May 142021

A friend from a country far hotter than my own, sometimes asks me: “How can you consort with other species?”

— I don’t consort with…
— You live with a dog.
— But I never let her into my bed!
— Dogs carry parasites, diseases. They pick up all sorts of nasties from the ground and…

He’s right about that, of course, but my dog regularly gets de-wormed and vaccinated against a plethora of diseases and there is plenty of literature attesting to the beneficial effects dogs can have on humans’ mental as well as physical health. In fact, ever since I was a child I knew I had much less to fear from dogs than from humans. So, yes, I can live with other species (cats, dogs) but can I live with humans?

Today, all humans are members of the human race, of which there is only one, as opposed to in the very distant past, when there were Denisovars and Neanderthals and goodness knows what else. Though scientists are still uncertain as to why all the others vanished, I’m convinced that our race, the homo sapiens sapiens, exterminated them. After all, “we”, the sapiens sapiens have demonstrated certain sinister proclivities throughout history. To this very day we continue to exterminate opponents, contestants, protesters and heretics, not to mention species..

So “The Human Race” it is. To quote a Harvard University website, which in turn quotes the Scientific American, “two people of European descent may be more genetically similar to an Asian person than they are to each other”. In short, it would appear that the concept “race” (with regard to humans) is claptrap, a social construct, more often than not used for convenience, or out of old habit, or to excuse a rabid aversion to people perceived to be trespassing. To make matters very much worse, politicians are often quite happy to let us blame immigrants (“Blacks”, “Arabs”, “Latinos”…) for our misfortunes.

No, I’m not being politically correct! I’m merely being reasonably informed. So if you loathe your neighbour, do not, please, be a hypocrite and do not cower behind an ignorance for which you have no justification. Have a conversation with yourself in the mirror. Do you dislike your neighbour’s political views, and/or the way he/she dresses, and/or his/her ignorance, and/or his/her arrogance, and/or the fumes that emanate from his/her kitchen, and/or his/her car, and/or his/her dog? Fine, so do I. But have, at least, the decency to admit that is why you dislike him/her.

Do you dislike his religion? Ask yourself, then, why his religion should concern you. Do you not expect others to accept that your religion (or non-religion) is your business and yours only?

Does it annoy you that he insists on continuing to live in your neighbourhood although you have made it clear that you want him to leave because you know he hates you because your people drove his people off their farm? I put to you, then, that the problem is that his family was driven off their farm. You’ll solve no problem until you admit that injustice was done. The disadvantage of such an admission is the price of making amends. Yet, the cost is far less than perpetual mutual hatred and perpetual external condemnation.

Do you ostracise him because he is an underdog while you have the upper hand? Ah, well then I admit you can play the “race” card, because you are after all only a homo sapiens sapiens, and being rather despicable is unfortunately a widespread trait of your race… ours, that is.

Fortunately, there are other people in your neighbourhood, and mine, that are not despicable even though they belong to the same race. And for that we must be grateful.

Please see B’Tselem

May 082021

The lesson should have been learnt a long time ago, back in 2013, when Edward Snowden revealed that the United States helps itself to just about any information it wants, about anybody. I won’t go into details about his assertions, as they are very beautifully explained and substantiated in his book Permanent Record.

US surveillance programmes also cover European and goodness knows what other countries, including mine, the purpose allegedly being national security, just as the invasion of Iraq was for national security reasons. In practical terms that means that if somebody reveals anything that embarrasses the powers that be, that person must be hunted to the ground and destroyed, to wit, the shameful case vs Julian Assange (see Deutsche Welle), and that vs Snowden himself who has had to apply for citizenship in Russia, of all places, so as not to suffer Assange’s deplorable fate. I’m sure Putin must be laughing.

Now the US is definitely not the only country that destroys those who would cast aspersions on its greatness and best-ness and Democratic-ness. On the Press Freedom Index, the US now ranks as no. 44, which isn’t so bad, really, only marginally behind South Korea, though considerably worse than the UK which ranks at no. 33.

Nonetheless, I guess no whistle-blower in his sane mind would turn to US American bona fide media outlets — not that I’m suggesting that Snowden was insane. As a matter of fact, he didn’t turn to the US American press but to Glenn Greenwald; speaking of whom, I urge you to read his latest article on substack.

At any rate, today, the New York Times has a very dry article, way below the main headings on its website, the sub-heading of which is directly misleading: “Federal prosecutors sought phone records for three Washington Post journalists as part of an investigation into the publication of classified information in 2017.” The main heading which, I repeat, was way below the rest of the news, is actually more accurate: “Justice Dept. Seized Washington Post’s Phone Records“. The key word here is seized. I don’t know about you, but I almost overlooked the heading. Justice departments are always seizing something or other, it’s their job. (The highlights are mine.)

The point is: The authorities not only sought but obtained all they wanted in order to uncover certain journalists’ whistle-blowing source. This was, admittedly, onTrump’s watch, but is the US Justice Dept. the President’s lapdog? The NYT fleetingly mentions, en passant, “a case where prosecutors secretly seized years’ worth of a New York Times reporter’s phone and email records. That case signaled a continuation of the aggressive prosecutions of leaks under the Obama administration.” The NY Times refrains from going into details here; after all, the present incumbent of the presidency is on Obama’s side, as it were. The NY Times knows who butters its bread, let’s face it.

Nevertheless, the USA’s position 44 on the Press Feeedom Index is vastly better than that of the United Arab Emirates, at 131. You don’t get much worse than that, do you?

Or what? Well, yes, you do: India at no. 142 – repeat – one hundred and forty two – is the world’s largest so-called Democracy. The country’s president, Narendra Modi, is a pretty nasty piece of work, if you ask me. I leave you to a few sources in chronological order (all regarding India).

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) claims to be a-political. Already in 2018, the organisation noted red lights for the Indian press: Troll armies in PM Modi’s “pay”

In February this year RSF reports: Raids on critic al outlets in India.

In April the New York Times started looking at the matter.: NYT: India’s press not so free and NYT: Covid – Critical posts taken down

Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post, which discusses how the media discusses big topics, has been following India for a while, for instance here: Al Jazeera: Navigating bad Covid stats

Finally, a wonderful Indian author writes about Covid in India: Arundathi Roy: Covid in India

And the lesson? The one I referred in my first paragraph? It is very simple: Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt.

May 062021

Hva sitter igjen etter “Me Too”? Det var jo IKKE en debatt om hva som er eller ikke er akseptabel adferd i samkvem mellom kjønnene i det 21. århundret. Det var en illustrasjon på hvordan sosiale medier lever sitt eget liv, samler “clicks” (d.vs. tjener seg fete); brått fikk en uskyldig melding uforutsette og ukontrollerbare konsekvenser. “Me Too” utviklet seg til en klappjakt på navngitte menn, uten lov og dom og uten at reglene for hva menn har lov til å gjøre var blitt drøftet på forhånd av fellesskapet (som også omfatter menn). Reglene ble opplest av noen mektige “influencers”, og vedtatt som uskreven lov der og da av et lite mindretall, et hylekor. OG loven hadde tilbakevirkende kraft.

Jeg er, vel og merke, enig med hylekoret om mange av reglene, men jeg aksepterer ikke hvordan den uskrevne loven ble implementert. Jeg er også svært kritisk til at påbud og forbud bare gjaldt menn. Jeg har videre en mistanke om at “loven” har bidratt til å styrke ytre høyre, noe som skader oss alle. Det gjelder nok i mindre grad Norge, men i desto større grad USA.

Det er noe slikt som er Glenn Greenwald’s anliggende i en ny bredside mot “the liberal left”, som han nok en gang anklager for å skade sin egen sak. Greenwald bor i Brasil, og ser derfor ikke verden bare fra sin egen rene, hvite navle.

Vold mot kvinner er et dramatisk problem i Brasil og i hele Latinamerika, hvor det rett og slett er farlig å være kvinne. Selv i vårt nærområde, Spania, står frontene steilt mellom feminister og kvinnehatere. Jeg kjenner for eksempel godt til retorikken til Spanias Vox-parti, og jeg er ganske sikker på at jo mer kvinner ruster seg mot gubbevold, jo mer oppslutning får Vox. Og kvinner MÅ ruste seg. De blir jo faktisk drept rett som det er.

Til tross for at myndighetene i Spania går svært langt i å bekjempe vold mot kvinner, medfører Vox-partiets legitimering av rasende anti-feminisme flere, ikke færre, drap av kvinner. En egen lov om vold i nære relasjoner høyner strafferammen dersom volden utføres av en mann mot en kvinne. Hensikten var jo å slå hardt ned på slik vold, men Vox kjører beinhardt på at menn blir forskjellsbehandlet av domstolene, og Vox blir hørt. Her følger Wikipedia’s første avsnitt om ideologien til Vox.

Vox has been described as a far-right party within the subset of the radical-right family. Unlike other European radical right parties, its discourse relies relatively less on populism and more on nationalism. It mixes nationalism and nativism with an authoritarian vision of society, opposing what the party terms as “radical left-wing feminism” favouring “traditional” gender norms instead. Its economic agenda has been described as “neoliberal”.

Vox dveler altså ikke ved økonomisk ulikhet, men nører opp under Franco-inspirert nasjonalsjåvinisme (ingen “dialog” med katalanere, takk!) og våte drømmer om 50-tallets kjønnsroller.

I 2020 ble 43 kvinner drept av nåværende eller tidligere partner i Spania. Blant de autonome regionene som har ekspedert kvinner, står Andalucia aller øverst på listen. Interessant nok er dette en region som så lenge menn kan huske, har stemt inn sosialistiske regions-regjeringer, men som i 2019 fordoblet antall Vox-velgere (til 10%) og som dermed fikk en høyre-regjering.

Samtidig var det samlede antall drepte kvinner i 2020 faktisk 83 i Spania, og mange tar til orde for at det må opprettes et eget straffebud mot “feminicidio”, noe som setter Vox i harnisk. (Med “feminicidio” menes drap motivert av kvinnehat.)

Jeg tror ikke den vanlige mann i Spania ville ha brydd seg om juridiske finesser ved straffeutmålingen når en kvinne blir drept eller banket helseløs, hvis han ikke opplevde feminisme generelt som truende. De aller fleste vil nok enes om at vold er utillatelig uansett hvem overgriperen er, og at den bør være straffbar. Vold vil jo for de fleste være et uttrykk for desperasjon og avmakt.

I samfunn vi ønsker å sammenligne oss med, iberegnet det spanske, så er hensikten med en pådømt straff, ikke hevn, men allmennprevensjon. Lovgiverne der har ønsket å markere at vold mot kvinner overhode ikke aksepteres og at det er noe hele samfunnet ønsker å sette en stopper for. (I Norge aller vi dette for tiden “null-toleranse”.)

Til gjengjeld kan drømmen om en dydig kvinne ved kjøkkenbenken lett vinne gehør blant menn som utsettes for dårlig lønn og uverdige eller bortfalte arbeidsforhold, menn som er på god vei til å miste selvrespekten. Dissonansen mellom denne drømmen, som Vox hevder de akter å virkeliggjøre, og mannens ofte ydmyke status kan være vond å håndtere for den enkelte. Jeg tror ikke Me Too strategien er den best egnede til å roe gemytter.