. There is nothing polite about cleaning up your mother in her vomit and dragging her unconscious carcass back to the migrant housing trailer you lived in.”

Nasdijj says his father would sometimes pimp his mother to other migrant workers for “five bucks” and that she died of alcoholism when he was 7. Though their time together was short and turbulent, Nasdijj says his mother instilled in him the Navajo traditions that now inform his work.

His father, he says, was a sexual predator who raped him the night his mother died. Because his father was white, Nasdijj says he was treated like an “outcast bastard” on the reservation. Like Tommy Nothing Fancy, Nasdijj claims to have fetal alcohol syndrome and to have been raised, with his brother, in migrant camps all over the country.

Nasdijj knows how to pull heartstrings. Both The Blood and The Boy revolve around the lives and deaths of his adopted Navajo sons. “Death, to the Navajo, is like the cold wind that blows across the mesa from the north,” Nasdijj writes in The Blood. “We do not speak of it.” But Nasdijj does speak of it. In fact, he speaks of it almost exclusively. Death and suffering are his staples.

“My son comes back to me when I least expect to see his ghostly vision,” he writes. “He lives in my bones and scars.”

But Nasdijj hasn’t built his career purely through the tragic and sensational nature of his stories. His style is an artful blending of poetry and prose, and his work has met with nearly universal critical praise. The Blood “reminds us that brave and engaging writers lurk in the most forgotten corners of society,” wrote Ted Conover in The New York Times Book Review. Rick Bass called it “mesmerizing, apocalyptic, achingly beautiful and redemptive .?.?. a powerful American classic,” while Howard Frank Mosher said it was “the best memoir I have read about family love, particularly a father’s love for his son, since A River Runs Through It.”The Blood was a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award and winner of the Salon Book Award.

The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping was published to more glowing reviews — “vivid and immediate, crackling with anger, humor, and love” (The Washington Post) and “riveting .?.?. lyrical .?.?. a ragged wail of a song, an ancient song, where we learn what it is to truly be a parent and love a child” (USA Today).

Shortly after The Blood came out, Nasdijj writes, he moved back to the Navajo reservation, where word of his book and his compassion spread. One day while fishing, a Navajo man and his 10-year-old son approached him. The man took Nasdijj aside and explained that he, his wife and their son, Awee, had AIDS. “They were not terrific parents,” Nasdijj wrote, “but they wanted this child to have a chance at life.” Nasdijj was that chance. For the next two years Nasdijj cared for Awee until his death from AIDS-related illness.

The Boy won a 2004 PEN/Beyond Margins Award and helped solidify Nasdijj’s place as one of the most celebrated multicultural writers in American literature. But as his successes and literary credentials grew in number, so did his skeptics — particularly from within the Native American community. Sherman Alexie first heard of Nasdijj in 1999 after his former editor sent him a galley proof of The Blood for comment. At the time, Alexie, who is Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, was one of the hottest authors in America and was widely considered the most prominent voice in Native American literature. His novel Indian Killerwas a New York Times Notable Book, and his cinematic feature Smoke Signals was the previous year’s Sundance darling, nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and winner of the Audience Award. Alexie’s seal of approval would have provided The Blood with a virtual rubber stamp of Native authenticity. But it took Alexie only a few pages before he realized he couldn’t vouch for the work. It wasn’t just that similar writing style and cadence that bothered Alexie.

“The whole time I was reading I was thinking, this doesn’t just sound like me, this is me,” he says.

Alexie was born hydrocephalic, a life-threatening condition characterized by water on the brain. At the age of 6 months he underwent brain surgery that saved his life but left him, much like Tommy Nothing Fancy, prone to chronic seizures throughout his childhood. Instead of identifying with Nasdijj’s story, however, Alexie became suspicious.

“At first I was flattered, but as I kept reading I noticed he was borrowing from other Native writers too. I thought, this can’t be real.”

Indeed, Nasdijj’s stories also bear uncanny resemblance to the works of N. Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko and especially Michael Dorris, whose memoir The Broken Cord depicts his struggle to care for his adopted FAS-stricken Native Alaskan children. Although there was never more than ?a similar phrase here and there, Alexie was convinced that the work was fabricated. He ?wasn’t alone.

Shortly after his review of The Bloodcame out in The New York Times Book Review, Ted Conover received an Internet greeting card from Nasdijj chastising him for his piece. Conover, an award-winning journalist whose 2003 book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was taken aback. Not only is it highly unusual for an author to attack a reviewer, but it is especially unusual when the review in question was overwhelmingly positive — Conover’s flattering words would grace the paperback cover.

Conover’s main critique was that Nasdijj was “stingy with self-revelation.” He questioned certain inconsistencies in the author’s background, noting that Nasdijj sometimes said his mother was “with the Navajo,” sometimes she was “Navajo, or so she claimed,” and other times she was just “Navajo.” Conover never accused Nasdijj of lying, he merely suggested that the writer be more forthcoming. Nasdijj, however, rejected this suggestion and sent the angry letter, which Conover characterizes as a sprawling diatribe.

“The whole thing was just really bizarre,” Conover says.

Conover sent a copy of the card to Anton Mueller, Nasdijj’s editor at Houghton Mifflin and an acquaintance. “I wondered if he might shed a little light on this,” he says. Mueller, however, never responded, and the incident left Conover wondering whether he should have been more thorough in investigating Nasdijj before writing his review. It didn’t take him long to find an answer. Several weeks later, Conover was contacted by an expert in fetal alcohol syndrome who had read his review. She informed him that while she sympathized with the plight of Nasdijj and his son, the symptoms described in The Blood are not actually those of FAS.

Says Conover, “I immediately thought, ‘Oh no, I’ve been duped.’?”

This work is a memoir and represents, to the best of my ability and my memory, an accurate reporting of facts and events as I know them and as they have been told to me. I have attempted to protect the privacy of people through the editorial decision to frequently change names, appearances, and locations, as these are not relevant to the focus of the work or the issues the work strives to deal with.

No, these are not the words of James Frey, author of the exaggerated A Million Little Pieces, but of Nasdijj in the author’s note for The Blood. But why? Was this just standard legalese or was Houghton Mifflin concerned about the veracity of this book? Had Sherman Alexie actually gotten through to them? Is the “author’s note” a cynical attempt to protect a piece of fiction passed off as memoir?

Anton Mueller, editor of The Blood, says no. “Nasdijj’s life is hazy and complex, and we both felt it would be a good idea.”

Indeed, getting to the bottom of Nasdijj’s story is no easy task. He alleges a nomadic existence that is virtually free of specific names or places, rendering it difficult to substantiate his claims. A Google search brings up first and foremost his blog — http://www.nasdijj.typepad.com. (Shortly after Nasdijj was contacted for this story, his blog was taken offline.) A sampling of his almost daily blogs over several months suggests that one (and perhaps only one) thing is clear: Nasdijj is a very angry man. If in the books his passion and fierceness are modulated and concentrated, his blog posts are full of rants and denunciations. Targets include the American health care system, government treatment of Indians, middle-class values and, especially, the publishing industry.

He has recently made a routine of calling ReganBooks über-publisher Judith Regan a “cunt,” a designation that in Nasdijj’s estimation she shares with Gina Centrello of Random House, among countless others. “Like the naked Jew who covers his penis before he turns the shower on, there is no fucking hope for you,” he admonishes them.

Non-metaphorical Jews alike are not immune from Nasdijj’s wrath. “Jews [in publishing] would sell the gas chamber shower heads if they thought it might make a buck.” In his acceptance speech for the prestigious PEN/Beyond Margins Award, an edited version of which was delivered in absentia, he took the opportunity to call New York literary agent Binky Urban a “white bitch.” (It’s available online at http://www.literaryrevolution.com/mr-nasdijj-62804.html.)

Nasdijj’s blog is typical of a recent shift in his work. Though his first book was thoughtful, even tender, as his career has progressed Nasdijj has increasingly taken the role of an artist whose willingness to push boundaries often borders on disturbing. His most recent book, Geronimo’s Bones, brought Nasdijj’s tales of suffering to startling heights, or lows depending on your perspective. Surrealistic accounts of forcible incest by his father read less like rape and more like lukewarm trysts. “His lips to mine. His tongue in my mouth. His words: ‘Nasdijj, please, please love me.’ .?.?. He was a lousy lover with his tongue in my mouth. The same tongue that had just been inside my bowels.”

Though incestuous rape may be difficult to trump, perhaps even more disturbing is Nasdijj’s tendency to sexualize teenage boys. A recent post on his Web site featured a nude photograph of the open anus and testicles of a supposedly cancer-ridden teenager. Nasdijj claims this was done in an effort to humanize the disease, but such pictures are often posted alongside graphic accounts of adolescent sexuality. Indeed, they are sometimes posted alongside naked sadomasochistic pictures of Nasdijj himself.

But Nasdijj’s explicit Web site isn’t the only curiosity a Google search of his name reveals — it also brings up a rather caustic reader review of The Boyand the Dog Are Sleeping on BookBrowse (www.bookbrowse.com). “I find this book full of the author’s misinformation regarding his family,” it begins. “I take exception with his opinion of his ‘Anglo father’ and his ‘Navajo mother.’ I happen to be related to this author and his family is tracable [sic] back through the American Revolution on his father’s side and to Holland on his mother’s side. I resent the fact that he seems to be ashamed of his notable ancestors (i.e., Cyrus McCormick, a great grandfather that pioneered nerve block dentistry, couragous mem [sic] that lost their lives at Valley Forge). This kind of dribble [sic] should have been investigated prior to printing or should have been labeled as purely fiction.”

While such a review could easily be dismissed on its own, a Yahoo search of the name attached to it offers up a comprehensive genealogical site. And when the reviewer’s name is searched in conjunction with the name of Nasdijj’s daughter, Kree, one name comes up: Timothy Patrick Barrus.

Barrus, the site says, was born in 1950 (the same year as Nasdijj), is married to Tina Giovanni (also the name of Nasdijj’s wife), and has a daughter named Kree. The site then charts his family lineage back several generations to the 1700s, and, indeed, as the review states, to the McCormick family.

Evidence compiled from other searches seems to corroborate the site.

Just like Nasdijj, Tina Giovanni also hosts a blog — http://www.autism911.blogspot.com. (It also was taken offline in the past week but has returned minus its archives.) A post from Giovanni in July 2005 shows a picture of Nasdijj’s daughter, Kree, and Kree’s husband, Steve, both of whom, Giovanni says, are teachers in La Paz, Bolivia. A follow-up Internet search reveals the December 13, 2004, meeting minutes of the American Educational Association of La Paz, announcing the hiring of Kree Barrus and Steve Poole as teachers at the American Cooperative School in La Paz. (A photograph of Steve Poole on the American Cooperative School’s Web site confirms that he is the same Steve pictured in Giovanni’s blog.) As for Giovanni, a records search reveals her legal name to be Tina Giovanni Barrus, with addresses in and around Taos, New Mexico. This obviously begs the question — who exactly is Timothy Patrick Barrus?

Yet another Google search, this time for Tim Barrus, brings up the heading “Sadomasochistic Literature” and the following: “Some of the best pornographic fiction to come out of the leatherman tradition is by Tim Barrus whose Mineshaft (1984) describes the sexual exploits of the infamous New York S/M palace of the same name.” The site is GLBTQ: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and queer culture. The section in which Barrus’ name appears is titled “Gay Male Writers Since the 70’s.”

Could the heart-wrenching Navajo memoirist actually have been the gay leather novelist in a previous life?

The streets of downtown Lansing, Michigan, are crowded on a Friday night, but not with people — with squirrels. They congregate in the middle of Washington Street, staring with incredulity as a lone car approaches. Despite an impending collision, they don’t bother to move out of the way, apparently shocked to see anyone out at this time of night. The oncoming car doesn’t slow down and crushes one of them into the red brick street. No one is around to notice. It wasn’t always like this.

In the 1950s and ’60s, when Tim Barrus was growing up here, Lansing was a prosperous middle-class community. Washington Street wasn’t a site of squirrel manslaughter, but the heart of a thriving theater district. Oldsmobile, Fisher Auto Parts and General Motors all had factories nearby.

No cowboy, Maynard Barrus worked as a shift foreman at the Lansing Board of Water and Light. In 1948 he married Barrus’ mother, Jean Anne Steginga, a local Lansing girl of Scandinavian descent. Two years later, Timothy Patrick was born.

Tim Barrus was raised with his younger sister, Suzanne, in a modest three-bedroom home off of Aurelius Road close to the Michigan State University campus. His mother was in fact around throughout his childhood and is still alive today. He has no younger brother.

Barrus attended Eastern High School in Lansing, where he was far from a slayer of suburban values. He was a member of the student council, the forensics team, the forum club as well as a homeroom officer. He was also an actor, playing several minor roles in the 1968 class production of Molière’s The Physician in Spite of Himself.

“He was a good, good actor — very passionate,” says one former castmate of Barrus’ who wishes not to be named. “He was able to completely absorb himself into the mind of a character in a way that most people are never able to.”

“He was a thinker — very pensive,” the castmate continues. “But he was a warm person, very friendly.”

Beneath his generally pleasant veneer, however, a simmering temper would occasionally boil over.

“You didn’t know what you were going to say to the guy to make him angry,” recalls Rosemary Taylor, who was also in the cast alongside Barrus, “so you were extremely careful with him because you wanted to stay in his orbit. He was one of those guys that was a little ahead of his time.”

Barrus graduated from high school in 1969 and a year later married Jan Abbott, a local girl from neighboring Okemos. According to a source close to the family, the couple took in foster children to make ends meet. In 1971 Barrus and his wife moved to Largo, Florida, where his sister, Suzanne, lived with her husband, Steve Cheetham. Barrus attended community college while Abbott worked at Winn-Dixie to support him, according to Cheetham. Although Barrus wasn’t publishing his work at the time, he wrote constantly. “He wrote most of his life in one way or another,” says Cheetham by phone from Lansing. “He’s a storyteller. You never knew if he was telling you something true, or part of his imagination or what.” In 1973 the couple moved again before finally winding up back in Lansing. Cheetham never saw Barrus again.

In 1974, Barrus’ only daughter, Kree, was born and, according to sources, the couple also adopted a mildly autistic boy around this time. The boy could have inspired Tommy Nothing Fancy, although several discrepancies exist between his story and Tommy’s.

Nasdijj claims that he adopted Tommy as an infant and that he died at age 6. A Kree Barrus resumé posted online, however, indicates that as a girl she helped care for a mildly autistic 7-year-old. Likewise, an article written by Barrus in 1996 asserts that he adopted his son at age 4 and that he was alive and well as of the ’90s, having survived adolescence and grown “almost as big as I am.”

Cheetham, who was still married to Barrus’ sister at the time, tells a slightly different story. According to him, Barrus and his wife did indeed adopt an autistic boy, but that the boy’s “emotional problems” proved too much for the couple to handle. After less than a year they were forced to give the boy up, and to Cheetham’s best recollection he returned to being a ward of the state.

Address records indicate that the young family lived in an apartment on Cooper Avenue near downtown Lansing until 1975. It is unclear where they moved immediately after that. At some point, Barrus and his wife divorced, and he moved to San Francisco where he began to write — primarily for the gay leather magazine Drummer. Barrus was widely praised for coining the term “leather lit,” and for being one of the founders of the newly formed genre.

In 1984 he moved to Key West and, according to his friend Bill Bowers, took residence with his partner Adolfo. (Barrus would later deny being gay.) There he published his first book, The Mineshaft, a sloppy attempt at erotica, but one that nonetheless garnered him some attention. He soon became a regular contributor to The Weekly News, the local gay newspaper, writing fictional stories reminiscent of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.

It was in Key West where Barrus met Bowers, a local artist and photographer, and the two began work on a number of projects together.

“He was a crazy queen. He did things other people just didn’t do,” says Bowers fondly of Barrus. “He was really a master of publicity.”

Bowers remembers collaborating with Barrus on an erotic-photo exhibit called Sadomasochism: True Confessions. After the opening night of the show drew lukewarm interest, Barrus assumed the fake name John Hammond and wrote an open letter to The Weekly News attacking the exhibit.

“Sadomasochism is a disease,” the letter read, “and gay men who are into that scene are wrong.” He then had Bowers write a response to their mythical antagonist Hammond, inviting him to “take a Valium, take a douche,” and published it in The Weekly News. “The next time Mr. Hammond wants to show his ignorance he should do some heavy research before he rejects his very own brothers.” The ensuing controversy rallied the gay community around the artists and propelled the exhibit to a successful run.

“He would do anything to shock people,” said Bowers. “It works every time if you want a reaction, be it good or bad. Bad is good too, sometimes better.”

Not all of Barrus’ acquaintances found his antics quite so charming, however. Lars Eighner grew quite tired of his routine. “If you look up dilettante in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Tim Barrus,” says Eighner.

Best known for his 1993 book Travels With Lizbeth(which The Blood would partially parrot), Eighner first became acquainted with Barrus around 1984, after he received a random letter from Barrus expressing his most frequent theme — “publishers are scum.” Eighner was just breaking into writing at the time and found Barrus’ angry candor instructive. The two soon began a three-way correspondence with another gay writer, T.R. Witomski, which lasted for several years.

Though he never met Barrus in person, Eighner came to know him quite well through his letters and phone conversations. Barrus would routinely harangue Eighner with long soliloquies about the evils of publishing. “There was always some great injustice that had been done him — he had been slighted by everyone, betrayed; there was treachery everywhere.” Eighner is quick to point out that he didn’t think Barrus was crazy — just irrationally angry.

“He didn’t think windmills were monsters, he just hated windmills.”

According to Eighner, Barrus and the established gay writer John Preston had a one-sided literary rivalry — and Barrus was the perennial loser. While Barrus’ books were well reviewed in the gay press (The Advocate called his 1987 book Anywhere, Anywhere “a rewarding encounter with compelling characters”), he was never able to achieve the mainstream success that Preston, Witomski and eventually Eighner were able to. This made him, according to Eighner, “insanely jealous.”

That Barrus might have adopted a Native American persona to facilitate his career strikes Eighner as completely in character. Similar behavior was routine when Eighner knew him. Barrus’ third book, Anywhere, Anywhere, is supposedly a novelized account of his service in the Vietnam War, which, Eighner says, “some serious publications thought was really a memoir of a gay soldier.” The book is a love story between wheelchair-bound Chris and his commanding officer in Vietnam, Boss. The pair fell in love fighting alongside each other, and upon their return to America they used their feelings for each other to battle the physical and emotional scars inflicted on them by the war. Anywhere, Anywhere was praised in the gay press for revealing the previously untold gay experience in Vietnam. “Of course Barrus had never been near Vietnam or military service,” says Eighner. (When asked if his brother-in-law served in Vietnam, Cheetham replies, “Absolutely not.”)

In a 1994 article he wrote for the Lambda Book Report, however, Barrus claims to be a Vietnam vet, or so it seems: “I knew lots of gay men in Vietnam. Not that I had sex with them. No one was telling ?their story.”

Barrus, a natural mimic, would routinely take stories that had happened to Preston or Witomski, and tell them as if they had happened to him. Eventually, word got back to the other two that this was going on and they both fell out with him. “As you may have guessed, Barrus doesn’t wear well,” said Eighner. “Whether it’s the first or 15th time you catch someone telling your anecdotes as if they were his own, eventually, almost everyone has a limit.”

Witomski took special umbrage, and in a 1992 article published in The Advocate shortly before his death, he labeled Barrus one of “five gay writers we could do without.” Other writers followed suit in their condemnation, and Barrus’ delusions of censure became reality. In 1993, with his bridges burning in gay publishing, Barrus met and married his current wife, Tina Giovanni, in San Francisco and disappeared. Eighner never heard from him again. And neither did the Internet until 1996, when something (and someone) curious emerged. In an article now available only through the archives of an obscure Australian company called Infant Massage Australia, a kinder, gentler Barrus appeared in a service article on how to be a loving father. Though the piece is trite and filled with gooey, ’90s parenting clichés (“It takes a real man to nurture”), it appears to be his first experimentation with the caring father persona.

Sometime between then and the Esquire article that launched his career, Nasdijj was born.

Peering out from behind a pair of silver-framed glasses, Irvin Morris sits at his office desk thumbing thoughtfully through a weathered copy of The Blood. A quiet man with sad, dark eyes and a closely trimmed head of raven black hair, Morris is focused as he reads, occasionally sighing in dismay when something he sees disturbs him. A giant fake plant hovers over him, draping plastic leaves onto a sizable portion of his cluttered desk. He looks up briefly from the text ?in time to catch me eyeing the plant strangely. “I don’t know where ?that thing came from,” he says with a smile, “but I really should do something about it.” But first thing’s first — another possible impostor needs ?to be dealt with.

Morris has suspected for years that Nasdijj is not who he says he is. A full-blooded Navajo and a professor of literature and Navajo studies at Dine College in Tsaile, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation, Morris is among the world’s foremost authorities on Navajo culture. Shortly after The Blood was published, he saw Nasdijj’s name listed on the national index of Native writers. Under the author’s bio, it said Nasdijj claimed his name meant “to become again” in Navajo Athabaskan. This came as news to Morris, who is fluent in Athabaskan. “There is no word ‘Nasdijj’ in the Navajo language,” he explains. “It’s gibberish.”

Not long thereafter, Morris got a call from Sherman Alexie asking if he would take a look at The Blood. After reading the book, Morris felt certain Nasdijj was not Navajo. “He seems to know some facts aboutthe culture, but he has no sensibility of it.”

“Every Navajo he meets seems to live in a hogan,” Morris jokes. “No one has really lived in hogans since HUD housing started being built on the reservation in the ’60s. Only people who are extremely traditional live in hogans.” Traditional people who would not make the kind of cultural errors that Nasdijj depicts them making. Navajo Rose, for instance.

Navajo Rose is a character in The Bloodwho, Nasdijj writes, lives in a hogan near his on the reservation. Navajo Rose is illiterate and, though Nasdijj says she graduated from high school, she somehow has never seen the inside of a library.

“You have to be really traditional to have never even seen inside a library,” says Morris.

Nasdijj takes it upon himself to teach Navajo Rose how to read and drives her off the reservation to “White People Town” to see her first library. “She was impressed with all the books,” Nasdijj writes.

Morris bristles at the condescending tone. “We do have libraries here.”

But the error that really made Morris crazy was a culinary one. To thank Nasdijj for his lessons, Navajo Rose routinely brings him Navajo tacos made of mutton. “Now that’s just disgusting,” says Morris of the tacos, which are traditionally made with beef. “We love our mutton but no one would use it in a Navajo taco; the spices just don’t mix.” (Indeed, in my experience on the reservation, the suggestion of a Navajo taco with mutton induces a nearly universal crinkling of noses in distaste.)

While a non-Navajo may see these gaffes as minor, Morris asserts they add up to a character that doesn’t exist. Like a rabbi eating pork or a Hindu beating his cow, they are culturally incriminating, and the book is littered with them, he says. Nasdijj writes that when he was a boy, his mother used to have religious sings for him to familiarize him with his culture. “That’s a communal activity,” Morris says. “To have a sing by yourself is highly aberrant behavior. Like holding a church service for yourself.”

Most startling and offensive to Morris is Nasdijj’s depiction of Navajo clanship, which plays a vital role in tribal identity. In Geronimo’s Bones, Nasdijj claims his mother was a member of the Water Flowing clan; no such clan exists, however. “There’s a Water Flowing Together clan,” explains Morris, “but the difference isn’t insignificant. If I was going to claim my mother’s clanship, I would at least make sure to get the name right.”

Nasdijj also writes that because his father was white and without a clan, Nasdijj had no clan and was therefore treated as an “outcast bastard” by other Navajo. This, says Morris, is misrepresentative in that it wrongly portrays the Navajo clan structure as an authoritarian caste system. It is also factually incorrect. “Our lineage is passed on through our mother. If his mother had a clan, he has a clan.”

Immediately after reading the book, Morris contacted the Native author registry and asked them to take Nasdijj’s name off the list. Without specific information about Nasdijj’s true identity, however, the registry refused, and Morris let the subject drop.

“I have always been bothered by the false claim to the Dine identity by Nasdijj,” Morris says, “but if I spent my time tracking down every white writer pretending to be Navajo, I’d have no time left to do anything else.”

Indeed, in the long history of Indian appropriation by whites, the Navajo have become the primary target. Of particular ire to the Navajo is mystery writer Tony Hillerman. For the past several decades Hillerman has written detective stories from the perspective of his Navajo protagonists Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Though not actually claiming Navajo ancestry, Hillerman infuses healthy doses of Navajo spirituality into the story through his characters — sometimes accurately, sometimes not. Hillerman’s appropriation is well-known and disliked across tribal lines and was the subject of parody in Sherman Alexie’s book Indian Killer.But despite the criticism from Alexie and other Native writers, Hillerman’s success has sparked imitators. So much so that Morris claims the existence of at least 14 white authors living in nearby Gallup, New Mexico, writing Navajo murder mysteries.

Of course, white appropriation of Native identity far predates Tony Hillerman. Arguably the most infamous Indian appropriator is rabid segregationist and Ku Klux Klansman Asa Earl Carter, the former speechwriter for George Wallace who penned the notorious “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” speech. After Wallace’s failed presidential bid and the collapse of segregation in the South, Carter assumed the identity of a Cherokee orphan and began publishing memoirs under the name Forrest Carter, allegedly in honor of KKK founder Nathaniel Bedford Forrest. His 1976 book Education of Little Treewas a critically acclaimed best-seller, and despite being outed as fraudulent decades ago, it is, remarkably, still in print.

Though Carter’s is perhaps the most unusual case of Indian impersonation, there are many others, most of whom romanticize Native spirituality and culture, even though they often misrepresent the culture to suit their spiritual or literary aims. What’s interesting about Nasdijj is that, on the surface, anyway, he doesn’t. The Nasdijj persona lacks the spiritual ambitions that Indian appropriators have historically tried to capitalize on. He mentions Navajo spirituality as if only to prove he is familiar with its conventions. Instead, his preoccupation is the social world: the world of men and especially boys.

His Indians are often both spiritually and monetarily poor, sometimes gay, and have AIDS and FAS; mainly they are powerless and sometimes homeless little boys. There are no parents in their lives, other than the author, and an absence of embracing and strengthening culture. He uses these impoverished characters, including his own persona, as a springboard to attack the dominant white culture, which has, apparently, spurned him. In the pantheon of self-appointed Native spokesmen, this puts him more in the company of contemporary gadfly Ward Churchill, who uses his dubious heritage as a soapbox for an airing of his political ideology and personal grievances.

The question that remains is how these frauds are perpetrated in such abundance. A writer, seemingly white in appearance and lacking anything resembling a verifiable personal history, turns in a manuscript filled with sage-like wisdom from an ancient and secretive people and no one bothers to check the facts? Houghton Mifflin’s Anton Mueller, presumably speaking for the publishing industry at large, has an answer: “As you know, we don’t fact-check books.”

There is a Chinese proverb: How is it that a toad this large comes to stand in front of me?

James Dowaliby can tell you. A former vice president of Paramount International Television Group, he decided to pick up a copy of The Boy after reading a review and noting it was about fatherhood, a topic Dowaliby considers too rare in publishing. A single father himself, Dowaliby was astonished by what he read: “I’d never seen a book that so articulated a father’s love for his son.” Dowaliby knew immediately that this was a film he wanted to make, and after securing the rights to the book from Nasdijj he was able to bring FilmFour (the filmmaking arm of Channel 4 in the U.K.) into the project. By the end of 2004, a feature-length adaptation of The Boy was greenlighted for development.

After securing the film rights to The Boyand the Dog Are Sleeping and negotiating the deal with FilmFour, in early 2004 Dowaliby was finally ready to get down to the business of making a movie with Nasdijj. What Dowaliby didn’t know at the time was the controversy that nearly derailed his new partner’s burgeoning career four years earlier.

When he received his galley copy of The Blood and determined the book was fraudulent, Sherman Alexie not only refused to blurb the book but openly accused Nasdijj of both manufacturing his identity and plagiarism at a private lunch with Nasdijj’s editor, Anton Mueller. Alexie says he begged Mueller to reconsider releasing the book.

“I said, you’re going to pay for this later — this is not real,” Alexie says.

According to Alexie, however, Mueller was unmoved by their conversation. “Basically his attitude was that it’s a great book and the art is more important than the truth.”

“I know I may sound like Tipper Gore here,” says Alexie, “but we have to hold our art to higher standards.”

Mueller acknowledges he spoke with Alexie but says that he found the allegation of plagiarism to be an “odd claim” and unjustified. Regarding Nasdijj’s supposed Native heritage, he says, “I think even Nasdijj would tell you his own biography or parentage is something he has never been entirely sure of.”

After his unsuccessful meeting with Mueller, Alexie sent a letter to Houghton Mifflin, asserting that the author was a fake who had borrowed heavily from several Native writers, including himself. But his accusations were dismissed, and the publication went forward. “And every time I bring it up, I’m ignored,” says Alexie.

Alexie’s allegations did have some apparent effect, though. After The Blood came out, Nasdijj’s then-agent, Heather Schroeder, dropped him and Houghton Mifflin declined to publish his next book. Mueller credits Nasdijj’s erratic behavior as the reason: “To be honest, Nasdijj is simply not the most stable person in the world. It showed up in the editing process. His instability wore me down. Sending inappropriate e-mails to people like Ted Conover. His blog. I couldn’t deal with it.”

Did this unstable behavior lead him to suspect the veracity of Nasdijj’s story? “Well, I didn’t publish a second book with him, so that indicates something. But I would say that it was mainly because of his instability.” Yet Mueller still regards Nasdijj as “one of the most, if not the most talented writer I have ever worked with.”

Nasdijj found a new agent, Andrew Stuart, and eventually secured a multibook deal with Ballantine. The Boy was published with the specter of The Blood hanging over the proceedings.

By the time Dowaliby began trying to make a film version of The Boy, he was stuck with a giant toad standing in the road in front of him. Following a few weeks of discussions, FilmFour and Dowaliby agreed to solicit a prominent British screenwriter, who had previously scripted a film about Navajo code talkers, to adapt the book. The writer had spent significant time on the Navajo Nation researching his film and had acquired a great deal of knowledge and respect for the Navajo culture. Immediately after reading The Boy, however, he called Dowaliby with his concerns.

The writer pointed out several inconsistencies in Nasdijj’s story that he found suspicious, particularly Nasdijj’s mischaracterization of Navajo clanship. “What did I know about clanship?” says Dowaliby. “I had taken Nasdijj for his word.”

For both creative and liability purposes, Dowaliby was already fact-checking the book and he promised the writer he would look into the matter further. Dowaliby then began the almost daily routine of trying to draw honest information from Nasdijj about his past. He had little success. Dowaliby needed specifics; Nasdijj gave him none.

“He just kept recycling the same story about sheep camps and migrant work,” Dowaliby says.

The producer intensified his background check of Nasdijj and found out about the Alexie incident. His doubts grew, and Nasdijj’s responses to his queries only raised more questions. As the deadline for hiring the writer neared, Dowaliby concluded that Nasdijj was either unable or unwilling to confirm the details necessary to back up the truth of his story. He briefly considered simply billing the project as “inspired by true events” or the weaker “based on the book by Nasdijj” and not offering it as true in any fashion. “But admitting it was fiction would have ruined the emotional truth — the core of the book.”

Dowaliby refused to go forward with the film until he got answers. Nasdijj refused to speak with him, claiming that he had moved back to the Navajo reservation. Dowaliby did, however, get a response from Nasdijj’s wife, Tina. Though Dowaliby will not repeat what they discussed in confidence, he admits that she came clean about a number of things. Shortly thereafter it became apparent to him “that this wasn’t just a fraud against the intellectual community, but against the entire Navajo Nation, and that Nasdijj needed to apologize.”

Dowaliby then contacted FilmFour and told them the project needed to be dropped. “People like Nasdijj,” he says, “can’t exist without some sort of complicity.”

What can you do when the truth isn’t enough?

For as long as white writers have been impersonating Indians, Indians have been exposing them as frauds. Yet despite remarkable investigative successes in uncovering the truth, their efforts have been largely ignored.

“For some reason people lose their sense of discernment when it comes to Indians,” says activist and Indian Country Today columnist Suzan Shown-Harjo.

Harjo, who is Muscogee Creek and Cheyenne, has had her own battles outing those she believes to be Native American impostors. She challenged University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who gained notoriety last year when he referred to the victims of the 9/11 attacks as “little Eichmanns,” and who claims to be of Cherokee and Creek descent. Though he has no specialized training in the field, he rose through the university ranks to become chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, largely on the basis of his claimed heritage. Yet as Harjo and other journalists have pointed out, he is not an enrolled member of any federally recognized tribe. Likewise, genealogical research carried out by the Rocky Mountain News and several Native journalists could find no trace of Indian blood in Churchill’s family. Despite the insistence of both the Cherokee and Creek nations that Churchill is not one of them, Churchill maintains his position as a professor of ethnic studies and is frequently paid to lecture on Native and political issues around the country. In response to those who question his identity, he simply denies everything and calls his accusers “blood police.”

“Indian identity has nothing to do with blood quantum,” counters Harjo. “You hear that from the phony baloneys trying to attach themselves to some 1,000th particle of Indian blood.”

For Harjo and many Native Americans, the issue of identity extends well beyond the existential or racial question of “Who am I?” It is a legal issue of citizenship. As sovereign entities, tribes have laws that govern who is and isn’t Native. “Someone who’s Italian doesn’t have to look a certain way or be a certain way,” Harjo explains. “They are Italian by virtue of being an Italian citizen. The same is true in Indian country.

“If I go to Italy and say, ‘I think the world of you people. I speak a little Italian, I love spaghetti, so I’m going to be voting in your next election. Give me preference as an Italian citizen as opposed to noncitizens. Give me a job. Give me grant money. And maybe I’m going to carry on your diplomatic relations with other nations,’ people would lock me up. But that’s what happens. The people that step into our world don’t do so in a respectful way. They rush right in and say ‘I’m your leader, I’m the articulator of your culture.’?”

But given the response of many, including prominent publishers and Oprah Winfrey, to the James Frey affair — that his message of redemption is true and so who cares about literal untruths — is it possible that Tim Barrus is using the Nasdijj persona as a vehicle for social justice? After all, AIDS and FAS on the reservation have been themes of his for more than six years. Though his methods are misguided, could his intentions be genuine, and if so, what is the problem with that?

“It’s crazy,” says Harjo, “that’s the problem with it. Why can’t you be who you are, a non-Native person, supporting the same things Indians care about? Why do you have to be one of us to support us? That’s a little loopy, isn’t it? So you have to stand back and say why is that person lying about that? And the answer is because people like that don’t do it for altruistic reasons. It’s about profit. They think pretending to be Indian will help them sell more books.”

And provided the complicity of a publisher, they may be right. On many issues, preachy whites simply lack the political and cultural cachet of someone perceived to be Native American.

“My stepfather once told me, if you want anyone in the world to like you, just tell them that you’re Indian,” says Sherman Alexie. “For some reason we are elevated simply because of our race. I’m so popular I could start a cult. I could have 45 German women living with me tomorrow.”

Indeed, the world has had an Indian fetish since the days of P.T. Barnum. Certain steps have been taken to protect cultural integrity — the Native American Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, for instance, makes it a federal crime for anyone not enrolled in or associated with a federally recognized tribe to sell their art as “Indian.” Yet literature, strangely enough, is not covered under the Arts and Crafts Act, leaving it vulnerable to exploitation.

“The backbone of multicultural literature,” says Alexie, “is the empathy of its audience — their curiosity for the condition of a group other than themselves. Nasdijj is taking advantage of that empathy.”

If Nasdijj is not Native American, he’s not only misinforming his audience, he’s making it harder for genuine work to come forward. The PEN/Beyond Margins Award is given annually to a Native American writer to help spread “racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities.” When Nasdijj accepted the award in 2004, he accepted money and prestige specifically earmarked to help Native Americans share their story.

“The last act of colonialism is for the dominant culture to completely supplant the Native one,” says Alexie. “Nasdijj is disappearing people. With every book he writes he makes Indians disappear.”

In the end it is, ironically, Nasdijj who sums up appropriation most eloquently. In an essay on Louis L’Amour titled “The Saddest Book I Ever Read,” Nasdijj writes, “The accumulated weight of fictions (like L’Amour’s), when added up, form a place that never was and a time that never happened. Fictions like this are murderous. They pass off illusion as fact, stereotype as portraiture. .?.?. Counterfeit comes to be seen as the genuine article. It kills people. It kills culture. It kills even the shadow of truth.”

Epilogue: When I approached Nasdijj last week, via e-mail after many attempts to find a working phone number, I received a quick reply from someone called Mike Willis, who identified himself as Nasdijj’s assistant. He told me that Nasdijj was high in the Sierra Madres of Mexico without access to phones or the Internet. He offered no sense of when Nasdijj might return, adding that it was “quite sad” that the author couldn’t “defend himself.” When asked for a phone number for either himself or Tina Giovanni, Willis did not reply. Shortly thereafter, Nasdijj’s Web site was taken offline and all mention of his daughter Kree Barrus was removed from the archives of Giovanni’s blog. The next day, that blog was also shut down and queries sent to Nasdijj’s e-mail address went unanswered. But on Monday, the following post appeared on Nasdijj’s blog: “For those seeking Refuge consult the Hyena. Follow those directions to the Old Hotel. To find N, take the stairs to the roof. Bring your medication. The view is magnificent. And safe. You know who you are. Do not answer questions. Sealed. They do not care about you. You know that. Do not be fooled. Someone will. You will connect. Follow the Hyena’s path. Mike.”

Voir aussi:

When the Story Stolen Is Your Own

Sherman Alexie

Time

Jan. 29, 2006

In 1999 a Native American writer, born fragile and poor on a destitute Indian reservation, published an essay, "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams," in Esquire. It earned a National Magazine Award nomination and was later expanded into a memoir of the same title that became a finalist for a PEN/Martha Albrand Award. That rez-to-riches tale of courage and redemption sounds like a Horatio Alger story, doesn’t it? It should be a movie. Or at least an episode of A&E’s Biography. Of course, I’m biased, because, well, it’s my story. Kind of.

I did not write "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams." But raised fragile and poor on the destitute Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State, I published a story, This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona, in Esquire in 1993. My story, which features an autobiographical character named Thomas Builds-the-Fire who suffers a brain injury at birth and experiences visionary seizures into his adulthood, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and the basis for the film Smoke Signals, which won the Audience Award at Sundance in 1998.

Nasdijj, the one-name author of The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams, claimed to be the son of a Navajo mother and a white father. His memoir features a child named Tommy Nothing Fancy who suffers from and dies of a seizure disorder. Quite the coincidence, don’t you think?

Of course, after reading Nasdijj’s essay and book, I suspected that he was a literary thief and a liar. As a Native American writer and multiculturalist, I worried that Nasdijj was a talented and angry white man who was writing as a Native American in order to mock multicultural literature. I imagined that he would eventually reveal himself as a hoaxer and shout, "You see, people, there is nothing real or authentic about multicultural literature. Anybody can write it."

Angry, competitive, saddened, self-righteous and more than a little jealous that this guy was stealing some of my autobiographical thunder, I approached Nasdijj’s publishers and told them his book not only was borderline plagiarism but also failed to mention specific tribal members, clans, ceremonies and locations, all of which are vital to the concept of Indian identity. They took me seriously, but they didn’t believe me.

And how do I feel now that the author of an investigative story in L.A. Weekly believes that Nasdijj is a fraud and actually a white writer named Timothy Barrus? Vindicated? Well, sure. I dream of leaving "I told you so" messages on many voice mails, although unlike James Frey’s publisher, who initially supported his lies and moral evasions about his exaggerated memoir, A Million Little Pieces, Nasdijj’s publisher dropped him because of personality conflicts even before the L.A. Weekly story came out. Of course, Frey has sold millions of books and will probably sell a few million more. Nasdijj hasn’t sold millions of books, and he will probably fade into obscurity. In response to the L.A. Weekly story, Nasdijj posted a rambling statement on his blog saying that people should pay attention to "real scandals" like poverty.

So why should we be concerned about his lies? His lies matter because he has cynically co-opted as a literary style the very real suffering endured by generations of very real Indians because of very real injustices caused by very real American aggression that destroyed very real tribes. He isn’t the first to do it. In 1991 the American Booksellers Association gave its book-of-the-year award to Forrest Carter’s Cherokee-themed memoir, The Education of Little Tree, despite the documented fact that Carter was really Asa Carter, a rabid segregationist and the author of George Wallace’s infamous war cry, "Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"

I can only hope that Nasdijj’s readers will look to Oprah for inspiration. After initially defending the essential truth of Frey’s memoir, a selection for her book club, Oprah changed her mind, admitted that she had been duped, invited Frey back onto her show and called him a liar. When was the last time a public figure like Oprah admitted to being wrong? When was the last time a powerful person like Oprah issued a genuine public apology? I think all the people who profited from Nasdijj’s fraud should take heed of that lesson and issue public apologies to Native Americans in general and to Navajo in particular. And I hope we won’t be waiting for that apology as long as the rivers flow, the grasses grow and the winds blow.

– Sherman Alexie, a member of the Spokane tribe, is the author of 17 books, including Ten Little Indians, his latest

Voir également:

Shadows of Doubt

Rocky Mountain News

Front page

June 06, 2005

Investigation confirms Ward Churchill is, indeed, a fraud.

University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill fabricated historical facts, published the work of others as his own and repeatedly made false claims about two federal Indian laws, a Rocky Mountain News investigation has found.

The two-month News investigation, carried out at the same time Churchill and his work are being carefully examined by the university, also unearthed fresh genealogical information that casts new doubts on the professor’s long-held assertion that he is of American Indian ancestry.

The findings come as Churchill is, essentially, on trial — in the court of public opinion and in the halls of academia. Prickly debates swirl around him on the standards of academic integrity, the limits of free speech and the responsibilities of scholarly writers.

A faculty committee is working behind closed doors, conducting a detailed and time-consuming examination of four allegations — fabrication, plagiarism, mischaracterization of federal Indian laws and misrepresentation of his ancestry.

The stakes are high.

For Churchill, it’s a process that ultimately could cost him his job. For Colorado’s flagship university, it’s a process that could bear heavily on its integrity and reputation.

Churchill has maintained a confident public posture — portraying himself as a renegade who isn’t afraid to challenge commonly held beliefs, defiantly scoffing at the allegations he faces, characterizing his scholarly standards as typical and casting himself as the victim of a witch hunt.

"This may be all new and unique to you," he told the News, "and in my personal experience it is to me, too. (But) it’s happened about 20 times over the last decade to people who challenge orthodoxy. And they play the script out pretty much the same. And you all are just in lock step."

Churchill has framed the CU investigation not as a look at the rigor and accuracy of his scholarship, but as a right-wing crusade and an attack on academic freedom and free speech.

While it is likely to be months before the university’s faculty committee finishes its probe of Churchill’s scholarship and ancestry, the News found serious problems in all four of the major areas the panel is examining:

• He accused the U.S. Army of deliberately spreading smallpox among the Mandan Indians of the Upper Missouri River Valley in 1837 — but there’s no basis for the assertion in the sources he cited. In fact, in some instances the books he cited — and their authors — directly contradict his assertions.

• He published an essay in 1992 that largely copies the work of a Canadian professor. But the piece is credited to his own research organization, the Institute for Natural Progress. Churchill published that essay — with some minor changes and subtle altering of words — even though the writer, Fay G. Cohen, had withdrawn permission for him to use it.

He also published portions of an essay in a 1993 book that closely resemble a piece that appeared the year before under the byline of Rebecca L. Robbins. However, the News could not determine what occurred. Churchill said he initially wrote the piece and allowed Robbins to publish it under her name. Robbins did not return numerous messages left by the News.

The News also could not determine who actually wrote an essay published under the name of Churchill’s former wife, Marie Anne Jaimes, who also goes by Annette Jaimes. A paragraph from that essay also was published in a Churchill essay.

• He mischaracterized an important federal Indian law in repeated writings in the past two decades, saying that the General Allotment Act of 1887 established a "blood quantum" standard that allowed tribes to admit members only if they had at least "half" native blood. Churchill has accused the government of imposing what he called "a formal eugenics code" as part of a thinly veiled effort to define Indians out of existence. The News found that the law — while a legislative low point in Indian history that resulted in many tribes losing their lands — does not contain any requirements for Indian bloodlines.

In addition, the News found, Churchill similarly mischaracterized a more recent piece of legislation, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.

• He has repeatedly claimed to have American Indian ancestry, but an extensive examination of genealogical records that traced branches of both sides of Churchill’s family to pre-Revolutionary War times turned up no solid evidence of a single Indian ancestor. In addition, the News found that DNA tests taken last year by two brothers prove that the father of Joshua Tyner — Joshua Tyner is the ancestor Churchill most often has cited for his Indian lineage — was not Indian.

During its investigation, the News also unearthed other evidence of possible research misconduct by Churchill that has not been taken to the faculty committee.

In one instance, the News discovered an obscure 1972 pamphlet written by activists in Canada that Churchill later began claiming as his own work.

And in at least three other cases, the News revealed Friday, he published works by others without their permission. Churchill credited authors Robert T. Coulter, Rudolph C. Ryser and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, but didn’t notify them that he was publishing their articles.

Catalyst of controversy

Although he had been an ethnic studies professor at CU for more than a decade, it wasn’t until January that Churchill’s name — already well-known in some circles — exploded onto the general public’s consciousness.

That’s when a college newspaper reporter in upstate New York rediscovered an essay that Churchill wrote on Sept. 11, 2001, a now-infamous piece in which he referred to those who died in the terrorist attacks as "little Eichmanns" — a reference to a ranking Nazi who helped carry out the Holocaust.

Within days, talk-radio and cable-television hosts made Churchill a daily staple. Gov. Bill Owens and other political leaders called for his job, and the university’s board of regents demanded a careful examination of his work.

Churchill stepped down from his position as head of the ethnic studies department but kept his faculty position.

That examination cleared Churchill of wrongdoing for the "little Eichmanns" comment and other controversial writings and public pronouncements, concluding that they were free speech, protected by the First Amendment.

But the initial review raised specific questions about his scholarship and his assertion of Indian ethnicity, and concluded that they were serious enough to refer to the standing committee on research misconduct.

That committee is now under the gun as CU administrators try — again — to extract the state’s flagship school from a public relations disaster.

First, it was a football recruiting scandal, one that ultimately saw the resignations of President Betsy Hoffman, Boulder campus Chancellor Richard Byyny and Athletic Director Dick Tharp.

Now, it is Churchill.

In a wide-ranging interview in his office in the basement of the Ketchum classroom building on the Boulder campus, Churchill addressed all the issues investigated by the committee. He ended the interview, however, without addressing other issues raised in the News investigation, agreeing to look at written questions left by reporters. He later declined to answer them.

Churchill stands by work

In his defense, Churchill told the News he didn’t commit plagiarism, academic fraud or research misconduct.

For example, he said he never claimed to write the essay that mirrors Cohen’s, and that if there was wrongdoing involved, it was committed by someone else.

As for the instances of alleged misuse of other authors’ material, including the essay linked to Robbins, the professor said he was the original author.

He said the controversy over that particular piece of writing might have merit but that it doesn’t amount to plagiarism.

"I’m free to make disposition of my ideas and my material any way I see fit," he said. "That’s my understanding of the situation, and I’ve basically confirmed that, OK? If there’s an issue around that, then there’s an issue around that.

"I’m perfectly happy to deal with the issue, OK? We start by calling the issue, whatever it might be, by its right name. You don’t call it something else because it resonates."

He said he would not discuss his ancestry.

And on the smallpox allegation and the General Allotment Act controversy in particular, Churchill said he could make "slam dunk" cases on both.

But he did not back that up with evidence.

When he was pushed for sources on the smallpox epidemic, for example, he cited the names of books that not only don’t support his allegation but, in fact, undermine it: Evan S. Connell’s Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn and R.G. Robertson’s Rotting Face: Smallpox and the American Indian. Both authors have told the News that Churchill has mischaracterized their work.

Churchill also insisted that he was being held to a different standard than other authors.

"You’re sitting here in full knowledge that what you’re sort of trying to winnow out of me in terms of a defense is not particularly required, in most instances," he said. "I’ve provided more citations to support what I said than Evan Connell and a couple of other people that have come up."

Genocide common theme

Churchill’s voluminous writings — which span more than 100 books, essays, chapters and articles, some citing more than 200 endnotes — are at the heart of his professional being.

And they roil with the same theme: The white man, and later the U.S. government, carrying out a centuries-long war of genocide against the indigenous people who populated the North American continent before the 1492 arrival of Columbus.

There is little argument among historians that the treatment of American Indians in this country’s formative years was horrendous.

Stolen land. Broken treaties. Deadly attacks. Decimation of various populations by disease and hardship, if not by gunfire.

And that is exactly why some of Churchill’s claims have so perplexed some of his critics.

"The history is bad enough," said Russell Thornton, a professor at UCLA. "It doesn’t need to be embellished."

For Thornton, Churchill is more than a passing curiosity.

Thornton is a member of the Cherokee Nation. He wrote the book, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, which Churchill has repeatedly cited as the basis for his allegations about the U.S. Army and smallpox.

But a careful examination of Thornton’s book — and other source material cited by Churchill — reveals nothing to support his accusation that the U.S. Army shipped blankets from a St. Louis smallpox infirmary to Fort Clark, located in present-day North Dakota, in 1837.

The goal, Churchill charged, was to infect the Mandan tribe with smallpox as part of its larger campaign of genocide against American Indians.

Although there is no dispute that a smallpox epidemic ravaged the tribes of the Upper Missouri River Valley in 1837, Churchill takes a view not shared by the scholars he cites, pinning its origins on the Army.

Sources contradict story

In at least seven published works in the past 13 years, Churchill has told essentially the same story, with new details and characters emerging over time. In three of the works, he attributes the core of the story to Thornton. In two others, he cites the UCLA professor’s book for parts of the story.

But neither Thornton’s book nor the others cited by Churchill support his assertion.

In fact, each contradicts it, attributing the arrival of the disease to infected passengers on a steamboat, the St. Peters, which was operated by the American Fur Co.

Churchill mentions the boat in some versions of his story but has argued that it was used by the Army to ship the infested blankets. However, the authors of the original works, and others who have written about the smallpox, dismissed Churchill’s allegations involving the Army.

Lesley Wischmann, a Wyoming writer and author of the book Frontier Diplomats: The Life and Times of Alexander Culbertson and Natoyist-siksina, put it bluntly:

"The Army was not involved in the 1837 smallpox epidemic," she said. "It was totally the responsibility of the American Fur Co."

Wischmann, who has written extensively on historical topics, studied journals of fur traders and other historical documents while preparing the biography of Culbertson. Many of them dealt with the smallpox epidemic.

And Wischmann doubts that the trading company spread smallpox to the Indians on purpose.

"It just doesn’t make sense to me," she said. "You know, the American Fur Co., you can blame them for a lot of things — but it just doesn’t make sense to me they would willingly and knowingly try to kill off their trading partners. Because that’s where they made their money."

Thornton, who said that Churchill mischaracterized his work on several other occasions, said he had "never heard" of allegations that the Army was to blame.

He said his book is based on the "standard stuff" available on the subject, including journals from traders and trappers who were there. Placing the blame on an infected steamboat passenger is a standard interpretation, he said.

"If there is new information, why didn’t he cite it?" Thornton asked.

Churchill responded that he attributed to Thornton only the "demographics" of the epidemic — estimates of the numbers of various tribe members who died. When told that one of his books, Since Predator Came, attributed the entire story to Thornton, Churchill said that either his footnote was misread, or it was "incomplete."

Says writing is his

The smallpox allegation is only one of the areas where the News discovered problems with Churchill’s work.

Churchill has claimed the writings of others as his own — more than once, the News found.

The CU investigation includes plagiarism charges that center on two versions of largely the same essay. The first was written by the Harvard-educated Canadian professor, Cohen, and then edited by Churchill. The second appeared in a 1992 book of essays compiled by Churchill’s then- wife, Jaimes.

Churchill told the News he rewrote Cohen’s work and added the work of others at Jaimes’ request.

Churchill stands accused of stealing Cohen’s work and words for his version.

Two experts who reviewed the essays at the request of the News reached the same conclusion, with one calling it a "textbook example" of plagiarism.

Cohen is a tenured professor at one of Canada’s top universities, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her essay focused on Indian treaty fishing rights in the Northwest and Wisconsin.

Dalhousie attorneys have alleged that after Cohen denied Churchill permission to print it in the book he was working on, it was taken anyway and credited to his own research organization.

Both experts who read Cohen’s original piece and the Churchill-prepared version that appeared in the book said it constituted plagiarism.

"It’s plainly a clever rip-off," said Peter Hoffer, a legal historian who helped write the national standards on plagiarism for the American Historical Association.

Churchill’s version appeared in the 1992 book The State of Native America under the credit line of the Institute for Natural Progress, a research organization that Churchill has said he co-founded 10 years earlier. In the contributors section of the book, Churchill is credited with taking the "lead role in preparing" the essay for publication.

But he denied to the News that he had done anything wrong, contending only that he edited it on behalf of Jaimes.

"I had a role in that, and it was to take what was handed to me by the authors, specifically by Jaimes, which may or may not mean she was the lead author, I don’t know," he said.

He likened his role to that of a "rewrite man" at a newspaper — an editor who molds several different reporters’ work into a coherent piece.

That version of the essay appeared under the banner of the Institute for Natural Progress, which he said he co-founded with well-known Indian activist Winona LaDuke.

But LaDuke told the News that the institute was "mostly just an idea."

Whether Churchill published the essay under his own name or that of his own institute, the responsibility lies with him, said Stuart Green, director of the Pugh Institute for Justice at Louisiana State University.

"It doesn’t matter . . . who published it," Green said. "If it was substantially written by another scholar and she’s not attributed, that’s clearly plagiarism."

In comparing the two essays, the News found that in addition to similarity in structure and wording throughout the two pieces, the version Churchill prepared repeats a mistake found in Cohen’s original essay, cites the wrong title and misspells Cohen’s name in an endnote reference to the original, and subtly twists the overall message.

As for an essay published under the name of former Arizona State University professor Rebecca Robbins, a paragraph of which Churchill later published under his own name, the News could not determine who actually wrote it.

The case is muddled. Churchill said he wrote the Robbins essay and allowed her to publish it under her name. Robbins did not return repeated messages left at her Montana home. And Jaimes has told the News that Churchill did not write the essay and that she saw an early draft written by Robbins, who was her doctoral thesis adviser.

Churchill also said he wrote the essay originally published under Jaimes’ name — a paragraph of which he later published under his own name.

Jaimes has denied that to the News, calling her former husband a "liar."

Churchill said that anyone who compared his work to the Jaimes piece would conclude they were written by the same person.

"You tell me who’s writing this," Churchill said. "We don’t need to get into forensics to do it. Anybody that’s competent in textual analysis in any way at all can pick this up."

Churchill was asked why he would let others publish his work as their own.

"Why not?" he answered.

‘Blood quantum’ theory

The News found that Churchill’s treatment of the 1887 General Allotment Act, also known as the Dawes Act, is fraught with problems.

The act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Henry Dawes of Massachusetts, called for tribal holdings to be divided into allotments for distribution to Indian families, who would then become farmers, like white homesteaders.

Dawes and his backers saw themselves as humanitarians, according to historians, thinking they were helping to blend Indians into the American melting pot.

In practice, much of the land distributed to Indians — and some that was supposed to have remained with the tribes — was quickly snapped up by white farmers and speculators.

But Churchill has said repeatedly that the Dawes Act contains an even more sinister provision.

"The act also imposed for the first time a formal eugenics code — dubbed ‘blood quantum’ — by which American Indian identity would be federally defined on racial grounds rather than by native nations themselves on the basis of group membership/citizenship," Churchill wrote in a 1993 essay.

Eugenics code is the term used to describe the laws adopted by the Nazis to preserve the purity of the Aryan race. Comparisons between the U.S. and Nazi Germany have been a staple of Churchill’s writings and speeches.

Churchill charged that America’s racial code was designed to eliminate Indians, just as the Germans worked to eliminate Jews. Through intermarriage, future generations of Indians would have progressively less Indian blood, until the tribes disappeared, he wrote.

The theory had one problem: The plain wording of the Dawes Act contains no such provision, either directly or by reference to other portions of the law.

"You won’t find anything," said Carole Goldberg, a UCLA law professor and an expert on federal Indian law. Tribes decide who is a member, she said.

Churchill makes reference to a blood-quantum provision of federal law at least 18 times, beginning in the mid-1980s, but never cites language in the law to back up the allegation.

In 1994, he charged that the blood code also appears in the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, a measure designed to outlaw bogus Indian art.

A key sponsor of the law was Colorado’s former U.S. congressman and senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

That law, which is posted on the U.S. Interior Department Web site, says only that tribes determine who is an Indian.

"He’s been pretty much discredited," Campbell said.

Churchill has used the blood-quantum theory to bash tribal governments. Because none of them recognize him as an Indian, it is illegal for him to market his paintings as Indian art. And because some tribes use blood quantum to define membership, Churchill derides them for rolling over for the federal government.

Churchill acknowledged that the phrase blood quantum doesn’t appear in the Dawes Act, but he said the law — and subsequent legislation — clearly required Indians to prove themselves in the eyes of the federal government. The blood-quantum requirement, he said, was "self-evident."

He also said that he did nothing wrong. Asked why he didn’t spell out what is and isn’t in the law in his writings, Churchill replied:

"Because I didn’t write an essay on it. I wrote a paragraph in passing in a broader narrative."

Tracking down ancestry

Churchill’s scholarship isn’t the only part of his life that has generated controversy.

At the core of the questions surrounding Churchill is this: Is he who he says he is?

He has repeatedly said that his mother and grandmother passed on to him the often-told story that there was Indian blood in the family. He’s believed it since he was 10, he has said.

In speeches Churchill has given this year, he has introduced himself this way: "I bring you greetings from the Elders of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee, my mother’s people."

At times, he has suggested that he is 3/16ths Indian. That would be the equivalent of three of his 16 great-great grandparents having been 100 percent American Indian.

But from all indications in an extensive genealogical study by the News, there is no evidence of a single Indian ancestor in Churchill’s long family history in America.

Churchill isn’t the only member of his family who heard the same story.

Many of his wide array of relatives have been searching for more than 100 years, through records that go back before the Revolutionary War, seeking the elusive link that would confirm the family legend of Indian parentage somewhere along the line.

So far, they haven’t found that link.

Churchill points to an associate membership given to him 11 years ago by Oklahoma’s Keetoowah band of Cherokee, but the tribe has since said the membership was honorary and that Churchill didn’t show any proof of Indian ancestors.

Pressed on the question by the News, Churchill said his ancestry is a "slam-dunk made case" and that he would not discuss it further.

As the process of examining Churchill’s work and his ancestry continues, the professor presses on.

He walks the campus in his trademark blue jeans and wraparound sunglasses. He works at the computer in his basement office, where two walls are lined with books and videotapes. He lectures students — his most recent class, "Topical Issues/Native North America," ended May 26.

He waits to see whether a student-voted teaching award, withheld while the investigation is ongoing, will be bestowed upon him.

And he spars with reporters and detractors alike, arguing that he did nothing wrong, saying that his practices are standard in the academic world.

All the while, the faculty committee works on.

It will answer the main questions before it: Did Churchill commit research misconduct and academic fraud, and did he misrepresent his heritage to gain a wider audience for his work?

If it finds that he did, it can recommend discipline — up to firing.

Only then will the university answer the bigger question that has been looming ever since Churchill’s name burst onto the scene a little more than four months ago:

What is Churchill’s future at the University of Colorado?

Churchill’s history

• Early years: Born in 1947 to Jack and Maralyn Churchill in central Illinois. Raised by mother and stepfather in Elmwood, near Peoria. Graduated from high school in 1965, drafted into Army, served nearly a year in Vietnam in 1967.

• Academic years: Earned bachelor’s degree in 1974 and a master’s degree in communications theory in 1975 from Sangamon State University in Springfield, Ill. First teaching job in 1975 was as an art instructor at Black Hills State College in Spearfish, S.D.

• Indian involvement: Developed a lasting relationship with American Indian Movement leader Russell Means around the time of the 1973 siege at Wounded Knee. Became his aide and speechwriter. Has engaged in long-running feud with national AIM leader Vernon Bellecourt; Suzan Shown Harjo, former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians; and others.

• Ethnicity claims: On 1978 CU application, checked box for "American Indian." Two years later, his resume noted he was "Creek/Cherokee." Bellecourt approached CU, questioning Churchill’s claim, in 1986 and again in 1994. CU declined to pursue in 1994. "Given the fact that equal opportunity is the law of the land and that positions in the public sector are to be awarded to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and based only on their ability to do the job, the university does not believe that any attempt to remove Mr. Churchill because of his ethnicity or race would be appropriate," former CU-Boulder Chancellor James Corbridge wrote. "Further, it has always been university policy that a person’s race or ethnicity is self-proving."

Churchill has said he is at least 1/16th Cherokee; also has said he’s Creek. Named an associate member of the Tahlequah, Okla.-based Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in 1994. Tribe has said membership was honorary.

• CU: Hired in 1978 as an administrative assistant in the American Indian Equal Opportunities Program, which counseled Indian students. Over the next 10 years, he also lectured on Indian topics.

• Tenure: Appointed associate professor in 1991 in the communications department. Received tenure in 1991 in same department after sociology and political science departments rejected him. Memo to communications faculty said that by adding Churchill, the department would be "making our contribution to increasing the cultural diversity on campus (Ward is native American)." CU skipped the traditional six-year period of writing, teaching and reviews by outside scholars at three and six years. Former Dean of Arts and Sciences Charles Middleton pushed for tenure, fearing Churchill would accept offer at California State University at Northridge. But no offer was made by Northridge because he lacked a doctorate and his writings contained more advocacy than scholarship, said George Wayne, a former Northridge official. Appointed full professor and his tenure transferred to ethnic studies department in 1997.

• Criticism: Work first came under attack by small academic journals and some American Indians in the early 1990s. Peter Spear, dean of arts and sciences from 1996 to 2001, says he doesn’t recall allegations. In 1996, University of New Mexico law professor John LaVelle published an essay accusing Churchill of misrepresenting portions of federal Indian law.

• Accolades: Named chairman of ethnic studies department in 2002. Resigned in January 2005 in wake of Sept. 11 essay controversy. Received raise to $92,000 in 2004. "We are pleased to recognize your outstanding contribution to scholarship and teaching in the area of Native American Studies," Arts and Sciences Dean Todd Gleeson wrote. Ranked above-average on annual reviews. Won campus award for social science writing in 1992. Students voted him winner of Boulder Faculty Assembly teaching award in 1994.

Glossary

• Plagiarism: Presenting another author’s work as your own. The American Historical Association says it’s not limited to using someone else’s words verbatim, but also includes using ideas, sources or notes "disguised in newly crafted sentences." It also includes citing the plagiarized source in a footnote, then extensively copying from that source without further credit, and suggesting that you reviewed original documents and sources when you simply read about them in someone else’s work.

• Scholarship: The rigorous methods scholars use to find, analyze, interpret and share information in a trustworthy way to add to a body of knowledge.

• Endnote: Similar to a footnote, but appears at the end of a piece of scholarly writing to show the sources the author used or suggests reading for further inquiry.Source: American Historical Association, Wikipedia, Southhampton Institute Handbook

Standards of professional conduct

• "Although historians disagree with each other about many things, they do know what they trust and respect in each other’s work. All historians believe in honoring the integrity of the historical record. They do not fabricate evidence. Forgery and fraud violate the most basic foundations on which historians construct their interpretations of the past. An undetected counterfeit undermines not just the historical arguments of the forger, but all subsequent scholarship that relies on the forger’s work. Those who invent, alter, remove, or destroy evidence make it difficult for any serious historian ever wholly to trust their work again."Source: American Historical Association’S Statement On Standards Of Professional Conduct

Charlie Brennan, Kevin Flynn, Laura Frank, Berny Morson and Kevin Vaughan wrote this article for the Rocky Mountain News.

Confirmed, Ward Churchill is a Fraud, Part 4

Kevin Flynn / Rocky Mountain News

Front Page magazine

June 10, 2005

The case of the faux Indian.

The following is the fifth installment of a multi-article investigation launched by the Rocky Mountain News. This installment, written by reporter Kevin Flynn, focuses on allegations of Churchill’s misrepresentation of his Indian heritage. Click here to see an overview of the newspaper’s findings. Click here to see part one (dealing with the charge of fraud). Click here to see part two (the charge of plagiarism). Click here to see part three (Churchill’s mischaracterization of the Dawes Act). — The Editors.

The Charge of Misrepresentation

By Kevin Flynn, Rocky Mountain News

Eleven-year-old Joshua Tyner was hiding in a tree near his family’s backwoods Georgia home when marauding Indians shot him and he fell dead to the ground.

That’s how the old family legend goes.

So much for old family legends.

Searching for a link: Ken Tyner, 64, of San Diego, is a distant relative of Ward Churchill. Tyner underwent DNA testing last year and found that his ancestor Richard Tyner, who is Churchill’s fifth-great-grandfather, wasn’t Indian. Churchill’s belief in the Tyner family legend of Indian heritage is at the core of his disputed identity as an Indian.

Joshua Tyner didn’t die in that bloody raid sometime around 1778, although the Indians scalped his mother and kidnapped his two teenage sisters.

In fact, Joshua Tyner lived a long and fruitful life and produced many descendants – including University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, whose disputed claims of Indian ancestry are tied to yet another family legend:

The one that says Joshua Tyner was part Cherokee.

However, an extensive genealogical search by the Rocky Mountain News identified 142 direct forebears of Churchill and turned up no evidence of a single Indian ancestor among them – including Joshua.

The News also located two male descendants of Richard Tyner – Joshua Tyner’s father – who underwent DNA tests last year. The tests showed that the Tyner line goes back to northern European ancestry with no hint of male Indian blood.

For more than a century, descendants of Richard Tyner’s Georgia brood have conducted a fruitless search for proof of their rumored Indian roots, spurred on by a tantalizing story that Joshua Tyner may have spent the last years of his life living among Indians in Illinois, practicing herbal medicine.

In the 1890s, one of them pursued a case to the U.S. Supreme Court, demanding to be included in the formal allotment of land to Indians – and was rejected as a non-Indian.

In 1936, Illinois historian Nannie Gray Parks wrote to the National Archives seeking Revolutionary War pension information on Joshua Tyner, asserting the legend that he was the son of a Cherokee – a story Churchill has repeated.

Churchill has said he was 10 when his mother and grandmother passed on to him the family lore of Indian ancestry. Dan Debo, his younger half brother, backs that up.

"We were told when we were kids by our mom and grandma that we had Indian blood in us," Debo, who lives in California, wrote to the News.

Today, many of the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-generation Tyner descendants believe the legend and continue to search for the elusive Indian link. Others simply ignore it.

Churchill, though, has fashioned his life and career around it.

That decision lies at the heart of an investigation by CU, which has charged its standing committee on research misconduct with ruling whether Churchill’s claim of Indian heritage has been a ruse by the professor to bolster his credibility as an Indian scholar.

Churchill has said that he is either 1/16th or 3/16ths Cherokee from his mother’s side, while also claiming Creek Indian heritage on his father’s side. But he has battled complaints for years – mostly from within the American Indian activist community – that he isn’t Indian at all.

In 1993, when a campus news article challenged Churchill on his ancestry claims, he responded by naming several people and implying that they proved his roots.

But the News has determined that the people he named either were not Indians or were not his relatives.

Churchill also told the article’s author that Joshua’s father was a Cherokee named Tushali.

Records on Tushali – whose name was spelled by whites as Tsali, Toochalee and other variants – show that he was a Cherokee brave who was executed about 1838, ostensibly for killing U.S. soldiers who were removing his family from their home as part of a forced Indian exodus that came to be called the Trail of Tears.

That’s the same year Joshua died at age 71.

Moreover, Tushali didn’t live in the same part of the country as Joshua’s family. Tushali lived near the North Carolina-Tennessee border, not in eastern North Carolina, where Joshua is believed to have been born in 1767.

Churchill’s claim also is undermined by written records showing Richard Tyner was in fact Joshua’s father.

Joshua is listed as a son in Richard Tyner’s 1824 will. Joshua referred to Richard Tyner’s farm as the home of "my father," and noted Richard’s death in his family bible, calling him "my father."

Churchill reported last month to the CU committee that he meets three of the four criteria for determining whether he is Indian.

Those three criteria are self-identification as an Indian, acceptance within the Indian community, and tribal affiliation – none of which require proof of Indian parentage.

The one test he didn’t cite: naming an actual Indian ancestor.

Churchill now declines to discuss his ancestry at all.

"What’s to address?" he said. "No, I’m not going to spend the rest of my life talking about my ancestry. That’s a slam-dunk made case."

Tracing family lore

It might not be that easy.

The News’ genealogical research was conducted both in-house and in concert with several outside researchers.

Jim Paine, 51, of Hartsel, who heads several Internet database companies, maintains an anti-Churchill site at http://www.pirateballerina.com.

He worked with Bill Cullen, 35, a New Jersey police officer who plans to become a professional genealogist.

Jack Ott, 65, of Lakewood, a retired telecom planner, engineer and amateur genealogist, maintains an online Churchill tree at home.comcast.net/~jackott2/ahnentafel1.htm.

The investigation relied on census reports, colonial-era deeds, wills, veterans’ records, draft registrations, marriage licenses, several Indian censuses, applications for Indian inclusion in a settlement of treaty violations, and state records such as lists of entrants in giveaways of former Indian lands.

The analysis also tapped into extensive research already conducted by genealogists in other branches of the family, none of whom were aware that Churchill was one of their relatives.

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: William Cullen Tyner, one of the Tyner men who share a common ancestor with Ward Churchill — namely, Richard Tyner, a homesteader in Georgia in the late 1700s.

While the News found a large clan of Tyners among the Cherokee, they aren’t related to the Joshua Tyner branch from which Churchill descends.

Dennis Ward, 65, a military career guidance specialist at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., and a registered Cherokee who is descended from the Indian Tyners, has tried for years to find any connection to Churchill’s Tyners.

"I have never seen any real documentation as it pertains to Joshua Tyner having Indian blood," said Ward, one of the most active Tyner family researchers.

Ward, described by one Tyner genealogist as the most knowledgeable in the family, also had never heard of a link between Tushali and the Tyners.

On the other hand, the News’ examination found plenty of evidence that Joshua – who became an Indian fighter in Georgia after the raid that killed his mother – was white, as was the rest of his family.

The legend that he went off during the last few years of his life to live as an Indian has been in the family for more than a century, although the first known mention came decades after his death.

There is no evidence to support it, just the odd circumstance that his wife of 45 years, who died in 1842, four years after Joshua, is buried alone in Wilson Cemetery in Cambria, Ill.

The legend is that Joshua was buried in an Indian-style mound by the Big Muddy River in Blairsville, Ill. In 1930, a state highway crew building a new bridge there unearthed a suspected Indian burial site. But the remains were never identified. They were reburied in an unmarked grave that is lost to history.

A local Illinois history book written in 1876, within folks’ living memory of Joshua Tyner, referred to him and other pioneers as pure white with no Indian blood.

So where does the story originate?

"We’re not really sure, to be candid with you," said Ken Tyner, 64, a retired Army sergeant living in San Diego who is a sixth-generation descendant of Richard Tyner. "Everybody’s always speculated about having Indian blood, but I don’t know where it comes from."

Ken is descended from Joshua’s younger brother, Noah, and is Churchill’s fifth cousin once removed – a relationship he knew nothing about until contacted by the News.

Ken Tyner and his half brother underwent DNA testing last year as part of their own genealogical research, learning that Richard Tyner was of northern European descent, not Indian.

Some descendants believe Richard’s first wife – the woman killed and scalped during the Indian raid – might have been Indian herself. Still others pin their supposed heritage on Richard’s second wife, Agnes "Sookie" Dougherty, although the News found evidence that she, too, was white.

In any case, Churchill is descended from Richard and Richard’s first wife, variously called Eliza Jane, Elizabeth and Abigail on family trees, through their son Joshua.

Even if Joshua’s mother was a full-blooded Cherokee, something for which there is no supporting evidence, Churchill, as her fifth- great-grandson, would have only a tiny fraction – 1/128th – of Indian blood, not close to the 1/16th or 3/16ths he claims.

Impact on credibility

Despite the mounting evidence that Churchill isn’t Indian, academic experts differ on whether it would constitute misconduct for him to pass as one.

If Churchill’s work is authoritative, it shouldn’t lose its credibility if it is revealed that he isn’t an Indian, said ethics expert Kenneth Pimple at Indiana University.

"To some people, I have no doubt, Churchill’s work would still be considered highly valuable," Pimple said. "To others, it might be fatally tainted by such a revelation.

"But should such a revelation have any impact on the assessment of his work? If his writings have any authority of their own, it should not."

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: Thomas Tyner, shown with wife Martha Kirk Tyner.

But Churchill gains credibility by claiming Indian status, countered scholar Russell Thornton, an enrolled Cherokee and a UCLA professor whose work Churchill is accused of misrepresenting.

"I don’t think the type of people who are his audience would give him near that much attention if he were not seen as an Indian," he said.

There’s still another way to look at the question, according to Pimple, and that’s what Churchill truly believes about his background, regardless of the objective truth of it.

"If Churchill’s mother told him that he had Native American ancestry, it is reasonable for him to believe this to be true," Pimple said. "Even if further research should show that his mother had been wrong, it would be difficult to make a case that Churchill intended to fool anyone by claiming Native American ancestry."

Belief in the Tyner Indian legends is widespread among the descendants. The News found true believers in Illinois, California, Florida and Georgia.

"All the family believes, earnestly, they are descended from Indians," said Charla Schroeder Murphy of the Williamson County, Ill., Historical Society.

"I don’t believe Mr. Churchill was trying to pass himself off as something he’s not, but something that generations of Tyners have embraced and believed."

CU, however, could have cause for action if it found the legends are untrue and that Churchill knew it, Pimple said.

"I should think that in general, intentionally lying about one’s credentials, which in this case might reasonably include ancestry, would be considered academic misconduct," Pimple said. "The key is demonstrating, by an appropriate standard of evidence, intent to deceive."

Putting claims to the test

In his response to CU’s investigation, Churchill said he qualifies as an Indian under three of the four methods his attorney said are commonly used for determining Indian heritage.

• One, Churchill calls himself an Indian, although experts say such self-identification is the least meaningful. CU, however, said in 1994, in response to a complaint about Churchill’s claimed ethnicity, that it recognizes self-identification.

• The second test is whether a person is regarded within the greater Indian community as a member, although this acceptance doesn’t need to be based on demonstrated Indian bloodlines, either. Churchill’s acceptance primarily comes from a confederation of Indian rights activists who support his writings and teachings. One of them is noted Indian activist Russell Means.

"Ward is my brother," Means has said. "Ward has followed the ways of indigenous people worldwide."

• The third test is whether someone is enrolled in a tribe. Churchill says that his May 1994 associate membership in the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma fulfills this requirement. But as the Keetoowah noted during a war of words with Churchill last month, the associate membership was not an actual tribal enrollment, but more of an honorary membership "because he could not prove any Cherokee ancestry."

"Mr. Churchill was never enrolled as a member," the Keetoowah said, making a distinction between tribal enrollment and the associate status that didn’t require proof of Indian ancestry.

The tribe voted a month after granting Churchill’s associate membership to stop giving them out, and said it erased all of the existing ones.

Churchill said the tribe is free to revoke his 1994 associate membership, but not to deny giving it.

"What it does not have a right to do is falsify history at its own convenience," he said.

Churchill obtained his Keetoowah membership shortly after being involved in a run-in with a rival faction of the American Indian Movement led by Vernon Bellecourt, who accused Churchill of masquerading as an Indian.

• The final method for determining Indian heritage is to identify an Indian ancestor – the only method Churchill didn’t use in his 50-page report to the university’s investigating committee, according to a description of the confidential response by Churchill’s attorney, David Lane.

For Churchill’s claims of 1/16th or 3/16ths Cherokee blood to be true, between one and three of his 16 great- great-grandparents would have to be full-blooded Indians, or six of his 32 third-great-grandparents and so on.

If it all came from his mother, as he has sometimes said, she would have to be nearly half Indian herself.

But all of Churchill’s 16 great- great-grandparents are known. Not a single one was a full-blooded Indian, nor is there evidence any were part Indian. All but two are listed as white on census records from the 19th century. For those two, who could not be located on a census, their children were listed as white.

‘I met my father one time’

Churchill has said he derives Creek Indian heritage from his father, the late Jack Churchill.

But in a 1993 interview with the CU student who wrote the campus newspaper article questioning his heritage, Churchill said he knew nothing about his father’s ancestry.

His father and mother divorced when Churchill was an infant. Jack Churchill became a high school teacher in Petersburg, Ill., dying in 1989 at the age of 65.

"I met my father one time," Churchill told then-CU student Jodi Rave. "I didn’t ask him too many family questions or other questions, and I really never tried to pursue it, or never really pursued him, because it seemed kind of bad for him."

Yet the next year, when he was up for associate membership with the Keetoowah, Churchill told the tribe that his father had Creek Indian heritage. The Creek Indians inhabited the area that became the southeast U.S., bordering Cherokee lands. They frequently warred with the Cherokee.

"I was asked if I wanted to try to document my father’s side of things," Churchill said in a July 1994 statement published in an Indian newspaper after the Keetoowah meeting, "because he was at least as much Indian as mom. But he’s dead now. I never knew him, and I don’t know my relatives on that side. So I just let it go."

The News’ genealogical search, however, found that his father’s ancestors came not from Creek Indian territory, but from New England, Virginia, Tennessee, Iowa, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and England.

Great-great-grandmother Jane McNeeley, for instance, told an 1880 census taker in Illinois that her father was born in Scotland and her mother in Ireland. She was born in Canada.

McNeeley’s husband, Nicholas Gorsuch, came from parents born in Maryland, census records state, and the family hailed from England.

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: Brothers Felix and Jesse Tyner .

The Churchills themselves go back to 1600s Connecticut.

His father’s father, also named Ward Churchill, is listed as white in the 1920 census, His draft card listed him as "Caucasian." He and his wife, Ethel Janes, were restaurant keepers in Rushville, Ill., where he later served several terms as city clerk.

In the 1930 census, they were still in Rushville, as was their 5-year-old son, Jack Churchill, who became Ward’s father 17 years later. Jack is listed as white.

Churchill, in his 1993 interview with Rave, also was mistaken about the record for Joshua Tyner.

Churchill moved Joshua up at least one generation, misplaced him in Indian lands and said that Joshua was moved from Tennessee in the mid-1830s, implying that he was part of the forced removal of Cherokees along the Trail of Tears.

"Now on my mother’s side, their people coming up north, well, they got moved, they didn’t just come north out of southern Tennessee," he told Rave. "Beginning about 1835, to around 1845, that’s when they shifted."

That’s not what the record shows.

Tracking down family roots

Joshua and his brother, Noah, married sisters Winifred and Priscilla Teasley. Together they left Georgia between 1800 and the fall of 1801, according to family historians, moving to Tennessee’s northern border with Kentucky – not the Cherokee lands of southern Tennessee as Churchill said. The area where Joshua and Noah went had been settled by whites 20 years earlier.

Contrary to what Churchill told Rave, Joshua wasn’t moved out of Tennessee in the 1830s, but left with his family about 1816 and is recorded as being one of the first white settlers in what soon would become Franklin County, Ill.

By the mid-1830s, when the government forced Cherokees, half Cherokees and white spouses of Indians from Georgia, Joshua was actually at the end of his pioneer life in Illinois.

Facts surrounding the infamous U.S. Indian Removal Act of 1830 give more indication that the Georgia Tyners were not part-Indian.

Descendants of Richard Tyner and both his wives remained in northeast Georgia rather than being rounded up and sent to Oklahoma.

Joshua Tyner was 71 when he died near Blairsville, Ill., on the day after Christmas in 1838, leaving behind his wife and numerous children who went on to have families of their own in the area.

One of those descendants, Maralyn Allen, married Jack Churchill and gave birth to their son, Ward, in 1947.

Analyzing the DNA

While some family speculation has centered on Joshua’s mother – the unfortunate woman scalped by Indians – the scant history on her indicates she was white.

The most prevalent version of the legend is that Joshua’s mother was kidnapped as a girl by Cherokees in South Carolina and forced to marry a Cherokee chief. She bore him a son, said to be Joshua, and when he was 3, the girl’s father tracked them down and rescued them.

This account is improbable. Joshua’s mother was not a girl at the time he was born; she had at least three older children and had been married in North Carolina to Richard Tyner.

Photo courtesy of Ken Tyner

Ties to a past: Felix Tyner, shown with wife Cora.

But could she have been Cherokee, as some think?

That’s unlikely, too. A baby born to a Cherokee mother and white father in late 1700s Georgia would have been raised as Indian, according to Indian scholar John Finger, a retired University of Tennessee historian. All of the Tyner children, including Joshua, were raised as white.

Last year’s DNA testing on Richard Tyner’s male descendants is silent on whether Joshua’s mother was or wasn’t Indian. That would require a different test.

The DNA test on a male descendant can only trace the male’s Y chromosome to one of the 18 major groupings of human ethnicity, according to Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA, the organization that did the Tyner testing.

DNA mutations can mar efforts to link male lines, cautioned Ranajit Chakraborty, professor and director of the Center for Genome Information at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine.

But the male Tyner DNA test matched northern European markers, Ken Tyner said.

Even if Churchill tested his own DNA, it couldn’t show Indian heritage from the Tyners. That’s because there are four female ancestors in the line of seven people from Joshua to Churchill.

To find out if Joshua’s mother was part Indian, Greenspan said, the mitochondrial DNA of a direct female descendant must be tested.

Ken Tyner said that is a dead end for now.

"I know of no direct female descendants," he said.

With the DNA trail to Richard Tyner showing that he was white, turning to the paper trail indicates much the same.

Richard Tyner was a slave owner. While some Cherokees owned slaves as time went on, that would have been rare in the late 1700s.

"It would be unusual for Cherokees to hold slaves that early," historian Finger said.

There is also evidence that the legend of Richard Tyner’s second wife being part Cherokee is untrue. Old Georgia records list several of "Sookie" Dougherty’s offspring as white. Richard Tyner Jr. is listed with his father as an entrant in the 1807 Georgia Land Lottery. That giveaway of land that the state acquired from Creek Indians was restricted to free white males or their widows.

Marriage records from the early 1800s show the Tyner sons and daughters listed in the pages of "whites" rather than "coloreds."

And in another lottery in 1827 to parcel out former Cherokee lands – also restricted to whites – three Tyner descendants were eligible.

While these are strong indications that there was no Indian blood in the Tyner family, it is not clear and final proof.

But of all the records that make a racial distinction, not a single one says Indian.

Considering ‘cultural’ facts

What complicates the written record is the "cultural" fact that in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, there were instances of mixed- blood Indians passing for white.

Finger, the Tennessee historian, said it is possible that backwoods whites who had children with Indian women could pass them off as white.

"In a frontier area, there may be more acceptance of a person of mixed blood being perceived as white," he said.

Still, none of the documentation that Joshua Tyner left indicates that he considered himself part Indian.

Joshua identified himself as white to census takers in both the 1820 and 1830 Illinois censuses. He later wrote an account of fighting Indians in Georgia as part of the Revolutionary War army.

On Sept. 3, 1832, shortly after his 65th birthday, Joshua applied for a federal pension based on his military service. In court testimony, Joshua said he was a private and enlisted as a spy, "ranging the frontier against the hostile Indians."

Joshua received his pension, $71.66 annually.

In an 1876 history of Williamson County, Ill. – which was formed from the part of Franklin County that Joshua Tyner homesteaded – author Milo Erwin minced no words in his praise for the area’s pioneers, Joshua included, who he said settled on the Eight Mile Prairie in 1816.

They were all pure-blooded white men, Erwin avowed. "They were poor, but of unmixed blood. There were no half-breeds, neither of Indians nor other obnoxious races."

Voir enfin:

Fauxcahontas and the melting pot

Mark Steyn

2012-05-04

Have you dated a composite woman? They’re America’s hottest new demographic. As with all the really cool stuff, Barack Obama was doing it years before the rest of us. In "Dreams from My Father," the world’s all-time most-unread bestseller, he spills the inside dope on his composite white girlfriend:

"When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough…"

But being yourself is never going to be enough in the new composite America. Last week, in an election campaign ad, Barack revealed his latest composite girlfriend – "Julia." She’s worse than the old New York girlfriend. She can’t even be herself. In fact, she can’t be anything without massive assistance from Barack every step of the way, from his "Head Start" program at age 3 through to his Social Security benefits at the age of 67. Everything good in her life she owes to him. When she writes her memoir, it will be thanks to a subvention from the Federal Publishing Assistance Program for Chronically Dependent Women but you’ll love it: Sweet Dreams From My Sugar Daddy. She’s what the lawyers would call "non composite mentis." She’s not competent to do a single thing for herself – and, from Barack’s point of view, that’s exactly what he’s looking for in a woman, if only for a one-night stand on a Tuesday in early November.

POLITICAL CARTOONS:

90 cartoons by Nate Beeler, Cagle Cartoons and by Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun

Then there’s "Elizabeth," a 62-year-old Democratic Senate candidate from Massachusetts. Like Barack’s white girlfriend, she couldn’t be black. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. But she could be a composite – a white woman and an Indian woman, all mixed up in one! Not Indian in the sense of Ashton Kutcher putting on brownface makeup and a fake-Indian accent in his amusing new commercial for the hip lo-fat snack Popchips. But Indian in the sense of checking the "Are you Native American?" box on the Association of American Law Schools form, which Elizabeth Warren did for much of her adult life. According to her, she’s part Cherokee and part Delaware. Not in the Joe Biden sense, I hasten to add, but Delaware in the sense of the Indian tribe named in honor of the home state of Big F—kin’ Chief Dances With Plugs.

How does she know she’s a Cherokee maiden? Well, she cites her grandfather’s "high cheekbones," and says the Indian stuff is part of her family "lore." Which was evidently good enough for Harvard Lore School when they were looking to rack up a few affirmative-action credits. The former Obama Special Advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel now says that "I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am," and certainly not for personal career advancement or anything like that. Like everyone else, she was shocked, shocked to discover that, as The Boston Herald reported, "Harvard Law School officials listed Warren as Native American in the ’90s, when the school was under fierce fire for their faculty’s lack of diversity."

So did the University of Texas, and the University of Pennsylvania. With the impertinent jackanapes of the press querying the bona fides of Harvard Lore School’s first Native American female professor, the Warren campaign got to work and eventually turned up a great-great-great-grandmother designated as Cherokee in the online transcription of a marriage application of 1894.

Hallelujah! In the old racist America, we had quadroons and octoroons. But in the new post-racial America, we have – hang on, let me get out my calculator – duoettrigintaroons! Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when men would be judged not on the color of their skin but on the content of their great-great-great-grandmother’s wedding license application. And now it’s here! You can read all about it in Elizabeth Warren’s memoir of her struggles to come to terms with her racial identity, Dreams From My Great-Great-Great-Grandmother.

Alas, the actual original marriage license does not list Great-Great-Great-Gran’ma as Cherokee, but let’s cut Elizabeth Fauxcahontas Crockagawea Warren some slack here. She couldn’t be black. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. But she could be 1/32nd Cherokee, and maybe get invited to a luncheon with others of her kind – "people who are like I am," 31/32nds white – and they can all sit around celebrating their diversity together. She is a testament to America’s melting pot, composite pot, composting pot, whatever.

Just in case you’re having difficulty keeping up with all these Composite-Americans, George Zimmerman, the son of a Peruvian mestiza, is the embodiment of endemic white racism and the reincarnation of Bull Connor, but Elizabeth Warren, the great-great-great-granddaughter of someone who might possibly have been listed as Cherokee on an application for a marriage license, is a heartwarming testimony to how minorities are shattering the glass ceiling in Harvard Yard. George Zimmerman, redneck; Elizabeth Warren, redskin. Under the Third Reich’s Nuremberg Laws, Ms. Warren would have been classified as Aryan and Mr. Zimmerman as non-Aryan. Now it’s the other way round. Progress!

Coincidentally, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission last week issued an "Enforcement Guidance" limiting the rights of employers to take into account the criminal convictions and arrest records of job applicants because of the "disparate impact" the consideration of such matters might have on minorities. That’s great news, isn’t it? So Harvard Law School can’t ask Elizabeth Warren if she’s ever held up a liquor store because, if they did, the faculty might be even less Cherokee than it is.

My colleague Jonah Goldberg wrote the other day about Chris Mooney, author of "The Republican Brain," and other scientific chaps who argue that conservatives suffer from a genetic cognitive impairment that causes us to favor small government. In other words, we’re born stupid. So, thanks to gene sequencing, we now know why conservatives aren’t as smart as, say, Pete Stark, the nigh-on-half-a-century Democrat congressman who believes that Solyndra, which is based in his district, is an automobile manufacturer: "I wish I had a big enough expense allowance to get one of those new ‘S’s’ that Solyndra’s going to make down there, the electric car," he told The San Francisco Chronicle this week. "My 10-year-old is after me. He no longer wants a Porsche. He wants Dad to have an ‘S’ sedan." Pete sounds so out of it, you have to wonder if maybe he’s 1/32nd Republican on his great-great-great-grandmother’s side.

But, if conservatives are simply born that way, shouldn’t they be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission?

Aw, don’t waste your time. Elizabeth Warren will be ahead of you checking the "right-wing madman" box on the grounds that she gets her high cheekbones and minimal facial hair from Genghis Khan. And "Julia" will be saying she was born conservative but thanks to Obama’s new Headcase Start program was able to get ideological reassignment surgery. And Barack’s imaginary girlfriend will be telling him that she’d be left if she could, but she’s right so she can’t, but she’d love to be left. So he left her.

Good thing the smart guys are running the joint.


Pape/266e: Vous avez dit successeur de Saint Pierre? (Call no man your father – there is no apostolic succession)

14 mars, 2013
N’appelez personne sur la terre votre père; car un seul est votre Père, celui qui est dans les cieux. (…) Le plus grand parmi vous sera votre serviteur. Jésus (Mattieu 23: 9-11)
Si quelqu’un veut être le premier, il sera le dernier de tous et le serviteur de tous. Jésus (Marc 9: 35)
Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix. (…) Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité … Saint François d’Assise

Il n’a choisi pour pierre angulaire ni le brillant Paul ni le mystique Jean, mais un pantin, un vaniteux, un pleutre — en un mot, un homme… Tous les empires et royaumes ont échoué à cause de cette faiblesse inhérente et permanente, qu’ils ont été fondés par un homme fort appuyé sur des hommes forts. Mais cette chose unique, l’église chrétienne historique a été fondée sur un homme faible et c’est pourquoi qu’elle est indestructible. Car aucune chaine n’est plus forte que son maillon le plus faible.
Chesterton
Mater si, magistra no. Garry Wills
Un cardinal a rompu son vœu du secret et publié son journal décrivant le conclave qui a élu le Pape Benedict XVI, révélant dans un compte rendu extrêmement rare qu’un cardinal argentin avait été le principal adversaire et presque bloqué l’élection de Benoît XVI. CNN (2005)
Avec l’élection d’un nouveau pape, la presse va répéter les vieux mythes — que Christ a fait de Pierre le premier pape et qu’il y a eu une "succession apostolique" des papes depuis lors. Les chercheurs, y compris de grands érudits catholiques, comme Raymond Brown et Joseph Fitzmyer, savent depuis longtemps que Pierre n’était pas pape. Il n’était même pas prêtre ou évêque — des fonctions qui n’existaient-elle pas au premier siècle. Et il n’y a pas de succession apostolique, juste les rebondissements et les enchevêtrements de titulaires d’une charge multiples, souvent interrompus et contestés. C’est une corde de sable. Au début du XVe siècle, par exemple, il y avait trois papes, dont aucun ne voulut démissionner. Un nouveau Conseil dut être rappelé pour tout recommencer. Il nomma Martin V, à condition qu’il  convoque des conseils fréquents — une condition qu’il éluda une fois au pouvoir. Mais Jésus n’a-t-il pas dit," tu es Pierre et sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon église" (Mt 16,18) ? Oui, mais il a aussi ordonné à ses disciples de ne pas chercher la première place entre eux (Mark 9.33-37)  et a dit "N’appelez personne sur la terre votre père; car un seul est votre Père, celui qui est dans les cieux." (Matthieu 23,9). Garry Wills

Vous avez dit successeur de Saint Pierre?

A l’heure où nos médias nous font découvrir un nouveau pape pourtant déjà finaliste il y a huit ans …

Que l’on a commencé par appeler François Ier alors que, jusqu’à nouvel ordre et contrairement à un Jean-Paul 1er qui dépassa à peine un mois, son successeur n’a toujours pas été choisi …

Mais dont le nom inédit du Saint François ami des pauvres et les pratiques passées laissent espérer une réorientation, vers un peu plus de simplicité, de la curie romaine …

Remise des pendules à l’heure, avec le célèbre historien, éditorialiste et catholique dissident américain Garry Wills.

Qui a le mérite de rappeler la dimension parfaitement mythique du titre de "successeur de Saint pierre" que nos médias nous répètent à longueur de journée …

Tout simplement parce que, suivant l’injonction du Christ à refuser tout titre hiérarchique, Saint Pierre n’a bien sûr jamais été pape…

(d’une église de Jérusalem tentée d’ailleurs au départ, avec Jacques le frère de  Jésus, par une succession de type dynastique et très vite marquée par des frictions avec Paul ou les autres) ….

Et donc qu"il n’y a tout simplement pas pu y avoir de "succession apostolique" remontant à Saint Pierre …

Mais une succession fréquemment mouvementée de chefs de l’Eglise parfois parallèles …

Does the Pope Matter?

Garry Wills

NY Review of books

March 10, 2013

The next pope should be increasingly irrelevant, like the last two. The farther he floats up, away from the real religious life of Catholics, the more he will confirm his historical status as a monarch in a time when monarchs are no longer believable. Some people think it a new or even shocking thing that so many Catholics pay no attention to papal fulminations—against, for instance, female contraceptives, male vasectomies, condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, women’s equality, gay rights, divorce, masturbation, and artificial insemination (because it involves masturbation). But it is the idea of truth descending though a narrow conduit, straight from God to the pope, that is a historical invention.

When Cardinal Ratzinger was asked, before he became Pope Benedict XVI, if he was disturbed that many Catholics ignored papal teaching, he said he was not, since “truth is not determined by a majority vote.” But that is precisely how the major doctrines like those on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection were fixed in creeds: at councils like that of Nicaea, by the votes of hundreds of bishops, themselves chosen by the people, before popes had any monopoly on authority. Belief then rose up from the People of God, and was not pronounced by a single oracle. John Henry Newman, in On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine (1859), argued that there had been periods when the body of believers had been truer to the faith than had the Church hierarchy. He was silenced for saying it, but his historical arguments were not refuted.

Catholics have had many bad popes whose teachings or acts they could or should ignore or defy. Orcagna painted one of them in hell; Dante assigned three to his Inferno; Lord Acton assured Prime Minister William Gladstone that Pius IX’s condemnation of democracy was not as bad as the papal massacres of Huguenots, which showed that “people could be very good Catholics and yet do without Rome”; and John Henry Newman hoped Pius IX would die during the first Vatican Council, before he could do more harm. Acton’s famous saying, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” was written to describe Renaissance popes.

With the election of a new pope, the press will repeat old myths—that Christ made Peter the first pope, and that there has been an “apostolic succession” of popes from his time. Scholars, including great Catholic ones like Raymond Brown and Joseph Fitzmyer, have long known that Peter was no pope. He was not even a priest or a bishop—offices that did not exist in the first century. And there is no apostolic succession, just the twists and tangles of interrupted, multiple, and contested office holders. It is a rope of sand. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, for instance, there were three popes, none of whom would resign. A new council had to be called to start all over. It appointed Martin V, on condition that he call frequent councils—a condition he evaded after he was in power.

But didn’t Jesus say, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16.18)? Yes, but he also ordered his disciples not to seek rank among themselves (Mark 9.33-37), and said “Do not call any man on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven” (Matthew 23.9, NEB). How do we reconcile these sayings? G. K. Chesterton gave the best answer. Christ, founding his church, did not choose Peter because he was above others, but because he was not above them:

He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward—in a word, a man… All the empires and the kingdoms have failed because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by a strong man upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.

In the coming election, we do not have to fear Dante’s hell-bound popes, Acton’s mass-murderer popes, or Newman’s in-need-of-death pope. Happily, we can expect the new pope to be a man ordinary and ignorable, like Saint Peter.

Voir aussi:

Apostolic Transgression

Randall Balmer

The New York Times

February 15, 2013

WHY PRIESTS?

A Failed Tradition

By Garry Wills

302 pp. Viking. $27.95.

Garry Wills wants us to know that he really bears no animus toward priests. Truly. Some of his best friends, not to mention his mentors, are priests. His quarrel is not with priests but with the specious notion of the priesthood, which, he argues, finds no precedent in the early church and precious little warrant in the New Testament.

Jesus never claimed for himself the mantle of priesthood, nor did he, a Jew, hail from the priestly tribe of Levi. The sole reference to Jesus as priest in the New Testament, Wills says, occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews, an enigmatic letter of unknown provenance. The writer of the letter introduces the notion of Jesus as priest not in the line of Aaron (Levite) but in the tradition of Melchizedek, the obscure Canaanite king of Salem who makes a cameo appearance in Genesis and is mentioned again briefly in Psalm 110.

Using his linguistic skills and his impressive command of both secondary literature and patristic sources, Wills raises doubts aplenty about “the Melchizedek myth,” and the priestly claims for Jesus in the “idiosyncratic” Epistle to the Hebrews. He notes as well the linguistic anomalies of the Genesis passage and even questions the inclusion of Hebrews in the canon of Scripture.

The Epistle to the Hebrews also posits a novel interpretation of the Crucifixion, Wills argues, that of substitutionary atonement: the death of Jesus was necessary to placate the anger of a wrathful God against a sinful humanity. In this scheme, God demanded the blood sacrifice of his own son. Wills challenges this notion on several grounds, including its regressive “substitution of human sacrifice for animal sacrifice.” In fact, he points out, the Greek word for “sacrifice” occurs 15 times in Hebrews, more than in the rest of the New Testament combined.

Jesus, moreover, understood himself as a prophet, not a priest. “Jesus was acting in the prophetic tradition when he cleansed the Temple, driving out the money changers,” Wills writes. “Though he attended the Temple, as any Jewish layman would, he performed no priestly acts there; presided over nothing; did not enter the Holy of Holies; made no animal sacrifice,” according to Wills. “He excoriates priests, and priests in return contrive his death.”

So, to quote the book’s title, “why priests?” The standard Roman Catholic teaching is that all priestly authority derives from Peter, to whom Jesus bestowed “the keys of the kingdom”; the authority of every priest, according to Catholic doctrine, can be traced through a line of “apostolic succession” back to Peter, the first bishop of Rome. The teachings of Jesus, however, were radically egalitarian: “The last shall be first, and the first last.” Neither Jesus nor his followers claimed to be priests, Wills maintains, and “there is no historical evidence for Peter being bishop anywhere — least of all at Rome, where the office of bishop did not exist in the first century C.E.”

Having attributed the abiding conundrum of the priesthood to “the Melchizedek myth” propagated in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Wills writes that this new priestly class began over the centuries to arrogate to itself powers and prerogatives unimagined by Jesus and his disciples. Although Jesus had instructed his followers not to “address any man on earth as father,” priests demanded that very ­honorific.

Central to the priestly claims to authority, Wills says, was the importance of the sacraments, especially celebration of the eucharist, which could be performed, the church declared, only by priests. “The most striking thing about priests, in the later history of Christianity,” the author writes, “is their supposed ability to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

This exclusivity, according to Wills, derives from Thomas Aquinas rather than Jesus. The Thomistic view of the eucharist understands the Mass as re-enacting the sacrifice of Christ, from which all other graces devolve to the believer. The church, following Aquinas, vested the power of transubstantiation — the bread and wine of holy communion actually becomes the body and blood of Christ — in the priesthood. With that magical power, the priesthood increasingly set itself apart from the laity.

Wills argues that an alternative understanding of Jesus and the eucharist, one more consonant with the New Testament (Hebrews excepted) and informed by Augustine, sees Jesus as coming to harmonize humanity with himself. The eucharistic meal remains a meal (as it was in the first century), not a sacrifice, one that celebrates the union between Christ and his followers. “One does nothing but disrupt this harmony by interjecting superfluous intermediaries between Jesus and his body of believers,” Wills writes. “When these ‘representatives’ of Jesus to us, and of us to Jesus, take the feudal forms of hierarchy and monarchy, of priests and papacy, they affront the camaraderie of Jesus with his brothers.”

If some elements of Wills’s thesis sound familiar, they are. In the not-so-distant past, another formidable thinker and critic — someone who also favored Augustine over Aquinas — mounted a similar case. In his 1520 “Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation,” Martin Luther argued against “Roman presumption” and punctured the pretensions of the clergy: “Priests, bishops or popes . . . are neither different from other Christians nor superior to them.”

Similarly, in “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,” published the same year, Luther wrote that “priests are not lords, but servants,” and “the sacrament does not belong to the priests, but to all men.”

If the priesthood is superfluous, if priests are indeed an accretion of church history, where does that leave Wills himself, a cradle Catholic who spent more than five years in a Jesuit seminary preparing to become a priest? His final chapter is a model of elegant simplicity, a contrast (intended or not) to the flummery often associated with his own church. He opens by repeating that he feels “no personal animosity toward priests,” nor does he expect the priesthood to disappear. “I just want to assure my fellow Catholics that, as priests shrink in numbers,” he writes, “congregations do not have to feel they have lost all connection with the sacred just because the role of priests in their lives is contracting.”

If the early followers of Jesus had no need for priests, Wills continues, neither do contemporary believers. “If we need fellowship in belief — and we do — we have each other,” he writes. Catholic believers can also find sustenance “in the life of other churches.”

What does Wills believe, if not in “popes and priests and sacraments”? With legions of other Christians, he affirms the Nicene Creed; the mystical body of Christ, “which is the real meaning of the eucharist”; and the afterlife. Wills also ex­presses appreciation for the Blessed Virgin and for the saints: “I do not want to get along without the head of Augustine or the heart of Francis of Assisi to help me.”

“There is one God, and Jesus is one of his prophets,” Wills concludes, “and I am one of his millions of followers.” For those millions, scattered across time and space, that’s an affirmation worthy of ­celebration.

Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest, is chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College. He is completing a biography of Jimmy Carter.

Voir également:

New Pope? I’ve Given Up Hope

Garry Wills

The New York Times

February 12, 2013

THERE is a poignant air, almost wistful, to electing a pope in the modern world. In a time of discredited monarchies, can this monarchy survive and be relevant? There is nostalgia for the assurances of the past, quaint in their charm, but trepidation over their survivability. In monarchies, change is supposed to come from the top, if it is to come at all. So people who want to alter things in Catholic life are told to wait for a new pope. Only he has the authority to make the changeless church change, but it is his authority that stands in the way of change.

Of course, the pope is no longer a worldly monarch. For centuries he was such a ruler, with all the resources of a medieval or Renaissance prince — realms, armies, prisons, spies, torturers. But in the 19th century, when his worldly territories were wrested away by Italy, Pope Pius IX lunged toward a compensatory moral monarchy.

In 1870, he elicited — from a Vatican council he called and controlled — the first formal declaration that a pope is infallible. From that point on, even when he was not making technically infallible statements, the pope was thought to be dealing in eternal truths. A gift for eternal truths is as dangerous as the gift of Midas’s touch. The pope cannot undo the eternal truths he has proclaimed.

When Pope Paul VI’s commission of learned and loyal Catholics, lay and clerical, reconsidered the “natural law” teaching against birth control, and concluded that it could not, using natural reason, find any grounds for it, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the secretary of the Holy Office, told Paul that people had for years, on papal warrant, believed that using a contraceptive was a mortal sin, for which they would go to hell if they died unrepentant. On the other hand, those who followed “church teaching” were obliged to have many children unless they abstained from sex. How could Paul VI say that Pius XI, in his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, had misled the people in such a serious way? If he admitted it, what would happen to his own authority as moral arbiter in matters of heaven and hell? So Paul VI doubled down, adding another encyclical in 1968, Humanae Vitae, to the unrenounceable eternal truths that pile up around a moral monarch.

In our day, most Catholics in America have reached the same conclusion that Paul VI’s commission did. But successive popes have stuck by Pius and Paul and have appointed bishops who demonstrate loyalty on this matter. That is why some American bishops in the recent presidential election said that President Obama was destroying “religious liberty” if his health plan insured funds for contraception. Nonetheless, more Catholics voted for Mr. Obama than didn’t. In a normal government, this disconnect between rulers and ruled would be negotiated. But eternal truths are nonnegotiable.

Wistful Catholics hope that on this and other matters of disagreement between the church as People of God and the ruling powers in the church, a new pope can remedy that discord. But a new pope will be elected by cardinals who were elevated to office by the very popes who reaffirmed “eternal truths” like the teaching on contraception. They were appointed for their loyalty, as were the American bishops who stubbornly upheld the contraception nonsense in our elections.

Will the new conclave vote for a man who goes against the teachings of his predecessors? Even if they do, can the man chosen buck the structure through which he rose without kicking the structure down? These considerations have given the election of new popes the air of watching Charlie Brown keep trying to kick the football, hoping that Lucy will cooperate.

As this election approaches, some hope that the shortage of priests, and their damaged reputation and morale, can be remedied by adding married priests, or women priests, or gay priests. But that misses the point. Whatever their sexual status, they will still be priests. They will not be chosen by their congregations (as was the practice in the early church). They will be appointed from above, by bishops approved for their loyalty to Rome, which will police their doctrinal views as it has with priests heretofore. The power structure will not be changed by giving it new faces. Monarchies die hard.

In 1859, John Henry Newman published an article that led to his denunciation in Rome as “the most dangerous man in England.” It was called “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine” and it showed that in history the laity had been more true to the Gospel than the hierarchy. That was an unacceptable position to Rome. It still is. Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was asked if it did not disturb him that Catholics disagreed with the rulings of Rome. He said no — that dogma is not formed by majority rule. But that is precisely how it was formed in the great councils like that at Nicaea, where bishops voted to declare dogmas on the Trinity and the Incarnation. There was no pope involved in those councils. Yet they defined the most important truths of the faith.

Jesus, we are reminded, said to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” But Peter was addressed as a faithful disciple, not as a priest or a pope. There were no priests in Peter’s time, and no popes. Paul never called himself or any of his co-workers priests. He did not offer sacrifice. Those ideas came in later, through weird arguments contained in the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews. The claim of priests and popes to be the sole conduits of grace is a remnant of the era of papal monarchy. We are watching that era fade. But some refuse to recognize its senescence. Such people will run peppily up, like Charlie Brown, to the coming of a new pope. But Lucy, as usual, still holds the football.

Garry Wills is the author, most recently, of “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition.”

Voir encore:

Cardinal breaks conclave vow of secrecy

Details of papal conclave revealed

CNN

September 23, 2005

VATICAN CITY (AP) — A cardinal has broken his vow of secrecy and released his diary describing the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, revealing in an exceedingly rare account that a cardinal from Argentina was the main challenger and almost blocked Benedict’s election.

Excerpts of the diary, published Friday, show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led in each of the four ballots cast in the Sistine Chapel during the mystery-shrouded April 18-19 conclave. But, in a surprise, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit, was in second place the whole time.

Most accounts of the conclave have said retired Milan archbishop Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was the main challenger to Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI after his election, and that a Third World pope was never realistically in the running.

While Bergoglio never threatened Ratzinger’s lead — and made clear he didn’t want the job, according to the diary published in the respected Italian foreign affairs magazine Limes — his runner-up status could signal the next conclave might elect a pope from Latin America, home to half the world’s 1 billion Roman Catholics.

The diary of the anonymous cardinal is also significant because it shows that Ratzinger didn’t garner a huge margin — he had 84 of the 115 votes in the final ballot, seven more than the required two-thirds majority.

His two immediate predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope John Paul I, are believed to have garnered 99 and 98 votes respectively, and that was when there were only 111 voting cardinals.

"It does seem that somebody wants to indicate that the conclave was a more complex process than was being depicted and that Benedict’s mandate was not a slam dunk," said David Gibson, a former Vatican Radio journalist who is writing a biography of Benedict.

Finally, the diary includes a few surprises, including a vote in the final ballot for Cardinal Bernard Law, forced to resign as Boston archbishop because of the church sex abuse scandal.

And it offers other colorful insights of what went on behind the scenes during the two days the 115 red-hatted princes of the church were sequestered in the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican’s Santa Marta hotel to select the 265th leader of the Catholic Church.

Because the hotel prohibits smoking, Portuguese Cardinal Jose Policarpo da Crux would sneak outside for an after-dinner cigar, the diary says. And Cardinal Walter Kasper shunned the minibuses that shuttled cardinals to the Sistine Chapel, preferring to walk by the Vatican gardens instead.

Diary draws no comment

"Sunday, April 17: In the afternoon I took over my room at the Casa Santa Marta. I put down my bags and tried to open the blinds because the room was dark. I wasn’t able to. One of my fellow brothers asked a nun working there, thinking it was a technical problem. She explained they were sealed. Closure of the conclave…" the diary begins.

The published diary entries were interspersed with commentary from Vatican journalist Lucio Brunelli, who says he obtained the diary through a trusted source he had known for years. He told The Associated Press he spoke in Italian to his source — a hint the cardinal in question was Italian.

Brunelli says he couldn’t identify the author because of the vow of secrecy each cardinal took before entering the conclave. Punishment for violating the vow is excommunication.

In Buenos Aires, a spokesman for the archdiocese, Enzo Paoletta, said Bergoglio had no comment on the report.

Nothing official is ever recorded from conclaves, and the ballots are burned in the Sistine Chapel stove — ashes that signal to the world through white smoke or black whether a pope has been elected.

As a result, the diary’s tallies — which Brunelli said he confirmed through other cardinals — are unusual, although previously tallies have leaked out piecemeal.

According to the diary, Ratzinger won 47 votes and Bergoglio 10 on the first round of balloting, while Martini got nine and some 30 others got a few votes.

In round two, Ratzinger edged up to 65 and Bergoglio 35.

By the third ballot, Ratzinger had 72 votes, just five shy of the two-thirds majority needed to win. But Bergoglio got 40, just over the threshold needed to stall the conclave, if his supporters wanted to.

However, the diary says Bergoglio made it clear he might not have accepted the job. The cardinal recalls watching Bergoglio cast his ballot: "The suffering face, as if he were begging: ‘God don’t do this to me."‘

Marco Politi, Vatican correspondent for La Repubblica, said if the diary showed anything, it’s that outsiders really have no idea what happens during a conclave, since so many of the media’s preconceived ideas were proved wrong.

"To know more, we have to wait for other tears in the secret," he wrote Friday.

Gibson speculated the diary’s author was Italian and wanted to set the record straight that Ratzinger, a German, didn’t have as significant a margin as some had suggested.

"Outside of Italy, Catholics and churchmen have a very kind of mystical view of the Vatican and especially the conclave," Gibson said.

"The Italians have always had a more kind of political view of the process … for them it’s their election, and they’re much more comfortable with it, as a human as well as a divine process."

Voir enfin:

 Prière de Saint François

Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de votre paix.

Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.

Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.

Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.

Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.

Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.

Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.

Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette votre lumière.

Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.

Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu’à consoler, à être compris qu’à comprendre, à être aimé qu’à aimer, car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit, c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve, c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné, c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.


Journalisme: Retour sur une victime oubliée du Titanic (WT Stead: Sensationalist or saint?)

14 mars, 2013
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b5/Freddiehamster.jpg
http://www.bl.uk/learning/images/front%20page/If%20Kinnick%20Wins-st.jpg
Le mot "tabloïd" vient du nom donné par la société pharmaceutique londonienne Burroughs Wellcome & Co. aux comprimés alors commercialisés sous le nom de pilules "Tabloïd" à la fin des années 1880. Avant les comprimés, les médicaments étaient généralement pris sous une forme plus volumineuse de poudre. Même si Burroughs Wellcome & Co. ne furent pas les premiers à utiliser cette technique pour fabriquer des tablettes comprimées, ils furent ceux qui en réussirent le mieux la commercialisation, d’où la popularité du terme "tabloïd" dans la culture populaire. La connotation du tabloïd fut bientôt appliquée à d’autres petits objets, tels que l’avion Sopwith tabloïd et pour le journalisme "compressé" qui condensait des histoires en un format simplifié et facilement absorbé. Le terme de" journalisme tabloïd" (1901) précéda d’ailleurs les petits journaux qui leur servaient de support (1918). Wikipedia
Ce qui m’a choqué, c’est de voir que des hommes ne laissaient pas monter les femmes et les enfants en premier dans les chaloupes. Michel Pavageau (naufragé du Concordia, 2012)
Les femmes et les enfants d’abord ? Cet adage semble ne pas se vérifier lors des naufrages. Des scientifiques suédois ont ainsi analysé 18 catastrophes maritimes et ont publié leurs conclusions lundi 30 juillet. Il en ressort qu’au cours de ces accidents, les hommes se sont principalement préoccupés de leur propre survie avant celle des autres passagers. Mikael Elindera et Oscar Erixson, de l’Université d’Uppsala, en Suède, ont ainsi étudié le taux de survie de 15 000 naufragés entre 1852 et 2011. Il en ressort que le naufrage le plus célèbre du siècle dernier, celui du Titanic, fait figure d’exception à la règle, en comptant 70% des femmes et des enfants qui ont survécu contre 20% des hommes. Terrafemina
C’était le plus grand navire en exploitation et la plus prestigieuse création de l’homme. Toutes les sciences et tous les corps de métiers connus avaient contribué à sa construction et assuraient sa maintenance … Insubmersible, indestructible, il ne transportait que le nombre strict de canots de sauvetage requis par la loi … Morgan Robertson (Futilité ou Le Naufrage du Titan, 1898)
C’est exactement ce qui pourrait se produire et se produira si les paquebots sont lancés avec trop peu de canots. William Thomas Stead
Les océans parcourus par de rapides paquebots sont jonchés des os blanchis de ceux qui ont embarqué comme nous et qui ne sont jamais arrivés à bon port. William Thomas Stead

Alors qu’un an à peine après le 50e anniversaire du tristement célèbre naufrage de 1912, on annonce le lancement dans trois ans d’un nouveau Titanic …

En ces temps où, triste victoire du féminisme, les hommes n’hésitent plus à piétiner les femmes et les enfants en cas de naufrage

Retour sur l’un des passagers oubliés mais en son temps célébrissime …

A savoir William Thomas (WT) Stead, à la fois pacifiste (notamment contre la Guerre des Boers) et spiritualiste mais surtout inventeur, à lui tout seul du journaliste d’investigation (contre la prostitution infantile) comme du tabloidisme le plus sordide ..

Qui de surcroit s’offrit le luxe, dans un article puis un court roman (à l’instar d’un autre auteur, américain celui-là,  Morgan Robertson) une vingtaine d’années avant les faits, d’en prédire quasiment les circonstances …

Avant d’y laisser lui-même la vie …

WT Stead, a forgotten victim of Titanic

A century on, lessons from the life of WT Stead, a newspaperman lost in the Titanic disaster, remain eerily relevant .

Roger Luckhurst

The Telegraph

10 Apr 2012

In the days after the sinking of the RMS Titanic, with the loss of 1,500 lives, the press focused on the rich and famous victims. Between them the heirs J J Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, and Ida and Isidor Straus, the co-owners of Macy’s store in New York, were said to be worth £70 million (about £6 billion today).

There were heroic tales of sacrifice and stoicism: the eight-man orchestra, who played on until the waters lapped at their feet; Major Butt, the military attaché to American President Taft, who refused a lifeboat place. Captain Smith went down with his ship, but the White Star Line owner, J. Bruce Ismay, who stepped into a lifeboat, would live the rest of his life in disgrace.

Yet for the British press, the first name among the drowned was the editor William Stead, who was travelling on the Titanic to address a conference at Carnegie Hall in New York. Stead was often listed first among “Notable Victims”, and the journalist JL Garvin recalled: “Walking in Oxford Street at midday, when the loss of the Titanic was certain, the only name I heard was his.”

There is a fair chance that you have never heard of William Stead. Julian Fellowes does not feature him in his ITV miniseries. He does not appear in James Cameron’s Titanic and he is seen for only a couple of seconds in the 1958 film A Night to Remember as an unnamed man calmly reading in the Smoking Room as the ship sinks. Yet Stead was a towering figure in journalism and politics between 1880 and his death.

On the centenary of his death, it is worth remembering how much modern culture owes this extraordinary man. A two-day conference at the British Library later this month will feature nearly 50 historians and scholars who are gathering to examine his life and legacy.

Stead is often regarded as the inventor of modern investigative journalism. As the young editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, he used his influential evening daily to shape government policy. In 1884, Stead pressured the government to send his friend General Charles Gordon into Sudan to protect British interests in Khartoum. The eccentric Gordon disobeyed orders, and the siege of Khartoum, Gordon’s death and the failure of the hugely expensive Gordon Relief Expedition was one of the great imperial disasters of the period.

Most notoriously, in July 1885, over three nights, Stead published “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon”, a dramatic exposé of child prostitution in London. He had gone undercover in the East End to show how easy it was to procure a young girl for £5. He revealed the network of procurers, and the doctors who would guarantee the girls’ virginity. It was a lurid tale, told with a thunderous moral outrage.

The explicit details in this story were something wholly new in journalism, and there was a definite sense that a threshold in public discourse had been breached. In Fleet Street, tens of thousands crowded the offices of the Pall Mall Gazette to get their hands on the next instalment.

The Liberal government was pressured to alter the Criminal Amendment Act then going through Parliament. The Act increased the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, days after the Gazette’s reports.

Stead was a Northern dissenter, an unorthodox Protestant liberal, hated by many in the London Establishment. Within weeks of his moral victory, he was arrested and put on trial for breaking the very law he had sought to change. He had taken the girl at the centre of the scandal away from her home without the permission of her father. At the trial, plainly intended to curtail Stead’s alarming influence, he was imprisoned for three months.

Allowed to continue working from his prison cell, he wrote the incendiary essay “Government by Journalism”, in which he argued that a properly democratic paper, run by an active network of concerned readers, could render a corrupt parliamentary machine redundant. It was a rather striking version of the Big Society.

Once out of jail, Stead became devoted to various attempts to create this network. He established the Review of Reviews in 1890, a monthly journal with global reach, intended to bind the empire together by synthesising all its best journalism. Stead continued to innovate: he was the first editor to employ women journalists; he loved new communication technologies and reported breathlessly on the new wireless experiments of the 1890s.

His dream of launching his own daily newspaper was finally realised in 1904, but proved a disaster. The Daily Paper closed after six weeks, costing Stead £35,000 (nearly £3 million today) of his own money. He continued to be a political figure of global reach, however. He was heavily involved in both Hague peace conferences, in 1899 and 1907. But he was widely disliked for his opposition to the Boer War in 1899. He was even more marginalised by his crankier passions, ranging from Esperanto, which he strongly advocated in his newspaper columns, to spiritualism and the occult. He seemed willing to believe anything he was told, as if unable to conceive of tricks and trumpery. He enthused about the latest communications from the spirits.

In 1892, he announced he was receiving automatic messages from a recently deceased journalist, Julia Ames. After his son and heir Willie died young in 1907, he set up an office called “Julia’s Bureau”, which employed women mediums to act like telephonists, routing calls between the bereaved and the afterlife.

Survivors of the Titanic reported very little about Stead’s last hours. He chatted enthusiastically through the 11-course meal that fateful night, telling thrilling tales (including one about the cursed mummy of the British Museum), but then retired to bed at 10.30pm and seemed to take no part in the dramatic events after midnight on the open deck.

As a defender of women’s rights, he may well have accepted the chivalric code of “women and children first”. As a spiritualist, he will doubtless have met the prospect of death with equanimity. Indeed, he often compared the transition from this life to the next as a journey by boat from the Old to the New World. “Let us imagine the grave as if it were the Atlantic Ocean,” he wrote in 1909.

This was just one uncanny anticipation of the disaster. Indeed, Stead’s predictions were widely discussed after the Titanic sank. In 1886, he had written a short fictional piece called “How the Atlantic Mail Steamer Went Down”. It narrated how a Transatlantic liner carrying 916 passengers had collided in fog and sunk. The new regulations required lifeboats only for 390 passengers, creating a horrifying scene with a mass of “drowning creatures” in the freezing ocean. Stead warned that the scenario could easily happen in real life.

In 1892, his Christmas annual for the Review of Reviews had also contained a story of a Transatlantic sea rescue of a handful of survivors based on the RMS Majestic. The Majestic was captained by Edward Smith, who would finish his career with White Star, shepherding the Titanic on its maiden voyage.

Perhaps Stead’s most striking prediction was made in March 1912 regarding a new boat undergoing sea trials, the Selandia. This was the first ocean-going vessel with a diesel engine, and Stead understood the boat marked the “dethronement of King Coal”. For Stead, the Titanic was hardly the shiny future but the last gasp of an old order. That proved a powerful prediction.

It was perhaps inevitable that Stead’s spirit would reappear. His ghost relayed news of his arrival in the afterlife a matter of hours after the sinking, and first appeared in material form two weeks later. These spirit-world associations probably guaranteed that he faded from collective memory. Yet today, when the place of the press in public life, the ethics of proprietors and whether investigative journalists should break the law in the public interest have become crucial issues, the lessons of Stead’s career remain disarmingly relevant.

WT Stead’s campaigning life

1876 As editor of the Northern Echo in Darlington, Stead joins a campaign to repeal the Contagious Diseases Act, which sanctioned forcible examination of any woman suspected of prostitution. Law repealed in 1886. First gains notice of Liberal leader William Gladstone for his campaign to expose atrocities in the Bulgarian War. Moves to London in 1880 to join Pall Mall Gazette.

1883 “The Cry of the Outcast Poor of London” – Stead adds policy proposals to famous exposé and later writes “In Darkest London” and the “Way Out for the Salvation Army”.

1884 “The Truth About the Navy” prompts increase in military budget.

1885 “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon” – Stead exposes child prostitution in London in pioneering piece of investigative journalism. Then jailed for breaking the law.

1890 Opens Review of Reviews, a monthly magazine.

1893-4 Lives in Chicago for six months, campaigning against brothels and drinking dens, publishing the lurid “If Christ Came to Chicago”.

1899 “Shall I Slay My Brother Boer?” – Stead’s anti-war stance prompts discussions over whether he can be prosecuted for treason.

1899 and 1907 Pivotal figure at Hague Peace Conference, arguing for early version of United Nations.

1909 Launches Julia’s Bureau, his spiritualist service.

1912 Boards Titanic to speak at peace conference on invitation of President Taft.

Roger Luckhurst is professor in modern literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. “WT Stead: Centenary Conference for a Newspaper Revolutionary” will be held at the British Library on April 16 and 17, and is open to the public. A collection of essays on Stead will be published by British Library Press later in 2012.

Voir aussi:

Book review: Muckraker, W Sydney Robinson

Published on Sunday 6 May 2012 11:01

Robson Press, £20

IT WAS a dirty job but someone had to do it: probe the sex trade in Scotland’s capital city and come back with a scoop. The glamourpuss of the features department would get the byline, the glory and the chat-show appearances, but she needed a man for the eye-witness account of the saunas suspected of being brothels – a leg-man, or more accurately, leg-over man.

This reporter would get the anecdote, the memento of the expenses claim returned to him for framing (“Late-duty tea: entertaining Gloria, £3.95”), and the satisfaction of knowing he’d volunteered while others of a more sheltered upbringing – me included – shirked from the task. Truly, he was a son of WT Stead.

WT who? Only the father of modern tabloid journalism, the pioneer of investigative reporting. Thirty-odd years ago, we chided overzealous hacks thus: “Who do you think you are, Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein?” Really, though, it should have been “Slow down, you’re not WT Stead.” I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Stead until reading this fine biography, although it seems he’s been under-appreciated for a while. Tristram Hunt in the foreword is amazed this is the first biog of “arguably the most important journalist of all time”.

Like many great editors, Stead was equal parts genius and madman. “He twisted facts, invented stories, lied, betrayed confidences,” writes W Sydney Robinson, “but always with a great desire to reform the world, and himself.” In 1870, aged 21, he was Britain’s youngest newspaper editor and, with the Northern Echo, put Darlington and himself on the journalistic map by attacking the Tory government over the Bulgarian Atrocities.

Stead was also a towering egomaniac and a raging moralist. As well as reforming the country, he was also reforming newspapers. He introduced maps, diagrams and sub-headings. He kicked dons and civil servants off his pages, believing it was the job of the journalist to “stand between those who know everything and those who know nothing”. Then he moved to London and the Pall Mall Gazette to deploy the first 24-point headline – “TOO LATE!” (about the fall of Khartoum) – and invent the interview.

Newspapers, he told his staff, were “the only Bible which millions read”. A raging moralist, then, but one with what he admitted was a “crazy appetite for sex”. The campaign among many which defined his career was the Maiden Tribute. To expose the scandal of child prostitution, he abducted 13-year-old Eliza Armstrong. A 50,000-word narrative was dictated to relays of shorthand writers. With trademark Stead cross-headings reading “I order five virgins”, this puritanical melodrama caused a sensation. The PMG ran out of paper; copies changed hands for 20 times the 1d cover price. One of the most infamous characters, the “Minotaur of London”, is reckoned to have inspired Jekyll and Hyde, while Armstrong was the basis for Eliza Doolittle. Stead was credited with helping raise the age of consent for girls but he was jailed for his actions and his reputation never really recovered.

Presumably Robinson was working towards a deadline of the centenary of Stead’s death, unaware it would coincide with the convulsing of the tabloid press his subject helped create. Stead died on the Titanic and was last seen turning the pages of a penny Bible in the first-class reading room.

Voir également:

Mystery and controversy aboard RMS Titanic

Taylor Reints

31 July, 2012

It was a Sunday, the date: April 14, 1912. Those aboard the RMS Titanic were worry free, some coming to the United States as emigrants, others traveling for pure pleasure. However, the North Atlantic in springtime is freezing and filled with icebergs, lots and lots of icebergs. No reason to fear, the owners of this immense ship said, because it was "virtually unsinkable!" Nothing could possibly sink this ship, right? Wrong! At 11:40 p.m., a lookout spotted an iceberg straight ahead. However, the ship was going "Full speed ahead!" as Captain Edward J. Smith instructed earlier and it was hard to avoid it. The iceberg ripped an over two hundred foot long hole in the hull and the ocean liner sunk two hours and forty minutes later, at 2:20 a.m. the following day.

We’ve all heard the story of the Titanic… but is that the story that really played out? Could there be a hidden truth to the sinking of this ship?

Believe it or not, the company that built the Titanic never said that it was unsinkable, rather they believed that this myth was interpreted differently by people reading articles in the Irish news and Shipbuilder magazine. Even the Vice President of the company that owned the Titanic believed it to be unsinkable. Obviously it wasn’t, though, as many found out. And interestingly enough, the same story took place in three different literary works, before the mighty ship sunk.

Morgan Robertson was a well-known author, most famous for his novella Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan. The plot of the book revolves around former U.S. Navy officer John Rowland. Dismissed from the Navy, he now works as a deckhand on the huge ocean liner Titan.

There are many similarities between the Titan and the Titanic. For example, in the book, the Titan was eight hundred feet long whereas the Titanic was 882 feet and nine inches long. The Titan also sank in the North Atlantic in April near midnight and there weren’t enough lifeboats for those aboard. Also, Futility says that the Titan traveled at 25 knots (28.75 mph) while, in reality, the Titanic traveled at 22.5 knots (25.9 mph).

However, there are altogether creepier literary coincidences of Titanic fortune-telling, written by Victorian journalist William Thomas Stead.

Stead wrote both an article and a novel that seem to be based upon the sinking of the Titanic, even though they were both written over twenty years before its maiden voyage. The article was published in the Pall Mall Gazette on March 22, 1886 and was titled "How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid-Atlantic, by a Survivor". In this piece, Stead tells of a steamship that sinks after colliding with another ship. Not exactly the story of the Titanic; although, it does say that many died due to a lack of lifeboats. He wrote, "This is exactly what might take place and will take place if liners are sent to sea short of boats".

Stranger still, his 1892 book From the Old World to the New tells of a vessel, the Majestic, that rescues people victims of an iceberg that collided with their ship. The captain of the Majestic was Edward J. Smith, the same name of the captain of the Titanic!

William Thomas Stead boarded the Titanic to go to the United States and take part in a peace congress at Carnegie Hall at request of President William Howard Taft. He never made it to the U.S. Oddly enough, Stead had always claimed he would either die from lynching or drowning.

With such creepy coincidences, some wonder if these really were coincidences. One conspiracy theory has emerged concerning the sinking of the RMS Titanic and if it was deliberate. It is the Federal Reserve Titanic conspiracy which states that some of the wealthiest and most powerful men of that day were coaxed aboard the Titanic because those whom thought up the Federal Reserve didn’t want these specific men to oppose the idea.

Coincidences and conspiracies are not of the stranger front. A little girl named Jessie in Scotland lay on her bed dying and hours before the Titanic sank, she envisioned drowning passengers and "someone called Wally…playing a fiddle." Wallace, or Wally, Hartley was a musician of the Titanic and died playing his fiddle. Similarly, New York attorney Isaac Frauenthal had a dream about the sinking liner the night before he boarded. He said, "It seemed to me that I was on a big steamship that suddenly crashed into something and began to go down." He had the same dream again aboard the Titanic. When he woke up to the warning of the collision with the iceberg, he fled to a lifeboat and survived.

There certainly are strange stories, conspiracies, coincidences and precognition concerning the Titanic. So ask yourself, are you still going on that luxury cruise?

REFERENCES

"The Titanic–Why Did People Believe Titanic Was Unsinkable?" History on the Net. Retrieved July 26, 2012, from http://historyonthenet.com/Titanic/unsinkable.htm

"The Titanic–Futility". History on the Net. Retrieved July 26, 2012, from http://historyonthenet.com/Titanic/futility.htm

"Interesting Facts". The Unsinkable RMS Titanic. Retrieved July 26, 2012, from http://www.titanicstory.com/interest.htm

"Titanic Conspiracy". Titanic Universe. Retrieved July 26, 2012, from http://www.titanicuniverse.com/the-titanic-conspiracy

"Titanic’s Watery Grave This Week at LiveAuctionTalk.com". LiveAuctionTalk.com. Retrieved July 26, 2012, from http://www.liveauctiontalk.com/free_article_detail.php?article_id=947

Voir encore:

WT Stead: Sensationalist or a saint?

The Northern Echo

10th April 2012

CAUSING A RIOT: WT Stead and Eliza Armstrong and headlines from The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon CAUSING A RIOT: WT Stead and Eliza Armstrong and headlines from The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon

Today, The Northern Echo launches an investigation into modern child exploitation as a tribute to a former editor, WT Stead, who died on the Titanic. Chris Lloyd sets the scene by telling of Stead’s campaign

"LONDON’S lust annually uses up many thousands of women, who are literally killed and made away with – living sacrifices slain in the service of vice. All I ask is that those doomed to the house of evil shall not be trapped into it unwillingly, and that none shall be beguiled into the chamber of death before they are of an age to read the inscription above the portal: ‘All hope abandon ye who enter here’.”

William Thomas Stead was a man of enormous passion, ceaseless energy and a sensational turn of phrase. When he became The Northern Echo’s second editor in 1871, he somehow managed to inflame the whole of the North-East with fury about the slaughter of thousands of civilians in faraway Bulgaria.

Stead had long had a passion against prostitution.

In the early 1870s, he had been dismayed by the sight of women selling themselves on Newcastle’s Quayside, and he railed in the Echo against the rich men who paid for sex with someone else’s daughter.

Then, in 1879, late one night on his way home from the Echo’s offices in Priestgate, he came across a woman sobbing. She said “a scoundrel had attempted to outrage her”. So Stead gave her his arm and kindly walked her home.

He wrote in his diary: “Before we got there she calmly proposed that I should complete the offense and I discovered that my desolate damsel was a common prostitute!”

Stead’s career took him from Darlington to London, where he was appalled by the trade in young girls who were sold into slavery in the capital’s brothels. He determined to expose the trade, and went searching for evidence.

“I am living in hell,” he wrote. “Oh, it is awful this abode of the damned. I go to brothels every day and drink and swear and talk like a fiend from a bottomless pit.”

Beyond evidence, he needed incontrovertible proof. So, with the help of a former brothel-keeper who had found God, Stead bought a 13-yearold girl, Eliza Armstrong, from her drunken, dissolute mother. He paid £3 cash, and then sent a further £2 when a doctor had physically examined Eliza and declared her to be virgo intacta.

Eliza was then taken to a brothel off Regent Street where she was undressed and put into bed. As was the common practice, a chloroformimpregnated handkerchief was placed over her face to make her woosy and to dull the pain of what her first customer was about to do to her.

That first customer was Stead himself.

He later wrote: “The door opened, and the purchaser entered the bedroom. He closed and locked the door. There was a brief silence. And then there rose a wild and piteous cry – not a loud shriek, but a helpless startled scream like the bleat of a frightened lamb. And the child’s voice was heard crying, in accents of terror: ‘There’s a man in the room! Take me home; oh, take me home!’ ***************…

“And then all once more was still.”

Despite the cries (and the asterisks), Stead hadn’t actually done anything to Eliza. Instead, he whisked her off to a Salvation Army safe house in Paris, where he dictated the sordid story to a relay of three shorthand clerks, sometimes for 24 hours at a time, with wet towels placed across his forehead.

He called his article “the Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon”, because in ancient Babylon young girls were sacrificed to the terrible minotaur, and he serialised it over five days in his newspaper, the Pall Mall Gazette.

VICTORIAN newspapers were long screeds of dense type, but Stead broke his columns up with little headlines which seemed designed to attract, or even titillate, the reader: “The Violation of Virgins”, “Strapping Girls Down”, “Confessions of a Brothel-keeper”. The series sold enormously.

By day four, Stead had run out of ink, so his old friends in the printing trade in County Durham rushed some down to him.

By day five, WH Smith refused to stock the paper because of the sexual nature of the articles, and so eager readers besieged the Gazette offices, rioting to get their hands on the latest copy. Indignation meetings were held all over London – at the biggest, in Hyde Park, 250,000 people registered their disgust at the “white slave trade”. The Criminal Law Amendment Act was rushed through Parliament, raising the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16 – just as Stead had set out to do.

BUT the campaign made Stead enemies.

Some felt he had broken all the taboos by discussing sex in public; others felt he had sensationalised sex just to sell papers. More sinisterly, some Parliamentarians were aggrieved that he had ended their harmless fun.

Plus Eliza’s mum, having drunk her £5 away, realised that she was not coming out of the scandal well. Her husband, Charles, thrashed her and then went with the police to Paris to try to find Eliza. Charles wasn’t much use because he twice succumbed to the lure of the Parisian ladies of the night and was then arrested by gendarmes for being drunk.

But Charles’ evidence was enough for Stead to be charged with “felonious abduction of a girl under 14”. A judge ruled that it didn’t matter how high-minded and moral Stead’s motives might have been, if he had taken the girl without her father’s permission, he was guilty.

And Stead had. Stead was guilty.

He was sentenced to nine weeks in prison.

He served three days hard labour before being transferred to Holloway Prison.

Yet Stead remained proud of what he had achieved. Each November 10 afterwards – the anniversary of his conviction – he went to work in his convict’s clothes, celebrating how he had introduced Britain’s first child protection Act, which was copied around the world. He had exposed the horrors of child prostitution, and he had changed attitudes: no longer were poor children regarded as the worthless sexual playthings of the immoral rich.

But, the Act had already begun its path through Parliament when Stead jumped on the bandwagon, and, although Eliza said in later life that she bore him no ill will, he had put a 13-year-old girl through a terrible ordeal which was tantamount to sexual abuse.

It is an extraordinary story, which is to this day controversial. For all the good he did, was Stead a saint or a sensationalist?

Voir encore:

WT STEAD: GIGGS US A BREAK..

Cornwall Community news

31.05.05

Our dead guest columnist WT Stead – at least he’s cheap

WT Stead was the Godfather of British Tabloid Journalism. Jailed when Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette by a corrupt Victorian court for exposing the scandal of child-prostitution in London, he went on to dominate his newly invented profession until going down with the Titanic in 1912. After his death, he retired to Cornwall, where his disembodied spirit haunts our office, and leaves occasional, vitriolic and completely uncensored opinion pieces lying around. Here’s the latest.

Our dead guest columnist WT Stead

It’s a fair old time since I boomed sonorously from the pages of a good old-fashioned free uncensored scandal-rag, but may I say, that the stark rebellion this week, of the good old-fashioned scandal-rag reading British public, against my old arch-enemies in the bent and perverted secret world of the disgraceful British courts, emboldens me to take a deep and revolutionary Victorian breath and boom once more.

We have a little club up here above the clouds, founded a couple of space-folds back by some luminaries of free speech through the various ages, my humble self included. And I’m glad to say the ‘Olympus Club’ (Honorary Patron: J. Christ), dedicated to those unjustly persecuted for exercising their right to free speech on Earth and taking its name of course from the late Twentieth Century dictaphone, rather than the cruel mythical oligarchy of the Greek Mount, has been a modest success.

Although not much is doing in the way of a recreational club by the standards of my age, it is always fascinating to muse over developments down below, and a post-match chin wag with Zola, Gilbert, Voltaire et al about what it can all possibly mean is always, as our vigorous new member Mr Leary likes to call it, something of a ‘Gas’. It’s refreshingly and rightfully rare that we agree of course, but over the last Earth month, it has proved impossible to differ on one increasingly obvious and rather exciting point.

We see a battle looming in Britain between orthodoxy and reason, between fascism and freedom, between bogus officials and citizens.

Up at Club Olympus, as you may guess, we are firmly for the freedom, and all bets are on.

The mockery that ordinary people armed with QWERTY keyboards made of Britain’s fat, sick and corrupt civil courts this week marks the first real strike home for our side.

And just because it all centred round some dozy git with the brains of a baboon and the tackle of a Grand National winner getting stitched up by a BFH, doesn’t make it any the less of a blow.

What the complete destruction of Ryan Gigg’s stupid super-injunction tells us is that people in Britain are sick of being told how to live their lives.

We, you seem to say, are not daft monkeys. We are free men and women, and it is for no-one but us to decide what is in our “best interest”.

You, the public, have for once asserted to those in power that you are – as your collective name literally suggests – ‘grown ups’ (public, from “publicus”, from‘pubes’ – meaning “adults” – with thanks to our club etymologist Senator Juvenal)

And that means you can all “bloody well decide for yourselves” (attrib: Juvenal – May 2011) what you should and shouldn’t know.

75,000 Twitterers among you decided you damn well deserved to know anything you liked about a juicy sex and blackmail scandal involving a TV starlet and a footballer.

Bizarre beginnings perhaps. But Bravo all the same. And where could, or should, it all lead? Well that’s the interesting part.

Let’s break down this tabloid scandal in full.

Now as your humble muck-raking reporter see it: in the case of Giggs, the decision of old Judge Eady to side with the sportsman was a fairly benevolent one.

Dear old Imogen Thomas appeared to be blackmailing Giggs, and Giggs, rather than go to the police, cried to the civil courts, where Eady took pity on him and his bulging bank account.

But idiots like Ryan Giggs and Imogen Stubbs and their unpleasant private lives are not the point – and they are not the problem.

The problem is a legal culture in which Eady readily believed himself to be right to ban a newspaper from telling the public about this first-rate scandal. And this illness of reason is not just Judge Eady’s disease. It represents a widespread anti-democratic cancer that is well into Stage 2.

Because it’s not just the silly tabloids that are denied their right to free speech by British courts. Millions of people across the country are gagged by secret courts every day. And the growing trend for more secrecy in the remaining public courts stems from this terrifying fact.

In Cornwall, for example, everything that ‘Children, Young People and Families’ (trans: Social Services) do to ‘families and children is secret. And everything that the inextricably linked ‘family courts’ do is secret too.

So most lawyers and council officials operate in secret, and are accountable to no-one.

One of the myriad evils arising from this secrecy, is that the colleagues of the secret officials and lawyers, those who still work under public scrutiny, notice what is going on. And what they chiefly notice, day in day out, is how their less capable colleagues in the secret world never get into trouble, because nothing they do, however wrong, is ever made public, making say, a ‘family’ lawyer or a ‘social’ worker better off in every way than say, a criminal barrister, or transport manager. And these public officials – like Justice Eady – fancy a bit of this magic all-forgiving secrecy for themselves.

Most law firms today live off family cases. This is because the fees are as secret as everything else, so are never held up to public scrutiny. The cases are a doddle too: you just make it up as you go along: after all – what juror is going to disbelieve you, or what reporter expose you for your mad decision about, say, little baby Peter, to the public? There are no jurors or reporters. There aren’t even any pesky old rules of evidence to trouble your wretched excuse for a mind. If tired or grumpy old Judge Elwen sends little Peter and Jane to live with highly-paid foster parents in Stirling in secret and pronounces that father or mother can send them an appropriate message by carrier pigeon at Christmas for no other reason except that he’s got indigestion – so what? No-one will ever be the wiser. It’s just ’10.00am Re: X Court 1’ – closed session, end of story. The press can’t go in, if Mum or Dad go to the press, they can’t publish it, and if they tell their mates, we jail them, and they can’t tell anyone about that either! So we can do whatever we like, for ever, and while there’s no threat to stop us, there is an enormous network of other inter-related ‘family professionals’ with a massive vested interest in keeping this highly profitable system of endemic injustice going.

It’s a sick world in which super-injunctions are the rule and fascism is the result.

Now a secret bureaucracy like this will grow, unchecked by civil society. It will grow, and is growing, like a Cancer, and Justice Eadys coming down with his terrible case of super-injunctivitis is a symptom of the secrecy disease spreading to the other organs of the democratic body politic. The ‘family’ courts and ‘Social’ Services are already completely cancerous and can only be removed, if democracy is to return to anything like its former health. The criminal and civil courts could still be saved. So Twittering Justice Eady’s secrecy out of existence at least provides some palliative respite, if no cure.

Now I’ve quoted Mr Bentham, who as I write sits in his slightly bizarre disembodied state alongside me at the Olympian table, before about this. Mr Bentham put it most neatly when he said simply that ‘without publicity, there is no justice’. But I get the impression you’re quickly forgotten by a media-soaked world, so this time, let me quote from an advocate of freedom who still labours on your Earth, and so commands air-time.

Julian Assange – not by coincidence the victim of a risible attempt by the authorities to stitch him up on a censored prosecution for ‘rape’ – said this to David Frost when defending his publication of secret Government documents on Wikileaks.

“Secret institutions become corrupted in their purpose. They are able to engage in secret plans, which would be opposed by the population, if the population knew about them, and then carry them out for their own internal purposes. So they are not performing the function that the people demand that they perform.”

He could have been talking about how in December 2006 Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys signed a secret document ordering the assassination of Government officials. He could have been talking about how in March 2003 the US Army at Guantanamo Bay secretly denied the Red Cross access to prisoners. But he could just as well have been talking about Ryan Giggs, or Cornwall’s ‘Children and Young People and Families’ council departments and our ‘Family’ courts.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys was exposed – for all the difference it made.

Guantanamo Bay should have been closed – but hasn’t been.

Ryan Giggs is on the front page of every newspaper in Britain.

Perhaps the British public could extend that courtesy to Britain’s family lawyers and social workers?

There is enormous pressure for the ‘family’ courts to open but greater resistance from within those courts – for the simple reason that they know it will mean Game Over. The public – and particularly juries – would never stand for the state sponsored child abuse that goes on in the ‘family’ division. Many bloggers and web users do publicise the crimes of the ‘family’ courts and of social workers, and even the old press pushed hard for the courts to be opened. In fact in 2009 Jack Straw did open them – at which point the legislature – in the form of former corporate lawyer and cretin Sir Mark Potter – blatantly and openly defied democratically elected Parliament, by sending a note to all ‘family’ division judges giving them a list of reasons for closing all and any of their ordered-open courts ‘in individual cases’.

In January 2011 Mail reporter Steve Doughty wrote in a news article that “Judges have effectively kept the family courts closed” without fear of any contradiction or press complaint, and his is an exact description of what has happened.

That’s the sort of official misbehaviour any dictator would be proud of: the actions of a bureaucracy completely out of control. Democratically elected Parliament passes a law ordering a group of officials to end their official secrecy – and the officials disobey it, and they get away with it.

The new Government promised a ‘review’ of the ‘family’ division as this farce rumbled on, but a year in, and the self-policing document produced has proven yet another sham, and it’s left to random Twitter users publicising salacious home-grown controversies and public-spirited contributors letting Wikileaks or campaigning websites beyond the grasp of UK law know about international scandals and throw up two fingers to a thoroughly corrupt legal system: fingers that legal system is trying harder and harder to break with yet more and more secrecy and censorship.

It’s no coincidence that the embittered Swedish prosecutor gunning for Assange – whose website exposed him as a lying fraud – is using the device of a censored ‘rape’ prosecution. Rape prosecutions, in Sweden as the UK, are highly secret on your behalf if you’re the alleged victim, but very public if you’re the accused.

In fact the censorship of rape cases is a classic, public and clearly demonstrable example, of how legal secrecy fuels lynch-mobbing and mass hysteria, and supports tyranny. Nobody gets to see the horrible injustices of the ‘family’ court and ‘social’ services, because they simply refuse to obey the law and open up, but we can see, in horrible detail, what has happened in traditionally open criminal courts in rape cases, when just some of the injustices from the secret fascist bureaucracies have crept in.

Political correct legislators excused their decision more than a decade ago to censor the name of the accuser but name the accused in rape cases by saying it would help more victims of rape come forward and get more rapists convicted. Even if you accept this ropey argument for censorship, it’s impossible to see how naming the accused helps spare the accuser her blushes. But arguments and logic were never part of this legislation. It was law based on political prejudice and misandry (a little heard term describing the pathological hatred of men) and drawn from the hysterical belief that rape is a common crime, a lunacy in turn born out of the famously insane assertion of fascistic sixties and seventies feminists that ‘all men are rapists’, which of course makes about as much sense as saying ‘all women are baby-killers’.

Of course, all-but no men are rapists, as we all now know beyond reproof. And the results of trying to unearth, or failing that create, thousands of these rapists of bigoted myth, by abusing the law and censoring the press, have much more closely resembled a medieval Pogrom than an enlightened legal reform. The indiscriminate offer that the law made to millions of women of massive financial compensation, bucket loads of unquestioning sympathy, bulletproof legal anonymity (and as an added bonus from Chomsky’s self-censoring corporate media whores, heroine status and another £2,500 odd quid if after a successful conviction they sell their story), created a sickening witch-hunt, which even its feminist high priests proved unable to justify to themselves, because the statistical results have been the exact opposite of those they proclaimed they intended.

The rate of rape convictions has sunk to an all time low. It’s sunk because Juries (Juries which, it’s probably worth pointing out for the benefit of the many imbeciles who react to any questioning of feminism by accusing the questioner of some antique mythical chauvinism, are almost always dominated by women) throw out wild and outrageous politically inspired or just plain raving claims of rape against innocent men.

So the actual result of censoring and twisting perfectly good laws to prevent and punish rape, laws that previously applied equally well to allegations of rape as to murder, has been a massive nationwide scandal of false allegation, uncovered, to their credit, by vigilant jurors. Rather than lots more guilty rapists being prosecuted, a deliberate and extreme dilution of the definition of rape to include almost every kind of sex has led to officials taking the most ludicrous allegations before public courts. There time and time again good honest citizens untainted by legal or political prejudice have thrown these bizarre cases out, reducing the rape conviction rate yet further to about five per-cent. The only area in which related convictions have risen – is in the few cases where a woman lying about being raped has been inarguably proved to have done so by the police – and the alleged victim has wound up prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. Not that the generally very lenient sentences handed out for this will have proved much comfort to the intended victims of the 21st Century’s rape pogrom: many of the men dropped into the Kafkaesque nightmare of being put on trial for a crime they didn’t commit but which nonetheless branded them as social outcasts killed themselves, and God knows how many lie in jail today convicted of rapes they did not commit, jury scrutiny notwithstanding.

And what has all this to do with Ryan Gigg’s super injunction? It has a lot to do with it.

For a start, there’s a shared principle here, which is that if you censor the law and interfere with open justice, you get secret injustice as a reward.

Everyone who appears in a court in a democracy should be named, or it’s not open justice.

Ryan Giggs is Ryan Giggs, and in a democracy, when he goes to court he should remain Ryan Giggs, not suddenly become ‘CBT’ – as court proceedings called him.

Likewise, Tracey Connelly and Steven Barker, should be named as the parents of a baby called Peter: not ‘Baby P’ – as court proceedings called him.

And in just the same way, the children fed through barbaric secret court cases held in Truro have NAMES – they are not called ‘X’ – as they appear on the censored list.

Until reporters can go into those court cases and name those children, everyone in the court, and report every decision that is made, cruelty and injustice will prevail.

It is not a coincidence that the MP who blew the final whistle on Ryan Giggs and Fred Goodwin was John Hemming.

Hemming is Britain’s primary opponent of the ‘family’ courts.

And – although the old media never reported it – he only named Goodwin and Giggs in order to highlight the case of a constituent subject to a similar gagging order.

Lee Gilliland was the man Hemming named in the same breath as Fred Goodwin.

Social workers and lawyers stole Lee’s home, then banned him talking about it with the usual ‘family’ court super-injunctions, and his MP wants them punished.

To Hemming – as to any right mind – Lee Gilliland was just as much as victim of censorship as were you, the adult public, over Giggs and Goodwin.

In committee last month Hemming revealed an even more mortifying case of how secret courts flout democracy and mock personal freedoms.

The MP told a ‘Bill of Rights’ committee family lawyers had threatened to take away another of his constituent’s children if he spoke to his MP!

Court documents showed ‘Family law barrister’ June Williams telling Andrew France he wouldn’t see his kids again if he went to Hemming with his story.

How does this happen?

Simple: secret courts and secret officialdoms all act together to pervert democracy.

Not by coincidence – What France wanted to tell his MP and the press was how he was falsely accused of rape and wrongly imprisoned after censored court proceedings,

When France won his appeal and was cleared, he tried to clear his name in public.

He demanded to tell his story to the papers about how a social worker stitched him up for a crime he didn’t commit.

The social worker responded with an action to remove France’s child, which because it was heard in the secret ‘family’ court – allowed for the routine press blackout, and made the whole scandal conveniently secret again.

Thrust back into the hell of a secret court, France found himself threatened by his own barrister: threatened that if he even so much as told his MP what was happening, the court would indeed take away his child.

Some barrister: but so it goes in the courts of fascist countries.

Were it not for Hemmings brave constituency work, no-one would ever have known anything about this appalling abuse of power by secret officials.

An unapologetic maverick, the Lib Dem MP is one of the few lights at the end of this depressing tunnel of tyranny, and a man confined to the backbenches.

But – thanks to randy Ryan and unfaithful Fred and daft old Judge Eady – his message is now being heard by MPs with stronger political career prospects.

Conservative MP David Davis is widely held to be the man who should be leading the Tories.

The son of a single mother, a modern man, and a brilliant mind, he is a heartfelt Liberal where Cameron is a scheming fraud.

The parliamentary record of Hemmings ‘Bill of Rights’ Committee shows a shocked Davis asking Hemming to repeat his evidence about France for the stenographer.

After doing so Davis said this:

“What we are seeing, and it has got worse over the course of the past 22 years, is the interests, prejudices and career risks of the organisation dealing with the individual, be it a solicitor or even a family or social services officer, put to the fore-not always, but sometimes-ahead of the interests of the constituent. Those officers of local authorities, courts and so on have put their interests or privileges ahead of ours, and it has happened time and time again. In my constituency, teachers have been accused of sexual misdemeanours which were later proven not to be true, and people have been threatened with their children being taken away-a whole series of areas.

“Our job is to be the defence of last recourse for the individual. We stand between the individual and the misdemeanours of the state or, indeed, the lynch-mob law at the other extreme. That is why, in modern terms, and not just in terms of the ancient rights, our access to information is fundamental to continuing freedom in Britain. Once our right to have that information is taken away, the freedoms of our citizens and constituents are undermined. Parliament itself-its officers and the Speaker-should take a stand and make a statement to the effect that we have those rights on behalf of our constituents.”

Yes. Well, hurry up about it. Because the sooner it’s not just Ryan Giggs we’re naming and shaming on Twitter, the better.

Voir par ailleurs:

Titanic, lectures d’une tragédie

France culture

10.04.2012

"Il était 23h30 passées ; c’était un dimanche ; le dimanche 14 avril 1912.

Soudain, Fleet aperçut un obstacle en avant du navire, quelque chose d’encore plus noir que la nuit. (…) Fleet sonna trois coups à la cloche pour avertir que quelque chose se profilait juste en face, puis appela la passerelle au téléphone.

- Qu’avez-vous vu, lui demanda une voix à l’autre bout du fil.

- Un iceberg, juste en face !

- Merci, lui répondit la voix d’un ton courtois et, lui sembla-t-il, étrangement indifférent."

(La Nuit du Titanic, Walter Lord, 1955 )

Il y a un siècle, le Titanic s’enfonçait en deux heures trente dans les profondeurs glaciales de l’océan Atlantique ; 1500 de ses 2200 passagers furent également entraînés par le fond.

Il est remarquable de voir combien la lecture de la tragédie a fluctué (nec mergitur…) au cours du 20e siècle. Symbole de la déconfiture d’une société capitaliste et positiviste à la fin de la Belle Epoque, ramené au rang de fait divers tragique mais non moins factuel à l’époque des Trente Glorieuses, ce naufrage aura fait couler beaucoup d’encre. Aujourd’hui encore, alors que les esprits se sont apaisés à son sujet depuis quelques décennies, le Titanic prête le flanc à plusieurs fictions, plus ou moins réussies.

Nous sommes partis à la découverte de quatre ouvrages dédiés au paquebot transatlantique britannique : ceux de Morgan Robertson (1898), Joseph Conrad (1912), Walter Lord (1955) et Erik Fosnes Hansen (1990). Grâce à leurs places respectives dans la chronologie, ces livres, par leur perception propre de la tragédie, deviennent de véritables clefs de lecture permettant d’appréhender un siècle en mutation.

1898. Morgan Robertson : la fiction devance la réalité

Dernières années du 19e siècle, prémices de la Belle Epoque. La Reine Victoria est bien vieille et, suite à la Révolution industrielle, la société occidentale a entériné le règne du commerce, de la technique et du rationalisme.

C’est dans ce contexte que Morgan Robertson, ancien marin, auteur américain de ce qu’on qualifie aujourd’hui de "romans de gare", écrit, en 1898, Futility (rebaptisé Le Naufrage du Titan après la tragédie d’avril 1912). Quatorze ans avant l’engloutissement du Titanic, Robertson imagine l’histoire d’un très grand navire possédant de nombreuses et troublantes similitudes avec le malheureux paquebot de la White Star Line. Les premières lignes du roman sont surprenantes :

"C’était le plus grand navire en exploitation et la plus prestigieuse création de l’homme. Toutes les sciences et tous les corps de métiers connus de notre civilisation avaient contribué à sa construction et assuraient sa maintenance. (…) Que ce soit de la passerelle, de la salle des machines ou d’une douzaine d’endroits sur le pont, on pouvait fermer en trente secondes les quatre-vingt-douze portes des dix-neuf compartiments totalement étanches en tournant un simple levier. (…) Si neuf de ces compartiments s’étaient trouvés inondés le navire aurait pourtant continué à flotter (…) C’était en fait une ville flottante qui renfermait à l’intérieur de ses murs d’acier tout ce qui peut atténuer les dangers et le manque de confort d’un voyage à travers l’Atlantique (…) Insubmersible, indestructible, il ne transportait que le nombre strict de canots de sauvetages requis par la loi.

Morgan Robertson est un curieux personnage, peu connu, et qui se prévaut d’une connexion avec un "partenaire astral". Il fait vivre à son Titan un naufrage apocalyptique dû à une collision avec un iceberg, en plein milieu de l’Atlantique. Alors que l’histoire s’attarde moins sur le destin du bateau que sur celui de ses trois protagonistes – un marin ivrogne, une jeune femme mondaine et détestable, et une petite fille – nombreux ont été ceux à se persuader de son caractère prophétique, après le naufrage véritable du Titanic.

Olivier Mendez, préfacier du Naufrage du Titan et longtemps rédacteur en chef de l’Association Française du Titanic, est plus sceptique :

Ce roman, sans la tragédie d’avril 1912, serait tombé dans l’oubli, vu sa médiocre valeur littéraire. En 1898, il ne connait d’ailleurs guère de succès :

Il n’empêche ! Même si la prose de Robertson est banale, elle témoigne, selon Olivier Mendez, d’une époque capitaliste et positiviste fragilisée par son assurance d’être toute puissante, et de l’effondrement d’une grande société mondaine et inégalitaire. Pour le spécialiste du Titanic, la tragédie de 1912 marque même l’achèvement du 19e siècle :

Ce sentiment de fin d’une ère est d’ailleurs déjà bien présent dans l’esprit de certains intellectuels de l’époque. Au lendemain du naufrage, leurs écrits sont particulièrement révélateurs…

1912. Joseph Conrad : manifeste contre le positivisme

Immédiatement après le naufrage, les écrivains anglo-saxons sont nombreux à s’emparer de la plume pour manifester leur indignation, dans un grand flou émotionnel.

Soulignons notamment qu’une véhémente correspondance s’établit entre Conan Doyle et Bernard Shaw, célèbre dramaturge irlandais, via le Daily News and Leader. Shaw vilipende le travail des journalistes qui, avides de pathos, façonnent leur propre tragédie à grand renfort de faux témoignages, et il dénonce leurs accès de lyrisme qu’il trouve inappropriés. Cette charge n’est pas du goût de Conan Doyle qui, en lui répondant publiquement et vertement, engage une polémique par colonnes interposées.

Parmi les figures intellectuelles désireuses de s’exprimer, Joseph Conrad. Cet auteur britannique, d’origine polonaise est l’un des plus importants écrivains du 20e siècle, mais il a également la particularité d’être un ancien capitaine de navires. Dès 1912, dans plusieurs textes aujourd’hui rassemblés en un seul, Le Naufrage du Titanic, le vieux marin dit sa révolte contre ce monde qui porte aux nues l’économie, et lui sacrifie ses hommes de mer.

Olivier Weber, écrivain et grand reporter, a rédigé un essai sur cet auteur : Conrad, le voyageur de l’inquiétude (Flammarion, 2011) :

Conrad et ses pairs, en brandissant le naufrage comme la manifestation d’une société positiviste en perte de valeurs, l’ont inscrit dans le mythe :

Dès lors, la tragédie fera figure, non de fait divers, mais bien de véritable symbole, acquérant ainsi une stature quasi légendaire.

Avec les Trente Glorieuses, de nouveaux éléments émergent et, avec eux, un regard différent sur le naufrage.

1955. Walter Lord : une nouvelle manière de percevoir l’événement

En 1955, Walter Lord devient le premier historien de la tragédie. Il publie La Nuit du Titanic, une enquête au long cours constituée à partir d’une soixantaine de témoignage de rescapés.

"Au milieu des années 1950, le public s’intéressait de près aux technologies nouvelles. Deux guerres mondiales étaient venues réduire à néant les espérances de l’humanité, mais après une trop longue nuit, celles-ci ne demandaient qu’à renaître de leurs cendres. Pour autant, on ne relevait pas la tête sans tirer les leçons du passé.", écrit Gérard Jaeger dans la préface de l’ouvrage. Historien, essayiste et romancier, il est l’auteur d’Il était une fois le "Titanic".

Parfois contradictoires, les déclarations recueillies par Walter Lord n’en sont pas moins extrêmement riches. En les regroupant par thèmes, l’auteur américain a pris conscience que certaines personnes avaient mis l’accent sur des événements très personnels, au point, parfois, de réinventer leur vérité. Et pourtant, à partir de cette publication (1958, pour la traduction française), les historiens font de ces témoignages leur source privilégiée. Walter Lord, en remettant en perspective la première lecture très émotionnelle et intuitive du drame, malmène la vision symbolique de la tragédie, qui prédominait depuis 1912. Le naufrage légendaire redevient un fait divers résultant, non pas de l’arrogance industrielle, mais d’une suite d’événements malencontreux et de négligences ayant bouleversé des vies :

C’est alors que la fiction peut entrer en scène, à travers la littérature, mais plus encore sur grand écran :

1990, Erik Fosnes Hansen : la fiction s’empare de la tragédie

Plusieurs décénnies se sont écoulées depuis avril 1912. La lecture de l’événement a évolué, et les esprits se sont apaisés. Toujours mythifié, mais en partie débarrassée du terrifiant symbolisme d’une société en déroute expiant ses excès, la tragédie devient d’autant plus matière à fiction.

A côté des superproductions bien connues de tous, quelques romans et, parmi eux, Cantique pour la fin du voyage.

Deuxième texte de l’auteur norvégien Erik Fosnes Hansen, il se révéla l’un de ses plus gros succès et fut traduit dans plus de vingt langues.

N’ayant pas de lien particulier avec le Titanic, l’écrivain se sert de la tragédie pour imaginer la vie des musiciens du fleuron de la White Star Line et dépeindre une époque.

Louis Chevaillier est éditeur du roman chez Gallimard :

Mais pour Louis Chevaillier, si un tel livre est capable de toucher son lecteur, c’est aussi parce que malgré le caractère toujours légendaire du naufrage du Titanic, une telle catastrophe serait tout à fait susceptible de survenir aujourd’hui :

"Ressusciter tout un monde", le défi semble bien tentant ! Alors pourquoi sont-ils si peu à relever le gant ? "On a besoin d’une documentation extrêmement importante pour écrire sur le Titanic. Peut-être que cela décourage certains écrivains. C’est toujours difficile, aussi, d’écrire des fictions sur des événements qui restent dans la mémoire des hommes. Là, le fait de choisir d’inventer des vies est un parti pris qui fait sens, qui fonctionne, mais ça reste un parti pris important.", explique l’éditeur.

Certains, comme Olivier Mendez – notre premier interviewé, fortement attaché à la mémoire des véritables passagers -, déplorent fortement cette subjectivité, regrettant qu’on déploie des trésors d’imagination au lieu de s’en tenir aux nombreux documents dont on dispose. Mais cela montre à quel point, constitutif et représentatif du 20e siècle, ce drame appartient aujourd’hui au patrimoine planétaire. Et si nous le conservons dans nos mémoires, n’est-ce pas aussi parce qu’il nous appelle encore à plus de mesure dans nos ambitions ?

Voir de même:

Des événements prémonitoires …

Le 22 Mars 1886, le célèbre spiritualiste et publiciste anglais William Thomas Stead, propriétaire de la revue "Pall Mall Gazette" écrit un article intitulé "Comment le Paquebot Poste sombra au milieu de l’Atlantique, par un Survivant".

Cet article raconte qu’un paquebot, sans nom, entre en collision avec un autre navire et, qu’en raison d’un nombre insuffisant de canots de sauvetage, on déplore la perte de nombreuses vies humaines.

Stead écrit: "C’est exactement ce qui pourrait se produire et se produira si les paquebots sont lancés avec trop peu de canots".

Dans le numéro de Noël 1892 de la "Review of Reviews" qu’il vient de fonder, William Thomas Stead publie un autre article intitulé "De l’Ancien Monde au Nouveau".

Cet article est consacré à une traversée fictive entreprise par Stead pour se rendre aux Etats-Unis sur un paquebot de la White Star Line bien réel, lui, le Majestic.

Le Commandant du navire n’est autre qu’un certain E. J. Smith.

Lors de cette traversée, le Majestic recueille à son bord les survivants du paquebot Ann and Jane, qui a heurté une montagne de glace et coulé dans l’Atlantique.

Stead conclut son article de manière lugubre par: "Les océans parcourus par de rapides paquebots sont jonchés des os blanchis de ceux qui ont embarqué comme nous et qui ne sont jamais arrivés à bon port".

Vingt ans plus tard, il embarquera sur le Titanic commandé par le Commandant Edward J. Smith et disparaîtra dans le naufrage.

William Thomas Stead

Un jour, William Thomas Stead marche le long du Strand, au coeur de Londres, en compagnie d’un jeune journaliste plein d’avenir nommé Shaw Desmond. Ce dernier essaie de discuter d’un article qu’il est en train d’écrire pour la "Review of Reviews", mais Stead amène la conversation sur son prochain voyage. Il annonce qu’il va bientôt voyager sur le Titanic, nouveau paquebot réputé insubmersible, dont il vante les qualités. Desmond n’a jamais entendu parler du Titanic.

A un moment, Desmond s’écarte légèrement de Stead. Une étrange sensation saisit soudain le jeune journaliste, un sentiment qu’il décrira plus tard:

"J’ai eu pour la première fois de ma vie, mais pas la dernière, la conviction d’une mort imminente. Dans ce cas, c’était que l’homme qui se trouvait à mes côtés allait mourir. C’était incontrôlable et je me sentais plutôt impuissant. Je ne l’associai pas, non plus, un instant au transatlantique dont il venait de me parler".

Desmond décide de ne pas parler de ce soudain pressentiment et les deux hommes se quittent. Arrivé chez lui, Desmond a la bonne idée de griffonner une courte note sur sa prémonition ainsi que la date pour "référence future".

Quelques jours plus tard, la nouvelle de la tragédie arrive en Angleterre. Malgré les premières rumeurs déclarant que Stead a survécu, Desmond est certain qu’elles sont fausses et que son pressentiment se vérifiera. "Il n’a pas survécu" dit Desmond à sa femme, "Il s’est noyé".

Effectivement, William Thomas Stead fera partie des victimes.

En 1898, l’écrivain américain Morgan Robertson (1861-1915) publie, aux éditions M. G. Mansfield, son roman "Futility" dans lequel un paquebot anglais, baptisé Titan, heurte un iceberg et coule lors de sa 4ème traversée, au mois d’Avril dans l’Atlantique Nord, en n’ayant à son bord que le nombre strict de canots de sauvetage réglementaires mais insuffisant pour le nombre de passagers.

Ce navire imaginaire, réputé insubmersible, est presque semblable au Titanic par ses dimensions, sa vitesse, ses emménagements somptueux ainsi que le nombre de ses passagers (à la fois riches et pauvres) et celui des victimes.

(…)

Cette page a été réalisée à partir de plusieurs sources bibliographiques dont les principales sont:

Le drame du Titanic par Philippe Masson aux Editions Tallandier,

Titanic – Psychic forewarnings of a tragedy par George Behe aux Editions Patrick Stephens.

Si vous avez connaissance d’autres faits incontestables susceptibles de la compléter, merci de contacter l’auteur afin de lui en faire part.

Le R.M.S. Titanic

Voir enfin:

Le "Titan" de Morgan Robertson prédit le naufrage du Titanic

le besoin de savoir

15/03/2010

Morgan Roberston, écrivain américain et fils d’un capitaine de navire, offrait, en 1898, à son public un roman captivant : le naufrage du Titan.

Un roman – fiction qui racontait l’histoire d’un paquebot sombrant dans l’Atlantique Nord après avoir heurté un iceberg.

Quatorze ans plus tard, le 16 avril 1912, le New York Times annonçait le naufrage du Titanic qui avait accueilli à son bord 3 000 passagers et membres d’équipage. Si l’on veut bien prendre en compte les analogies du roman américain et la catastrophe maritime du début du XXe siècle, on peut s’interroger : l’auteur a-t-il eu une prémonition ?

Un contexte reproduit à l’identique

Le Titanic a sombré, après avoir été transpercé, à tribord, par un iceberg dans l’Océan Atlantique Nord; 1500 personnes périrent dans les eaux ou sur le bateau.

Or, l’histoire du Titan, racontée dans l’ouvrage de Morgan Roberston, a cela d’étrange: son paquebot, coule, lui aussi dans les mêmes conditions, faisant 2 000 victimes. Il raconte ainsi dans les moindres détails une nuit tragique où tout avait pourtant commencé dans une ambiance festive.

La différence dans l’histoire de ces deux naufrages repose sur un détail auquel il faut accorder une valeur somme toute dérisoire : le Titan effectuait son troisième voyage de retour vers New-York alors que le Titanic effectuait, lui, son voyage inaugural.

Naufrage du Titanic, le 15 avril 1912 au large de Terre-Neuve. Morgan Robertson, auteur en 1898 deFutility or the wreck of the Titan (Le naufrage du Titan)

Des similitudes techniques

Réputé insubmersible, considéré comme un summum des réalisations technologiques, le Titanic de ce début de XXe siècle était équipé d’une coque de double-fond comprenant 16 compartiments étanches.

Dans son ouvrage, Morgan Roberston présente également son navire imaginaire, le Titan, comme un transatlantique de luxe, dont la technologie infaillible avait permis de concevoir 19 compartiments étanches.

Plus surprenant encore, l’auteur dénonce la vanité, la cupidité et la sottise des hommes qui, forts de leur supériorité technique et technologique, n’avaient pas jugé bon d’équiper le bateau de canots de sauvetage en nombre suffisant.

Lors de la construction du Titanic, la presse avait, à maintes reprises, qualifiée le paquebot d’insubmersible.

Dans leurs rapports, les experts durent reconnaître que le nombre de victimes était lié au fait que le Titanic ne pouvait recevoir que 1 178 personnes dans ses canots de sauvetage, en cas de naufrage.

Les prémonitions de l’écrivain

Cet étrange naufrage fictif n’est pas la seule histoire racontée par l’écrivain américain.

En 1914, Morgan Roberston rédigeait un autre roman, Beyond the spectrum, une guerre ouverte entre les Etats-Unis et le Japon qui lançait des attaques surprises contre les navires américains en route vers Hawaii et les Philippines.

Des ressemblances, pour ne pas dire de nouvelles prémonitions, avec l’Histoire mondiale cette fois, toutes aussi déroutantes quand on connaît l’histoire du conflit qui s’est déclaré 27 ans plus tard.

Ironie du sort

Lors de la parution du livre de Morgan Robertson, le naufrage du Titan, en 1898 ( en anglais : Futility or the wreck of the Titan) le journaliste W.T Stead, critique littéraire écrivait : " ce livre explique exactement ce qui pourrait se passer si les grandes compagnies de paquebots refusaient de s’équiper de chaloupes de sauvetage en nombre suffisant. ".

Le journaliste W.T Stead était à bord du Titanic qui effectuait son voyage inaugural de Southampton à New-York. Il fut parmi les victimes du naufrage qui périrent dans la nuit du 14 au 15 avril 1912.

Voir enfin:

For Years, the Tabloids’ Sting Kept British Politicians in Line
Sarah Lyall
The NYT

July 9, 2011

LONDON — In 2004, Clare Short, a Labour member of Parliament, learned what could happen to British politicians who criticized the country’s unforgiving tabloids. At a lunch in Westminster, Ms. Short mentioned in passing that she did not care for the photographs of saucy, topless women that appear every day on Page 3 of the populist tabloid The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. “I’d like to take the pornography out of our press,” she said.

Big mistake.

“ ‘Fat, Jealous’ Clare Brands Page 3 Porn” was The Sun’s headline in response. Its editor, Rebekah Wade (now Rebekah Brooks and the chief executive of News International, Mr. Murdoch’s British subsidiary), sent a busload of semi-dressed models to jeer at Ms. Short at her house in Birmingham. The paper stuck a photograph of Ms. Short’s head over the body of a topless woman and found a number of people to declare that, in fact, they thoroughly enjoyed the sexy photos.

“Even Clare has boobs, but obviously she’s not proud of them like we are of ours,” it quoted a 22-year-old named Nicola McLean as saying.

It is the fear of incidents like this, along with political necessity, that has long underpinned the uneasy collusion between British politicians and even the lowest-end tabloids here.

However much they might deplore tabloid methods and articles — the photographers lurking in the bushes; the reporters in disguise entrapping subjects into sexual indiscretion or financial malfeasance; the editors paying tens of thousands of dollars for exclusive access to the mistresses of politicians and sports stars; the hidden taping devices; the constant stream of stories about illicit sex romps — politicians have often been afraid to say so publicly, for fear of losing the papers’ support or finding themselves the target of their wrath.

If showering politicians with political rewards for cultivating his support has been the carrot in the Murdoch equation, then punishing them for speaking out has generally been the stick. But the latest revelations in the phone-hacking scandal appear to have broken the spell, emboldening even Murdoch allies like Prime Minister David Cameron to criticize his organization and convene a commission to examine press regulation.

The power to harass and intimidate is hardly limited to the Murdoch newspapers; British tabloids are all guilty to some extent of using their power to discredit those who cross them, politicians and analysts say.

“The tabloid press in Britain is very powerful, and it’s also exceedingly aggressive, and it’s not just News Corp.; The Mail is very aggressive,” said John Whittingdale, a Conservative member of Parliament who is chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “They do make or break reputations, so obviously politicians tread warily.”

Those who do not pay a price. Cherie Blair, wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, was regularly tortured in print by the right-leaning Daily Mail because she made no effort to cultivate it and because it was not an admirer of her husband’s Labour government. In a stream of articles, The Mail portrayed her as greedy, profligate and a follower of wacky alternative-medicine regimes, selecting unflattering photos to make her look chunky and ill-dressed, her mouth invariably curled in a strange rictus.

But politicians have always been most afraid of the sting of The Sun and its Sunday sister (at least until this Sunday, when it is to close), The News of the World, because the papers’ good will is so important politically.

“They go on little feeding frenzies against various politicians,” said Roy Greenslade, a professor of journalism at City University London. Until the floodgates opened on Wednesday, when the outrage over the latest phone-hacking revelations had politicians voicing disgust in a cathartic parliamentary session, most members of Parliament were terrified of crossing Mr. Murdoch, Professor Greenslade said.

“Privately, M.P.’s say all sorts of things, but most of them have kept very, very quiet about Rupert Murdoch until now,” he added. “When you are facing the wrath of News International, you can bet they will turn up anything about you — whether it be true or just spun in a certain way.”

Labour politicians still shudder about the fate of Neil Kinnock, the party leader in the early 1990s, who was leading the Conservative Party’s John Major in the 1992 election when The Sun mounted a sustained attack on him. The reasons were political — the paper supported the Conservative Party — but the means were personal. Mr. Kinnock was the subject of a barrage of articles depicting him as inept, long-winded, strange looking, and even mentally unstable.

The day before the election, The Sun printed a package of articles under the headline “Nightmare on Kinnock Street.” It printed a picture of a fat topless woman and the warning, “Here’s How Page 3 Will Look Under Kinnock!” And, in an image he would never live down, the paper printed a large front-page photograph of Mr. Kinnock’s head inside a light bulb, under the headline: “If Kinnock Wins Today Will the Last Person to Leave Britain Please Turn Out the Lights.”

The attacks have not been limited to Labour politicians. David Mellor, a Conservative member of Parliament who served in several Tory governments, had a different sort of bad experience. In 1989, Mr. Mellor declared that the tabloids were reckless, too powerful and in need of more regulation; they were, he warned, “drinking at the last-chance saloon.”

But he was the one at that particular bar. And Mr. Mellor, who returned to the anti-tabloid theme three years later, ended up leaving the government after a series of racy tabloid exposés about his personal indiscretions. In the most famous one, The News of the World paid about $48,000 for his mistress’s account of their affair, complete with secret recordings and the indelible detail that Mr. Mellor had made love to her while wearing only a Chelsea soccer jersey. (He always said that part was not true.)

Sometimes it is just the threat of harassment that frightens politicians.

“I can think of at least two members of Parliament who could have been criticizing Murdoch five years ago, and said nothing because they were afraid,” said Chris Bryant, a Labour member of Parliament who serves on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee and who has been a persistent critic of Mr. Murdoch.

It was Mr. Bryant who, at a hearing on press standards in 2003, asked Ms. Brooks, then editor of The Sun, whether she had ever paid the police for information. She was seriously displeased with the tough tone of his questions; so were other tabloid editors who spoke at the hearing.

A few months later, Mr. Bryant was the subject of an article in The Mail on Sunday, illustrated by a photo of him in his underpants that he had posted on a gay dating site. (He does not make a secret of his sexuality.) The News of the World also printed the story, copying the account.

After Mr. Bryant spoke last fall in Parliament against tabloid tactics, he said a friend received telephone calls from two Murdoch underlings. “They told him, ‘You know Chris Bryant? Just let him know that this will not be forgotten,’ ” Mr. Bryant related.

A spokeswoman for News International said the company had no comment for this article.

Mr. Bryant received a stranger form of threat, he said, when he ran into Ms. Brooks at a News International party at a Labour conference.

“She said, ‘Oh, Mr. Bryant, it’s after dark — surely you should be on Clapham Common,’ ” a notorious gay cruising spot, Mr. Bryant related. He said she was not trying to be funny.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bryant led the debate in Parliament about phone hacking. “We politicians, I believe, have colluded far too long with the media,” he said. “We rely on them. We seek their favor. We live, we die politically because of what they write and what they show, and sometimes that means we are not courageous or spineful enough to stand up when wrong has occurred.”

“This is a remarkable turnaround,” Professor Greenslade said, speaking of attitudes toward Mr. Murdoch. “All these years, he’s been a tycoon, a media mogul — and now it’s as if he’s suddenly become Citizen Kane.”


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