Saturday, February 12, 2011

Abraham Lincoln 'tried to deport slaves' to British colonies

Abraham Lincoln’s reputation as the great champion of America’s slaves has taken a battering amid new evidence that the revered president wanted to send many of them to toil in British colonies in the Caribbean.

Academics Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page claim that documents uncovered in British archives show that Lincoln was rather less enamoured by the prospect of a racially-united America than is often assumed.

The 16th U.S. president is widely lionised in the U.S. for winning the American Civil War for the Union and bringing an end to slavery.

Although earlier historians have conceded that he did propose sending some of the freed slaves to new colonies, they have dismissed it as a ruse designed to placate racist voters. However, according to evidence from the British legation in Washington that has turned up at the National Archives in Kew, the president was deadly serious about black colonisation right up until his assassination in 1865.

Mr Magness and Mr Page say that just after Lincoln announced the freedom of three quarters of America’s four million slaves with his historic 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, he authorised plans to set up freedmen’s settlements in what is now Belize and Guyana.

And even as black soldiers were dying for the Union cause and a mission to send 453 freed slaves to colonise a pest-ridden island off Haiti met with a disastrous small pox outbreak, Mr Lincoln was secretly authorising British officials to recruit what could have been hundreds of thousands of blacks for a new life on the sugar and cotton plantations of Central America.

Papers show Lincoln personally met agents for the then-colonies of British Honduras and British Guiana and authorised them to go into the camps of the recently-freed slaves and find recruits. One of the agents, John Hodge, assured the British ambassador that 'it was [Lincoln’s] honest desire that this should go ahead'.

Lincoln also considered a plan to get thousands of black soldiers out of the way after the civil war ended by sending them down to Panama to build a canal.

The new evidence, contained in a forthcoming book entitled Colonisation After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, is causing ructions in the U.S. over the legacy of its most revered president. Some neo-Nazi websites have seized on it as evidence of Lincoln's anti-black inclinations.

However, Mr Page, a Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, insisted that it was wrong to conclude Lincoln was a racist. Blacks had been lynched during recent race riots in New York and the president was motivated by a fear that the freeing of black slaves would cause serious racial strife, said Mr Page.

In addition, Lincoln always made clear the emigration would be voluntary, he said. 'I don’t think it was ever about any personal dislike for blacks,' Mr Page said.

'That said, that’s not to let him off the hook because if you’re backing black colonisation you’re kind of putting your blessing on racism. But he saw strife coming.'

In the end, records show that Lincoln’s plans were foiled, largely because of the reluctance of the British government who feared the pro-slavery South might win the Civil War and sue Britain for its lost slaves. At the same time, the U.S. Congress was upset about the failure of the Haiti project and another attempt to colonise land in Panama.

America is sensitive to accusations that it has ever behaved as a colonial power, a label it prefers to stick on Britain and other European countries. Mr Magness admitted that historians had 'tended to downplay' Lincoln’s commitment to colonisation as it did not 'mesh' with his image as the Great Emancipator of the slaves.



Indian movies versus Islam

Ten years and two wars after 9/11, America’s struggle against Islamist terrorism is nowhere close to succeeding. If a superpower like America can’t vanquish the scourge, is there any force in the world that can?

There might well be: Bollywood, India’s flamboyant film industry. Just as the Beatles and rock ’n’ roll helped bring down the Kremlin, Bollywood might prove to be the undoing of Osama bin Laden and his noxious brand of Islamic fundamentalism.

Conventional wisdom holds that Communism collapsed because America ruined the Soviet economy by embroiling it in an arms race that it couldn’t afford. In fact, the West won the Cold War less because it pointed nuclear missiles at the Soviet people, and more because it won their hearts and minds. And in this it was aided by its music and pop culture, which gave it unrivaled soft power. It made young people feel that while they were huddled behind the Iron Curtain in a world of drab conformity, next door one helluva of a party was going on.

No less an authority than Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged to Paul McCartney that the Beatles paved the way for perestroika and glasnost — his vain attempts to save Communism by reforming it.

But can Western pop culture do the trick against radical Islam? Unlikely. American culture, despite its alleged ubiquity, doesn’t have the same transformative power in Eastern countries that don’t share the West’s ethnic, religious and cultural background. MTV and Hollywood are certainly watched in the Arab world — but their appeal is more voyeuristic than aspirational; it stems from a curiosity about how exotic people in alien countries live, not from any inclination to emulate them. But Bollywood’s allure, rooted in shared heritage, values and political issues, is different. And India’s economic success makes its pop culture even more compelling.

The Middle East is Bollywood’s third-largest overseas market, and growing so rapidly that many Bollywood movies now hold premieres in Dubai on opening night. A Universal Studios-like Bollywood theme park is expected to be a major draw for regional tourists.

But the Muslim country most in the grip of Bollywood mania is Pakistan, India’s cultural twin in every respect but religion. As with the Beatles under Communism, the more that aggressive Pakistani authorities have tried to purge Bollywood from their soil, the more its popularity has grown. During the country’s four-decade-long ban on Indian movies, Pakistanis smuggled VHS tapes and installed satellite dishes. The ban was finally lifted in 2008 — and the Bollywood scene in Pakistan exploded. Not only have Bollywood movies been playing to packed houses, but Indian movie stars — despite Islam’s taboo against idol worship — are treated like demigods. The latest fad among Pakistan’s nouveau riche is Bollywood-themed weddings in which the bride and groom dress like a movie’s stars and hold their reception in elaborate tents patterned after the movie set.

Both Hollywood and Bollywood idealize true love that conquers all. But the obstacles that Hollywood’s lovers face — affairs, commitment-phobia, previous lovers — have nothing to do with the concerns of people in traditional Muslim countries. They can relate far better to Bollywood’s paramours, whose chief impediments are familial demands, given that arranged marriage is still a revered institution in that part of the world. Bollywood certainly encourages young lovers to follow their hearts — but by convincing their families of the rightness of their cause, not by turning their backs on them. A typical Bollywood movie ends with lovers returning home after tying the knot.

But there is another reason for Bollywood’s appeal in the Islamic world. Since its inception, some of Bollywood’s biggest stars have been Muslims. Currently, the industry’s three top male leads are Muslims — all with the last name Khan. Bollywood’s most respected music composer, A.R. Rahman, who won an Oscar for his score in “Slumdog Millionaire,” is also a Muslim, as are many of Bollywood’s best lyric and script writers.

The success of these Muslims has profound implications for the emergence of a moderate Islam. They have a very different attitude toward their faith from the one prescribed by radical Islamists. Some of them are more observant than others (movie gossip circles are always abuzz over which member of the Khan troika is more serious about his faith). But ultimately their faith is about their spiritual elevation, not Taliban-style subordination. For example, “Slumdog”’s Rahman has composed qawwalis, the devotional songs embraced by Sufis, who practice a mystical version of Islam. The best Sufi music now comes from the Indian subcontinent, partly because of Muslims in Bollywood. By showcasing these artists, Bollywood demonstrates to Muslims everywhere that the demands of modernity don’t require them to abandon their traditions. Islamists understand this well, which is why they have been known to launch vicious broadsides against Bollywood.

America so far has relied mostly on hard power to defeat the Islamist threat. This strategy depends on it killing more terrorists than it is producing. If its calculus of attrition doesn’t pan out, it won’t mean that there is nothing left to resist Islamist extremism. The soft power of Bollywood will slowly but surely do its work.



Progressives are Arrogant

Progressivism is all about arrogance. And that arrogance manifests itself in the various policy prescriptions that progressive politicians routinely profess from their high government offices in Washington, D.C.

These progressive bureaucrats and politicians in Washington love telling people how to do things. They think up regulations all day long to try and direct your life in the direction that they see fit.

Just look at Michelle Obama. She regularly preaches to all Americans the type of diet everyone should maintain. Of course, she doesn’t have to follow her own recommended diet, but the rest of us should. How does she make this so? She gets a bill passed that requires the FDA to regulate our meals more.

Progressives are also naturally inclined to be always worried about myths and magic. Need an example? Net neutrality.

This regulation from the progressive wing of the Obama administration comes to us from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) where the Chairman, Julius Genachowski, must be sitting around in his office all day long worrying about things that aren’t happening.

You see, the regulations known as “net neutrality” is derived out of the fear that Internet service providers (ISP’s) will suddenly start playing “nanny” and regulating the websites that you visit. Of course, there have been virtually no documented instances of this happening, but the regulating progressive bureaucrats must regulate anyway. Currently, the FCC is exploring how to implement such net neutrality regulations on the rest of us.

Fear and magic are the driving forces behind progressive policy making. If something requires magic to occur, then it will be regulated because according to a progressive, it could possibly occur. It matters little difference to them that magic does not exist.

Just look at the arguments that politicians routinely threw around following the extension of what is known as the “Bush tax cuts.” Many progressive politicians seriously argued that by voting for the extension of the existing tax code, they were enacting new and even lower tax rates. Of course that is not true, but it did not stop them from committing a little rhetoric magic. Politicians suggesting that they had lowered your taxes could be found all over Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of that vote.

The progressive mindset lurks in both parties in Washington, D.C.. Government nannies and worrywarts always emerge to “fix” the wrongs of the world. While their fixes never seem to work, there is never a shortage of these progressive experts to tell the rest of us how to do things.

What is most surprising is that we are even allowed to vote anymore. Progressive politicians have had their hands on the levers of power for quite some time, and during that time they have not found a single thing in society that they could trust a private citizen to do without the help of the government. But when it comes to voting, at least they haven’t touched that. Yet.



'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once': Refreshing the President's memory

Bill O'Reilly's Fox interview with President Obama on Sunday was fascinating, and not merely because Mr. Obama made clear he's an ardent fan of these pages. What really caught our attention was the President's claim that "I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years."

The Presidency is demanding, and with the Egypt mess and his other duties, perhaps Mr. Obama has forgotten some of his tax achievements. Allow us to refresh his memory. In his historic health-care bill, for example, there is the new $27 billion "fee" on drug companies that is already in effect. Next year, device manufacturers will get hit to the tune of $20 billion, and heath insurers will pay $60 billion starting in 2014—all of which are de facto tax increases because these collections will be passed on to consumers as higher costs. Of course, these are merely tax increases on business.

As for tax increases on individuals, perhaps he forgot the health-care bill's new 0.9 percentage point increase in the Medicare payroll tax for families making over $250,000 and singles over $200,000. That tax increase takes effect in 2013, as will the application of what will be a 3.8% Medicare surtax (up from 2.9% today) to "unearned income" for the first time. This is a tax hike on investment and interest income, which will reduce the incentive to save and invest.

Mr. Obama also told Mr. O'Reilly that he hasn't moved to the "center" since November's Democratic election defeat, saying "I'm the same guy." Save for a couple of tactical retreats that he couldn't avoid, we agree with him. As the President said recently in the State of the Union, he's going to insist on raising taxes again on people making over $200,000 when his deal with Republicans in Congress expires in 2012. Definitely the same guy.



What are we saving in Afghanistan?

Australian conservative Hal G.P. Colebatch is re-evaluating

It has recently been reported from Afghanistan that a one-legged Afghan Red Cross worker and physiotherapist, Said Musa, 45, is shortly to be hanged by the government, or what passes for the government, for having converted to Christianity.

No defense lawyer will represent him. Some were reported to have dropped the case after receiving death threats. He has been held for about eight months in Kabul prison and reportedly tortured.

He was arrested last May while trying to find sanctuary in the German Embassy following renewed waves of persecution of Christians. He is said to have been offered a reprieve if he denied Christianity but has refused to do this. All this has been known in the West for some time...

What are we doing allying in war with these barbarians? What evidence have they given us that they are actually a better government than the Taliban would be? How does propping them up as a government in Afghanistan, even if we win the war there, benefit us or humanity?

It is hard to see any need at the present time to spend our soldiers' lives in defense of a regime that stinks to high heaven of vile savagery, a regime which plainly cares nothing for our values and plainly cares nothing even for what we think of it, and which in fact shows by its deeds that it regards the Judeo-Christian West and its ideas and values as abomination and a mortal enemy.

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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)


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