An interwar German novel was the forerunner of a great Leftist lie
Probably the most influential piece of anthropological writing in the 20th century was Coming of age in Samoa, written in 1928 by Margaret Mead. I read it myself in my long-gone teens. After the work of Derek Freeman, however, there is no doubt that it is a pack of lies.
Those lies were however influential. Like most anthropologists, Mead was strongly Leftist and one of the great "achievements" of the 20th century Left was to tear down morality. Mead was central to that enterprise. Her book purported to show that there was no restrictive sexual morality in Samoa and that free love was normal there. And Samoan society in general was presented as some sort of Garden of Eden. The take-home message, therefore was: "If the Samoans can do it, so can we". So Mead gave pseudo-scientific justification to Leftist rejection of existing standards and helped portray defenders of moral standards as ignoramuses.
The entire controversy is now old hat, of course, though some anthropologists still make excuses for Mead and continue to praise her. Some, such as Hiram Caton, carry their denial to the point of claiming that Freeman was mad, in the usual Leftist ad hominem way. I myself had an exchange with Caton over that. See here and here.
I write this post, however, to point out something I have recently discovered: Mead was not the first to use Samoans to make totally fictional propaganda points. I refer to The Papalagi (Der Papalagi), a book by Erich Scheurmann published in Germany in 1920, which contains descriptions of European life, supposedly as seen through the eyes of a Samoan chief named Tuiavii. As an anthropologist, Mead could well have heard of it.
The book is a patent fiction but not everyone wants to believe that. It has been popular among Greenies and their ilk even in recent times. Scheurmann depicted Samoa as a primitive Garden of Eden too. The return to a romanticised rural past was of course a well known feature of German National Socialist (Nazi) thought so it should be no surprise that Scheurmann was well-regarded by the Nazis and wrote propaganda for them.
Some desire for a simpler life and an addled rejection of modernity is also at the core of the modern-day Green/Left. It is remarkable how little the Left has changed in that regard. That a book by a Nazi sympathizer should be at least the forerunner, if not the inspiration, of a great Leftist lie should surprise no-one who knows how "Green" the Nazis were or how misanthropic modern-day Greenies are.
Castro and Obama: An interesting email
I remember asking dad about Castro when I was about 9 years old. I asked , "Is Castro a good guy or bad?" Dad said he couldn't tell!! This was about 1955. We were living in Louisiana at the time . Dad was in the army there. Cuba was fairly close and in the news a lot. The Cubans were asking the same question! Ike was president.
This past July, we had the pleasure of sharing a summer barbecue with a refugee from Cuba. Our dinner conversation was starkly different than most.
This refugee came to the United States as a young boy in the early 1960s. His family was more fortunate than most as they were able to bring a suitcase and $100 when they fled Castro's newly formed revolutionary paradise.
We began with a simple discussion about our country and the direction it has taken since Barack Obama came to power. We shared the usual complaints about the sour economy and liberal social engineering emanating from the rulers in Washington .
But then he said it. The sentence came naturally. I assume it was unplanned. But it carried the weight of a freight train. "You know when Castro took power, none of us knew he was a Communist."
We sat stunned. He continued, "Yes, we all thought he was a patriot, a nationalist. Before the revolution he didn't sound like a radical."
The comparison at this point was easy, and I interjected, "You mean just like Barack Obama?" He responded, "Yes, just like Barack Obama."
He continued, "We were all shocked as the government just continued to grab more power. First they said the revolution is over, so please turn in your guns. We all complied."
"I remember my uncle saying after it started, 'Castro will only nationalize some of the big industries, he will never come and take our family hardware store. 'But that is exactly what happened, Castro started with the sugar mills and the large industries, but they eventually came and knocked on the door of our family hardware store. My family had run this store for generations. They said we now own the hardware store, you work for us. And that nice, large four-bedroom home you own, it is now our property also, and you can move yourself and five children into two rooms of the house because others are moving in with you."
The lesson learned from this discussion is a lesson most Americans refuse to hear. Political leaders can lie about their agenda and once in office they can take totally unexpected turns.
If you had asked us three years ago if we thought General Motors would be nationalized, we would have never believed it. We could never contemplate a country where the rule of law, the most fundamental building block of a justice society would be evaporating just like it did in Castro's Cuba in the early 1960s.
But the news of injustice keeps increasing. Black Panthers are not charged with wrongdoing by the U.S. Department of Justice because their crimes are against whites. The bondholders of GM are stripped of their assets without due process by the government. The U.S. borders are overrun with crime and illegal activity and the leaders in D.C. act as if it is important to protect the lawbreakers while the innocent are killed and overrun. When local communities attempt to enforce the law, they are ridiculed and threatened as racists and bigots. They are sued by the very administration entrusted with enforcing the law.
Israel treated as a Banana Republic
Two documents reported on this week shed a troubling light on the US government’s attitude toward Israel. The first is a 27-page FBI search warrant affidavit from 2004 targeting then-senior AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen, published Wednesday in The Washington Times. The second is WikiLeaks’ leaked secret State Department cable from October 2008 signed by then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice directing US officials to spy on Israel.
Both indicate that in certain quarters of the American government, Israel is viewed as at best a banana republic and at worst an enemy of the US.
The text of the FBI affidavit directed against Rosen makes clear that the FBI had no particular reason to suspect that he was an Israeli agent or was harming US national security. Rosen’s activities during his tenure as AIPAC’s senior lobbyist as described in the affidavit – meeting with government officials, journalists and Israeli diplomats – were precisely the type of activities that lobbyists in Washington routinely engage in.
Despite this, the FBI followed Rosen for five years and indicted him and his AIPAC colleague Keith Weissman on felony charges under the all-but-forgotten 1917 Espionage Act. The FBI probe and subsequent trial harmed AIPAC’s reputation, destroyed both men’s careers, and did untold damage to the reputation of both the State of Israel and its American Jewish supporters. That it took five years for the Justice Department to drop these outrageous charges is a testament to the strength of the FBI’s commitment to criminalizing American Jewish advocates of a strong US-Israel alliance.
And then there is Rice’s secret cable. Just days before the 2008 presidential elections, the secretary of state instructed US diplomats in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA to conduct a massive espionage operation against Israel. The sought-for information covered all aspects of Israel’s political system, society, communications infrastructures and the IDF.
Regarding the IDF, for instance, among other things, diplomats and spies were asked to gather intelligence on planned Israeli military operations against the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria, and to probe the attitudes of military commanders.
They were also told to gather information on “IDF units, equipment, maintenance levels, training, morale, and operational readiness[;] IDF tactics, techniques and procedures for conducting conventional and unconventional counterinsurgency and counterterrorist operations[; and] Israeli assessment of the impact of reserve duty in the territories on IDF readiness.”
As for political leaders, among other things, Rice instructed diplomats and spies to provide detailed information about government plans; influences on politicians; how politicians decide to launch military strikes; what Israel’s leaders think about the US; and much more.
Rice also sought information about various aspects of Israeli society. She instructed US diplomats and spies to gather information on everything from “Information on and motivations for any increased Israeli population emigration from Israel” to detailed information on Israeli “settlers” in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.
Regarding the “settlers,” among other things, Rice wanted information on “Divisions among various settlement groups[;] details on settlement-related budgets and subsidies[;] settlers’ relationships with the Israeli political and military establishment including their lobbying and settlement methods.”
Rice expressed deep interest as well in all details related to Israel’s military and nonmilitary communications infrastructure. For instance, she directed US officials to gather information on “Current specifications, vulnerabilities, capabilities, and planned upgrades to national telecommunications infrastructure, networks, and technologies used by government and military authorities, intelligence and security services, and the public sector.”
Finally, Rice wanted personal data on Israeli leaders. She asked for “official and personal phone numbers, fax numbers, and e-mail addresses of principal civilian and military leaders.”
Taken side-by-side, the first striking aspect of the US’s fabricated Israeli spy scandal on the one hand and its massive espionage operation against Israel on the other hand is the shocking hypocrisy of it all.
But hypocrisy isn’t the real issue. The real issue exposed by the documents is that the US is carrying out a deeply hostile policy against Israel in the face of massive public support for Israel in the US.
That is, whereas two-thirds of Americans support Israel, a minority constituency in the US government treats Israel with scorn and hatred.
Health Care Reform: We can’t all live at the expense of everyone else
Critics have noted many flaws in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul: It's too expensive, too intrusive, too coercive, and too complex. But one central defect that accounts for much of the other mischief: the pretense that making us all better off is a miraculous, cost-free bonanza.
The 19th-century French economist Frederic Bastiat foresaw schemes like this when he wrote, "Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." That illusion lies at the heart of the new program.
The president has gone to great lengths not to disguise this element but to celebrate it. He said early in the debate that the additional cost of the program could be paid with taxes on the rich. He vowed to oppose anything "that is primarily funded through taxing middle-class families"—which he plainly regards as the moral equivalent of drowning puppies.
But why shouldn't middle-class families bear the cost of a largely middle-class entitlement? When a typical family buys a new car, it doesn't expect someone else to make the payments. If health care reform showers so many blessings on ordinary Americans, ordinary Americans ought to be more than willing to pay the bill. If they are unwilling, maybe some rethinking is in order.
The Easter Bunny approach is not unknown among Republicans, either. They too like to hand out tasty treats. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in November the GOP would keep some parts of the health care reform, like requiring insurers to take applicants without regard to pre-existing conditions and to let parents keep children on their policies up to age 26. But those provisions are popular partly because their actual cost is invisible.
The general flaw also makes for particular flaws. One of those is the requirement that health insurance companies cover some 45 preventive care services at zero cost to patients—everything from depression screening to diet counseling.
As Obama has put it, "insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies, because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives." In other words, it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Sure. And Obama is a leprechaun. Some preventive measures, such as vaccinations, save more in medical expenditures than they cost. But the idea that all preventive care pays for itself is an alluring myth.
Rutgers economist Louise Russell says that as a general matter, it doesn't save dollars. On the contrary, she noted in a 2009 article in the journal Health Affairs, "prevention usually adds to medical spending." Four out of five preventive options, she says, "add more to medical costs than they save."
But Americans have not learned to accept the word "no" when it comes to health care, and the administration has no desire to teach them. Two years ago, a federal panel dropped its recommendation that all women begin regular mammograms at age 40 (based on risks and benefits, leaving aside costs). In deference to the ensuing protests, the health care plan mandates coverage of breast cancer screening at age 40 anyway.
Consider this a harbinger: Under Obama's program, if patients and doctors demand something, the government will make sure they get it.
Many people, of course, put great importance on prevention. They'd rather get inoculated against the flu or shingles to avert a possible spell of sickness. They'd rather get screened for prostate cancer or cervical cancer if there's even a small chance it will save their lives. But if they value such options so highly, why is it outrageous to ask them to remit something for the privilege? Letting insurers impose a co-payment or a deductible would have the effect of inducing patients not to completely disregard the issue of cost.
One of the chief ills of our health care system is that it encourages excessive consumption of medical services, which drives up total spending and wastes resources. But the preventive-care provision amounts to throwing a drowning man a hose.
If the goal is to restrain spending and make insurance affordable for all, a health care system has to put at least some direct costs on patients. We can't all live at the expense of everyone else. But we can all go broke trying.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)