Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Skeptics Society Conspiracy Phobes - And Why They Discredit Themselves

 

Cover of new pamphlet received from the Skeptics Society,  purporting to expose conspiracy theories. 

Having just started reading Richard Charnin's new book, Reclaiming Science: The JFK Conspiracy, I can say I am already delighted on seeing the depth of the analyses to come, and the focus on science, making the book a nice complement to Prof. James Fetzer's Assassination Science. Because science is what we need here to counter the flood of disinformation that first arrived with the Warren Commission Report - not to mention the efforts of all its apologists to defend it.

"Reclaiming Science" is an apt title because it entails reclaiming the content that has hitherto been obfuscated and distorted under the specious science (or what I call pseudo-science) of the Warren Report as well as the apologists like Gerald Posner ('Case Closed') and Vince Bugliosi ('Reclaiming History') who have sought to reinforce that pseudo-science . I showed much of that in my FAQ (Part 5) addressing the bullets and wounds back  in in November of last year, e.g.

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/11/frequently-asked-questions-on-jfk_15.html

Today, the 51st anniversary of the JFK assassination,  is a good opportunity to re-examine the entrenched CT phobics, especially the more sophisticated ones that have surfaced in organizations like  The Skeptics Society. For example, via a little pamphlet (see cover image at top) put out recently - which I received in the post three days earlier. Perhaps 21 years ago I had a letter published in the journal of that organization wherein I warned that expressions of hyper-skepticism could backfire and were counterproductive. This was after the magazine took some initial critical shots at the claim for conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination - revealing like so many others before and since that they hadn't done their homework.

Before proceeding further let us remind ourselves of the definition of conspiracy (e.g. from the Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary):

treacherous, surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons

Why this simple definition should cause so many heads to explode - especially in the US of A-   is frankly beyond me. It is elemental and has been demonstrated many times as I will show - hence, it's not as if we're talking or writing about ghosts, 
poltergeists, elves or fairies.


An easier question to address is: Why are so many would-be skeptical critics broken on the 'wheel' of the JFK assassination? Well, because they treat it frivolously - without the respect it is due  - more often conflating it with nonsense pseudo conspiracies (which shouldn't even be dignified by the name) such as the claim of the "faked Apollo Moon landing" or the UN seeking to take over the nation via black helicopters or the claim government agents are secretly using the Post Office to buy up all the ammo so gun owners can't get any. Each of these, by contrast to the JFK assassination, demonstrates ignorance or manifest paranoia.

Apart from the presumption of frivolity, without due diligence in approaching a controversial  political-historical topic, and with only uninformed, indiscriminate skepticism expressed - the whole exercise becomes one of merely academic pique, or "bullshit" in the parlance of Harry Frankfurt in his masterpiece, On Bullshit. According to Frankfurt:

"Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk (or write) without knowing what he is talking (or writing)  about. Thus, the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person's obligations or opportunities to speak(or write) about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts relevant to the topic."

Such is the case with the contents of the Skeptics Society pamphlet.. What is the error that threads its way throughout the book? While the authors specifically target ALL conspiracy theories - as if these were a form of general mental disorder- they are implicitly attacking the reality of actual conspiracies! (Bear in mind once a conspiracy exists it is no longer "theory".) Logically, then, if ab initio  all conspiracy theories are falsefoolish or invalid (meaning other explanations can suffice and the ones advanced are daffy) it means there can be no real conspiracies either!

But we know this to be false, because Watergate was certainly a real conspiracy,  exposed in Nixon's White House Tapes (get hold of them as I have and listen!) as was Iran-Contra. To refuse to label a crime, especially a political one,  a conspiracy -  is therefore to be dishonest in one's approach to historical or political knowledge and education. It is also to be guilty of spreading disinformation,

To fix ideas, let me offer some perspectives on the Iran –Contra conspiracy which was implemented by Reagan cronies such as Oliver North, John Poindexter, Albert Hakim and Caspar Weinberger. (Reagan always denied any involvement, though it is incredible that such a plan could have unfolded without topmost authority. But, being generous, mayhap Reagan's Alzheimer's had al
ready set in and someone like Poindexter was needed to oversee it!)

All the charges against the above-named characters and others are listed on page xiv of the Introduction to The Iran –Contra Report (1994) published by Random House at the behest of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh. (Note: Weinberger,  “charged with four counts of false statements and perjury,  was pardoned by George Bush” That would be George Senior).

The basic facts to take away concerning the  Iran-Contra conspiracy are these:

- Shipping Israeli Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran from 1985-86 to obtain the release of American hostages held in the Middle East. This was despite an embargo on such sales.

- The money from the sales of these arms was to be funneled into Nicaragua to support the Rightist “Contras’, a violation of the then 
Boland Amendment, and basically exposing the Reagan administration’s covert support for paramilitary activities conducted against the Sandinista government.

As noted in Walsh’s Introduction (p. xv):

The Iran and Contra operations were merged when funds generated from the sale of weapons to Iran were diverted to support the Contra mission in Nicaragua.  Although this diversion may be the most dramatic aspect of Iran-contra, it is important to emphasize that both the Iran and contra operations, separately, violated United States policy and the law.”


Violation of policy thus was via the violation of the Boland Amendment, named for Rep. Edward Boland (D-MA).  The amendment restricted U.S. aid to the contras and “
prohibited the use of U.S. funds for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.”

But even Rep. Boland likely couldn't have conceived of the dastardly lengths to which the Reaganites would go even before his amendment was in the public domain. I am referring, of course, to the “October Surprise” whereby Reaganites (known at the time also to be strongly supported by the Republican Heritage Council with Nazi links- see, e.g. Russ Bellant’s book: ‘Old Nazis, The New Right and the Republican Party’, 1991, pp. 41-44)) used back channels to make a secret deal with Iran to postpone release of the 52 American hostages in return for arms sales after the election.

Corroborating this, on July 18, 1981 the then USSR's TASS news agency reported the emergency landing near the USSR-Turkish border of an Argentine-registered transport aircraft leased and flown by Israelis, carrying a full load of US weaponry and military spare parts. The US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Nicholas Veliotes, subsequently investigated this occurrence and concluded that the downed aircraft was on its third such flight in a series of shipments of US weapons to Iran which had been authorized by high officials in the Reagan Administration.

Before people start talking “tinfoil hats” let’s examine what was at stake and in particular the federal conspiracy law as it would relate to the later arms-for-hostages dealings of Iran-Contra. As noted on p. 56 of The Iran –Contra Report:


“The federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371, states that ‘it is a crime to conspire to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose’”

This would have been violated under three criminal actions by the perpetrators identified by Walsh (ibid.):

1) “Using government resources, the conspirators conducted an unauthorized covert program in support of the contras.”

2) “North and Poindexter used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators

3) “By secretly pursuing their own ends, the conspirators outraged the Iranians they were attempting to persuade and thus jeopardized the success of the Iran initiative.”


In terms of the scale and scope of the deal, on p. 338 of the Iran-Contra Report we see: “3300 TOWs for hostages”, then on p. 339, we note: “In fact, 1,000 TOW missiles had been delivered to Iran between February 15 and 17, 1986.”

These facts are germane and important because they disclose the extent of the conspiracy as well as the people involved.  But this is the essential nature of all real conspiracies in the political realm - to somehow leverage power to the advantage of those seeking to impose their own agenda. It was applicable in the Iran-Contra conspiracy as it was in the Kennedy assassination conspiracy - the objective in the latter to implement a much larger national security state and permanent war state

The authors of the Skeptic Society's pamphlet, meanwhile, step into reeking heaps of virtual 'doggy doo' as they go their merry way making wild generalizations about all claimed conspiracies and conflating them indiscriminately. This is in addition to plenty of dime store psychology meted out such as  citing a waste of paper called 'American Conspiracy Theories' in which it is claimed "researchers have found that inducing anxiety or loss of control triggers respondents to see non-existent patterns and evoke conspiratorial explanations."

Proving again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing especially in subjective areas like  psychology and psychiatry (for an excellent exposure of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual and all the psycho-malarkey within it, check out 'The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry')  Such psycho-babble also elicited the scorn and rebuke of my friend Rolf  (formerly a member of the Spezialdienst) when I emailed him a scan of the pertinent material. His rejoinder was that this anti-conspiracy crowd that relies on such babble  "needs their own heads examined".

In the case of the pamphlet, its lone (peripheral) foray into the Kennedy assassination occurs on page 4, under the header, 'Ingredients for Conspiratorial Thinking' (hmmmm.....was  Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh guilty of "conspiratorial thinking" for pursuing Iran-Contra?) Therein, the authors  (Michael Shermer and Pat Linse) babble:

"Conspiracy theories connect the dots of random events into meaningful patterns (patternicity) and then infuse those patterns with intentional agency (agenticity). Add to this confirmation bias, the tendency to look for or find confirmatory evidence for what you already believe- and the hindsight bias (after the fact explanation for what you already know happened)  and we have the foundation for conspiratorial cognition."

Which is fulsome horse pockey. Indeed,  by the clever use of this pseudo-scientific,  dime store psychology template virtually any real conspiracy could be dismissed as nothing more then a combo of :  P (patternicity)+ A  (agenticity) + H (hindsight) + C (confirmation bias) nonsense!   

Think of it! In the case of the Iran-Contra conspiracy,  the shipping manifests revealing the assorted Hawk and TOW missiles  destined for Iran would be likened to "seeing a pattern".  This would then be "infused with agenticity"(sic)  because the missiles ended up with the Iranians - so someone had to be a bad guy in doing it- since the Iranians were bad guys holding American hostages.  The next step would be to accuse  Prosecutor Walsh of "looking for confirmatory evidence of what he already believed", i..e. the guilt of Oliver North, John Poindexter et al. because they "used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators”.  And finally, the coup de grace, Walsh would be accused of "hindsight bias" - advancing explanations after the fact for what he already knew happened. (Of course he knew, he uncovered the evidence in the course of his investigation!)

So, in other words, their bandying about of this pseudo-process is useless because it errs by proposing an excessively subjective and open-ended standard for parsing objective evidence. Hence, tying proof of conspiracy to sophisticated second guessing.

Shermer and Linse then move on to the Kennedy assassination (ibid.):

"Consider the Kennedy assassination: Knowing what we know now, film footage of Dealey Plaza from Nov. 22, 1963 seems pregnant with enigmas and ironies - from the oddly expectant expressions on the faces of the onlookers on the grassy knoll (What were they thinking?) to the play of shadows in the background (Could that flash of light have been on a gun barrel?) Each odd excrescence, every random lump in the visual texture, seems suspicious"

But here the authors invoke too much in the way of red herring, and not enough substance. Sure, there were random flashes and visuals appearing in the setting, i.e. in the Zapruder film as well as the Nix film. High tech investigation of one photo - from Mary Moorman- even disclosed the outline of a shooter behind the stockade fence on the grassy knoll, e.g.

This "Badgeman" photo above, compliments of Richard Charnin - from his blog- in contrast to the woolly speculations of the skeptic duo, was declared authentic by an MIT analysis team - as Charnin observes. (For the likely identity of 'Badgeman' see my Sept. 20th post: 'Switzerland: Destination for the Kennedy Assassins?' )

But even if one would claim to be so bleary-eyed or visually deficient as to see nothing peculiar in the image, or the evident outline of a gunman in the photo (including muzzle blast), the autopsy photos - fraudulent and real - shown below, ought to give pause. These are not based on random flashes or expectant expressions on living faces  but the stark consequences after the rifles were fired.
.
 These, along with the released CIA files about Oswald, seem to be what the hyper-skeptics have missed.



And perhaps this is why these skeptics who fancy themselves informed and smart enough to take on the JFK assassination,  ought to back away and regard it instead as the "fire breathing dragon of American history" - in the words of one Truthdig journalist who interviewed Tom Hanks for a supposed series he had planned on HBO (later cancelled). Hanks was ultimately gobbled up by this fire-breathing dragon because in the end he was too flippant in his approach to the facts, as well as arrogant in seeking to  "do the American public a service" - because they "have been snookered into believing that Lee Harvey Oswald was framed."

These lessons,  which occur from time to time,  ought to also steer other presumptuous fools clear of this event in any future forays where they go after ALL conspiracies. Oh, they might wish to stay away from Iran-Contra, Watergate and BCCI too!

Btw, I have no problem - not one, if this pair, Pat Linse and Michael Shermer (or the entire Skeptics Society),  want to go after those who suggest the Apollo Moon landings were faked or that the Air Force is secretly hiding aliens somewhere in Area 51. But if you plan to try to skunk those of us who've seriously investigated the Kennedy assassination - conflating us with the nutsos above-  you had best be loaded for bear!

See also:

http://www.salon.com/2014/11/22/the_real_jfk_mystery_50_years_later_why_the_infamous_murder_must_be_reinvestigated/

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(This Post first appeared in November, 2014)


Monday, November 28, 2022

"Super High" IQ Scores - Why They Are Impractical & Meaningless

 Parade  magazine contributor Marilyn vos Savant was once claimed by The Guinness Book of Records to have the highest IQ ever recorded. By one measure- a test first taken by her in 1956 - it was claimed to be 228 or a mental age of 22 years and 10 months at the age of 10.  A recent article ('The 21 Smartest People In The World')  at salon.com also claimed to have a list of the "world's highest IQs" with a number even higher than vos Savant's and many with IQs higher that Albert Einstein's (160). But is this really possible? Do such high IQ scores even have any credible meaning?


 In the case of vos Savant, according to Wikipedia:

Alan S. Kaufman ,a psychology professor and author of IQ tests, writes in IQ Testing 101 that "Miss Savant was given an old version of the Stanford-Binet (Terman & Merrill 1937), which did, indeed, use the antiquated formula of MA/CA × 100. But in the test manual's norms, the Binet does not permit IQs to rise above 170 at any age, child or adult. And the authors of the old Binet stated: 'Beyond fifteen the mental ages are entirely artificial and are to be thought of as simply numerical scores.' (Terman & Merrill 1937). ...the psychologist who came up with an IQ of 228 committed an extrapolation of a misconception, thereby violating almost every rule imaginable concerning the meaning of IQs."

 The list of the "world's smartest people" featuring over a dozen with higher IQs than 160 (for Einstein) is also daft and a classic example of what author Charles Seife would call "proofiness", discussed in his excellent book, : 'Proofiness: How You're Being Fooled By the Numbers'.  In page after page Seife decries the use of numbers not merely to lie but to baffle with bullshit. No better example of such proofy twaddle can be seen than in the website below:

http://members.shaw.ca/warmbeach/INDEX3.htm


But alas, super high IQ scores are also rife with proofiness. Further understanding of what I am about can be grasped by reference to the standard (normal) Gaussian distribution or "Bell curve"  on which the distribution of IQ scores is based, e.g.




Note the percentages of the population decreasing at both the high and the low ends, corresponding to the number of standard deviations  (stds) from the zero point or mean.

We see, for example, that by a 2.2 std dispersion we are effectively at a population fraction of 2 percent - which is the cutoff threshold for qualifying in Mensa. Generally, this is taken as an IQ of 133-35. (Depending on the test used). Note also, how the corresponding population applicable is decreasing as the number of stds gets larger from the central point. At about 2.6 std we are near the threshold (or just slightly beyond it) for the top one percent or Intertel members. At 3 std (about 145 IQ) one qualifies for the Poetic Genius Society.

Using a base of 300 million as the U.S. population, the Bell curve proportions would translate into 6 million who'd qualify for Mensa entrance, and 3 million who'd qualify for Intertel.  By about 3.3 stds we reach the 0.1 percent cutoff and the threshold for the Triple Nine Society. The population qualifying is one-tenth that for Intertel or 3 million/ 10 = 300,000. Divide 300,000 by 300,000,000 and you get 1,000 - hence the Triple Nines are also known as the "One in one thousand society".  

Note how already we are near the effective upper limit of the Bell curve in terms of being able to discriminate between the IQ groups. At near 4.5 stds, however, there is the Mega Society which will have a threshold at the 0.0001 % level. Or doing the same math as I showed in the previous paragraph, only 1 in a million qualifying. This would imply 300 in the U.S. population of 300 million - and with an IQ of 171. But what does that even mean, and is it useful?

As the relevant article in Wikipedia points out:

"No professionally designed and validated IQ test claims to distinguish test-takers at a one-in-a-million level of rarity of score. The standard score range of the Stanford-Binet IQ test is 40 to 160.The standard scores on most other currently normed IQ tests fall in the same range. A score of 160 corresponds to a rarity of about 1 person in 30,000 (leaving aside the issue of error of measurement common to all IQ tests), which falls short of the Mega Society's 1 in a million requirement."

In other words, there aren't even any IQ tests that currently exist which achieve the level of discrimination to identify a would-be Mega Society member! The highest score achievable (and hence measurable) within the constellation of intelligence allows no higher than 160 - which was Einstein's IQ.

Consider the mean or 0 mark which sets the "average IQ" at 100. This means half score above this level and half below. At about 4.5 std, the threshold for the Mega Society we are already in uncharted territory. This is why it is likely impossible to design a test adequate to ferret out those 300 potential members in the U.S. The Mega Society insists it has "unsupervised IQ tests that the test author claims have been normalized using standard statistical methods" but this is very doubtful.  Most psychometricians concur that by 3 std (145) to 4 std (160 IQ) one is already at the limit of the measurable validity for testing IQ in any useful way. Beyond 4 std (again, Einstein's level) the difference between such scores blurs.

Again, in considering such stratospheric IQs one ought to look not only at the std dispersion from the mean but the area under the curve. At 4.7 std the area is essentially nil. What about claims of a 300 IQ? This is even more preposterous. We are now talking about 13.33 std from the mean. As one contributor put it on an IQ- statistics site:

"An IQ of 300 has no useful meaning because there aren't enough people in the world (or intelligent beings in the history of the cosmos) to make it useful".

Or, again, no test that could possibly discriminate that single potential member from 6 billion people. (Other estimates put the proportion in even more rarefied terms, i.e. 1 in 50 billion - or nearly 1 out of every other person who's ever walked the Earth).  In effect, it means that any article bragging on one or more people with supposed IQ scores exceeding Einstein's is preposterous. Even the Mega Society entry threshold is likely a Macguffin, given that in reality there is no living human with an IQ that high that can be satisfactorily verified at the necessary level of statistical confidence.

Even if such a "Mega" person really existed (irrespective of how many claim to be Mega Society members) would one really see a qualitative difference, say from an "Einstein-level" IQ person? I doubt it. I can't see a Mega Society member being able to do any more than Einstein did, including developing the tensor calculus to use in his General Theory of Relativity.

Thus as one of the web psychometricians put it, even a 150 IQ person (near the top of most IQ test standards) would not see a significant difference between himself and a 160 or 170 IQ person. Where the real differences would be seen is where the areas registered for standard deviations are the most.  For example, between a normal IQ person and a Mensa (upper 2 percent) IQ person. Their interests, and even vocabulary would likely be so different as to approach the analogy of an alien trying to communicate with a typical earthling.

But this is precisely why Mensa as an organization was created in the first place, to establish a communal civic space where gifted individuals could meet and converse without being put down by pejoratives (Dweebs, or "geeks") from "normals".  Intertel was launched for similar reasons, though it is interesting to note that many Intertel members also belong to Mensa - simply because it is vastly larger and there are more opportunities for social exchanges.

As an interesting side note, at Monsignor Edward Pace High in N. Miami one of the first  segregations transpired after we all took an IQ test (Stanford -Binet) in 10th grade. In the immediate aftermath I noticed a loss in the diversity of the student body with many of those perceived "slower" (but often more interesting, joking and friendly) leaving Pace for good. I was also encouraged to leave, but for a different reason:  to attend Nova High where I could advance at my own pace and not be held back by a less challenging curriculum. I decided not to take the advice because it would mean 100 extra miles a day total transporting by my dad.

The takeaway from this blog post? Don't trust any claims of pe
ople with IQs over 160!

---

This post first appeared in May, 2015



Saturday, November 26, 2022

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) - Another Seasonal Bug You Really Want To Avoid - Just Ask Me

 

    The architecture of an hRSV viral particle. (A) A 7.5-nm central slice from a tomographic reconstruction of a filamentous hRSV viral particle. The boxed region highlights the area of the virus used in panel B. (B) Schematic of hRSV superimposed over the selected area of the hRSV viral particle from panel A. (C) Schematic representation of the architecture of an hRSV virus; the main structural components, the glycoproteins, the viral membrane, the matrix protein layer, the linker (M2-1), and RNP are indicated. Scale bars, 100 nm.


One of the viruses circulating now in the 'tripledemic" is RSV, afflicting both kids and older adults. Various sites like Mayo Clinic claim the cases are "generally mild" but not the one I have, no way in hell.  The bug struck on Thanksgiving Eve and has basically removed me from all but the most basic participation in the holiday, e.g. watching non-stop football on turkey day and reruns of Stargate Atlantis yesterday.  Janice contracted it first 10 days ago and is only now improving to the point she has her voice back and can taste food agin.

Meanwhile, I've been hammered at the outset:  pounding headache and nonstop nasal congestion as well as "tidal" discharge. And it's now gone into my lungs evidence by bright red plugs coughed out - never a sign of anything good.  Fortunately, I have an O2 concentrator machine which I hope will diminish the bad effects, so I don't end up with pneumonia. (Last night it was little use as the congestion overpowered the machine's O2 flow even at 3.3 litres/min.)

Needless to say, given the lack of energy and nonstop misery, there will be an extended hiatus in posts until I get over this bug well enough to think clearly.  In the meantime, I will put up some past goodies from yesteryears. starting Monday.

Stay safe and stay healthy and don't get RSV.  I've never had Covid, but I imagine that the form of RSV I have now is not too different from that in terms of the worst symptoms.

See Also:

RSV in Older Adults and Adults with Chronic Medical Conditions | CDC


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Archival Photos Remind Us That Book Burning Launched Third Reich's Savagery In 1930s

 

    Hitler's S.A. squad carries books to bonfire - bodies were next

 
           My late German friend Kurt Braun showing archival film of Kristallnacht


"Pre-Thanksgiving travelers who clogged the busy Gate D10 at Seattle-Tacoma International were shocked — although maybe slightly less shocked than they would have been five years ago — to see a young-adult male passenger abruptly throw up a Nazi salute and begin a barely comprehensible antisemitic rant.

“Heil Hitler! Sieg Heil!” the man shouted, as fellow travelers either shook their  heads or flipped on their iPhones. “Race war!” 

Will Bunch,   The Philadelphia Inquirer, 'The far right is losing. That’s why America has never been so dangerous'.


While Kristallnacht in 1938 is widely believed to be the starting point for the Holocaust, many German historians  (e,g, Konrad Heiden) regarded the trigger point as the mass burning of Jewish books in the early 1930s.   

My late German friend Kurt Braun - who had been impressed into the Hitler Youth in 1940-  showed us  (while visiting with Janice in 1978) archival footage of not only Kristallnacht, but the mayhem incited by the Nazis against Socialists and Jews - as well as mass book burnings - such as in Nuremburg.

He took pains to point out, in terms of the latter,  that the mass incineration of Jewish books was indeed the starting point for what later would become the Holocaust.  According to Kurt (from conversation on audio tape): 

"Hitler believed that Jewish ideas, which he associated with Karl Marx, were like toxic rubbish.  He believed they had to be exterminated first which then also led to the extermination of bodies in his 'final solution'.

This makes sense if one reads Heiden's book (The Fuehrer ) as well as  well as Peter Longerich's :'Wannsee: The Road to the Final Solution',  Both make clear that from the time of mass bonfires of books nearly a decade before, the final solution for Jewish bodies was already being planned.    As Kurt pointed out, "Hitler admitted as much in his 'Mein Kampf'. "  And in fact if readers avail themselves of either of two PBS documentaries ('Inside The Nazi State') or The U.S. and the Holocaust',

Episode 3: “The Homeless, Tempest-Tossed” (1942 - ) | The U.S. and the Holocaust | Ken Burns | PBS


 They will see this borne out and supported by multiple documents as well as footage from the likes of Josef Goebbels, Rudolph Hess et al.  Now even more evidence in the form of archival photos has emerged from the Yad Vashem's World Holocaust Remembrance Center.  (One such released image is shown at the top of post with S.A. goons carrying hundreds of books to be burned.  The photos were taken by Nazi photographers, and as Yad Vashem noted, they showed clearly - along  with Kristallnacht and the mayhem in the streets - how the accelerating violence was "part of a meticulously coordinated porgrom carried out by Nazi authorities."

All of these images and the cited documentaries provide an early warning of what's happening in our own country,  PEN America  has noted, for example, an extraordinary number of books now scheduled to be banned after a surge in efforts to do so by parent advocacy groups, right wing extremist and their political instigator allies in the GOP congress. Authors including Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid]s Tale, have also denounced a  an “overzealous” law   in Missouri banning the distribution of dozens of books “harmful to minors”. Bear in mind, as Konrad Heiden pointed out (op. cit.) banning was the first step to mass burning of books in the 3rd Reich.

 At the same time there’s also been an enormous increase in the yen to censor  books, which is not abating.    The ALA  alone has documented more than 729 efforts to remove nearly 1,600 titles over 2021.  Many of these actions involving parents or parents’ groups incited into educational interference by Repuke politiicos anxious to incite a “wedge issue” and appropriate their power against Dems.

 Among the books targeted is MAUS, by Art Spiegelman,  documenting his family’s experiences under the Nazis.  One would have thought this book would be at the top of reading lists for its historical value alone, but clearly the Repukes don’t want anyone tying their brand to the Nazis or 1930s fascists.  Never mind author Russ Bellant has already do0e so.(Old Nazis, The New Right and The Republican PartySouth End Press, 1990.)

 Couple all of this with the rise of antisemitic violence, including more than 2,700 attacks on Jewish sites (including Synagogues) in the past year and there is definite cause for worry- especially as we know the pro Trump MAGA fascists aren't about to just take their phony patriot gear and go home.

In this context, one screwball cited in an FT article last weekend is Moms for Liberty member Tiffany Justice who barked:

  This is not book banning! That is a false narrative created by left radicals and progressives because they’ve been losing control of our schools for the past 40 years. It’s about curating a child’s library not to include certain content.

In other words, book banning, dodo.

Tiffany the Tigress went on to yowl that: 

“Marxist ideology has taken over American education”

 Then citing “graphic sexual content” and “toxic critical race theory. 

Which btw is not taught at all below college level.  See my earlier post on this codswallop:

All this has prompted one author of a banned book (Amir Soltani) to ask: ‘Who guards the guards? Will we replace librarians with Mullahs?”

All  of us as citizens do! That is guard the ramparts of our democracy and liberty. Not the false liberty (to spout hate and lies)  offered by the Moms for Liberty - who, truth be told, almost outdo Hitler, i.e. with the naming of his "National Socialist Party".   Read Thomas Jefferson's 'Notes on Virginia' and his admonition to citizens on the need for their minds to be improved. That includes being grounded in recent history - which I peg as the last 100 years. Not the last ten or twenty.  As George Santayana wrote: 

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” 


 See Also:

by Chuck Idelson | November 7, 2022 - 7:45am | permalink

Excerpt:

Warning signs are everywhere.

  • An escalation of violent threats through mass media, social media, the dark web and internet message boards that culminated in the attempted kidnapping of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the attempted murder of her husband, Paul Pelosi. They’re also acting to “monitor” and intimidate voters at drop boxes and the polls on election day
  • The most openly racist campaigns in years funded by corporate and super rich donors who profited from Trump’s policies. The blitzkrieg, aided by fear mongering, gerrymandering and voter suppression, and often feckless Democratic response, is poised to win control of the House and potentially the Senate, and expand Republican control in many states.

And:

GOP Official Demands Schools Teach "Socialism Caused The Holocaust" - Why This Amounts To Educational Malpractice 

And: