Libertés: Les sionistes ont même inventé les droits civiques ! (Felt like my legs were praying: Jews in the Civil rights movement)

29 mai, 2013

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https://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/905ef-lynching111.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.pbs.org/independentlens/strangefruit/images/hmQuote.jpgJews-and-Civil-Rightshttps://i0.wp.com/www.amdoc.org/projects/truelives/pressroom/mayalin/images/03_mayalin.jpgQue la droiture soit comme un courant d’eau et la justice comme un torrent qui jamais ne tarit.  Amos 5: 24
Si un étranger vient séjourner avec vous dans votre pays, vous ne l’opprimerez point. Vous traiterez l’étranger en séjour parmi vous comme un indigène du milieu de vous; vous l’aimerez comme vous-mêmes, car vous avez été étrangers dans le pays d’Égypte. Je suis l’Éternel, votre Dieu. Lévitique 19: 33-34
Les arbres du sud portent un fruit étrange. Du sang sur les feuilles, du sang sur les racines, Un corps noir se balançant dans la brise du Sud. Etrange fruit pendant aux peupliers. Scène pastorale du vaillant Sud. Les yeux exorbités et la bouche tordue, Parfum de magnolias, doux et frais. Puis une odeur soudaine de chair brûlée. Voici un fruit à picorer par les corbeaux Que la pluie fait pousser, que le vent assèche. Pourri par le soleil, il tombera de l’arbre. Voilà une étrange et amère récolte. Abel Meeropol (1937)
Nous ne sommes pas satisfaits, et nous ne serons pas satisfaits jusqu’au jour où la justice se déversera comme un torrent et la droiture comme un fleuve puissant. Martin Luther King (Washington, 1963)
When I marched in Selma, it felt like my legs were praying. Rabbin Heschel (1965)
That is about the ugliest song I have ever heard. Ugly in the sense that it is violent and tears at the guts of what white people have done to my people in this country. Nina Simone
Written by a Jewish communist called Abel Meeropol, Strange Fruit was not by any means the first protest song, but it was the first to shoulder an explicit political message into the arena of entertainment. Unlike the robust workers’ anthems of the union movement, it did not stir the blood; it chilled it. (…) For all these reasons, it was something entirely new. Up to this point, protest songs functioned as propaganda, but Strange Fruit proved they could be art. It is a song so good that dozens of singers have since tried to put their stamp on it, and Holiday’s performance is so strong that none of them have come close to outclassing her – in 1999, Time magazine named her first studio version the « song of the century ». Although lynching was already on the decline by the time of Strange Fruit – the grotesque photograph of a double hanging which moved Meeropol to pick up his pen had been taken in Indiana in 1930 – it remained the most vivid symbol of American racism, a stand-in for all the more subtle forms of discrimination affecting the black population. Perhaps only the visceral horror that lynching inspired gave Meeropol the necessary conviction to write a song with no precedent, one that required a new songwriting vocabulary. Meeropol, who taught at a high school in the Bronx and churned out reams of topical songs, poems and plays under the gentle alias Lewis Allan, published a poem under the title Bitter Fruit in the union-run New York Teacher magazine in 1937. The later name change was inspired. « Bitter » is too baldly judgmental. « Strange », however, evokes a haunting sense of something out of joint. It puts the listener in the shoes of a curious observer spying the hanging shapes from afar and moving closer towards a sickening realisation. Meeropol worked out a tune and Strange Fruit quickly became a fixture at leftwing gatherings during 1938, sung by his wife and various friends. It even made it to Madison Square Garden, via black singer Laura Duncan. In the crowd was one Robert Gordon, who had recently taken on a job at Cafe Society, directing the headlining show by Billie Holiday. (…) Meeropol played Josephson his song and asked if he could bring it to Holiday. (…) Holiday road-tested the song at a party in Harlem and received what would become a familiar response: shocked silence followed by a roar of approval. Meeropol was there the night she debuted it at Cafe Society. « She gave a startling, most dramatic and effective interpretation which could jolt an audience out of its complacency anywhere, » he marvelled. « This was exactly what I wanted the song to do and why I wrote it. » (…) Josephson, a natural showman, knew there was no point slipping Strange Fruit into the body of the set and pretending it was just another song. He drew up some rules: first, Holiday would close all three of her nightly sets with it; second, the waiters would halt all service beforehand; third, the whole room would be in darkness but for a sharp, bright spotlight on Holiday’s face; fourth, there would be no encore. « People had to remember Strange Fruit, get their insides burned by it, » he explained. It was not, by any stretch, a song for every occasion. It infected the air in the room, cut conversation stone dead, left drinks untouched, cigarettes unlit. Customers either clapped till their hands were sore, or walked out in disgust. (…) Holiday’s regular label, Columbia, blanched at the prospect of recording it, so she turned to Commodore Records, a small, leftwing operation based at Milt Gabler’s record shop on West 52nd Street. On 20 April 1939, Holiday entered Brunswick’s World Broadcasting Studios with Frankie Newton’s eight-piece Cafe Society Band and recorded Strange Fruit in one four-hour session. Worried that the song was too short, Gabler asked pianist Sonny White to improvise a suitably stealthy introduction. On the single, Holiday doesn’t open her mouth until 70 seconds in. Like Josephson with his spotlight, the musicians use that time to set the scene, drawing the listener in as if to a ghost story. Newton’s muted trumpet line hovers in the air like marsh gas; White’s minor piano chords walk the listener towards the fateful spot; then, at last, there’s Holiday. Others might have overplayed the irony or punched home the moral judgment too forcefully, but she sings it as though her responsibility is simply to document the song’s eerie tableau; to bear witness. Her voice moves softly through the dark, closing in on the swinging bodies like a camera lens coming into focus. In doing so, she perfects the song, narrowing the sarcasm of « gallant South » to a fine point and cooling the temperature of the most overheated image: « the stench of burning flesh ». She is charismatic but not ostentatious, curling the words just so. Her gifts to the song are vulnerability, understatement and immediacy: the listener is right there, at the base of the tree. Look, she is saying. Just look. Released three months later, it became not just a hit but a cause celebre. Campaigners for an anti-lynching law posted copies to congressmen. The New York Post’s Samuel Grafton called it « a fantastically perfect work of art, one which reversed the usual relationship between a black entertainer and her white audience: ‘I have been entertaining you,’ she seems to say, ‘now you just listen to me.’ If the anger of the exploited ever mounts high enough in the South, it now has its Marseillaise. » Holiday quit Cafe Society in August 1939, but she took Strange Fruit with her and carried it like an unexploded bomb. In Washington DC, a local newspaper wondered whether it might actually provoke a new wave of lynchings. At New York’s Birdland, the promoter confiscated customers’ cigarettes, lest their firefly glow distract from the spotlight’s intensity. When some promoters ordered her not to sing it, Holiday added a clause to her contract guaranteeing her the option. Not that she always exercised that right. « I only do it for people who might understand and appreciate it, » she told radio DJ Daddy-O Daylie. « This is not a ‘June-Moon-Croon-Tune’. » (…) Yet Holiday could no more detach herself from it than if the lyrics had been tattooed on her skin. Strange Fruit would haunt Holiday for the rest of her life. Some fans, including her former producer John Hammond, blamed it for robbing her of her lightness. Others pointed out that her burgeoning heroin habit did that job. (…) By the latter half of the decade, her body was wasted, her voice weathered down to a hoarse rasp, and Strange Fruit was the only song that seemed to dignify her suffering, wrapping her own decline in a wider American tragedy. Writing about her final years in his definitive book Strange Fruit: the Biography of a Song, David Margolick says: « she had grown oddly, sadly suited to capture the full grotesqueness of the song. Now, she not only sang of bulging eyes and twisted mouths. She embodied them. » It was as if the song, having lived inside her for so long, had finally warped its host. Dorian Lynskey
As the Democratic hosts prepare to rededicate themselves anew to fairness and justice, the bustling Southern city in which they are to meet is disgraced by an unspeakable act of savagery. There is no other way to describe the performance of the eight armed white men who yanked Robert Powell, 24-year-old Negro, from a hospital cot on which he lay with a bullet in his stomach, and hanged him from a bridge just outside the city. Powell was under the charge of killing a detective in a shooting match from which he himself emerged with an apparently mortal wound. In the event of his recovery, he was headed for the courts. But to this Texas mob neither Death nor Justice was an acceptable arbiter. Nothing would satisfy them but a loathsome act of murder carried out against a human being while he lay in agony with a bullet in his entrails. […] The year that saw four months pass without a single lynching has now accumulated five of them. Five lynchings in six months represent a proportional reduction in savagery from last year’s record of sixteen lynchings in twelve months, but the year is only half gone and no one may be too confident. We have come a long way from the dark days of 1892 when America celebrated the 400th anniversary of its discovery with 255 lynchings, but we have not yet arrived at that social abhorrence of this crime that must precede its practical extinction. When eight presumably decent and rational beings can gain the consent of their conscience to rob a hospital bed for the purpose of executing summary vengeance, and when, as was the case a few days ago in Louisiana, two Negroes are torn from their guards and lynched because they were brothers of another Negro who was accused of murder, it must be recognized that the rise and fall of the lynching curve is governed by racial passions that remain still to be brought under civilized control. Louis Isaac Jaffé (“An Unspeakable Act of Savagery”, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, June 22, 1928)
 The segregationists and racists make no fine distinction between the Negro and the Jew. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
How could there be anti-Semitism among Negroes when our Jewish friends have demonstrated their commitment to the principle of tolerance and brotherhood not only in the form of sizable contributions, but in many other tangible ways, and often at great personal sacrifice. Can we ever express our appreciation to the rabbis who chose to give moral witness with us in St. Augustine during our recent protest against segregation in that unhappy city? Need I remind anyone of the awful beating suffered by Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld of Cleveland when he joined the civil rights workers there in Hattiesburg, Mississippi? And who can ever forget the sacrifice of two Jewish lives, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, in the swamps of Mississippi? It would be impossible to record the contribution that the Jewish people have made toward the Negro’s struggle for freedom – it has been so great. Martin Luther King (1965)
In Harlem…. our … landlords were Jews, and we hated them. We hated them because they were terrible landlords and did not take care of the buildings. The grocery store owner was a Jew… The butcher was a Jew and, yes, we certainly paid more for bad cuts of meat than other New York citizens, and we very often carried insults home along with our meats… and the pawnbroker was a Jew – perhaps we hated him most of all. James Baldwin
When we were working in Chicago, we had numerous rent strikes on the West Side, and it was unfortunately true that, in most instances, the persons we had to conduct these strikes against were Jewish landlords… We were living in a slum apartment owned by a Jew and a number of others, and we had to have a rent strike. We were paying $94 for four run-down, shabby rooms, and …. we discovered that whites … were paying only $78 a month. We were paying 20 percent tax. The Negro ends up paying a color tax, and this has happened in instances where Negroes actually confronted Jews as the landlord or the storekeeper. The irrational statements that have been made are the result of these confrontations. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Allons à Kingston Avenue et prenons un Juif !  Emeutiers de Crown heights (1991)
The world will tell us he was killed by accident. Yes, it was a social accident. … It’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. … Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. … All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no kaffe klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’. Pay for your deeds. Al Sharpton (Crown Heights, 1991)
We must not reprimand our children for outrage, when it is the outrage that was put in them by an oppressive system. Al Sharpton
I want to make it clear to the radio audience and to you here that we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business on 125th Street. Al Sharpton (1995)
Sharpton is (…)  the man who sparked the rage in Harlem in 1995 against a Jewish storeowner who wanted to expand. Sharpton called him « a white interloper » at a rally; eight people were later killed in a fire set by one of the protesters. Sharpton is the unapologetic champion of Tawana Brawley – the teen whose 1987 tale of abduction and rape by white police officers garnered national headlines, but was later deemed a hoax by a grand jury. (« I didn’t think I was wrong, » he says. « I still think something happened to her. ») (…) He was the one who brought protests to Howard Beach, the predominantly white neighborhood in Queens where, in 1986, a white gang chased a black construction worker to his death on a busy highway. Sharpton is the man who stood by the five young African-Americans accused of beating and raping the Central Park jogger in 1989. (« I was cartooned, lampooned, and everything, » he says. « Thirteen years later, a guy came forward and said, ‘I did it,’ after some of those kids served 8 years. One of them works for me now. ») The Christian science monitor
Jews are a race of skunks and animals that stole Africa from the Black Man. Leonard Jeffries (Professor of black studies at City University of New York)
Now, we’re not talking about most Jews. Most Jews were being beat—up and down Europe—persecuted for being Jewish. We’re talking about rich Jews, and we specifically make that distinction. We’re not talking about white folks in general when we talk about oppression; we’re talking about the wealthy white folks, the powerful white folks that make the decisions. So let’s make some decisions, some clarity, when we talk about these things. But the documentation is there. We are now preparing the ten volumes dealing with the Jewish relationship with the Black community in reference to slavery, so we can put it in the school system. Leonard Jeffries
Les événements d’août 1991 sont encore gravés dans ma mémoire. Tout a commencé quand une voiture conduite par un Juif hassidique a percuté et tué un petit garçon noir, âgé de sept ans, Gavin Cato. Les témoins se sont alors jetés sur le conducteur et l’ont battu. Puis une foule de plus en plus nombreuse s’est réunie et a commencé à crier « mort aux Juifs ». Un étudiant hassidique, Yankel Rosenbaum, fut poignardé ; il mourut de ses blessures quelques heures plus tard à l’hôpital. Des émeutes, dans une véritable atmosphère de pogrom, se sont poursuivies pendant trois jours. Des jets de pierre, des cocktails Molotov, des batailles de rues… On n’avait jamais vu ça.  Joseph Spielman (résident de Crown Heights)
«Ne vous laissez pas abuser par ces extrémistes ou par l’incident de Crown Heights. Il est faux de conclure que les 36 millions de Noirs vivant aux Etats-Unis sont tous antisémites à cause d’une minorité d’activistes surmédiatisés. Les rapports entre les communautés juive et noire aux Etats-Unis sont extrêmement complexes. C’est une histoire de hauts et de bas, de rapprochement et d’éloignement. Evitez de tirer des conclusions trop hâtives en la matière.  Manning Marable (Université de Columbia, New York)
Jusqu’à cette date (années 20), chaque communauté se préoccupe de ses propres problèmes, chacune vote pour le parti qui semble le plus à même d’améliorer ses piètres conditions de vie. Ces deux peuples parias souffrent chacun de son côté. Les Noirs combattent le lynchage dans les Etats du Sud et la ségrégation dans la plus grande part du pays. Ils votent essentiellement pour les Républicains. Quant aux Juifs, dont la majorité viennent de débarquer d’Europe centrale et orientale, ils essaient de s’intégrer à la société américaine des grandes villes du nord-est et d’améliorer leur situation matérielle. Ils votent généralement démocrate. Mais la majorité blanche anglo-saxonne oppose une grande résistance aux tentatives d’émancipation des deux communautés. C’est cette situation qui provoque au départ le rapprochement d’un petit groupe d’intellectuels et de juristes.  Manning Marable
A l’époque (milieu des années 60), les mouvements d’émancipation afro-américains se sont fortement radicalisés. Sous l’influence de Malcolm X, ces organisations ont rejeté l’idée d’une large communauté inter-raciale pour privilégier une approche purement ethnocentrique. L’intégration au melting pot américain n’est plus le but recherché. Le mouvement pour les droits civiques de Martin Luther King est décrié : la stratégie de non-violence est jugée inefficace, trop molle. La communauté noire doit s’affirmer, par tous les moyens s’il le faut. » C’est l’époque du Black Power, des Black Panthers, des émeutes et des révoltes. « Black is beautiful », proclament les activistes. Au cinéma, les héros noirs et musclés de Shaft ou de Superfly, films phares de la Blaxploitation du début des années 70, n’ont plus rien à voir avec la mine policée et les costumes étriqués de Sydney Poitier, quelques années plus tôt. Cette radicalisation provoque évidemment des réactions dans la communauté juive. Il est de plus en plus difficile, même pour les Juifs les plus « libéraux » (progressistes, dirions-nous en Europe), de trouver un programme commun avec leurs anciens partenaires. Emerge alors un courant « néo-conservateur » juif, autour d’un petit groupe d’intellectuels new-yorkais comme Laqueur, Glazer ou Podhoretz. Ces anciens hommes de gauche constatent l’échec d’une entreprise qui aurait dû créer une Amérique « sans couleurs » et qui, finalement, n’a fait que renforcer les particularismes ethniques de chaque communauté. Ils dénoncent également l’antisémitisme politique violent du Black Power et se battent pour protéger le « libéralisme » que la société américaine a hérité du New Deal. Les visions divergent : les organisations juives n’ont désormais plus aucun intérêt à coopérer avec la plupart de leurs homologues afro-américaines. C’est le clash…• Peter Noel
I have a problem with Jews…because…they are not the chosen people…I am declaring to the world that you, the black people…[are the chosen people] Louis Farrakhan
Now you know I’m going to be lambasted and called anti-Semitic… They’ll say Farrakhan was up to his old canards; he said Jews control Hollywood. Well, they said it themselves! Jews control the media. They said it themselves! Jews and some gentiles control the banking industry, international banks. They do! In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident? Louis Farrakhan (Holy Day of Atonement Keynote Address, Part 2, Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois 10/21/12)
L’Amérique est toujours le tueur numéro 1 dans le monde. . . Nous sommes profondément impliqués dans l’importation de la drogue, l’exportation d’armes et la formation de tueurs professionnels. . . Nous avons bombardé le Cambodge, l’Irak et le Nicaragua, tuant les femmes et les enfants tout en essayant de monter l’opinion publique contre Castro et Khaddafi. . . Nous avons mis Mandela en prison et soutenu la ségrégation pendant 27 ans. Nous croyons en la suprématie blanche et l’infériorité noire et y croyons davantage qu’en Dieu. … Nous avons soutenu le sionisme sans scrupule tout en ignorant les Palestiniens et stigmatisé quiconque le dénonçait comme anti-sémite. . . Nous ne nous inquiétons en rien de la vie humaine si la fin justifie les moyens. . . Nous avons lancé le virus du SIDA. . . Nous ne pouvons maintenir notre niveau de vie qu’en nous assurant que les personnes du tiers monde vivent dans la pauvreté la plus abjecte. Rev. Jeremiah Wright (le 15 janvier 2006)
By calling Jews ‘white,’ Blacks are in effect denying [the Jewish] history of oppression…. Jews have been socially and legally discriminated against, have been the subject of racism and genocide, and in those terms Jews are not white. Michael Lerner
If we get a Jew person, then what I’m wondering is, I mean, what is this movement for, you know? Does it have anything to do with the failed peace talks? So I think we need to be very suspicious of any kind of partnerships between the Jews at that kind of level because we know that their interest primarily has to do with money and these kind of things. Lee Alcorn (president of the Dallas NAACP branch, 2009)
Après sa condamnation, l’association juive dont Leo Frank était le président à Atlanta, « Les fils de l’Alliance » (ou B’nai B’rith), a décidé de créer l’AntiDefamation League en septembre 1913 pour empêcher à l’avenir toute calomnie contre l’un de ses membres. Suite au lynchage d’août 1915, la moitié de la communauté juive de Géorgie fuit l’État de peur des représailles et du boycott infligé à leurs commerces. Le jour du lynchage, la communauté juive de Marietta reçut l’avertissement qu’elle devait quitter la ville avant minuit ; elle s’exécuta. Suite à l’affaire Mary Phagan, en octobre 1915, une partie des membres de l’association « les chevaliers de Mary Phagan » s’associa avec des nostalgiques du Ku Klux Klan (interdit depuis les années 1870) pour le ressusciter. (…) Le procès de Frank a été l’objet de surenchère spectaculaire de la part des médias, qui décrivirent des scènes d’orgies et de viol à l’usine de Frank. D’avril à août, durant les quatre premiers mois, près de 18 000 colonnes lui furent consacrées. Des trois journaux de la ville (The Atlanta Constitution, The Atlanta Journal, The Atlanta Georgian), celui de Hearst (Le Georgian) en a le plus profité en multipliant par trois son tirage. Hearst fit venir pour gagner cette bataille de la presse son éditeur de New York (Keats Speed) spécialement pour l’affaire. La presse ne s’embarrassait pas de déontologie, et dès le premier jour, elle accusa Newt Lee d’avoir commis le crime, et déjà la foule demandait qu’on le lynche. Alors que trois jours après les faits Newt Lee était déjà remplacé par Leo Frank sur la liste des suspects no 1, cela n’empêchait pas le Georgian de titrer en gros en une : « La culpabilité de Lee est prouvée ! ». Le démagogue nativiste, avocat et éditeur géorgien Tom Watson en particulier enflamma l’opinion publique en appelant au lynchage pour en finir avec Leo Frank, en justifiant le principe du lynchage en l’expliquant comme l’application de la justice populaire ; il commenta l’affaire à partir de décembre 1914, accusant à sens unique « le pervers juif ». Son mensuel et son hebdomadaire (The Watson Magazine et The Jeffersonian) virent leur tirage quadrupler. La presse géorgienne et atlantéenne ne condamnèrent pas unanimement Leo Frank ; après les premiers mois du procès, et après la condamnation les journaux remirent en question la décision du jury. Certains journaux géorgiens n’hésitèrent pas à condamner son lynchage par ailleurs, dès le jour même, et elle refusa de diffuser les photos du lynchage ; en-dehors d’Atlanta, en Géorgie même, il y eut tout de même quelques journaux pour saluer la « justice populaire ». En dehors de Géorgie la presse était majoritairement pour Leo Frank. À Los Angeles et à New York on fustigeait l’attitude archaïque des sudistes. Leo Frank croyait fermement dans sa future relaxe ; il était soutenu par la diaspora juive américaine qui était regroupée dans l’American Jewish Committee. Ce dernier était dirigé par Louis Marshall, qui, depuis New York (où il dirigeait le New York Times), a tout le long de l’affaire conseillé les avocats de Frank et orchestré véritablement le soutien à Leo Frank dans la presse grâce à ses puissantes relations, il l’a également aidé financièrement. Toutefois, l’AJC était soucieuse de ne pas organiser de manifestations trop voyantes ni de campagne de presse trop virulente de peur de jeter de l’huile sur le feu ; les adversaires de Leo Frank ne se sont pas gênés pour expliquer le soutien à Leo Frank de la part de la presse par la corruption et l’argent du lobby juif. Pour l’ADL et l’AJC, l’affaire Leo Frank montre indéniablement l’antisémitisme inné de la culture sudiste (blanche, chrétienne, WASP, raciste), pour eux Leo Frank est le seul blanc à avoir été condamné à mort sur la foi du témoignage d’un noir. Cela dit, l’antisémitisme sudiste reste une question débattue : de nombreux officiers confédérés étaient juifs, les juifs sont arrivés très tôt dans le sud (dès le XVIe siècle) et le lynchage de Leo Frank est le seul concernant un juif dans toute l’histoire des États-Unis que ce soit au Sud ou au Nord, ce fut le premier et le dernier aussi. Plusieurs mois après le procès, avant le lynchage, les journaux d’Atlanta firent circuler une pétition appuyant la commutation de la peine déposée auprès du gouverneur ; ils reçurent des milliers de soutiens de gens du pays. L’historien américain, d’origine juive, Leonard Dinnersein met l’accent sur la situation sociale explosive d’Atlanta dans les années 1910 sur fond de misère et de violence extraordinaire (en 1906 Atlanta est le lieu de très violentes émeutes) : une population très pauvre, avec un très haut taux de criminalité, et une injustice sociale quasi-permanente (Mary Phagan est l’exemple du travail d’enfant sous-payé), une misère intellectuelle également où l’illettrisme mène à une manipulation facile des foules. Wikipedia
It is significant that … a disproportionate number of white civil rights activists were [Jewish] as well. Jewish agencies engaged with their African American counterparts in a more sustained and fundamental way than did other white groups largely because their constituents and their understanding of Jewish values and Jewish self-interest pushed them in that direction. Greenberg
(Black-Jewish cooperation) is downplayed by Blacks because they focus on the astonishingly rapid entry of most Jews into the middle and upper middle classes during this brief period – an entry that has spawned … resentment from a quickly growing black impoverished class. Jews, on the other hand, tend to romanticize this period because their present status as upper middle dogs and some top dogs in American society unsettles their historic self-image as progressives with a compassion for the underdog. Cornel West
Jews will not comprehend what the symbolic predicament and literal plight of Palestinans in Israel means to blacks…. Blacks often perceive the Jewish defense of the state of Israel as a second instance of naked group interest, and, again, an abandonment of substantive moral deliberation. Cornel West
It is more than a little revealing that whites who travelled south in 1964 referred to their sojourn as their ‘Mississippi summer’. It is as if all the efforts of the local blacks for voter registration and the desegregation of public facilities had not even existed until white help arrived… Of course, this was done with benign intentions, as if to say ‘we have come in answer to your calls for assistance’. The problem was … the condescending tone…. For Jewish liberals, the great memory of that summer has been the deaths of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and – almost as an afterthought – James Chaney. Indeed, Chaney’s name tends to be listed last, as if the life he lost was worth only three fifths of the others. Andrew Hacker
It is deeply disappointing that so many Detroit leaders are apparently so willing to turn a blind eye to Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. Where are the voices in our community who are willing to stand up and say ‘no’ to racism and anti-Semitism? Heidi Budaj (regional director of the Michigan branch of the Anti-Defamation League)
At Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, Farrakhan railed Friday night against what he called “Satanic Jews” and the “Synagogue of Satan,” which he said controlled major institutions in the U.S. He also alleged that President Barack Obama “surrounded himself with Satan … members of the Jewish community.” Attending Farrakhan’s speech were the pastor of the church, Rev. Wendell Anthony, who heads the Detroit Branch NAACP; U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Detroit; Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, and other religious and political leaders. Detroit Free press
Over the years Jews have also expressed empathy (capability to share and understand another’s emotion and feelings) with the plight of Blacks. In the early 20th century, Jewish newspapers drew parallels between the Black movement out of the South and the Jews’ escape from Egypt, pointing out that both Blacks and Jews lived in ghettos, and calling anti-Black riots in the South « pogroms ». Stressing the similarities rather than the differences between the Jewish and Black experience in America, Jewish leaders emphasized the idea that both groups would benefit the more America moved toward a society of merit, free of religious, ethnic and racial restrictions. The American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League were central to the campaign against racial prejudice. Jews made substantial financial contributions to many civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Urban League, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. About 50 percent of the civil rights attorneys in the South during the 1960s were Jews, as were over 50 percent of the Whites who went to Mississippi in 1964 to challenge Jim Crow Laws. »as many as 90 percent of the civil rights lawyers in Missis­sippi were Jewish. PBS

Après le « creuset« , Superman, Hollywood ou les chants de Noël… les droits civiques !

Au lendemain d’une énième déclaration antisémite du leader suprémaciste noir et fondateur de la Nation of Islam (et inspiration cachée de notre Dieudonné national) Louis Farrakan contre les « juifs satanistes » et la « Synagogue de Satan » …

Retour derrière l’histoire mouvementée des relations entre les juifs et les noirs aux Etats-Unis …

Entre empathie plus ou moins condescendante des artistes (Gerschwin et son Porgy and Bess ou Abel Meerpol, l’auteur du célèbre « Strange fruit » de Billie Holiday et père adoptif des enfants des espions communistes Rosenberg) et intellectuels du nord (dont certains le paieront de leur vie: les deux jeunes activistes Andrew Goodman et Michael Schwerner immortalisés par Rockwell), marchands de sommeil du nord, commerçants du sud inquiets pour leurs commerces (avec raison, voir le lynchage – sur témoignage d’un noir s’il vous plait – du chef d’entreprise Leo Frank en pleine convention démocrate !) ou rabbins et avocats (certes une poignée dont le fameux théologien Abraham Joshua Heschel) qui marcheront aux côtés de Martin Luther King  ou contribueront à la création de tant d’associations de défense des droits civiques ou de syndicats (NAACP, Urban League, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Amal­gamated Clothing Workers) …

Et, plus récemment, déclarations antisémites de toute une série de leaders noirs (de Farrakhan à  Sharpton ou au propre pasteur de vingt ans du président Obama lui-même), l’affaire Allan Blakke contre les dérives de l’ « affirmative action » ou les tristement célèbres émeutes du quartier noir de Crown Heights de Brooklyn de 1991 contre les juifs orthodoxes (avec le lynchage d’un étudiant juif, Yankel Rosenbaum) ou celles de Harlem contre un commerçant juif en 1995 (8 morts en majorité hispaniques) à chaque fois attisées par le révérend Sharpton …

Sur ces sionistes qui, des prophètes bibliques aux rabbins et avocats des marches pour l’égalité raciale des Etats-Unis des années 60 ont même inventé les droits civiques !

Les Blacks contre les Jews?

De Martin Luther King à Louis Farrakhan : un processus irréversible ? Hier, Juifs et Noirs luttaient côte à côte ; aujourd’hui, il semble qu’un abîme les sépare

 L’Arche N° 498-499

Septembre 1999

Choses vues à Crown Heights « La communauté noire doit s’affirmer, par tous les moyens s’il le faut » par notre envoyé spécial Olivier Guez

« Les événements d’août 1991 sont encore gravés dans ma mémoire », raconte Joseph Spielman, résident du quartier de Crown Heights à Brooklyn, où vivent Juifs orthodoxes et Afro-Américains. « Tout a commencé quand une voiture conduite par un Juif hassidique a percuté et tué un petit garçon noir, âgé de sept ans, Gavin Cato. Les témoins se sont alors jetés sur le conducteur et l’ont battu. Puis une foule de plus en plus nombreuse s’est réunie et a commencé à crier « mort aux Juifs ». Un étudiant hassidique, Yankel Rosenbaum, fut poignardé ; il mourut de ses blessures quelques heures plus tard à l’hôpital. Des émeutes, dans une véritable atmosphère de pogrom, se sont poursuivies pendant trois jours. Des jets de pierre, des cocktails Molotov, des batailles de rues… On n’avait jamais vu ça. »

Il ne s’agit pas d’un incident isolé. Louis Farrakhan et ses hommes du mouvement extrémiste noir Nation of Islam font souvent les gros titres de la presse américaine pour leurs propos antisémites. Ils utilisent la vieille rengaine de la « conspiration juive » pour expliquer les problèmes sociaux de la communauté noire. Les membres du mouvement font régulièrement le tour des campus universitaires afin de dénoncer « la mainmise sur Hollywood des producteurs juifs qui ne donnent qu’une image dégradante des Blacks », « les médecins juifs qui injectent le virus du sida dans les veines de leurs patients noirs », etc. Nation of Islam a édité un livre intitulé La relation secrète entre Juifs et Noirs, qui accuse les Juifs d’avoir été les principaux responsables et les grands bénéficiaires du commerce d’esclaves. Certains professeurs d’université afro-américains enseignent à leurs étudiants ces falsifications historiques.

« Ne vous laissez pas abuser par ces extrémistes ou par l’incident de Crown Heights. Il est faux de conclure que les 36 millions de Noirs vivant aux Etats-Unis sont tous antisémites à cause d’une minorité d’activistes surmédiatisés », explique Manning Marable, professeur d’histoire afro-américaine à l’Université de Columbia, New York. Il poursuit : « Les rapports entre les communautés juive et noire aux Etats-Unis sont extrêmement complexes. C’est une histoire de hauts et de bas, de rapprochement et d’éloignement. Evitez de tirer des conclusions trop hâtives en la matière. »

Les premiers contacts entre les dirigeants des deux communautés ont lieu à la fin des années 20. Le professeur Marable décrit ainsi le contexte historique : « Jusqu’à cette date, chaque communauté se préoccupe de ses propres problèmes, chacune vote pour le parti qui semble le plus à même d’améliorer ses piètres conditions de vie. Ces deux peuples parias souffrent chacun de son côté. Les Noirs combattent le lynchage dans les Etats du Sud et la ségrégation dans la plus grande part du pays. Ils votent essentiellement pour les Républicains. Quant aux Juifs, dont la majorité viennent de débarquer d’Europe centrale et orientale, ils essaient de s’intégrer à la société américaine des grandes villes du nord-est et d’améliorer leur situation matérielle. Ils votent généralement démocrate. Mais la majorité blanche anglo-saxonne oppose une grande résistance aux tentatives d’émancipation des deux communautés. C’est cette situation qui provoque au départ le rapprochement d’un petit groupe d’intellectuels et de juristes. »

Le New Deal de Franklin Roosevelt est le véritable catalyseur de la « grande alliance » judéo-afro-américaine, qui perdure jusqu’au milieu des années 60. Les deux communautés sont désormais dans le camp démocrate et mettent au point un programme politique commun : lutte pour les droits civiques (droit de vote, écoles et universités ouvertes à tous, non-discrimination pour les logements et dans les emplois…) et pour une plus grande participation des minorités à l’économie du pays. Les atrocités de la guerre les unissent encore un peu plus dans la lutte contre le racisme.

Cette époque voit l’apogée de leur coopération. Noirs et Juifs sont à l’avant-garde des mouvements progressistes et modernistes aux Etats-Unis.

Mais dès le milieu des années 60 cette belle entente connaît ses premiers soubresauts, pour se désagréger au début de la décennie suivante. Selon Peter Noel, journaliste au Village Voice de New York et grand spécialiste de la question noire aux Etats-Unis, plusieurs facteurs expliquent ce divorce. « A l’époque, les mouvements d’émancipation afro-américains se sont fortement radicalisés. Sous l’influence de Malcolm X, ces organisations ont rejeté l’idée d’une large communauté inter-raciale pour privilégier une approche purement ethnocentrique. L’intégration au melting pot américain n’est plus le but recherché. Le mouvement pour les droits civiques de Martin Luther King est décrié : la stratégie de non-violence est jugée inefficace, trop molle. La communauté noire doit s’affirmer, par tous les moyens s’il le faut. » C’est l’époque du Black Power, des Black Panthers, des émeutes et des révoltes. « Black is beautiful », proclament les activistes. Au cinéma, les héros noirs et musclés de Shaft ou de Superfly, films phares de la Blaxploitation du début des années 70, n’ont plus rien à voir avec la mine policée et les costumes étriqués de Sydney Poitier, quelques années plus tôt.

Cette radicalisation provoque évidemment des réactions dans la communauté juive. Il est de plus en plus difficile, même pour les Juifs les plus « libéraux » (progressistes, dirions-nous en Europe), de trouver un programme commun avec leurs anciens partenaires. Emerge alors un courant « néo-conservateur » juif, autour d’un petit groupe d’intellectuels new-yorkais comme Laqueur, Glazer ou Podhoretz. Ces anciens hommes de gauche constatent l’échec d’une entreprise qui aurait dû créer une Amérique « sans couleurs » et qui, finalement, n’a fait que renforcer les particularismes ethniques de chaque communauté. Ils dénoncent également l’antisémitisme politique violent du Black Power et se battent pour protéger le « libéralisme » que la société américaine a hérité du New Deal. Les visions divergent : les organisations juives n’ont désormais plus aucun intérêt à coopérer avec la plupart de leurs homologues afro-américaines. C’est le clash…•

Voir aussi:

Jews in the Civil Rights Movement

Working to extend America’s freedoms.

Howard Sachar

My Jewish Learning

Reprinted with permission from A History of Jews in America, published by Vintage Books.

Nowhere did Jews identify themselves more forth­rightly with the liberal avant-garde than in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It was an uneven identification. For Jews living in the South, the issue of racial integration posed unsettling questions. They constituted barely one percent of the region’s total population. Among their white neighbors, they had long been accepted as « honorary white Protestants. »

Even Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi was prepared to draw distinctions between Northern Jews and « good » Southern Jews. The latter were circumspect, in any case, unprepared to question the South’s social order.civil rights memorial

But in 1954 that social order was challenged head-on. It was then that the United States Supreme Court rendered its judgment in Brown v. Board of Education, striking down racial segregation in public schools. Within the next dozen years, as a series of federal laws and court orders shattered every legal support of racial segregation, Southern Jews faced an agony of indecision. A very small number responded by joining the ardent segregationists. They were entirely atypical of Jews even in the Deepest South.

Black-Jewish Relations in the South

As far back as the 19th century, Jewish storekeepers were virtually the only Southern merchants who addressed black customers as « Mr. » and « Mrs. » and permitted them to try on clothing. By the early 20th century, a few Southern Jews even ventured to speak out against the evils of white supremacy. In 1929, Louis Isaac Jaffe, editorial writer for the Norfolk Virginia-Pilot won the Pulitzer Prize for his denunciation of lynching and the reactionary Harry Byrd political machine.

Julius Rosenwald chairman of Sears Roebuck, contributed more generously in behalf of Southern blacks than did any philanthropist in American history. Rosenwald was Chicagoan, but his munificence was continued by his daughter, Edith Stern of New Orleans, whose Stern Family Fund in later years contributed vast sums to civil rights activities in the South. It was known, too, that Southern Jews privately tended to be more liberal on the race issue than Southern gentiles, and often quietly provided manpower and funds for civil rights causes.

Yet, away from large, modern cities like Atlanta and New Orleans, Southern Jews felt obliged to walk a narrow line. Most were merchants, dependent on the good will of their neighbors. In the Deep South, if they hesitated to join White Citizens Councils, they felt the pressure immediately. « The money dried up at the banks and loans were called in, » recalled a Jewish storekeeper « If you had a restau­rant, linen was not picked up. If you owned a store, the local police could play havoc with you on the fire laws. »

Low Profile

Most local Jews then tended to adopt a low profile on the race issue. At the express wish of their congregations, a majority of Southern rabbis similarly agreed to be restrained. No more than six or seven of them in the entire South worked openly to promote the cause of civil rights. But, of these, Rabbi Julian Feibelman of New Orleans opened the doors of his Temple Sinai in 1949 for a lecture by Ralph Bunche, the black United Nations ambassador, permitting the first major integrated audience in New Orleans history.

At the height of the anti-integration effort, in 1957, Rabbi Ira Sanders of Little Rock testified before the Arkansas Senate against pending segregationist bills. Rabbi Perry Nussbaum of Jack­son, Mississippi, also courageously lent his support to the integration effort, as did Rabbis Jacob Rothschild of Atlanta, Emmet Frank of Alexandria, and Charles Mantingand of Birmingham. Yet these men stood well ahead of their constituencies.

If Southern Jews believed that a low profile would permit them to continue living peacefully, they were wrong. Klan groups exploited the integration crisis to launch acts of anti-Semitic violence. In one year, from November 1957 through October 1958, temples and other Jewish communal edifices were bombed in Atlanta, Nashville, Jack­sonville, and Miami, and undetonated dynamite was found under synagogues in Birmingham, Charlotte, and Gastonia, North Carolina. Some rabbis received telephone death threats.

No one was injured, and local and state authorities in every instance joined newspapers and communal leaders in condemning the outrages and in tracking down, prosecuting, and convicting the perpetrators. Much of the South was urbanizing and modernizing, after all. But an older residue of folkloristic suspicion evidently survived even against veteran, local Jews.

Northern Jews

More than any other factor, it was the participation of Northern Jews in the Civil Rights movement that tapped that residue. These were the people, it is recalled, who were the earliest supporters of the fledg­ling National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 1914, Professor Emeritus Joel Spingarn of Columbia University be­came chairman of the NAACP and recruited for its board such Jewish leaders as Jacob Schiff, Jacob Billikopf, and Rabbi Stephen Wise.

Jews also were the earliest supporters of the Urban League, founded in New York in 1911 to help newly arrived black migrants from the rural South. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the Amal­gamated Clothing Workers took the lead in organizing « our black brothers » for union membership (over the opposition of the American Federation of Labor national board). And, in the climactic civil rights drives of the 1950s and 1960s, Jewish participation was all but overwhelming.

In the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling itself, the Supreme Court accepted the research of the black sociologist Kenneth Clark that segregation placed the stamp of inferi­ority on black children. Clark’s study had been commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, and it appeared in the amicus curiae brief the Committee submitted to the court. The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress also submitted amicus curiae briefs in behalf of the cause. Once the judgment was issued, these Jewish defense organizations continued to file legal briefs in civil rights cases dealing with housing, employment, education, and public accommodation. Many local and state desegregation regula­tions actually were drafted in the offices of the Jewish agencies.

Individual Heroes

Jewish participation in the Civil Rights movement far transcended institutional associations. One black leader in Mississippi es­timated that, in the 1960s, the critical decade of the voting-registration drives, « as many as 90 percent of the civil rights lawyers in Missis­sippi were Jewish. » Large numbers of them were recent graduates of Ivy League law schools. They worked around the clock analyzing wel­fare standards, the bail system, arrest procedures, justice-of-the-peace rulings. Racing from one Southern town to another, they obtained parade permits and issued complaints on jail beatings and intimida­tion.

Jews similarly made up at least 30 percent of the white volunteers who rode freedom buses to the South, registered blacks, and picketed segregated establishments. Among them were several dozen Reform rabbis who marched among the demonstrators in Selma and Birming­ham. A number were arrested. Others were taken into custody for attempting to desegregate a swimming pool in St. Augustine, Florida. One of the demonstrating rabbis, Arthur Lelyveld, was severely beaten in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A young physician, Edward Sachar, vol­unteering his medical services to the freedom marchers, nearly lost his life as his automobile was forced off a Mississippi back road by local rednecks.

Two young New Yorkers, Michael Schwerner and An­drew Goodman, served in 1964 as voting-registration volunteers in Meridian, Mississippi. One of their coworkers was a young black Mississippian, James Cheney. Together they were waylaid and mur­dered by Klansmen, their bodies dumped in a secret grave. As much as any single factor, it was the nationwide attention given the discov­ery of their corpses that accelerated passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Jews had long since achieved their own political and economic breakthrough. Rarely had any community gone to such lengths to share its painfully achieved status with others.

Howard M. Sachar is the author of numerous books, including A History of Israel, A History of the Jews in America, Farewell Espana, Israel and Europe, and A History of Jews in the Modern World. He is also the editor of the 39-volume The Rise of Israel: A Documentary History. He serves as Professor of Modern History at George Washington University.

Voir également:

Snapshot: How One Torah Made Its Way to Dr. King’s March on Selma (VIDEO)

Jspace

1/20/2013

In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote to Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, conveying to the Jewish leader an idea he had for a march. King was planning an unprecedented demonstration, bringing hundreds, maybe thousands, on a walk from Montgomery to Selma.

Dr. King was fighting for voting rights for the black community, and he needed the rabbi’s help.

“The segregationists and racists,” King once said, “make no fine distinction between the Negro and the Jew.”

What resulted would go down in history as one of the greatest civil rights moments of all time. Rabbi Eisendrath did indeed participate, as did other spiritual leaders from all factions, political figures, and everyday volunteers.

Rabbi Eisendrath, executive director and president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations until 1973, was joined on the march by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a widely read Jewish theologian.

The pair has been immortalized in an iconic photo from the Selma march, in which Rabbi Eisendrath, clutching a Torah, can be seen standing between Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel.

Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement was not a coincidence. The Religious Action Center, the outreach arm of the Reform Movement in the US, was established five decades ago, its aim then as it is now social advocacy. And that advocacy extends outside the Jewish circle.

In the ‘60s, the RAC was paramount in pushing for legislation to promote black rights, and its headquarters in DC saw many groundbreaking moments take place. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, securing the black community the right to vote, were both drafted at the RAC’s library in Washington.

A persecuted community themselves, and often a minority wherever they went, the Jewish people have long supported the ideals Dr. King put forward in his work and his legacy.

As Rabbi Heschel said upon completing that revolutionary walk in 1965, “When I marched in Selma, it felt like my legs were praying.”

Voir encore:

Black-Jewish Relations

PBS

 The segregationists and racists make no fine distinction between the Negro and the Jew. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The story of Black-Jewish relations in the United States is a long and complex one…. Jews were among those who worked to establish the NAACP in 1909. African-American newspapers were among the first in the U.S. to denounce Nazism…. FROM SWASTIKA TO JIM CROW creates hope and reminds us of a time in U.S. history when the two communities came together.

– David Horowitz, Washington Review

In the year 2001, the tension between Blacks and Jews remains a visible symbol of America’s racial divide. The history of this relationship is a tumultuous one, ironically full of ugly twists and turns interspersed with moments of real human transcendence.

Shared Empathy

Since the time of slavery, Blacks have in some ways identified with the Jewish experience. They compared their situation in the American South to that of the Jews in Egypt, as expressed in Black spirituals such as « Go Down, Moses. » The longing for their own exodus inspired the popularity of « Zion » in the names of many Black churches. Black nationalists used the Zionist movement as a model for their own Back-to-Africa movement.

Over the years Jews have also expressed empathy with the plight of Blacks. In the early 1900s, Jewish newspapers drew parallels between the Black movement out of the South and the Jews’ escape from Egypt, pointing out that both Blacks and Jews lived in ghettos, and calling anti-Black riots in the South « pogroms ». Stressing the similarities rather than the differences between the Jewish and Black experience in America, Jewish leaders emphasized the idea that both groups would benefit the more America moved toward a society of merit, free of religious, ethnic and racial restrictions.

From the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, Blacks and Jews marched arm-in-arm. In 1909, W.E.B. Dubois, Julius Rosenthal, Lillian Wald, Rabbi Emil G. Hirsch, Stephen Wise and Henry Malkewitz formed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). One year later other prominent Jewish and Black leaders created the Urban League. Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington worked together in 1912 to improve the educational system for Blacks in the South.

Thus, in the 1930s and ’40s when Jewish refugee professors arrived at Southern Black Colleges, there was a history of overt empathy between Blacks and Jews, and the possibility of truly effective collaboration. Professor Ernst Borinski organized dinners at which Blacks and Whites would have to sit next to each other – a simple yet revolutionary act. Black students empathized with the cruelty these scholars had endured in Europe and trusted them more than other Whites. In fact, often Black students – as well as members of the Southern White community – saw these refugees as « some kind of colored folk. »

The unique relationship that developed between these teachers and their students was in some ways a microcosm of what was beginning to happen in other parts of the United States. The American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League were central to the campaign against racial prejudice. Jews made substantial financial contributions to many civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Urban League, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. About 50 percent of the civil rights attorneys in the South during the 1960s were Jews, as were over 50 percent of the Whites who went to Mississippi in 1964 to challenge Jim Crow Laws.

Black Power and Division

With the late 1960s came the birth of the Black Power movement, emphasizing self-determination, self-defense tactics and racial pride, and representing a radical break from the nonviolence and racial integration espoused by the Reverend Martin Luther King. The separatist rise of Black nationalism was just one of the difficulties facing the Black-Jewish alliance since the end of the Civil Rights movement. The rapid decline of American anti-Semitism since 1945, combined with the nation’s continuing pervasive racism, convinced Blacks there was an insurmountable racial gulf separating the two groups. Blacks no longer perceived the division as one between the persecutors and their victims – including Jews – but between those with white skin and those with black. Through the eyes of Blacks, Jews became Whites with all the privileges their skin color won them, regardless of alliances they had in the past.

As early as the first two decades after World War II, James Baldwin, Kenneth Clark and other Blacks encouraged liberal Jews to give up the « special relationship. » This came in part from a fear that the Jews’ determined belief in their bond with Blacks would eventually become offensive and, paradoxically, provoke Black anti-Semitism. The prospect of this shift was incomprehensible to Jews who believed that their own history, culminating in the Holocaust, defined them as oppressed and thus incapable of being the oppressor. And yet, as Baldwin pointed out in Georgia has the Negro and Harlem has the Jew, each time a Black person paid his Jewish landlord, shopped at a Jewish-owned store, was taught by a Jewish school teacher, was supervised by a Jewish social worker, or was paid by a Jewish employer, the fact of Black subservience to Jews was driven home.

Jews continued to call for the maintenance of a Black-Jewish alliance despite the socioeconomic differences between the two groups. Positions hardened around such divisive issues as affirmative action in the schools, Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, the Crown Heights/Harlem riots and the Million Man March – all exacerbated by the use of stereotypes in sensationalized media coverage.

Hatred and Misunderstanding

In 1991, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, a car driven by an Lubavitch Jew spun out of control onto a sidewalk, killing one Black child and injuring another. As angry Black residents beat the car’s driver, the privately run Jewish Hatzolah ambulance arrived and workers began attending to the child pinned under the car. When a New York city ambulance arrived, the technician instructed the Hatzolah driver to remove the Lubavitch driver from the escalating scene and take him to the hospital. Black onlookers were infuriated and rumors of the Jew being aided first flew through the neighborhood. The streets filled with shouts of « Get the Jews! » and that night, a mob of 10 to 15 angry Black teens and men fatally stabbed a young Orthodox Holocaust researcher.

For three days Jewish residents of Crown Heights and reporters were beaten, cars overturned and set afire, and stores looted and firebombed by angered Black residents. Finally hundreds of police officers in riot gear restored a relative calm. The state’s official investigation into the riots found that city authorities and police failed to respond appropriately. Lubavitchers say this was an experience few have forgotten.

That same year, an anonymous group of African Americans associated with the Reverend Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam published The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews, detailing the involvement of Jews in the Atlantic slave trade and Pan-American slavery. Though Jewish historians had already produced a significant body of scholarship on the subject, the information had never appeared in a publication written for a non-scholarly audience. The book caused quite a furor because none of its data was placed in any context that would indicate its broader historical significance. The role of Jews in the enslavement of Blacks was exaggerated – not with misinformation but through calculated misrepresentation.

Over the years Farrakhan has angered Jews, Catholics, gays, feminists and others with various slurs, including his description of Judaism as a « gutter religion » and Jewish landlords as « bloodsuckers. » In 1995, Farrakhan spoke for over two hours to over 400,000 listeners at the Million Man March. Many believe that was more the result of a desperate need for leadership than a widespread anti-Jewish feeling. « It’s not about Farrakhan, » said one marcher. « [It’s about] Black men uniting for a cause. »

« Once again, sons and daughters of slavery and Holocaust survivors are bound together with a shared agenda, bound by their hopes and their fears about national public policy. »

– Jesse Jackson

« [The election debacle is] an opportunity for Jews and Blacks to come back together. »

– Rabbi Steven Jacobs

Coming Together?

In Palm Beach, Florida after the November 2000 presidential election, the Reverend Jesse Jackson asked that Jews and Blacks unite as they did in the Civil Rights Era – this time to push for an accurate vote count in the presidential race.

American History has taught Blacks and Jews two very different lessons. In the Jewish experience of the U.S., education and hard work eventually pay off and thus the future is full of possibility. Blacks, however, face a legacy of three and a half centuries of racism on American soil and the irrefutable sense that something more than dedication is required. Currently there exist huge disparities between Jews and Blacks in terms of crime, family breakdown, drug addiction, alcoholism and educational achievements. The « culture of poverty » that exists in today’s inner city is incomparable to anything in the American Jewish experience.

Voir de plus:

The REAL Al Sharpton: Incitement of the 1991 Crown Heights Pogrom

Jeff Dunetz

The Lid

March 27, 2012

Al Sharpton is a user. He exploits tragedy to get headlines for himself. It’s what he is doing in the Trayvon Martin Case–it’s what he has done his entire career. Though this story has been told before, I thought it appropriate to reexamine some the exploitative handiwork of this Reverend who has long forgotten the golden rule, a purveyor of hatred who is given a place of honor as a civil rights leader by the mainstream media and by the President of the United States.

Twenty-one years ago a tragic car accident in Crown Heights Brooklyn escalated into a pogrom against the Jewish people, thanks in part to this faux-preacher.

The media gives this pogrom a politically correct description, violence between the area’s Blacks and Jews. They ignore the fact that the violence was not two-sided. The Crown Heights riot was an attack on the Jews by the neighborhood’s Caribbean community.

Black Antisemitism in the Summer of 1991

Jews were a key part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s—when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous march to Selma Alabama, he walked hand in hand with many Jews including Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Along with the Jews was a contingent of Torahs to emphasize that the quest for Civil Rights was a holy mission for the Jewish people.

In spite of the strong Jewish participation in the civil rights movement the transformation from the peaceful marches to Black power movement introduced considerable friction into African American-Jewish relations, especially within the “Black Muslim” movement.

During the 1970s and 1980s African-Americans stopped looking at Jews as their allies but as their oppressors. The Jews were seen as having the political power that the African-Americans desired. Black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan, and Jesse Jackson went public with anti-Semitic comments.

Adding to the hatred were the leaders of the South African anti-Apartheid movement who traveled throughout the United States as conquering heroes, and spreading Jew-hatred. For example, in 1984 Desmond Tutu publicly complained about American Jews having “an arrogance—the arrogance of power because Jews are a powerful lobby in this land and all kinds of people woo their support.

Understandably Jewish/Black relations were already rocky as NY City entered the summer of 1991.

On July 20, 1991, Leonard Jeffries of City College who had a history of anti-Semitic slurs presented a two-hour long speech claiming “rich Jews » financed the slave trade, Jews control the film industry (together with Italian mafia), and use that control to paint a brutal stereotype of blacks. Jeffries also attacked Diane Ravitch, (Assistant Secretary of Education) calling her a « sophisticated Texas Jew, » « a debonair racist » and « Miss Daisy.”

Jeffries’ speech received enormous negative press during the first weeks of August especially from the leaders of the Jewish community who wanted Jeffries fired for the bigotry.

With each new criticism of the professor, leaders in the African-American community rushed to Jeffries’ defense. NYC’s two black newspapers as well as black radio station WLIB; joined activists such Al Sharpton, Colin Moore, C. Vernon Mason, Sonny Carson, and Lenora Fulani to showcase their approval of Jeffries’s “scholarship” and to denounce the people who criticized Jeffries Antisemitism as race baiting.

Serial race-baiter Al Sharpton is credited with saying, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house » as a response to the Crown Heights riot. That is a fallacy; he made that threatening comment to the Jewish community about the growing Jeffries controversy on August 18th the day before the riots began. Clearly something bad was coming.

Jeffries was fired because of his bigoted speech and pressure from the Jewish community (he was later reinstated and won a court case surrounding his firing) leading to further resentment of the Jews from a Black community already being barraged with anti-Jewish incitement from the African-American media.

Crown Heights Ignites

On Monday 8/19/91 a station wagon driven by Yosef Lifsh, hit another car and bounced onto the sidewalk at 8:21 p.m. The station wagon was part of a 3-car motorcade carrying the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson. The Rebbe was in a different car.

The station wagon struck two black children, 7-year-old cousins Gavin and Angela Cato who were on the sidewalk. Lifsh immediately got out of his car and tried to help the children gathering crowd started to attack him.

Within minutes, an ambulance from the Hasidic-run ambulance service, and two from the city’s Emergency Medical Service arrived. Also the gathering crowd became unruly. The police who showed up radioed for backup reporting the station wagon’s driver and passengers were being assaulted. Police officer Nona Capace ordered the Hasidic ambulance to remove the battered Yosef Lifsh, and his passenger from the scene.

The injured children went by separate city ambulances to Kings County Hospital. Gavin Cato was pronounced dead; his cousin survived.

A rumor began to spread that the Hasidic ambulance crew had ignored the dying black child in favor of treating the Jewish men. Ignoring the commandment about bearing false witness, Sharpton used this falsehood to incite the crowd. Other rumors sprang up Lifsh was intoxicated (breath alcohol test administered by the police proved his sobriety). More falsehoods circulated; Lifsh did not have a valid driver’s license; he went through a red light; the police prevented people including Gavin Cato’s father, from assisting in the rescue.

Charles Price, an area resident who had come to the scene of the accident, incited the masses with claims that, « The Jews get everything they want. They’re killing our children. » Price later pled guilty for inciting the crowd to murder Yankel Rosenbaum.

Ignited by the falsehoods, resentment exploded into violence. Groups of young black men threw rocks, bottles and debris at police, residents and homes.

According to the New York Times, more than 250 neighborhood residents went on a rampage that first night, mostly black teenagers, many of whom were shouting « Jews! Jews! Jews! »

Three hours after the tragic crash, 29-year-old Australian Jewish scholar Yankel Rosenbaum was attacked by a gang of Black teens. He was stabbed four times. Cops quickly arrested Lemrick Nelson, who was identified by Rosenbaum as his attacker. Rosenbaum’s wounds were not fatal he was expected to recover; Mayor Dinkins visited Rosenbaum at the hospital. Yankel died at 2:30am Tuesday because the hospital staff missed one of his knife wounds.

The next evening, according to the sworn testimony of Efraim Lipkind, a former Hasidic resident of Crown Heights, Sharpton started agitating the crowd.

“Then we had a famous man, Al Sharpton, who came down, and he said Tuesday night, kill the Jews, two times. I heard him, and he started to lead a charge across the street to Utica.”

With each passing hour the violence worsened, Jewish leaders began to desperately complain about the lack of protection to the authorities. They said, the rioters were being allowed to rampage unchecked, too little force was being brought to bear, and too few arrests were being made. Area Jews felt the police were under orders by the City’s first black mayor to hold back, that the police were not allowed to fight against the Black rioters, who continued to grow bolder in their anti-Semitic attack as they sensed the appeasement.

The fact is New York City Mayor David Dinkins responded to the riot immediately by deploying 2,000 police officers and making a personal visit to the troubled neighborhood under a hail of rocks and epithets hurled at him by fellow blacks.

Dinkins has spoken of his own mishandling of the riots. Admitting he “screwed up Crown Heights”

“I regret not saying to the police brass sooner whatever you guys are doing is not working” it was then they altered their behavior and they were able to contain the ravaging young blacks who were attacking Jews … I will forever be accused of holding back the police and permitted blacks to attack Jews, however that did not happen it is just inaccurate”

In all, the street violence against the Crown Heights Jews lasted three days/four nights starting with the evening of the accident. On Thursday evening, cops finally restored order, although sporadic violence against Jews continued for weeks after the riot was contained.

Yankel Rosenbaum wasn’t the only person murdered by the rioters. On September 5th, Italian-American, Anthony Graziosi, was dragged out of his car, brutally beaten and stabbed to death because his full beard and dark clothing caused him to be mistaken for a Hasidic Jew.

During the funeral of Gavin Cato on August 26th, Al Sharpton gave an anti-Semitic eulogy, which fueled the fires of hatred.

“The world will tell us he was killed by accident. Yes, it was a social accident. … It’s an accident to allow an apartheid ambulance service in the middle of Crown Heights. … Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. … All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no kaffe klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’. Pay for your deeds. »

Regarding the Mayor’s call for peace Sharpton pontificated:

« They don’t want peace, they want quiet. »

Sharpton and the lawyer representing the Cato family counseled them not to cooperate with authorities in the investigation and demanded a special prosecutor be named.

Sharpton was asked about the violence, he justified it,

“We must not reprimand our children for outrage, when it is the outrage that was put in them by an oppressive system, » he said.

The first Sabbath after the Funeral Sharpton tried unsuccessfully to kick up tensions again by marching 400 protesters in front of the Lubavitch of Crown Heights shouting “No Justice, No Peace. »

Sharpton called for the arrest of Lifsh, the driver of the station wagon. Even though more than twenty similarly accidental vehicular deaths had occurred in Brooklyn since 1989 without a single arrest several involving local Hasidim run down by blacks. The agitator’s pressure led Charles Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, into convening a grand jury.

When the investigation of the accident did not produce a criminal indictment against Yosef Lifsh, Al Sharpton encouraged the Cato family to seek big-bucks damages in a civil suit against Lifsh (who had since fled to Israel for his own safety). Sharpton announced that he would personally serve papers on Yosef Lifsh in Israel. He bought tickets and hopped an El-Al flight on the weekend of Yom Kippur. At Ben Gurion Airport, a woman spotted Sharpton hailing a cab and yelled to him, « Go to hell! “I am in hell already, » shot back. « I am in Israel. »

The Aftermath

Sharpton abandoned the Caribbean people of Crown Heights as soon as the anti-Semitic violence had died down. His entire participation in the violence may have been a calculated effort to usurp Jesse Jackson as the leading spokesman for African-Americans. Jackson may have had his “Hymie-town” but Sharpton’s incitement against those Jews who he perceived as having the political power that African Americans deserved, went much further than simply words like Jackson.

Sadly had Sharpton not exploited the death of Gavin Cato for his own “resume”, what was by all accounts, a disorganized group of ruffians on the first night of the riot, might well have dissipated the morning after the accident.

The media portrayed the Crown Heights riot as two-sided promoting the myth that both blacks and Jews were equal in their violence. The violence was a one-sided rampage waged by some of the neighborhood’s 180,000 strong black majority against a Jewish minority of 20,000.

Maybe the media continues to sugarcoat the riot because it was unprecedented in American history. For liberals it’s impossible to perceive blacks as purveyors of bigotry they are forever in the role of victims of hate.

The Crown Heights riot occurred just five months after the infamous Rodney King beating, a disgusting act of police brutality against the African American King which was video-taped and repeated on TV ad nauseum.

After the King case, who could believe that blacks in America could ever take over the role of racists, but that is what happened in Crown Heights. Even today the deaths of Gavin Cato and Yankel Rosenbaum are viewed as some sort of a » tit for tat. » This is a misrepresentation of the facts. Cato’s death was the result of a horrible accident; on the other hand, Rosenbaum was deliberately stabbed four times by an angry mob. Anthony Graziosi’s death has been forgotten perhaps because his death would break some cynical equality of fatality.

Many in the Jewish community felt Mayor Dinkins was complacent in the violence, holding back the police from protecting the Jewish community, but there has never been evidence offered proving that charge.

A more likely explanation for the lack of protection offered to the Hasidic community is a perfect storm of incompetence. An incompetent Police Commissioner Lee Brown was being managed by an incompetent Mayor.

Nevertheless the pogrom dealt a death blow to Dinkins’ mayoral career. Ironically it was the fact that Jews had voted for him in overwhelming numbers that gave him a narrow victory over Rudy Giuliani in 1989. Those same Jews switched sides, giving Giuliani the win against Dinkins in 1993.

To this day, the media refuses to acknowledge that African-Americans can be racists just as much as Caucasians and Antisemitism is still ignored by the media. News networks invite anti-Semitic representatives of CAIR or former CIA agent Michael Scheuer to participate on their programs as experts, but these same “experts” contend that American Jews run the media and the Government. Huffington Post regularly allows Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg on their front page where he too uses anti-Semitic stereotypes.

As for Al Sharpton, he went on to lead a second pogrom, this time against a Jewish-owned business in Harlem. I suppose it was his experience in leading two anti-Semitic pogroms that gave Sharpton the expertise he needed to be an adviser to the first « post-racial « President, Barack Obama and the latest evening anchor for MSNBC. It has certainly gave him the inspiration to exploit other tragedies such as the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

Sharpton’s rise to respectability proves how little has been learned from the Crown Heights anti-Jewish violence which took place twenty years ago.

Voir encore:

When Al Sharpton Incited a Massacre at Freddy’s Fashion Mart

Jeff Dunetz

The Lid

March 28, 2012

Angelina Marrero . . . Cynthia Martinez . . . Luz Ramos . . . Mayra Rentas . . . Olga Garcia . . . Garnette Ramautar . . . Kareem Brunner their names will forever be remembered as the seven victims of the massacre at Freddy’s Fashion Mart. Their deaths can be traced to the racial incitement of one man.. the faux Reverend Al Sharpton.

It all started as a rent dispute in the summer of 1995:

The United House of Prayer, a large African-American church was also a major landlord in Harlem. They raised the rent Freddy’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned clothing store which had operated from the same Harlem location for over 40 years. In turn Freddy’s had to raise the rent on its sub-tenant, a black-owned record store. A landlord-tenant dispute ensued. As he has done so often in his life, Al Sharpton turned this non-racial economic dispute into a racial conflict.

The Sharpton-led protests began in August and came to a head on the morning of Friday, December 8th when Roland James Smith, Jr., who had been part of the Sharpton’s protests, walked into Freddy’s Fashion Mart, pulled out a gun, ordered all the black customers to leave, spilled paint thinner on several bins of clothing and set them on fire — a fire that resulted in killing 7 people plus Smith. The only African American left in the story was Freddy’s security guard Kareem Brunner, 22-years-old, who was ordered to stay by the mass murderer Smith.

At the time the faux-preacher claimed he wasn’t involved in the protests, he was only there to mediate. He also claimed there was no Antisemitism involved in the protests, but he has been proven to be a liar.

Soon after the massacre, the Jewish Action Alliance, a New York-based civil-rights group, released audiotapes of several of Sharpton’s weekly radio show in which Morris Powell, leader of the 125th Street Vendor’s Association, can be heard using racial and anti-Semitic language to encourage Harlem residents to boycott Freddy’s. Learning from his Crown Heights experience Sharpton let others push the anti-Semitic hatred but it was all done on his show.

« We are going to see that this cracker suffers, » Powell is heard telling a crowd in one broadcast on Aug. 19.

« Reverend Sharpton is on it. We have made contact with these crackers. We don’t expect a lot out of them. They haven’t seen how we feel about anything yet. We are going to show them. »

He also said

They think they gonna drive this man out of business, they gotta be out of their minds. We are not gonna stand idly by and let a Jewish person come in Black Harlem and methodically drive black people out of business up and down 125th Street. If we stand for that, we’ll stand for anything. Which we’ve been doing.

At a rally was recorded on Sept. 9, Mr. Sharpton is heard telling a crowd:

« I want to make it clear to the radio audience and to you here that we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business on 125th Street.

Ironically Sharpton was the interloper, he was living in Hollis Queens at around the time Freddy’s opened in Harlem and living in New Jersey when Freddy’s was burned down. When other white-owned businesses fled the neighborhood as the population became more African-American, Fred Harari the owner of Freddy’s continued to serve the neighborhood.

On an October 21st broadcast Norman « Granddad » Reide said:

I am saying to the Jewish community and specifically to Abraham Foxman, that you come out and utter a word, accusatory remark against Reverend Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Donna Wilson, Reverend Shields, or Gary Byrd, we will boycott you and nobody loves money any more than the Jewish people. Thank you.

In court papers filed the day before the fire, Harari and two employees described weeks of protests outside the clothing store in which demonstrators threatened employees, hurled obscenities at « bloodsucking Jews » and talked of burning down the store.

Aftermath

Sharpton, the professional bigot criticized NYPD investigators for quickly linking the fire to the protesters. But the police evidence and the tapes from the Jewish Alliance proved him to be a liar. After first telling the press « What’s wrong with calling someone a white interloper? » he apologized for using that term. He never apologized for the Jew-hatred broadcast on his radio shows and spoken at the rallies he helped to organize. He continues to deny that the rallies had anything to do with the firebombing

Of course Sharpton never apologized for Tawana Brawley or slandering DA Pagones by with the unfounded charge that Pagones was the rapist,

“I did what I believed….They are asking me to grovel. They want black children to say they forced a black man coming out of the hard-core ghetto to his knees….Once you begin bending, it’s ‘did you bend today?’ or ‘I missed the apology, say it again.’ Once you start compromising, you lose respect for yourself.”

..nor did he apologize for saying the « Central Park Jogger » was raped by her boyfriend and leading demonstrations calling the woman who was raped and beaten to within a hair of death a whore…

…and he certainly never apologized for the anti-Semitic Pogrom he led at Crown Heights.

Al Sharpton is a Baptist Minister who regularly breaks the ninth commandment, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, he has incited riots which have lead to the deaths of innocents. A real preacher would not have incited violence but called for peace. A real preacher would have waited for the truth before he incited and a real preacher would have apologized when he wrongly accused people…none of which Al Sharpton has done.

Sharpton’s real business isn’t preaching, his real business is being a professional agitator. In the end just like a TV detergent, Al Sharpton is selling a product…Al Sharpton. And he has been rewarded for his efforts with an undeserved halo of respectability by the press, by MSNBC, and by the President of the United States.

As you read, watch or hear the news reports about Sharpton’s protests with the Trayvon Martin family, understand this context. Sharpton couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Travyon, his grieving family or improving the lives of African Americans in this country. He is only concerned with selling his product.

Voir aussi:

Farrakhan In His Own Words

RULE On Jews

“Now you know I’m going to be lambasted and called anti-Semitic… They’ll say Farrakhan was up to his old canards; he said Jews control Hollywood. Well, they said it themselves! Jews control the media. They said it themselves! Jews and some gentiles control the banking industry, international banks. They do! In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?”

Holy Day of Atonement Keynote Address, Part 2, Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois 10/21/12

Farrakhan: How many of you are lawyers? Only have one in the house? No wonder we go to jail so much, brother! But at the top of the law profession, who are the top in law?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: Sorry I didn’t hear you.

Audience: Jews!

Farrakhan: Any doctors in the house? Ain’t got no doctors? Oh there’s one way in the back. At the top of the medical profession, the top in that are members of the Jewish community. Anybody in media? Who’s the top in that field?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: Anybody a rapper in the house? There’s rappers. You can rap, ain’t nothing wrong with that, but at the top of that are those that control the industry. Any of you have Hollywood ambitions, Broadway ambitions? Who’s the top of that?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: Same people! They’re masters in business. Well I’m not a businessman I’m a banker. Well who’s the master of the bankers?

Audience: Jews.

Farrakhan: TALK TO ME!

Audience: Jews!

Farrakhan: You don’t discredit them because they’re masters, you discredit them by the way they use their mastery.

Audience: [applause]

Farrakhan: Now, I close.

« All is Vanity » sermon at Mosque Maryam, Chicago 7/1/12

“White Christians, [you saw the plight of blacks] but what did you do? You walked right by on the other side. Then along came the Jewish people. You did a little better. You came and looked at us: ‘damn they’re in bad shape! Let’s see how we can take advantage of the shape that they’re in.’”

« Guidance in a Time of Trouble » speech in San Diego, 5/27/12

“Do you know Jewish people were not the origin of Hollywood, but they took it over? ”

Saviours’ Day, Chicago, Illinois, 2/26/12

“In 100 years, they control movies, television, recording, publishing, commerce, radio, they own it all. Magazines. Why do you want all, everything?”

Saviours’ Day, Chicago, Illinois, 2/26/12

“Did you know that the Koran says that Jews are the most violent of people. I didn’t write it, but I’m living to see it.”

Saviours’ Day, Chicago, Illinois, 2/26/12

“I think we have made a grave mistake; we have been deceived into thinking that the Jews have been our allies in our recent civil rights struggle… Yes, he poses as your friend. He’s with you as an agent, he’s with you as a manager, he’s with you as an investor, he’s with you as a guide in economic development, but he has never asked you to do what he has done. He networks with other rich, influential Jews and he buys, he invests, he’s in trade and commerce.”

Interview with Washington, DC, radio station WPFW-FM, 4/1/10

“Some of you think that I’m just somebody who’s got something out for the Jewish people. You’re stupid. Do you think I would waste my time if I did not think it was important for you to know Satan? My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again.”

Saviours’ Day, Rosemont, Illinois, 2/27/11

“If the white race is under the name Israel, where did the name Jew come from? Adam never said he was a Jew. Abraham didn’t say he was a Jew. Moses didn’t say he was a Jew. The name Jew comes after Judah. Hebrew is different. The original Hebrews look just like you. The original Hebrews are Black.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/3/10

“How did we get a Black president? Because those Satanic Jews know the time that this is the time of your separation from them that God wants to give you a land of your own as the cornerstone of the Kingdom of GodÉ You didn’t see when they got in the room and said Ôwe have to deceive them and through them deceive the entire world’É How could they be the chosen of God and leading the world into filth and indecency?”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/3/10

“You can’t do nothing in Hollywood unless you go by them. You a hip-hop artist? You can’t do nothing, you gotta go by them. You want to be a great sports figure? They own that plantationÉ Children of Israel, they got you jumping through hoops.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/3/10

“They stole land in PalestineÉ And this Synagogue of Satan knows that the end of their time of rule is up. The jig is up.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/3/10

“If they go to war with Iran, which they’re setting the stage for now, it’ll be because the Zionists have pushed Obama to do their bidding andÉ to put a black face on an illegitimate war and use black and brown and poor white to fight a war for the Ashkenazi false Jews that have come out of Europe. These same people started apartheid in Africa. The same Jews are guilty of Jim Crow and the laws that segregated us and they’re the same forces that are in Palestine right now telling Palestinians in their own land what roads they can travel on and what they’re not free to travel on.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/3/10

“White people, although they hated us, are not the architects of white supremacy. That started in Europe and it is here in America and we document the architecture of white supremacy in this volume, Volume 2 The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews.”

Interview on the Michael Eric Dyson show, 8/23/10

“This thing called anti-Semitism this is what I want to deal with, so that never again when somebody is critical of Israeli policy or Jewish misbehavior that all of a sudden we are called anti-Semitic. I will prove to the world that those who even use the term are not Semitic at all.”

Interview on the Michael Eric Dyson show, 8/23/10

“I know that by singling out not all Jews, but those specific irreligious Jews that the scripture calls the Synagogue of Satan, those who use their power to influence people away from the way of God, making evil fair-seeming to them … these irreligious Jews who claim they are Jews and they are not. They blaspheme the name of a Jew; a Jew is a good name. There’s deception here and the deceiver and the deception has to be exposed.”

Interview on the Michael Eric Dyson show, 8/23/10

“We could charge you with being the most virulent anti-Black group in the annals of our history. I didn’t say we would, I said we could. I used the conditional tense. I said we could charge you with being the most deceitful person acting, playing with our friend while you have been our worst enemy.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/11/10

“These who call us anti-Semitic are not Semitic at all. They have no connection whatsoever to the Holy Land. They are usurpers, land grabbers.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/11/10

“You are of the Synagogue of Satan and therefore will be dealt with by God.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/11/10

“Now, Jews are very sensitive people. If you even look like you’re gonna criticize them they get very defensive. And you could say they’re defensive because of what they suffered in Europe. That may be one reason. But the main reason is, see when somebody has lied, and stolen your birthright, the one thing they fear is not your guns, because they got some bigger. They don’t fear your so-called scholarship ‘cause they arranged your education. And they never taught you anything that would allow you to upset their rule. But what they fear most is the truth.”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/11/10

“I’ve asked [the Jewish people], ‘since your people put ours in this condition, why don’t you help me raise our people up from the degraded state that your people have put them in.’”

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/11/10

ÒTo all of those who feel that the children of Israel are over in that place they call Israel, you are mistaken.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒOther than the Bible there is no historical record of anybody names Jews in bondage in Egypt in 400 yearsÉ you have to keep your eyes open for the game that may be put over on you by a smart crooked deceiver. Now there’s no historical record of their suffering in bondage like thatÑnow they were freed from a bondage alrightÑbut that was in the hills and cave sides of Europe.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒThese people have no legitimate connection to that land. They didn’t come into existence in the Holy Land.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒJewish people claim Abraham. Sorry. Sorry. I have to tell you the masquerade is over.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒDo you know that in Europe in every nation where they were, they led an industry in commerce in trade in banking? And the gentiles were angry with them because everywhere they went, they ruled. So the gentiles rose up against the Jews and persecuted them in Europe.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒWhen they came to America they went into the South and there they found common ground with the gentiles who hated black people, because that same Babylonian Talmud, the rabbis developed the myth of Ham. That you and I are the children of Ham, cursed, black, doomedÉ So when they got in the South they just fueled the gentiles with the curse of Ham and that has spread throughout the world. It has poisoned the bloodstream of Islam, of Christianity, of Judaism, of Communism, of Socialism.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒI’m here to tell you no black man or woman becomes a multimillionaire without friendship in the Jewish communityÉ. Did you know that nearly all prominent Negro actors and musicians have or had Jewish sponsors and managers? ÉThey have a way of attaching themselves to your gifts, but you get nothing. They get it all.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒAnd do you know that when our brother was elected, Jewish people wrote, as Bill Clinton was the first Black president, Barack Obama would be the first Jewish president. Now that’s a terrible thing to say but they were telling you, Ôwe own the brother.’ His early money came from Goldman Sachs. He was nurtured by Jews who saw in him his brilliance. He’s a beautiful human being. And they knew that as brilliant as he was, they could use him to trick black people away from the promise of God.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒHe’s president now and he’s upsetting them. Because all the Jewish presidents met him in the Oval Office and told him to go easy on Israel and settlements in the West Bank. And because he was strong out of Israel they started calling him what they been calling me: an anti-Semite.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒA lecture like this has put me in deep trouble with those forces that run this world. I have never been more prepared in my life to do what it takes, even if it’s the loss of my life, to free you. But I can tell you, they killed their last prophet when they killed Jesus.Ó

Speech in Atlanta, 6/26/10

ÒSince he’s been in office, [Obama] surrounded himself [with] certain very powerful elementsÑZionistsÑwithin the Jewish community; and has brought around him as Ôadvisers’ some of those from Goldman Sachs, who advised him about this bailout money. Our brother, now, is disappointing to some aspects of that community, and that is the beginning of the end. Because, when they’re disappointed with you, the force that they have, the power that they have, the influence that they have is gradually turned against you if you don’t submit.Ó

Interview with Chicago radio station WVON radio,3/24/10

« The Black man and woman have always been looked upon as the ‘property’ of White America; and particularly, members of the Jewish community. They’ve always looked at you as ‘belonging’ to them. »

Speech at Mosque Maryam,Chicago, 3/7/10

« The Jewish people have said that Hollywood is theirs. Can any of you deny that they are the masters of Hollywood, where sex, lesbianism, homosexuality and violence are promoted? »

Speech at Mosque Maryam,Chicago, 3/7/10

« Who owns the recording companies? People who call themselves ‘Jews,’ but they are not Jews; they are masqueradingÉ And the so-called Jews who run those record companiesÉ they use you, and they’ve sent you all over the world degrading the culture of other nations with your filth and debauchery. »

Speech at Mosque Maryam,Chicago, 3/7/10

« It was Hollywood whose first movie, what was the first movie? Ð ‘The Birth of a Nation.’ How did it portray us? And how has Hollywood portrayed us? And who were the Hollywood moguls who portrayed us like that? Am I anti-Semitic or are they anti-black? »

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/26/09

« There were members of the Jewish community that helped to start NAACP but they were watchmen over how that organization developed, to keep it in a certain line. »

Speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 7/26/09

« Do you know some of these satanic Jews have taken over BET?… Everything that we built, they have. The mind of Satan now is running the record industry, movie industry and television. And they make us look like we’re the murders; we look like we’re the gangsters, but we’re punk stuff. »

« Justifiable Homicide: Black Youth in Peril (Part 3) » speech at Mosque Maryam, 11/11/07

« The real anti-Semites are those who came out of Europe and settled in Palestine, and now they call themselves the true Jews, when in fact, they converted to Judaism. »

Al Jazeera TV interview, 3/18/07

« These false Jews promote the filth of Hollywood that is seeding the American people and the people of the world and bringing you down in moral strengthÉIt’s the wicked Jews the false Jews that are promoting Lesbianism, homosexuality. It’s wicked Jews, false Jews that make it a crime for you to preach the word of God, then they call you homophobic! »

Saviours’ Day, Chicago, Illinois, 2/26/06

« I’m not an anti-Semite, I never have been one. I do not hate the Jewish people; put that down! What I hate is the degree of control that they exercise over Black intellectual, cultural expression. I do not think that no human being should determine how high we can go, that can only be determined by God and by us; not by no white man, no black man, no human being [crowd cheers]. »

Millions More Movement rally, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8/31/05

« Now the thinking of these neoconservatives is written of in scripture. In the book of Revelations, 2 and 9, it reads, ‘I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan.’ What is the blasphemy? A Jew is a noble name. A Jew means one who is in a covenant relationship with God in obedience to the divine laws, statues and commandments of God. But these people claim to be Jews but they’re not in obedience to God’s law, they have given a mission of evil a divine look on it. And George W. Bush has swallowed that bait, hook line and sinker. The synagogue of Satan is a gathering of persons of like mind and spirit who are in opposition to the will of God. So Paul said we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers that are not of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.

National Press Club, Washington, D.C., 5/3/2004

« Dewey, Kant and Hegel, and the rabbis that wrote the Talmud, make blacks inferior. » Ê

National Black Agenda Convention, Boston, 3/18/04

« I call them the so-called Jews because to be a Jew you have to adhere to the statutes and laws that create the special relationship. How can you be a Jew and promote homosexual marriage? » Ê

National Black Agenda Convention, Boston, 3/18/04

« See, you so called Jews Ð I’m not gonna give you the credit for being one of those that obey God. You portrayed us, you know what images do, that’s why you jumped on Mel Gibson. But you painted us, big lips, red eyes, kinky hair, you put in the movies like that. You mocked our characteristics and made us to hate God’s creation of us. You did that. Hollywood did that.You take our strongest, more courageous black minds, you think we don’t see you? And you put us in Hollywood. You give us television shows, and then we gotta bug our eyes. » Ê

Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/29/04

« You don’t mention the horror of our suffering. Here’s whyÉit’s because of something called the Hamitic curse. Now I know that this is kinda rough. But according to the Babylonian scholars, writers of the Talmud, not the Torah, but Talmud. Now I want you to listenÉ.Look at this now, the Hamitic curse was written off in the Talmud 400 years after the birth of Jesus. And the way they wrote it was, I got to find the exact words, ’cause it’s really powerfulÉ.Oh, Lord, let me find it. I’m gonna take my time. Oh boy, well I’m gonna say it, in the Talmud they talk abut because he looked at Noah in that condition and marked the redness of his eyes, the turning of his head made these kinks in his hair, the thickness of his lips Ð that’s our features. We were black and cursed.

Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/29/04

« But what you have in the Bible has been added to and taken away from by the Jews. Oh here goes this anti-Semite.’ This Koran says that the Jews have altered the word of God out of its place. They did not want the masters of the people to know what Jesus really said, what Moses really said, because then you wouldn’t have a yardstick to measure their deviations. »

–« What is Islam?, » speech at Mosque Maryam,

Chicago, 11/23/03

« What had they done to deserve such a harsh judgment from God? Those who are Jews and those who are Christians, those who believe in Allah on the last day, they have their reward from their Lord. There are beautiful members of the Jewish community who are trying their utmost to follow the law and the teachings of Moses and the prophets that God sent to Israel. But there’s another Jew who is not really a Jew. He is an imposter posing as Jew. In the Bible, in the book of Revelations [it] saysÉ ‘Those who say they are Jews and are not, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan.’ Who are the masters of Hollywood, how could you be a righteous Jew and promote that which is forbidden by the God of Israel? Come on now. How could you be a righteous Jew and publish the filth that is published daily feeding the minds of the American people and the people of the world filth and indecency, and making it fair seeming in their eye? »

« What is Islam?, » speech at Mosque Maryam,

Chicago, 11/23/03

« We know that the most powerful people in the country, many of whom are Jews, don’t like Farrakhan. »

What is Islam?, » speech at Mosque Maryam,

Chicago, 11/23/03

« Even though the Koran says and the prophet Mohammed predicted that the Mahdi would come, somebody would come as a guide. Why? Because his own community had lost the path that he had put them on. Christians, you have lost the path that Jesus put you on. And the Jewish or Hebrew community lost the path that Moses and the prophets of Israel put the Jewish people on. We’re off that path. »

–8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/16/03

« When Jesus was preaching, his enemies were the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, He was preaching in the Roman Empire, and the people wanted to trap him for the Roman authorities. But under the Roman authorities were the Jewish religious authorities. They were wrapped in the law. But they were wrapped in the letter, but not in the spirit. Jesus was more than a man of the letter, Jesus was a man of the spirit. But he said, ‘I didn’t come to change the law. I came to fulfill that which was written in the law.’ There’s a whole lot difference between a man that gives the law and a man who fulfills what is written in the lawÉ He did something that they thought was contrary to the law. And sometimes when you’re a religious hypocrite, you use your knowledge of the law to hide a self-righteous hypocrisy. »

8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, 10/16/03

« See how you can see Jesus in ancient Rome. See how you can use or see the rabbinical scholars, the Levites, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and their attack on the master? É See how Pontius Pilate washed his hands of the matter? See how they [the Jews] brought him into court on false charges? See how they plotted to crucify him? And it’s easy to sing about what was. It’s difficult to believe that what was, is. The Rome of yesterday is nothing to the America of today. »

8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/16/03

« You say I hate Jews. I don’t hate the Jewish people, I never have. But there [are] some things I don’t like. ‘What is it you don’t like, Farrakhan?’ I don’t like the way you leech on us. See a leech is somebody that sucks your blood, takes from you and don’t give you a damn thing. See, I don’t like that kind of arrangement. You become our manager, you become our agent. Every one of us that got talent, we can’t make it because you opened the door, and when you opened the door you get and we end up dead with nothing, owing the IRS. »

8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/16/03

« So from that point on, when I said that, the next day, in New York, a rabbi was on television calling me the new black Hitler. Now what is that? You are so used to black people cowing down that you’re not used to a man talking to another man? So you’re gonna call me Hitler, a man who had nothing in his heart but the murder of Jews. You’re gonna put that on me, so that any of your children will feel that it’s an honor for me to be dead. And then some of them come out where I’m speaking, said, ‘Who do you want, Farrakhan! How do you want him? Dead.’ Did you think we were gonna take that crap sitting down? Do you want to ignite revolution all over America? Is that what you want? Do you want the anger of God? So what I’m saying to my Christian friends-there has not been a black leader in America locked in a struggle with the Jewish community but Louis Farrakhan. Now open your eyes. Name me one. When it comes to someone being a black anti-Semite who do they single out, who is made the litmus test when you go to work and they ask you what do you think about Farrakhan? They ain’t asking you a damn thing about nobody else. Why me? Did you ever stop to consider who are the scribes. The Latin word, scribo, meaning ‘I write.’ For 18 years they have written against me, more than any black leader before or since. The scribes, who are these Pharisees? See, who are they, who are these guys? They call themselves Muslims. But they’re not true. That’s what they said about Jesus. He wasn’t true. Because you felt he went outside of the law. »

8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/16/03

« I’m not into integration. I ain’t for that. God told the Jews, he didn’t want you intermarrying with others. But you disobeyed him. He don’t want us uniting into this that he’s come to judgeÉ You can’t integrate with wickedness if you want righteousness. »

8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/16/03

« You can go to Palestine, called Israel today, you can see Sodom, you can see Gomorrah, ain’t nothing built there. God hadn’t let anything be built there to show you his displeasure against homosexual behavior. Now the church says it’s all right. I was an Episcopalian before I was a Muslim, and I liked my church. I can’t remember anybody in the church, if they were gay they were hiding that. They were sure acting like men, you know what I mean. »

8th Anniversary The Holy Day of Atonement speech at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, 10/16/03

« I don’t hate Jews. I honor and respect those who try to live according to the teachings of the Torah, but you can’t criticize Jewish people. If you criticize them you are anti-Semitic. If you don’t agree with what they are doing, you are anti-Semitic. The Bible says, Revelations, those who say they are Jews and are not, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan. I don’t hear you preaching that full Gospel. You are afraid of consequences. But no man can say he’s a Jew and promote homosexuality. No man can say he’s a Jew and promote that which is against the commandments of God. No man can say he’s a Jew and run the despicable, degenerate movies. The filth and degenerate language. »

Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/23/03

Farrakhan on past anti-Semitic remarks:

« I can never apologize for telling the truth… I can apologize for the manner of telling the truth. »

BET Tonight with Travis Smiley, 9/11/00-9/12/00

Farrakhan on Sen. Joseph Lieberman:

« Mr. Lieberman, as an orthodox Jew, is also a dual citizen of Israel. »

Los Angeles Times, 8/12/00

Farrakhan: « Is the Federal Reserve owned by the government? »

Audience: « No. »

Farrakhan: « Who owns the federal reserve? »

Audience: « Jews. »

Farrakhan: « The same year they set up the IRS, they set up the FBI. And the same year they set up the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rithÉ It could be a coincidenceÉ [I want] to see black intellectuals freeÉ I want to see them not controlled by members of the Jewish community. »

Dallas Observer on-line, 8/10/00

Farrakhan on Jewish control:

Farrakhan said that he is fighting the « inordinate control » some Jews have over Blacks, particularly in entertainment and business.

Associated Press, 7/31/00

« They [the Jews] are the greatest controllers of Black minds, Black intelligence. They write the scripts — the foolish scripts on television that our people portray. They are the movie moguls that feature us in these silly, degrading, degenerate roles. The great recording companies that portray our people in such a filthy and low-rating way, yet they would not allow such a man as Michael Jackson to say one word that they thought would besmirch their reputation, but they put us before the world as clowns and as purveyors of filth. No, I will fight that. »

Meet The Press interview, 10/18/98

« Of course, they [the Jews] have a very small number of people but they are the most powerful in the world, they have the power to do good and they have the power to do evil…Now what do the Jews do best? Well, they have been the best in finance that the world has ever known…They finance a lot of stuff in the world, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they are not good politicians, they are the worst politicians because they don’t recognize really their friends and as well their enemies… »

Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/22/98

« I believe that for the small numbers of Jewish people in the United States, they exercise a tremendous amount of influence on the affairs of government…Yes, they exercise extraordinary control, and Black people will never be free in this country until they are free of that kind of control… »

Meet The Press interview, 4/14/97

« To continue to point out the truth of that control and how that control never will allow us to be full and completely men, free, justified, and equal. Why should we be controlled by the power, influence, and money of others? We should not be under that kind of control…going to Jewish philanthropists, begging them for money to support our causes, and through that money, there is control, and that kind of control limits the freedom of our people to speak freely, write freely, think freely, and act as free men… »

Meet The Press interview, 4/14/97

« And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you. »

Saviours’ Day Speech, Chicago, 2/25/96

« I don’t own Hollywood. Who depicted Black people? Who writes the books? Who writes the plays, the songs that make us look less than human? Do you mean to tell me that Jews have never done any evil to Black people?…Were they not involved in the slave trade? Yes, they were…and to the extent that they were involved, somebody has to bring them to account. And I believe that has fallen on me. »

Interview with New York Amsterdam News, 1/8/94

Voir par ailleurs:

‘Strange’ Evolution of Legendary Song

Jewish Composer Penned Tune Made Famous by Billie Holiday

Harold Heft

Forward

March 27, 2012

January marked the 75th anniversary of the original publication of “Bitter Fruit.” The poem evolved into the song “Strange Fruit,” which was made famous by jazz legend Billie Holiday and was named best song of the century by Time magazine in 1999. But its author and composer, Abel Meeropol, is largely forgotten today.

“Strange Fruit” was nothing short of revolutionary for its time. Shortly after publishing the poem, Meeropol set it to music. Several artists performed the song live before he introduced it to Holiday in 1939, at New York’s famed Café Society. In an era dominated by saccharine torch songs, “Strange Fruit” was a scathing indictment of race-related violence in America; no less unusual because it was delivered by an unrepentantly defiant African-American songstress. The story that is still not properly understood is how it originated from the imagination of a Jewish schoolteacher from New York.

Meeropol was born in 1903 to Russian Jewish immigrants. He completed his studies at City College of New York and Harvard University before taking a job in 1926 teaching English at his alma mater, Dewitt Clinton High School in New York. Meeropol became active as a writer and as a member of the Communist Party during that time. Many of his early songs were contributions to leftist arts organizations and theater companies in the 1930s. He published many of his works under the pseudonym Lewis Allan, believed to be an amalgam of the names that he and his wife, Anne, intended for their two stillborn children.

In addition to “Strange Fruit,” Meeropol penned other hit songs, including “The House That I Live In,” made famous by Frank Sinatra, and Peggy Lee’s hit “Apples, Peaches and Cherries.” He and Anne are also known today as the adoptive parents of two children, Michael and Robert, who were orphaned when their birth parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were accused of stealing atomic secrets for the Soviet Union and executed.

The poem “Bitter Fruit” was first published in the union journal The New York Teacher, though it is widely and incorrectly believed to have been published in the Marxist publication The New Masses. According to Robert Meeropol, the political anthem was inspired by a photo of the 1930 lynching of two Indiana African-American men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith:

Southern trees bear strange fruit,

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Robert recalled: “[My father] was a ferocious anti-racist. He once wrote: ‘I wrote Strange Fruit because I hate lynching… and I hate the people who perpetuate it.’”

Those sentiments, and Meeropol’s anti-racist orientation, were deeply rooted in his Jewish identity, said Michael Meeropol. Abel Meeropol even wrote of the intersection in a short poem, entitled “I Am a Jew,” that recurs in several works throughout his oeuvre:

I am a Jew,

How can I tell?

The Negro lynched

Reminds me well

I am a Jew.

Like most of Meeropol’s life and work, “Strange Fruit” was unabashedly political in its ambition. Scholar Nancy Kovaleff Baker notes that, after two failed attempts in Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill (in 1919–22 and in 1934–36), copies of the song were circulated to 96 senators “accompanied by a letter urging passage of the bill so that treatment of minorities at home would not diminish American influence abroad.”

The song and its anti-lynching message even got swept up in the anti-Communist fever of McCarthyism. Michael Meeropol recalled: “When Josh White was called by the House Un-American Activities Commission, he was grilled about singing such an ‘anti-American’ song — and he agreed that it would be inappropriate to sing it abroad.” Later, his father was summoned before the Rapp-Coudert Committee, a New York State version of HUAC. “He was asked if the Communist Party had told him to write ‘Strange Fruit,’” Michael explained.

In the few years following Time magazine naming “Strange Fruit” the best song of the century, interest in the song peaked. In 2001, David Margolick published the book “Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song,” which focused largely on the song’s importance in Holiday’s career and on how it intersected with her descent into addiction and self-destruction. Margolick’s book was followed a year later by Joel Katz’s documentary “Strange Fruit,” and by Baker’s article “Abel Meeropol (a.k.a. Lewis Allan): Political Commentator and Social Conscience,” which provides a scholarly examination of Meeropol’s archives.

Holiday herself is largely responsible for Meeropol’s reputation not surviving with the song’s. In her ghostwritten autobiography, “Lady Sings the Blues,” Holiday took credit for writing the music, saying that the “germ of the song was in a poem written by Lewis Allen [sic]” and that he “suggested that Sonny White, who had been my accompanist, and I turn it into music.”

Although Meeropol petitioned to have this falsehood corrected in subsequent printings of the autobiography, the myth of “Strange Fruit” as Holiday’s composition persists. Robert Meeropol said that “Billie Holiday’s false claim to have set his poem to music clouded [Abel’s] feelings about the life of the song. He took legal action and got her to admit that the claim in her ghostwritten autobiography was wrong, but the myth Billie created survived her.” Michael Meeropol added, “Our father always shook his head and noted that Ms. Holiday was ‘a sick woman.’ He meant a drug addict, but perhaps was being delicate for our ‘young’ ears.”

But, even if he’s largely forgotten today, his legacy shows us that one chilling motif can wake the slumbering masses and spark change. “Strange Fruit” continues to be recorded by such superstars as Sting, Tori Amos and Cassandra Wilson. And last year, Meeropol’s name was added to the American National Tree — an exhibit at the National Constitution Center, commemorating “100 Americans whose actions have helped write the story of the Constitution” — ensuring the survival of his legacy.

Harold Heft has taught Literature and Cinema at the University of Western Ontario and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is executive vice-president of philanthropy and communications at the North York General Hospital Foundation.

Voir de même:

Civil Rights Memorial History

Southern Poverty law center

Morris Dees called out the names to his audience: Emmett Till, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo ….

It was 1988, and the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center was speaking at an NAACP meeting following the SPLC’s $7 million verdict against the United Klans of America. The case, which stemmed from the lynching of a black teen in Mobile, Ala., would mark the end of a Klan group responsible for some of the most heinous murders of the civil rights era.

During his speech, Dees recited the names of activists and others murdered by white supremacists during the civil rights movement.

Afterward, a young member of the audience approached him and asked about the people he had named.

Who were they?

Others wanted to know, too.

People gathered around Dees as he gave an impromptu history lesson. Driving home that night, he decided that the SPLC should build a monument to the martyrs of the movement so their sacrifices would never be forgotten.

Montgomery, Ala., the city known both as the birthplace of the civil rights movement and the first capitol of the Confederacy, would become home to the nation’s first memorial to the martyrs of the civil rights movement.

Maya Lin, creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was commissioned to design the monument. Lin found her inspiration in the words « until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream, » a paraphrase from the Book of Amos that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used in his « I Have a Dream » speech and at the start of the Montgomery bus boycott.

« The minute I hit that quote I knew that the whole piece had to be about water, » Lin said. « I realized that I wanted to create a time line: a chronological listing of the Movement’s major events and its individual deaths, which together would show how people’s lives influenced history and how their deaths made things better. »

The SPLC researched deaths during the era considered to be the modern-day civil rights movement – from May 17, 1954, the day the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed school segregation, until April 4, 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Selected were victims who fit at least one of three criteria: They were murdered because they were active in the movement; they were killed as acts of terror aimed at intimidating blacks and civil rights activists; or, their deaths, like that of Emmett Till, helped galvanize the movement by demonstrating the brutality faced by African Americans in the South.

The research yielded 40 names. They ranged in age from 11 to 66. Eight were white, and 32 were black. They came from all walks of life – students, farmers, ministers, truck drivers, a homemaker and a Nobel laureate.

“Each name is a history lesson, and we are saying, don’t just think of the deaths, but think of a movement of ordinary people who just got tired of injustice,” Dees told The New York Times in 1989.

Their names were inscribed on a circular, black granite table that chronicles the history of the movement in lines that radiate like the hands of a clock. Lin left a blank space between the first and last entries on the memorial timeline – to signify that the struggle for human rights began well before 1954 and continues to this day.

Water emerges from the table’s center and flows smoothly over the top. Behind it, water cascades over a curved black granite wall. Engraved on the wall are words from the Bible’s Book of Amos that King paraphrased on several occasions: “…until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Civil Rights Memorial from above

The Dedication

Six thousand people gathered in Montgomery on Nov. 5, 1989, to witness the dedication of the memorial, situated just around the corner from the historic Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. King helped launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.

The SPLC’s first president, Julian Bond, spoke of the martyrs’ sacrifices but also reminded the crowd they had not gathered in sorrow.

“(The martyrs) gave an equal measure of devotion so that all of us might be free,” said Bond, who remains an SPLC board member. “Buried with each is a bit of American apartheid, for their deaths kept the movement marching on. That is why we honor them today not in sorrow, but in celebration.”

Julian Bond with school children at Civil Rights Memorial

Relatives of the martyrs filled the crowd, representing 39 of the 40 names. Several were among the speakers: Rita Schwerner Bender, widow of Michael Schwerner; Mamie Till Mobley, mother of Emmett Till; Chris McNair, father of Birmingham bombing victim Denise McNair; and Myrlie Evers, widow of Medgar Evers. Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy, was also present.

“Poetry in granite,” was how Carolyn Goodman described the memorial to the Associated Press in 1989. Her son, Andrew Goodman, who was shot to death during Freedom Summer in 1964, is included among the martyrs.

“Nobody who sees it cannot feel that it’s a moving, moving piece of art,” Goodman said. “It brings that period so vividly alive that you can almost relive it.”

The sentiment was echoed by Mobley, who described in her autobiography the experience of touching her son’s name on the Memorial.

“It was like touching my son. Like reliving his funeral,” she wrote in Death of Innocence. “But, as I told people there, it also filled me with such joy to see Emmett honored, to see him included among the martyrs of the movement.”

An ‘instrument of justice’

The research conducted for the Civil Rights Memorial went beyond preserving the stories of slain martyrs; it helped revive decades-old civil rights cold cases. At the time of the dedication, most of the family members in attendance still waited for justice for the killing of their loved one. Since the dedication, authorities in several Southern states have re-examined these killings, leading to arrests and convictions in several of the murders documented on the memorial.

The stories of the martyrs were compiled by the SPLC and published in the book Free at Last to provide accounts of the crimes – in many cases still unsolved – that were fading from memory.

For one Mississippi journalist, the book became a guide as he dedicated his career to investigating civil rights-era cold cases. The research, including files on 75 other suspicious deaths of the era, also has been used by a special FBI unit dedicated to solving cold cases from the era.

“The Memorial stands as a reminder that the martyrs’ killers walked free, even though everyone knew they were guilty,” said Jerry Mitchell, an investigative reporter at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss. “After it was dedicated in 1989, it transformed into an instrument of justice.”

Free at Last was a rich resource for Mitchell – “my road map on my journey into reinvestigating these cases,” he said.

Mitchell’s extensive reporting has led to several successful prosecutions of civil rights cold cases.

A teaching tool

Each year, more than 20,000 visitors from around the world visit the memorial.

Civil rights activists from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America have found inspiration at the site. Others have included the memorial as a poignant part of their vacation or family reunion. Students of all ages visit to learn about the movement. And since 1998, the Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage has brought nearly 150 members of Congress to the memorial as part of an annual tour of historic civil rights sites.

Buddhist Monk visits Civil Rights Memorial

In 2005, the SPLC added the Civil Rights Memorial Center, further transforming the site into more than a commemoration of the past. The visitor center, housed in the SPLC’s former office, includes interactive exhibits and a powerful 20-minute film – “Faces in the Water” – about the martyrs and the movement.

It also recognizes current struggles for equality and offers visitors an opportunity to pledge their commitment to justice and equality by adding their name to the Wall of Tolerance. It is another example of how the memorial and visitor’s center have become a sacred site and a powerful teaching tool for all who visit. It keeps alive the dreams of those who died during the civil rights movement and inspires those who still dream of a better world – fulfilling the vision Dees and the SPLC hoped to achieve with a memorial dedicated to those who died for social justice.

Civil Rights Memorial Dedication Speech

Julian Bond’s 1989 dedication speech.

Voir aussi:

Strange Fruit: the first great protest song
Billie Holiday’s 1939 song about racist lynchings stunned audiences and redefined popular music. In an extract from 33 Revolutions Per Minute, his history of protest songs, Dorian Lynskey explores the chilling power of Strange Fruit

Dorian Lynskey

The Guardian

16 February 2011

It is a clear, fresh New York night in March 1939. You’re on a date and you’ve decided to investigate a new club in a former speakeasy on West 4th Street: Cafe Society, which calls itself « The Wrong Place for the Right People ». Even if you don’t get the gag on the way in – the doormen wear tattered clothes – then the penny drops when you enter the L-shaped, 200-capacity basement and see the satirical murals spoofing Manhattan’s high-society swells. Unusually for a New York nightclub, black patrons are not just welcomed but privileged with the best seats in the house.

You’ve heard the buzz about the resident singer, a 23-year-old black woman called Billie Holiday who made her name up in Harlem with Count Basie’s band. She has golden-brown, almost Polynesian skin, a ripe figure and a single gardenia in her hair. She has a way of owning the room, but she’s not flashy. Her voice is plump and pleasure-seeking, prodding and caressing a song until it yields more delights than its author had intended, bringing a spark of vivacity and a measure of cool to even the hokier material.

And then it happens. The house lights go down, leaving Holiday illuminated by the hard, white beam of a single spotlight.

She begins her final number.

« Southern trees bear a strange fruit. » This, you think, isn’t your usual lovey-dovey stuff. « Blood on the leaves and blood at the root. » What is this? « Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze. » Lynching? It’s a song about lynching? The chatter from the tables dries up. Every eye in the room is on the singer, every ear on the song. After the last word – a long, abruptly severed cry of « crop » – the whole room snaps to black. When the house lights go up, she’s gone.

Do you applaud, awed by the courage and intensity of the performance, stunned by the grisly poetry of the lyrics, sensing history moving through the room? Or do you shift awkwardly in your seat, shudder at the strange vibrations in the air, and think to yourself: call this entertainment?

This is the question that will throb at the heart of the vexed relationship between politics and pop for decades to come, and this is the first time it has demanded to be asked.

Written by a Jewish communist called Abel Meeropol, Strange Fruit was not by any means the first protest song, but it was the first to shoulder an explicit political message into the arena of entertainment. Unlike the robust workers’ anthems of the union movement, it did not stir the blood; it chilled it. « That is about the ugliest song I have ever heard, » Nina Simone would later marvel. « Ugly in the sense that it is violent and tears at the guts of what white people have done to my people in this country. » For all these reasons, it was something entirely new. Up to this point, protest songs functioned as propaganda, but Strange Fruit proved they could be art.

It is a song so good that dozens of singers have since tried to put their stamp on it, and Holiday’s performance is so strong that none of them have come close to outclassing her – in 1999, Time magazine named her first studio version the « song of the century ».

Although lynching was already on the decline by the time of Strange Fruit – the grotesque photograph of a double hanging which moved Meeropol to pick up his pen had been taken in Indiana in 1930 – it remained the most vivid symbol of American racism, a stand-in for all the more subtle forms of discrimination affecting the black population. Perhaps only the visceral horror that lynching inspired gave Meeropol the necessary conviction to write a song with no precedent, one that required a new songwriting vocabulary.

Meeropol, who taught at a high school in the Bronx and churned out reams of topical songs, poems and plays under the gentle alias Lewis Allan, published a poem under the title Bitter Fruit in the union-run New York Teacher magazine in 1937. The later name change was inspired. « Bitter » is too baldly judgmental. « Strange », however, evokes a haunting sense of something out of joint. It puts the listener in the shoes of a curious observer spying the hanging shapes from afar and moving closer towards a sickening realisation.

Meeropol worked out a tune and Strange Fruit quickly became a fixture at leftwing gatherings during 1938, sung by his wife and various friends. It even made it to Madison Square Garden, via black singer Laura Duncan. In the crowd was one Robert Gordon, who had recently taken on a job at Cafe Society, directing the headlining show by Billie Holiday. The club was the brainchild of New Jersey shoe salesman Barney Josephson: a pithy antidote to the snooty, often racist elitism of other New York nightspots. Opening the night before New Year’s Eve 1938, it owed much of its instant success to Holiday.

In her 23 years, Holiday had already seen plenty, although her notoriously unreliable autobiography Lady Sings the Blues obscures as much as it reveals. Born in Philadelphia, she spent some time running errands in a Baltimore whorehouse, « just about the only place where black and white folks could meet in any natural way », where she first discovered jazz. After she accused a neighbour of attempting to rape her, the 10-year-old Holiday, an incorrigible truant, was sent to a Catholic reform school until her mother secured her release. Moving with her mother to New York, she worked in another brothel, this time doing more than errands, and was jailed for solicitation. Upon her release she began singing in Harlem jazz clubs, where she caught the eye of producer John Hammond, who made her one of the swing era’s hottest stars.

Meeropol played Josephson his song and asked if he could bring it to Holiday. The singer later insisted she fell in love with it right away. Meeropol remembered it differently, believing that she performed it only as a favour to Josephson and Gordon: « To be perfectly frank, I don’t think she felt comfortable with the song. »

Arthur Herzog, one of Holiday’s regular songwriters, claimed that arranger Danny Mendelsohn rewrote Meeropol’s tune, which he uncharitably dubbed « something or other alleged to be music », which might have made the difference to Holiday.

Either way, Holiday road-tested the song at a party in Harlem and received what would become a familiar response: shocked silence followed by a roar of approval. Meeropol was there the night she debuted it at Cafe Society. « She gave a startling, most dramatic and effective interpretation which could jolt an audience out of its complacency anywhere, » he marvelled. « This was exactly what I wanted the song to do and why I wrote it. »

Josephson, a natural showman, knew there was no point slipping Strange Fruit into the body of the set and pretending it was just another song. He drew up some rules: first, Holiday would close all three of her nightly sets with it; second, the waiters would halt all service beforehand; third, the whole room would be in darkness but for a sharp, bright spotlight on Holiday’s face; fourth, there would be no encore. « People had to remember Strange Fruit, get their insides burned by it, » he explained.

It was not, by any stretch, a song for every occasion. It infected the air in the room, cut conversation stone dead, left drinks untouched, cigarettes unlit. Customers either clapped till their hands were sore, or walked out in disgust. Back then, before her life took a darker turn, Holiday was able to leave the song, and its politics, at the door on the way out. When Frankie Newton would hold forth on Marcus Garvey’s black nationalism or Stalin’s five-year plan, she would snap, « I don’t want to fill my head with any of that shit. » Holiday’s biographer John Chilton suggests that this was not because she wasn’t interested but because she felt embarrassed by her lack of education. All that she knew and felt about being black in America, she poured into the song.

Holiday’s regular label, Columbia, blanched at the prospect of recording it, so she turned to Commodore Records, a small, leftwing operation based at Milt Gabler’s record shop on West 52nd Street. On 20 April 1939, Holiday entered Brunswick’s World Broadcasting Studios with Frankie Newton’s eight-piece Cafe Society Band and recorded Strange Fruit in one four-hour session. Worried that the song was too short, Gabler asked pianist Sonny White to improvise a suitably stealthy introduction.

On the single, Holiday doesn’t open her mouth until 70 seconds in. Like Josephson with his spotlight, the musicians use that time to set the scene, drawing the listener in as if to a ghost story. Newton’s muted trumpet line hovers in the air like marsh gas; White’s minor piano chords walk the listener towards the fateful spot; then, at last, there’s Holiday. Others might have overplayed the irony or punched home the moral judgment too forcefully, but she sings it as though her responsibility is simply to document the song’s eerie tableau; to bear witness. Her voice moves softly through the dark, closing in on the swinging bodies like a camera lens coming into focus. In doing so, she perfects the song, narrowing the sarcasm of « gallant South » to a fine point and cooling the temperature of the most overheated image: « the stench of burning flesh ». She is charismatic but not ostentatious, curling the words just so. Her gifts to the song are vulnerability, understatement and immediacy: the listener is right there, at the base of the tree. Look, she is saying. Just look.

Released three months later, it became not just a hit but a cause celebre. Campaigners for an anti-lynching law posted copies to congressmen. The New York Post’s Samuel Grafton called it « a fantastically perfect work of art, one which reversed the usual relationship between a black entertainer and her white audience: ‘I have been entertaining you,’ she seems to say, ‘now you just listen to me.’ If the anger of the exploited ever mounts high enough in the South, it now has its Marseillaise. »

Holiday quit Cafe Society in August 1939, but she took Strange Fruit with her and carried it like an unexploded bomb. In Washington DC, a local newspaper wondered whether it might actually provoke a new wave of lynchings. At New York’s Birdland, the promoter confiscated customers’ cigarettes, lest their firefly glow distract from the spotlight’s intensity. When some promoters ordered her not to sing it, Holiday added a clause to her contract guaranteeing her the option. Not that she always exercised that right. « I only do it for people who might understand and appreciate it, » she told radio DJ Daddy-O Daylie. « This is not a ‘June-Moon-Croon-Tune’. »
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Yet Holiday could no more detach herself from it than if the lyrics had been tattooed on her skin. Strange Fruit would haunt Holiday for the rest of her life. Some fans, including her former producer John Hammond, blamed it for robbing her of her lightness. Others pointed out that her burgeoning heroin habit did that job.

So did the persistent racism which poisoned her life just as it poisoned the life of every black American. In 1944, a naval officer called her a nigger and, her eyes hot with tears, she smashed a beer bottle against a table and lunged at him with the serrated glass. A little while later, a friend spotted her wandering down 52nd Street and called out, « How are you doing, Lady Day? » Her reply was viciously blunt: « Well, you know, I’m still a nigger. » No wonder she clutched the song tightly to her breast, as a shield and a weapon, too.

Holiday discovered heroin in the early 40s, an addiction that eventually earned her a year-long prison term in 1947. Ten days after her release, she performed a comeback show at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

According to Lady Sings the Blues, she accidentally pierced her scalp with a hatpin and sang with blood trickling down her face.

There could be only one contender for the closing number. « By the time I started on Strange Fruit, » she wrote, « between the sweat and blood, I was a mess. » Time called the performance « throat-tightening ».

During the 50s, she performed it less often and, when she did, it could be agonising to watch. Her relationship with it became almost masochistic. The worse her mood, the more likely she was to add it to the set, yet it pained her every time, especially when it prompted walkouts by racist audience members.

By the latter half of the decade, her body was wasted, her voice weathered down to a hoarse rasp, and Strange Fruit was the only song that seemed to dignify her suffering, wrapping her own decline in a wider American tragedy. Writing about her final years in his definitive book Strange Fruit: the Biography of a Song, David Margolick says: « she had grown oddly, sadly suited to capture the full grotesqueness of the song. Now, she not only sang of bulging eyes and twisted mouths. She embodied them. » It was as if the song, having lived inside her for so long, had finally warped its host.

Extracted from 33 Revolutions Per Minute by Dorian Lynskey, published by Faber & Faber Ltd on 3 March at £17.99. To order a copy for £13.59 with free UK p&p go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846

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Our Sacred Mission

Dr. Leonard Jeffries

The following is the text of a speech at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany, New York, July 20, 1991

Last year I was here, and it was very good. I appreciated the opportunity to come because the storm around the curriculum was hot then. This has been going on now for almost two years, and it continues—and continues because the existing educational system is not isolated from the existing cultural-social-political-economic system of the United States. It is part and parcel. If the social, economic, political and cultural system of the United States is racist, there’s no way you can insulate and isolate the educational system. So racism in the educational system has to be dealt with. That’s the number-one item that has to be removed before we can have true education.

So I think that if we see this enormous struggle against us, it is just another manifestation of racism and white supremacy, and we have to deal with it as that. It seems more vicious because you would think these are not Ku Klux Klan—because they’ve got PhD’s or other things behind their name. But they operate in much the same way, and as far as I’m concerned they have the same VIP: values, interests and principles of white supremacy.

So, I will proceed forthwith with the presentation. For those who are up here and over there—are going to be at a disadvantage because if I do—one of my favorite things is to say, « Let’s go to the videotape. » And that might mean I might try to show something, you know, like this Newsweek article; and if you’re way up in the boondocks or over there, you won’t be able to see it. Or if I might want to show you an image of the black Statue of Liberty, you know, you would not be able to see it.

But I think we have to understand that although we like to think of education as race-neutral and politically neutral, education is a part of racism, and the fact that some of its worst manifestations—and it’s a part of politics. So I think that what we’re doing must be correct because of the storm that we’ve raised and created. I’m surprised, however, at the reaction, because when I was asked to evaluate the curriculum of the state of New York two years ago— and I was virtually begged to help bail out the state and the commissioner and the task force that had been put in place to work with the Curriculum—they really needed our help. And they asked me to suspend what I’m doing —and no one is busier than I at City College, and Vivian [Gordon, a professor of African American Studies at the State University at New York (SUNY), Albany] knows that. But I virtually suspended my activities we had—to set aside this work. They asked of four us to evaluate the curriculum of the state of New York. [See Dr. Jeffries contribution to the report.]

The way the misinformation campaign—the defamation of my character—has gone, it’s as if only one person was involved in evaluating the curriculum or the state of New York. There were four of us—four scholars. We looked at over one hundred documents from the state of New York Department of Education. There may have been a hundred and fifty documents, covering every area of education. And I thought this could be done, you know, communally, cooperatively and collectively. That’s the African value system—the three Cs, I call it: communal, cooperative and collective—working together in a spiritual dimension. So I pulled together a team of people—other PhDs—Dr. Charchee McIntyre, Professor Edward Scobie, Dr. Douglas Davis, Dr. Kumti Kiteme from Kenya—to help me in this endeavor.

But when I realized how serious this thing was—and you had to actually go line by line through these documents—I said I’d better take firm control of this thing to make sure that the importance of it is fully realized. I spent six months reviewing documents. Some documents I had to read over ten times because I could not believe what it was I was seeing. Ten times.

The social studies document which dealt with Africa I had to read over and over again because I said this is not happening in 1987, ’89. I can’t believe that this curriculum was revised in ’87 and this is what they have. The social studies document actually took Egypt out of Africa. Now, of course, they explained it in European-American—very common rational terms. They were going to deal with it in another part of the world. You know? You can always look for it—you know? They were gonna deal with the Nile Valley in another part of the world. So that was supposed to be the Near East, Middle East or whatever other part of the world they like to call that. And in that area they were going to deal with Mesopotamia, Tigris, Euphrates, the ancient Hebrews and the Nile Valley, Egypt.

And I read this over and over again. I could not believe my eyes. There was no content to the Nile Valley unit. No content! No mentioning of the literature of the ancients of Africa. No mention of the science of the Africans of the Nile. No people have built more in a more dynamic fashion—a more meaningful and technological fashion—than Africans of the Nile. No mention of the philosophy and the ethos and ethics, the morality that’s carved in their tombs and temples, built into the designs of their cities, even how they structured their society. One side of the river being the place of the living, the other side being the preserve of the dead. And the two are opposites that are complementary. That the living and the dead beget each other and there is life after death. No concept that the Africans had put in place the concept of the oneness of God before the ancient Hebrews. There was no content!

And I had to say to myself after reading it ten times, unbelieving what I was reading, that this was not an accident. This was by design, by people who knew what they were doing: Stripping Africa of its significance in its place in the world. And the people who are doing it are very nice, friendly white folks and some of their achieving Negro partners. That’s the tragedy. These are not Ku Klux Klan people. These are some very nice white folks, your neighbors, your colleagues, the people that you work with. They go to church and the synagogue, think highly of themselves; but they didn’t hesitate at all to distort history in what I call « Racial Pathology. »

They say they were upset with me with terms like that. « Ohhh. Jeffries, the tone! You know… » Racial Pathology. Well, how else do you describe something as diabolical as that? How else do you describe the attack on me, as if I was the lone person reviewing the curriculum?

And there were four of us. Dr. [Shirley] Hune, an Asian scholar from Hunter University, reviewed—and our task force was not to look at white history; our task force was to look at the—we had a charge; it was written down. It was to look at the hundred and fifty volumes to see which of those volumes effectively dealt with people of color and which did not; and which were strong and which needed revision. We weren’t asked to look at what Thomas Jefferson was doing; I brought that in as a—part of my own understanding of what was happening. They said we weren’t positive about white folks. That’s not what the charge was. We were to look to see what white folk had done about Black folks. And they had done nothing about Black folk in any significant way. And they had done nothing about Asian-Americans or Asians, and Dr. Hune said that in her report. And Dr. [Carlos Rodriguez]-Fraticelli, who handled the Puerto Rican-Latino part, said they had done nothing in reference to the Latino and Puerto Rican. And the person who—Professor [Lincoln C.] White, who handled Native Americans—said they had done nothing in reference to the Native Americans.

In fact, the three special volumes on our particular groups—one on the Black experience, one on the Puerto Rican experience and one on the Native American experience—were inadequate. The volume—the only volume on Blacks in the state of New York—was done by a schoolteacher and her students. That’s what was submitted. It wasn’t good enough. The volume on the Puerto Ricans focused mainly on mainland Puerto Rico and not the enormous migrant community of Puerto Ricans along the East Coast of the United States. The volume on the Native American dealt with the one tradition—the long house tradition—not the other traditions. It wasn’t good enough. And we mentioned that.

All of us never had met—we never met. To this day I have not seen Professor Hune. Dr. Fraticelli I met one time, after all of this occurred. Professor White I never met; we never even communicated on the telephone. I received their reports and synthesized them, pulled out what we had collectively stated and sent them as part of the general report—but their complete reports went as the appendices. And then the task force, which included white folks, Native Americans, Asians, Blacks, et cetera, African peoples—took our recommendation, took our reports, and they put their analysis to it and presented it.

It’s as if one person took over the state of New York educational system, Len Jeffries, controlled the commissioner and beat up this committee and imposed himself upon—for his own reasons. The little bit of money that they paid me to do it, I get in some speaking engagements in an hour. I don’t have to spend six months out of my life for a couple of thousand dollars.

But once I said what the problem was and what the test was, I realized it was part of the sacred mission that we as Black folk have: To try to right things that are wrong. And those of us who have carved out education as our area realize that we have to do a major job; major surgery has to take place in the educational arena because the educational arena was designed to support the system of white supremacy that was institutionalized in this nation. That’s what education was for.

The legal system was designed to support the system of white supremacy in this nation. The economic system was the heart of this system of white supremacy in this nation. And the cultural system went along with that—movies, all the rest of it. For years—and I grew up as a youngster just like you did, going to movies where the African peoples were completely denigrated. That was a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood, where people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani and whatnot—it’s not anti-Semitic to mention who developed Hollywood. Their names are there—MGM: Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, Adolph Zukor, Fox. Russian Jewry had a particular control over the movies, and their financial partners, the Mafia, put together a system of destruction for Black people. Talk about self-image and self-esteem? This was an important part of the cultural development of any youth. We went to the movies every Saturday and saw the Native Americans being wiped out and Africans being denigrated: Sambo images, Beaulah, Stepin Fetchit. That’s what they put out there. It was by design. It was calculated.

So we have to see that there is a war against the African. Now, I knew it before, but I didn’t know how devilish it was gonna be or could be. They’re nice white people. You don’t feel so bad if you got to go up against someone who is really down-and-out devilish and doggish. But if you get the smiling people like Diane Ravitch— »I’m trying to do the right thing »—deedeedee— »and I have don’t the right thing all these years. » Read Diane Ravitch’s record; look at her track record. This is the ultimate, supreme, sophisticated, debonair racist—pure and simple. And when they say « Hey, you and the others called her Miss Daisey »—they did fit right. And Asa said: « We’re gonna let Miss Daisy drive her own damn car from now on. » [Laughter and applause from audience.]

And Miss Daisy and her several partners. Albert Shanker has been holding her hand for some time, and now he’s at the door of the governor, beating him up, saying you’ve got to go against this latest report. They went against our report, using me as a scapegoat—that some nasty person has gotten control of the educational system. So then they put in place a sanitized committee; they check these people out on the computers. Ran the computer. « Good, sound, qualified achieving Negro. No problem. » « Good, sound Native American. No problem. » And they used their computers.

But, see, they don’t know—and don’t you tell them—the power of the African Holy Ghost. See, once that African Holy Ghost starts moving around, whatever their calculations were are thrown off. And that African Holy Ghost started working and that committee with only a few Blacks, which was supposed to be not only sanitized but it was supposed to be dominated and led by rich white men with property and power—Arthur Schlesinger, distinguished professor at City University, and had been at Harvard. And then the melting pot man—what was his name—Glazer. Nathan Glazer. Dr. Nathan Glazer. Melting pot Glazer. And then Dr. Kenneth Jackson. Now these three were supposed to dominate the other twenty. But, see, they underestimated the African Holy Ghost. And once Dr. Elleni Tedla felt that Holy Ghost—because she’s from Ethiopia—now you know the Holy Ghost has been roaming around Ethiopia for a long time. Ethiopia’s the oldest Christian nation; that Holy Ghost is there. And Lalibela built the new Jerusalem in the 12th Century—12 stone churches—not from the ground up: wonders of the world. Lalibela in Ethiopia. From the Ground down: to protect them from the Muslim invasions. Holy Ghost in Ethiopia.

So Elleni Tedla got herself together and brought it to the table. And then little Diane Glover—she’s just a school teacher. But she found the strength—talking to the African Holy Ghost—that she was a dynamite—looked Glazer and Schlesinger in the eye and said « You’re not correct. I do not agree, Doctor Glazer. » Here’s a little schoolteacher out in Long Island looking these big white men with property, power and prestige—they knew they had met their match.

So Schlesinger, being a weakling and not prepared to learn and grow, stepped off of the committee. This is how slick and devilish they are. He refused to be in the committee because he saw the learning process that these sisters and brothers bring the material to the table—that they all had to digest—was changing the committee. The truth was manifesting itself. So he said: « I’m going to step off, but not really step off. » That’s how slick and devilish and dirty and dastardly they are. He said, « I just want to be a consultant. » Be a consultant: So he’s privy to all the material and what they’re doing but not a part of what it is, so that he could go out and contact Federal Express and produce a devilish volume such as this, called the Disuniting of America—a political trap passing off as a scholarly document [published by Whittle Publishing Co.].

This is why the unconscionable—he refused to sit down with any of us and discuss any of these matters. They let the newspaper people jump up with these articles. Here’s a book, that’s supposed to be the definitive book on the reflections on a multicultural society. And it’s really reflections on the African. Nobody else is mentioned in this book except African people. No Asians are mentioned; they’re not attacked. Not Native American, no Latinos are attacked. The Africans are attacked, and our pictures are put in here—pictures of Asa Hilliard, pictures of [others]—in the margin. And I’ve never seen a book like this. How could they put this out? Between every chapter there’s an advertisement for Federal Express—an advertisement for Federal Express.

And this is the book that’s going to be talked about—The Disuniting of America. You talk about primps and pimps and prostitutes parading. I mean, I hate to be —I mean, you see my reaction. I’m trying to be very cool, calm and collected. And he even had to put one of us— »Provides immediate relief from stress and anxiety » Federal Express advertisement, in between the chapter on « The New Race »—this is a chapter on « New Race »—and then they have this Black fella there.

History the weapon—and then they have some of our pictures. But you know, « Battle for the Schools »…what this reveals is that what we’re—and then they have—look, Diane Ravitch. They just gave her a little picture in the corner: Miss Daisy. Adjunct professor at City College—I mean at Columbia. Not a professor. Miss Daisy has not passed muster to be a professor. Dr. Gordon and I have passed muster to be a professor. Miss Daisy was there as an adjunct because she brought in a grant. She’s hooked up with the grants—with the Heritage Foundation and these other conservative foundations—because she’s doing the work of the devilish folks.

In fact, she is the new standard. The old standard was a Bible Belt Texas rural family. That’s the standard for the textbooks that went into the schools for generations. Now the new standard is not a Bible Belt Texas family but a sophisticated Texas Jew. And that standard is not good enough either—because many people, such as the Ravitches, who happen to be Jewish, have blinded us on the attack coming from the Jewish community—systematic, unrelenting. And until we can look at it and deal with it there’s no efforts we can make that are going to be successful. Not anti-Semetic to raise the issue—but if you do not deal with it, you’re fooling yourself.

There’s an orchestrated attack by the Schlesingers and the Shankers, working with the white conservatives (the George Wills, the Heritage Foundation)—we’re pinpointing their relationship; we’re putting it to our African computer: the document is being prepared.

And they know who to point to: so the largest photo in the darned book is Len Jeffries. He doesn’t get in the margin. He’s got a whole big thing there. And so the people around me say « Len, they’re targeting you for death. » I said « That’s cool. That means I must be doing something right. » I live forty-five, forty-four years on this planet, and if I hadn’t done what I should do by then, then, you know, there’s not much more I’m, going to do. Malcolm only had thirty-nine. Martin only that thirty-nine. So death is not a thing. I’m not gonna back down, no matter what. They just—they picked on the right person at the right time, and they’re not going to win this one.

And, in fact, I called the New York Times after they attacked me last year, and I told them: « Thank you for making me a folk hero among my people wherever I go. And thank you for introducing me to scholars around the world. »

Most of you don’t realize that when The New York Times put in the paper that Jeffries and rich Jews were involved in the enslavement process, they put that in there to paint me as an anti-Semitic. An anti-Semitic does not stay at City College for twenty years as chairman of a department and have friends (even those who do not like him) and his enemies respect him at City College. And the head Jew at City College, Dr. Bernard Somer, saw me after the article in the Times, said: « Len, everybody knows rich Jews helped financed the slave trade. » If everybody know it, then let’s put it in the classroom.

Miss Ravitch says that Black people sold Black people into slavery. She doesn’t hesitate to say that. Schlesinger says Black people sold Black people into slavery.

Let’s talk about who financed, planned, operated, maintained the slave system. Let’s talk about every slave ship being blessed by a Protestant minister or Catholic priest. Let’s talk about the Catholic Church initiating this. Let’s talk about the Danes, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French, the Scots, the Swedes, The Brandenberg Germans that were involved in the slavery for hundreds of years—Jews and Gentiles, Arabs and Christians. Let’s deal with the whole ball of wax. Let’s not just say that Africans sold Africans into slavery.

But I don’t do anything unless I’m backed up with documentation. So—the Ravitches and whatnot don’t have documentation—they don’t want to come by me.

They sent their leading emissary, Edward I. Koch—and Eddie called me up, wrote me a letter: « Dr. Jeffries, I’d like you to come down to my office so we can discuss your documentation and what these things are you’re dealing with. » I thought he wasn’t serious. But I realized he had been on TV the week before and said « Jeffries is wrong because he’s teaching racism in his class. [Professor Michael] Levin is right because he’s not teaching it in his class. » This is the convoluted logic and rationality of white folk who are pathological —affected by racism.

So most people tell me: « Don’t be bothered with him. » Dr. Adelaide Sanford said: « You can’t deal with him. The man will distort anything you say. » Dr. Clarke said: « Don’t worry about him. »

But the African Holy Ghost said: When you’re with you truth, you can go anywhere and deal with anybody. And since he is the biggest and the baddest that they got, you got to take on their best so you don’t have to worry about the rest.

And so Dr. J called them up and said « I’m interested in your proposition, but I have a condition: I’m not coming ; I want you to come up to my office. »

« Oh, no, no. I couldn’t do that because that would cause—you know, be too much publicity. »

So I said: « well, I’ll come down to your office but first you’ve got to give up my pyramid. » I said, « We have a picture of you riding on a camel around the pyramids several years ago talking about your ancestors built them thousands of years ago. We got another picture of Menachem Begin dancing in front of the pyramids that his ancestors built thousands of years ago. We want our pyramids back, and there’s no need to even dialogue unless you are prepared to give them up. »

So you have to operate from some strength. If you operate from weakness, doubt, and you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s no need to be in the ballpark. Let the Gordons, Jeffries and others do the shooting, because you all will be shooting the wrong people and using the wrong ammunition. What I’m saying is you’ve got to master the understanding of your own experience and your history and have this knowledge. It’s there; it’s available; it’s in the books.

So once he was prepared to give up my pyramid—and I always carry an image of the pyramids around—once he was prepared to give them up, I said I would come down. And he called in from Hong Kong to tell his people, « Tell Jeffries he can have his pyramids back. »

So my brother said, « Look, I can’t you to go down there by yourself. » This is my little brother; he’s into heavy African martial arts. And that’s why it’s good to have these little brothers. He said, « I’m going down with you because my aura will protect you. »

So the Jeffries boys from Newark, New Jersey, went down to Rockefeller Plaza to meet Edward I. Koch. I rolled down—just as I rolled this stuff here in all these books—you don’t go nowhere without your ammunition. There’s no need to begin a war and you ain’t armed, you’re just mouthin’ and wolfin’. Take your ammunition. And so we rolled into Koch’s office with all this stuff. First thing I saw—and he wants to know « Where is you documentation? »

I said, « We have it all here. »

Well, before he could say anything, I said, « Look. That thing over there on the cabinet—we’re going to have to deal with—before we do anything. »

He said, « What? What? »

I said, « That. That Statue of Liberty. »

« What do you mean? »

« Well, well, uh, uh, you’re not familiar with the Statue of Liberty? »

« Yes. The Statue of Liberty’s in the harbor. »

« No, no. Its background. The reason for it being. » I said, « The Statue of Liberty has not a darned thing to do with your immigrant forebears. It has to do with my forebears fighting for liberty in these United States. »

He tried to act cool, but it was clear he was becoming discombobulated.

When I showed him come of the documentation, he knew he was in a war for control of the mind, and so he left and said, I’ll come back. » And he brought in his Dr. Clarke, attorney [Dan] Wolf, and sat him in the room.

So here was my brother and I—the Jeffries boys—with attorneys Wolf and Koch. We presented the information and Koch, after an hour, got what I called « cognitive dissonance. » That’s what happens when this new information is brought before the folks. Cognitive dissonance is a much nicer term—a psychological term, when imbalanced disharmony occurs when the information is—but I like to call it « racial pathology, » but cognitive dissonance is good enough for those who cannot digest racial pathology. Well, cognitive dissonance started to set in; and after a while he got so uncomfortable, he asked me about— »Well, what is this about you had said something about rich Jews involved in the enslavement of Africans? »

So I said, « Where do you want us to start? What period of history? You want us to start in the Spanish-Portuguese period of the starting of the slave trade in the 1400’s and 1500’s? Do you want us to move it from Seville and Lisbon on the Amsterdam and Hamburg, where the new Jewish community in those areas continued the slave trade for the Dutch, the Germans and English? Or do you want us to move it to Brazil and the Caribbean and Curacao, which became a new Amsterdam, the new center of the slave trade in the western world centered around the Jewish immigrants that moved into Curacao? Or do you want us to move to New York and Newport, Rhode Island? Where do you want us to start? »

« Where do you want to start, man? »

« Well, uh, babababbababba. Well, what books do you have? »

« Well, we have a book here, Aaron Lopez, ‘Lopez of Newport’. »

In the 1750s and ’60s: one of the largest slavers out of Newport, Rhode Island, a community that had a number of outstanding wealthy Jews who not only controlled a couple of hundred of slave ships—and Lopez himself controlling a couple dozen—but they controlled most, it not all, of the thirty distilleries that processed molasses from the Caribbean into rum, to be sold to the native Americans as « fire water » and to be sold to Africa, for enslaved Africans.

« Where do you want to start? You want to go back into the Spanish Sephardic Jewish community? Then get Stephen Birmingham’s The Grandees. »

The Grandees: the Jewish rich that supported the Spanish throne and helped lay the foundation for the enslavement in the 1400’s and 1500’s. Even after the Jewish community was persecuted in Spain with the Inquisition in 1492, many of them that converted to Christianity stayed in Spain and helped the Spanish king and queen, who was anti-Semitic (Queen Isabella)—helped her maintain the slave system against the Africans and native Americans.

« Where do you want to start? Do you want to go to Amsterdam? Then get a book by Jonathan Israel on European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550–1750. »

And there’s a picture of the Amsterdam synagogue, which was the center of slave trading for the Dutch. Amsterdam became a leading port in this period of time for slaving. And it was around this synagogue that the slaving system was established.

Now, we’re not talking about most Jews. Most Jews were being beat—up and down Europe—persecuted for being Jewish. We’re talking about rich Jews, and we specifically make that distinction. We’re not talking about white folks in general when we talk about oppression; we’re talking about the wealthy white folks, the powerful white folks that make the decisions.

So let’s make some decisions, some clarity, when we talk about these things. But the documentation is there. We are now preparing the ten volumes dealing with the Jewish relationship with the Black community in reference to slavery, so we can put it in ht school system, so there’ll be no question about Miss Daisy, Arthur Schlesinger—Schlesinger in his book said, « Dr. Jeffries said something about the Jews involved in enslavement »—and then just leaves it there.

I had to ask this man who called me from California, I said, « What is the reference that he cites? »

« The New York Times. »

I said, « That’s not a reference to cite. »

« Well, they quote you being quoted from some other newspaper. »

I said, « That original quote was not correct, and so anything else after that is not correct. Why didn’t he contact me and find out what it is that we’re saying? Everybody was involved in the enslavement of Africans. »

But if you want to deal with slavery, let’s deal with it. And I’m going to lay this down. That’s why we’re being attacked. You see, if they had just let us put a few Black folks in the curriculum and been satisfied with that, then there would be no problem, and we would have been satisfied. But they didn’t want us to do that. So our intellectual abilities and capacities and Our Sacred Mission has pushed us into serious study and analysis. No one has studied more than myself in the last couple of years and the people around me.

Producing documents, position papers—Dr. Carruthers, Dr. Asante, Dr. Hilliard, Dr. Charshee McIntyre, my wife—we have been in a heavy study, and what has been revealed is a mind-boggling process. We’ll have the ten major books relating to the Jewish community (the wealthy Jewish community) and enslavement.

In Spain there were the Grandees, managing the money of the Spanish throne. In Germany, in the 16 and 1700’s there were the court Jews, managing the political and economic apparatus of Europe, the Hapsburg Empire, the German states, et cetera. We have the names. We know who they were, what they were, what they controlled. We know when they set up the Dutch East Indian Co., Dutch West Indian Co., the Portuguese company, the Brazilian Company. We know who and what documents. We know the family connections. We know that even when they converted to Christianity, they maintained the links with their Jewish community brothers who had not converted; and that’s why they had a network around the world.

But even more than that, if you keep digging on and —as quiet as it’s kept, a number of Jewish scholars from around the country sent me documentation on the Jews’ involvement in slave trade. Not one wrote to me contesting what they thought I had said. A dozen sent me information, including a SUNY professor.

And then we discovered—in my copy room—I don’t know. The African Holy Ghost works in wondrous ways. The African Holy Ghost put a book in my copy room called The Jews of Germany by [Marvin] Lowenthal. And it details the movement of the Jewish community into Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, along with the Syrians and Lebanese; and they became the life-line of the fallen Roman Empire in the 15 and 1600’s. And they began to institutionalize a trade link with the Middle East. A trade link dealt with:

Number One—

Number Two—furs

And Number One: It dealt with humans, the humans that it dealt with for hundreds of years, with the Slavic peoples of central, eastern, and southern Europe, the Czechs, the Poles, the Yugoslavs, the Russians—an alliance between the Catholic Church and rich Jews selling white central, eastern, and southern Europeans into Arab slavery.

Did you hear what I said? The white slave trade in Europe—because the central and eastern Europeans were pagans; they were not Christians. Catholic Church had no allegiance to them. And the Jewish community didn’t care either which way. So rich Jews and the Catholic Church had an alliance for hundreds of years, selling white folks from central, eastern, and southern Europe into slavery in the Arab world—the white slave trade, which is the precursor of enslavement later.

In fact, the term « slavery » is rooted in the word « Slav. » You see why we’re in trouble?

If they had just let us alone and let us put Lewis Latimer, Granville Woods and [names unclear]—if they just let us alone, we would have been so worried about putting these people in the curriculum that we wouldn’t have to dig up these truths. But we might as well go for the whole ball of wax, getting ourselves prepared for the 21st Century. It’s in the works; it’s in the material. You just have to grab hold of it.

Let me quickly say what I’m trying to say. I had to deal with that because, see, if Schlesinger had let me alone—I had not touched the Jewish question for the past year. I had made an agreement with my Jews at City College that I would not deal with it. Koch, after he’d met me in May, had nothing to say about Dr. Jeffries for a year. He has never said anything about me since that last May. Once he saw the documentation and information, there was nothing to be said. In fact, his —his senior—attorney Wolf—when I called him—because I wanted my [word unclear] documents back, and I called him and I told him I wanted to apologize for being a little rough on attorney Wolf—because he did say something, and I said in the African tradition, you know, we respect elders and, you know, you just got in the way of my bullets for Koch.

Attorney Wolf said he was so glad and delighted to see the encounter. He has known Koch for years, and he has never seen him sit, listen and learn. Even Koch, after the meeting, when he—he got up and said, « I have a meeting to go to. » After an hour he didn’t have a meeting to go—he just couldn’t take it anymore. And I kept going for—for another half an hour. But even he, after the encounter, said that « Uh, uh, you know he’s and interesting chap. » That’s the best he could come up with, but that’s a compliment coming from him. But I had brought two hundred dollars worth of books, these books, for them to purchase. I thought they were seriously interested in what it is that we are saying and what it is we’re basing it upon. But they were not. They wanted to destroy me, to make a spectacle of me, to ridicule me. And I knew they weren’t going to but the books, so I said: « I brought two hundred dollars worth of books but since »—I see Koch had set in— »you’re not prepared to but the books, I’m going to give you one of the key books that I think you should have. » And that was Black Athena by Martin Bernal.

One of you own has written an enormous book on the experience of Africans in relationship to Greece. Now Martin Bernal has come out with a second book, and we’re not raising Martin Bernal up higher than anybody else; but at least he’s an individual who has talked about the falsification of history and how they created a false Greece at the time of the American Revolution to create the Aryan model of white supremacy that has been perpetuated for the last couple of hundred years; that the Greeks worshipped the Africans, went to learn at the foot of the Africans in the greatest buildings of the ancient world, the Luxor university temple. This is where the great Greeks wanted to learn. This is the symbol of the pillared temples everywhere in the world. If there’s a pillared temple on the Acropolis in Greece called the Parthenon. It was inspired by this great pillared temple. If you have a pillared temple in Washington, D.C. called the Lincoln Memorial, it was inspired by this great pillared temple. If you have a pillared temple at Forty-second Street in New York, which is the New York Public Library, and outside of it you have two lions, you’d better believe it has been inspired by the African—because those lions are the sphinx. Wouldn’t you think that they’d put lions outside of the Bronx Zoo and not outside of a library? Except they’re been inspired by the African tradition; the lions are the guardian forces of the temples of learning.

They’ve taken your traditions because you haven’t tapped into them fully enough. You cannot even articulate them because you’re culturally illiterate. So it’s not a question of putting something in school for the 5 and 6 year-olds; it’s putting something in the homes for the parents. It’s putting something in the studies for the teachers who need help, who have to refashion themselves—even those of with these PhDs and BBDs. You need to tap into a whole other level of knowledge that is available to you so that when someone talks about this symbol, and they take you down to Washington, D.C., and you take your little kiddies and say, « Look, Sammy! Look, Mary Jo! Look at the monument they built for George Washington! »—and you don’t have the knowledge, critical understanding or cultural literacy to say, « Look, Sammy! » and « Look, Mary Jo! » at the African monument of resurrection that was refashioned for George Washington the slave master bastard Founding Father. »

But there’s a new ballgame. We have the information on the Statue of Liberty. When it first came out, it was a student who gave it to me—I’m going to run for the next few minutes. There was a student that gave me the information because a Black chemist, Jack Felder, had compiled an information sheet with the date of information, where you could find it. And when we put our information out there, we need to put at the end of it the documentation source, where we can discover this information. And so when he put the documentary data, et cetera, I followed it up, being the consummate scholar. I grabbed some of the sons of Africa. We jumped in a couple cars, went down to the New York City Museum. 106th Street and Fifth Avenue, looking for this Black Statue of Liberty. The first model was of an image of a Black woman holding the broken chains of enslavement, with the broken chains of enslavement, with the broken chains of enslavement at her feet. Nobody there knew anything about it. All the people there were Black. Five or six Blacks—ain’t nobody knew nuthin’. I refused to leave. Black folks got cognitive dissonance they didn’t want to do nothing. But when I refused to leave, then they got—start to thinking. There was a Haitian guard who was there. So they said, « Go get him. Maybe he knows something. » He was there in ’86 when they had the celebrations. So they go get the Haitian guard. And he said, « Of course. The model of the Statue of Liberty is downstairs. »

I said, « Can we see it? »

« No. The director has the key. Locked up. Ain’t nobody can see it. »

So I said, « Well, is there any other information about the Statue of Liberty? »

He went off, came back with a book by Marvin Trachtenberg, called The Statue of Liberty. » And in it—he opened it up and showed the various models of the Statue of Liberty with the chains at the feet.

Then the brother—Felder—said, « You can go down to the French Cultural Center. » That’s further down on Fifth Avenue—Eighty-third Street, Eighty-second Street at Fifth Avenue. I went there, knocked on the door, just got in there just in time. I had called them before and asked them did they have any information on the Statue of Liberty. And they gave me a large magazine called Liberty, the anniversary edition of the magazine France. And that dealt with the founding of the Statue of Liberty. It had a picture of Edouard-Rene [Lefebvre de Laboulaye], the Frenchman who came up with the idea of the Statue of Liberty. He was a political scientist; he was a French leader; he was a French parliamentarian; he wrote a three-volume history of the United States. But more important than that, Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye, who came up with the idea of the Statue of Liberty in 1865, was head of the French anti-slave society.

In 1865 people were not interested in immigration into the United States. In fact, the United States in the 1850’s and 1860’s had established a Know-Nothing Party; they did not want immigrants; they were against immigrants; and the immigrants that they were against were Papists, German and Irish Catholics. There was no prospect of bringing in immigrants from central, eastern, and southern Europe; these were the unwashed masses. Eighteen-sixty-five was our period. Eighteen-sixty-five was when half a million Black people, a quarter-million of them official Union army, navy troops—participated in the Civil War. [Word unclear] four million of their—four million of their compatriots—and then saving this nation.

The question of Black folks getting into their history, starting to fight for liberty and struggling for what is right is not the question of disuniting America. It has been our struggle that has kept America united. It has been our struggle that has raised anew the liberties that this nation professes. It has been our struggle that has created the 14th Amendment that became the amendment that the women could use and others could use, when they talk about the expansion of liberty in America.

America was founded by rich white men with property and power. It was founded on an affirmative-action program for rich white men with property and power. From the very beginning of the founding of these colonies, rich white men with property and power were given affirmative action and set-asides—whole land set aside for them to develop and whole people set aside to work it for free, including white folks who came as virtual slaves under indentured servitude. There was a set-aside and affirmative action for rich white folks with property and power in the beginning of this nation, and that tradition under the British under the Dutch was maintained. And when independence was established, the independence was established, and the Constitution put in place in 1787 is a document of affirmative action for rich white folks with property and power.

Because we do not have the critical analysis we need—and that’s why we need study groups, serious study groups for the adults and for the teachers—we continue to go around talking about there was a three-fifths clause put in the Constitution and we have three-fifths the rights of white folks. You have no rights in the American constitutional frame of reference. Women have no significant rights. The Constitution does not speak to them and poor whites, men, did not have any significant rights in the Constitution. The Constitution speaks to rich white men with property and power. It is there for you to read with your eyes open and put on to it.

Three-fifths clause and affirmative action are set aside for the slave owners. A slave owner who had 200 of our people enslaved, had three-fifths more votes, voting power for them, than a normal rich white man. That’s democracy? That’s oligarchy. But we still posture our position of democracy as part of the founding process. Democracy came as we struggled to widen the American process to include the most deprived and dispossessed of the people in the system. Our struggle has been the heroic struggle. It’s an enormous struggle and you can only tap into it, if you only knew it. This struggle of our people collectively, for freedom, justice. We have been the liberating people force in this nation. From day one when we arrived.

And that Constitution: Read it again, two places where it mentions Black folks is the three-fifths clause. And then you’ve got this question of 1808. Eighteen-hundred-eight is the set-aside for rich white men of property and power, the Jeffersons, the Washingtons and the Monroes. A set aside, instead of ending slavery in 1787, which they could have done, if they were lovers of freedom, justice, and equality. Instead of ending the slave trade in 1787, which they could have done, if the Declaration of Independence meant anything to them, we are all men created, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these rights, liberty, pursuit of happiness. If they really believed that they could have instituted a constitution that destroyed these things as the French did. But they did not believe that, because the nation was founded by rich white men of property and power. They put the Constitution and Bill of Rights and everything together, so they set aside 20 years so they continued the slave trade, up until 1808, Set aside so rich white men with property and power to become what has been the basis of this nation. And then they beat up on us about affirmative action and set-asides for what we contribute to America.

So you’ve got to have an analysis. That’s what we’re saying. Just let me give you this one frame of reference to show how this enormity of material can be processed in a way to make it work for you. And then we’ll have the question-answer period.

I’ve come up with a formulation which I call « pyramid analysis. » And I put this available to the committee, the committee wanted it and that pyramid analysis, that you’ve got to be able to process the enormity of information about human experience. Using a pyramid as a model. It allows us to deal with the basic rule and understanding of human life and life on the planet and life in the universe and that’s duality. Duality and polarity is a basic concept that has to be understood. The pyramidal framework gives us a chance to deal with that. One polarity is what I call the thesis, the other polarity is what I call the antithesis. Between the polarities you have search for truth and knowledge which relates to duality and polarity. As you deal with the knowledge, breaking it down and analyzing between the polarities, then you synthesize it and you come up with critical thinking. You put a circle around it, it represents systems, external system. You put a circle inside the pyramid, you deal with internal system.

Dealing with biology, basic simple biology, basic simple life. You have the female principle, the male principle. Interaction between the male principle and the female principle and this is what? The child. The synthesis becomes the child. In the human development, of the human process, you have the duality. Two hemispheres of the brain, two eyes, two nostrils, two lips, two lungs, two arms, two ova, two testes and so that question of duality is in our own existence. Then the question of the brain and the synthesis becomes thinking. So the basic understanding of duality— polarity, is what we are talking about.

When we see the human family and you don’t have the worry about the information base. We stand on science and history, science and history is on our side. Our secret weapon has arrived. And the secret weapon is « books » such as this: Civilization or Barbarism. Everybody should have that. It’s a must. This was a book of a scholar, dealing with scholarship. Taking on the whole tradition of western European scholarship and he won the battle. Establishing what?

Number one, the African origin of humanity millions of years ago. In fact Dr. [Cheikh] Diop says there is only one human race and it’s the African race. Everything else is a mutation off African genes. That’s the scientific and historical data. That’s what we stand on.

Number two, you have the African evolution of science. A hundred thousand years ago when humankind wanted to disrupt the evolutionary process, developing fire, settling communities, learning to use tools, domesticating plants. And it is that evolution that took place largely in the Sun Belt that produces:

Number three, the cradle of civilization in the Nile River Valley and the other river valleys of the world. When the ecology of the sun produces the ingredients for positive development.

And so [Dr. Diop] has a concept which he has in his book, called the The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, that you have a southern cradle, around what we can call « sun people, » and you have the northern cradle, around what we can call « ice people. » And the people [word unclear] around the world. People are terribly upset. Dr. Jeffries has his theory of « ice people, » « sun people. » People call me from all around the world, Scotland, Australia. Dr. Jeffries can we have some material on your « ice people, sun people? » Some woman called me from Kentucky or Tennessee, obviously a white Southerner. « Dr. Jeffries, I heard about your ‘ice people, sun people,’ and I think it’s an interesting theory. In fact, I believe it. Can I get a copy of your work? »

Now, there’s no « ice people, sun people » theory. What we had was a framework of analysis. We had a paradigm to organizing information. The white boy has given us a paradigm. Haves and have-nots. The haves are white folks. The have-nots are anybody that’s not white. And that’s ironic. Because even if the Africans have the gold, the diamonds, uranium, the platinum, the plutonium, the oil, they are considered the have-nots. Even if the white folks ain’t got a pot to pee in they are considered the haves. So, I mean, that paradigm doesn’t hold water.

We have another paradigm, which is okay, nobody’s criticizing it: « First World » and « Third World. » We don’t even know what the World is. You know that the First World, the First World is white folks. And everything else comes after that. The first people, the First World were African people, people of color, sun peoples and we stand on that. Everybody else comes after that. And we are the haves. We have had the beginning of the march of humankind. We are the mothers and fathers of civilization. We developed science, mathematics, and philosophy. And we stand on that. All of that is in the work of Dr. Diop, Dr. Chancellor Williams, John Jackson’s book. And this particular book.

So these are the things that you need to tap into. Now don’t think you are going to get it and read it on a weekend. I’m telling you, you have to have some special processes to take place. This is a scientific document. This was designed to view with all of the B.S. that white folks have put up, the falsifications that they have put up. So you’ve got to take this slowly but surely. And over the years it may make sense to you.

I’m telling people, take it and put it on your night table. Either put it on top of your Bible or move the Bible over. Or the Koran. Put it on top of your night table. And then, the knowledge and information we have is such [that] now that you are going to have to deal with the Bible in an African way. Most of you have been reluctant. But we are developing study groups and whatnot all around the country, in the churches.

I came from Ft. Lauderdale, where they have study groups in the churches. And one of the things that, we just had a visitor or house guest this past weekend. This is a brother who has produced this book that you have to get a hold of—I brought a number of them. We have them available for you. And you know, I know you save your money to buy some shirts and some, you know, and some patent leather shoes. But these are some of the things that you need to get.

Now, this is a two-volume study. Expensive, but well worth it: The Black Presence in the Bible, by Rev. Walter McCray. The brother’s very beautiful. A member of an organization, based in Chicago. Put a lot of work into putting the truth of the people of the Bible. The people of the Bible were not European. They were African or people of mixed African blood. And you have to begin to deal with that. In our lessons we will put the ten major historical figures in the Bible and all of their 10 African wives. Each of them had an African wife. Now it’s ironic that in Jewish tradition, in the orthodoxy that if you are an orthodox Jew, you cannot be a true Jew unless you pass through the woman’s line. But isn’t it ironic that in the Biblical text most of the great historic Jewish figures had African wives? So we’ve got to know that. And know what the implications are. And know it critically. So we’re talking about recapturing the truth of people. And it’s not a question of a negative self-esteem.

Isn’t it ironic that Miss Daisy and her people are running around talking about that « this is just self-esteem and feel good curriculum? » What the hell do they have in place for white people now? And it’s ironic because if you read the documents of the State of New York, and we have some of the documents for you and a sister has had, Jackie, has some of the documents coming from the state that you need to write to the state, the department of education, and get these documents and if you live in this area, you can walk right across the street and get them. They have these documents. In the Board of Regents, it says that there is, one of the goals is to develop the self-esteem of each student, so that they can be motivated to be achievers. So how the hell can you be beating on us about our self-esteem? Particularly when in the culture of white racism, there is such a negative image of African people? Feel-good curriculum. What the hell do you think the existing curriculum is? We learn about Washington and the cherry tree. I don’t want to hear nothing about Washington and the cherry tree. I don’t want to feel good or feel bad about Washington. I want to know about Washington and the enslavement process. I don’t want to know about Jefferson and his Declaration of Independence in 1776. Let me know about first draft in 1775 when he compromised and took out the indictment against slavery. And then let me know some more about Jefferson, his character and whatnot. Because when you talk about education you’re talking about, again the dual process.

One, the foundation of education is socializing function. In the socializing function you’re talking about what? Character development. Africans understood that, so the educational process for the African started in the mind of the woman as she was a young girl growing up into womanhood. Being prepared to being the teachers of her, the product of her womb. So from zero to five the first foundations of education are established in the home. And so that’s where character development has to be instilled—the socializing function.

And our value system is centered around what I call the « three C’s. » Communal, cooperative, and collective spiritual development. Seeing a unity spiritual in the universe. That’s the value system of some people. Whether you talk about Native Americans or southern Asian. But next to this polarity, you have the polarity of tooling. The tooling function. So you have the socializing function, character development, in relationship to the tooling function which is skills development. And the tooling function is where you get the knowledge from the mathematics and the techniques, etc. But you need the two of them together in order to have a synthesized true education. What the white boy has said is that the only thing significant is the skills function. So he tests on the skills function and then he decides whether we’ve had an education or not. Based upon tests.

I’m here to tell you that test taking is no more than anything but testing test taking. I was in a Jewish fraternity in college. Most of you may not have known that. I spoke with one of my fraternity brothers Monday, Billy Rothchild, for dinner. I was the president of the Jewish fraternity. One hundred Jews and me and a couple of Christians. And the president of the Jewish fraternity was called « rex. » So I had to go through college as the rex, the King of the Jews. Now I managed it. But the most important thing about the fraternity was they had a system: that they knew how to take tests, they knew how to put a system of support in place. They had the records of all the professors, they had the tests, they analyzed how they changed their questions from year to year to try to fool the students, we left nothing to chance. The Jewish fraternity won the scholarship trophy 14 semesters in a row. The whole average of the fraternity was a Dean’s list average, even dumb Jews made it, because there was a system of support.

My roommate was a Black youngster from the football team, Dan Wooten from Cape May, New Jersey, he was the vice president. So in the 1950’s at Lafayette College, the president of this Jewish fraternity was Black, and vice-president was Black, two boys from New Jersey. Dan Wooten is now a medical doctor surgeon, UCLA Medical School, King Hospital in Los Angeles. And, of course, you know about Dr. J. But people, other people have a system. The important thing I’m saying is that other people have a system. We have to put a system in place. It begins in the home. It should be in our communities, our fraternal orders, in our clubs. But we don’t have to put a system in place. But we don’t have that type of understanding. We are not playing the game of politics and education the way we should.

As you look at this polarity again let me give you three things and I got to step into the wing. The first and foremost principle is economics. Economics is basic, if you don’t have economics you can’t survive. Economics is related to ecology, because your economics is the gear to your ecology. The ecology of the river valleys of the world produced the first economic systems of plenty that allowed for civilizations and culture. The economy of the northern cradle, the economy of ice, could not produce the type of surplus needed to survive. It produced barbarism. That’s why Diop’s book, Civilization or Barbarism, makes some sense. In the river valleys of the world, civilization occurred. In the northern regions and other regions like the desert where the environment was negative and the ecology was difficult, then you had barbarity.

This is a Newsweek article, November 10, 1986. Where you are beating on me about « ice people, sun people, » what do they say here? Our ice age heritage, language, arts, fashion and the family. So we’re trying to say that it’s clear that what we’ve done is to synthesize the information. We have not created any concept of ice and sun. Ice and sun are very real and very scientific. We are sun people, people of color because of the sun. The melanin factor. Europeans have a lack of melanin and have lost a great deal of it because much of the European development has been in the caves of Europe where you do not need melanin. So the factor of the ice is a key factor in the development of the European biologically, culturally, economically, socially. And what we are talking about is the values that are transmitted from ecologies.

So this is the last thing that I want to leave with you: That your economy which is related to your ecology begets your sociology which is related to your politics. Economics is the productive capacity, politics is the management capacity. The ecological systems are related to your sociological systems. This duality of economics and politics, ecology and sociology has to be related and then you synthesize them and you have culture, the psychological dimension. The cement that keeps things together. Economics, politics and culture relate; as ecological and sociological and psychological dimensions relate. It is this relationship that we as African peoples have to work at and make work for us.

They have it all divided up. In fact, they tell us, don’t worry about the economics, we’ll take care of it. In fact, they bring people in our community to take care of it. Arabs, Vietnamese and other people. Don’t worry about the economics, we’ll take care of it. Then the politics. You get involved in politics. But just come at election time. We’ll take care of who you should vote for, give you a little bit of money to work on the polls, but, you know, don’t waste too much time to become involved in politics.

But you can have culture. Become as black as you want. But if you only have culture and you’re not hooked the economics and it’s not related to your politics, then you do not have a system of development. You only have a system of survival. And what our educational omission tells us is, that we have to develop a system of development. And that means that we have to take our schools and make them work for us. But we have to put the educational process in the community, in the homes. We have to tap into this enormity of knowledge and then you have to be prepared to tell the truth. We have to be prepared to say that we are not going to celebrate Columbus. That no African or Native American youngster should celebrate Columbus. You Italians, you Spanish can celebrate it if you will. But we are not prepared to deal with the devilishness of Columbus. And [New York Governor] Mario Cuomo is not going to like it. But you [are] going have the courage to have to tell him the truth.

So that’s what it’s all about. It’s a political struggle; it’s not just a economic struggle; it’s not just economic cultural struggle; it’s not just an educational struggle. It’s economics because they want to keep that money. New York’s budget, New York City’s budget is seven to eight billion dollars. They don’t want Black folks messin’ with that budget. So when they thought we were getting into the curriculum they thought we were also talking about teacher training and other things, which we were. So immediately they said that’s not your realm. And across the country, [President George] Bush wants to put in a new order, a New World order. That means they’ve got to have mind controls in the schools. And here we come with African centered education and that’s blown up their plans for mind control in the schools. Because African-centered education does not allow for the concept of rich white men with property and power dominating the worldview of this planet. So what we have prepared for you and we have it in this packet here, and, unfortunately, I couldn’t bring enough of them, but it includes some of the materials you need in terms of historical mentions of the struggle for an African-centered education.

It includes the report « Curriculum of Inclusion. » It’s the new report. It includes the course outline by Dr. Clarke, dealing with African history. Includes [Wade] Noble’s analysis of African-centered educational practice. It includes the multi-culture of the city of New York. And it includes documents such as the statement by our brother on educating the African child. So, this type of document and the books we do have available for you. What we’re saying is tap into them from the study groups. Start breaking the things down. See the connection between things. This book here by Diop has to be related to the book by Jackson. Do not try to even deal with Diop if you have not related to Jackson. And then you need to see the generations of resistance and struggle in Van Sertima’s book, Egypt Revisited [Edited by Ivan Van Sertima].

It’s the new generation coming up. Dr. Asa Hilliard, and others that are complementing the work of Dr. Diop. We have to see generations of African resistance and scholarship. We stand on scholarship and science, we make no excuses about it. But the beauty of our experience is no matter where you start, your history is like nobody else’s history. If you deal with Africans and science and technology after the slavery period. And that’s what we are trying to say. And just to give it to you in one sentence. This is what we’re trying to say. They’ve B.S.’d up and down the world about what we are saying. What we are saying: Take this system again. The thesis would be in the founding of America. The Anglo-Saxon elite model. The antithesis would the other America, all the rest of us. You have to relate the Anglo-Saxon elite model with the multi-culture pluralistic model to get the synthesis of what truly was America.

And that’s what we’re calling for in the curriculum of inclusion. We also said you can apply it into the science area. For example, at this polarity you might have an elite Anglo-Saxon model: Benjamin Franklin, he was dealing with science, he had an almanac. But over in the pluralistic multi-cultural model, African centered you have: Benjamin Banaker, living at the same time, knowing each other, dealing with inventions and almanacs. And Banaker being part of that contribution of Africa to the unity of this nation which led to the building of Washington, D.C.

When the Frenchmen got disgusted and left they had to tap into Benjamin Banaker. Benjamin Banaker represents more than Franklin. He represents a principal struggle for freedom, justice and equality. And he challenged Thomas Jefferson in his beliefs in the inferiority of African peoples, even though Thomas Jefferson never had a white woman by his side after the white wife died in 1782 and for the next twenty years as he was ambassador to France, secretary of state, president of the United States, Jefferson only had a Black woman by his side, Sally Hemmings. And we need to understand the principle stand that our people represent as opposed to a Thomas Jefferson, because Thomas Jefferson never freed any of the children of Sally Hemmings or Sally Hemmings herself and that’s not a principled liberator or freedom lover in my book.

When a Banaker challenged Jefferson, so that’s what we said, put that in the history books. That’s a fantastic dialogue. Of someone up from an enslaved population, although Banaker’s parents were free, challenging the greatest of American spiritician, etc. But more than that. Put it into the books that the people who really fought for freedom, justice, and equality in the revolutionary war on the principle basis were Black folks. They fought on both sides. They fought on the British side; they fought on the American side. They answered the call for freedom. Washington, Jefferson, and others were writing about it and trying to protect the slave system. Black folks were fighting for freedom.

But then you not only have the Banakers, you have the situation when you have Thomas Edison on the Anglo side. And on the pluralistic side you have Lewis Latimer, who was his partner. And Latimer’s carbon-filament invention helped to make the light bulb functional. Plus they were together for 20 or 30 years. So you have a relationship with Latimer, it’s legitimate, it’s very real. Then you can put Granville Woods, on the Black side and put Alexander Graham Bell on the white side. They were involved with communications. But Granville Woods was a principled Black man who said, « I’m not going to be bought off by a white man, » and he and his brother set up the Woods Electric Co. out in Ohio.

In other words, this is the story. This is post-slavery. The waves of immigrants ain’t come in yet. You ain’t got the waves of Jews, the waves of Italians, the waves of Greeks, waves of Russians. This is us dealing with the Anglos, trying to establish the foundation of America’s technology and it’s industrial development. And here you have an interesting development that is very real. Louis Latimer worked with Edison. Grandville Woods took Edison to court two times for stealing his patents and won. Now that’s got to be in everybody’s history book. That that Black man took the white leader of America industrial development to court and won. And these are the type of things we’re saying you need to put in the history book. That’s what real inclusion is. But for us the real inclusion has to be to put this stuff in our homes, in our communities. And then walk it into the schools. And then we don’t have to worry about Miss Daisy.

Suggested Readings …

Woodson, Carter G. The Mis-Education of the Negro. Washington, D.C.: Associated publishers, 1933.

Jackson, John G. Introduction to African Civilizations. Secaucus, NF: Citadel Press 1970.

Williams, Chancellor. The Destruction of Black Civilizations: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Chicago: Third World Press, 1974.

James, George G. M. Stolen Legacy. San Francisco: Julian Richardson Associates, 1976.

Rogers, J. A. World’s Great Men of Color, Volumes I & II. Collier-MacMillan, 1976.

Van Sertima, Ivan Van. They Came Before Columbus. New York: Random House, 1976.

Hilliard, A. L. Williams and N. Damali. Eds. The Teachings of Ptahhotep The oldest Book in the world. Atlanta: Blackwood Press, 1987.

Carruthers, J., and M. Karenga, eds. Kemet and the African World view. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press, 1986.

Diop, Cheikh Anta. Civilization or Barbarism. New York: Lawrence Hill Books 1991.

Ben-Jochannan, Yosef. Africa: Mother of Western Civilization. New York: Alkebulan Books, 1971.

Van Sertima, Ivan. Ed. Black Women in Antiquity. New Brunswick, NJ: Journal of African Civilizations, 1985.

Hilliard, A.L. Payton-Stewart, and L. Williams. Eds. Infusion of African and African American Content in School Curriculum. Morristown, NJ: Aaron Press, 1990.

Clarke, John H. and Yosef ben-Jochannan. New Dimensions in African History. Trenton, NJ: African World Press, Inc., 1991.

Leonard Jeffries Virtual Museum | Virtual Museums of the Masters

FRONTal View: An Electronic Journal of African Centered Thought

NBUF Homepage | DuBois Learning Center Homepage

Voir enfin:

‘No Time for Such Frivolities’

Brendan Wolfe

May 12th, 2011

This jaw-dropper of a story about a lynching in Houston, Texas, ran in the Los Angeles Times on June 21, 1928, and is notable for its wry and cynical tone. “In ordinary circumstances, it would have been just one of those things,” Harry Carr reported, but the city was hosting the Democratic National Convention at the time. So a little more tact was called for. “This was no time for such frivolities.”

Here’s the portion of the story dealing with the lynching:

An old-fashioned lynching on the outskirts of Houston has put the Democrats in what is technically known as a “hot spot.”

Even the southern colonels from the black belt agree that the boys should have shown more judgment and tact.

On the eve of the Democratic convention and in view of the antilynching plank of the Kansas City platform, it creates political embarrassment.

In ordinary circumstance, it would have been just one of those things. A young negro tough, named Robert Powell, shot a popular Houston policeman and was wounded himself. Last night some armed, but unmasked, men forced a way into a hospital where he lay and left him dangling from the girders of a railroad bridge in the outskirts of Houston.

The Houston press hastened this morning to assure the convention visitors that it was most unusual and “not typical of Houston, or Houston spirit.”

Mob Rebuked

Jesse H. Jones, the oil baron king and real-estate proprietor of Houston, comes forth in an interview in his own newspaper, the Chronicle. He rebukes the mob as being “too self-indulgent.”

The Mayor deplores; the City Council offers a reward and the State troopers come at a handy gallop, but the Sheriff’s guard, the only white eye-witness, remarks with discretion that he doesn’t hardly think he would be able to recognize the lynchers if he saw them again—they being his fellow-townsmen and not wearing masks. The two negro nurses at the hospital also know the better part of valor.

The negro vote of Texas isn’t what’s worrying them. Yesterday the Texas Democrats at the State capital at Austin, with airy disregard of the Constitution of the United States, passed a resolution flatly barring negroes from voting in the July primaries. But there is a large negro vote in the North which may not view these midnight soirees with such complacency.

Many of the ardent Southern Democrats now pouring into Houston deplore the whole affair as lacking in tact. This was no time for such frivolities.

IMAGE: From left to right: Los Angeles Times, June 21, 1928; The Washington Post, June 22, 1928; The Washington Post, June 23, 1928


Consommation: La France découvre le capitalisme sauvage pour tous (Caveat emptor: With Virgin closures, France gets a taste of Black Friday-like action)

26 mai, 2013
https://jcdurbant.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/fcaad-blackfridaystampede.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 (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
C’est précisément en raison de la mort de l’impérialisme que nous voyons l’apparition du monde pré-moderne. Aujourd’hui, il n’y a aucune puissance coloniale qui accepte de s’atteler à cette tâche, cependant les occasions, peut-être même le besoin de colonisation, sont aussi grands qu’ils ne l’ont jamais été au XIXe siècle. (…) Le cas d’Ossama Ben Laden a maintenant démontré, pour ceux qui ne l’avait pas déjà réalisé, qu’aujourd’hui le monde entier est, potentiellement au moins, notre voisin. Robert Cooper
La notion des années 1960 selon laquelle les mouvements sociaux seraient une réponse légitime à une injustice sociale a créé l’impression d’une certaine rationalité des émeutes. Les foules ne sont toutefois pas des entités rationnelles. Les émeutes de Londres ont démontré l’existence d’un manque de pensée rationnelle des événements du fait de leur caractère tout à fait spontané et irrationnel. Les pillards ont pillé pour piller et pour beaucoup ce n’était pas nécessairement l’effet d’un sentiment d’injustice. Au cours des émeutes danoises il y avait d’un côté un sens de la rationalité dans les manifestations de jeunes dans la mesure où ils étaient mus par une motivation politique. Cependant, les autres jeunes qui n’étaient pas normalement affiliés à  l’organisation « Ungdomshuset » se sont impliqués dans le  conflit et ont participé aux émeutes sans en partager les objectifs. Ils étaient là pour s’amuser et l’adrénaline a fait le reste. Les émeutes peuvent assumer une dynamique auto-entretenue qui n’est pas mue par des motifs rationnels. Lorsque les individus forment une foule, ils peuvent devenir irrationnels et être motivés par des émotions que génèrent  les émeutes elles-mêmes. L’aspect intéressant des émeutes  de Londres était de confirmer l’inutilité du traitement du phénomène de foule par  une stratégie de communication. La méthode rationnelle n’aboutit à rien contrairement à la forme traditionnelle de confinement. Cela montre bien qu’à certains moments, la solution efficace est de ne pas gérer les foules par le dialogue. Christian Borch
Un militaire en patrouille Vigipirate été agressé samedi à l’arme blanche à La Défense (Hauts-de-Seine) par un homme qui a pris la fuite et dont les motivations restent inconnues. Cette agression intervient trois jours après le meurtre mercredi à Londres d’un soldat britannique par deux islamistes radicaux, avec lequel aucun lien n’a toutefois été fait à ce stade par les enquêteurs. Le soldat, âgé de 23 ans, en tenue, participait à une patrouille mixte composée de policiers et de militaires. Il a été frappé au cou avec une arme blanche. Ses jours ne sont pas en danger, selon la police et les ministères de l’Intérieur et de la Défense. Il a d’abord été soigné sur place par les pompiers, puis hospitalisé. (…) Selon les tout premiers éléments de l’enquête, qui restent à confirmer, l’agresseur était grand, environ 1 mètre 90, il portait une barbe, un pull et un pantalon noirs. La Croix
 Avec leur ‘mariage pour tous’, la PMA, la gestation pour autrui, bientôt, ils vont se mettre à quatre pour avoir un enfant. Nicolas Sarkozy
« Chaque jour, plus de 200 policiers sont mobilisés dans toute la capitale et dans les réseaux de transport pour lutter notamment contre les faits de délinquance commis» contre les touristes, s’est défendu vendredi la préfecture de police. Mais la sécurité de Paris n’a pas bonne presse à l’étranger. Le mois dernier, les agents de sécurité du Louvre avaient dû se mettre en grève pour protester contre le laisser-aller des autorités, incapables d’endiguer le flux des mineurs d’origine roumaine qui détroussent les visiteurs du musée à grande échelle, n’hésitant pas à leur faire les poches jusque dans les salles d’exposition. Vinrent ensuite les deux jours d’échauffourées des Champs-Élysées et du Trocadéro, les 12 et 13 mai, avec cette vidéo d’un car de touristes pillés par les voyous devant le pont d’Iéna. Une séquence qui a fait les délices de Youtube et que l’on visionne aujourd’hui encore jusqu’en Chine ou au Japon. On ne compte plus les récits de touristes pris pour cibles par les groupes très mobiles de voleurs à la tire dans la capitale. Ces faits ont augmenté de près de 40 % en un an dans les seuls réseaux ferrés de l’agglomération parisienne. En France, ils ont dépassé au total le nombre effarant de 100.000 infractions sur les douze derniers mois. Et nul n’est à l’abri. Jeudi soir, un proche de Bill Clinton en a fait les frais. Accompagnant l’ancien président américain en visite à Paris, il a été victime de pickpockets au moment où il retirait de l’argent à un distributeur automatique sur les Champs-Élysées. Une bien mauvaise publicité. En mars dernier, l’ambassade de Chine à Paris avait officiellement protesté auprès de la préfecture de police contre les agressions à répétition contre ses ressortissants. L’une d’elles, le 20 mars, a particulièrement choqué. Ce jour-là, en Seine Saint-Denis, un groupe de Chinois a été violemment pris à partie à la sortie d’un restaurant du Bourget. Ces vingt-trois touristes étaient arrivés de Roissy quelques heures auparavant, pour un voyage express de douze jours en Europe, commencé donc à Paris. Après avoir été frappés, il ont été délestés de leurs passeports et d’une grosse somme d’argent en liquide. L’affaire a fait les gros titres de la presse chinoise. S’y ajoute désormais le retour des casseurs dans la capitale. Un triste spectacle de vitrines brisées, de passants molestés, détroussés, dont les images ont fait le tour de planète. Selon les estimations du Figaro, le seul coût des dégâts causés par ces bandes, issues de banlieue pour l’essentiel, dépassait les 750.000 euros. (…) « Les enjeux sont de taille», estime pourtant le Comité Colbert. Car la France demeure la première destination touristique au monde, avec plus de 80 millions de touristes par an. Dans l’Hexagone, les ventes de produits de luxe français sont assurées pour moitié par la clientèle touristique. Sans elle, le marché français du luxe n’aurait pu afficher une croissante de près de 3 % l’an dernier. À en croire les analyses des agences de détaxe, c’est à Paris que le panier d’achats moyen par touriste est le plus élevé: 1034 euros. Quand Singapour, la Grande-Bretagne ou l’Italie ne dépassent pas 693 euros de dépense par touriste en moyenne. Le Figaro
Il faut une politique adéquate. Il n’y a pas que les touristes qui sont agressés. Il y a quelques années, c’était aussi la réputation de New York d’être hyperdangereuse. Une politique de zéro tolérance a été menée par le maire et, aujourd’hui, tout le monde sait que New York est une ville sûre. Elisabeth Ponsolle des Portes 
Calmez-vous, on dirait que vous voulez de la viande. Vendeur Virgin
Un parfum de fin du monde flotte au 41 rue Édouard-Herriot. Florent Deligia
J’y crois pas, ici c’est l’apocalyyypse ! ! !  Client au téléphone
Emma, une mère de famille de 36 ans vivant dans le XIIIe arrondissement, attendait la précieuse info depuis plusieurs jours. Elle était prête pour le jour J et a profité pleinement de cette vaste opération de déstockage. « Mon frère faisait la queue depuis 7 heures. Il avait le nez collé sur la vitrine. Je l’ai rejoint vers 9 heures. Il y avait déjà plus d’une centaine de personnes sur place. Les portes du magasin ont ouvert avec trois quarts d’heure de retard. C’était la folie. Ça poussait de tous les côtés. Les plus pressés montaient les marches quatre à quatre pour aller dans les rayons hi-fi. Mais il y avait peu d’articles. Du coup, certains clients arrachaient de leur socle les appareils photos ou les tablettes en exposition. Les alarmes retentissaient de toute part. » Cette mère de famille a réussi à mettre la main sur un lecteur DVD Blu-ray, une station pour iPod, des jeux pour consoles, un clavier et un casque… Elle était venue en repérage la veille car elle n’avait encore jamais mis les pieds dans un magasin Virgin. « C’est une salariée de l’enseigne qui m’a refilé le tuyau. L’info bruissait sur la Toile depuis plusieurs jours. Elle est tombée hier peu après minuit sur le site de Virgin. Je m’étais déjà organisée. Mais les rayons hi-fi étaient déjà dégarnis à l’ouverture. De nombreux articles étaient déjà partis lors de la période précédente de rabais. Le personnel a aussi fait ses courses ce matin (hier) entre 8 heures et 10 heures. Il fallait être parmi les premiers pour arracher les bonnes affaires… » Le Parisien
Champs-Elysées ouvre à 10 heures, et les choses se compliquent déjà. Les gens dehors s’impatientent, ils sont des centaines (dont certains depuis 7 heures du matin), et tentent d’ouvrir eux-mêmes la gigantesque porte métallique. Ils tentent, ils tentent, les charognards. La tension est déjà là, quelque chose ne tourne pas rond. Une ambiance, une attitude. Le service de sécurité fait grincer les gonds. Sésame, ouvre-toi. Les chiens sont lâchés, le chaos peut commencer. Des centaines d’humains, visages déformés, hagards, montent en courant au premier étage, se poussent les uns les autres. Une femme chute dans le grand escalier. Personne ne l’aide à se relever. Objectif : le rayon numérique. Un iPad à 700 euros devient un iPad à 350 euros. Alors ils en prennent deux, trois, quatre, car même à 600 euros, les tablettes numériques se revendent illico sur eBay ou Leboncoin.fr. Mais il n’y a pas que ça à récupérer, et certains ont prévu le coup : ils sont venus avec des grands sacs. D’autres ont carrément ramené des valises. (…) Les consoles Xbox, vendues la veille 250 euros, passent à 175 euros. Prenons-en une, non deux, non trois. Durant l’heure suivant l’ouverture du magasin, les vendeurs, complètement désemparés, sont suivis, pris à partie, traqués, insultés, secoués par des clients devenus fous. Certains employés montent sur des tabourets, et hurlent des ordres aux gens afin de contenir, de canaliser la foule en furie. En vain. Des clients leur hurlent dessus, et l’attention sera – semble-t-il – à qui criera le plus fort. (…) En moins de trente minutes, le rayon numérique est vide. Plus rien, à part de la poussière et des déchets sur les rayonnages (restes de menus McDo, cannettes vides, emballages divers). Des gens ont sous les bras des trucs sans savoir de quoi il s’agit. Ils ne savent même pas ce que c’est. « Vous pensez que je peux en tirer combien ? », osent-ils même demander. Mais même sans savoir, plus besoin de les mettre sur Priceminister. Car la vente n’a jamais été aussi sauvage, et des enchères commencent dès lors dans les files d’attente. Je n’ai pas eu d’iPad, je rachète le vôtre. Non moi, non moi, non moi, qui dit mieux ? On dégaine le cash, des billets passent discrètement de main en main. On se croirait en plein deal généralisé. Le magasin a en stock 184 cartouches du dernier jeu Nintendo DS « Professeur Layton ». Un revendeur de jeux vidéo, venu avec des amis porteurs, les prend toutes. Les 184. Ceux qui sont arrivés trop tard au saint premier étage – ou qui n’ont pas eu accès aux enchères sauvages – prennent alors TOUT ce qui passe à hauteur de panier. TOUT : peluches, DVD au hasard, magnets, écouteurs, jeux de société, cartouches d’imprimantes. Ils n’ont pas le temps de choisir, sinon d’autres leur voleront leur butin. Alors ils prennent, ils prennent, se gavent sans peur de vomir. Ils prennent pour empêcher d’autres de prendre. La plupart sont au portable : « Mais tu veux lesquels ? Dis-moi vite, il n’y a presque plus rien ! “Twilight” ? “Iron Man” ? “Transformers” ? En Blu-ray ou DVD ? Bon, je prends tout, et rappelle-moi dans dix minutes ! De toute façon, on s’en fout, c’est à moins 50% ! » Et pourtant – forcément – ils vomissent, quand le coup de sang est passé. Où ? Aux caisses. C’est réellement là qu’ils font leurs emplettes, leurs « bonnes affaires » : alors ça oui, je prends, ça non, ça oui, ça non… Ils reposent alors ce qui, en fait, ne les intéresse finalement pas. L’attente dans la file est en moyenne de 1h30. Derrière les caissières, des centaines de produits divers s’entassent en dizaines de colonnes, trop rapidement dégueulés pour être rangés convenablement. (…) Ils n’ont JAMAIS vu ça de leur vie Pour ajouter au chaos ambiant, au rez-de-chaussée comme au premier étage, des centaines de boîtiers vides de DVD et jeux vidéo jonchent le sol. Ouverts de force, volés dans la cohue. On marche comme sur des œufs de peur de glisser, en poussant du pied les cadavres d’une culture qui semble avoir été violée. A la sortie, les bornes antivols hurlent au point qu’on ne les entend même plus. (…) Les vigiles, sous une pluie d’insultes et de huées, font leur job. Les gens dehors deviennent fous, les en empêchent, retiennent la porte. Ce qu’ils ne savent pas, les chacals, c’est que le magasin a déjà été pillé. Chacun de ses os a été sucé méthodiquement. Avidement. (…) Avec difficulté, les agents de sécurité, qui n’ont JAMAIS vu ça de leur vie, parviennent à refermer le sésame. Ouf.  (…) Durant les derniers mois, depuis l’annonce de la fermeture de la chaîne Virgin, pas un seul de ces « clients » n’a évidemment levé le petit doigt pour soutenir (de quelque manière que ce soit) les 1 000 salariés, futurs chômeurs dans quelques semaines. Mais lundi, ils étaient pourtant tous là comme par magie, ces clients invisibles, fossoyeurs aux dents acérées. Ils ont soudain retrouvé l’adresse d’un magasin dans lequel, au mieux, ils n’avaient pas mis les pieds depuis des années, au pire, ne sont jamais allés. Comble, certains ont même posé des RTT le matin même pour pouvoir s’y rendre. Dans le même article du Parisien cité plus haut, il est également noté que l’Emma en question (mise au courant de la braderie par une proche) « était venue en repérage la veille, car elle n’avait encore jamais mis les pieds dans un magasin Virgin ». Le temps d’une matinée, oubliant Amazon, oubliant « la crise », ils étaient là en chair et en os, en masse, les rats, les nécrophiles, dansant joyeusement sur les cadavres de milliers de salariés, amassant leur « butin », comme certains le disaient à 11 heures sur Twitter. Faire des bonnes affaires, c’est une chose. Mais à ce prix-là ? « Eh oui » avez-vous tous répondu en chœur, « A ce prix-là », justement. Et ce prix-là, c’était moins 50%. C’est ce que vous répétiez tous, vous, les charognards, la salive pâteuse aux commissures des lèvres. Pour ce prix-là, vous avez poussé aux larmes des travailleurs qui, peu importe ce qu’on peut penser de Virgin, ont mis toute leur énergie et leur amour durant des années dans un job qui les a passionnés. Pour un simple rabais, vous les avez insultés, méprisés et violentés. Vous avez montré sans masque qu’un vulgaire iPad avait à vos yeux plus de valeur que leur travail et leurs passions. Pour ce prix-là, putain, vous êtes devenus des bêtes. A prix cassés, dignité soldée ? La vôtre on s’en doutait, mais également la leur dans la foulée ? Vous ridiculiser ne suffisait donc pas ? Il fallait également les écraser, les traîner dans la boue ? Vous vous êtes battus comme des chiens. Bravo, c’est bien. Mais vous n’êtes pas des chiens, les chiens n’agiraient pas ainsi. Mais vous n’êtes pas non plus des êtres humains, car un humain il me semble, n’agit pas non plus de la sorte. Non. Pour vous être comportés ainsi, vous n’êtes simplement – et clairement – que des sales pourritures.  Antoine Michel (contractuel dans la fonction publique et compagnon d’une employée Virgin)
« En mai, Virgin fait ce qu’il te plaît. » Sur la devanture du magasin du boulevard Montmartre, dans le 2e arrondissement de Paris, la grande affiche promotionnelle rouge semble douloureusement déplacée. Depuis lundi 13 mai au matin, les soldes ont débuté dans les vingt-six magasins Virgin de l’Hexagone, dans une ambiance de fin du monde. En redressement judiciaire depuis le 14 janvier, l’enseigne vend ses stocks à moitié prix, et à – 60 % pour les adhérents. En cette fin de journée, Alexandre, vendeur au rayon multimédia, est assailli par une nuée de clients qui lui posent en boucle les mêmes questions : « Vous n’avez plus d’iPad Retina ? Et les modèles de démonstration ? » « Ils sont la propriété d’Apple, on n’a pas le droit de les vendre… », répond le jeune homme, résigné. Autour de lui, des étagères entières vidées de leur contenu (lecteurs MP3, appareils photo, iMac..), plus aucun présentoir, des cartons déchirés. « Les clients les ont ouverts pour piquer du matériel… L’électronique est le plus recherché, suivi par les DVD et des CD. Seuls les livres, régis par une législation particulière, échappent aux soldes. « Ce matin, à l’ouverture, deux cents personnes se sont bousculées dans les escaliers. Il y a eu des cris, des piétinements… », dit Alexandre entre deux sollicitations. « Certains clients rampaient sous le rideau pour entrer plus vite », relate Aurélie, responsable du rayon librairie. Le Monde
Pour certains, c’est devenu une habitude. Ils guettent les magasins qui cassent les prix avant de fermer, ou les produits bientôt retirés du marché au tarif sacrifié. En 2011, des consommateurs n’ont pas hésité à en venir aux mains lorsque HP décida de vendre sa tablette tactile TouchPad à 99 euros. Les appareils se retrouvaient alors rapidement sur les sites de petites annonces, au double de leur prix. Début 2013, c’est le tour des magasins Game d’être le théâtre de ces razzias. L’enseigne proposait les jeux vidéo à -70 %, les consoles à -40 %. À cette époque, l’un des anciens vendeurs confiait : “Dès l’ouverture, nous avons reçu des clients avec des sacs plastiques qu’ils chargeaient de jeux et de consoles. Ils allaient les revendre directement chez nos concurrents ou dans les boutiques d’occasion qui payent en liquide.” Les revendeurs attendent déjà la prochaine enseigne qui disparaîtra. Phone House est parmi les premiers sur leur liste. Régulièrement, les bons plans s’échangent sur les forums et sites Internet. Les gains peuvent être intéressants : entre 10 et 100 % du prix d’achat. Ainsi, un iPad 64 Gb vendu à 285 euros chez Virgin (pour les détenteurs de la carte de fidélité) est proposé autour de 550 euros sur un site comme leboncoin.fr. Bilan de l’opération : 265 euros pour le revendeur, une économie de 164 euros pour l’acheteur (le produit est à 714 euros chez Apple). Pas étonnant que la tablette d’Apple fut aussi recherchée lundi matin lors de l’ouverture des Virgin. Pour leur part, les consoles permettent de faire environ 50 euros de marge à la revente, voire plus si elles sont accompagnées de jeux. Reste une question de taille : de telles opérations sont-elles légales ? Tout dépend de la régularité des ventes. Ainsi selon l’article L.121-1 du Code du commerce, “sont commerçants ceux qui exercent des actes de commerce et en font leur profession habituelle”. Sur une page dédiée à la question, le site Priceminister explique qu’“un vendeur pourra être qualifié de vendeur professionnel s’il a l’intention d’avoir une activité professionnelle qui se détermine, par exemple, par le fait de mettre en place un système organisé de vente à distance (utilisation de moyens professionnels pour expédier les produits vendus, aménagement de locaux dédiés…) et par le fait d’acheter des biens dans l’unique but de les revendre. Il n’existe pas dans les textes de seuil officiel (en nombre de ventes ou en euros) au-delà duquel l’activité de vente est automatiquement considérée comme relevant de l’activité commerciale”. Le site conseille cependant à ceux qui vendent régulièrement d’opter pour le statut d’autoentrepreneur. Pour eBay, “sont professionnels” : ceux qui revendent des objets achetés, des objets créés par les vendeurs, la revente d’un grand nombre d’objets, d’objets neufs n’étant pas achetés pour un usage personnel… Les revendeurs qui ont l’habitude de profiter des liquidations ont donc peu de chance d’être inquiétés tant que cela reste rare et en petite quantité. Florent Deligia

Après les pillards sans frontièresl’émeute pour tous et le jihad pour tous, la France découvre le capitalisme sauvage pour tous !

« Parfum de fin du monde », « ambiance de fin du monde », « apocalypse », « lendemain d’apocalypse », « charognards », « bêtes », « chiens », « pourritures » …

Alors que dopée et amplifiée par les nouveaux médias, la circulation de l’information et de toutes sortes de modes d’emploi (jusqu’aux recettes de bombes artisanales!) qui a tant contribué dans le monde arabo-musulman au prétendu « printemps arabe » vite transformé en « hiver salafiste » …

Met désormais à la portée du premier venu chez nous, paradis nordiques compris, la violence jusque-là réservée à l’Etat détenteur du monople de la violence légitime …

Pendant qu’entre mariage, procréation médicalement assistée et gestation pour autrui pour tous, nos gouvernants apprenti-sorciers rivalisent de démagogie pour attirer les chalands-électeurs tout en tentant d’apaiser l’inquiétude les marchands du temple

Comment ne pas être frappé, suite aux tout récents et pourtant relativement mesurés épisodes de Black Friday qui ont suvi la liquidation de l’enseigne Virgin comme après le coup promotionnel avorté d’Air Caraïbes, du désarroi et du recours systématique de certains de nos commentateurs au vocabulaire et au bestiaire apocalyptiques ?

Virgin Megastore de Lyon : les rayons vides à 10h30

Florent Deligia

Lyon capitale

13/05/2013

Depuis ce lundi matin, le Virgin Megastore de Lyon propose 50 % de remise sur l’ensemble du magasin. Une cinquantaine de personnes étaient présentes dès l’ouverture, se ruant sur les bonnes affaires et n’hésitant pas à harceler les vendeurs pour obtenir le Graal du jour : un iPad à petit prix. Ambiance.

La nouvelle a fait le tour des réseaux sociaux, dimanche 12 mai : à partir de lundi, les boutiques Virgin Megastore bradent leur stock et proposent 50 % de remise dans tous les magasins, à l’exception des livres et chèques-cadeaux. Les détenteurs de la carte de fidélité bénéficient pour leur part de 20 % supplémentaires. Alors que la chaîne traverse une crise sans précédent et que le tribunal doit étudier les offres de reprise le 23 mai, l’opération vise clairement à vider les stocks.

Une cinquantaine de personnes à 9h59

Ainsi, une cinquantaine de personnes se pressaient devant le magasin de Lyon, ce lundi matin, peu de temps avant l’ouverture des portes. La tension est alors déjà palpable. Certains font des bras d’honneur aux caméras de surveillance. D’autres pestent, car “les vendeurs auraient eu le droit de se servir en priorité”. Le ton est donné : les gens ici présents n’ont que faire de la crise qui touche Virgin et sont là pour faire de bonnes affaires. Les portes s’ouvrent à 10 heures. C’est la cohue, les gens se précipitent dans le magasin. Tout le monde n’a qu’un mot à la bouche : iPad.

La quête de l’iPad

Les consoles de jeux vidéo sont immédiatement accaparées, mais les tablettes de la firme à la pomme ne sont pas en rayon. Immédiatement, la foule se dirige vers les vendeurs qui partent chercher les tablettes, en stock aux étages supérieurs. À leur retour, ils n’ont pas le temps de les distribuer à ceux qui les ont demandés et sont dévalisés en quelques secondes. Ils tenteront bien de contrôler le flux, mais c’est peine perdue. L’ambiance est tendue, l’excitation à son comble.

Acheter pour revendre

Un homme ayant récupéré un iPad 4 64 Go à 350 euros (au lieu de 700) est interpellé par un jeune qui lui propose 400 euros immédiatement. Il refuse poliment avant de recevoir d’autres offres. Alors que les clients ne sont pas encore passés en caisse, des négociations ont déjà lieu dans le magasin. Des sommes en liquide s’échangent discrètement et les produits passent d’une main à l’autre. Un de ces revendeurs de l’immédiat nous confie qu’il pensait proposer ses achats sur le site de petite annonce leboncoin.fr. Il n’aura pas besoin de le faire. Les produits qu’il a récupérés ont déjà de nouveaux propriétaires. Un homme, la cinquantaine, montre le carton d’un lecteur Blu-Ray : “Vous pensez que je peux en tirer combien ? Je ne sais même pas à quoi ça sert.”

Des rayons vidés en quelques minutes, sauf celui des CD

Les rayons high-tech et jeux vidéo sont rapidement vidés de leur contenu. Paradoxalement, celui des disques au premier étage est désert, malgré des réductions identiques. Symbole d’un des pôles qui a marqué la perte de Virgin, la musique sur support physique n’intéresse plus personne. Un vendeur reste confiant : “Tout devrait partir d’ici le 25 mai”, date de la fin de l’offre. Plus loin, l’une des libraires regarde la curée avec émotion et se confie : “Ça me fait mal au cœur de voir ça. C’est difficile.” Une vingtaine de minutes après l’ouverture des portes, la tension est loin d’être retombée, bien au contraire. Le personnel, pris à partie, est suivi de près par des dizaines de clients n’ayant toujours qu’un seul mot à la bouche : iPad.

Vendeurs au bord de la crise de nerfs

Harcelé, un vendeur perd ses nerfs : “J’ai déjà poussé une gueulante tout à l’heure. Arrêtez de me suivre ! Il n’y a plus d’iPad.” Un client, se sentant lésé, attend qu’il se soit éloigné pour passer sa colère : “Ils ont tout gardé pour eux !” Quelqu’un lui fait alors remarquer que, si c’est vrai, c’est légitime : “Ils sont bientôt au chômage.” À quoi le client agacé répond : “Ils ne vont pas se plaindre : ils vendent aujourd’hui, et je contribue en achetant ici” (sic). Un autre vendeur craque à son tour : “Calmez-vous, on dirait que vous voulez de la viande.” Perdue dans ce chaos, une jeune demoiselle était simplement venue acheter un nouveau chargeur pour son ordinateur portable. Elle rebroussera chemin. Ce n’est pas le jour pour faire des emplettes normales.

Un parfum de fin du monde

Une demi-heure après l’ouverture, le rayon high-tech a été pillé. Il reste bien quelques accessoires, enceintes ou casques, mais les produits les plus importants sont partis depuis longtemps. Les négociations de particulier à particulier continuent aux caisses. Les butins sont protégés. Les paniers débordent. Les plus organisés étaient venus avec de grands sacs, désormais garnis d’électronique. À l’entrée, plusieurs affiches improvisées indiquent qu’il n’y a plus d’iPad. Cela n’empêchera pas les clients de continuer de poursuivre les vendeurs désespérés. Virgin devrait bientôt fermer. Il ne devrait plus y avoir grand-chose dans le magasin d’ici à mercredi. Un parfum de fin du monde flotte au 41 rue Édouard-Herriot.

Voir aussi:

Le Bon Coin envahi par les produits de chez Virgin Megastore

Florent Deligia

Lyon capitale

15/05/2013

Conséquence logique du cassage des prix dans les Virgin Megastores de France, de nombreux produits achetés dans les magasins se retrouvent désormais en vente sur le site Internet leboncoin.fr, ainsi que sur des plateformes comme eBay. Retour sur cette économie parallèle qui explose lors de chaque liquidation.

“Vend iPad 4 Rétina 32Go Wi-Fi noir dans son emballage d’origine au prix de 550€ (valeur dans le commerce 609€). Cause : achat réalisé lors des soldes Virgin le 13/05/2013”, “Pack PLAYSTATION 3 (500 Go) Edition spéciale “God Of War Ascension”, NEUVE et EMBALLÉE. […] Acheté le Lundi 13 Mai à Virgin, GARANTI 1 AN CONSTRUCTEUR. Prix non négociable, valeur en magasin : 309€ (soit 59€ d’économie).”

Depuis lundi et la liquidation des stocks dans les Virgin Megastores de France, les petites annonces de ce genre ont envahi le site leboncoin.fr ainsi que les plateformes comme eBay. De nombreux clients présents dès l’ouverture des portes ont rapidement remis en vente les produits achetés, faisant au passage quelques bénéfices. Les photos de ces annonces sont sans équivoque : les emballages portent toujours l’étiquette de prix estampillée “Virgin”.

Certains jouent la carte de l’honnêteté en révélant l’origine du bien, d’autres préfèrent le silence. Les produits sont soigneusement choisis et permettent de se réserver une marge confortable : tablette iPad ou Android, console de jeu Xbox 360, Playstation 3, jeux vidéo, casque audio ou enceinte nomade. Peu de CD et de films, qui ne sont pas assez intéressants. Interrogé par Lyon Capitale, lundi, au Virgin Megastore de Lyon, un de ces revendeurs s’explique : “Je prends uniquement des produits qui valent plusieurs centaines d’euros, comme les iPad. J’arrive à me faire entre 100 et 200 euros de marge par objet.”

TouchPad, Game, maintenant Virgin : bientôt Phone House ?

Pour certains, c’est devenu une habitude. Ils guettent les magasins qui cassent les prix avant de fermer, ou les produits bientôt retirés du marché au tarif sacrifié. En 2011, des consommateurs n’ont pas hésité à en venir aux mains lorsque HP décida de vendre sa tablette tactile TouchPad à 99 euros. Les appareils se retrouvaient alors rapidement sur les sites de petites annonces, au double de leur prix.

Début 2013, c’est le tour des magasins Game d’être le théâtre de ces razzias. L’enseigne proposait les jeux vidéo à -70 %, les consoles à -40 %. À cette époque, l’un des anciens vendeurs confiait : “Dès l’ouverture, nous avons reçu des clients avec des sacs plastiques qu’ils chargeaient de jeux et de consoles. Ils allaient les revendre directement chez nos concurrents ou dans les boutiques d’occasion qui payent en liquide.” Les revendeurs attendent déjà la prochaine enseigne qui disparaîtra. Phone House est parmi les premiers sur leur liste.

302 euros de marge avec un iPad 64 Gb

Régulièrement, les bons plans s’échangent sur les forums et sites Internet. Les gains peuvent être intéressants : entre 10 et 100 % du prix d’achat. Ainsi, un iPad 64 Gb vendu à 285 euros chez Virgin (pour les détenteurs de la carte de fidélité) est proposé autour de 550 euros sur un site comme leboncoin.fr. Bilan de l’opération : 265 euros pour le revendeur, une économie de 164 euros pour l’acheteur (le produit est à 714 euros chez Apple). Pas étonnant que la tablette d’Apple fut aussi recherchée lundi matin lors de l’ouverture des Virgin. Pour leur part, les consoles permettent de faire environ 50 euros de marge à la revente, voire plus si elles sont accompagnées de jeux.

De particulier à particulier… et la loi

Reste une question de taille : de telles opérations sont-elles légales ? Tout dépend de la régularité des ventes. Ainsi selon l’article L.121-1 du Code du commerce, “sont commerçants ceux qui exercent des actes de commerce et en font leur profession habituelle”. Sur une page dédiée à la question, le site Priceminister explique qu’“un vendeur pourra être qualifié de vendeur professionnel s’il a l’intention d’avoir une activité professionnelle qui se détermine, par exemple, par le fait de mettre en place un système organisé de vente à distance (utilisation de moyens professionnels pour expédier les produits vendus, aménagement de locaux dédiés…) et par le fait d’acheter des biens dans l’unique but de les revendre. Il n’existe pas dans les textes de seuil officiel (en nombre de ventes ou en euros) au-delà duquel l’activité de vente est automatiquement considérée comme relevant de l’activité commerciale”. Le site conseille cependant à ceux qui vendent régulièrement d’opter pour le statut d’autoentrepreneur.

Trois ans d’emprisonnement et 45 000 euros d’amende

Pour eBay, “sont professionnels” : ceux qui revendent des objets achetés, des objets créés par les vendeurs, la revente d’un grand nombre d’objets, d’objets neufs n’étant pas achetés pour un usage personnel… Les revendeurs qui ont l’habitude de profiter des liquidations ont donc peu de chance d’être inquiétés tant que cela reste rare et en petite quantité.

À défaut d’être explicite sur le volume des ventes, la loi est claire en cas d’abus. Une telle entreprise peut s’apparenter à du travail dissimulé (L.342-10 du Code du commerce), puni jusqu’à trois ans d’emprisonnement et 45 000 euros d’amende, ainsi qu’un rappel d’éventuelles cotisationset taxe dues.

Certains internautes, outrés de voir de telles opérations, n’hésitent pas à noyer les revendeurs sous les spams ou à leur proposer un achat avant de leur poser un lapin. D’autres, plus offensifs, postent de fausses annonces avec des prix plus bas pour “casser le marché”. Une incompréhension demeure : pourquoi les boutiques Virgin n’ont-elles pas décidé de limiter les achats à un seul produit du même type par client ? En pleine crise, l’enseigne a certainement d’autres problèmes à gérer.

Voir encore:

Ambiance de fin du monde dans les magasins Virgin

Audrey Tonnelier

Le Monde

14.05.2013

Depuis lundi 13 mai au matin, les soldes ont débuté dans les vingt-six magasins Virgin de l’Hexagone.

« En mai, Virgin fait ce qu’il te plaît. » Sur la devanture du magasin du boulevard Montmartre, dans le 2e arrondissement de Paris, la grande affiche promotionnelle rouge semble douloureusement déplacée. Depuis lundi 13 mai au matin, les soldes ont débuté dans les vingt-six magasins Virgin de l’Hexagone, dans une ambiance de fin du monde. En redressement judiciaire depuis le 14 janvier, l’enseigne vend ses stocks à moitié prix, et à – 60 % pour les adhérents.

En cette fin de journée, Alexandre, vendeur au rayon multimédia, est assailli par une nuée de clients qui lui posent en boucle les mêmes questions : « Vous n’avez plus d’iPad Retina ? Et les modèles de démonstration ? » « Ils sont la propriété d’Apple, on n’a pas le droit de les vendre… », répond le jeune homme, résigné. Autour de lui, des étagères entières vidées de leur contenu (lecteurs MP3, appareils photo, iMac..), plus aucun présentoir, des cartons déchirés. « Les clients les ont ouverts pour piquer du matériel… »

L’électronique est le plus recherché, suivi par les DVD et des CD. Seuls les livres, régis par une législation particulière, échappent aux soldes. « Ce matin, à l’ouverture, deux cents personnes se sont bousculées dans les escaliers. Il y a eu des cris, des piétinements… », dit Alexandre entre deux sollicitations. « Certains clients rampaient sous le rideau pour entrer plus vite », relate Aurélie, responsable du rayon librairie.

REMBOURSER LES CRÉANCIERS

L’opération doit durer quinze jours, mais « dans deux ou trois jours, il n’y aura plus rien », affirment les vendeurs. Classique dans ce genre de situation, le procédé permet de gonfler la trésorerie du groupe avant la liquidation des magasins qui n’auront pas fait l’objet d’offres de reprise. Ces dernières doivent être déposées avant le 23 mai, jour de leur examen par le tribunal de commerce.

Mais les syndicats redoutent que les sommes ainsi récoltées servent en priorité à rembourser les créanciers – l’enseigne ploie sous plus de 100 millions d’euros de dettes. « Le groupe souhaite récolter 5 millions d’euros avec le déstockage , mais nous n’avons aucune assurance que ces sommes iront au financement du plan de sauvegarde de l’emploi « , dénonce Laurent Degousée, délégué syndical SUD Commerce.

Selon lui, le PSE « idéal » – identique à celui de 2012, relatif à la fermeture des magasins de Toulouse, Metz et d’une partie du siège de Clichy – coûterait plus de 10 millions d’euros. Butler Capital Partners, le fonds qui détient 74 % du groupe, s’est déjà engagé à verser un million pour abonder le PSE, selon nos informations. La direction de Virgin se refuse pour l’heure à en chiffrer le coût global.

Les syndicats s’inquiètent aussi de l’avenir immédiat des magasins. « S’il n’y a plus rien à vendre, comment allons-nous rester ouverts jusqu’au mois de juin ? », s’interroge M. Degousée.

L’ÉCHÉANCE DU 23 MAI

Il craint également pour la viabilité de la principale offre de reprise, celle de la chaîne de loisirs créatifs Rougier & Plé, qui a prévu de reprendre les stocks. La proposition, la mieux-disante des cinq offres de reprise partielle déposées le 8 avril, porte sur onze magasins et 285 salariés (sur un total de 960). Mais, selon les syndicats, elle pourrait être revue à la baisse, en raison de difficultés de négociations de baux avec la foncière Unibail pour trois magasins.

L’échéance du 23 mai est pourtant censée permettre aux repreneurs d’améliorer leurs offres. Le tribunal a ensuite une à deux semaines pour rendre sa décision finale. Outre les propositions actuelles, qui émanent de Zara, Leclerc et Unibail, la chaîne Cultura serait revenue dans la course. Cette dernière se borne à indiquer « n’avoir pas déposé de dossier de reprise à ce jour ».

Boulevard Montmartre, le magasin Virgin a fermé ses portes à 19 heures lundi, avec trois heures d’avance. « Le temps d’encaisser tout le monde et de faire les comptes, on en a déjà jusqu’à 23 h 30 », déclaraient les responsables en essayant de contenir les clients mécontents restés sur le trottoir. Mi-juin au plus tard, le rideau pourrait tomber définitivement sur le magasin à l’enseigne rouge.

Voir de même:

Témoignage

Soldes à Virgin : « Vous vous êtes comportés comme des pourritures »

Antoine Michel | Blogueur

Rue 89

16/05/2013

Le 13 mai 2013 à minuit, via e-mails et réseaux sociaux, la nouvelle se répand comme un virus digne des zombies de Danny Boyle : le Virgin Megastore, à l’agonie, annonce des réductions de 50% sur la quasi-totalité du magasin. Les détenteurs de cartes de fidélité bénéficient de 20% supplémentaires.

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Making of

Nous avons vu ce billet sur le blog Les rétro-galeries de Mr Gutsy circuler sur Facebook et, sidérés par la violence des faits relatés, avons pris contact avec son auteur. Il nous a amicalement permis de reprendre son texte.

Antoine, contractuel dans la fonction publique et blogueur, a vu sa compagne en pleurs, « détruite » après cette journée de soldes. Agée de 28 ans, elle travaille au Virgin des Champs-Elysées depuis 2008 et sera bientôt au chômage.

Antoine a alors interrogé les collègues de sa compagne, et écrit le récit de leur journée. Dans son post il reprend également des témoignages de clients publiés dans le Parisien et Lyon Capitale. Son texte pourra en choquer certains. Rue89

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________L’enseigne Champs-Elysées ouvre à 10 heures, et les choses se compliquent déjà. Les gens dehors s’impatientent, ils sont des centaines (dont certains depuis 7 heures du matin), et tentent d’ouvrir eux-mêmes la gigantesque porte métallique. Ils tentent, ils tentent, les charognards.

La tension est déjà là, quelque chose ne tourne pas rond. Une ambiance, une attitude.

Le service de sécurité fait grincer les gonds. Sésame, ouvre-toi. Les chiens sont lâchés, le chaos peut commencer.

Des centaines d’humains, visages déformés, hagards, montent en courant au premier étage, se poussent les uns les autres. Une femme chute dans le grand escalier. Personne ne l’aide à se relever.

Objectif : le rayon numérique. Un iPad à 700 euros devient un iPad à 350 euros. Alors ils en prennent deux, trois, quatre, car même à 600 euros, les tablettes numériques se revendent illico sur eBay ou Leboncoin.fr.

5,4,3,2,1… et la ruée.

Mais il n’y a pas que ça à récupérer, et certains ont prévu le coup : ils sont venus avec des grands sacs. D’autres ont carrément ramené des valises.

Comme le témoigne une certaine Emma dans Le Parisien :

« C’était la folie. Ça poussait de tous les côtés. Les plus pressés montaient les marches quatre à quatre pour aller dans les rayons hi-fi. Mais il y avait peu d’articles. Du coup, certains clients arrachaient de leur socle les appareils photos ou les tablettes en exposition. Les alarmes retentissaient de toute part. »

Au téléphone, un homme hurle, plié d’un rire nerveux : « J’y crois pas, ici c’est l’apocalyyypse ! ! ! » Dans un premier temps, les employés trouvent ça hallucinant, positivement parlant. Mais ils vont déchanter très vite.

Traqués, insultés, secoués par les clients

Les consoles Xbox, vendues la veille 250 euros, passent à 175 euros. Prenons-en une, non deux, non trois. Durant l’heure suivant l’ouverture du magasin, les vendeurs, complètement désemparés, sont suivis, pris à partie, traqués, insultés, secoués par des clients devenus fous.

Certains employés montent sur des tabourets, et hurlent des ordres aux gens afin de contenir, de canaliser la foule en furie. En vain. Des clients leur hurlent dessus, et l’attention sera – semble-t-il – à qui criera le plus fort.

Alors qu’ils ont commencé leur journée depuis moins de deux heures, certains salariés s’échappent littéralement pour aller pleurer au stock, loin du chaos. Pour atterrir, pour se rendre compte de ce qu’il se passe, et reprendre un poil de force.

La fermeture du magasin, le néant d’information depuis plusieurs mois concernant un quelconque plan social, Pôle emploi s’approchant, et maintenant ça. Ça fait beaucoup.

En moins de trente minutes, le rayon numérique est vide. Plus rien, à part de la poussière et des déchets sur les rayonnages (restes de menus McDo, cannettes vides, emballages divers).

Ruée au Virgin de Strasbourg pour la liquidation des stocks

Vidéo amateur publiée par les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace

Des gens ont sous les bras des trucs sans savoir de quoi il s’agit. Ils ne savent même pas ce que c’est. « Vous pensez que je peux en tirer combien ? », osent-ils même demander. Mais même sans savoir, plus besoin de les mettre sur Priceminister. Car la vente n’a jamais été aussi sauvage, et des enchères commencent dès lors dans les files d’attente.

Je n’ai pas eu d’iPad, je rachète le vôtre. Non moi, non moi, non moi, qui dit mieux ? On dégaine le cash, des billets passent discrètement de main en main. On se croirait en plein deal généralisé.

Ils se gavent sans peur de vomir

Le magasin a en stock 184 cartouches du dernier jeu Nintendo DS « Professeur Layton ». Un revendeur de jeux vidéo, venu avec des amis porteurs, les prend toutes. Les 184.

Ceux qui sont arrivés trop tard au saint premier étage – ou qui n’ont pas eu accès aux enchères sauvages – prennent alors TOUT ce qui passe à hauteur de panier. TOUT : peluches, DVD au hasard, magnets, écouteurs, jeux de société, cartouches d’imprimantes. Ils n’ont pas le temps de choisir, sinon d’autres leur voleront leur butin.

Alors ils prennent, ils prennent, se gavent sans peur de vomir. Ils prennent pour empêcher d’autres de prendre. La plupart sont au portable :

« Mais tu veux lesquels ? Dis-moi vite, il n’y a presque plus rien ! “Twilight” ? “Iron Man” ? “Transformers” ? En Blu-ray ou DVD ? Bon, je prends tout, et rappelle-moi dans dix minutes ! De toute façon, on s’en fout, c’est à moins 50% ! »

Et pourtant – forcément – ils vomissent, quand le coup de sang est passé. Où ? Aux caisses. C’est réellement là qu’ils font leurs emplettes, leurs « bonnes affaires » : alors ça oui, je prends, ça non, ça oui, ça non… Ils reposent alors ce qui, en fait, ne les intéresse finalement pas.

L’attente dans la file est en moyenne de 1h30. Derrière les caissières, des centaines de produits divers s’entassent en dizaines de colonnes, trop rapidement dégueulés pour être rangés convenablement. Alors out le traditionnel classement fantastique/horreur/comédie : on prend tout et on repose tout en tas au rayon DVD. Obligé.

Les clients, pour une fois, ne se plaignent pas.

« On rachète vos indemnités »

Une employée sort fumer une clope, par une sortie privée qui mène dans la rue d’à côté. Elle a bien pris soin d’enlever son gilet rouge, chose qu’elle ne fait jamais. Elle n’a même pas allumé sa cigarette que les gens repèrent sans pitié le petit logo sur son badge et l’accaparent :

« Vous pouvez me mettre ça de côté ? Il vous reste des iPad ? Achetez-en un pour vous, et je vous le rachète ! »

L’employée leur répond que non. Leurs bouches se déforment alors, deviennent méchantes : « Non, mais sérieux, on croit rêver… Pffff ! »

Même aux livres, rare rayon sur lequel les soldes n’ont pas lieu (loi oblige), les gens remplissent des paniers en prenant – là encore – tout ce qui leur passe sous la main.

Lorsque les employés leur précisent que les livres ne bénéficient pas de réductions – « Non, mais vous auriez pas pu le dire ? » – ils reposent tout tel quel, n’importe où, avant de partir bon train vers des rayons plus juteux. Lyon Capital le raconte également :

« Vous devriez être contents, on rachète vos indemnités » ;

« C’est scandaleux, les vendeurs se sont servis avant nous ! » ;

« Vous n’allez pas vous plaindre d’être bientôt au chômage : vous vendez aujourd’hui, et je contribue en achetant. »

Ils n’ont JAMAIS vu ça de leur vie

Pour ajouter au chaos ambiant, au rez-de-chaussée comme au premier étage, des centaines de boîtiers vides de DVD et jeux vidéo jonchent le sol. Ouverts de force, volés dans la cohue.

On marche comme sur des œufs de peur de glisser, en poussant du pied les cadavres d’une culture qui semble avoir été violée. A la sortie, les bornes antivols hurlent au point qu’on ne les entend même plus.

Alors que le magasin ferme normalement ses portes à 22 heures, aujourd’hui, extinction des feux à 19h30. Ordre de ce qui reste de la direction : ne plus faire entrer personne pour mieux gérer la horde présente. (Pour la plupart des salariés cependant, la journée ne se terminera vraiment que cinq heures plus tard.)

Les vigiles, sous une pluie d’insultes et de huées, font leur job. Les gens dehors deviennent fous, les en empêchent, retiennent la porte. Ce qu’ils ne savent pas, les chacals, c’est que le magasin a déjà été pillé. Chacun de ses os a été sucé méthodiquement. Avidement.

Avec difficulté, les agents de sécurité, qui n’ont JAMAIS vu ça de leur vie, parviennent à refermer le sésame. Ouf. Un délicat client qui n’a probablement pas eu sa part du gâteau se plaindra quand même en commentaire de je ne sais plus quel site :

Amassant leur « butin »

Durant les derniers mois, depuis l’annonce de la fermeture de la chaîne Virgin, pas un seul de ces « clients » n’a évidemment levé le petit doigt pour soutenir (de quelque manière que ce soit) les 1 000 salariés, futurs chômeurs dans quelques semaines.

Mais lundi, ils étaient pourtant tous là comme par magie, ces clients invisibles, fossoyeurs aux dents acérées.

Ils ont soudain retrouvé l’adresse d’un magasin dans lequel, au mieux, ils n’avaient pas mis les pieds depuis des années, au pire, ne sont jamais allés.

Comble, certains ont même posé des RTT le matin même pour pouvoir s’y rendre. Dans le même article du Parisien cité plus haut, il est également noté que l’Emma en question (mise au courant de la braderie par une proche) « était venue en repérage la veille, car elle n’avait encore jamais mis les pieds dans un magasin Virgin ».

Le temps d’une matinée, oubliant Amazon, oubliant « la crise », ils étaient là en chair et en os, en masse, les rats, les nécrophiles, dansant joyeusement sur les cadavres de milliers de salariés, amassant leur « butin », comme certains le disaient à 11 heures sur Twitter.

Faire des bonnes affaires, c’est une chose. Mais à ce prix-là ? « Eh oui » avez-vous tous répondu en chœur, « A ce prix-là », justement. Et ce prix-là, c’était moins 50%. C’est ce que vous répétiez tous, vous, les charognards, la salive pâteuse aux commissures des lèvres.

A prix cassés, dignité soldée ?

Pour ce prix-là, vous avez poussé aux larmes des travailleurs qui, peu importe ce qu’on peut penser de Virgin, ont mis toute leur énergie et leur amour durant des années dans un job qui les a passionnés. Pour un simple rabais, vous les avez insultés, méprisés et violentés. Vous avez montré sans masque qu’un vulgaire iPad avait à vos yeux plus de valeur que leur travail et leurs passions.

Pour ce prix-là, putain, vous êtes devenus des bêtes. A prix cassés, dignité soldée ? La vôtre on s’en doutait, mais également la leur dans la foulée ? Vous ridiculiser ne suffisait donc pas ? Il fallait également les écraser, les traîner dans la boue ?

Vous vous êtes battus comme des chiens. Bravo, c’est bien. Mais vous n’êtes pas des chiens, les chiens n’agiraient pas ainsi. Mais vous n’êtes pas non plus des êtres humains, car un humain il me semble, n’agit pas non plus de la sorte.

Non. Pour vous être comportés ainsi, vous n’êtes simplement – et clairement – que des sales pourritures.


Obama II: Rattrapé par les scandales, Obama se hollandise à la vitesse grand V (Obama scandals: six months of Nixon-grade cover-up and they put you back in the White House)

23 mai, 2013
https://i2.wp.com/www.letelegramme.fr/ar/imgproxy.php/PhotoIntuitions/2013/01/05/1963206_economob.JPGhttps://i1.wp.com/0.tqn.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/q/L/5/Obama-Scandals.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/www.carlsontoons.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/magCOLOR.gifhttps://i1.wp.com/img.allvoices.com/thumbs/image/609/609/98285623-obama-scandals.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/sphotos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/p480x480/417907_10151596694745699_500981230_n.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/bluecollarphilosophy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Big-Dawg-590-LI.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/frugal-blog/frugal-cafe-blogzone/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/obama-class-of-2013-do-not-fear-government-audit-political-cartoon.jpgMa propre ville de Chicago a compté parmi les villes à la politique locale la plus corrompue de l’histoire américaine, du népotisme institutionnalisé aux élections douteuses. Barack Obama (Nairobi, Kenya, 2006)
J’ai appris hier avec stupéfaction et colère les aveux de Jérôme Cahuzac devant les juges. Il a trompé les plus hautes autorités du pays: le chef de l’Etat, le chef du gouvernement, le Parlement et à travers lui tous les Français. (…) J’affirme ici que Jérôme Cahuzac n’a bénéficié d’aucune protection autre que celle de la présomption d’innocence et il a quitté le gouvernement à ma demande dès l’ouverture d’une information judiciaire. François Hollande (3 avril 2013)
Je vous l’assure : à l’instant où je l’ai appris, j’ai mis toute mon énergie pour faire en sorte que ce problème soit réglé. (…) Je peux vous affirmer que je n’étais au courant de rien à propos de ce rapport de l’inspection générale des services fiscaux avant qu’il n’y ait des fuites dans la presse. Barack Obama (16 mai 2013)
One lesson, however, has not fully sunk in and awaits final elucidation in the 2012 election: that of the Chicago style of Barack Obama’s politicking. In 2008 few of the true believers accepted that, in his first political race, in 1996, Barack Obama sued successfully to remove his opponents from the ballot. Or that in his race for the US Senate eight years later, sealed divorced records for both his primary- and general-election opponents were mysteriously leaked by unnamed Chicagoans, leading to the implosions of both candidates’ campaigns. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of public campaign financing to reject it, or that he was also the largest recipient of cash from Wall Street in general, and from BP and Goldman Sachs in particular. Or that Obama was the first presidential candidate in recent memory not to disclose either undergraduate records or even partial medical. Or that remarks like “typical white person,” the clingers speech, and the spread-the-wealth quip would soon prove to be characteristic rather than anomalous. Few American presidents have dashed so many popular, deeply embedded illusions as has Barack Obama. And for that, we owe him a strange sort of thanks. Victor Davis Hanson
Selon le professeur Dick Simpson, chef du département de science politique de l’université d’Illinois, «c’est à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début du XXe que le système prend racine». L’arrivée de larges populations immigrées peinant à faire leur chemin à Chicago pousse les politiciens à «mobiliser le vote des communautés en échange d’avantages substantiels». Dans les années 1930, le Parti démocrate assoit peu à peu sa domination grâce à cette politique «raciale». Le système va se solidifier sous le règne de Richard J. Daley, grande figure qui régnera sur la ville pendant 21 ans. Aujourd’hui, c’est son fils Richard M. Daley qui est aux affaires depuis 18 ans et qui «perpétue le pouvoir du Parti démocrate à Chicago, en accordant emplois d’État, faveurs et contrats, en échange de soutiens politiques et financiers», raconte John McCormick. «Si on vous donne un permis de construction, vous êtes censés “payer en retour”», explique-t-il. «Cela s’appelle payer pour jouer», résume John Kass, un autre éditorialiste. Les initiés affirment que Rod Blagojevich ne serait jamais devenu gouverneur s’il n’avait croisé le chemin de sa future femme, Patricia Mell, fille de Dick Mell, un conseiller municipal très influent, considéré comme un rouage essentiel de la machine. Le Figaro
C’est un système pourri, une toile d’araignée qui organise sa survie en nommant ses amis à des postes clés de l’administration en échange de leur soutien politique et financier.  Anthony Peraica
Dans ce contexte local plus que trouble, Peraica affirme que la montée au firmament d’Obama n’a pu se faire «par miracle».«Il a été aidé par la machine qui l’a adoubé, il est cerné par cette machine qui produit de la corruption et le risque existe qu’elle monte de Chicago vers Washington», va-t-il même jusqu’à prédire. Le conseiller régional républicain cite notamment le nom d’Emil Jones, l’un des piliers du Parti démocrate de l’Illinois, qui a apporté son soutien à Obama lors de son élection au Sénat en 2004. Il évoque aussi les connexions du président élu avec Anthony Rezko, cet homme d’affaires véreux, proche de Blagojevich et condamné pour corruption, qui fut aussi le principal responsable de la levée de fonds privés pour le compte d’Obama pendant sa course au siège de sénateur et qui l’aida à acheter sa maison à Chicago. «La presse a protégé Barack Obama comme un petit bébé. Elle n’a pas sorti les histoires liées à ses liens avec Rezko», s’indigne Peraica, qui cite toutefois un article du Los Angeles Times faisant état d’une affaire de financement d’un tournoi international de ping-pong qui aurait éclaboussé le président élu. Le Figaro
Mr. Obama’s lesson in lack of political accountability also seems to be trickling down (…) There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. (…) If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because « part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast. » In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up. (…) If the President isn’t accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have. The WSJ
As of September 11, the race was dead even. (…) Beneath Obama’s calm veneer that September there were lots of things the public did not know, and from the administration’s point of view apparently should not know until after the election. Just three months earlier, the Treasury Department’s inspector general had reported to top Treasury officials that the Internal Revenue Service had been inordinately targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Such political corruption of the IRS was a Nixonian bombshell, with enormous implications for the election, especially given that during the campaign Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had claimed that he had knowledge about the Koch brothers’ tax returns, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was lauding himself as a “wrecking crew” as he swore he had the inside dope on Mitt Romney’s taxes. (…) In other words, in cynical fashion, the Obama team won on two counts: The IRS had intimidated conservative organizations for months and had very possibly helped to prevent them from repeating their successes of 2010, while keeping the illegal activity from the press and the public.
As of September 11, 2012, the American people also did not know that the attorney general’s office had four months earlier been conducting secret monitoring of two months’ worth of records of calls made from private and work phone lines of Associated Press reporters — this surveillance supposedly due to suspicions that administration sources were leaking classified information to these reporters. (…) Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.
On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related? We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack. Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. (…) Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.
In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country. Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion. Victor Davis Hanson

ObamaHollande, même combat !

Mensonges ou non-dits électoralistes sur l’attentat de Benghazi (4 morts dont l’ambassadeur, gommant, en ce 10e anniversaire du 11/9, toute référence à Al Qaeda qui aurait pu effrayer l’électeur), profilage du fisc pour les seuls groupes d’opposition,  presse sur écoutes (saisie de deux mois de relevés téléphoniques d’une vingtaine de journalistes), atermoiements sur la Syrie, impuissance sur la fermeture de Guantanamo, défaites sur le budget et le contrôle des armes à feu …

Alors que les scandales se multiplient autour du 2e mandat d’un président américain qui nous refait lui aussi le coup de la complète ignorance

Et que chez nous le fisc confirme, contrairement aux dénégations présidentielles, qu’il était au courant pour Cahuzac depuis au moins 2001 …

Comment ne pas voir comme le confirme l’historien militaire Victor Davis Hanson …

L’étrange gémellité entre d’un côté le président français le plus impopulaire de l’histoire de la Ve république et de l’autre le singulièrement précoce canard boiteux et auteur chicagoan du double casse du siècle de 2008 et de 2012 ?

The President Won — Sort Of

The administration spent the last six months of the campaign in cover-up mode.

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review

May 21, 2013

On September 11, 2012, Barack Obama was 1 point ahead of Mitt Romney in the ABC and Washington Post polls. He was scheduled to meet Romney in three weeks for the first debate. The president was increasingly anxious. Unemployment was still at 7.8 percent, and the Solyndra and Fast and Furious scandals had only recently disappeared from the news — and they had done so only thanks to the use of executive privilege.

But the Tea Party seemed to have lost its 2010 momentum, despite its renewed warnings that Obamacare would be a disaster if not repealed in 2013. The president was running on the slogan that GM was alive and bin Laden was dead — the implications being that massive influxes of borrowed federal money had allowed GM’s work force to survive, and that with the death of bin Laden came the unraveling of the “core” of al-Qaeda. Libya, of course, was cited as an overseas success — a sort of implied un-Iraq.

The contours of the campaign, in other words, were well drawn. Obama claimed that he had brought peace overseas and restoration at home, while Romney claimed that we were less secure on President Obama’s watch and that the economy was ossified because of too much debt and government spending.

And the race was neck and neck. In a few days the secretly taped “47 percent” Romney video would emerge and tar Romney with the charge of social insensitivity. And in the second debate, in mid-October, the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, in utterly unprofessional fashion, would interrupt Romney’s reference to Benghazi and cite a transcript in such a way as to falsely turn Obama’s generic reference to terrorism into an explicit presidential condemnation of the Benghazi attacks as a terrorist action, and swing the momentum of the debate back to a stumbling Barack Obama.

Again, as of September 11, the race was dead even.

Beneath Obama’s calm veneer that September there were lots of things the public did not know, and from the administration’s point of view apparently should not know until after the election. Just three months earlier, the Treasury Department’s inspector general had reported to top Treasury officials that the Internal Revenue Service had been inordinately targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Such political corruption of the IRS was a Nixonian bombshell, with enormous implications for the election, especially given that during the campaign Obama’s economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had claimed that he had knowledge about the Koch brothers’ tax returns, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was lauding himself as a “wrecking crew” as he swore he had the inside dope on Mitt Romney’s taxes.

The inspector general of the Treasury recently testified before Congress that he had told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin of the IRS’s shenanigans in June 2012, five months before the election. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who had been grilled during confirmation hearings about his own improper tax deductions, must at some point have been told of the IRS mess, but somehow all these disturbing developments were kept under wraps for the duration of the campaign. Are we to believe that, each time Geithner met with the president between June and November, he did not mention the scandal brewing in his department because his own deputy had never told him?

In other words, in cynical fashion, the Obama team won on two counts: The IRS had intimidated conservative organizations for months and had very possibly helped to prevent them from repeating their successes of 2010, while keeping the illegal activity from the press and the public.

As of September 11, 2012, the American people also did not know that the attorney general’s office had four months earlier been conducting secret monitoring of two months’ worth of records of calls made from private and work phone lines of Associated Press reporters — this surveillance supposedly due to suspicions that administration sources were leaking classified information to these reporters.

But something was awry here too. First, the administration did not start by apprising AP that it wished to talk to their suspect reporters, as is normal protocol. Stranger still, the administration itself apparently had leaked classified information about the Stuxnet cyber-war virus, the drone protocols, and the Seal Team 6 raid that killed bin Laden (remember Defense Secretary Bob Gates’s “Shut the f*** up!”) — all in efforts to persuade the voting public that their president was far more engaged in the War on Terror than his critics had alleged.

These efforts to squelch any mention of the monitoring of journalists worked as well. Reporters were outraged when they eventually learned that some of their brethren had been subjected to stealthy government surveillance — but they learned this a year after the fact and only following the reelection of Barack Obama.

On September 11, 2012, of course, there was the violent attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, and a host of unanswered questions in the heat of the campaign: What was such a large CIA operation doing in Benghazi? Why was our ambassador left so vulnerable both before and during the attack? Why had the much-praised “lead from behind” campaign to remove Qaddafi earned us a dead ambassador and a nation full of anti-American terrorists, some of them perhaps al-Qaeda–related?

We know now from a flurry of e-mails, public talking points, and public statements from staffers that when the president himself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an Internet video, they knew in reality that the video had nothing to do with the attack.

Yet coming clean before the American people apparently might have involved explaining why no one in Washington was willing to beef up security in answer to Ambassador Stevens’s requests. And during the attack, worry over a Mogadishu-like firefight two months before the election may have been why the administration ordered available units to stand down rather than sending in help by any means necessary. The truth was clear: Libya was not quiet, nor was al-Qaeda leaderless.

Instead, blaming the violence on a petty crook and supposed “Islamophobe” squared the circle: A right-wing bigot had caused the problem; he could be summarily jailed; and the president could both be absolved from blame for the unexpected violence and praised for his multicultural bona fides in condemning such a hateful voice on our soil. Again, the cover-up worked perfectly in accordance with the September campaign narrative. The American people did not find out the truth of what happened in Benghazi — the “consulate” was never attacked by “spontaneous” demonstrators enraged by a video emanating from the United States — until eight months after the attack.

In the matters of the Associated Press surveillance, the IRS scandal, and Benghazi, the White House prevailed — keeping from the public embarrassing and possibly illegal behavior until the president was safely reelected. As in the mysteries surrounding David Petraeus’s post-election resignation, and the revelation about the “train wreck” of Obamacare, what the voters knew prior to November about what their government was up to proved far different than what they are just beginning to know now. And so Obama won the election, even as he is insidiously losing half the country.

Because breaking the law and telling untruths eventually surface, we will come to learn that Obama was reelected into oblivion.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals is just out from Bloomsbury Books.

Voir aussi:

Obama fragilisé par une succession de scandales

L’opposition républicaine accuse le fisc d’avoir multiplié à dessein les enquêtes contre des groupes proches du Tea Party.

Laure Mandeville

Le Figaro

«Il y a du sang dans l’eau», écrit John Avlon dans le Daily Beast,pour décrire la position défensive et affaiblie dans laquelle se retrouve acculée une Administration Obama rattrapée, en quelques jours, par les scandales. Plus que par les critiques quasi obsessionnelles des élus républicains contre les mensonges ou les non-dits de la crise de Benghazi, le président réélu est aujourd’hui rattrapé par les sombres manœuvres du fisc américain visant à cibler des groupes conservateurs Tea Party, ainsi que par la surveillance des échanges téléphoniques de plusieurs journalistes de la prestigieuse agence de presse AP. Certains parlent déjà d’une débandade à la Nixon pendant le Watergate, d’autres préférant faire plus sobrement référence aux affres de «Clinton II» et à la «malédiction», classique, des deuxièmes mandats. «On est encore dans le registre des abus mineurs, en comparaison avec les autres présidents», tempère le politologue Larry Sabato.

Dans un rapport publié mardi, l’inspecteur général de l’administration fiscale, qui dépend du département du Trésor, n’en a pas moins reconnu que l’IRS (Internal Revenue Service) a failli à sa mission en ciblant «selon des critères inappropriés» des groupes conservateurs qui réclamaient des exemptions fiscales. L’épicentre du scandale semble concerner une cellule du fisc de Cincinnati, où des groupes Tea Party et des mouvements «patriotes» de droite se sont vus soumis à des enquêtes approfondies sur l’origine de leurs fonds et le nom de leurs donateurs entre 2010 et 2012. L’inspecteur a affirmé que ces actions discriminantes constituent une infraction au principe de neutralité de l’État mais que rien ne permet de prouver qu’elles aient été commanditées de l’extérieur. «Ces conclusions sont intolérables et inexcusables. L’IRS doit appliquer la loi de manière juste et impartiale et ses employés doivent agir avec la plus grande intégrité», a condamné le président embarrassé, ordonnant au secrétaire au Trésor Jack Lew de sanctionner les coupables. Le FBI a par ailleurs ouvert une enquête.

« On est encore dans le registre des abus mineurs, en comparaison avec les autres présidents »

Le politologue Larry Sabato.

La question centrale est de déterminer si les actes des inspecteurs du fisc ont été le fait d’individus isolés ou si d’autres administrations, dont la Maison-Blanche, ont été associées. Une telle découverte changerait évidemment l’équation politique du scandale. La directrice des services d’exonération fiscale, Lois Lerner, parle d’un acte isolé dans lequel la présidence n’a eu aucun rôle. Elle affirme avoir eu vent de ces pratiques en 2011 et avoir ordonné un changement des critères de sélection. Mais les employés du fisc les auraient modifiés à nouveau sans en informer leur hiérarchie…

Peu convaincus, les élus républicains du Congrès s’apprêtent ce vendredi à lancer des auditions sur le sujet. À en croire certains groupes conservateurs ciblés par l’IRS, des agents du fisc leur auraient expliqué que leurs dossiers étaient examinés… à Washington. Plusieurs cellules Tea Party, de la Californie à la Virginie, affirment avoir été les cibles de contrôles du même type.

Pour les groupes conservateurs, qui vivent dans une méfiance instinctive du centre fédéral et accusent Barack Obama de vouloir instaurer un État centralisé dictatorial espionnant les citoyens et les privant de leurs libertés fondamentales – peur alimentée par son projet de contrôle des armes -, l’affaire de l’IRS est une aubaine, un formidable slogan de campagne potentiel pour les élections de mi-mandat de 2014.

Le porte-parole de la Maison-Blanche a beau affirmer que la présidence ne se sent «nullement» assiégée par ces dossiers d’abus de pouvoir, le bateau Obama semble avoir du mal à colmater les brèches, forçant «son capitaine» à la défensive. Pour le président, qui vient de subir deux défaites cuisantes sur le budget et le contrôle des armes à feu, cette tempête tombe mal, même si elle ne débouche pas sur une mise en cause de son intégrité. Son bilan législatif de deuxième mandat s’annonce squelettique, à l’exception de la loi sur l’immigration. Épuisé par ses efforts infructueux d’ouverture, il peine à définir le cadre de sa «conversation» avec le pays, handicap majeur dans une démocratie définie par un cycle d’actualité continue impitoyable, note l’ancien porte-parole de Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry. Même le consensus naissant sur l’immigration se retrouve occulté par les combines de l’IRS et les écoutes d’AP. Si on ajoute à ces couacs répétés, les atermoiements sur la Syrie et l’impuissance sur le dossier de la fermeture de Guantanamo, on voit se dessiner le portrait d’une Administration hésitante et paralysée par les couacs et les polémiques mesquines. «Mon intention est de gouverner», a pourtant lancé Obama clairement exaspéré, appelant ceux qui préfèrent «penser à leur élection qu’à la prochaine génération» à en assumer les risques.

La presse se déchaîne après la surveillance téléphonique de plusieurs journalistes

Déjà très remontée contre l’opacité de son Administration, la presse est furieuse contre Barack Obama. Avec la décision du ministère de la Justice de se faire communiquer les factures détaillées de journalistes de la vénérable agence Associated Press, elle se sent trahie et a déterré la hache de guerre. Il suffit de lire l’éditorial du New York Times ce mercredi pour comprendre. D’ordinaire plutôt amène vis-à-vis d’Obama, la rédaction épingle «le zèle glaçant de l’Administration à enquêter sur les fuites et à poursuivre leurs auteurs en justice». Pour l’heure, tout en affirmant ne pas avoir été impliquée dans les écoutes, la Maison-Blanche justifie de telles pratiques au nom de la sécurité nationale.

Voir aussi:

Les trois affaires qui embarrassent Obama

Groupes d’opposition ciblés par le fisc, journalistes espionnés, cafouillage de la communication sur l’attentat de Benghazi: l’Administration américaine est empêtrée dans une série de scandales.

Anne-Laure Frémont

Le Figaro

15/05/2013

L’année 2013 ne porte pas chance à Barack Obama. Déjà affaibli par son incapacité à faire passer une loi sur le contrôle des armes à feu, le président américain fait face, ces derniers jours, à une succession d’affaires dont les républicains se servent pour fustiger les «abus de pouvoirs» de l’Administration.

1- L’excès de zèle du fisc américain

La justice américaine a annoncé ce mardi l’ouverture d’une enquête après le mea culpa embarrassant du fisc. Vendredi, l’IRS (Internal Revenue Service) a en effet reconnu avoir ciblé quelque 75 groupes proches de la mouvance conservatrice et anti-impôts du Tea Party, en lançant des examens plus approfondis de leur demande de statut spécial (qui conferre aux groupes dits «501(c)4» le régime fiscal de non-imposition, au même titre que les ONG ou les Églises). Les groupes dont le nom comportait le mot «patriote» étaient par exemple, particulièrement visés.

Depuis l’an dernier, des dizaines d’entre eux se plaignaient des questions très intrusives du fisc. En ciblant les groupes d’opposition, ce dernier a enfreint la loi et choque démocrates comme républicains. «Nous allons attendre de connaître tous les faits et les détails. Mais je n’ai aucune patience pour cela, je ne le tolérerai pas et nous ferons en sorte de comprendre exactement ce qu’il s’est passé», a promis Barack Obama lundi, évoquant un acte «scandaleux» lors d’une conférence de presse sur un tout autre sujet, à laquelle le premier ministre britannique David Cameron assistait. Son porte-parole, Jay Carney, a tenu à préciser mardi que le président n’avait rien à voir avec cette affaire. Même si l’IRS est un organisme indépendant, tout mauvais agissement de sa part rejaillit forcément sur la Maison-Blanche, estime toutefois Ron Bonjean, ancien assistant républicain au Congrès.

2 – Les journalistes de l’agence de presse AP espionnés

En voulant à tout prix contenir les fuites d’informations confidentielles, Washington est peut-être allé trop loin. L’agence de presse américaine Associated Press (AP) a dénoncé lundi une «intrusion massive et sans précédent» du département de la Justice, qui se serait secrètement saisi de deux mois de relevés téléphoniques d’une vingtaine de journalistes de l’agence. Selon AP, la justice aurait pris cette décision après la publication d’une dépêche dans laquelle, en mai 2012, l’agence révélait une opération de la CIA au Yémen ayant permis de déjouer un projet d’attentat d’al-Qaida visant à faire exploser une bombe à bord d’un avion à destination des États-Unis. La saisie aurait eu pour but de traquer l’identité des informateurs de l‘agence.

Le ministre de la Justice, Eric Holder, a tenté de se justifier mardi, indiquant que les fuites d’informations en question étaient «parmi les plus, si ce n’est les plus graves» qu’il ait jamais vues «depuis 1976», date à laquelle il a démarré sa carrière à la justice. «Ce n’est pas une exagération, cela mettait les Américains en danger et tenter de déterminer qui en était responsable, je pense, exige une action très offensive», a ajouté le ministre, qui a refusé de dire si d’autres médias étaient concernés. Mardi, Jay Carney a assuré qu’Obama soutenait le premier amendement – qui garantit la liberté d’expression – mais qu’un «équilibre» était nécessaire entre les libertés publiques et l’impératif d’enquêter sur des pratiques criminelles. Le sénateur démocrate Harry Reid a pour sa part jugé cette procédure «inexcusable». «J’ai du mal à défendre ce qu’a fait le ministère de la Justice (…), il n’y a aucun moyen de le justifier», a-t-il déclaré.

3 – L’interminable dossier Benghazi

L’Administration Obama est empêtrée dans l’affaire de l’attentat de Benghazi, en Libye. Un attentat au cours duquel l’ambassadeur, Christopher Stevens, et trois Américains ont été tués, le 11 septembre dernier. Les élus républicains, qui mettent notamment en cause l’ex-secrétaire d’État Hillary Clinton, reprochent à l’Administration d’avoir voulu taire le caractère «terroriste» de cette attaque pour ne pas plomber la campagne présidentielle d’Obama avant le vote de novembre 2012.

Rapports et auditions à l’appui, les républicains dénoncent les failles du dispositif de sécurité, tandis que des courriels révélés vendredi par la chaîne ABC semblent aussi indiquer que l’Administration est intervenue pour supprimer une référence à al-Qaida dans un document sur lequel devait s’appuyer Susan Rice, ambassadrice à l’ONU, pour rendre compte à la télévision des débuts de l’enquête. Dans l’un de ces messages, Victoria Nuland, alors porte-parole du département d’État, s’oppose à ce qu’on fasse état d’informations préalables de la CIA sur une menace islamiste dans l’est de la Libye «car cela pourrait être utilisé par des membres du Congrès pour attaquer le département d’État en l’accusant d’avoir ignoré les mises en garde».

Depuis des mois, l’équipe Obama tente de se justifier. «Le lendemain de cette attaque, j’avais reconnu qu’il s’agissait d’un acte terroriste», a encore déclaré le président américain lundi. «Le fait qu’on continue à en parler, franchement, a beaucoup à voir avec des motivations politiques.»

(Avec agences)

Voir également:

L’élan de Barack Obama brisé par les scandales

Laure Mandeville

Le Figaro

Quatre ans après une élection historique et six mois après une réélection sans réserve, le président américain donne l’impression d’être un observateur frustré et fatigué, plutôt qu’un président en charge.

De notre correspondante à Washington

À regarder Barack Obama donner une laborieuse conférence de presse en compagnie de son hôte turc Erdogan, ce jeudi dans le jardin aux Roses, sous un parapluie tenu au-dessus de sa tête par un marine à l’immobilité impeccable, on avait l’impression pénible d’une métaphore de l’état de sa présidence. Celle d’une Maison-Blanche qui prend l’eau. Quatre ans après une élection historique et six mois après une réélection sans réserve, il n’y a déjà plus d’élan à Washington. Juste un président fatigué aux cheveux blanchis par les soucis, qui tente tant bien que mal de reprendre l’initiative après une semaine émaillée de scandales.

Certes, Obama a promis de remettre de l’ordre avec vigueur dans les affaires du fisc américain, qui a clairement commis des abus de pouvoir. Pris à partie sur sa gestion politique de la crise de Benghazi, le chef de l’État a là encore choisi de faire publier tous les e-mails internes relatifs à l’affaire et appeler le Congrès à voter le renforcement des dispositifs de sécurité des ambassades. Au nom de «la sécurité nationale», Obama a également défendu l’action du ministère de la Justice, qui avait procédé à une surveillance de journalistes de l’agence Associated Press.

La pression des lobbys

Dans les trois cas, sa position est plutôt sensée et rationnelle, en tout cas défendable. Contrairement à Richard Nixon pendant le Watergate, ou à Clinton pendant l’affaire Lewinsky, Obama n’est pas personnellement éclaboussé par ces trois affaires, contrairement à ce que veut faire croire une armée de blogs conservateurs attirés par l’«odeur du sang». Mais ce qui manquait ce jeudi dans le jardin aux Roses, c’était l’étincelle. La force de conviction. Cette communion avec un homme qui avait fait croire à l’Amérique qu’il pourrait réformer Wall Street, fermer Guantanamo, réparer Washington, unifier la nation et réconcilier le monde d’un coup de baguette magique. Bref, marcher sur l’eau.

Si le président paraît désemparé, c’est qu’il réalise qu’il n’y a pas de grâce en politique, pas de place pour la grande transformation structurelle qu’il avait rêvée. Les trois ans et demi à venir s’annoncent comme un cheminement laborieux et cruel dans la boue des attaques, la pression des lobbys et l’affrontement permanent avec un Congrès divisé et paralysant, pour un résultat incertain. Patauger dans les batailles politiciennes, ce n’est pas vraiment la spécialité d’Obama, qui se pense comme un visionnaire et se passionne pour les dossiers techniques. Ses tentatives répétées d’ouverture vers les républicains, lors de dîners privés destinés à susciter des compromis sur le budget ou le contrôle des armes, ont échoué. Seule une victoire, très improbable, aux élections de mi-mandat, pourrait encore sauver ses plans. Du coup, Obama donne l’impression d’être un observateur frustré plutôt qu’un président en charge.

Crucifixion quotidienne

Le pays, qui a la mémoire courte, a oublié que cette «crucifixion» quotidienne a été le lot de tous ses prédécesseurs. Clinton a été honni et traîné dans la boue avant de devenir le sage dont chacun à droite comme à gauche loue «l’intelligence politique». Raillé, mis à l’index par les libéraux et déstabilisé par le scandale des contras, Reagan a dû mourir pour devenir une statue du commandeur tutélaire. Même chose pour Harry Truman, à la présidence semée de scandales. Au fond, Barack Obama vit un destin présidentiel normal. Il est juste parti de très haut, donnant du coup l’impression d’une chute irrémédiable. Ses hésitations à agir en Syrie – même si elles révèlent une prudence louable et peut-être salutaire – accroissent le sentiment d’un capitaine à la main défaillante.

Est-ce définitif? Sans doute pas. Dans le monde versatile du XXIe siècle, un drame en chasse un autre et c’est la chance d’Obama. S’il parvient à arracher une loi sur l’immigration par exemple, la planète médiatique se remettra à le louer, avec la même force qu’elle l’enterre. S’il réussit à démontrer les excès grotesques des critiques républicaines, qui l’accusent de vouloir transformer l’État en «Big Brother» dangereux, il pourrait rassurer un pays de plus en plus fatigué de la propagande et de la paralysie. Bref, le verre de la présidence Obama est toujours à moitié plein, même s’il se vide.

Reste toutefois une ombre de taille au tableau. Celle que la faiblesse politique d’Obama projette sur le pouvoir américain et ses limites. En regardant le président sous son parapluie appeler à s’en remettre à «la communauté internationale» pour régler le problème syrien, on ne peut s’empêcher d’y lire aussi une métaphore de la nouvelle impuissance américaine. Certains, à l’étranger, s’empresseront de l’exploiter.

Voir encore:

The Unaccountable Executive

If the President doesn’t run the government, then who does?

The Wall Street Journal

May 22, 2013

Every day brings new revelations about who knew what about the IRS targeting conservative groups during President Obama’s re-election campaign, but the overall impression is of a vast federal bureaucracy run amok. While the White House continues to peddle the story of a driverless train wreck, taxpayers are being treated to a demonstration of the dangers of an unwieldy and unaccountable administrative state. Look, Ma, no hands!

In his press events, Mr. Obama has said that while he learned about the Cincinnati rogues on the news, he plans to « hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions. » But the White House began its response by pushing the line that the IRS is an « independent agency, » and Mr. Obama has since given the impression that he sits atop a federal government which he does not, and could not possibly, control.

White House senior adviser Dan Pfieffer encouraged that fable on this Sunday’s news shows, implying that the Treasury’s internal process for handling the unfair treatment of political targets trumped the President’s right to know. When CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley asked Mr. Pfieffer why the White House and top Treasury officials weren’t notified, he explained that Treasury’s investigation was ongoing and « Here’s the cardinal rule: You do not interfere in an independent investigation. »

Now there’s a false choice. The Treasury Inspector General’s report, for starters, was an audit, not an inviolable independent investigation. He lacked subpoena power and could bring no criminal charges. Having the President know of the IRS’s mistakes so that he could act to correct the problem was not a bridge too far or even clouding the purity of the process. Those things could have been done simultaneously without compromising Treasury’s investigation.

At Darrell Issa’s House oversight hearing on Wednesday, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George was criticized for not notifying Congress of the IRS wrongdoing when he became aware of it in July 2012. Emails between the IG’s office and committee staff show the IG’s office repeatedly evaded Congressional inquiries on the progress of the investigation.

All IGs appear before Congress, but they are really answerable to the President who is responsible for what goes on in the IRS and what the agency actually does. If the IRS is not operating in a way that treats taxpayers evenhandedly and in accordance with its guidelines and mission, it is up to him to change the personnel and make any other corrections so that the taxing power of the federal government is legal and fair. If that isn’t the case, voters deserve to know exactly who is accountable for the decisions of the agency that takes a healthy fraction of their income every year.

Mr. Obama’s lesson in lack of political accountability also seems to be trickling down: Lois Lerner was in charge of the IRS division that discriminated against conservative groups. But rather than take responsibility, Ms. Lerner on Wednesday invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify at the House hearing, though not before she read a statement saying that she had « not done anything wrong. »

Asked by Texas Senator John Cornyn at a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday whether he owed conservative groups an apology, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that he was « certainly not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it » though he was sorry that it had happened on his watch.

There’s a certain infantilization of the federal government here that should be especially alarming to taxpayers who have ever crossed paths with the IRS. The agency has the power to make citizens lives miserable, ruin their businesses and garnish their wages. Anyone facing an audit is unlikely to get away with the evasions now in display in the federal bureaucracy.

If the scandal is showing anything, it is that the White House has a bizarre notion of accountability in the federal government. President Obama’s former senior adviser, David Axelrod, told MSNBC recently that his guy was off the hook on the IRS scandal because « part of being President is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast. »

In other words, the bigger the federal government grows, the less the President is responsible for it. Mr. Axelrod’s remarkable admission, and the liberal media defenses of Mr. Obama’s lack of responsibility, prove the tea party’s point that an ever larger government has become all but impossible to govern. They also show once again that liberals are good at promising the blessings of government largesse but they leave its messes for others to clean up.

***

Alexander Hamilton and America’s Founders designed the unitary executive for the purpose of political accountability. It is one of the Constitution’s main virtues. Unlike grunts in Cincinnati, Presidents must face the voters. That accountability was designed to extend not only to the President’s inner circle but over the entire branch of government whose leaders he chooses and whose policies bear his signature.

If the President isn’t accountable, then we really have the tea party nightmare of the runaway administrative state accountable to no one. If Mr. Obama and his aides are to be taken at their word, that is exactly what we have.

Voir de même:

Obama’s ‘Idiot’ Defense

Scandal forces the president to drop the pose of omnicompetent know-it-all.

Jonah Goldberg

National review

May 22, 2013

Although there’s still a great deal to be learned about the scandals and controversies swirling around the White House like so many ominous dorsal fins in the surf, the nature of President Obama’s bind is becoming clear. The best defenses of his administration require undermining the rationale for his presidency.

“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots. It’s actually closer to us being idiots.” So far, this is the administration’s best defense.

It was offered to CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson by an anonymous aide involved in the White House’s disastrous response to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Well-intentioned human error rarely gets the credit it deserves. People want to connect the dots, but that’s only possible when you assume that all events were deliberately orchestrated by human will. This is the delusion at the heart of all conspiracy theorists, from Kennedy assassination crackpots to 9/11 “truthers.”

Behind all such delusions is the assumption that government officials we don’t like are omnicompetent and entirely malevolent. The truth is closer to the opposite. They mean well but can’t do very much very well.

This brings us to the flip side of the conspiracy theory — call it the redeemer fantasy: If only we had the right kind of government with the right kind of leaders, there’d be nothing we couldn’t do.

It’s been a while since we had a self-styled redeemer president. John F. Kennedy surely dabbled in the myth that experts could solve all of our problems, though much of JFK’s messianic status was imposed on him posthumously by the media and intellectuals. You really have to go back to Franklin D. Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson to find a president who pushed the salvific powers of politics as much as Barack Obama.

His presidency has been grounded in the fantasy that there’s “nothing we can’t do” through government action if we just put all our faith in it — and, by extension, in him. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, he tells us, and if we just give over to a post-political spirit, where we put aside our differences, the way America (allegedly) did during other “Sputnik moments” (one of his favorite phrases), we can give “jobs to the jobless,” heal the planet, even “create a kingdom [of heaven] right here on Earth.”

For Obama, the only things separating America from redemption are politics, specifically obstruction from unhinged Republicans and others clinging to outdated and vaguely illegitimate motives. Opposition to gun control is irrational because the “government is us.” Reject warnings “that tyranny is always lurking,” he told the graduating class at Ohio State, because a self-governing people cannot tyrannize themselves.

But, suddenly, when the administration finds itself ensnared by errors of its own making, the curtain is drawn back on the cult of expertise and the fantasy of statist redemption. Early on in the IRS scandal, before the agency’s initial lies were exposed, David Axelrod defended the administration on the grounds that the “government is so vast” the president “can’t know” what’s going on “underneath” him. Of course, it was Obama who once said, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.”

That is, when things are going relatively well. When scandal hits the fan, he goes from the “government is us” to talking of his own agencies the way a czar might dismiss an injustice in some Siberian backwater. The hubris of omnicompetence gives way to “lighten up, we’re idiots.”

Many of his defenders now rush to insist that it’s unfair to hold him to too high a standard. He’s just a man, just a politician. Well, duh.

Meanwhile, Obama insists that he is outraged. And, if sincere, that’s nice. But so what? What the president seems to have never fully understood is that the Founders were smarter than he is or that the American people aren’t as dumb as he thinks we are. His outrage is beside the point.

A free people will have legitimate differences on questions of policy. A government as vast as ours is — never mind as vast Obama wants it to be — is destined to abuse its power, particularly in a climate where a savior-president is incessantly delegitimizing dissent (and journalistic scrutiny). Government officials will behave like idiots sometimes, not because they are individually dumb but because a government that takes on too much will make an idiot out of anyone who thinks there’s no limit to what it can do. That alone is good reason to fear tyranny. Indeed, it would be idiotic not to.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback.

Voir aussi:

Big Government’s Abuses of Power

Monitoring AP but not detaining Tamerlan Tsarnaev — there is a common theme.

Victor Davis Hanson

National review

May 22, 2013

Government is now so huge, powerful, and callous that citizens risk becoming virtual serfs, lacking the freedoms guaranteed by the Founders.

Is that perennial fear an exaggeration? Survey the current news.

We have just learned that the Internal Revenue Service before the 2012 election predicated its tax-exemption policies on politics. It inordinately denied tax exemption to groups considered conservative or otherwise antagonistic to the president’s agenda.

If the supposedly nonpartisan IRS is perceived as skewing our taxes on the basis of our politics, then the entire system of trust in self-reporting is rendered null and void. Worse still, the bureaucratic overseer at the center of the controversy, Sarah Hall Ingram, now runs the IRS division charged with enforcing compliance with the new Obamacare requirements.

It was also before the 2012 election that some reporters at the Associated Press had their private and work phone records monitored by the government, supposedly because of fear about national-security leaks. The Justice Department gave the AP no chance, as it usually would, first to question its own journalists. The AP had run a story in May 2012 about the success of a double agent working in Yemen before the administration itself could brag about it.

In fact, the Obama White House has been accused of leaking classified information favorable to the administration — top-secret details concerning the Stuxnet computer virus used against Iran, the specifics of the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, and the decision-making behind the drone program — often to favored journalists. The message is clear: A reporter may have his most intimate work and private correspondence turned over to the government — Fox News’s James Rosen had his e-mail account tapped into — on the mere allegation that he might have tried to do what his own government had in fact already done.

Now the civil-rights divisions of the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have issued new speech codes for campuses, focusing on supposed gender insensitivities. The result is that federal bureaucrats can restrict the constitutionally protected rights of free speech for millions of American college students — including during routine classroom discussions.

Eight months after the Benghazi mess, Americans only now are discovering that the Obama administration, for political reasons, failed to beef up security at our Libyan consulate or send it help when under attack. It also lied in blaming the violence on a spontaneous demonstration prompted by an Internet video. That pre-election narrative was known to be untrue when the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney all peddled it.

The problem with a powerful rogue government is not just that it becomes quite adept at doing what it should not. Increasingly, it also cannot even do what it should.

Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell may well turn out to be the most lethal serial killer in U.S. history. His recent murder conviction gave only a glimpse of his carnage at the end of a career that spanned more than three decades. Yet Gosnell operated with impunity right under the noses of Pennsylvania health and legal authorities for years, without routine government health-code and licensing oversight.

In the case of Boston terrorist bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his loud jihadist activity had earned him a visit from the FBI and the attention of both the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. But all that government monitoring was for naught. Tsarnaev was not detained, but allowed to visit Dagestan and Chechnya — both located in the supposedly dangerous region that prompted his family’s flight to the U.S. in the first place.

In all of these abuses and laxities there is one common theme. Bureaucrats, political appointees, regulators, intelligence officials, and law-enforcement personnel wanted to fall in line with the perceived politically correct agenda of the day. Right now, that party line seems to include protecting the progressive interests of the Obama administration, going after its critics, turning a blind eye toward illegal abortions, ignoring warnings about radical Islam, and restricting the right to free speech in order to curtail language declared potentially hurtful.

Conspiracists, left and right, are sometimes understandably derided as paranoids for alleging that Big Government steadily absorbs the private sector, violates private communications, targets tax filers it doesn’t like, and lies to the people about what it is up to. The only missing theme of such classic paranoia is the perennial worry over the right to bear arms.

I went to several sporting-goods stores recently to buy commonplace rifle shells. For the first time in my life, there were none to be found. Can widespread shortages of ammunition be attributed to panic buying or to production shortfalls caused by inexplicably massive purchases by the Department of Homeland Security at a time of acrimonious debate over the Second Amendment?

Who knows, but yesterday’s wacky conspiracist may become today’s Nostradamus.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, is just out from Bloomsbury Press.

Voir enfin:

Is Obama Already a Lame Duck?

Not quite, but he sure is quacking like one.

Peggy Noonan

WSJ

May 3, 2013

I think we’re all agreed the president is fading—failing to lead, to break through, to show he’s not at the mercy of events but, to some degree at least, in command of them. He couldn’t get a win on gun control with 90% public support. When he speaks on immigration reform you get the sense he’s setting it back. He’s floundering on Syria. The looming crisis on implementation of ObamaCare has begun to fill the news. Even his allies are using the term « train wreck. » ObamaCare is not only the most slovenly written major law in modern American history, it is full of sneaked-in surprises people are just discovering. The Democrats of Washington took advantage of the country’s now-habitual distractedness: The country, now seeing what’s coming in terms of taxes and fees, will not be amused. Mr. Obama’s brilliant sequester strategy—scare the American public into supporting me—flopped. Congress is about to hold hearings on Boston and how the brothers Tsarnaev slipped through our huge law-enforcement and immigration systems. Benghazi and what appear to be its coverups drags on and will not go away; press secretary Jay Carney was reduced to saying it happened « a long time ago. » It happened in September. The economy is stuck in low-growth, employment in no-growth. The president has about a month to gather himself together on the budget, tax reform and an immigration deal before Congress goes into recess. What are the odds?

Republicans don’t oppose him any less after his re-election, and Democrats don’t seem to support him any more. This week he was reduced to giving a news conference in which he said he’s got juice, reports of his death are greatly exaggerated. It was bad. And he must be frustrated because he thinks he’s trying. He gives speeches, he gives interviews, he says words, but he doesn’t really rally people, doesn’t create a wave that breaks over the top of the Capitol Dome and drowns the opposition, or even dampens it for a moment.

Mr. Obama’s problem isn’t really the Republicans. It’s that he’s supposed to be popular. He’s supposed to have some sway, some pull and force. He was just re-elected. He’s supposed to have troops. « My bill is launched, unleash the hounds of war. » But nobody seems to be marching behind him. Why can’t he rally people and get them to press their congressmen and senators? I’m not talking about polls, where he hovers in the middle of the graph, but the ability to wield power.

The president seems incapable of changing anything, even in a crisis. He’s been scored as passive and petulant, but it’s the kind of passivity people fall into when nothing works. « People do what they know how to do, » a hardened old pol once said, meaning politicians use whatever talent they have, and when it no longer works they continue using it.

There’s no happy warrior in there, no joy of the battle, just acceptance of what he wearily sees as the landscape. He’d seem hapless if he weren’t so verbally able.

So, the president is stuck. But it’s too early to write him off as a lame duck because history has a way of intervening. A domestic or international crisis that is well-handled, or a Supreme Court appointment, can make a president relevant. There are 44 months left to Mr. Obama’s presidency. He’s not a lame duck, he’s just lame.

***

Which has me thinking of two things that have weakened the Obama presidency and haven’t been noted. One was recent and merely unhelpful. The other goes back, and encouraged a mindset that became an excuse, perhaps a fatal one.

The recent one: In the days after the 2012 election the Democrats bragged about their technological genius and how it turned the election. They told the world about what they’d done—the data mining, the social networking, that allowed them to zero in on Mrs. Humperdink in Ward 5 and get her to the polls. It was quite impressive and changed national politics forever. But I suspect their bragging hurt their president. In 2008 Mr. Obama won by 9.5 million votes. Four years later, with all the whizbang and money, he won by less than five million. When people talk about 2012 they don’t say the president won because the American people endorsed his wonderful leadership, they say he won because his team outcomputerized the laggard Republicans.

This has left him and his people looking more like cold technocrats who know how to campaign than leaders who know how to govern. And it has diminished claims of a popular mandate. The president’s position would be stronger now if more people believed he had one.

What damaged the Obama presidency more, looking back, was, ironically, the trash-talking some Republican leaders indulged in after the 2008 campaign. It entered their heads at the Obama White House and gave them a warped sense of the battlefield.

In a conference call with conservative activists in July 2009, then-Sen. Jim DeMint said of the president’s health-care bill, « If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him. » Not long after, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying that the GOP’s primary goal was to make Mr. Obama a one-term president.

The press hyped this as if it were something new, a unique and epic level of partisan animus. Members of the administration also thought it was something new. It made them assume no deals with Republicans were possible, and it gave them a handy excuse they still use: « It’s not us, they vowed from the beginning they wouldn’t work with us! »

Peggy Noonan’s Blog

Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.

But none of it was new. The other side always vows to crush you. Anyone who’d been around for a while knew the Republicans were trying to sound tough, using hyperbole to buck up the troops. It’s how they talk when they’re on the ropes. But the president and his staffers hadn’t been around for a while. They were young. They didn’t understand what they were hearing was par for the course.

Bill Clinton’s foes made fierce vows about him, the enemies of both Bushes did the same. The opposing party always gets on the phone or gathers in what used to be Georgetown dens to denigrate the new guy and vow to fight him to the end. That’s how blowhards blow. When Reagan came in they vowed to take him down, and it was personal. Speaker Tip O’Neill called him « ignorant » and a « disgrace » and said it was « sinful » that he was president. He called Reagan « a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America » and said: « He’s cold. He’s mean. He’s got ice water for blood. » Chris Matthews, an O’Neill staffer, says he once greeted Reagan in the Capitol with the words: « Mr. President, welcome to the room where we plot against you. »

They did. Reagan knew it.

Yet he had no problem dealing successfully with O’Neill. He didn’t moan, « Oh they hate me, it’s no use! »

Note to the next White House: There’s always gambling at Rick’s place. It’s never a shock and not an excuse. It’s business as usual. And if you’re a leader you can lead right past it.


Elites: L’avant-garde du prolétariat dont Lénine a toujours parlé (France: the tiniest and most incestuous elite of any large country)

23 mai, 2013
https://i1.wp.com/extremecentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Terroriste-Londres1.jpgIllustration by Luis Grañena depicting the French eliteNous devons les combattre comme ils nous combattent. Oeil pour oeil, dent pour dent. Dépeçeur nigériano-britannique (?)
Nous jurons par Allah le tout puissant que nous n’arrêterons jamais de vous combattre. Dépeçeur nigériano-britannique (?)
En France, un haut responsable sorti d’une grande école n’est jamais informé par la base. Il est seul. (…) Ces gens-là apprécieraient d’être informés, ils aimeraient travailler en équipe. Ils ne veulent pas être seuls, mais le système les propulse au pouvoir, si bien que nous pouvons reprocher nos difficultés à nos élites. Monique Pinçon-Charlot
C’est la plus petite élite à gouverner un grand pays. Elle vit dans quelques arrondissements chics de Paris. Ses enfants vont tous dans les mêmes écoles, dès l’âge de trois ans. Quand ils atteignent le début de l’âge adulte, les futurs responsables de la France se connaissent tous. Anciens camarades de classe, ils deviennent des « camarades de caste », expliquent les sociologues Monique Pinçon-Charlot et son époux Michel Pinçon. Aux Etats-Unis, jamais un PDG et un romancier ne se rencontreront. En France, les élites politiques, entrepreneuriales et culturelles ont pour ainsi dire fusionné. Ils se retrouvent au petit déjeuner, au vernissage d’une exposition, pour dîner. Ils nouent des liens d’amitié, voire se marient. Ils se donnent des tuyaux pour le travail, couvrent les transgressions les uns des autres, se confondent en critiques dithyrambiques pour le dernier ouvrage de l’autre. (Comparez l’euphorie que suscite la publication d’un livre de Bernard-Henri Lévy en France à l’accueil qu’on lui réserve à l’étranger !) Les élites sont la seule classe française à faire preuve de solidarité interne, poursuit Pinçon-Charlot. Elles sont liées par des secrets communs. Par exemple, beaucoup de leurs membres étaient au courant des curieuses pratiques de Dominique Strauss-Kahn dans la chambre à coucher, mais les mêmes étaient prêts à le laisser se présenter à la présidence plutôt que d’en informer la valetaille au-delà du périf. Pour paraphraser l’auteur anglais E.M. Forster, ces gens trahiraient leur pays plutôt que leurs amis. Simon Kuper
L’Ena recrute sur trois concours depuis 1982 (seuls les deux premiers existaient auparavant, le troisième a disparu en 1986 puis a été réinstitué sous une forme renouvelée en 1988). Le premier s’adresse aux jeunes diplômés, le deuxième aux fonctionnaires en poste depuis cinq ans au moins et le troisième aux élus syndicaux, politiques ou associatifs ainsi qu’aux salariés du privé avec de l’expérience. La numérotation des concours n’est pas neutre : elle dénote un classement dans le prestige et le nombre des élèves qui le réussissent. Au concours de sortie, les rangs obtenus suivent d’ailleurs ce prestige. Partant, les postes les plus intéressants et comportant le plus de responsabilités (immédiatement ou à terme, via une « carrière » dont le déroulé est pratiquement fixé d’avance) échoient… à des petits jeunes sans expérience mais très imbus d’eux-mêmes. Précisons que, si on excepte le grand oral du concours d’entrée, l’expérience ou les compétences personnelles et professionnelles de chaque énarque n’ont pratiquement aucune importance dans son affectation. (…) Le triple concours lui-même est, dans sa forme, une absurdité. Concours de recrutement, il vise normalement à vérifier que les reçus sont les plus aptes à remplir les futures fonctions d’un énarque. Or, pour réussir le concours, il faut être le maître de la synthèse documentaire et des codes sociaux bourgeois désuets. Après, on s’étonnera d’avoir des préfets qui hésitent à agir, des membres de la Cour des comptes ou de l’Inspection des finances qui ignorent tout du fonctionnement des entreprises (même publiques), des directeurs d’administration qui ne sont capables que de bureaucratie… Ne réussissent le premier concours que des élèves de Sciences Po Paris ayant suivi toute leur scolarité dans quelques quartiers, à quelques exceptions près. Le deuxième et le troisième concours ne sélectionnent que des personnes au profil le plus proche possible des lauréats du premier concours, ce qui donne finalement une haute fonction publique des plus conformiste et autoreproductrice du monde.technocrates carriéristes et d’être une antiichambre de la politique. (…) La première réforme à mener est sur le recrutement : le concours externe doit disparaître. Ne doivent entrer à l’Ena que des personnes expérimentées, soit dans le privé, soit dans le public, et aux profils initiaux les plus divers possible, tant sur le plan de la formation que de l’origine sociale et géographique. Le contenu du concours doit également changer pour que l’Ena recrute des décideurs modernes et pas des bureaucrates conformistes.(…) La deuxième réforme concerne la sortie. François Bayrou ne parle pas d’un point à mes yeux essentiel : l’affectation des énarques doit tenir compte des compétences de chacun (et accessoirement de ses choix de carrière) et pas de son seul rang de sortie. Mais il mentionne la nécessité d’obliger effectivement les énarques à travailler dans l’administration et pas à aller très rapidement « pantoufler » dans le secteur privé. L’Etat investit dans la formation. Le minimum est qu’il dispose d’un retour sur investissement. Surtout, la consanguinité des élites administratives et des directions générales d’entreprises privées est très gênante. On l’a vu à plusieurs reprises, le pire étant le scandale du Crédit Lyonnais. Sans oublier que des gens sélectionnés et formés pour diriger des administrations ne sont peut-être pas les meilleurs dirigeants d’entreprises possibles… Bertrand Lemaire

Alors qu’à Londres après les bombes aux clous de Boston nos barbares (pardon: nos « nouveaux damnés de la terre ») découpent aux cris d’Allah Akbar comme à Damas un soldat au couteau de boucher …

Pendant qu’au même Levant  se préparent nos futurs cavaliers de l’Apocalypse et que les attaques-suicide se multiplient ailleurs …

Et qu’après Paris la semaine dernière, Stockholm goûte à son tour aux joies de l’émeute pour tous …

Voilà que le Financial Times s’en prend à une autre face de l’exception française …

A savoir au mondialement célèbre mode de recrutement de nos élites, la célèbre école de cadres et commissaires du Grosplan connue sous le nom d’ENA

Qui, étrange hybride entre l’Ecole vichyiste des Cadres d’Uriage, du Conseil de la Résistance et du front populaire, devait assurer au sortir de la guerre et sous l’égide gaullo-communiste Debré-Thorez, efficacité, adaptabilité, brassage social, renouvellement des élites, impartialité à la haute administration française …

Mais qui, entre le sacro-saint rang de sortie et le mépris de toute expérience professionnelle ou politique, nous a donné, sur la base de l’art de la belle dissertation, la plus consanguine des castes technocratiques (l’énarchie et ses énarques) …

Dont notamment trois présidents de la République (Giscard, Chirac et Hollande), sept Premiers ministres (Chirac, Fabius, Rocard, Balladur, Alain Juppé, Jospin, Villepin), de nombreux ministres (dont actuellement Fabius, Moscovici, Sapin, Pellerin) et la plupart des préfets comme des fonctionnaires internationaux (Lamy, Trichet, Lemierre, Camdessus, Larosière), la plupart des préfets et tant de parlementaires (Bianco, Bourlanges, Carrez, Charette, Courson, Coûteaux, Copé, Dupont-Aignan, Fabius, Gaymard, Guigou, Jouanno, Lamassoure, Longuet, Mancel, Moscovici, Perben, Sapin, Soisson, Tasca, Toubon, Villiers, Chevènement) ou « intellectuels » (Attali, Baverez, Deniau, Minc) …

Sans compter, via le fameux « pantouflage », la direction des grandes entreprises (Airbus, Accor, AXA, EADS, BNP Paribas, RATP, Capgemini, le Nouvel Observateur, Gaz de France, Lafarge, Peugeot, Société générale, FNAC, SNCF, Suez, Saint-Gobain, Vinci, Shopi, France Telecom) …

FRANCE • Hors de Paris, point de salut pour l’élite

Jusque dans les années 1990, l’élite, tout droit sortie des grandes écoles, faisait ce que l’on attendait d’elle. Depuis, quelque chose a monstrueusement mal tourné pour cette petite caste qui n’a d’autre horizon que le centre de Paris, écrit un journaliste britannique.

Simon Kuper

Financial Times

14 mai 2013

Maurice Thorez, le staliniste français, passa la Seconde Guerre mondiale à Moscou, où il se faisait appeler « Ivanov ». A la Libération, il rentra en France et devint membre du gouvernement. Après la démission de Charles de Gaulle en 1946, Thorez reprit à son compte un des projets fétiches du général : la création d’un établissement chargé de former les hauts fonctionnaires de la nouvelle république, l’Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA). Thorez devait se dire que cette caste constituerait « l’avant-garde du prolétariat » dont Lénine avait tant parlé. Depuis, l’ENA a produit pléthore de membres de l’élite politique et financière du pays, dont le président François Hollande.

La France n’a jamais ménagé ses élites, un passe-temps qui remonte à la Révolution, mais les énarques et leurs camarades ont rarement été aussi impopulaires. En l’espace d’un an d’exercice, les gouvernements tant de droite que de gauche sont devenus des objets de mépris. Le chômage a atteint un niveau record. Les scandales liés à l’élite se multiplient (un des derniers en date concerne le ministre du Budget Jérôme Cahuzac et ses comptes en Suisse et ailleurs). Quelque chose a monstrueusement mal tourné pour la caste de Thorez.

Une caste incestueuse

Les élites françaises se définissent par leur intelligence. Elles sont principalement recrutées dans deux écoles au processus de sélection rigide : l’ENA et l’Ecole polytechnique (que l’on appelle communément « l’X »). « Nulle part ailleurs dans le monde, les carrières professionnelles – et le destin de toute une nation – ne sont à ce point tributaires des écoles que l’on fait », écrit Peter Gumbel [ancien grand reporter au Time Magazine et enseignant à l’IEP de Paris]dans son dernier livre : France’s Got Talent (Elite Academy- Enquête sur la France malade de ses Grandes Ecoles, éd. Denöel, mai2013). C’est pourquoi, même âgés, certains membres de l’élite se présentent en tant qu' »ancien élève de l’X ».

Ils ne sont que 80 étudiants à sortir chaque année diplômés de l’ENA, et 400 de Polytechnique. Ils se voient alors confier des postes très élevés. « Ils travaillent dur. Ce n’est pas une élite qui est juste là pour s’amuser, » soutient Pierre Forthomme, spécialiste du conseil en management.

Pendant des années, ils ont fait ce que l’on attendait d’eux. De 1946 à 1973, la France a vécu ses Trente Glorieuses*, (presque) trente ans de réussite économique. En 1990, ils avaient encore de quoi se vanter. Ils avaient créé le premier proto-Internet, le Minitel, mis en place les trains les plus rapides d’Europe, cocréé l’avion de ligne le plus rapide du monde – le Concorde –, contraint l’Allemagne à accoucher de l’euro (qui, aux yeux des élites françaises, était censé annoncer le début de l’unité européenne, plutôt que sa fin), affirmé l’indépendance militaire du pays – que beaucoup prenaient encore au sérieux – et continuaient de croire qu’ils parlaient une langue internationale. Les intellectuels au pouvoir, c’était apparemment une solution qui fonctionnait.

Depuis, tout est allé de travers. Dans les années 1960, le sociologue Pierre Bourdieu dénonçait déjà les défauts de l’élite : la classe dirigeante prétendait être une méritocratie ouverte aux gens brillants quelle que soit leur origine, mais, en réalité, elle s’était muée en caste incestueuse.

Ces gens trahiraient leur pays plutôt que leurs amis

C’est la plus petite élite à gouverner un grand pays. Elle vit dans quelques arrondissements chics de Paris. Ses enfants vont tous dans les mêmes écoles, dès l’âge de trois ans. Quand ils atteignent le début de l’âge adulte, les futurs responsables de la France se connaissent tous. Anciens camarades de classe, ils deviennent des « camarades de caste », expliquent les sociologues Monique Pinçon-Charlot et son époux Michel Pinçon.

Aux Etats-Unis, jamais un PDG et un romancier ne se rencontreront. En France, les élites politiques, entrepreneuriales et culturelles ont pour ainsi dire fusionné. Ils se retrouvent au petit déjeuner, au vernissage d’une exposition, pour dîner. Ils nouent des liens d’amitié, voire se marient. Ils se donnent des tuyaux pour le travail, couvrent les transgressions les uns des autres, se confondent en critiques dithyrambiques pour le dernier ouvrage de l’autre. (Comparez l’euphorie que suscite la publication d’un livre de Bernard-Henri Lévy en France à l’accueil qu’on lui réserve à l’étranger !)

Les élites sont la seule classe française à faire preuve de solidarité interne, poursuit Pinçon-Charlot. Elles sont liées par des secrets communs. Par exemple, beaucoup de leurs membres étaient au courant des curieuses pratiques de Dominique Strauss-Kahn dans la chambre à coucher, mais les mêmes étaient prêts à le laisser se présenter à la présidence plutôt que d’en informer la valetaille au-delà du périf. Pour paraphraser l’auteur anglais E.M. Forster, ces gens trahiraient leur pays plutôt que leurs amis. Ils justifient les faveurs qu’ils s’accordent au nom de l’amitié. En fait (comme l’ont souligné le journaliste Serge Halimi et d’autres), c’est de la corruption.

Les élites françaises n’ont pas été formées pour réussir dans le monde

Une caste aussi réduite, issue des mêmes écoles, souffre immanquablement d’un autre travers, tout aussi dangereux : la pensée de groupe. Et il est rare que ses membres croisent des sous-fifres qui oseront avancer des avis divergents. « En France, un haut responsable sorti d’une grande école n’est jamais informé par la base. Il est seul. » « Ces gens-là apprécieraient d’être informés, ils aimeraient travailler en équipe », ajoute Pinçon-Charlot. « Ils ne veulent pas être seuls, mais le système les propulse au pouvoir, si bien que nous pouvons reprocher nos difficultés à nos élites. »

La mondialisation aussi a eu un impact. Les élites françaises n’ont pas été formées pour réussir dans le monde, mais dans le centre de Paris. François Hollande, qui a fait trois grandes écoles, découvre aujourd’hui la planète en tant que président. Il s’est rendu pour la première fois en Chine lors de sa visite officielle en avril. Ces temps-ci, beaucoup de Français réussissent à Londres, New York ou dans la Silicon Valley, mais, en règle générale, ils n’ont pas de contact avec l’élite du pays.

Cette dernière ne va pas disparaître d’elle-même. Du reste, une menace bien pire se profile : l’élection, en 2017, de la première présidente authentiquement antiélite, Marine Le Pen (Front national).

* En français dans le texte.

Voir aussi:

En France, «les énarques et leurs petits camarades sont au plus bas»

Slate.fr

11/05/2013

«Les énarques et leurs petits camarades sont au plus bas»

«C’est l’élite la plus minuscule des grands pays»

«Pour paraphraser l’écrivain anglais E.M. Forster, ce sont des gens qui préféreront trahir leur pays que trahir un ami»

«L’élite française n’a pas été formée pour réussir dans le monde, mais pour réussir dans le centre de Paris»

De qui sont ces jugements au vitriol sur les classes dirigeantes françaises? Du Financial Times, la bible de la City, sous la plume de son chroniqueur Simon Kuper. Dans la foulée de l’affaire Cahuzac et du non-joyeux anniversaire de l’élection de François Hollande, le papier, qui accumule les références aux penseurs et analystes critiques de la société française (Pierre Bourdieu, les Pinçon-Charlot, Serge Halimi…), n’a pas de mal à trouver de quoi raconter «ce qui a déraillé».

Mais on pourra s’interroger sur un ou deux arguments politiques qui semblent davantage destiné à frapper l’imagination du lecteur anglo-saxon qu’à faire avancer l’argumentation. Par exemple, l’anecdote qui ouvre le papier sur la création de l’Ena par le communiste Maurice Thorez («Il a dû penser que cette caste était l’avant-garde du prolétariat dont Lénine a toujours parlé»), alors que le nom de Michel Debré, à l’origine de l’école, n’est pas cité. Ou encore le constat ouvertement catastrophiste, et peut-être prématuré, qui clôt l’article:

«L’élite n’est pas prête de s’autodissoudre. Néanmoins, une issue bien pire commence à poindre: l’élection en 2017 du premier président véritablement anti-élites, la dirigeante d’extrême-droite Marine Le Pen.»

Voir encore:

ENA : pour une réforme plus qu’une suppression

Bertrand Lemaire

Agora vox

2012

Dans la foulée de la proposition de François Bayrou, une prise de position pour une réforme importante du recrutement de la haute fonction publique.

Même si je ne crois pas à la pertinence politique du positionnement de François Bayrou et si je soutiens fermement Ségolène Royal, je me dois d’admettre que la prise de position de François Bayrou sur l’Ena est probablement la plus intelligente et la plus complète jamais proférée par un homme politique au sujet de cette école. Bien sûr, il n’est pas le premier à vouloir supprimer l’Ena mais son originalité est dans la complétude de sa réponse aux problèmes posés. J’ai déjà fait un billet sur le sujet mais qui n’était pas très détaillé. Et je dois avouer que c’est à la demande d’une bayrouiste que j’écris celui-ci.

Tout d’abord, il faut préciser de quoi l’on parle.

L’Ecole nationale d’administration a été créée sur une idée de Michel Debré, compagnon du Général de Gaulle, pour résoudre le problème du recrutement des hauts fonctionnaires qui, sous la Troisième République, se succédaient en étant forgés dans un même moule par corps. Pratiquement, seuls les amis et enfants des membres de certains corps y entraient ensuite. Cette uniformité des élites a été jugée coupable de la compromission avec l’occupant pour de simples raisons de défense des privilèges acquis. On verra que l’idéal initial a vite cédé devant les vieux réflexes et que la situation actuelle n’a rien à envier à celle de jadis. Cependant, et c’est là un point essentiel, il est indispensable de former les élites de l’administration tout comme il est indispensable d’en recruter. Le problème n’est pas tant de supprimer l’Ena que de la réformer. Une réforme complète doit, logiquement, être accompagnée d’un changement de nom.

L’Ena recrute sur trois concours depuis 1982 (seuls les deux premiers existaient auparavant, le troisième a disparu en 1986 puis a été réinstitué sous une forme renouvelée en 1988). Le premier s’adresse aux jeunes diplômés, le deuxième aux fonctionnaires en poste depuis cinq ans au moins et le troisième aux élus syndicaux, politiques ou associatifs ainsi qu’aux salariés du privé avec de l’expérience. La numérotation des concours n’est pas neutre : elle dénote un classement dans le prestige et le nombre des élèves qui le réussissent. Au concours de sortie, les rangs obtenus suivent d’ailleurs ce prestige. Partant, les postes les plus intéressants et comportant le plus de responsabilités (immédiatement ou à terme, via une « carrière » dont le déroulé est pratiquement fixé d’avance) échoient… à des petits jeunes sans expérience mais très imbus d’eux-mêmes. Précisons que, si on excepte le grand oral du concours d’entrée, l’expérience ou les compétences personnelles et professionnelles de chaque énarque n’ont pratiquement aucune importance dans son affectation. On mesure l’absurdité de la chose si on n’a ne serait-ce que deux sous de compétence en gestion des ressources humaines (GRH).

Le triple concours lui-même est, dans sa forme, une absurdité. Concours de recrutement, il vise normalement à vérifier que les reçus sont les plus aptes à remplir les futures fonctions d’un énarque. Or, pour réussir le concours, il faut être le maître de la synthèse documentaire et des codes sociaux bourgeois désuets. Après, on s’étonnera d’avoir des préfets qui hésitent à agir, des membres de la Cour des comptes ou de l’Inspection des finances qui ignorent tout du fonctionnement des entreprises (même publiques), des directeurs d’administration qui ne sont capables que de bureaucratie… Ne réussissent le premier concours que des élèves de Sciences Po Paris ayant suivi toute leur scolarité dans quelques quartiers, à quelques exceptions près. Le deuxième et le troisième concours ne sélectionnent que des personnes au profil le plus proche possible des lauréats du premier concours, ce qui donne finalement une haute fonction publique des plus conformiste et autoreproductrice du monde.

François Bayrou rejoint globalement mon analyse et mes propositions pour changer ce recrutement aberrant.

La première réforme à mener est sur le recrutement : le concours externe doit disparaître. Ne doivent entrer à l’Ena que des personnes expérimentées, soit dans le privé, soit dans le public, et aux profils initiaux les plus divers possible, tant sur le plan de la formation que de l’origine sociale et géographique. Le contenu du concours doit également changer pour que l’Ena recrute des décideurs modernes et pas des bureaucrates conformistes.

La deuxième réforme concerne la sortie. François Bayrou ne parle pas d’un point à mes yeux essentiel : l’affectation des énarques doit tenir compte des compétences de chacun (et accessoirement de ses choix de carrière) et pas de son seul rang de sortie. Mais il mentionne la nécessité d’obliger effectivement les énarques à travailler dans l’administration et pas à aller très rapidement « pantoufler » dans le secteur privé. L’Etat investit dans la formation. Le minimum est qu’il dispose d’un retour sur investissement. Surtout, la consanguinité des élites administratives et des directions générales d’entreprises privées est très gênante. On l’a vu à plusieurs reprises, le pire étant le scandale du Crédit Lyonnais. Sans oublier que des gens sélectionnés et formés pour diriger des administrations ne sont peut-être pas les meilleurs dirigeants d’entreprises possibles…

Voir enfin:

The French elite: where it went wrong

Simon Kuper

Financial Times

May 10, 2013

France’s “énarques” weren’t trained to succeed in the world but in central Paris

The French Stalinist Maurice Thorez spent the second world war in Moscow, where he called himself “Ivanov”. When France was liberated, he came home and entered government. After Charles de Gaulle stepped down as French leader in 1946, Thorez picked up one of the general’s pet projects: the creation of a school, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, to train the new republic’s top bureaucrats. This caste, Thorez must have thought, was the “vanguard of the proletariat” that Lenin had always talked about. ENA has since produced countless members of the French political and financial elite, culminating in President François Hollande.

Elite-bashing in France dates back to the guillotine but the “énarques” and their buddies are currently at an all-time low. Within a single year, governments of both right and left have become despised. France has record unemployment. Elite scandals keep coming (most recently, around the budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac, with his secret Swiss bank account). Something has gone horribly wrong for Thorez’s caste.

The French elite is defined by its brains. It’s largely recruited from just two rigidly selective schools: ENA and the Ecole Polytechnique (known to alumni simply as “X”). “Nowhere else in the world does the question of where you go to school so utterly determine your professional career – and the destiny of an entire nation,” writes Peter Gumbel in his new book France’s Got Talent. That’s why some elite members introduce themselves into old age as, for instance, “former pupil of the Polytechnique”.

Only 80 students a year graduate from ENA, and another 400 from the Polytechnique. They then get very demanding jobs. “They work hard. It’s not an elite that is just about relaxing,” emphasises Pierre Forthomme, an executive coach who deals with many elite members.

For decades, the elite delivered. From 1946 through 1973, France experienced its trente glorieuses, (nearly) 30 years of economic success. Even in 1990, the elite could still make great claims. It had built the first proto-internet, Minitel; installed Europe’s fastest trains; co-created the world’s fastest passenger plane, Concorde; pushed Germany into creating the euro (which the French elite then thought was the start of European unity, not the end of it); established its own independent military option that many people still took seriously; and continued to imagine it spoke an international language. Rule by brain-workers seemed to work.

Since then, things have gone horribly wrong. The sociologist Pierre Bourdieu in the 1960s began pointing out the elite’s flaw: the ruling class claimed to be a meritocracy open to bright people from anywhere but had, in fact, become a self-reproducing caste.

This is the tiniest elite of any large country. It lives in a few select arrondissements in Paris. Its children attend the same local schools, starting at age three. By their early twenties, France’s future leaders know each other. They progress from “classmates” to “caste mates”, explain the sociologists Monique Pinçon-Charlot and her husband Michel Pinçon.

Whereas an American CEO and novelist will never meet, the French political, business and cultural elites have practically fused. They meet at breakfasts, exhibition openings and dinner parties. They become friends or spouses. They give each other jobs, cover up each other’s transgressions, write rave reviews of each other’s books. (Contrast the euphoria that greets Bernard-Henri Lévy’s books in France with his reception abroad.)

The elite is the only French class that displays class solidarity, says Pinçon-Charlot. It’s tied together by shared secrets: for instance, many elite members knew about Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s peculiar bedroom practices, but they were willing to let him run for president rather than inform the peasants beyond the Parisian ring road. To paraphrase the English writer E.M. Forster, these people would rather betray their country than betray a friend. Elite members justify these mutual favours in the name of friendship. In fact (as noted by the journalist Serge Halimi and others), it’s corruption.

. . .

Equally dangerously, such a tiny caste – drawn from the same few schools – inevitably suffers from groupthink. Nor do elite members encounter many underlings who dare offer alternative views. Forthomme explains: “If you are a senior executive coming from a top school in France, you don’t get feedback. They are alone.” He adds: “These people would welcome feedback and teamwork. They don’t want to be alone, but the system puts them in this place of power, so that we can bash the elite for our problems.”

Globalisation has hurt, too. The French elite wasn’t trained to succeed in the world; it was trained to succeed in central Paris. Hollande, who attended three elite schools, is now discovering the world as president. His state visit to China last month was the first time he’d ever set foot there. Nowadays many French do succeed in London, New York or Silicon Valley, but they tend to be lost to the French elite.

The elite isn’t about to dissolve itself. However, an even worse outcome looms: the election in 2017 of the first truly anti-elitist president, the far right’s Marine Le Pen.


Tornade d’Oklahoma: Attention: une leçon peut en cacher une autre! (I will have mercy and not sacrifice: CNN gets its age-old teachable moment)

23 mai, 2013
https://i2.wp.com/patdollard.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/previewImage31-600x350.jpgNo religious affiliation in America has grown to 19.6%Je hais, je méprise vos fêtes, Je ne puis sentir vos assemblées. (…) Mais que la droiture soit comme un courant d’eau, Et la justice comme un torrent qui jamais ne tarit. Amos 5: 21-24
J’aime la piété et non les sacrifices, Et la connaissance de Dieu plus que les holocaustes. Osée 6: 6
Allez, et apprenez ce que signifie: Je prends plaisir à la miséricorde, et non aux sacrifices. Car je ne suis pas venu appeler des justes, mais des pécheurs. Jésus (Matthieu 9: 13)
Notre monde est de plus en plus imprégné par cette vérité évangélique de l’innocence des victimes. L’attention qu’on porte aux victimes a commencé au Moyen Age, avec l’invention de l’hôpital. L’Hôtel-Dieu, comme on disait, accueillait toutes les victimes, indépendamment de leur origine. Les sociétés primitives n’étaient pas inhumaines, mais elles n’avaient d’attention que pour leurs membres. Le monde moderne a inventé la « victime inconnue », comme on dirait aujourd’hui le « soldat inconnu ». Le christianisme peut maintenant continuer à s’étendre même sans la loi, car ses grandes percées intellectuelles et morales, notre souci des victimes et notre attention à ne pas nous fabriquer de boucs émissaires, ont fait de nous des chrétiens qui s’ignorent. René Girard
I have never been shy in mentioning my relationship with what I call God, a Spirit, and there certainly have been times over the years that I have called on him — or her, if you wish — in public. I deeply believe that there is a Supreme Being that sees us through. Myrlie Evers-Williams
I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived. Barack Obama (2004)
The vague spirituality (and the nod to collectivism) is reminiscent of the ’60s counterculture and their rejection of organized religion. It brings to mind Norman Greenbaum’s hippie folk anthem “Spirit in the Sky.” Greenbaum, a practicing Jew at the time he wrote the song, said cowboy movies inspired him to write it, explaining that: “even though I’m a bad guy, I want to redeem myself and go to heaven. I just chose the spirit in the sky. The part about Jesus was just a natural part when I put it all together.” He has also said, “It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky.” (…) There was a sense when listening to Evers-Williams’s speech-prayer that she “just had to use something.” We get the same feeling when we listen to President Obama’s uncomfortable religious explanations. In Evers-Williams’s prayer, just like in Greenbaum’s song, Jesus makes a token appearance: In Jesus’ name and the name of all who are holy and right we pray. Amen. Fortunately, the names of “all who are holy and right” are left to our imagination and we don’t have to suffer through a list of Evers-Williams’s choices. Those of us who are Bible-believing Christians take particular offense at a civil-rights-leader-turned-pontiff adding Jesus, who was given “the name that is above every name,” to a shopping list of afterthoughts at the end of a motivational speech. I understand that we live in a diverse land with Americans of many different faiths. No legal obligation requires the president to represent my faith or any faith on the podium at the inauguration. However, I think it’s important to stop for a moment and note this moment in history when we first witnessed a distinct change in the nature of the inaugural prayers. Read through the modern presidential prayers and see the difference. Read the religious content of the inaugural speeches of the Founders and compare them to President Obama’s speech and you will see the stark contrast. When considering this in the context of Louie Giglio’s removal from the inaugural prayer and the many attacks on religious liberties in Obama’s first term, we must ask if our country has crossed the spiritual Rubicon. Paula Bolyard
“I guess, you gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord?” Wolf Blitzer (CNN)
I’m actually an atheist. (…) We are here, and I don’t blame anyone for thanking the Lord. Rebecca Vitsmun (Oklahoma tornado survivor)
Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state. This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. (…) I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona’s non-believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers. Juan Mendez (Arizona Democrat state Rep. when asked to deliver the opening prayer for the afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives)
Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love. Juan Mendez
In a nation in which the divide between believers and non-believers can be great and truly ugly – one of “militant atheism” on one side and unbearably ignorant religious conservatism on the other — with just a few words, Rebecca Vitsmun and Juan Mendez showed that the ideals of being respectful and compassionate belong to all of us. Whatever our personal views, we can give others space to have theirs and to express them with dignity. We can challenge assumptions, but we can conduct ourselves with kindness. Because what matters most in life isn’t what we believe in our hearts, it’s how we practice those beliefs with each other. Mary Elizabeth Williams

Attention: une leçon peut en cacher une autre!

Belle leçon, comme le rappelle le site internet Salon, de respect mutuel et de compassion au lendemain de l’une des plus tornades les plus dévastatrices de l’histoire des Etats-Unis …

Et dans un pays où la non-croyance explose (de 15 à 20% – !!! – en cinq ans) comme à l’occasion les conflits entre militants athées et conservateurs religieux …

Où,  face à un journaliste de CNN l’enjoignant lourdement de « louer le seigneur »(quoi de mieux qu’une belle leçon édifiante pour faire monter les taux d’écoute!), une survivante rappelle simplement que non seulement elle n’est pas croyante mais qu’elle n’en tient pas rigueur à ceux qui croient …

Et la journaliste de Salon, à l’instar d’un représentant démocrate d’Arizona devant ses pairs et après la prière garantie sans Dieu de l’investiture de Saint Obama, la belle et multimillénaire leçon, d’Amos, Osée et du Christ lui-même …

A savoir que ce qui compte, ce n’est pas les sacrifices (la religion) mais la miséricorde (ce qu’on fait pour les autres) …

Tornado survivor to Wolf Blitzer: Sorry, I’m an atheist. I don’t have to thank the Lord

Wolf Blitzer pushes a tornado survivor to praise the Lord. She tells him she’s an atheist, with dignity and respect

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Salon

May 22, 2013

You’d think by now CNN would have learned to stop treating its assumptions as truths. But when Wolf Blitzer made a casual comment Tuesday, it turned out to be a teachable moment both for the newsman and television viewers.

Speaking live to a survivor of the deadly tornado in Moore, Okla., Blitzer declared the woman “blessed,” her husband “blessed,” and her son “blessed.” He then asked, “You’ve gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?”

But as she held her 18-month-old son, Rebecca Vitsmun politely replied, “I’m actually an atheist.” A flummoxed Blitzer quickly lobbed back, “You are. All right. But you made the right call,” and Vitsmun graciously offered him a lifeline. “We are here,” she said, “and I don’t blame anyone for thanking the Lord.” Nicely done, Rebecca Vitsmun.

One in five American adults – and a third of Americans under age 30 — now declare no religious affiliation. We are less religious now than at any other point in our history, and our secularism is rising at a rapid pace. Get used to it, Lord thankers.

As Vitsmun pointed out, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a statement of gratitude or even an acknowledgment of spirituality. I recently had someone tell me that she felt very “blessed” – right before adding that she was agnostic. Where Blitzer was insensitive — and just plain unthinking — was in his no-doubt well-intentioned demand that his interviewee cough up a Praise the Lord moment for the edification of CNN viewers.

And Blitzer was not the only person this week who got his expectations rocked. When Tempe, Ariz., state Rep. Juan Mendez was asked Tuesday to deliver the opening prayer for the afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives, he delivered something different. 

“Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads,” the Democratic official said. “I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.”

He went on to say, “This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences.”

It was a call to love and empathy that stands right up there next to any prayer in the book, and one that offered bonus inclusion and humanity. Afterward, he said, “I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona’s non-believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers.” And if the conservative state of Arizona can make it happen, there’s hope yet for the other 49, people.

In a nation in which the divide between believers and non-believers can be great and truly ugly – one of “militant atheism” on one side and unbearably ignorant religious conservatism on the other — with just a few words, Rebecca Vitsmun and Juan Mendez showed that the ideals of being respectful and compassionate belong to all of us. Whatever our personal views, we can give others space to have theirs and to express them with dignity. We can challenge assumptions, but we can conduct ourselves with kindness. Because what matters most in life isn’t what we believe in our hearts, it’s how we practice those beliefs with each other.

Voir aussi:

Atheist State Lawmaker Quotes Carl Sagan Instead of Doing Prayer Before House Session

Matthew Hendley

Phoenix new times

May 21 2013

An atheist state lawmaker tasked with delivering the opening prayer for this afternoon’s session of the House of Representatives asked that people not bow their heads.

Democratic Representative Juan Mendez, of Tempe, instead spoke about his « secular humanist tradition » and even quoted author Carl Sagan.

« Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads, » Mendez said. « I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state. »

Click here to watch the video of Mendez’s invocation.

As you can imagine — especially now, with Arizona’s legislature being controlled by religion-heavy Republicans — this is probably the first time that an invocation at the legislature took that direction.

« This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration, » Mendez said. « But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.

Mendez continued, « Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.' »

There certainly aren’t many openly atheist politicians across the country, let alone folks bringing their lack of belief in God and/or gods to prayer time. You may remember some controversy about Democratic Congressman Kyrsten Sinema, who has been described as the only atheist in Congress, even though she rejects the label of « atheist. » (Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but many of Mendez’s constituents also call Sinema their Congresswoman.)

Mendez, in addition to his God-free invocation, also introduced members of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, sitting in the House gallery. One of the members said she was « witnessing history. »

After the invocation, Mendez called himself one of just one of 1.3 million Arizonans not affiliated with a religious tradition or organization.

« I hope today marks the beginning of a new era in which Arizona’s non believers can feel as welcome and valued here as believers, » he said.


Catastrophes: Le Déluge ferait de Dieu le plus grand tueur de masse de l’histoire (The Flood would make God the biggest mass murderer in history)

21 mai, 2013
https://i1.wp.com/uploads6.wikipaintings.org/images/agostino-carracci/the-flood.jpg
 
http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim2/2013/05/20/tornado03_1_620x350.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/BKvJyWACcAA7ATK.png-large-540x309.pngOn tue un homme : on est un assassin. On en tue des millions : on est un conquérant. On les tue tous : on est un Dieu. Jean Rostand
Et l’Éternel dit: J’exterminerai de la face de la terre l’homme que j’ai créé, depuis l’homme jusqu’au bétail, aux reptiles, et aux oiseaux du ciel; car je me repens de les avoir faits. Genèse 6: 7
Je suis l’Éternel, et il n’y en a point d’autre. Je forme la lumière, et je crée les ténèbres, Je donne la prospérité, et je crée l’adversité; Moi, l’Éternel, je fais toutes ces choses. Esaïe 45: 6-7
Comment un homme aurait-il raison contre Dieu? “Ami” de Job (25: 4-6)
Suis-je vraiment intègre? Je ne saurais le dire (…) Que m’importe, après tout! C’est pourquoi j’ose dire: «Dieu détruit aussi bien l’innocent que l’impie.» Quand survient un fléau qui tue soudainement, Dieu se rit des épreuves qui atteignent les justes. (…) Et si ce n’est pas lui, alors, qui est-ce donc? Job (9: 21-24)
Ses disciples lui firent cette question: Rabbi, qui a péché, cet homme ou ses parents, pour qu’il soit né aveugle? Jésus répondit: Ce n’est pas que lui ou ses parents aient péché. Jean 9: 2-3
Quelques personnes qui se trouvaient là racontaient à Jésus ce qui était arrivé à des Galiléens dont Pilate avait mêlé le sang avec celui de leurs sacrifices. Il leur répondit: Croyez-vous que ces Galiléens fussent de plus grands pécheurs que tous les autres Galiléens, parce qu’ils ont souffert de la sorte? (…) Ou bien, ces dix-huit personnes sur qui est tombée la tour de Siloé et qu’elle a tuées, croyez-vous qu’elles fussent plus coupables que tous les autres habitants de Jérusalem? Non, je vous le dis. Jésus (Luc 13: 1-5)
Après Auschwitz, nous pouvons affirmer, plus résolument que jamais auparavant, qu’une divinité toute-puissante ou bien ne serait pas toute bonne, ou bien resterait entièrement incompréhensible (dans son gouvernement du monde, qui seul nous permet de la saisir). Mais si Dieu, d’une certaine manière et à un certain degré, doit être intelligible (et nous sommes obligés de nous y tenir), alors il faut que sa bonté soit compatible avec l’existence du mal, et il n’en va de la sorte que s’il n’est pas tout-puissant. C’est alors seulement que nous pouvons maintenir qu’il est compréhensible et bon, malgré le mal qu’il y a dans le monde. Hans Jonas
C’est comme une fête foraine, les jeux avec les pinces… Le monde est atroce, mais il y a bien pire : c’est Dieu. On ne peut pas comprendre Haïti. On ne peut même pas dire que Dieu est méchant, aucun méchant n’aurait fait cela. Christian Boltanski
Huit cents ressortissants européens combattent actuellement le régime de Bachar el-Assad en Syrie, selon les estimations d’un diplomate de l’Union européenne (UE), confirmées par un dirigeant de l’opposition. Certains ont rejoint le groupe djihadiste Jabhat al-Nosra, classé terroriste par les États-Unis, qui vient de prêter allégeance à al-Qaida. Jamais autant d’habitants du Vieux Continent n’ont afflué en aussi grand nombre sur une période aussi courte – un peu plus d’une année – pour livrer la «guerre sainte» à un régime qui réprime de manière sanglante ses opposants et que l’Europe elle-même combat depuis deux ans. Parmi ces 800 Européens figurent une centaine de Français ou de Franco-Syriens, 50 à 70 Belges, une centaine de Britanniques, de nombreux Allemands, notamment d’origine turque, des Irlandais, des Kosovars, des Danois. Bref pratiquement tous les pays européens sont concernés. (…) Le retour de jeunes, radicalisés au contact de vieux briscards du djihad, est la hantise des services de sécurité européens. Certains auront acquis un savoir-faire qui peut servir à perpétrer des opérations terroristes dans leur pays d’origine. Mais la justice pourra-t-elle criminaliser leurs voyages en Syrie, dont le régime est dénoncé par les capitales européennes? En outre, des binationaux figurent parmi ces candidats au djihad. «Il est difficile de leur dénier le droit d’aller résister à un pouvoir qui massacre sa population», soulignait récemment le juge antiterroriste Marc Trévidic. Le Figaro
These great tragedies and collective punishments that are wiping out villages, towns, cities and even entire countries, are Allah’s punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims. We know that at these resorts, which unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in South Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant. The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion. That’s when this tragedy took place, striking them all and destroyed everything. It turned the land into wasteland, where only the cries of the ravens are heard. I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect. All that’s left for us to do is to ask for forgiveness We must atone for our sins, and for the acts of the stupid people among us and improve our condition. We must fight fornication, homosexuality, usury, fight the corruption on the face of the earth, and the disregard of the lives of protected people. Sheik Fawzan Al-Fawzan (member of the Senior Council of Clerics, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body and professor at the Al-Imam University)
When we try, however inadequately, to see things from God’s viewpoint rather than our own, things become quite different. There is suddenly nothing unfair about the deaths of any one of us, no matter what the circumstances. God is the sovereign Judge who is totally holy (1 John 1:5). It would therefore be impossible to overstate His utter abhorrence of even the slightest sin. From His perspective, it would be totally lawful and just to wipe out all of us, in whatever fashion. But God is also merciful and loving (2 Peter 3:9), and longsuffering. In the most profound display of mercy and grace imaginable, He stepped into our shoes as a man, God the Son. He came to suffer and die, not in some sort of ooey-gooey martyrdom, but so that His righteous anger against sin could be appeased and the penalty paid for those who place their trust in Jesus Christ and receive His free gift—forgiveness of their sin and admission into God’s family—by faith. (…) A skeptic at one of my talks said publicly that  the Flood would make God “the biggest mass murderer in history.” But murder is defined as the unlawful killing of innocent human life. First, from God’s perspective post-Fall, there is no such thing as an “innocent human”. And second, the concept of murder presupposes a universal law that such things are wrong, which can only be so if there is a Lawgiver, which the skeptic was trying to deny. As Creator, God has decreed that it is unlawful for a human being to take another human’s life, but the Judge of all the earth does not Himself do wrong when He takes a life, which in a very real sense happens whenever any of us die, regardless of what is called the “proximate” cause (whether tsunami, heart attack or even suicide). Carl Wieland

Attention: un tueur de masse peut en cacher un autre !

Au lendemain du passage d’une des plus dévastatrices tornades de l’histoire récente américaine …

Où l’on ne peut s’empêcher de penser aux familles des dizaines de victimes dont nombre d’enfants dans leurs écoles hélas sans abris

Pendant que chez nous un Heidegerrien s’éclate au nom du contre-printemps arabe en plein Notre-Dame et qu’au Levant nos futurs cavaliers de l’Apocalypse font leurs classes façon brigades internationales dans une réédition jihadiste de la guerre d’Espagne …

Comment ne pas repenser  aux inanités qui avaient été prononcées suite au tsunami de 2005 …

Et ne pas être révolté devant l’aberration d’un certain discours littéraliste de fondamentalistes chrétiens ou musulmans ….

Qui passant complètement à côté de l’apport spécifique du récit biblique par rapport aux textes manifestement mythiques et babyloniens dont il s’inspire …

A savoir la perspective monothéiste et éthique mais aussi par voie de conséquence l’attribution à ladite divinité de l’origine du bien comme du mal: le dieu qui punit est aussi celui qui sauve) …

En arrive, à l’instar des prétendus amis de Job, à justifier l’injustifiable, faisant de Dieu le plus grand tueur de masse de l’histoire ?

Waves of sadness

Tsunami terror raises age-old questions

Carl Wieland

CMI–Australia

30 December 2004

Compared to seeing a plane plunge into a skyscraper, the first amateur video shots showing a surge of brown water overpowering the blue of a resort pool didn’t seem to rate high on the scale of horror.

But as the images kept pouring in and the estimated death toll kept rising, into the six figures even, it became apparent that the Asian tsunami disaster makes 9/11 seem tame by comparison.

Of course, 9/11 was triggered by the deliberate actions of people, whereas the tsunami disaster is in quite a different category. No human action, nor any failure to act, caused this Indian Ocean catastrophe.

The killer waves were set off by a massive undersea earthquake, apparently the result of slippage of tectonic plates after years of pent-up strain. Some coastlines are estimated to have moved as much as 20 meters (65 ft.).1 An earthquake of magnitude 9, like this one, sounds “almost twice as bad” as a more common one of magnitude 5; but the Richter scale is an logarithmic one. That means a “9” is really 10,000 times as violent as a “5”. [In fact, this refers only to the wave amplitude. The energy involved is actually a million times greater.] The giant quake shook the world with the force of millions of Hiroshima-size atomic bombs. Sensitive instruments were said to have picked up an effect on the earth’s rotation; the globe was described as “ringing like a bell” afterwards.

Philosophers refer to the problem of “natural evil”—people suffering and dying from things that have no apparent link to “human evil”—or even human carelessness. So much seemingly senseless sorrow and loss, regardless of the cause, inevitably raises the same sorts of questions about God, death and suffering as 9/11 did. Namely, regardless of whether people or “natural disaster” are the cause, if God is all-powerful and loving, why does He allow it?

In earlier times, insurance jargon for such an event, especially one for which adjectives like “biblical” or “near-biblical” have been applied by newspapers to its scale of tragedy, would have been “an act of God”. In our more secular, evolutionized times, reports have generally used terms such as “nature’s fury” or “Mother Nature’s wrath”. But does God just sit back and “let things happen”? I.e., is “nature” independent of God? That would have the advantage for the Christian of removing some of the responsibility for natural disasters, but would it be a biblical view of God?

If He is who He says He is, the sovereign of the universe—the One who is continually upholding the entire cosmos with the Word of His power—there are implications for events such as this. I suggest that when I let go of a compressed spring and watch it cavort in seeming randomness as it releases its stored energy, it is, despite appearances, not something that “just happens” without the involvement of God. (I would submit that reflection on the meaning of God’s sovereignty leads to the conclusion that God is either in everything, or He is in nothing.)

Similarly, as the tectonic plates off Sumatra slipped past one another and released their huge amount of pent-up power, this (and the titanic consequences for so many) was not something that just “happened”, independent of God. Just as it is not mere happenstance when the sparrow falls from the sky (Matthew 10:29).

But that does not mean that it was a “supernatural” or miraculous event. The sparrow falling can be described in terms of “natural” laws like gravity, but God is “in it” totally, completely. (As has been said before, “natural law” describes God’s “normative” way of operating within this universe. Miracles refer to his non-normative operation.)

Equally, the combinations of genes as sperm meets egg follow the (from our viewpoint) random laws of chance. Thus, if a couple with a certain mix of genes were to have enough children, one could predict that ¾ would be brown-eyed, the remaining ¼ blue, for example—just as determined by the laws of chance. But it would be a gross caricature of God if we were to imagine Him to be uninvolved in the inherited makeup of an individual. Hopefully, not many readers will think that God is helplessly dependent on the outcome of a genetic lottery when it comes to our own abilities and predispositions, both positive and negative. But if we try to avoid God’s responsibility for the killer tsunami, and pass the event off as “natural” (read “truly random”) then we are doing the same thing—we have reduced God, the all-powerful Creator God who created countless galaxies in the blink of an eye, to a helpless or impotent bystander.

To put God at the helm of events, while thoroughly biblical, raises disturbing questions, of course, in the face of the Indian Ocean nightmare. The immense unfairness of it all, for one thing. Poor villagers, already facing enormous handicaps in their ordinary lives, battered emotionally and physically beyond belief. Young children, brutally torn out of their mother’s arms and suffocated by water. But before raging at the unfairness of it all, and at God, we would do well to “zoom out” and look at the bigger picture.

Each day, some hundreds of thousands of people die. We see this as somehow “natural”, yet humanly speaking, what’s fair about that, either? In fact, what’s “fair” about any death? If God prevented all deaths except the death of one solitary person, that one death would also be “unfair”—perhaps even more so.

So the question becomes much bigger; not just “why 9/11” or “why the tsunami tragedy”—it becomes one of “why is there any death and suffering at all?” And it has to be faced squarely by Christians, since we claim to have the answers to the true meaning of life, the universe and everything.

But how can one even begin to give a Christian answer, one with biblical integrity, without taking Genesis history seriously?2 That history tells of the creation of a once-good world, in which death and suffering are not “natural” at all, but are intruders. They occur because of humanity’s rebellion against its maker (Genesis 3). But if fossils formed over millions of years, which so many Christians just blithely accept as “fact”, then that wipes out the Fall as an answer to evil, especially “natural evil”. Because the fossils show the existence of things like death, bloodshed and suffering. So if these were there millions of years ago, they must have been there before man, and hence before sin. This is the rock against which old-age compromises inevitably founder. This is also the reason why the age of things is not some obscure academic debate that Christians can put in the “too-hard-for-now” basket. Because it strikes to the heart of the hugest questions of all in relation to the nature of God, sin, evil, death; questions at the very core of Christian belief (or reasons given for nonbelief, for that matter).

The tsunami and the Flood

The superquake that set off the recent Asian tsunami disaster is believed to have resulted from the sudden slippage of two tectonic plates in the earth’s crust. The most prominent theory today concerning the mechanism of the Genesis Flood is that of Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT). Its chief proponent is leading creationary scientist Dr. John Baumgardner. Dr. Baumgardner, who recently retired after years of service at Los Alamos National Laboratories, is also a world-renowned expert on plate tectonics (involving the current models of the mechanics and dynamics of the earth’s crust). He rejects the millions of years normally associated with plate tectonics and its corollary, “continental drift”, and points to ample scientific evidence to support the view that the movements of continents, for instance, had to have happened relatively quickly. (See The Creation Answers Book, Chapter 11.) Watching the results of a relatively minor (though horrific in its consequences) slippage of two plates against each other, it’s not hard to imagine some of the forces which would have been unleashed at the time of Noah’s Flood—CPT has the entire ocean floor recycled in a matter of weeks. No wonder the Bible has a special Hebrew word (mabbul, different from the ordinary word for “flood”) which it reserves exclusively for the Flood, the cataclysm in the days of Noah that destroyed the earth and is responsible for vast amounts of sedimentary and fossil-bearing layers. Incidentally, Korean naval architects showed that the Ark could have withstood waves 4–5 times taller than this tsunami (only about 20 feet or 6 metres high) see Safety investigation of Noah’s Ark in a seaway.

When we try, however inadequately, to see things from God’s viewpoint rather than our own, things become quite different. There is suddenly nothing unfair about the deaths of any one of us, no matter what the circumstances. God is the sovereign Judge who is totally holy (1 John 1:5). It would therefore be impossible to overstate His utter abhorrence of even the slightest sin. From His perspective, it would be totally lawful and just to wipe out all of us, in whatever fashion.3

But God is also merciful and loving (2 Peter 3:9), and longsuffering. In the most profound display of mercy and grace imaginable, He stepped into our shoes as a man, God the Son. He came to suffer and die, not in some sort of ooey-gooey martyrdom, but so that His righteous anger against sin could be appeased and the penalty paid for those who place their trust in Jesus Christ and receive His free gift—forgiveness of their sin and admission into God’s family—by faith.

There are daily reminders of His Curse on all creation all around us. When they are punctuated by horrifically sad concentrated bursts such as this recent disaster, we are doubly reminded of the awfulness of sin. Does knowing the answers to the “big picture” make us callous to suffering? Far from it. We are moved even more by compassion, just as the Lord Jesus was when He lived among us. Because of Jesus, Christians—those who take the Bible as the Word of God, and know Jesus Christ as the Creator incarnate—will tend to be at the forefront of digging into their pockets to help alleviate the agony. Let me explain how I can say this with confident hope.

A World Vision representative once told me confidentially that it is conservative, Bible-believing churches and Christians who are far and away the most generous givers to that organisation’s efforts to help people in poor countries.4 That makes sense, of course; God’s Word commands us to do good to all men. But if one did not believe the Bible to be really, truly true, there would be a shortage of strong motivating factors to sacrifice heavily for others. Whereas (if I may be forgiven a modest adjustment of the magnificent words of the great missionary, C.T. Studd): “If (since) Christ is God and died for me [i.e., the Bible is really, truly, totally true], then nothing I can do in obedience to Him can ever be too much”.

Addendum (01/04/05)—further resources on our website

Why is there Death and Suffering?—by Ken Ham and Jonathan Sarfati

Why Would a Loving God Allow Suffering

How can you help?

While Creation Ministries International (formerly Answers in Genesis) is not involved directly in any disaster relief efforts, we recognize that many of our readers might want to help. May we recommend that you participate through your local church or a mission agency with which you are familiar. If you are interested in other Christian ministries, please take a look at http://www.gospelcom.net/content/disaster. To participate with the world wide efforts, you can do a google search on “christian tsunami relief.”

References and notes

Even higher figures have been mooted. Some experts have suggested that much of the movement may have been horizontal, not vertical, however.

Incidentally, despite various challenges by unbelievers, there is no burden of explanation on the Christian as to why particular things happened. E.g., why certain people or groups of people died when others did not. As discussed here, a “natural” disaster, despite being totally God’s activity, will (in the absence of the miraculous or non-normative activity of God) follow a pattern that looks “random”. I.e., it will obey the natural laws that describe God’s normative activity. So there is no need to feel philosophically intimidated by reports of a Christian dying while the Hindu next to him is spared, for example. When the Tower of Siloam collapsed and killed people (Luke 13:4-5), Jesus made it plain that they did not die because they were “more sinful” than those who were spared. For more (admittedly inadequate) thoughts on apparent randomness and God’s actions, see my discussion in the book Walking Through Shadows on “butterfly effects” and the “cockroach that killed Princess Diana”.

A skeptic at one of my talks said publicly that the Flood would make God “the biggest mass murderer in history.” But murder is defined as the unlawful killing of innocent human life. First, from God’s perspective post-Fall, there is no such thing as an “innocent human”. And second, the concept of murder presupposes a universal law that such things are wrong, which can only be so if there is a Lawgiver, which the skeptic was trying to deny. As Creator, God has decreed that it is unlawful for a human being to take another human’s life, but the Judge of all the earth does not Himself do wrong when He takes a life, which in a very real sense happens whenever any of us die, regardless of what is called the “proximate” cause (whether tsunami, heart attack or even suicide).

Liberal Christians (i.e., those who take alarming liberties with biblical truths) talk a lot about social justice and helping poor countries—all noble concepts, of course. But in practice, although keen to see laws passed to take money from others, they are as a group less enthusiastic about dipping into their own pockets.

Tsunami Timeline (most recent first)

1/20/05 – 8:00 am — the death toll continues to rise — 225,000 now believed dead throughout the region. Billions of dollars and other forms of aid are pouring in. The UN is spearheading a number of projects, including a world-wide tsunami warning system.

1/4/05 — 1:54 pm — over $2 billion has been donated by governments around the world. An additional $520 million is coming in from private donations.

12/30/04 — 2:30 pm — official estimates top 116,000 dead.

12/30/04 — Indonesian officials change the estimated deaths from 45,000 to 79,940.

12/27/04 — by late Monday official estimates are set at 26,000 dead.

12/26/04 — 10:58 am — only 500 are assumed dead.

12/26/04 — 10:43 am — the tsunami hits Sri Lanka, South India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh

12/26/04 — 10:30 am — a 15 foot (5 m) wave hits Sumatra.

12/26/04 — shortly after 7:00 am — a number of aftershocks and subsequent earthquakes are registered by tracking stations around the world.

12/26/04 (Sunday) — 12:00 am GMT, 8:00 am Sri Lanka an undersea earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale shakes the area 160 km off shore.

The tsunami and the Flood

The superquake that set off the recent Asian tsunami disaster is believed to have resulted from the sudden slippage of two tectonic plates in the earth’s crust. The most prominent theory today concerning the mechanism of the Genesis Flood is that of Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT). Its chief proponent is leading creationary scientist Dr. John Baumgardner. Dr. Baumgardner, who recently retired after years of service at Los Alamos National Laboratories, is also a world-renowned expert on plate tectonics (involving the current models of the mechanics and dynamics of the earth’s crust). He rejects the millions of years normally associated with plate tectonics and its corollary, “continental drift”, and points to ample scientific evidence to support the view that the movements of continents, for instance, had to have happened relatively quickly. (See The Creation Answers Book, Chapter 11.) Watching the results of a relatively minor (though horrific in its consequences) slippage of two plates against each other, it’s not hard to imagine some of the forces which would have been unleashed at the time of Noah’s Flood—CPT has the entire ocean floor recycled in a matter of weeks. No wonder the Bible has a special Hebrew word (mabbul, different from the ordinary word for “flood”) which it reserves exclusively for the Flood, the cataclysm in the days of Noah that destroyed the earth and is responsible for vast amounts of sedimentary and fossil-bearing layers. Incidentally, Korean naval architects showed that the Ark could have withstood waves 4–5 times taller than this tsunami (only about 20 feet or 6 metres high) see Safety investigation of Noah’s Ark in a seaway.

Voir encore:

Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Tsunami: It was a Punishment from Allah for Celebrating Christmas and Other Sins; It was Caused by the U.S., Israel, India

Special Dispatch No. 842

MEMRI

January 7, 2005

Following practically all international events of importance, conspiracy theories are raised in the Arab and Muslim worlds. This occurred most recently following the Asian tsunami. Some of these conspiracy theories focused, as they often do, on allegations that it was a plot by the U.S. and Israel. Others speculated that the tsunami was a divine punishment for sins, including that of celebrating Christmas. The following are speeches and articles which appeared in the Arab media raising conspiracy theories about the cause of the tsunami; more will be posted on the MEMRI TV Project website (www.memritv.org) in the coming days:

Palestinian Friday Sermon by Sheik Mudeiris: The Tsunami is Allah’s Revenge at Bangkok Corruption

The following are excerpts from a Friday mosque sermon aired on Palestinian Authority TV by Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, which was recorded and translated by the MEMRI TV Monitor Project:

 » What happened there, in South-East Asia … we ask God to have mercy upon all the martyrs – for he who dies by drowning is a martyr. We ask God to have mercy upon all the Muslims who died there. Allah willing, they are martyrs. But, don’t you think that the wrath of the earth and the wrath of the sea should make us reflect? Tens of thousands dead, and many predict that the number will be in the hundreds of thousands. We ask God for forgiveness. When oppression and corruption increase, the law of equilibrium applies. I can see in your eyes that you are wondering what the ‘universal law of equilibrium’ is. This law is a divine law. If people are remiss in implementing God’s law and in being zealous and vengeful for His sake, Allah sets his soldiers in action to take revenge.

« The oppression and corruption caused by America and the Jews have increased. Have you heard of these beaches that are called ‘tourists’ paradise?’ You have all probably heard of Bangkok. We read about it, and knew it as the center of corruption on the face of this earth. Over there, there are Zionist and American investments. Over there they bring Muslims and others to prostitution. Over there, there are beaches, which they dubbed ‘tourists’ paradise,’ while only a few meters away, the locals live in hell on earth. They cannot make ends meet, while a few meters away there is a paradise, ‘tourists’ paradise.’

« Do you want the earth to turn a blind eye to the corrupt oppressors? Do you want the sea… Do you want the sea to lower its waves in the face of corruption that it sees with its own eyes?! No, the zero hour has come. »[1]

Advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Justice Minister: The Nations were Destroyed for Lying, Sinning, and being Infidels

Ibrahim Al-Bashar, an advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Justice Minister, argued on the Saudi Arabian/UAE Al-Majd TV channel that the sins of the affected countries caused the tsunami:

« Whoever reads the Koran, given by the Maker of the World, can see how these nations were destroyed. There is one reason: they lied, they sinned, and [they] were infidels. Whoever studies the Koran can see this is the result…

« Some intellectuals, philosophers, and journalists – may Allah show them the straight path – say this is the wrath of nature. Whoever is angry must have a soul and a brain in order to act out his anger. Does the earth have a brain and a body with a soul? They talk about the wrath of nature, or else they claim that what happened was due to a fissure in the depths of the earth, which the earth’s crust could not bear. They connect cosmic matters.

« But who is the one that cracked it, split it, and commanded it to quake?! Why don’t we ask that question? Who is the one that sent the wind? Who sent the floods? But they tell you that it was due to the ebb and tide, and that the barometric depressions are to blame. Who commanded them to do so?

« These countries, in which these things occurred – don’t they refrain from adopting Allah’s law, which is a form of heresy? Man-made laws have been chosen over Allah’s law, which has been deemed unsuitable to judge people?! Whoever does not act according to Allah’s law is a heretic, that’s what Allah said in the Koran. Don’t these countries have witchcraft, sorcery, deceitfulness, and abomination? »[2]

Saudi Professor Sheikh Fawzan Al-Fawzan: Allah Punishes for Homosexuality and Fornication at Christmas

The following are excerpts from an interview on Saudi/UAE’s Al-Majd TV with Sheikh Fawzan Al-Fawzan, a professor at the Al-Imam University, which was recorded and translated by the MEMRI TV Monitor Project:

« These great tragedies and collective punishments that are wiping out villages, towns, cities, and even entire countries, are Allah’s punishments of the people of these countries, even if they are Muslims.

« Some of our forefathers said that if there is usury and fornication in a certain village, Allah permits its destruction. We know that at these resorts, which unfortunately exist in Islamic and other countries in South Asia, and especially at Christmas, fornication and sexual perversion of all kinds are rampant. The fact that it happened at this particular time is a sign from Allah. It happened at Christmas, when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come to commit fornication and sexual perversion. That’s when this tragedy took place, striking them all and destroyed everything. It turned the land into wasteland, where only the cries of the ravens are heard. I say this is a great sign and punishment on which Muslims should reflect.

« All that’s left for us to do is to ask for forgiveness. We must atone for our sins, and for the acts of the stupid people among us and improve our condition. We must fight fornication, homosexuality, usury, fight the corruption on the face of the earth, and the disregard of the lives of protected people. »[3]

Saudi Cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid: Allah Finished Off the Richter Scale in Revenge of Infidel Criminals

The following are excerpts from an interview on Saudi/UAE’s Al-Majd TV with Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid, which was recorded and translated by the MEMRI TV Monitor Project:

« The problem is that the [Christian] holidays are accompanied by forbidden things, by immorality, abomination, adultery, alcohol, drunken dancing, and … and revelry. A belly dancer costs 2500 pounds per minute and a singer costs 50,000 pounds per hour, and they hop from one hotel to another from night to dawn. Then he spends the entire night defying Allah.

« Haven’t they learned the lesson from what Allah wreaked upon the coast of Asia, during the celebration of these forbidden? At the height of immorality, Allah took vengeance on these criminals.

« Those celebrating spent what they call ‘New Year’s Eve’ in vacation resorts, pubs, and hotels. Allah struck them with an earthquake. He finished off the Richter scale. All nine levels gone. Tens of thousands dead.

« It was said that they were tourists on New Year’s vacation who went to the crowded coral islands for the holiday period, and then they were struck by this earthquake, caused by the Almighty Lord of the worlds. He showed them His wrath and His strength. He showed them His vengeance. Is there anyone learning the lesson? Is it impossible that we will be struck like them? Why do we go their way? Why do we want to be like them, with their holidays, their forbidden things, and their heresy? »[4]

Egyptian Nationalist Weekly: U.S.-Israel-India Nuclear Testing May have Caused Asian Tsunami; The Goal: Testing how to Liquidate Humanity

The Egyptian nationalist weekly Al-Usbu’ has published an investigation by correspondent Mahmoud Bakri, titled « Humanity in Danger, » claiming that the earthquake and tsunami in Asia may have resulted from joint nuclear testing by the U.S., Israel, and India. The following are excerpts from the article:

« Was [the earthquake] caused by American, Israeli, and Indian nuclear testing on ‘the day of horror?’ Why did the ‘Ring of Fire’ explode?

« … According to researchers’ estimates, there are two possible [explanations] for what happened. The first is a natural, divine move, because the region is in the ‘Ring of Fire,’ a region subject to this destructive type of earthquakes.

 » The second possibility is that it was some kind of human intervention that destabilized the tectonic plates, an intervention that is caused only in nuclear experiments and explosions. What strengthens this direction [of thought] are the tectonic plates [under] Indian soil [ sic ], since in the recent few months, India conducted over seven nuclear tests to strengthen its nuclear program against the Pakistani [nuclear program].

« [Various] reports have proven that the tectonic plates in India and Australia collided with the tectonic plates of Europe and Asia. [It has also been proven] that India recently obtained high[-level] nuclear technology, and a number of Israeli nuclear experts and several American research centers were [involved in preparing this].

« The three most recent tests appeared to be genuine American and Israeli preparations to act together with India to test a way to liquidate humanity. In the[ir] most recent test, they began destroying entire cities over extensive areas. Although the nuclear explosions were carried out in desert lands, tens of thousands of kilometers away from populated areas, they had a direct effect on these areas.

« Since 1992, many research [institutes] monitoring earthquakes across the world, such as the International Center for the [Study] of Earthquakes [sic] in Britain and in Turkey and other countries, [indicated] the importance of no nuclear testing in the ‘Ring of Fire,’ where the most recent earthquake struck, because this region is thought to be one of the most geologically active regions over millions of years. Thus, the international centers have always classified it as one of the most dangerous regions [and] likely to shift at any given moment, even without human interference.

« But the scientific reports stated that there had been nuclear activity in this region – particularly after America’s recent decision to rely largely on the Australian desert – part of which is inside the ‘Ring of Fire’ – for its secret nuclear testing.

« Similarly, many international reports spoke of joint Indian-Israeli nuclear activity. Moreover, only this year Arab and Islamic countries intervened more than three times in the U.S. to stop this joint nuclear activity.

« Nevertheless, although so far it has not been proven that secret Indian-Israeli nuclear testing is what caused the destructive earthquake, there is evidence that the recent nuclear tests, the exchange of nuclear experts between India and Israel, and the American pressure on Pakistan regarding its nuclear cooperation with Asian and Islamic countries [by providing India with advanced nuclear technology in an attempt to stop Pakistani activity] – all these pose a big question mark regarding the causes of the severe earthquake in Asia.

« Scientific studies prove that there is increasing nuclear activity under the waters of the oceans and seas … and that America is the first country in the world responsible for this activity. This raises an enormous question mark… What is puzzling is that all the previous earthquakes did not cause such great destruction [as this one], particularly [in light of the fact that] the earthquake’s center was some 40 kilometers under the seabed of the Indian Ocean.

« One of the American researchers, Merrills Kinsey,[5]pointed out an important fact in the scientific report that he prepared after the last disaster, which is that the center of an earthquake that took place some 40 kilometers under the ocean floor could not have caused such destruction unless nuclear testing had been conducted close to the tectonic plates in these countries, or unless several days previously there had been [nuclear] activity that caused these plates to shift and collide – which constitutes a danger to all humanity, not only to the inhabitants of these countries… »[6]

[1]Palestinian Authority TV, December 31, 2005. To view the clip, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=451.

[2]Al-Majd TV (Saudi Arabia/UAE), January 5, 2005. To view the clip, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=462.

[3]Al-Majd TV (Saudi Arabia/UAE), December 31, 2004. To view the clip, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=459.

[4]Al-Majd TV (Saudi Arabia/UAE), January 1, 2005. To view the clip, visit http://memritv.org/Search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=452.

[5]The name was not identified by MEMRI.

[6]Al-Usbu’ (Egypt), January 1, 2005.

Voir encore:

Powerlessness of God?

A Critical Appraisal of Hans Jonas’s Idea of God after Auschwitz

Hans Hermann Henrix

I. On the truth of authentic and fictional texts

Among the Jewish contributions that echo the abysmal terror of Auschwitz and express the horror of the Shoah, many touching and authentic reports are found. To those who are driven by the question of how, in the face of the reality of Auschwitz, we can think and talk about God at all, texts exploring the existence and the perception of God in view of the events of the Shoah take on a definitive importance for their life and faith. One person’s heart and mind may have been indelibly branded by Elie Wiesel’s story in which the boy Pipel, during his protracted death at the gallows on the Auschwitz roll-call square, asks « Where is God? »1 Another may turn again to a text such as « Jossel Son of Jossel Rackower of Tarnopol Talks to God, » that « beautiful and true text, as true as only fiction can be, » presented as a document reporting on the final hours of resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto.2

A third person, fearing perhaps to be touched too closely by such fictional witnesses to the struggle for God and looking instead to the theoretical/intellectual debate, may turn to Emil Fackenheim’s « commanding voice of Auschwitz »3– a text that, by keeping an equilibrium between theodicy and anthropodicy, wants to transmit to the Jewish people the call issuing from Auschwitz for a new, eleventh commandment: namely, to protect and maintain the Jewish people and the Jewish faith, so as not to give Hitler a posthumous victory.

II. Hans Jonas – a Jewish voice in dark times

Does « The Idea of God After Auschwitz » by Hans Jonas (1903-1993)4 also belong among these texts? The author understands his contribution to be « a Jewish voice in dark times. » Not mincing words, he calls his lecture « a piece of undisguisedly speculative theology. » (p.7) It is theology in the garb of a theodicy, and theodicy not so much as a question but as an answer, an answer that seems to exonerate God from being responsible for the evil in the world, and thus for Auschwitz. Maybe it is this character of his contribution that has attracted considerable appreciation for Hans Jonas’s lecture within German-language Christian theology and philosophy5 – a kind of attention that Christian theology has only very hesitantly given to the other Jewish voices mentioned.6 What then is special about his « idea of God after Auschwitz »?

Anyone who approaches Hans Jonas’s thought by way of his works on the philosophy of nature and technology as well as on ethics7 would not in the first instance expect to find an interest in theology and the history of religion, since his philosophical work seems to breathe a pronounced scepticism in respect of the idea of God, which he considers in the context of modern nihilism. His ethics has a causal horizon that does not seem to have a place for God.8 And yet, the God-question has never let go of him. This became apparent to the German-speaking public when in his expression of thanks on receiving the Dr. Leopold Lucas Award from the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Tübingen University in 1984, he chose to speak on the « The Idea of God After Auschwitz, » a line of thought that he presented again later that year before a large audience at the Munich Assembly of German Catholics. During the final years of his life, he frequently revisited the tension between the nihilistic scepticism in his philosophical works on the one hand and his continued interest in the question of God on the other.9

The theme for his Tübingen speech of thanks « pressed » itself on him « irresistibly » because Jonas’s mother and the mother of the donor of the award had shared the fate of being murdered at Auschwitz. He chose the topic in « fear and trembling, » since it had existential depth: « I believe I owed it to those shadows, not to deny them some sort of answer to their long faded-away cries to a mute God » (7). The screams of the murdered souls still echo in the lament of the survivor, expressed in the phrase « a mute God. » Hans Jonas’s answer to the faded-away cries of the murdered drives a profoundly human and existential wedge into the philosophical/theological rock face. This context of real-life history must be kept in mind whenever his deliberations take on a speculative hue that might seem to be removed from everything human.

« What is it that Auschwitz has added to the measure of the fearsome and horrible misdeeds that human beings could perpetrate on other human beings, and ever have perpetrated? » (10) This is the question that Auschwitz has provoked in Hans Jonas. He answers it in an indirect manner, by explaining that traditional answers do not apply to the question of God any longer. The idea of the Shoah as something that God has visited on the disloyal people of the covenant is of no more help to him in explaining the Shoah than the idea, first formulated in the age of the Maccabees, of the witness of the suffering one, the martyr, who by his sacrifice and the giving of his life strengthens the promise of redemption by the coming Messiah. In accordance with this, even the « sanctifying of the name » (kiddush-hashem) in medieval martyr-piety is not longer of any use. « Auschwitz, devouring even the innocent children, knew nothing of all this…. Not a trace of human nobility was left to those who were destined to undergo the « final solution, » not a trace of it was recognizable in the figures of those ghostly skeletons who survived long enough to see the camp liberated » (12f.). For Jews, who consider this life the arena of God’s creation, revelation, and redemption, God is the guardian of this arena, the Lord of history. Thus Auschwitz, to the believing Jew, calls into question « the entire traditional idea of God. » It adds to the Jewish notion of history « a new dimension that has never existed before, something that the inherited theological categories cannot cope with » (14). This is the preface, the prologue to the credo of Hans Jonas, who does not want to give up the idea of God. He can also express the preliminary sketch of his credo, which despite everything still reckons with the existence of God, in another way:

« The notion of ‘the Lord of history’ will have to be given up » – this is the anticipated outcome of his credo (14). By employing the twin perspectives of theology and philosophy of religion, Jonas asks, as it were, under what conditions a history could be possible in which something like Auschwitz could happen. From his point of view, a God ruling history and interfering in its course of events « with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm » is not one of the conditions of possibility of a history containing the fact of the Shoah. Jonas sees the relationship of God to history in a different light. To think of God in view of Auschwitz means to him that we already have to think differently of God the Creator. This notion of God the Creator Jonas proceeds to delineate in a way « that makes it possible to articulate the experience of Auschwitz in a theological sense. »10 In order to develop the idea of God on a transcendental level, Hans Jonas turns to a « self-conceived myth. » (15)

III. Hans Jonas’s self-conceived myth and its theological significance

In the beginning, for unknowable reasons, the ground of being, or the divine, chose to give itself over to the chance and risk and endless variety of becoming. And wholly so: entering into the adventure of space and time, the deity held back nothing of itself – no uncommitted or unimpaired part remained to direct, correct, and ultimately guarantee the roundabout working out of its destiny in the creation. On this unconditional immanence the modern temper insists. It is its courage or despair, in any case its bitter honesty, to take our being-in-the-world seriously: to view the world as left to itself, its laws as brooking no interference, and the rigour of our belonging to it as not softened by an extramundane providence. Our myth demands the same for God’s being-in-the-world. Not, however, in the sense of a pantheistic immanence…. But rather, in order that the world might be, and be for itself, God renounced his own being, divesting himself of his deity – to receive it back from the Odyssey of time laden with the chance harvest of unforeseeable temporal experience; transfigured, or possibly even disfigured, by it. In such self-forfeiture of divine integrity for the sake of an unprejudiced becoming, no other foreknowledge can be admitted than that of possibilities which cosmic being offers in its own terms. To these conditions God committed his cause, effacing himself for the sake of the world. (15-17)

Jonas traces the fate of God’s effacing himself into the world through the course of time. He conceives of this course of time in an evolutionary manner. In the aeons before life begins to stir, the world does not yet harbour any danger to the God abandoning himself to it. This danger only begins to accrue when biological evolution becomes ever more multifarious and intensive: Eternity gathers strength, « filling little by little with the contents of self-affirmation, and for the first time now the awakening God can say that the creation is good » (18). Along with life, however, there arose death; mortality thus became the price to pay for a higher kind of existence, which out of the momentum of its evolutionary development produces the human being. The arrival of the human being also has its price, that is to say, God will have to pay the price now for his cause « possibly going wrong » (20), as the innocence of life now « has given way to the task of responsibility under the disjunction of good and evil. To the promise and risk of this agency, the divine cause, revealed at last, henceforth finds itself committed: and its issue trembles in the balance. The image of God … passes into the precarious trust of human beings, to be completed, saved, or spoiled by what they will do to themselves and the world. » (23) God’s fate is accomplished within a context of worrying and hopeful observing, accompanying, and tracking human activities, or rather, as Jonas himself puts it: Transcendence « from now on accompanies (human) actions with baited breath, hoping and wooing, rejoicing and sorrowing, with satisfaction and disappointment, and, as I would like to believe, making itself felt to humanity, without however intervening in the dynamics of that scene of mundane activities. » (23f.)

Hans Jonas’s myth has originality, rhetorical power, and speculative strength. His preferred means of expression is imagery. We at once begin to notice the wealth of consequences for the traditionally accepted notion of God arising from this scheme. As he himself admits, Jonas became aware of this only gradually. And he feels himself obliged to « link » his scheme « in a responsible way with the tradition of Jewish religious thought. » (24)

His myth speaks implicitly of a suffering God as well as a developing and a caring God. The biblical « idea of divine majesty » (26) only at first sight contradicts the notion of the suffering God, for the Hebrew Bible is certainly capable of describing quite eloquently the grief, remorse, and disappointment God experiences with regard to humans and in particular with regard to his chosen people. The thought of a becoming God may run counter to the idea emanating from classical Greek philosophy and introduced into the theological teaching of the attributes and its claim of the unchangeability of God; but as far as Jonas is concerned, it in inherent « in the sheer fact » that God « is affected by what happens in the world, and that ‘being affected’ means being altered, being in a changed situation. So that if in fact God has any kind of relationship to the world … then by virtue of this alone, the Eternal has become ‘temporized’ » (28f.). The notion of a caring God then defines more closely this « temporization » of God: « That God takes care of and cares for his creatures belongs among the most familiar tenets of Jewish faith » (31).11

Up to this point Hans Jonas considers his myth compatible with the Jewish theological tradition. He admits to incompatibility with it, though, at the point where he feels compelled to negate God’s omnipotence. « In our speculative venture, the most critical point is reached when we have to say: He is not an omnipotent God! For the sake of our image of God and our whole relationship to the divine, we cannot maintain the time-honored (medieval) doctrine of absolute, unlimited divine power » (33). His negation of divine omnipotence at this early stage, before coming to the problem of Auschwitz, Jonas derives from problems inherent in the concept of omnipotence. Thus he argues on the level of logical thought that omnipotence, as « absolute auto-potency, » in its solitude was in no position to exert power on anything. It was a power without resistance, and hence without power (33f.). Theologically, he formulates it as follows: « We can have divine omnipotence together with divine goodness only at the price of complete divine inscrutability…. More generally speaking, the three attributes … absolute goodness, absolute power, and understandability, stand in such a relationship that any combination of two of them excludes the third. »12

To deny the qualities of goodness and understandability to God would mean to destroy his divinity and to state an idea of God quite unacceptable « according to Jewish norms. » Therefore the notion of omnipotence, already seen to be dubious, must be relinquished.

Doing away with the omnipotence of God could however, Jonas believes, still be expressed theologically « within the continuity of the Jewish heritage, » for this limitation of divine power might be interpreted as « a concession made by God … which he could revoke whenever he felt like it. » (40) Here we have the idea of a self-chosen, retractable limitation of God’s power. This self-limitation of God, however, does not satisfy Jonas, for it would leave incomprehensible what has actually happened in history. Auschwitz would not have been confronted theologically; God would be conceived of without taking Auschwitz into account. For in Jonas’s view a freely chosen self-limitation of God with regard to his own power that could be revoked at any time would allow us « to expect that the good Lord might now and again break his self-imposed rule of exercising extreme restraint in imposing his power, and might intervene with a miraculous rescue. But no such miracle occurred; throughout the years of the Auschwitz slaughter, God remained silent. The miracles that occurred were the work of human beings alone: the acts of bravery of those individual, mostly nameless « righteous among the nations » who did not shrink from even the ultimate sacrifice to rescue others, to relieve their suffering, and even, if there was no alternative, to share in the fate of Israel. … But God remained silent. At this point I say: He did not interfere not because he did not wish to, but because he was not able to. » (41f.)

Jonas now can simultaneously think of Auschwitz and God only at the price of foregoing talk of a God with « a strong hand and an outstretched arm. » In view of Auschwitz, one must posit « the powerlessness of God » with regard to physical events. God, however, not only opts for this powerlessness in the course of history, but wills it into creation itself. Already creation out of nothing was by itself an act of self-restriction, « a self-limitation that allows for the existence and autonomy of a world. Creation itself was the act of an absolute sovereignty that for the sake of the existence of self-determined finiteness agreed no longer to be absolute. » (45)

Jonas finds a clue for his speculative venture of formulating his concept of God and the Creator in this manner in the « highly original and quite unorthodox speculations » of the Jewish Kabbalah surrounding the idea of zimzum. The divine zimzum as a form of « contraction, a retreat, a form of self-imposed moderation » is a precondition for the creation of the world. « In order to create space for the world to exist … the Eternal One had to withdraw into himself, thus creating emptiness, the void in which and from which he could create the world. Without this withdrawal into himself there could be nothing else outside of God. » (46)13

Jonas is able to support his myth of God renouncing his power with reference to the medieval idea of zimzum, while at the same time revising it. In zimzum, as the Kabbalah understands it, God retains his sovereignty vis-à-vis a creation that has become possible. In this context he remains a sovereign counterpart to the world; his contraction and withdrawal is only partial. Jonas, however, postulates a total contraction, a contraction not towards a void, but towards an unconditional immanence (cf. 16): Infinity in terms of its power empties itself « as a whole into finiteness » and in this way hands itself over to the latter. » (46) God retains nothing that remains untouched and immune (cf.16). This, however, raises the question: « Does this leave any room for a relationship to God? » Transcendence seems entirely steeped in and dissolved into immanence. Whether transcendence emerges once more from immanence is, paradoxically enough, up to the decision of human beings. For this is the sense in which Hans Jonas answers the question he himself has raised: « Having given himself wholly to the becoming world, God has no more to give, it is our turn now to give to him. » This is what humans do, whenever they take care that God must not regret having created the world. Hans Jonas is of the opinion that « this could well be the secret of the unknown « thirty-six righteous ones » who, according to Jewish teaching, the world will never be without, in order to safeguard its continued existence. » (47)14 Jonas counts on the possibility that further « righteous ones » have existed even « in our times, » and so in Auschwitz as well; in this context he remembers « the righteous among the nations » whom he has mentioned before, who in the abyss of the Shoah gave their lives for Israel. In the thirty-six righteous ones, a transcendence wholly hidden in immanence manifests itself as « holiness, » a holiness that « is capable of offsetting immeasurable guilt, of settling the debt run up by a whole generation, and of saving the peace of the invisible realm. »(48) Auschwitz, in Jonas’s thought, is the place where the notion of a God who has restricted himself fails; it is also the place where, from the ashes of this failed notion of God, God’s inscrutable transcendence appears in the form of holiness in the figures of the righteous one. Here his self-conceived myth is transformed into existential thought.

IV. An appraisal of Hans Jonas’s understanding of God

The myth Hans Jonas has created is a moving and challenging proposal. He weighs the traditional manner of speaking of God. In the face of the Shoah he wishes to speak of God. And he does this with pointed reference to the modern problematic of theodicy: any talk of God’s kindness and omnipotence is tested in the face of Auschwitz and in relation to the demand for understandability in God. The understandability of God is a guiding principle for Jonas. It is in the face of this criterion that talk of God has to prove itself. This is where it has its forensic element, based on reason.15 Although Jonas does not demand a thoroughgoing intelligibility, he nevertheless insists on the requirement « that we be able to understand God, not entirely of course, but to some extent…. If God, however, is to be understandable (in certain ways and to a certain extent) – and this is something we must adhere to – then his goodness must be compatible with the existence of evil, which it can only be if he is not omnipotent. » (38f.)

Jonas finds his principle of understandability quite centrally anchored in Jewish tradition: « a deus absconditus, a hidden God (not to speak of an absurd God), is a deeply un-Jewish notion. » (38) That this is somewhat controversial, however, within Jewish thought, is evident in any understanding of Jewish faith that orients itself to the testing of Abraham, i.e. God’s demand that he sacrifice his son Isaac. Thus Michael Wyschogrod can state that « Jewish belief … from the very beginning is a belief that God can do what is incomprehensible in human terms, » and with a view to Auschwitz he adds: « In our day and age this includes the belief that despite Auschwitz, God will fulfil his promise to redeem Israel and the world. Am I able to grasp how this is possible? No. »16

This Jewish position refuses to accept the modern variant of theodicy, since it does not consider valid a judging of God-talk before the tribunal of reason. Jonas, however, following his basic principle of understandability, opts for a discourse within the context of the modern problem of theodicy. For what he has to say, he is quite well able to find the appropriate Jewish words,17 and is capable also of transmitting his ideas in the traditional categories of Jewish thought, even though he describes them as « self-invented » (15), that is to say, developed in his own name and at his own risk. He is well aware of this. And by his own acknowledgment, he deviates « rather decisively from the most ancient Jewish teaching » (42).18 Does that mean, then, that he finds himself even more removed from Christian teaching? The Christian reader should not be too quick to jump to conclusions on this point. Rather, such a reader is left with an ambiguous impression of closeness and difference at the same time. One is tempted to associate the impression of closeness with what Hans Urs von Balthasar calls « formal Christology »19, whereas the difference may consist in his theodicy being a « Christology without Christ. »

As to associating Jonas’s myth with the term « formal Christology, » one finds a basis for this in his own writings. More than twenty years before his Tübingen word of thanks, Jonas had outlined his myth for the first time in a lecture on « Immortality and Our Contemporary Existence »20 and had submitted this idea to his teacher and colleague Rudolf Bultmann. In the enjoining correspondence with his colleague21, Jonas depicts the adventure of God of getting involved in the world and its history by using a Christian notion, and in conversing with his Christian partner he does not shy away from speaking of a « total incarnation » or of the « full risk » or « sacrifice of the incarnation. » He even tolerated his myth being labeled a « non-trinitarian myth of incarnation. » Knowing of such characterizations, Jonas twenty years later warned his Tübingen audience against getting the terminology of his own myth mixed up with the Christian connotations implied in it: « It [his myth] does not, like the Christian expression ‘the suffering God,’ speak of a unique act in which the Deity, at a certain moment in time and for the express purpose of the redemption of humanity, send part of itself into a certain situation characterized by suffering. Rather, in his view the almost incarnate relationship of God to the world had been a relationship full of suffering on the part of God « from creation onwards. » (25) Yet the fact that he had to warn of confusing them and had to make a clear distinction between them, points to the closeness of the two notions.

A further indication of the closeness of Jonas’s thought to Christian theology in this point, a closeness that of course implies neither congruence nor agreement, is seen in the fact that also on the Christian side, the classical idea of God has entered a critical stage, and that this crisis of the Christian theistic understanding of God is, above all, a crisis of the idea of divine power.22 Dogmatics, which had been shaped by Hellenistic philosophy, has rediscovered the « human » features in the biblical image of God, not least on the basis of contemporary experience, as with Hans Jonas (cf. 41f.). God’s predicates of compassion and the ability to experience pain are again increasingly emphasized in Christian theology. Such developments, however, lead to new interpretations of God’s omnipotence as the power of God’s love. Even before Hans Jonas spoke up, Jürgen Moltmann, quite significantly, interpreted the role of God’s power of creation in terms of the Jewish kabbalistic notion of zimzum, and postulated that a kind of self-limitation of the omnipotent and ubiquitous God had preceded the act of creation: « God creates … by means of and through withdrawing from creation. » The power of creation had to be considered « a self-humiliation of God towards his own impotence, » « a work of divine humility and equally a divine form of self-communion. When God acts as Creator, he acts upon himself. His actions are founded in his passion. »23 In the context of the theology of Creation, Jonas’s concept also forces Eberhard Jüngel to specify the notion of the original beginning « in terms of divine self-limitation. »24 Thus these Christian theologians and Hans Jonas are equally inspired by the kabbalistic idea of zimzum as a point of reference for interpreting the myth of creation.

Such closeness is not restricted to the idea of God’s power of creation and God the Creator alone. It also arises from considering the Christian understanding of divine power in relation to history. According to the myth established by Jonas, God attends human activities « with baited breath, hoping and wooing » (23), and for « the period of the world proceeding on its way, » i.e., as long as history lasts, he has « foregone all power of intervention in the physical course of mundane events. » God responds « to the impact of such mundane events on his own being … not by a show of ‘mighty hand and outstretched arm,’ … but by the mutely penetrating wooing of his unachieved aim » (42). There is a school of Christian theology that likewise interprets the attitude of the powerful God towards history and the actions of humans in terms analogous to this idea of God’s « wooing. » American process theology, which thinks of God, by virtue of his being a loving God, as sensitive, vulnerable, even dependent, aims to modify the idea of the omnipotence of God towards the notion that « God executes his power only in terms of his wooing humans and desiring to convince them, without being able to guarantee success. Thus God, in his love towards the world he created, runs a daring risk. »25

One need not agree with the controversial theological assumptions and conclusions of process theology to be able to understand from a Christian viewpoint the intervention of God and his power in history under the image of divine wooing. Johannes B. Brantschen, for instance, finds it possible, in connection with the New Testament parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), to speak of God’s omnipotence as the coexistence of power and the powerlessness of love, and to interpret it in the following way: « This is the unprecedented event: God, the sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth, begs for our love, but the almighty Father is powerless, as long as we humans do not answer the call of his obliging love from our very heart – for love without freedom is nothing but a piece of rigid iron. This powerlessness of love we experience today as the silence of God, or perhaps better, the discretion of God. God is discrete, at times even frighteningly discrete. … However, God in his discrete love has put enough light into his signs to be discovered by those who search for him. God takes us seriously. He is discrete, because he loves us. That is the divine delicacy. … God suffers as long as his love is not appreciated … This waiting is God’s way of experiencing pain. »26

Brantschen formulates his thoughts with special reference to the individual’s experience of illness and suffering, rather than vis-a-vis Auschwitz. That gives a somewhat parenetic and pastoral touch to his words and can lead to the aesthetic realm. Interestingly, Rudolf Bultmann asked Jonas the critical question of whether his myth might not remain « in the realm of aesthetics, » and whether his idea of God in the last resort might not be « an aesthetic concept. »27 In his reply, Hans Jonas insists that God’s committing his fate to human beings demands of the latter not an aesthetic, but an ethical response.28 And yet one has to ask Jonas whether his depiction of God’s response to what is happening in the world as an « intense but mute wooing » does not remain too firmly imbedded in the area of aesthetic judgement, which has the character not of a demand, but a request. « Time is the waiting of God, who begs for our love, » Simone Weil once said. Emmanuel Levinas, when confronted with this statement, at once put in a correction, by adding: « [Time is the waiting of God] who commands our love. »29 Instead of God’s wooing, his command; instead of an aesthetic « enticement, » an ethical summons before the tribunal of never ending responsibility.

Another question arises from the coordination of immanence and transcendence of God in Hans Jonas’s myth. If the divine basis of all existence retains no unaffected and immune « part » of itself, but entirely and unconditionally melts into immanence, then God’s transcendence not only becomes unknowable epistemologically, but also dissolves ontologically. The total immanence of transcendence, when taken with radical seriousness, is in the last resort a lonely kind of immanence, in which an intense but mute wooing of transcendence cannot take place any longer, nor can an uprising, an epiphany of transcendence be expected. Christian theology responds to the intellectual difficulties of Jonas’s myth with the Incarnation, understood on a Trinitarian basis: the Son enters history and the world, while the Father who sends out his Son in the Spirit continues to be God as a counterpart to the world.30 A formal Christology lacking the figure of Christ along the lines of Hans Jonas’s myth will hardly be able to solve the intellectual problem involved in the coordination of transcendence and immanence.31 Not all Jewish descendence or kenosis theology, though, is affected by this objection. The classical Jewish teaching about God’s bending down to humans refers to the God who is « seated on high » being enthroned in the heights » and « looks far down on the earth, and raises the poor from the dust » (cf. Psalm 113:6f.). Post-biblical tradition urges: « Wherever you find the greatness of the Holy One, praised be He, you will also find his humbleness. This is written in the Torah, is repeated in the words of the Prophets, and returns in the Writings for the third time » (bMeg 31a). The link between the descending God and the God of the heights is inseparable, so that transcendence does not dissolve into immanence.

The theoretical/intellectual problem in the myth of Hans Jonas of not being able to find one’s way out of the contradiction between total immanence and a nevertheless maintained transcendence, returns on the level of his more existentialist mode of expression. On the one hand, Jonas states regarding Auschwitz « no miraculous rescue happened; throughout the years of the fury at Auschwitz, God kept silent, » while on the other hand, he continues, « the miracles that occurred were the work of human beings alone: [they were] the acts of those individual, often unknown ‘righteous among the nations’ who did not shun even the ultimate sacrifice. » (41) Jonas now says of these righteous among the nations that « their hidden holiness is capable of making up for immeasurable guilt. » (48) Yet must not the holiness of the righteous in the context of Jonas’s mythological manner of speaking be understood as the salvation of God’s own cause, arising from the innermost essence of divine existence (cf. 23f.), as an echo of his intense but mute wooing, indeed, as the very manner of his being present, of his speaking? Looked at from the vantage point of Jonas’s own assumptions, would it not then be God himself speaking in the holiness of the righteous? And would we not then confront the tension between the absence of miracles and the simultaneous occurring of miracles, the tension between God being silent and yet speaking through the holiness of the righteous?

Finally, we will consider the contribution of Hans Jonas’s proposal to theodicy. His concept of God presents a powerless God, a defenseless God – a figure whom Christian theology has every reason to think about. In an exchange with E. Levinas about this question, Bishop Klaus Hemmerle spoke most impressively about God’s defenselessness, which in a process of self-denial reaches the point where he can do nothing but ask humans for their love. To this Levinas replied: « Such defenselessness in this situation, however, costs many suffering human lives. Can we speak in such a manner? We are not involved in a disputation on God’s capacity to sympathize with those who suffer. I don’t understand this notion of ‘defenselessness’ today, after Auschwitz. After what happened at Auschwitz, it sometimes seems to me to mean that the good Lord is asking for a kind of love that holds no element of promise. That is how I think of it: the meaning of Auschwitz is a form of suffering and of believing quite without any promise in return. That is to say: tout-à-fait gratuit. But then I say to myself: it costs too much – not to the good Lord, but to humankind. That is my critique, my lack of understanding with regard to the idea of defenselessness. This powerless kenosis has cost humanity all too dearly. »32

If Levinas’s objection is a Jewish critique of the Christian understanding of divine self-renunciation in Jesus Christ, it also touches Jonas’s own myth of God relinquishing himself towards immanence. Here as well, God has undergone a powerless kenosis which « costs humanity all too dearly. » The price of the truth of Jonas’s myth appears to be too high. The objection that God’s powerless kenosis costs human beings too much moves toward an understanding which – here going beyond Levinas – contains the promise of justice even to those who perished at Auschwitz. Suing for such justice means to make room for the « lamenting human complaint to God about the horrors occurring in his creation. » This is the whole point of the question of theodicy, as Johann Baptist Metz so insistently keeps asking it.33 And in this respect, Jonas’s scheme seems oppressive, and lacking in any form of promise. His call for God-talk to appear before the bar of understandability and be challenged by this-worldly history leads to forsaking the idea of God’s omnipotence and leaves a total absence of promise to those who have suffered in the past and to the dead of the Shoah.34

Do we really have to forsake talking about the omnipotence of God? Must we indeed renounce the yearning for a powerful God? Do those who at Auschwitz proved to be the righteous ones, the saints of the Shoah, tell us that what they longed for, namely, the omnipotence of God, must – according to another statement of Emmanuel Levinas – in the very yearning for it « remain apart, must appear holy as something worthy of desire – close, yet separate »? God’s omnipotence awakens our yearning for it, calls into being a move towards it, and yet at the very moment when that divine omnipotence is most urgently needed, it seems to yield place to the other person, to the neighbor, in a kind of responsibility that can go as far – and with the saints of the Shoah has indeed done so – as substituting oneself for the other person. This would seem to be the omnipotence of God remaining apart to the point of its very absence. It would seem to be an « intrigue » of the omnipotent God, entrusting my fellow human to me. This « intrigue » of God would be a kind of self-limitation that calls us into unlimited responsibility for our fellow human beings.35

The notion of God’s omnipotence and the yearning contained in it36 must pass the acid test of the ethical demand. This is where it finds its real meaning for each respective present; it will not let us avoid this test. Therein one could see the prospective meaning of any talk of God’s omnipotence; this could be its ethical content. At the same time, such talk contains a dimension of « going beyond » that is of particular relevance to those who cannot be reached by my responsible action in each present moment: to the suffering and the dead of history. Beyond its, so to speak, prospective meaning, the word of God’s omnipotence is a cry for God’s saving power, appealing to him to be effective and powerful for those who suffered and died. One could speak of a commemorating and an appealing meaning of talk of God’s omnipotence. Talking about God without appealing to him, and without any promise for the dead of history and the Shoah, is challenged by the question of theodicy, as it is pointedly formulated by Johann Baptist Metz. Such a challenge is also pertinent to Hans Jonas’s concept.

Conclusion

As insistently as we have sought a note of hope for the dead of Auschwitz in Hans Jonas’s concept of God, and as seriously as the question of the dissolution of God as the counterpart to humans (and thus the continuing possibility of prayer) must be directed to Jonas’s myth and its theological explication, it is equally appropriate to mention that Jonas accompanies his theoretical exposition with a very personal confession. This confession is clearly a move onto a different level of human expression, while still representing Hans Jonas the person. His concept breathes the pathos of candidness; he seeks understandability to be able to go on living. This seeking reflects the integrity and autonomy of Hans Jonas as a human being, one who at the same time can be quite humble. The answer he gives in his myth to the question of Job « is opposed to that put in the Book of Job, which looks to the omnipotence of the Creator God, while mine posits his renunciation of power. » To Jonas, both answers constitute « praise, » their countermovement being held together by what they have in common. Of his « poor word » of praise he would like to hope « that it would not be excluded from what Goethe in his ‘Vermächtnis altpersischen Glaubens’ (Legacy of Ancient Persian Belief) expresses as follows: ‘And all that stammers praise to the Supreme / in circle by circle there gathered does seem’ » (48f.). This is a personal avowal of faith in a God who is on high, who is a counterpart, and thus is praiseworthy. This must be pointed out so that the critique directed at Jonas’s intellectual scheme not be extended to a critique of Jonas as a person.

By creating his myth, Hans Jonas has echoed the faded screams of his mother, who was murdered at Auschwitz. From the standpoint of Auschwitz, he has directed his question to God, in a speculative gesture as it were. The appraisal of his urgent proposal attempted here follows him in this speculative gesture, on the level of thought and argumentation. What Jonas says about his own scheme is even more true of this appraisal: « All this is mere stammering » (48). Stammering it has been in its agreement with Jonas and in its questioning of him. The agreement revealed characteristics that Jonas’s scheme has in common with contemporary Christian theology. The questioning presented possible objections from outside as well as examining the inner coherence of Jonas’s understanding of God. Our appraisal did not see its task as that of submitting a definitive alternative scheme. Nor was it bent on attempting to make sense of the events of Auschwitz. Like Hans Jonas himself, our appraisal also does not wish to forsake the idea of God. Indeed, it does not wish to forsake the idea of a powerful God; it wants to acknowledge the yearning for an omnipotent God. This is a yearning that cannot avoid the acid test of ethical demands, and is challenged not to seek solace for oneself, but to live in hope for others.

Notes

E. Wiesel, Die Nacht zu begraben, Elischa, Eßlingen o. J., 93f.

So E. Levinas, Die Tora mehr zu lieben als Gott (1955), in: E. Levinas, Schwierige Freiheit. Versuch über das Judentum, Frankfurt a.M. 1992, 109-113, who presents the most impressive interpretation of this text. Other interpretations: U. Bohn, Thora in der Grenzsituation, in: P. von der Osten-Sacken (ed.), Treue zur Thora. FS Günther Harder, Berlin 1977, 124-134; P. Lenhardt/P. von der Osten-Sacken, Rabbi Akiva, Berlin 1987, 332ff; H. Luibl, Wenn der Herr sein Gesicht von den Betenden abwendet. Zu Zwi Kolitz: „Jossel Rackower spricht zu Gott », in: Orientierung 52 (1988) 5-8. The German translation of this text itself was published in: Almanach für Literatur und Theologie 2, Wuppertal 1986, 19-28; M. Stöhr (ed.), Erinnern – nicht vergessen, München 1979, 107-118; P. von der Osten-Sacken (ed.), Das Ostjudentum, Berlin 1981, 161-168; Judaica 39 (1983) 211-220. Compare the attempt of a strophic transliteration of R. Brandstaetter, in: K. Wolff (ed.), Hiob 1943. Ein Requiem für das Warschauer Getto, Berlin 1983, 274-276.

The Commanding Voice of Auschwitz (1970), in: E. L. Fackenheim, God’s Presence in History. Jewish Affirmations and Philosophical Reflections, New York 1970, 67-98. Fackenheim has repeated his position in further publications: Encounters between Judaism and Modern Philosophy, New York 1973; The Jewish Return to History, New York 1978; To Mend the World, New York 1982; The Jewish Bible after Auschwitz. A Re-reading, New York 1990; Jewish-Christian Relations after the Holocaust. Toward Post-Holocaust Theological Thought, Chicago 1996; Was ist Judentum? Eine Deutung für die Gegenwart, Berlin 1999. Literature on Fackenheim: B. Dupuy, Un theologien juif de l’Holocauste, Emil Fackenheim, in: Foi et Vie 73. No. 4 (1974) 11-21; E.Z. Charry, Jewish Holocaust Theology. An Assessment, in: JES 18 (1981) 128-139; S. Lubarsky, Ethics and Theodicy. Tensions in Emil Fackenheim’s Thought, in: Encounter 44 (1983) 59-72; M.J. Morgan, The Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim. A Reader, Detroit 1987; G. Niekamp, Christologie nach Auschwitz, Freiburg 1994, 131-135.

The text of H. Jonas was published: H. Jonas, Der Gottesbegriff nach Auschwitz. Eine jüdische Stimme (suhrkamp taschenbuch 1516), Frankfurt 1987 (the pages in the ongoing text of this manuscript are of this edition); other publications of the text in: O. Hofius (ed.), Reflexionen finsterer Zeit. Zwei Vorträge von Fritz Stern und Hans Jonas, Tübingen 1984, 61-86; Von Gott reden in Auschwitz?, in: Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (ed.), Dem Leben trauen, weil Gott es mit uns lebt. 88. Deutscher Katholikentag vom 4. bis 8. Juli 1984 in München. Dokumentation, Paderborn 1984, 235-246 and: Hans Jonas, Philosophische Untersuchungen und metaphysische Vermutungen, Frankfurt 1992, 190-208. A french translation: Le Concept de Dieu après Auschwitz. Une voix juive. Suivi d’un essai de Catherine Chalier, Paris 1994.

E. Jüngel, Gottes ursprüngliches Anfangen als schöpferische Selbstbegrenzung. Ein Beitrag zum Gespräch mit Hans Jonas über den »Gottesbegriff nach Auschwitz«, in: H. Deuser u.a. (eds.), Gottes Zukunft -Zukunft der Welt (FS Jürgen Moltmann), München 1986, 265-275; W. Oelmüller, Hans Jonas. Mythos – Gnosis – Prinzip Verantwortung, in: StZ 113 (1988) 343-351; Marcus Braybrooke, Time to meet. Towards a deeper relationship between Jews and Christians, London/Philadelphia 1990, 123ff.; H. Kreß, Philosophische Theologie im Horizont des neuzeitlichen Nihilismus. Philosophie und Gottesgedanke bei Wilhelm Weischedel und Hans Jonas, in: ZThK 88 (1991), 101-120; H. Küng, Das Judentum, München/Zürich 1991 714ff; W. Oelmüller (ed.), Worüber man nicht schweigen kann. Neue Diskussionen zur Theodizeefrage, München 1992, passim; W. Groß/H.J. Kuschel, »Ich schaffe Finsternis und Unheil!« Ist Gott verantwortlich für das Übel?, Mainz 1992, 170-175; C. Thoma, Das Messiasprojekt. Theologie jüdisch-christlicher Begegnung, Augsburg 1994, 394ff; G. Schiwy, Abschied vom allmächtigen Gott, München 1995, 10ff, 36f.,76-85, 92-98, u.ö.; G. Greshake, Der dreieine Gott. Eine trinitarische Theologie, Freiburg 1997, 279ff.; K.-H. Menke, in: H. Wagner (ed.), Mit Gott streiten. Neue Zugänge zum Theodizee-Problem, Freiburg 1998, 125ff.; V. Lenzen, Jüdisches Leben und Sterben im Namen Gottes. Studien über die Heiligung des göttlichen Namens (Kiddusch-HaSchem), München/Zürich 2000 (2. Auflage), 140ff. u.a.

Cf. R. McAfee Brown, Elie Wiesel. Zeuge für die Menschheit, Freiburg 1990; W. Groß/ K.-J. Kuschel, ibidem (Footnote 5), 135-153; E. Schuster/R. Boschert-Kimmig (eds.), Trotzdem hoffen. Mit Johann Baptist Metz und Elie Wiesel im Gespräch, Mainz 1993; R. Boschki, Der Schrei. Gott und Mensch im Werk von Elie Wiesel, Mainz 1994; G. Langenhorst, Hiob unser Zeitgenosse. Die literarische Hiob-Rezeption im 20. Jahrhundert als theologische Herausforderung, Mainz 1994, passim.

H. Jonas, Das Prinzip Verantwortung. Versuch einer Ethik für die technologische Zivilisation, Frankfurt 1979, 21984. The main stations of his work are indicated by: Der Begriff der Gnosis, Göttingen 1930; Augustin und das paulinische Freiheitsproblem, Göttingen 1930, 21965; Gnosis und spätantiker Geist. Zwei Teile, Göttingen 1934, 21954 und 1954, 21993; The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical Biology, New York 1963; Organismus und Freiheit. Ansätze zu einer philosophischen Biologie, Göttingen 1973; Technik, Medizin und Ethik. Zur Praxis des Prinzips Verantwortung, Frankfurt 1985. Compare the ongoing reception of Jonas’s work: W. Fasching, article „Jonas, Hans », in: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexion, Band XV (1998), 723-733; C. Albert, article „Jonas, Hans », in: B. Lutz (ed.), Die großen Philosophen des 20. Jahrhunderts. Biographisches Lexikon, München 1999 and the informations of the Hans Jonas-Centre Berlin in: http://www.fu-berlin.de/~boehler/Jonas-Zentrum.

So H. Kreß, ibidem (Footnote 5), 109ff and similarly W. Lesch, Ethische Argumentation im jüdischen Kontext. Zum Verständnis von Ethik bei Emmanuel Levinas und Hans Jonas, in: FZPhTh 38 (1991) 443~69, 464. Compare the own statement of Jonas in: H. Koelbl, Jüdische Portraits. Photographien und Interviews, Frankfurt 1989, 120-123, 123.

Cf. the articles in: »Philosophische Untersuchungen« (footnote 4).

E. Jüngel, ibidem (footnote 5), 269.

Compare the statements of the Jewish traditional literature only in: P. Kuhn, Gottes Selbsterniedrigung in der Theologie der Rabbinen, München 1968; A.M. Goldberg, Untersuchungen über die Vorstellung der Schekhinah in der frühen rabbinischen Literatur, München 1972; P. Kuhn, Gottes Trauer und Klage in der rabbinischen Überlieferung, Leiden 1978; H. Ernst, Rabbinische Traditionen über Gottes Nähe und Gottes Leid, in: C. Thoma/M. Wyschogrod (eds.), Das Reden vom einen Gott bei Juden und Christen, Berlin 1984, 157-177, C. Thoma/ S. Lauer, Die Gleichnisse der Rabbinen. Erster und zweiter Teil, Bern 1986 and 1992; E.E. Urbach, The Sages. Their Concepts and Beliefs, Cambridge, Mass. 1987, 37-79; M.E. Lodahl, Shekhinah/Spirit. Divine Presence in Jewish and Christian Religion, New York/ Mahwah 1992; C. Thoma, Messiasprojekt (footnote 5), 78ff, 409ff u.ö.

In the Middle Ages the Jewish discussion of the possibility to mediate the three attributes of God reflected the mediation of the omnipotencce, goodness and providence; compare the study of B.S. Kogan, »Sorgt Gott sich wirklich?« – Saadja Gaon, Juda Halevi und Maimonides über das Problem des Bösen, in: H.H. Henrix (ed.), Unter dem Bogen des Bundes, Aachen 1981, 47-73. See as an example of the early Christian discussion of the issue only: Laktanz, Vom Zorne Gottes (Texte zur Forschung 4), Darmstadt 21971, 45ff.

Jonas follows to: G. Scholem, Die jüdische Mystik in ihren Hauptströmungen, Frankfurt/M. 1967, 285ff; idem, Über einige Begriffe des Judentums, Frankfurt 1970, 53-89 (= Schöpfung aus Nichts und Selbstbeschränkung Gottes). Cf. idem, Art. »Kabbalah«, in: Encyclopaedia Judaica XI (Jerusalem 41978), 489-653, 588-597 and M. Fritz, A Midrash: The Self-Limitation of God, in: JES 22 (1985) 703-714.

Cf. to this motif: G. Scholem, Die 36 verborgenen Gerechten in der jüdischen Tradition, in: idem., Judaica, Frankfurt 1968, 216-225; article »Lamed Vav Zaddikim«, in: Encyclopaedia Judaica X (Jerusalem 41978), 1367f.

C.-F. Geyer requires the „tribunal of reason » in his studies on the history of the discernable concept of theodicy, in: W. Oelmüller (ed.), Worüber man nicht schweigen kann (Footnote 5), 209-242. His position is critized by G. Neuhaus, Theodizee – Abbruch oder Anstoß des Glaubens?, Freiburg 1993, 144ff; cf. also the discussion in: H. Wagner (ed.), Mit Gott streiten. Neue Zugänge zum Theodizee-Problem (QD 169), Freiburg 1998.

M. Wyschogrod, Gott – ein Gott der Erlösung, in: M. Brocke/H. Jochum, ibidem (Footnote 2), 178-194, 185. See also V. Lenzen, ibidem (Footnote 5), 141.

So in reception of F. Rosenzweig and his reflection of the question in what sense his »Star of Redemption« is a Jewish book: Das neue Denken (1925), in: idem, Zweistromland (= Franz Rosenzweig, Der Mensch und sein Werk. Gesammelte Schriften III), Dordrecht 1984, 139-161,155.

A. Goldberg, Ist Gott allmächtig? Was die Rabbinen Hans Jonas antworten könnten, in: Judaica 47 (1991) 51-58 critized the absolute renunciation of the divine power; the rabbinical understanding of the concept of God’s power could accept a partial renunciation and preserved the possibility of the divine judgement. Interpretating Is. 45,7 and its daily recitation in the morning prayer Goldberg argued: »He, who claims that only the good can come from God, denies one of the few dogmas of Judaism» (56). The provocation of the biblical speech of God as the creator of the light and darkness is reflected by: W. Groß/ K.J. Kuschel, ibidem (Footnote 5) and M. Görg, Der un-heile Gott. Die Bibel im Bann der Gewalt, Düsseldorf 1995.

H.U. von Balthasar spoke on Israel as »a formal Christology« in his booklet on Buber: Einsame Zwiesprache. Martin Buber und das Christentum, Köln/ Olten 1958, 83. But he develops unsufficiently the affirmative dimension of such a caracterization; this is critized by: H.H. Henrix, »Israel ist seinem Wesen nach formale Christologie«. Die Bedeutung H.U. von Balthasars für F.-W. Marquardts Christologie, in: BThZ 9 (1993) 135-153.

H. Jonas, Zwischen Nichts und Ewigkeit. Drei Aufsätze zur Lehre vom Menschen. Göttingen 1963, 44-62, 55ff.

Ibidem, 63-72; Jonas’s using of the term of incarnation: 68.69.70.71.

The concept of omnipotence – long generations a firm component of the Christian teaching of the divine attributes – is marginalized in contemporary dogmatics; compare only: Mysterium Salutis. Volumes 1 to 5 and the supplement, Einsiedeln/ Zürich/ Köln 1965-1981; Lexikon der katholischen Dogmatik, Freiburg 1987; P. Eicher (ed.), Neue Summe Theologie. Bände 1 und 2, Düsseldorf 1992. But see also J. Auer, Gott – der Eine und Dreieine (Kleine Katholische Dogmatik II), Regensburg 1978, 422-431 and the discussion of O. John, Die Allmachtsprädikation in einer christlichen Gottesrede nach Auschwitz, in: E. Schillebeeckx (ed.), Mystik und Politik. Theologie im Ringen um Geschichte und Gesellschaft (FS Johann Baptist Metz), Mainz 1988, 202-218 and Th. Pröpper, article »Allmacht Gottes», in: 3LThK Bd. 1 (1993), 412-417.

J. Moltmann, Trinität und Reich Gottes. Zur Gotteslehre, München 1980, 124f.

E. Jüngel, ibidem (Footnote 5), 271. But compare the striking criticism of this reflection by H. Küng, ibidem (Footnote 5), 717ff.

So after H. Vorgrimler, Theologische Gotteslehre, Düsseldorf 1985, 150ff.

J.B. Brantschen, Die Macht und Ohnmacht der Liebe. Randglossen zum dogmatischen Satz: Gott ist veränderlich, in: FZPhTh 27 (1980) 224-246, 238f. Cf. also G. Neuhaus, ibidem (footnote 15), 264ff and H. Fronhofen, Ist der christliche Gott allmächtig?, in: StZ 117 (1992) 519-528, 523.

R. Bultmann, in: H. Jonas, Zwischen Nichts und Ewigkeit, ibidem (footnote 20), 66f

H. Jonas, ibidem, 70f.

So the manuscript of the dialogue on the Judaism and Christianity in the thinking of Franz Rosenzweig which was published in a shortened version: Judentum und Christentum nach Franz Rodsenzweig. Ein Gespräch, in: G. Fuchs/H.H. Henrix (eds.), Zeitgewinn. Messianisches Denken nach Franz Rosenzweig, Frankfurt 1987, 163-183.

Similarly the criticism of E. Jüngel, ibidem (Footnote 5), 272f and W. Oelmüller, Hans Jonas, ibidem (Footnote 5), 346.

Compare the literature according to the footnote 11 and: W. Orbach, The four Faces of God: Toward a Theology of Powerlessness, in: Judaism 32 (1983) 236-247; E. Levinas, Judaïsme et Kénose, in: Archivi di Filisofia LIII (1985) Nr.2-3 (Ebraismo. Ellenismo. Cristianesimo), 13-28 and R. Neudecker, Die vielen Gesichter des einen Gottes, München 1989, 69-105.

In. G. Fuchs/H.H. Henrix, ibidem, (footnote 29), 170.

J.B. Metz, Theologie als Theodizee?, in: W. Oelmüller (ed.), Theodizee – Gott vor Gericht?, München 1990, 103-118; Plädoyer für mehr Theodizee-Empfindlichkeit in der Theologie, in: W. Oelmüller (ed.), Worüber man nicht schweigen kann (footnote 5), 125-137; Die Rede von Gott angesichts der Leidensgeschichte der Welt, in: StZ 117 (1992) 311-320; Karl Rahners Ringen um die theologische Ehre des Menschen, in: StZ (1994) 383-393 (quotation there: 391); Religion und Politik auf dem Boden der Moderne, Frankfurt 1996; Gottesgedächtnis im Zeitalter kultureller Amnesie, in: Th. Faulhaber/B. Stubenrauch (eds.), Wenn Gott verloren geht. Die Zukunft des Glaubens in der säkularisierten Gesellschaft (QD 174), Freiburg 1998, 108-115.

Strangely enough the momentum of the lack of any form of promise to the victims of the history is faded out by G. Schiwy’s plea for the »discharge of the almighty» (Footnote 5).

See the idea of an »intrigue« of God – here in our context applied on the idea of the divine omnipotencce – by E. Levinas: Gott und die Philosophie, in: B. Casper (ed.), Gott nennen. Phänomenologische Zugänge, Freiburg/München 1981, 81-123, 104ff.

This in nearness to thoughts of H. Küng, ibidem (footnote 5), 731ff and O. John, ibidem (footnote 22).


Fondation Rockefeller/100e: A quoi sert de gagner tout l’or du monde (From permanent to immediate philanthropy ?)

21 mai, 2013
https://i2.wp.com/media.economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full-width/images/2012/11/articles/main/20130110_wbp006.jpgEt que servirait-il à un homme de gagner tout le monde, s’il perdait son âme? Jésus (Mattthieu 16: 26)
Il en sera comme d’un homme qui, partant pour un voyage, appela ses serviteurs, et leur remit ses biens. Il donna cinq talents à l’un, deux à l’autre, et un au troisième, à chacun selon sa capacité, et il partit. Aussitôt celui qui avait reçu les cinq talents s’en alla, les fit valoir, et il gagna cinq autres talents. De même, celui qui avait reçu les deux talents en gagna deux autres. Celui qui n’en avait reçu qu’un alla faire un creux dans la terre, et cacha l’argent de son maître. Longtemps après, le maître de ces serviteurs revint, et leur fit rendre compte. Celui qui avait reçu les cinq talents s’approcha, en apportant cinq autres talents, et il dit : Seigneur, tu m’as remis cinq talents; voici, j’en ai gagné cinq autres. Son maître lui dit : C’est bien, bon et fidèle serviteur ; tu as été fidèle en peu de chose, je te confierai beaucoup; entre dans la joie de ton maître. Celui qui avait reçu les deux talents s’approcha aussi, et il dit: Seigneur, tu m’as remis deux talents; voici, j’en ai gagné deux autres. Son maître lui dit : C’est bien, bon et fidèle serviteur; tu as été fidèle en peu de chose, je te confierai beaucoup; entre dans la joie de ton maître. Celui qui n’avait reçu qu’un talent s’approcha ensuite, et il dit : Seigneur, je savais que tu es un homme dur, qui moissonnes où tu n’as pas semé, et qui amasses où tu n’as pas vanné ; j’ai eu peur, et je suis allé cacher ton talent dans la terre; voici, prends ce qui est à toi. Son maître lui répondit: Serviteur méchant et paresseux, tu savais que je moissonne où je n’ai pas semé, et que j’amasse où je n’ai pas vanné ; il te fallait donc remettre mon argent aux banquiers, et, à mon retour, j’aurais retiré ce qui est à moi avec un intérêt. Ôtez-lui donc le talent, et donnez-le à celui qui a les dix talents. Car on donnera à celui qui a, et il sera dans l’abondance, mais à celui qui n’a pas on ôtera même ce qu’il a. Et le serviteur inutile, jetez-le dans les ténèbres du dehors, où il y aura des pleurs et des grincements de dents. Jésus (Matthieu 25: 14 – 30)
Il y avait un homme riche, qui était vêtu de pourpre et de fin lin, et qui chaque jour menait joyeuse et brillante vie. Un pauvre, nommé Lazare, était couché à sa porte, couvert d’ulcères, et désireux de se rassasier des miettes qui tombaient de la table du riche; et même les chiens venaient encore lécher ses ulcères. Le pauvre mourut, et il fut porté par les anges dans le sein d’Abraham. Le riche mourut aussi, et il fut enseveli. Dans le séjour des morts, il leva les yeux; et, tandis qu’il était en proie aux tourments, il vit de loin Abraham, et Lazare dans son sein. Il s’écria: Père Abraham, aie pitié de moi, et envoie Lazare, pour qu’il trempe le bout de son doigt dans l’eau et me rafraîchisse la langue; car je souffre cruellement dans cette flamme. Abraham répondit: Mon enfant, souviens-toi que tu as reçu tes biens pendant ta vie, et que Lazare a eu les maux pendant la sienne; maintenant il est ici consolé, et toi, tu souffres. D’ailleurs, il y a entre nous et vous un grand abîme, afin que ceux qui voudraient passer d’ici vers vous, ou de là vers nous, ne puissent le faire. Le riche dit: Je te prie donc, père Abraham, d’envoyer Lazare dans la maison de mon père; car j’ai cinq frères. C’est pour qu’il leur atteste ces choses, afin qu’ils ne viennent pas aussi dans ce lieu de tourments. Abraham répondit: Ils ont Moïse et les prophètes; qu’ils les écoutent. Et il dit: Non, père Abraham, mais si quelqu’un des morts va vers eux, ils se repentiront. Et Abraham lui dit: S’ils n’écoutent pas Moïse et les prophètes, ils ne se laisseront pas persuader quand même quelqu’un des morts ressusciterait. Jésus (Luc 16:15-31)
Depuis la récession, les Américains riches sont à la recherche de nouveaux symboles de prestige, Les yachts, jets privés et villas au bord de la mer sont tellement 2007. Etre assez riche et généreux pour avoir son nom dans la liste « Giving Pledge » pourrait rapidement devenir l’ultime badge de prestige. Robert Franck (Wealth Report)
Richesse oblige is part of American culture. The peer pressure to give is great (for donors large and small), which is what makes US givers three times as generous as Britons. The Giving Pledge has upped that peer pressure and set an expectation that only serious generosity gets you into the new A-list of philanthropy. (…) If these billionaire philanthrocapitalists can follow Gates’s example their giving could be world-changing. The Guardian
In May 14th 2013 it will be 100 years since the birth of the Rockefeller Foundation, with its noble ambition to “promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world”. It soon became the most famous face of a golden age of philanthropy, putting to work the vast wealth of J.D. Rockefeller, its founder, in creating or helping to create many of the great institutions of 20th-century America, from the Red Cross to the University of Chicago, and helping save many millions of lives through its support of research in global public health (such as finding a vaccine for yellow fever) and agriculture (working with Norman Borlaug to bring about the “green revolution” in food productivity in Asia). The centenary comes as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are ushering in what may be another golden age, both through their huge personal donations and their urging other billionaires to sign a Giving Pledge, promising half of their wealth to good causes. So what might the next century of philanthropy bring? The Rockefeller Foundation should still be around to celebrate in 2113, but the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may not be. J.D. Rockefeller established a permanent foundation; all the money given to the Gates Foundation must be spent within 50 years of the death of the last surviving founder (ie, Mr or Mrs Gates). The Gateses and Mr Buffett are part of a growing number of philanthropists who believe that their money will be better used if it is deployed while they are alive or still at least a living memory. The next ten years or so will be particularly important in shaping the future of philanthropy. Just as Rockefeller pursued what he called “scientific philanthropy”, gathering together experts to find answers to big problems, today the Gateses and others expect their giving to overcome some of the world’s most formidable challenges. If this is seen to work, many more successful businesspeople will give do-gooding a try, thinking they can make a difference, too. But if the results are indifferent in the next decade, there will be a strong temptation to dismiss philanthropy as a fad. Completing the eradication of polio in the three countries where it remains and continuing the recent dramatic decline in deaths from malaria will be closely watched litmus tests. Some quick wins for the new philanthropists would also take some of the heat out of the growing anti-rich sentiment around the world. It might even form the basis of a new social contract, in which large differences in personal wealth are tolerated if the rich make a serious effort to give generously and effectively. In Rockefeller’s day, with government still quite small, it was possible to think that a philanthropist could solve big problems on his own. Today, it is clear that solutions will be possible only if do-gooders can work effectively not just with the non-profit sector but also with business and government. Some see philanthropy as providing risk capital for social innovation, able to take the sort of controversial or long-term bets that other providers of finance avoid. The Economist
Il y a cent ans de cela, la Fondation Rockefeller ouvrait ses portes avec pour mission de promouvoir le bien-être de l’humanité partout dans le monde. Aujourd’hui, ce bien-être est de plus en plus lié à notre capacité de préparation et de résistance aux chocs et aux épreuves de notre monde moderne afin d’en ressortir plus fort. Il s’agit d’un objectif crucial pour les villes puisque les gens habitent de plus en plus dans les aires urbaines. Alors que la Fondation entame son deuxième centenaire, nous estimons que les questions de résilience urbaine sont dorénavant d’actualité. Notre objectif pour le défi du centenaire « 100 villes résilientes » est qu’il devienne un tremplin pour des actions de plus grande envergure qui rendront le monde plus résilient. Dr. Judith Rodin (Présidente de la Fondation Rockefeller)
Engagés aux coté des milliardaires américains Bill Gates et Warren Buffett, les plus grandes fortunes américaines se sont récemment engagées à donner la moitié de leurs fortunes à des fins philanthropiques auprès d’organisations caritatives mondiales. Thomas Blard commente cette campagne appelée « The Giving Pledge », un projet lié à la culture américaine de l’entreprenariat. Culturellement, la tradition américaine souligne que s’il faut laisser à ses héritiers suffisamment d’argent pour qu’ils puissent faire ce qu’ils veulent, il ne faut pas trop leur en laisser non plus, au risque qu’ils ne fassent rien. Une position très éloignée de la culture européenne et notamment de la culture française liée à l’héritage et à la transmission des biens. Ainsi, les plus grandes fortunes françaises ont été approchées, parmi lesquelles Arnaud Lagardère et Liliane Bettencourt mais jusqu’à présent ils ont refusé de prendre part au projet philanthropique américain. Terra femina

En ce 100e anniversaire de la création de la Fondation Rockefeller …

Qui voyait, avec le magnat du pétrole et peut-être la plus grande fortune de tous les temps John D. Rockefeller (l’équivalent de 200 milliards de dollars actuels avec sa fameuse Standard Oil – Esso), la naissance de l’universalisme philanthropique américain …

Et aujourd’hui, avec le Giving Pledge de  Buffett et Gates mais toujours sans nos Lagardère et Bettencourt (d’où peut-être le silence gêné de nos médias), un redéploiement de la philanthropie mondiale vers le don immédiat …

Retour, avec The Economist, sur l’avenir de la philanthropie …

Good business?

The future of philanthropy

The Economist

Nov 21st 2012

In May 14th 2013 it will be 100 years since the birth of the Rockefeller Foundation, with its noble ambition to “promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world”. It soon became the most famous face of a golden age of philanthropy, putting to work the vast wealth of J.D. Rockefeller, its founder, in creating or helping to create many of the great institutions of 20th-century America, from the Red Cross to the University of Chicago, and helping save many millions of lives through its support of research in global public health (such as finding a vaccine for yellow fever) and agriculture (working with Norman Borlaug to bring about the “green revolution” in food productivity in Asia).

The centenary comes as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are ushering in what may be another golden age, both through their huge personal donations and their urging other billionaires to sign a Giving Pledge, promising half of their wealth to good causes. So what might the next century of philanthropy bring?

The Rockefeller Foundation should still be around to celebrate in 2113, but the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may not be. J.D. Rockefeller established a permanent foundation; all the money given to the Gates Foundation must be spent within 50 years of the death of the last surviving founder (ie, Mr or Mrs Gates). The Gateses and Mr Buffett are part of a growing number of philanthropists who believe that their money will be better used if it is deployed while they are alive or still at least a living memory.

The next ten years or so will be particularly important in shaping the future of philanthropy. Just as Rockefeller pursued what he called “scientific philanthropy”, gathering together experts to find answers to big problems, today the Gateses and others expect their giving to overcome some of the world’s most formidable challenges. If this is seen to work, many more successful businesspeople will give do-gooding a try, thinking they can make a difference, too. But if the results are indifferent in the next decade, there will be a strong temptation to dismiss philanthropy as a fad. Completing the eradication of polio in the three countries where it remains and continuing the recent dramatic decline in deaths from malaria will be closely watched litmus tests.

A contract for the one percent

Some quick wins for the new philanthropists would also take some of the heat out of the growing anti-rich sentiment around the world. It might even form the basis of a new social contract, in which large differences in personal wealth are tolerated if the rich make a serious effort to give generously and effectively.

In Rockefeller’s day, with government still quite small, it was possible to think that a philanthropist could solve big problems on his own. Today, it is clear that solutions will be possible only if do-gooders can work effectively not just with the non-profit sector but also with business and government. Some see philanthropy as providing risk capital for social innovation, able to take the sort of controversial or long-term bets that other providers of finance avoid.

The next ten years or so will be particularly important

Governments and philanthropists nowadays talk a lot about “partnering” each other. But will the practice of collaboration live up to the rhetoric? A big test will be whether givers concerned about climate change can use their money to shift the focus of politicians towards this long-term threat.

The idea that philanthropists should work with powerful companies will also come in for close scrutiny. It will become clear if companies such as Nike, Pepsico and Unilever are using such partnerships as fig leaves or as the means of driving fundamental changes to their business and the world. Some of the increased interest in social causes by companies stems from their belief that talented members of the generation now entering the workforce want to work for a firm that is about more than money. Will that belief be proved right?

Likewise, high hopes have been expressed about “impact investing”: investing to achieve simultaneously both a financial and a social or environmental gain. The signatories of the Giving Pledge will together take a close look at this form of investment in 2013.

The investment product that may produce a breakthrough is the social-impact bond, which encourages for-profit investment in schemes that promise to save the government money in the long run but tend to involve too much risk for cautious politicians to embrace. The investors in social-impact bonds get paid from the savings that result from the scheme. The first such bond was designed in Britain to support a programme that reduced reoffending by released prisoners, and was largely bought by philanthropists. The idea is now getting the attention of governments around the world, but because of the risks it may need philanthropic impact-investors (willing to lose their money) to step up and buy these bonds if they are to take off as a new asset class.

Giving will also grow increasingly global, as more countries become wealthy and produce more super-rich people. These countries may not copy exactly the sort of philanthropy practised in America, but will instead find ways that fit their own culture. As Messrs Buffett and Gates have discovered on their foreign evangelisation trips, tycoons in the emerging economies are not always as enthusiastic as their American peers about the Giving Pledge. Worried about their spoilt children, they are more likely to be turned on to philanthropy by the example of the Rockefeller family in using its giving to spread its dynastic values across the generations.

The global growth of social media will also transform philanthropy, just as it is changing almost everything else. For example, websites that give donors a direct interaction with an individual or community that needs their money will enhance and encourage giving by people with even relatively small sums to put to work. Even more important, the intended beneficiaries will get the ability like never before to give their feedback to donors, and even to shape how giving works.

In the long term, however, philanthropy’s future will depend above all on the world’s progress in tackling the problems of humanity. At the end of the 20th century a renewed awareness of global poverty and the new threat of climate change led to a shift to those more pressing causes and away from the arts. (“I don’t give to opera houses,” as Mr Gates put it.) If the 21st century ends with climate change seen off, or successfully adapted to, and poverty largely consigned to the history books, thanks in part to the catalytic role of philanthropy, this recent trend itself may be reversed. By 2113, perhaps philanthropy will no longer be focused on basic needs—job done—but on the arts and the other higher things. That would indeed be something to celebrate.

Matthew Bishop: New York bureau chief, The Economist, and co-author of “Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World” (A & C Black)

Voir aussi:

The Giving Pledge Goes Global — Warren Buffett Details America’s Latest ‘Export’

Randall Lane

Forbes

2/19/2013

Ever since Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates formed the Giving Pledge in 2010, enlisting American billionaires to commit at least half of their wealth to charity, one question has hovered: why did the founders focus solely on domestic fortunes? The reason, Buffett now tells Forbes: “I felt we had our hands full in the U.S.”

That changes later today when the Gates Foundation will announce that the Giving Pledge has expanded its reach globally, starting with 12 non-U.S. signatories from 8 different countries, from the U.K.’s Richard Branson to Malaysia’s Vincent Tan. These new “Pledgers” will swell the group’s total to 105. Buffett credits Bill Gates for the international expansion, likening his frequent globetrotting to a “trade mission”  which has now accelerated the global philanthropic half-life “by a generation.”

It wasn’t originally an easy sell. Shortly after launching the Giving Pledge, Gates and Buffett held group dinners with moguls in countries like China, India and Saudi Arabia, and faced cultural hurdles that ranged from civic modesty to perpetuating family dynasties. Often something was lost in translation. Industrialist Victor Pinchuk, Ukraine’s second-richest person and one of the dozen new Pledgers as of today, tells Forbes that he originally misunderstood the concept’s idea. Specifically, he believed that it contractually required him to give to specific charities or foundations, versus morally binding him to donate at least half his wealth during his lifetime, or at his death, to causes he saw fit.

Pinchuk says that Eli Broad, an early Pledger, corrected his thinking in September at the Clinton Global Initiative, and then Gates sealed the deal at World Economic Forum at Davos last month, via “a very soft” touch, where he conveyed this essence of the pledge and answered any questions the Ukrainian had.

“The decision was already inside me,” says Pinchuk, who Forbes currently estimates is worth $4.2 billion. “Philanthropy is a very important part of my life. In the 21st century, to be seen as a contemporary businessman, solving global problems is as important as making profits.”

Besides Branson (along with his wife, Joan), Pinchuk and Tan, the new Pledgers are: Andrew and Nicola Forrest (Australia), Patrice and Precious Motsepe (South Africa), Hasso Plattner (Germany), Vladimir Potanin (Russia), Azim Premji (India) and John Caudwell, Chris and Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Mo Ibrahim, David Sainsbury (all from the U.K).

Each of these people, according to Buffett, isn’t just committing to what in aggregate totals more than $10 billion of charitable good. The Giving Pledge is less about the financial promise than a public statement meant to inspire others, and a network that compares notes, especially at the group’s annual meeting in May, in order to increase the efficacy of their charitable endeavors.

Buffett says that this group of new Pledgers was specifically responsible for advocating the movement in their respective countries, serving both as role models and recruiters, with the goal of creating local ripple effects. One new Pledger, South Africa’s Mostepe, made the trek to Omaha for a one-on-one with Buffett, telling the Oracle that the Pledge had become increasingly top of mind among the ultra-wealthy of his country. “If we can get to South Africa,” says Buffett, “we can get to a lot of places.”

To that end, Pinchuk says that Gates has already asked him who else from Eastern Europe might also be a candidate. “Frankly speaking, I have some names in mind who potentially will be interested to formally join this,” says Pinchuk. “[Gates and Buffett] will be surprised how many conversations I’ve had from big businessmen in this part of the world.”

The ultimate goal, Buffett adds, is to get the Giving Pledge into every part of the world. “We always hoped that the U.S. would be an example,” says Buffett. “We’ve exported a lot of good ideas from this country.” Representative democracy. Free-market capitalism. If the Gateses and Buffett sign up most of the 1,226 global billionaires that Forbes has identified, perhaps entrepreneurial philanthropy will carry the same all-American connotation.

Voir également:

The Rockefeller Foundation Reflects On Successes, Controversy 100 Years On

David Crary

Huffington Post

05/12/13

NEW YORK — For the richest American family of their era, the goal was fittingly ambitious: « To promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world. »

With that mission, underwritten by the vast wealth of John D. Rockefeller Sr., the Rockefeller Foundation was chartered 100 years ago in Albany, N.Y. For several decades, it was the dominant foundation in the United States, breaking precedent with its global outlook and helping pioneer a diligent, scientific approach to charity that became a model for the field.

It earned the abiding gratitude of many beneficiaries, inspired imitators and – due to its power and influence – became a periodic target of criticism from both right and left.

« They were in a very small group of foundations that practiced idea-based philanthropy as opposed to just charity. They are willing to invest in ideas, » said Bradford Smith, who as president of the New York-based Foundation Center oversees research on philanthropy worldwide.

The next generation of philanthropists would be wise to study the history of the Rockefeller Foundation and its handful of peers, Smith said.

« The new money goes about this as if there wasn’t any history, » he said. « I think there is a lot to learn – what worked, what didn’t work. »

Now dwarfed by the largesse of Bill Gates and other contemporary philanthropists, the Rockefeller Foundation remains ambitious and well-funded, and is increasingly eager to work in partnerships.

It is celebrating its centennial by touting an array of forward-looking projects, ranging from global disease surveillance to strengthening vulnerable cities’ resilience to future calamities. It is also looking back, at a 100-year history replete with triumphs and controversy.

The Rockefeller Foundation played pivotal roles in introducing Western medicine to China, developing a vaccine for yellow fever, combating malaria, establishing prestigious schools of public health, and spreading the lifesaving agricultural advances of the Green Revolution. Recipients of its grants included Albert Einstein, writer Ralph Ellison and choreographer Bill T. Jones.

Still, detractors challenged the foundation’s work. From the left, activists accused it of being a front for U.S. corporate and national security interests. From the right, critics over the years faulted its support for population-control programs and for research by Alfred Kinsey and others into human sexuality.

During the 1930s, the foundation provided some financial support to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics in Germany, which, among other projects, conducted research related to Nazi-backed eugenics and racial studies.

The foundation says that its grants to the institute were focused on straightforward genetic research, and that it cut off support for any projects that veered into social eugenics.

Also during the 1930s, and continuing after the start of World War II, the foundation funded a project to relocate scholars and artists, many of them Jewish, who were losing their positions in Germany under the Nazis.

Even before the foundation was first proposed, there were sharply mixed views about John D. Rockefeller Sr. and the fortune he amassed as the founder of Standard Oil.

Rockefeller was « perhaps the most reviled as well as the most generous man in America » in the early 1900s, according to a just-published history of the Rockefeller Foundation which it commissioned to mark its centennial. The book depicts Rockefeller as America’s first billionaire, with a fortune that today would be worth $231 billion.

On the advice of his inner circle, Rockefeller sought a congressional charter for a foundation that would coordinate his already substantial charitable giving.

Some government officials were suspicious of the endeavor and some newspaper editorialists suggested the project was a cynical effort to improve the family’s checkered image. The measure proposing a charter died in the U.S. Senate, prompting the Rockefellers to turn swiftly to New York state, where lawmakers unanimously approved a charter that was signed into law on May 14, 1913.

It was one of three major, still-operating foundations founded in that era, following the Russell Sage Foundation in 1907 and the Carnegie Corporation in 1911.

Judith Rodin, who has been the Rockefeller Foundation’s president since 2005, noted in an interview that the Rockefeller family started channeling huge sums into philanthropy at a time when the tax code didn’t reward such practices.

« Clearly they were improving their own images, » Rodin said. « But they had strong views that people with that much money should give it back to society. »

She also credited the family with establishing a broad, flexible mandate for the foundation so that its leaders, over the decades, could tackle a wide array of challenges, both in the United States and worldwide.

« We have the luxury and responsibility of picking the big, thorny problems, without worrying about offending governments or our donor base, » Rodin said.

In a summary on its website, the foundation touts the accomplishments of past leaders and staff in taking on those problems. « Through their efforts, » it says, « plagues such as hookworm and malaria have been brought under control; food production for the hungry in many parts of the world has been increased; and minds, hearts, and spirits have been lifted by the work of foundation-assisted filmmakers, artists, writers, dancers, and composers. »

Much the creative work has taken place at the foundation’s Bellagio Center in northern Italy. Maya Angelou and Susan Sontag did some of their writing there, and novelist Michael Ondaatje worked on « The English Patient » while in residence at the center.

Among the foundation’s proudest achievements was the Green Revolution – the nickname for a series of initiatives between the 1940s and 1970s that dramatically boosted agriculture production around the world. The concepts – such as improvements in irrigation, wiser use of fertilizer and pesticides, development of high-yield grains – were pioneered by agronomist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, and then spread to other nations via Rockefeller Foundation programs.

After several decades of dominance, the Rockefeller Foundation was overtaken by the Ford Foundation as the nation’s largest.

Now, according to the latest rankings compiled by the Foundation Center, the Rockefeller Foundation is the 16th largest, with total assets of $3.5 billion, compared to $34.6 billion for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In terms of total giving, the Rockefeller Foundation ranked 39th with gifts of $132.6 million in 2011, compared to more than $3.2 billion given by the Gates Foundation.

Those financial realities have prompted the Rockefeller Foundation to do most of its current work in partnerships, rather than operating solo. Partners have included the Gates Foundation, which Rodin sees as a positive influence on the entire foundation sector.

« It’s forced us to be even more strategic than if we didn’t have it, » she said. « It’s been beneficial for other foundations – it may have catalyzed more collaboration. »

Dwight Burlingame, a professor at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, said such partnerships have become crucial to effective grant-making.

« Foundations need to be more nimble, » he said. « The number of players has dramatically increased – foundations have pushed recipients of their grants into getting more partners, so it’s not a single source. »

The number of foundations in the U.S. and worldwide has surged in recent years, and a new generation of billionaires in Asia and other regions is showing increased interest in philanthropy.

Rodin says the Rockefeller Foundation, in addition to its other projects, is holding conferences for aspiring philanthropists from developing countries to provide advice on effective giving. It’s been a leading proponent of « impact investing » – investments that can spur social and environmental progress as well as earn profits.

« We’ve tried not to be out there hectoring others to become philanthropists, but to be there as a resource for those who do want to give, » she said. « We’d like to help them not make the same mistakes over and over. »

Rodin, who came to the Rockefeller Foundation after serving as the University of Pennsylvania’s first female president, has served as co-chairwoman of the NYS 2100 Commission, an expert panel formed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The commission’s task – to recommend ways that New York could more effectively respond to and recover from future storms – dovetails with some of the Rockefeller Foundation’s major initiatives of recent years. It has worked in New Orleans and several Asian cities to build resilience in response to super storms and man-made disasters.

Those efforts reflect the overlapping, interconnected nature of many modern-day challenges – climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and food security.

« The problems don’t land in neat packages, » Rodin said. « The problems are more complicated. The world is more networked. We need more partners. »

Voir encore:

Rockefeller Foundation celebrates 100 years

Shanaz Musafer

BBC News

As the Rockefeller Foundation celebrates its 100th anniversary, the head of the philanthropic organisation has warned of the challenges the world faces in the 21st Century.

Judith Rodin says the foundation is working on building greater resilience against unpreventable shocks.

It is also focusing on building more equitable growth, she told the BBC.

US industrialist John D Rockefeller set up the foundation « to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world ».

Ms Rodin, who has been president of the Rockefeller Foundation since 2005, says over the past century the group has made several enormous achievements which it is proud of.

« We founded the field of public health and brought public health to dozens and dozens of countries around the world, » she says.

She also cites the foundation’s work on the Green Revolution, which started with agriculture development in Mexico in the 1940s and has since spread the research and technology development to other countries, and is credited with saving a billion lives.

‘Thought leadership’

John D Rockefeller made an initial gift to the foundation of $35m in 1913, and it now has an endowment of about $3.6bn.

It may have been the US’s first global foundation, but today the world in which it operates is very different, as there are many more global actors – both other philanthropic organisations and governments.

And of course, Rockefeller (and most other private foundations) is dwarfed in size by the Gates Foundation, which has assets of more than $36bn.

But Ms Rodin says that regardless of a foundation’s size, philanthropy is about being strategic and innovative.

The Gates Foundation is also Rockefeller’s partner in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and Ms Rodin says it is a « terrific » partner.

« It’s [about] both thought leadership together as well as resources. Sometimes it’s not only about the money, it’s also about the history and the knowledge and the experience as well as the money, and we often provide that for many of our partners. »

Changing world

Ms Rodin believes there are two « huge fundamental » 21st Century challenges. The first involves building greater resilience.

« What we’ve seen in the last 10 or 15 years, and now occurring at an accelerated pace, is that we can’t predict everything or prevent it, whether it’s the next earthquake or massive flood… or the next financial ripple… or the next rebellion that’s going to shake some region of the world.

« So we’re going to have to learn to absorb those shocks and rebound more quickly and more effectively in the future, and Rockefeller has been doing an enormous amount of work on that resilience. »

The foundation has just launched the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge.

It will select 100 cities and provide $100m of technical support and resources to build resilience against such future shocks – for instance, by building more robust emergency management systems or improved drainage systems. It will also help cities to try to raise additional money from potential private sector funders to realise their plans.

The second challenge, Ms Rodin says, is to think about how to approach more equitable growth.

« How do we think about livelihoods and jobs and opportunity in a developed world that looks so different than it did 20 years ago? »

To mark its centenary, Rockefeller has chosen as its tagline, « Innovation for the next 100 years », and Ms Rodin says it takes this message very seriously.

She wants Rockefeller to be remembered for being willing to be risk takers, for being disruptors « creating transformational things », for building new fields, and for always betting on people.

It has certainly had some good « bets » pay off in the past, having funded 220 Nobel prize winners, including physicist Albert Einstein and Norman Borlaug, « father of the Green Revolution ».

As Ms Rodin says: « Because in the end, investing in great people with great ideas is what philanthropy should be about. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Les Américains donnent leur fortune, pourquoi ?

Terra femina

Engagés aux coté des milliardaires américains Bill Gates et Warren Buffett, les plus grandes fortunes américaines se sont récemment engagées à donner la moitié de leurs fortunes à des fins philanthropiques auprès d’organisations caritatives mondiales.

Thomas Blard commente cette campagne appelée « The Giving Pledge », un projet lié à la culture américaine de l’entreprenariat. Culturellement, la tradition américaine souligne que s’il faut laisser à ses héritiers suffisamment d’argent pour qu’ils puissent faire ce qu’ils veulent, il ne faut pas trop leur en laisser non plus, au risque qu’ils ne fassent rien. Une position très éloignée de la culture européenne et notamment de la culture française liée à l’héritage et à la transmission des biens.

Ainsi, les plus grandes fortunes françaises ont été approchées, parmi lesquelles Arnaud Lagardère et Liliane Bettencourt mais jusqu’à présent ils ont refusé de prendre part au projet philanthropique américain.

Voir aussi:

La Fondation Rockefeller lance un défi consistant à développer les capacités de résilience de 100 villes dans le monde

— Le défi « 100 villes résilientes » a été annoncé le jour du centenaire de la Fondation

— La fondation investit 100 millions de dollars visant à renforcer les capacités de résilience de plusieurs villes du monde

NEW YORK, 14 mai 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Depuis un siècle, la Fondation a ancré ses investissements dans l’innovation. Aujourd’hui, en tant que leader dans le domaine croissant des actions renforçant les capacités de résilience, la Fondation Rockefeller annonce un investissement de 100 millions $ en faveur de la résilience urbaine dans 100 villes réparties dans le monde entier. Le programme « 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge » va permettre à la Fondation de sélectionner 100 villes dans le monde entier pour les aider à tirer parti de milliards de dollars supplémentaires en financement des infrastructures, à travers un soutien technique et des ressources pour l’élaboration et l’application de plans de résilience urbaine.

Les perturbations et les difficultés d’origine naturelle et humaine sont non seulement plus fréquentes mais elles prennent aussi plus d’ampleur et d’importance. Leurs effets se font ressentir dans tous les domaines et au-delà des frontières. Les villes se révèlent fortement désemparées face à ces désastres qu’elles ne peuvent ni gérer, ni supporter ni surmonter. Ce sont souvent les personnes les plus vulnérables qui sont le plus frappées par ces événements (ex : l’impact des changements climatiques ou les menaces pour la santé publique) car elles manquent de moyens pour les surmonter et elles ont besoin de plus de temps pour s’en remettre, ce qui entrave le quotidien (autrement dit, les revenus) et accroit les inégalités. Ainsi, il est urgent de se concentrer sur les questions de résilience, non seulement pour mieux se préparer aux prochaines catastrophes mais aussi pour améliorer le bien-être des personnes vulnérables et pauvres partout dans le monde.

« Il y a cent ans de cela, la Fondation Rockefeller ouvrait ses portes avec pour mission de promouvoir le bien-être de l’humanité partout dans le monde. Aujourd’hui, ce bien-être est de plus en plus lié à notre capacité de préparation et de résistance aux chocs et aux épreuves de notre monde moderne afin d’en ressortir plus fort », a déclaré le docteur Judith Rodin, Présidente de la Fondation Rockefeller. « Il s’agit d’un objectif crucial pour les villes puisque les gens habitent de plus en plus dans les aires urbaines. Alors que la Fondation entame son deuxième centenaire, nous estimons que les questions de résilience urbaine sont dorénavant d’actualité. Notre objectif pour le défi du centenaire « 100 villes résilientes » est qu’il devienne un tremplin pour des actions de plus grande envergure qui rendront le monde plus résilient ».

En lançant le défi « 100 villes résilientes » à l’occasion de son centenaire, la Fondation Rockefeller invite les villes du monde entier à envoyer leur candidature pour devenir l’une des 100 villes résilientes. Les candidats, soit des représentants municipaux ou des grandes institutions locales, devront fournir une description précise de la manière dont leur ville aborde ou conçoit les aménagements visant à renforcer leurs capacités de résilience, le tout à l’échelle de la ville et en prenant en compte les besoins des personnes pauvres et vulnérables. Le nom des lauréats sera divulgué en trois temps au cours des trois prochaines années. La dernière annonce aura lieu en 2015.

Chaque ville lauréate bénéficiera de trois types de soutien :

Soutien pour créer un plan de résilience en fournissant les outils, l’assistance technique et les ressources nécessaires à son application. La Rockfeller Foundation utilisera son expertise en financements innovants pour aider les villes à accéder aux milliards de dollars de soutien financier potentiel du secteur privé ainsi qu’aux fonds publics, afin de concrétiser leurs projets.

Elle deviendra membre d’un nouveau réseau en cours de création par la Fondation Rockefeller : le « 100 Resilient Cities Network » (le Réseau des 100 villes résilientes) dont le but sera de soutenir les villes membres et de partager de nouvelles connaissances ainsi que les meilleures pratiques relatives aux questions de résilience.

Elle aura les moyens d’engager un responsable en charge des questions de résilience (Chief Resilience Officer, CRO). La création de ce poste constitue une innovation qui permettra de garantir qu’une seule personne au sein du gouvernement local sera en charge du service de coordination des aménagements visant à renforcer les capacités résilientes de la ville. Le CRO pourra notamment superviser l’élaboration d’une stratégie de résilience pour la ville et faire partie, en tant que représentant du Réseau des 100 villes résilientes, d’un réseau de formation réunissant d’autres CRO.

« En tant qu’institution ayant contribué à la création de l’urbanisme, la Fondation Rockefeller poursuit ses travaux en proposant de nouvelles idées relatives aux villes et à la vie en milieu urbain qui répondent aux défis posés par le 21e siècle », a ajouté le docteur Rodin. « Nous espérons que le fait d’investir dans 100 villes du monde permettra de promouvoir davantage ce domaine et qu’en donnant aux villes les moyens d’accéder aux milliards de dollars disponibles pour développer leurs infrastructures nous offrirons aux zones urbaines des perspectives d’avenir et des capacités résilientes accrues pour les 100 prochaines années, et bien plus encore ».

Depuis plus de dix ans, la Fondation Rockefeller est un leader dans le domaine croissant des actions renforçant les capacités de résilience des zones urbaines et rurales. Elle a aidé les pays asiatiques à développer leur capacité de résilience face aux changements climatiques dans les zones urbaines à travers son Réseau dédié au développement des capacités de résilience des villes asiatiques face aux changements climatiques (Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network). Elle a aussi investi en Afrique afin de renforcer les capacités de résilience des zones rurales face aux changements climatiques. Elle a également financé un travail complet de planification à la Nouvelle-Orléans après le passage de l’ouragan Katrina. Dernièrement, elle a été à la tête d’une commission créée par le gouverneur de l’État de New York, Andrew Cuomo, après le passage de l’ouragan Sandy. La commission a présenté un plan ambitieux visant à renforcer sur le long terme les capacités de résilience de l’État de New York.

« La Fondation Rockefeller a été un partenaire essentiel dans la reconstruction de la Nouvelle-Orléans », a déclaré Mitch Landrieu, maire de la Nouvelle-Orléans. « Elle est avant-gardiste en matière d’idées et d’actions visant à favoriser les capacités de résilience. Les gouvernements municipaux travaillent en première ligne pour mettre en place une méthode de planification souple. À cet égard, le soutien de Rockefeller en matière d’innovation et de collaboration est à la fois vital et rare. La vision de la Fondation Rockefeller permet véritablement d’aider les villes à entreprendre une démarche proactive qui tient compte des besoins de tous nos concitoyens, favorise la croissance et permet de mieux nous préparer aux défis futurs. Je suis très heureux de présenter la Nouvelle-Orléans comme ville candidate au défi « 100 villes résilientes » lancé dans le cadre du centenaire de la Fondation ».

Chaque ville aura sa propre vision et ses propres besoins en matière d’aménagements favorisant les capacités de résilience, donc chacune aura besoin de ressources différentes. Parmi les actions envisageables en faveur d’une meilleure capacité de résilience des bâtiments, l’on pourrait trouver la construction d’infrastructures de gestion des urgences plus solides, l’installation de systèmes d’alerte complets, ou encore la mise à niveau intégrale des systèmes de drainage afin de faciliter la gestion des déchets solides et des inondations. Les villes pourraient songer à rendre leur système de santé plus réactif ou à mettre en valeur les écosystèmes urbains.

« Nous sommes fiers de voir que la ville de Durban a été à l’avant-garde des efforts déployés afin d’élaborer une stratégie globale visant à renforcer ses capacités de résilience face aux nombreux risques et facteurs de vulnérabilité en constante évolution, que ce soit en matière de changements climatiques, de sécurité des ressources en eau, de recul de la biodiversité ou d’urbanisation rapide », a déclaré James Nxumalo, maire de la ville de Durban en Afrique du Sud qui a récemment accueilli un sommet international sur les changements climatiques. « Que ce soit au niveau de la structure du gouvernement municipal ou de la façon dont les ressources sont allouées, les aménagements favorisant les capacités résilientes de la ville sont maintenant une priorité qui influence toutes les prises de décision et ce, dans tous les secteurs. Nous avons opéré d’importants changements dans le statu quo en seulement quelques années et nous en ressortons beaucoup plus forts. Nous avons découvert que les actions favorisant les capacités de résilience et d’adaptation représentent un véritable parcours, pas une destination. Je suis certain que le défi « 100 villes résilientes », à la fois actuel et vital, lancé par la Fondation Rockefeller, incitera plus de villes à agir ».

Pour de plus amples informations au sujet du défi « 100 villes résilientes » lancé par la Fondation Rockefeller dans le cadre de son centenaire, rendez-vous sur http://www.100resilientcities.org.

SOURCE The Rockefeller Foundation

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Voir enfin:

La fondation Rockefeller et la naissance de l’universalisme philanthropique américain

Ludovic Tournès

Critique Internationale

2007

Lorsque Bill Gates a annoncé le 15 juin 2006 son intention de quitter progressivement les affaires pour se consacrer à sa fondation créée six ans plus tôt 1 , cette décision, largement relayée par les médias, a parfois surpris. Son geste n’a fait pourtant que reproduire, à un siècle de distance, celui des grands industriels américains comme Andrew Carnegie (modèle revendiqué par B. Gates) ou John D. R ockefeller, dont les œuvres caritatives s’étaient rapidement transformées en grandes fondations intervenant sur le territoire américain puis dans le monde entier. Leur politique a suscité depuis 30 ans une importante littérature dans laquelle une des ligne s de fracture principale a opposé, au cours des années 1980, deux types d’interprétations : l’une, critique, d’inspiration gramscienne, analysant ces fondations comme des instruments de reproduction de l’hégémonie des élites et, plus largement, comme des o rganisations conservatrices destinées à assurer la stabilité du système capitaliste 2 ; l’autre, plus favorable, mettant l’accent sur leurs réalisations dans les domaines de l’éducation, de la recherche scientifique et du soutien aux activités artistiques 3 . Cette opposition, qui s’est 1 . Statement on Bill Gates’ Transition Plan, 15 juin 2006 [En ligne], Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( http://www.gatesfoundation.org/ AboutUs/Announcements/Announce – 060615.htm ) (consulté le 26 avril 2007). 2 . Voir par exemple Robert F. Arnove, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad , Boston, G. K. Hall, 1980 ; Donald Fisher, « The Role of Philanthropic Foundations in the Reproduction and Production of Hegemony: The Rockefeller Foundation and the Social Science », Sociology ( Journal of the British sociological association) , 17 (2), mai 1983, p. 206 – 233 ; Edward Bermann , The Ideology of Philanthropy: The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy , Albany, State University of New York Press, 1983. Cf ., plus récemment, Inderjeet Parmar, « To Relate Knowledge and Action: The Impact of the Rockefeller Foundation on F oreign Policy Thinking during America’s Rise to Globalism, 1939 – 1945 », Minerva , XL (3), 2002, p. 235 – 263. En France, les analyses développées par certains sociologues bourdieusiens s’inscrivent dans ce courant. Cf . par exemple Yves Dezalay, Bryan Garth, « Droits de l’hommes et philanthropie hégémonique », Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales , 121 – 122, mars 1998, p. 23 – 41 ; Nicolas Guilhot, Financiers, philanthropes : vocations éthiques et reproduction du capital à Wall Street depuis 1970 , Paris, Rais ons d’agir, 2004. 3 . Outre les ouvrages écrits par d’anciens officers ou trustees de fondations ( Waldemar A Nielsen, The Golden Donors: An Anatomy of the Great Foundations , New York, Truman Talley Book, 1985 par exemple ), cf ., entre autres, Martin et Joan Bulmer, « Philanthropy and Social Science in the 1920s, Beardsley Ruml and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, 1922 – 1929 », Minerva , 19 (3), 1981, p. 347 – 407, et la polémique avec D. Fisher dans Sociology , 18 (4), novembre 1984, p. 572 – 587 ; Ellen Cond liffe – Lagemann, Private Power for the Public Good: A History of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching , Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press, 1983 ; Robert E. Kohler, Partners in Science: Foundations and Natural Scientists , 1900 – 19 45 , Chicago, University of halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 Manuscrit auteur, publié dans « Critique Internationale, 35 (2007) 173-197 » 2 estompée au cours des années 1990, a fait l’impasse sur la question de la motivation des industriels philanthropes : le plus souvent réduite à une stratégie mécanique de reproduction du capitalisme ou bien à une générosité dési ntéressée, elle n’a jamais été considérée comme un problème à part entière . Confronté à l’imposante liste des actions internationales des grandes fondations, de la création du Carnegie Endowment for International Peace en 1910 jusqu’aux 500 millions de dol lars promis par Bill Gates en août 2006 afin d’aider à la mise au point d’un vaccin contre le SIDA, l’historien n’ a – t – il pas d’autre alternative que de prendre au pied de la lettre les déclarations de ces philanthropes agissant « pour le bien – être de l’hum anité », ou de les considérer comme « le cache – sexe » de l’impérialisme américain et l’alibi d’une stratégie de conquête de capital symbolique destinée à faire oublier les conditions douteuses de leur enrichissement ? La réalité est plus complexe. C’est su r ce point que l’on voudrait apporter ici quelques réflexions, en se penchant sur question de l’universalisme américain, que l’on peut définir comme la certitude que ce qui est bon pour les États – Unis l’est également pour le monde entier. L’hypothèse qui s era développée ici consiste à considérer que les grandes fondations, en raison de leur projection internationale précoce, ont été l’un des lieux de cristallisation de cet universalisme. Certes, celui – ci existe avant la création de la grande philanthropie, puisque le discours relatif à la « Destinée manifeste » de ce pays – monde est formulé dès les années 1840 ; mais c’est à partir des années 1890 que les États – Unis possèdent les moyens de leur ambition internationale, et c’est à partir de ce moment que se fo rge dans les nouvelles élites américaines dont la grande philanthropie est l’émanation, un universalisme fondé sur la certitude que les États – Unis portent en eux l’avenir de l’Humanité. Il mûrira entre les années 1890 et l’entre – deux – guerres avant de se ma nifester dans toute sa force après 1945, à la faveur du statut de superpuissance acquis par les États – Unis. C’est dans cette perspective que doit être replacée l’action des fondations. Dès le début du XXe siècle, les plus grandes d’entre elles ont élaboré une politique mondiale liant étroitement la certitude d’incarner l’intérêt général et la volonté de diffuser un modèle américain, comme le montre le cas emblématique de la fondation Rockefeller, qui sera étudié ici. Sa politique s’ancre dans un contexte sp écifiquement américain, qui sera examiné en premier lieu; on analysera ensuite les étapes de la cristallisation de l’universalisme philanthropique, puis la manière dont la fondation Rockefeller construit au cours de l’entre – deux – guerres un important réseau international. Chicago Press, 1991 ; en français, voir Pierre Grémion, Intelligence de l’anticommunisme : le Congrès pour la liberté de la culture à Paris, Paris, Fayard, 1995. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 3 ______________ La matrice progressiste Intérêt public Les grandes fondations philanthropiques (Russel Sage, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Milbank Memorial Fund, Julius Rosenwald Fund, Twentieth Century F und, Commonwealth Fund) sont créées au c ours des deux premières décennies du XX e siècle dans une Amérique en pleine explosion économique. Elles sont d’un côté les produits du capitalisme sauvage car fondées par les grands industriels qui en sont les acteurs (Carnegie, Rockefeller, Rosenwald, Fil ene…), mais se veulent également des organismes de régulation des problèmes sociaux engendrés par l’industrialisation effrénée des années 1860 – 1890. À mi – chemin entre le monde des « barons voleurs » et celui de la réforme sociale, elles sont des actrices a mbiguës de cette ère dite progressive des années 1890 – 1920 marquée par des réformes qui voient naître l’Amérique moderne 4 . La « nébuleuse réformatrice » 5 est ainsi une des matrices de la grande philanthropie américaine; matrice assurément conflictuelle, ca r les réformateurs se sont partiellement définis en opposition aux industriels considérés comme responsables des désordres sociaux ; mais matrice indéniable, comme le montre le parcours d’un certain nombre de s personnages issus des milieux réformateurs, qu i vont ensuite faire carrière dans les fondations. C’est dans le cadre de cette tension que prend corps le projet philanthropique 6 , dont l’alternative entre la générosité d’industriels devenus bienfaiteurs et le cynisme d’entrepreneurs désireux de faire o ublier à peu de frais leurs pratiques douteuses ne permet pas de saisir toute l’épaisseur. L’un des éléments fondateurs de ce projet est la volonté de dépasser le cadre d’intervention local de la philanthropie traditionnelle (dons à des associations carita tives et/ou religieuses) 4 . Sur le lien entre philanthropie et progressisme, voir Barry D. K arl, Stanley N. Katz, « The American Private Philanthropic Foundations and the Public Sphere (1890 – 1930) », Minerva , 19 (2), 1981, p. 253 et suivantes, et, plus récemment, Judith Sealander, Private Wealth and Public Life: Foundation Philanthropy and the Re shaping of American Social Policy from the Progressive Era to the New Deal , Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. 5 . Cf . Christian Topalov (dir.), Laboratoires du nouveau siècle. La nébuleuse réformatrice et ses réseaux en France, 1880 – 1914 , Pa ris, Éditions de l’EHES, 1999. 6 . Sur la notion de projet philanthropique, voir Ludovic Tournès, « Une histoire intellectuelle des organisations internationales : le cas de la fondation Rockefeller (1913 – 1945) », dans Emmanuel Soler (dir.), Les intellectu els dans la Cité de l’Antiquité à nos jours , Rouen, Presses universitaires de Rouen et du Havre, à paraître en 2007. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 4 pour prendre en charge des actions d’intérêt général. Cette mutation fondamentale dans l’histoire de la philanthropie américaine est bien illustrée par le parcours de John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (1839 – 1937) : dès les années 1860, le f utur magnat du pétrole a consacré une partie de ses gains à l’activité caritative, essentiellement sous forme de dons à des églises baptistes, mais c’est au cours de la décennie 1890 que se produit un changement radical 7 , symbolisé par sa rencontre avec le pasteur Frederick T. Gates (1853 – 1929). Les deux hommes se sont connus à la fin des années 1880, lorsque Rockefeller a été sollicité pour financer la création d’une université baptiste qui deviendra l’université de Chicago, à laquelle il donne deux millio ns de dollars entre 1889 et 1892. Gates devient cette année le conseiller personnel de Rockefeller et va jouer un rôle majeur dans la conception de la galaxie d’organisations philanthropiques créées par son patron à partir de 1901, dont la plus connue est la fondation Rockefeller née en 1913. Aussi à l’aise dans le prêche dominical que dans la gestion des actions de la Standard Oil, Frederick Gates, que l’on a pu qualifier d’« homme d’affaires en soutane 8 », illustre bien l’ancrage de la grande philanthropi e dans la sphère religieuse et la dimension missionnaire qui constituera, jusqu’au début des années 1920, un ressort important de son universalisation. Mais surtout, considérant que les problèmes posés par l’industrialisation sont d’une telle ampleur que l a philanthropie traditionnelle ne peut plus y répondre, il définit la nouvelle mission de la philanthropie Rockefeller, insistant sur la nécessité de s’investir dans ce qui s’appellera bientôt la public policy 9 . La forme « fondation » est en effet la répo nse donnée par les industriels américains à la contradiction entre la nécessité, devenue évidente à la fin du XIX e siècle, de réguler les inégalités sociales nées de l’industrialisation, et leur réticence à faire endosser cette régulation par une puissance publique supposée liberticide. Ils créent donc des organismes privés dont l’objectif est de prendre en charge le bien public pour éviter que l’État fédéral ne le fasse. Au reste, les attributions de celui – ci sont alors encore faibles, de sorte que les phi lanthropes n’auront guère à définir leur champ d’action en opposition par rapport à lui. Ils n’auront pas non plus à l’inscrire dans un cadre géographique national qui reste encore flou dans la culture américaine, non seulement en raison du nombre importan t d’immigrants dans la population du pays, mais aussi du fait de son unification territoriale récente (la « frontière » est déclarée 7 . Kathleen McCarthy, « U.S. Foundations and International Concerns », dans K. McCarthy (ed.), Philanthropy and Culture: The International Foundation Perspective , Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984, p. 4. 8 . E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America , Berkeley, University of California Press, 1980 [1979], p. 38. 9 . J. Sealander, Private W ealth and Public Life: Foundation Philanthropy and the Reshaping of American Social Policy from the Progressive Era to the New Deal , op. cit ., p. 21 et suivantes. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 5 atteinte en 1890 même si plusieurs États ne sont pas encore intégrés dans l’Union). L’intérêt public vu par les philanthrop es ne s’inscrit donc pas naturellement dans l’échelle nationale. Il oscille plutôt d’emblée entre l’échelle locale, celle de la ville où se trouvent les usines, et l’échelle mondiale, territoire naturel des trusts qui servent de matrice aux fondations; si bien que l’extension du projet philanthropique du local à l’international se fera rapidement et presque sans transition. Progrès Un autre moteur essentiel de l’investissement philanthropique dans la sphère publique est la croyance au progrès. Cette idée, avec toutes ses ambiguïtés , est au centre des débats qui agitent l’Amérique de l’ère progressive : d’un côté, la croissance énorme de l’économie américaine nourrit la croyance en un progrès sans limites ; de l’autre, les problèmes sociaux engendrés par une industrialisation forcenée où règne la loi du plus fort, lui apportent un démenti cinglant. C’est autour de ces notions de progrès, d’évolution, de darwinisme social et de loi naturelle que se structure le débat relatif à la « question sociale » dans les années 1880. Il peut se résumer par l’alternative suivante : faut – il laisser agir les lois naturelles ou mettre en place une action volontariste pour corriger les erreurs du capitalisme ? C’est de la volonté de répondre à cette question qu’est née la nébul euse réformatrice, guidée par une croyance dans le progrès de l’humanité qui plonge ses racines dans l’évolutionnisme 10 et le positivisme 11 . Ces deux doctrines connaissent beaucoup de succès aux États – Unis dans la seconde moitié du XIX e siècle et imprègnent, sous une forme vulgarisée, une partie des milieux réformateurs ; certains de leurs représentants, qui poursuivent leur carrière dans les fondations, y transportent une culture positiviste qui contribuera à façonner le projet philanthropique. Le parcours d e George s E. Vincent (1864 – 1941) est à cet égard éclairant. Le personnage est issu de cette mouvance réformatrice, et plus particulièrement de l’un de ses viviers les plus féconds, celui des sciences sociales en plein essor. Ses premiers pas professionnels ont lieu dans le cadre du Chautauqua System of Education, structure d’enseignement fondée en 1874 par son père, le pasteur méthodiste John Vincent, pour sensibiliser les pasteurs aux problèmes 10 . Daniel Becquemont, Laurent Mucchielli, Le cas Spencer . Religion, science et politique , Par is, PUF, 1998 ; Robert Bannister, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo – American Social Thought , Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 1979. 11 . Gillis J. Harp, Positivist Republic: Auguste Comte and the Reconstruction of American Liberalism, 1865 – 1920 , University Park, Pennsylvania University Press, 1995 ; R. Bannister, Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880 – 1940 , Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1987. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 6 sociaux de l’Amérique contemporaine 12 . En 1896, il est l’un des premiers docteurs en sociologie de l’université de Chicago, où il exercera en tant que professeur puis doyen jusqu’en 1911. En 1894, il a écrit en collaboration avec son maître Albion Small (l’un des pionniers de la sociologie américaine) le premier manue l de sociologie publié aux États – Unis, Introduction to the Study of Society . Dans ce vademecum méthodologique à l’usage d’une profession sociologique encore largement confondue avec l’activité réformatrice de terrain, le double héritage de l’évolutionnisme et du positivisme est très présent 13 : d’une part, la discipline sociologique y est décrite comme une science of social health 14 , métaphore biologique significative du fait que, même si les réformateurs s’inscrivent en faux contre l’évolutionnisme et le dar winisme social, leur cadre de réflexion en subit largement l’influence ; d’autre part, les deux auteurs inscrivent leur propos dans la lignée d’Auguste Comte, reprenant la loi des trois états et la croyance dans le progrès de l’Humanité, progrès auquel la sociologie peut apporter sa contribution en étudiant les problèmes sociaux et en suggérant aux acteurs politiques des réformes qui contribueront à « améliorer la société » 15 . C’est dans cette perspective que Vincent crée à l’université du Minnesota, dont il est devenu le président en 1911 , un département de « Sociology and Civic Work » 16 , qui deviendra au début des années 1920 l’un des plus importants du pays. En 1914, il intègre la Commission for the Relief in Belgium, créée pour venir en aide aux population s civiles après l’invasion allemande ; il la quitte en 1917 pour devenir président de la fondation Rockefeller jusqu’à sa retraite en 1929. Santé Lorsque la philanthropie Rockefeller entre dans sa phase organisationnelle à partir de 1901, son action porte surtout sur les questions d’hygiène et de santé, lesquelles sont également au cœur des préoccupations des réformateurs en raison des énormes problèmes sanitaires posés par les conditions de vie des immigrants entassés dans des villes à la croissance rapid e. Sous l’influence du pasteur Gates, le lien organique entre la santé des individus et le progrès du 12 . Theodore Morrison, Chautauqua: A Center for Educati on, Religion and the Arts in America , Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1974. 13 . Il l’est également dans l’ouvrage écrit par George E. Vincent en 1897, The Social Mind and Education . 14 . Albion W. Small, George E. Vincent, An Introduction to the Stu dy of Society , New York, American Book Company, 1894, p. 40. 15 . Ibid ., p. 77. 16 . R. Bannister, Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880 – 1940 , op. cit ., p. 128. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 7 corps social est le fil conducteur de la philosophie Rockefellerienne 17 . Cette idée se concrétise par la création en 1901 du Rockefeller Institute for Medi cal Research, puis, en 1903, du General Education Board, puis en 1909 de la Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease destinée à promouvoir des pratiques d’hygiène pour éliminer l’ankylostomiase, maladie endémique du Sud des États – Unis. C ette commission est dirigée par Wickliffe Rose (1862 – 1931), autre figure majeure de la première génération des philanthropes Rockefeller, qui, en quelques années, devient l’un des personnages en vue parmi les réformateurs actifs dans le domaine de la santé publique 18 . La campagne témoigne bien de l’ambition du projet philanthropique, puisqu’au – delà de l’objectif immédiat, son but est de promouvoir l’éducation sanitaire sur le long terme. De fait, le travail de la Commission apportera une contribution décisiv e à la structuration de l’administration locale de la santé publique dans le Sud des États – Unis et à la mise en place d’une législation 19 . La même préoccupation sanitaire et organisatrice est à l’œuvre dans la réforme de l’enseignement médical, qui constitu e la grande action du General Education Board. Le niveau de formation des médecins est alors faible aux Etats – Unis. En 1908, l’American Medical Assocation demande à la Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching d’entreprendre une étude sur ce suje t. Abraham Flexner (1866 – 1959), qui réalise l’enquête, n’est pas médecin, mais connaît bien les problèmes de l’enseignement supérieur américain alors en voie de structuration 20 . Dans l’épais rapport qu’il remet en 1910 à l’issue de son enquête dans les 155 écoles de médecine du pays 21 , il relit l’histoire de la médecine aux États – Unis selon une perspective toute comtienne, la voyant passer depuis le XVIII e siècle par « trois stades de développement » 22 dont le plus récent est celui de la médecine scientifique. Pour contribuer au « bien public » ( public good ) 23 en faisant bénéficier les malades de ces progrès encore très localisés dans quelques lieux (la faculté de médecine de l’université Johns Hopkins, créée en 1893, est citée comme modèle), A. F lexner préconis e une réforme en profondeur de la formation des médecins. Combinant volonté réformatrice et exigence de 17 . On retrouve dans cette métaphore organiciste la trace de l’héritage évolutionniste. 18 . John Ettling, The Germ of Laziness: Rockefeller Philanthropy and Public Health in the New South , Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1981 ; Elizabeth Fee, Roy Acheson (eds), A History of the Education in Public Health , Oxford, Oxford Un iversity Press, 1991. 19 . J. Sealander, Private Wealth and Public Life: Foundation Philanthropy and the Reshaping of American Social Policy from the Progressive Era to the New Deal , op. cit ., p. 63. 20 . Abraham Flexner, The American College , New York, 1908. 21 . A. Flexner, Medical Education in the United States and Canada , Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1910. 22 . Ibid , p. 20. 23 . Ibid , p. 13. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011 8 rationalisation, il pointe avant tout la « surproduction » 24 de médecins et la médiocrité de leur formation, appelant à la diminution du nombre d’écoles ainsi qu’à une élévation du niveau et de la durée des études. Après avoir réalisé une enquête sur l’enseignement médical européen complétant son travail américain 25 , A. Flexner entre en 1913 au General Education Board, où il va piloter cette réorganisation, qui sera pour l’essentiel achevée au début des années 1930. _________________________ La cristallisation de l’universalisme philanthropique L’Amérique latine et l’Asie Dès 1905, Frederick. T. Gates émet l’idée d’élargir les activités de la philanthropie Rockefeller au monde entier, idée qui se concrétise en mai 1913 par la création de la fondation Rockefeller, dont l’objectif est de faire « le bien – être de l’humanité à travers le monde » 26 . La fondation organise immédiatement une International Health Commi ssion (qui devient l’International Health Board en 1916), afin « d’étendre les bénéfices de l’expérience américaine » 27 acquise dans le traitement de l’ankylostomiase, présente dans une cinquantaine de pays 28 , mais aussi de l’appliquer à d’autres maladies co mme la malaria ou la fièvre jaune. Entre 1913 et 1950, l’IHB investira 100 millions de dollars dans cette campagne sanitaire mondiale 29 . Mais cette vaste entreprise ne s’explique pas seulement par un volontarisme réformateur teinté de messianisme : elle s’i nscrit également dans la mise en place par le gouvernement américain de campagnes sanitaires dans les régions passées dans son orbite géopolitique, directe ou indirecte, dans les Caraïbes (Cuba, 1898 ; Panama, 1903 ; Haïti, 1905) et le Pacifique (Hawaï, 18 98 ; Philippines, 1898 ; Samoa, 1899). La sécurisation sanitaire de ces zones devient une préoccupation pour plusieurs raisons : d’une part, pour éviter la propagation (ou le retour) de maladies sur le territoire américain, notamment dans le 24 . Ibid, p. 14. 25 . A. Flexner, Medical Education in Europe, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancem ent of Teaching, 1912. 26 . Rockefeller Foundation, Annual Report (ci – après RFAR), 1913, p. 7 – 8. 27 . « Principles and Policy of Giving », octobre 1913, Rockefeller Foundation Archives, Pocantico Hills, États – Unis, Record Group 3, Series 900, Box 21, Folder 16 3 (ci – après RF 3/900/21/163). 28 . Cette maladie n’a jamais été éradiquée malgré les grandes campagnes ; elle fait partie de celles auxquelles s’intéresse aujourd’hui la fondation Bill et Melinda Gates. 29 . Emily S. Rosenberg, « Missions to the World: Philan thropy Abroad », dans Lawrence J. Friedman, Mark D. McGarvie (eds), Charity, Philanthropy and Civility in American History , Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 253. Voir également John Farley, To Cast out Disease: A History of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation , Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004. halshs-00652589, version 1 – 16 Dec 2011


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