The Hidden Holocaust: Our Civilizational Crisis

Part 1: The Holocaust in History

1. “Hidden Holocaust”

As we are all aware, the term “Holocaust” is traditionally used to refer to the “systematic, bureaucratic state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime”, during the Second World War. The word “Holocaust” is a Greek word, which means “sacrifice by fire.” It conveys an event, the scale and horror of which, transformed the course of world history. Moreover, it’s often seen as a crime against humanity that is unparalleled and unique.

This, we cannot dispute. The Nazi Holocaust was, indeed, a uniquely horrific genocide, whose enormity and systematic character is barely imaginable, designed to exterminate wholly the Jewish people, physically, socially, culturally, from the face of the Earth.

But what then, do we mean by a “hidden holocaust”? This term conveys the reality of a campaign of global homicide, murder, whose scale and enormity is such that one feels that the word “holocaust” does, certainly loosely speaking, apply. It is “hidden”, in the sense that, although experienced by millions of people around the world both historically and today, it remains invisible, officially unacknowledged.

This “hidden holocaust”, is escalating, accelerating, intensifying; according to all expert projections from the social and physical sciences, it may culminate in the extinction of the human species, unless we take immediate drastic action, now.

2. “Civilizational Crisis”

We often hear the word “civilization”. It’s often been used to explain the dynamics of the “War on Terror”, as a clash between two civilizations, the advanced, developed and progressive civilization of the West, and the backward, reactionary civilization of Islam.

As is well known, the man who first formulated this idea as an academic theory of international relations was the Harvard professor and US government adviser, Samuel Huntington.

In early 2007, then Prime Minister Tony Blair described the War on Terror as “a clash not between civilizations”, but rather “about civilization.” The War on Terror is, he proclaimed, a continuation of “the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace the modern world and those who reject its existence.” [“A Battle for Global Values”, Foreign Affairs (January/February 2007)]

But the “hidden holocaust” is not an aberration from our advanced civilization that represents the peak of human development, requiring only some reforms. Rather, the “hidden holocaust” is integral to the very structure, values and activities of our civilization. It is part and parcel of the “global values” of the international political and economic order that underpins industrial civilization. And unless we attempt to transform the nature of our civilization, we will all perish in a holocaust of our own making.

3. The Genocidal Conception of Civilization

The hidden holocaust associated with our modern civilization, began at the beginning of modern civilization itself.

The origins of modern civilization can be found partly in the pivotal voyages for European colonial expansion and trade from the 15th century to the 19th centuries. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, English and other explorers ventured out from their home countries in search of new wealth and new land in all corners of the globe. They went to the continents of America, Africa and Asia and set up colonies and trading outposts.

Colonists and settlers had all sorts of intentions. Some of them had capital, and were simply looking for new investment opportunities. Others were trying to escape lives of hardship at home to make new lives for themselves with a fresh start by settling in the colonies. Others wanted to deliver the message of Christianity to native populations. Almost all of them saw themselves as part of the inevitable historical momentum of progress, bringing the fruits of European civilization to backward peoples.

Whatever the intentions, European expansion involved massive, systematic violence. Violence of all kinds. Wholesale massacres, forced labour camps, disease, malnutrition due to the imposed conditions of economic deprivation, mass suicides due to depression and cultural alienation. As Irving Louis Horowitz argues, for example, “the conduct of classic colonialism was invariably linked with genocide.” [Genocide: State Power and Mass Murder, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1976), p. 19-20.] Below we review some salient examples.

4. American Holocaust

Starting from 1492, when Christopher Columbus is said to have discovered the Americas, the deadly conquest commenced. The complex civilizations of native Americans, over the next few centuries, were devastated. British historian Mark Cocker has reviewed reliable estimates of the death toll:

“[E]leven million indigenous Americans lost their lives in the eighty years following the Spanish invasion of Mexico. In the Andean Empire of the Incas the figure was more than eight million. In Brazil, the Portuguese conquest saw Indian numbers dwindle from a pre-Columbian total of almost 2,500,000 to just 225,000. And to the north of Mexico… Native Americans declined from an original population of more than 800,000 by the end of the nineteenth century. For the whole of the Americas some historians have put the total losses as high as one hundred million.” [Mark Cocker, Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold: Europe’s Conquest of Indigenous Peoples (New York: Grove Press, 1998), p. 5]

Although the majority of these deaths occurred due to the impact of European diseases, disease alone does not explain the variations of death toll rates in different parts of the Americas. The key factors in which diseases operated were ultimately the kinds of repressive colonial social formations imposed on natives by European invaders, consisting of different matrices of forced labour regimes in mines and plantations, mass enslavement for personal domestic use of colonists, religious and cultural dislocation, and so on.

As David Stannard concludes in his extensive study of the genocide, which he describes as an “American Holocaust”, these factors accelerated and intensified the mere impact of disease. He further describes the colonists’ strategic thinking:

“At the dawn of the fifteenth century, Spanish conquistadors and priests presented the Indians they encountered with a choice: either give up your religion and culture and land and independence, swearing allegiance ‘as vassals’ to the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown, or suffer ‘all the mischief and damage’ that the European invaders choose to inflict upon you.” [David Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 255]

This binary choice, put to the Native Americans five centuries ago, bears an unnerving resemblance to the rhetoric underpinning the “War on Terror” today, “you are either with us or against us.”

5. African Holocaust

In Africa, the slave trade contributed substantially to the protracted deaths of vast numbers of people. While slave structures had already existed locally, it certainly did not exist on the vast scale it adopted in the course of European interventions. English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Danes, and Portuguese slave-traders started out by raiding villages off the West African coast. The transatlantic slave trade, lasting from the 1450s to the 1860s, consisted of “a series of exchanges of captives reaching from the interior of sub-Saharan Africa to final purchasers in the Americas.” An observer at the time, British journalist Edward Morel wrote: “For a hundred years slaves in Barbados were mutilated, tortured, gibbeted alive and left to starve to death, burnt alive, flung into coppers of boiling sugar, whipped to death.” [The Black Man’s Burden: The White Man in Africa from the Fifteenth Century to World War I (New York: Modern Reader, 1969)]

From the 16th to 19th centuries, the total death toll among African slaves being in transhipment to America alone was as high as 2 million. Although the many millions who died “in capture and in transit to the Orient or Middle East” is unknown, among the slaves “kept in Africa some 4,000,000 may have died.” Overall, in five centuries between nearly 17,000,000 – and by some calculations perhaps over 65,000,000 – Africans were killed in the transatlantic slave trade. [R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994)].

University of Essex sociologist Robin Blackburn has demonstrated convincingly the centrality of capitalism to the growth of new world slavery, arguing that the profits of slavery accumulated in the “triangular trade” between Europe, Africa and America contributed fundamentally to Britain’s industrialization. For instance, the profits from triangular trade for 1770 would have provided from 20.9 to 55 per cent of Britain’s gross fixed capital formation. [Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London: Verso), p. 572.] The question of capital formation, however, is only part of the story. The trans-atlantic slave trade was an indispensable motor in an emerging capitalist world system under the mantle of the British empire. The mechanization of cotton textiles, originally produced in American plantations manned by African slaves, was overwhelmingly the driving force in British industrialization. [CK Harley and NFR Crafts, “Cotton Textiles and Industrial Output Growth”, Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (1994, no. 420)]

6. Indian Holocaust

In his landmark study, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso, 2001), historian Mike Davis shows how British imperial policy systematically converted droughts in South Asia and South Africa into foreseeable but preventable deadly famines.

In India, between 5.5 and 12 million people died in an artificially-induced famine, although millions of tonnes of grains were in commercial circulation. Rice and wheat production had been above average for the previous three years, but most of the surplus had been exported to England. “Londoners were in effect eating India’s bread.” Under “free market” rules, between 1877 and 1878, grain merchants exported a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat to Europe while millions of Indian poor starved to death.

Crucially, Davis argues that these people died “not outside the modern world system, but in the very process of being forcibly incorporated into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of liberal capitalism; many were murdered by the application of utilitarian free trade principles.”

7. Division of the World

This violence was, therefore, not merely accidental to the European imperial project. It was integral, systematic, as a solution to the problem of native resistance.

Between about 1870 and 1914, European imperial policies received a new lease of life, resulting in the intense scramble for control over eastern Asian and African territories. Almost the entire world was divided up under the formal or informal political rule of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, the USA, and Japan. Between themselves, in Africa for instance they acquired 30 new colonies and 110 million subjects. African resistance was brutally crushed. Consider, for example, the 1904 uprising of the Hereros, a tribe in southwest Africa, against German occupation. The German response was to drive all 24,000 of them into the desert to starve to death; others who surrendered were worked to death in forced labour camps. [Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa: White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent, 1876-1912 (London: Random House, 1991).]

During this period, we can already see drastic inequalities in the international system. By 1880, the per capita income in the developed countries was approximately double that of the ‘Third World’. By 1913, it was three times higher, and by 1950, five times higher. Similarly, the per capita share of GNP in the industrialized countries of the developed core was in 1830 already twice that of the Third World, becoming seven times as high by 1913. [E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (London: Abacus, 1987), p. 15]

In summary, for five hundred years, hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples were slaughtered, decimated, deported, enslaved, starved, exterminated, impoverished, and forcibly assimilated into an emerging world system dominated by Western Europe. This was how the global values and politico-economic structures of our civilization came into being. Globalization… the bloody legacy of a 500-year killing machine.

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is the author of The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (Overlook, 2006) and The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Olive Branch, 2005), among other books. He teaches international relations at the University of Sussex, and directs the Institute for Policy Research & Development in London. Read other articles by Nafeez, or visit Nafeez's website.

26 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Neal said on November 26th, 2007 at 12:05pm #

    Well,

    Likely the greatest slaughter of a discreet group of people in all history is the slaughter in the Indian subcontinent in which 80 million people were killed by the Muslim invaders between 1000 and 1525. Such, you will note, is the view of some rather renowned historians including, Will Durant and KS Lal. This is what Durant writes in his famous book “The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage” (page 459):

    …the Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within. Almost all the Muslims of South Asia are descendants of weaker elements of the population who had succumbed to forcible Islamic conversion.

    Such events mostly pre-date the last five hundred years of slaughter by Westerners. But, it shows that mankind, not just the West, is capable of being pretty terrible. The sin of the Indians was to believe in what the Muslim invaders thought to be an unacceptable religion.

    And, by the way, that is why Afghanistan, with its beautiful – now destroyed – Buddhist statue, has no Buddhists. They were all massacred for their unacceptable beliefs.

    My point is not to dump on Muslim bad deeds. My point is to note that history is filled with bad deeds committed in the name of the perpetrator’s notions of what is good and evil. That is not unique to Muslims; it is not unique to the West; it is not unique to the East. It is, unfortunately, the way mankind is.

    So, I take exception to the approach in the article as, given the chance, anyone and everyone can be pretty nasty.

  2. kikz said on November 26th, 2007 at 1:27pm #

    also negated, but which deserves an honorary mention…

    a number of “black african captives” were sold to european slave traders by other black africans.

    and don’t forget white european slavery, by white europeans on white europeans. penal colonies; georgia, pennsylvania. also australia.

    nods to neal, above.

    manifest destiny, be damned.

  3. Nafeez said on November 26th, 2007 at 4:17pm #

    These are rather instructive, and revealing, comments. I’m not entirely surprised, however, at the knee-jerk defensiveness of these responses, which appear to be an attempt to trivialise and render irrelevant, or of little significance, the atrocities associated with the rise of the modern world system. I think the purpose of the article was made quite clear throughout — not to carry out a comprehensive survey of all terrible violence ever committed by all civilizations that have ever existed; but to understand the nature of “our civilization.” Of course, every civilization in human history has conducted all sorts of horrifying atrocities, including Muslim civilization (I would stop short at describing it as “Islamic”, in the sense of being justified by Islam, which opens up yet another debate entirely). I find it rather odd that the first commentator takes issue with my approach in focusing on “our civilization’s” atrocities, on the grounds that “history is filled with bad deeds.” So is the implication that we can only write about the bad deeds of history by writing about all of them at the same time, or otherwise not talking about them?

    The truth is, there is something unique about “our civilization,” something both that both quantitatively and qualitatively surpasses previous empires. It represents, for the first time, the emergence of a truly global politico-economic system, which has integrated and subordinated disparate parts of the world through a process of systematic violence that has resulted in the direct and indirect deaths of thousands of millions of indigenous peoples from Africa, America and Asia. We are dealing here with a new phenomenon, the *systematization* and *globalization* of genocidal violence.

    It should also be noted that the history presented about Muslim rule in India is far too simplistic. A Buddhist author points out: “When one looks more carefully at the history, however, one finds ample evidence of friendly interaction and cooperation between the Buddhists and Muslims in Central and South Asia in the political, economic and philosophical spheres. There were many alliances, a great deal of trade, and frequent exchange of spiritual methods for self-improvement. This does not deny the fact that a number of negative incidents did occur between the two peoples.However, geopolitics and the drive for economic and territorial expansion far outweighed religious factors in motivating most of these conflicts, despite militant leaders often having used the call for a holy war to rally troops. Moreover, sane and responsible rulers far outnumbered fanatical leaders on both sides in shaping policies and events.” [http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/e-books/unpublished_manuscripts/historical_interaction/history_cultures_intro.html]

    The Indian historian and activist MN Roy argues: “Mohammad Ibn Kassim conquered Sindh with the active assistance of the Jats and other agricultural communities oppressed by the Brahman rulers. Having conquered the country, he followed the policy of the early Arab conquerors. ‘He employed the Brahmans in pacifying the country by taking them into confidence. He allowed them to repair their temples and to follow their own religion as before, placed the collection of revenue in their hands, and employed them in continuing the traditional system of local administration.’ ” (Elliot, “History of India) ”
    [http://www.indianmuslims.info/documents/historical_role_of_islam_m_n_roy/chapter_7_islam_and_india.html]

    Some useful preliminary readings are available here, by an Indian Hindu writer, on how the narrative of a monolithic Islam completely destroying native Hindu and Buddhist heritage was concocted by British colonial historians. That’s not to say that atrocities and repression did not happen, but that the blanket historical narrative suggested here is questionable. See http://india_resource.tripod.com/hist-2nation.html

    Finally, on the sale of African slaves by Africans themselves — once again, we need to be careful about what this is supposed to imply. That Africans were responsible for their own oppression? Presumably that is not the proposal, since it’s obviously a huge distortion of the historical record. Colonial and imperial systems of rule were always premised fundamentally on complex systems of collaboration and manipulation of local elites, not only in the case of the trans-atlantic slave trade, but throughout the imperial peripheries. Strategies of divide-and-rule, for instance, were implemented across South and North American by Spanish, British and French colonists, turning tribe against tribe and encouraging the escalation of inter-tribal warfare, in order to secure territorial control. British divide-and-rule strategy was used to turn Hindus and Muslims against one another in India. Such strategy always relied on the co-optation of local elites against the interests of majority populations, in order to weaken native resistance to imperial consolidation. This not only fails to detract from the scale of “holocausts” wrought by the emergence of modern Western civilization, it highlights precisely some of the unscrupulous methods of pre-emption and deception it relied on, which are still being practiced today, for instance in the fostering of Sunni-Shia conflict in Iraq and elsewhere.

  4. Neal said on November 26th, 2007 at 5:36pm #

    Nafeez,

    You write: “Of course, every civilization in human history has conducted all sorts of horrifying atrocities, including Muslim civilization (I would stop short at describing it as “Islamic”, in the sense of being justified by Islam, which opens up yet another debate entirely).”

    Not to be too technical, but in fact it was exactly Muslim religious doctrine which placed the Hindus and Buddhists at risk. They do not belong to the permitted religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism) but are classed with the pagan religions, so far as Islamic religious theology and law are concerned. Hence, they were given the choice, in the context of facing an Islamic army of conquest, of converting to Islam or the sword.

    That differs from the choice for non-Muslims of permitted religions who are, according to the theological writings, to be given the choice to accept a pact of concession (i.e. a dhimma) in which the right to practice their permitted religions would, with restrictions, be permitted, to convert to Islam or to face the sword.

    In any event, I was not trivializing the West’s doings. I was noting that the approach in the article trivialized the events by making Western exploitation the center of world history, which is simply bad history.

  5. ashley said on November 26th, 2007 at 8:59pm #

    Good article, good comments and good rebuttal from Nafeez in the middle there.

    I take small issue – and I mean small – with the initial characterization of the Jewish holocaust because a) the number are clearly absurd if you study the pre-war population of European Russian Jews, subtract the number of ‘Holocaust Survivors’ and then try to derive a total of those who lost lives during a period when over 60,000,000 Christians of various ethnicities lost theirs, not to mention the Jewish-Bolshevik led far larger and less disputed (numerically) Holocaust in Ukraine in the 30′s.

    More importantly, the Jewish Holocaust has been manipulated to assume a place in the narratively-derived civilisational identity out of all proportion to either cultural or historical facts to a degree which, strangely enough, bolsters so-called ‘ anti-semitic’ proponents who deplore, in many cultures and for a couple of millenia now, the way in which this immigrant, vibrant, nomadic cultural minority manages to insinuate itself into the ‘host culture’ such that sooner or later they end up controlling the middle and upper middle organs of such society, principally the commercial sectors including political, media, education and general professions.

    To be more succinct: even granting that the Holocaust narrative is more or less accurate and therefore horrific, it’s nature is qualitatively VERY different from the other ones you describe, quite reasonably in my view, which really were truly genocidal and designed to achieve geographical or political control of a region or culture, whereas the Jewish one was designed, however misguidedly, simply for an indigenous population to take back control of their own culture.

    Very important difference. Unfortunately, until it is possible to deconstruct the Jewish holocaust factually, it will remain as the model even though it is a very unusual one, both because of what is purported to have happened and also why it happened – i.e. for an indigenous culture to cleanse itself of an unwanted foreign influence. Again, not the same AT ALL as the various examples of large modern-history holocausts that remain under our collective radar because none of those cultures/ethnicities have organised themselves to control much of the media and political elites who set the main agenda in terms of telling the ongoing narrative of who and what we are as a civilisation historically and to this very day.

  6. Nafeez said on November 27th, 2007 at 4:20am #

    On the point about “Muslim religious doctrine”, again, this is an oversimplifying perspective of a very complex subject — Islam is not a single monolithic block, as is conventionally believed. It consists of many different interpretations and schools of law, which allow for variability. Most Muslims, and most Muslim scholars, would argue that progressive and liberal interpretations are in fact closer to the tenore of Islamic texts, i.e. the Qur’an and Prophet traditions. For instance, there are passages in the Qur’an which give clear instructions on establishing peaceful relations not merely with the “People of the Book”, i.e. Jews, Christians and Zorastrians, but also “polytheists”. One verse instructed Muhammed to seek peaceful co-existence with polytheists in Mecca under his rule: “Say [O Muhammad!]: ‘O disbelievers! (109.1) I do not worship that which you worship (109.2). Nor do you worship that which I worship (109.3). Nor I shall worship that which you worship (109.4). Nor do you worship that which I worship (109.5). You have your religion, and I have my religion’ (109.6).”
    http://www.quranicstudies.com/article127.html

    There was also considerable debate among Muslim scholars on how to interpret the meaning of the term “People of the Book”, which many argued depended fundamentally on the context of Muslim encounters with people of other faiths. Hence, Muslim rule in India compelled theologians to reflect critically and creatively on these issues, leading many to rule that Hindus and Buddhists were indeed “People of the Book”. The problem is that those many Muslim rulers who practiced oppression and violence, shifted the goalposts whenever they felt like, regardless of religious doctrine.

    Hence, in India, the Mughal emperor Akbar, was very tolerant towards Hindus. Yet his successor Aurangzeb was far less tolerant.

    In any case, the result was that while many areas of Muslim rule were indisputably repressive, many other areas of Muslim rule were indisputably quite open.

    As Karen Armstrong notes: “After Muhammad’s death, Jews and Christians were never required to convert to Islam but were allowed to practice their religions freely in the Islamic empire. Later Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs were also counted among the People of the Book. ”

    Hence my caution at using the term “Islamic” in this context.

    Finally, on this point: “I was noting that the approach in the article trivialized the events by making Western exploitation the center of world history, which is simply bad history.” By world history, you mean when? This is not an article about general world history. It’s an article about the emergence of the modern world system, since around the 16th century until now. Within that period of around 500 years, Western Europe has, indeed, been the centre, core, metropole of the emerging capitalist world system. Yet its role in that system is routinely mystified or misrepresented. Read, for example, the writings of Cambridge historian Niall Ferguson, who argues that the British empire was all about spreading freedom, prosperity and the rule of law. These sorts of misrepresentations obscure the fact that the “civilizing mission” was wrought with systematic plunder and destruction of the lives and livelihoods of native peoples.

  7. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 7:16am #

    Nafeez,

    Note that my point is about how Muslims, in connection with their invasion of the Indian subcontinent, interpreted Islam, not about how modern liberals of non-Muslim background interpret Islam. Again: those who invaded the Indian subcontinent – perhaps misunderstanding their own faith – concluded that the inhabitants being of non-permitted faiths, had the choice to convert or be put to the sword. About that, there is no doubt.

    Also, in lands ruled by Christians and Zoroastrians and other permitted religions, Muslims – again, perhaps misunderstanding their own faith – would offer three possibilities, namely, to enter into a pact of concession (i.e. a dhimma), to convert or to be put to the sword.

    And, again: the vast majority (e.g. 95+%) of Muslim theologians during the period when Islamic rule was expanding by military means took the position that is consistent with the approach that was, as a matter of historical record, taken. And, that position is the one denoted above. It is, not all that coincidentally, any different from what appears in the Shari’a.

    You also note that Islam is not a monolith. I do not recall claiming that it is. However, Islam does have certain features that distinguish it from, for example, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity and Shintoism.

    It is a mistake to claim that Islam is a formless religion with no doctrines commonly held. That, in my view, is what you are doing. It is a way of deflecting criticism of what Muslims did over the ages.

    In any event, the above noted doctrine was, in fact, rather universally held by all of the major schools of Islam. So, whether or not Islam is a monolith or not, the dominant thinking on the subject, as matters played out historically, is consistent with what I have written.

    Again: so that I am being clear. My reading of the Islamic texts places it among the more interesting of religions. And, like all religions, there is good and bad to be found. In the case of Islam, the bad and the good are something for non-Muslims and, frankly, Muslims to consider, not something to hide behind the distraction that Islam is not a monolith.

  8. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 8:08am #

    Nafeez,

    On your second point, about the topic of the article, my take on modern history differs from yours.

    I have not read Professor Ferguson’s books so I cannot comment on them. My own reading suggests something a bit different than his interpretation (at least based on what you present of it).

    Which is to say: my view is that the West spread itself in order to dominant and exploit, not to spread freedom. However, regardless of what the West had in mind, the West did introduce some new ideas where they conquered or gained influence and had both a negative and a positive impact on such lands.

    In that I have considerable knowledge of this that goes beyond the table top presentation by Ms. Armstrong – about which I can only say that I think her view is plain and simply a radical distortion that does not stand up to even a cursory investigation of fact -, I shall consider the case of the Muslim regions.

    Under Ottoman law, the printing press was outlawed for Muslims. Such had been the case since the time that print technology became available. Interestingly, the technology was not outlawed for Christians or Jews so, not really so coincidentally, Jews and Christians tended to be better educated and to be more open to outside ideas than were Muslims. Such, moreover, tended to open Christians and Jews – although, since Jews were knowledgeable about European Christian prejudice, more Christians than Jews – to the idea of ending Muslim rule over Christians.

    This situation continued for numerous centuries until the early 18th Century when, realizing that the Ottoman Empire required radical reform in order to survive the, by then, obviously more technically advanced Europeans – in considerable part more advanced due to the printing press and its ability to advance the progress of acquiring knowledge -, the Empire (at least in the Turkish regions and in Europe) toyed with the idea of allowing Muslims to have the printing press.

    As with all changes, the idea was resisted as it had revolutionary implications – just as it had in Europe. As a result, it was not to the latter half of the 18th Century that the printing press really made its appearance in a more or less sustained way. In the case of the Arab regions, the printing press did not appear at all for Muslims until the 19th Century, something that placed the Arab regions even further behind the rest of the Ottoman Empire.

    Now, as noted above, Christians and Jews did have access to the printing press from very early and so that by the 19th Century – with the ideas of the French revolution in the air -, the Christians of the empire revolted and, in the end, helped to undermine the Ottoman Empire from within, making the country all but ungovernable. The Europeans, of course, pushed the ideas of the French revolution in Ottoman Europe in order to weaken the Ottoman Empire, which was a shrewd calculation.

    The ideas of the French revolution were those of democracy and freedom and, in the end, the Christians of Ottoman Europe freed themselves under the banner of the notion of freedom that came out of the French Revolution. That was a good thing, at least in my view. On the other hand, European Christians ethnically cleansed whole regions of Europe of its Muslims who, to the Christian population, were hated overlords.

    In Egypt, the conquest of Napoleon brought with it the noted new intellectual notions that were really very alien to the intellectual currents that had ever existed in Arab lands. These ideas (e.g. the European idea of freedom) were absorbed by the intellectual classes and became part of Arab Muslim thinking. So, again: Europeans came to conquer but they did more than conquer.

    And, to note, lastly: Europeans improved the educational system of places like Egypt dramatically.

    So, this is not a simple question, by which we can say that European dominance was wholly bad. What can be said is that it likely was not all well intended but that there were, as the sociologists like to say, latent consequences.

    One needs also to look at what was going on without European meddling. The reality was a stagnant region dominated by outdated, theocratic ideas which kept out the scientific way of thinking and kept the population ignorant, primarily in order to maintain the dominance of a ruling class. The empire ruled over Christians and did not treat them all that well, no matter what Ms. Armstrong claims.

    For example, the playing of bells from Churches was not tolerated even in the early 19th Century when, under pressure from Europe, the Empire relented. So, Ms. Armstrong can say that Christians and Jews could practice their faiths. She cannot say that there were no restrictions, as, in fact, there were severe restrictions which carried substantial legal penalties.

    And, there were severe societal restrictions. These began to fade only with the Tanzimet reforms of the 19th Century by which, for the first time, non-Muslims gained, among other reforms, at least theoretical access to legal protection by gaining the right to testify against a Muslim in Court. Before that time, a non-Muslim had no legal recourse when attacked or otherwise wronged by a Muslim unless there was a Muslim willing to give testimony. And, as with all societal changes anywhere in the world, there was substantial opposition from those who benefited from the old order, namely, Muslims. As a result, the reforms were put in place but not enforced. And, this created even more friction between the religious groups of the Empire, thus driving a further wedge and, in time, tending to tear the Empire apart.

    As I see it, the demise of the Ottoman Empire was more good than bad. That is because the Empire and a stagnant, theocratic order following rules that were outdated. It was not going to reform itself as it was, in its way, stable. Muslims lived as if the world had not changed since the 13th Century. Christians and Jews were severely discriminated against. And, all served the needs of the ruling clique who lived a life of luxury.

  9. Nafeez said on November 27th, 2007 at 8:18am #

    And you’re trying to teach me about “bad history”? The diversity of traditional Muslim legal opinions, as I’ve already noted, is not something modern, it has characterised the faith for centuries. Your whole narrative here that “inhabitants being of non-permitted faiths, had the choice to convert or be put to the sword. About that, there is no doubt” is very much in doubt.

    I do wonder how you calculated with such enviable quantitative precision that “95+%” of Muslim theologians alive during the time of the expansion of Muslim rule advocated this.

    I’ve already made clear that many historians argue that this is precisely what did NOT happen, not only in the case of Indian Hindus and Buddhists, but in the case Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians. I already mentioned the work of the Indian historian MN Roy, who completely refutes your narrative.

    The “historical record” that you point to is very dated literature that it is simply no longer accepted by the vast majority of historians of the Islamic world. As the well-known Arabist De Lace O’ Leary noted in his “Islam at the Crossroads” (1923, p. 8): “History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims, sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.”

    Actually, the Israeli scholar-activist Uri Avnery recently refuted this myth of “Islam and sword” in response to the statements of the Pope. He writes: “How did the Muslim rulers behave for more than a thousand years, when they had the power to ‘spread the faith by the sword?’ Well, they just did not…. The story about ‘spreading the faith by the sword’ is an evil legend, one of the myths that grew up in Europe during the great wars against the Muslims.” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1159094813/

  10. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 8:25am #

    Nafeez,

    Uri Avnery is not a scholar. He is a politician. He is a former extreme right winger who now is an extreme left winger. But, scholar? of what?

    As for the narrative I tell, it is well confirmed in Islamic sources. It is not refuted – at least not in a credible manner.

    As for the view of the legal schools, all four of the major legal schools held to the view I presented.

  11. kikz said on November 27th, 2007 at 9:52am #

    1. “We are dealing here with a NEW phenomenon, the “systematization” and “globalization” of genocidal violence.”

    2. “Finally, on the sale of African slaves by Africans themselves — once again, we need to be careful about what this is supposed to
    imply. That Africans were responsible for their own oppression?

    3. “This is not an article about general world history. It’s an article about the emergence of the modern world system, since around the 16th century until now.”

    4.. “These are rather instructive, and revealing, comments. I’m not entirely surprised, however, at the knee-jerk defensiveness of these responses, which appear to be an attempt to trivialise and render irrelevant, or of little significance, the atrocities associated with the rise of the modern world system

    knee jerk… hardly… :)
    let’s get the facts straight shall we. or, what is the actual point of this exercise? to see your efforts in print, but then piffle down your nose at commentary when called on your progression and procession of illogic?

    modern civilization did not spring fully formed into the world during the 16th century irrespective of influences from prior, more ancient civilizations. for you to suggest so, is idiocy.

    to impose a demarcation line in history and deem factual events prior to that line irrelevant to prop up your essay’s implied supposition, (that as institution, slavery and oppression of whole peoples is to be lain solely at the feet of “modern western europeans”) is disingenuous at best.

    it’s somewhat reminiscent of stateside myth taught as fact in US history books; all southerners were and are traitors in perpetuity, and in their moral turpitude solely invented and practiced black slavery in a vacuum. the north had no slaves, no plantations, no slave ships nor slave markets in their port cities, never profited from black slavery…so the story goes.

    on the explicit subject of indigenous african and american populations, i imply nothing…. i’m stating fact. tribal warfare and the capture/exchange of slaves existed in both cultures, long before europeans arrived to capitalize on or foment it.

    oppression/slavery as concept/practice have no doubt reached their historical zenith by Western Civilization’s empirical global hegemony… but are by no means exclusive to it.

    and in closing,
    if your readership (especially here on DV) by some slim chance at this late date, does NOT already question the validity of ANY empirical historian’s pomp and bullshit – as just such…….
    ultimately, you labor in vain.

  12. Nafeez said on November 27th, 2007 at 10:24am #

    Sorry, I missed your essay on the Ottomon empire when I posted my previous comment above.

    1. The four schools categorically do not hold to the views you presented. In any case, the four schools do not represent the be-all and end-all of classical Muslim fiqh, legal opinion, neither historically nor now, and Muslim jurists from all ages have issued rulings both inside and outside the domains of those schools.

    2. Your narrative, as I’ve noted, is not well-confirmed in “Islamic sources.” I’d like to see which Islamic sources, precisely, you believe confirms your narrative.

    3. Try reading respected historical texts like:

    Arnold, T W.(1913) The Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith. New York

    Cobb, S (1963) Islamic Contributions to Civilization. Washington DC: Avalon

    Menocal, M (2002) Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain, Back Bay

    Cohen, M R (1995) Under crescent and cross, Princeton University

    In such texts, your narrative is not merely refuted. It is non-existent.

    4. Uri Avnery is indeed a scholar. His first book, “Israel Without Zionists”, was published by Macmillan, a reputed US academic press. Whether he is left right or upside down really is not the issue. Does someone have to be a “centrist” to have credibility as a scholar?

    5. Although you arbitrarily dismiss Avnery, you didn’t take objection to my reference to the late O’Leary, a respected scholar of the Middle East, who describes your narrative as an “absurd myth”. Perhaps he too belongs to some unpalatable political category, right-wing, left-wing, or whatever, that automatically renders his argument false?

    6. Like most of your comments above, your essay on the Ottomon empire is replete with unsourced statements and vague allegations. Of course the Ottomon’s engaged in acts of repression, violence and discrimination. As you yourself have stated, which society doesn’t? My point , proved by some of the references I’ve mentioned, is that none of this was justified by Islam. Also, why are you now shifting the goal-posts? From first trying to insist “Islam advocated forced conversion or death”, you’ve now shifted to “Islam advocated er discrimination”, to “well, the Ottomon’s in particular implemented some discriminatory practices to do with printing presses and church bells, and… ”

    You would sound more credible, perhaps, if you focused on realities, such as the Ottomon’s complicity in the Armenian genocide. But the insistence on the idea that Jews and Christians were “severely discriminated” by the Ottomon’s is a gross distortion.

    John L. Esposito, a professor of Religion and International Politics at the Georgetown University, has dealt with some of these very conventional mythologies in his “The Islamic Threat: Myth of Reality” (Oxford University Press, 1992, p. 39):

    “For many non-Muslim populations in Byzantine and Persian territories already subjugated to foreign rulers, Islamic rule meant an exchange of rulers, the new ones often more flexible and tolerant, rather than a loss of independence. Many of these populations now enjoyed greater local autonomy and often paid lower taxes… Religiously, Islam proved a more tolerant religion, providing greater religious freedom for Jews and indigenous Christians.”

    Does this mean the Ottomon’s provided a paradise on earth for Jews and Christians? Of course not. Does it mean they did not face discrimination? Of course not. But by this point, I fail to understand what the relevance is here.

    7. You seem to be trying to imply that the evils of the Ottomon’s, particularly towards its minorities, allows us in hindsight to conclude that its collapse was a “good”, overall; because the Europeans, however destructive, did bring certain benefits, such as erm, the ideas of freedom, Napoloenic intellectual currents, and improved educational systems in… erm “places like Egypt”. [a bemused note: What other places "like Egypt" are there in the world my friend? What does the phrase "like Egypt" even mean?] You’ve just turned history on its head. I would recommend reading Maria Rosa Menocal’s “The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain”, which traces the European Renaissance to trends in Muslim political as well as scientific thought and culture in Spain. Even Christopher Hitchens, in his review of the book in the Nation, concludes that it “is no exaggeration to say that what we presumptuously call ‘Western’ culture is owed in large measure to the Andalusian enlightenment….”

    8. If you want a fair, reasonable and well-documented assessment of the actual impact of the Anglo-European imperial subversion of the Ottoman empire, check out Said K Aburish’s “A Brutal Friendship: The west and the Arab elite” (London: Indigo), which charts in grim detail how the British, French and Americans carved out more than 12 fictional nation-states in which archaic socio-economic structures that marginalized majority Arab populations (including Egypt!) were preserved and perpetuated.

  13. Nafeez said on November 27th, 2007 at 10:55am #

    By way of clarification, my last comment above is a response to Neal. This is a response to kikz.

    “modern civilization did not spring fully formed into the world during the 16th century irrespective of influences from prior, more ancient civilizations. for you to suggest so, is idiocy.”

    Firstly, where did I suggest so? I didn’t suggest anything of the sort. Certainly I didn’t say that the modern world system “sprang fully formed” in the 16th century. If the idea is to say that I “implied” that, well, I’m afraid I didn’t imply or suggest it. The modern world system, as I argued in the original article quite clearly, began to take form primarily on the basis of the “discoveries” of new continents in the 15th century, a process that accelerated and intensified over the next few hundred years as settlers, colonists, merchants, missionaries, and other agents increasingly spread outward from their European homelands. This was certainly a new phase in history. I don’t know a single historian of empire who doesn’t acknowledge this.

    “to impose a demarcation line in history and deem factual events prior to that line irrelevant to prop up your essay’s implied supposition, (that as institution, slavery and oppression of whole peoples is to be lain solely at the feet of “modern western europeans”) is disingenuous at best.”

    Secondly, it is a completely meaningless statement to insist without any kind of historical specifity that “modern civilization” emerged on the basis of “influences” from “prior, more ancient civilizations.” Which influences? Which civilizations? Are you talking about, for instance, the “influence” of Greek thought? And/or Roman political culture? Once again, while interesting and useful lines of inquiry, none of this vague beating-around-the-bush serves to explain how precisely the modern world system emerged, became a viable “system”, and expanded sufficiently so as to take-on a “world” scale. This process of modern western expansion was precisely through the systematization and globalization of genocidal violence.

    What I don’t get, is why my reference to the systematization and globalization of genocidal violence since the 15th century, somehow proves your claim that I’m supposing that “slavery and oppression of whole peoples is to be lain solely at the feet of ‘modern western europeans’”. Again, a very odd interpretation of my argument. I do not suppose anywhere in the article that all slavery and oppression is only the fault of modernity. Rather I’m talking about a specific subject of history, the rise of modernity, the period after the “discoveries”, the roots of “our civilization”. Of course slavery and oppression existed before our civilization.

    Why does talking about this modern period necessitate that I must “balance” the discussion by talking about “ancient” atrocities too? How does talking about “modern western european” violence since the 16th century automatically entail a negation or denial of all civilizational violence that ever happened prior to that on behalf of say, native peoples?

    More to the point, which particular “factual events prior” to around the 15th century are essential for understanding the subject of the article, which is the rise of the modern world system and its associated practices of genocidal violence? In what way does talking about the Ottomon empire, or the fact that slavery previously existed in Africa, actually contribute to understanding how and why modern civilization came about?

    The only possible polemical purpose I can think of is to trivialize the violence of the modern world system as if it is nothing more than the continuation of the same kind of barbarism that “human nature” has always been inclined to indulge in, throughout history. As I’ve argued, the scale and character of colonial genocidal violence during this period (and I repeat, amounting to thousands of millions of dead natives worldwide) bears witnesses to its being quantitatively and qualitatively distinctive to previous comparable historical episodes.

    Sorry, by the way, if you feel I’m “piffling” down my nose at you. You musn’t take disagreement so personally.

  14. rgaylor said on November 27th, 2007 at 11:47am #

    My two cents worth … it appears that irrespective of which civilization tried to civilize according to their local standards the underlying rationale and the resultant rationalization/excuse was religious.

    A former prof used to love to goad students with his comment to the effect that the veneer of civilization is thin to non-existent. I would suggest that the term civilization has nothing to do with decent behavior, and that, in fact, to behave in a civilized manner is to behave in an anti-human manner.

    But then, unlike all of you, I am no expert … you know … a has been drip under pressure? Ex Spurt?

    G
    ten.skrowtentvpnull@rolyagr

  15. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 12:15pm #

    Nafeez,

    Clearly, you do not follow my point. I do not claim – and look back to be sure – that Muslims conquerors were mindless theocrats carrying a sword in one hand and the Koran in the other. I claimed no such thing. Nothing of the sort. In fact, the leaders in the early years of the faith were a rather shrewd and brilliant group, all things considered.

    What I claimed is that, in conquering, Muslim armies have historically tended to adhere to classical theological notions, well established in accordance with the view of the existing legal schools which, in fact, did hold basically to the views I ascribed to them.

    As for your comments about Avnery, writing a book does not make a person a scholar. I do not take him to be a scholar. I take him to be a politician with an ax to grind. And, since he writes well, he is able to find a publisher.

    I also do not claim that a left winger or a right winger cannot be a good scholar. You missed my point. In fact, I take Marxist historian Maxine Rodinson to be among the greatest historian of Islam – most particularly about Mohammad. I also take alleged right winger – in fact, wrongly alleged – Bernard Lewis to be a great scholar of Islam. They hold diametrically opposed views about the world and neither is a centrist.

    As for other scholars I would recommend. I take Arab scholar Zeine N. Zeine to be a great scholar of early Arab nationalism. I take the Islamicist Ignaz Goldhizer to be a great scholar of Islam – whose reading is widely acknowledged to be the greatest of any scholar of the subject of all time.

    I also take David Cook to be a great scholar of Jihad in early Islam. I take Patricia Crone to be a great scholar of the early centuries of Islam. I take Vahakn Dadrian to be the greatest historian of what happened to the Armenians in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. I can drop a dozen other names of scholars I hold in high regard.

    On the other hand, I do not take Esposito to be a great scholar. I note the book you cite and recall that it suggested that the Islamists were not dangerous to the US. History has not supported that view as Islamists have found ways to kill a lot of Americans.

    I also do not recall claiming that Islam is intolerant compared to other religions. I claimed that Islamic doctrine was not compatible with the existence of non-permitted religions. That is clearly the case in the Indian subcontinent where Muslims treated non-Muslims as worthless garbage, killing entire nations off – 80 million people all told.

    And I claimed that there was a cost to living under Islamic rule, namely, that there were restrictions that non-Muslims suffered under that rule. Among the costs I mentioned is the fact – and it is a fact – that non-Muslims could not testify against a Muslim in court. That meant that non-Muslims were at the whim of Muslims who, if so inclined, might rob a non-Muslim blind or kill a non-Muslim, in which case, justice was not necessarily available at all if the testimony of a non-Muslim were necessary.

    And, I noted that Church bells were illegal. Such, I noted, was a point of contention which only changed in the 19th Century – and something which Muslims resisted.

    Nowhere, however, do I claim that Europeans were wonderful rulers over non-Christians. And, I avoid making comparisons as, in fact, I think they are not readily made.

    Lastly, why would I claim that Hitchens is a scholar of Islamic history? He is not. He does not even claim to be. He has written on a lot of topics. But, I would never cite to him about Islamic history any more than I would cite to Avnery on anything.

    You inquire how the topic came up. My point was to answer your comment. Also, my general point was to counter the theory set forth in the article, which lays the worlds problems all at the feet of the West, which, to me, is a nonsense view.

  16. dan elliott said on November 27th, 2007 at 12:45pm #

    Cutting to the chase:

    To: “Neal”, whoever you are:

    Question: Do you agree or disagree with the proposition that “Israel” has a “right to exist”?

    Thank you.
    Dan Elliott
    Sacramento

  17. dan elliott said on November 27th, 2007 at 1:30pm #

    Nafeez,

    Along with the major continental scale profit-seeking incursions into non-Western societies you describe, (quite well IMO), there is one other which I think may well deserve inclusion in the same category: the attempted but only partially & temporarily successful conquest & colonization of China.

    This is a story all about Opium Addiction and the profits from same, so substantial that Her Britannic Majesty saw fit to provide the services of the Royal Navy to the opium entrepreneurs, led by Jardine-Mathieson Company and the House of Sassoon, for the purpose of forcing the Ching government to allow the creation of mass addiction among its subjects.

    I haven’t had time to really investigate Jardine-Mathiesen, but I have come across considerable information on the Sassoon family, who after a few decades of dope peddling acquired enough affluence to be accepted — in spite of Jewish and visibly non-white origins — in the top levels of European Society. Sir Victor Sassoon was an intimate of Edward VII; the two enjoyed a friendly rivalry as breeders of racehorses.
    The Mumbai branch of the family resisted the call of the European capitals: they had a good thing where they were, dominating the business and banking activity in that city until 1948, when they “made Aliyeh” en masse to the nascent Jewish State.

    These facts can be checked simply by typing “Sassoon” into Google. The family history is full of wondrous tales of adventure, miraculous escapes, rising from the ashes, crowned heads, great poets and other amazing phenomena. But what ever became of all the “returnees” from Bombay?

  18. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 1:57pm #

    dan elliott,

    I do not think that countries have rights, only people do. If you mean to ask whether Jews have a right to a state, the short answer is “Yes,” to the same extent that any other group of people have a right to a state. I do not see how they are less entitled than any other group. Do you?

    If you mean to ask whether Jews have the right to a state in its current location, I would also answer “Yes.” I do not see how the situation in Israel is any different than scores of other states where people have been displaced at the time a state was created. Pakistan’s separation from India comes to mind as a state which displaced more than 18 times the number of people that have been displaced in connection with Israel’s creation. And that does not include the million refugees who died in connection therewith.

    Similarly, modern Poland came into existence with the displacement of more people than were displaced in connection with Israel’s creation. The same for the former Czechoslovakia. The same for Greece, by a wide margin. The same for Turkey, in which wholesale ethnic cleansing of Christians occurred, not to mention genocide. Etc., etc.

    What makes Israel a special case is that Arabs refuse entirely to accept Israel’s creation. So, they have made a fight of it, something that Germany did not do when 2.5 million ethnic Germans were marched at gunpoint to the German border after WWII and told never to return – something they still cannot do. Such people, so that we are clear, were not part of the German army and were not settled in other countries during WWII. They were, instead, ethnic Germans who had lived in the homes they lost over the course of many centuries.

    That the establishment and maintenance of a state by Jews, in Israel or anywhere else, has been a source of friction, I do not deny. However, contention and fighting does not cancel the right to a state any more than the horrors caused by Germans, French, Brits, Egyptians, Sudanese, Indians, Japanese, Pakistanis, Chinese, etc., etc. having states is a basis to deny a state to such peoples. Were that the case, only angels would have states, something that none of Israel’s accusers are, the last time I looked.

  19. dan elliott said on November 27th, 2007 at 4:11pm #

    Hahaha! What nonsense! Neal baby, you start with non-sequitur & go downhill from there:)

    But I do thank you for making clear where you’re coming from: you’re just another tiny cog in the Zionist Ideological State Apparatus, trying to justify the unjustifiable. Presenting assertion after unsupported assertion, all to waste other people’s time.

  20. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 4:40pm #

    dan elliott,

    What is the basis for your opinion?

    As I see it, you are full of beeswax. But, I await your explanation of how Israel is inherently different or worse than Germany, a country no one seems to want to eliminate.

  21. dan elliott said on November 27th, 2007 at 5:10pm #

    Coincidence? Synchronicity?

    Minit ago I mentioned wondering what had become of the once high & mighty Sassoons? Well, here’s one now! Excerpt, scroll down for full article:

    >”Aggies for Israel and the Davis community are appalled that Ward Churchill will be speaking at UC Davis,” said Yoni Sassoon, vice president of Aggies for Israel in an e-mail interview.

    >Sassoon, a sophomore economics major, said Churchill’s lecture title alone is offensive and incendiary.

    >”Zionism does not share a ‘common theme’ with Nazism and saying that it does is clearly false and openly inflammatory,” he said. “Ward Churchill and the extreme groups that are hosting him are dangerously using false comparisons between Jews and Nazis to defame Israel.”

    >”As students, we hope this speech does not [incite] hate on campus,” Sassoon said.”
    Ward Churchill to speak on campus tonight
    Controversial essayist polarizes student groups
    By: PATRICK McCARTNEY
    Posted: 11/27/07
    Free-speech activist and former University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill will speak tonight at 8 p.m. in 123 Sciences Lecture Hall. Churchill, who has been widely criticized for his controversial Sept. 11 essay, will give a talk titled “Zionism, Manifest Destiny, and Nazi Lebensraumpolitik: Three Variations on a Common Theme.”

    Churchill’s visit is sponsored by the Students for Peace & Justice and co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Student Association and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan.

    “We decided to invite Professor Churchill due to the fact that he is a prolific scholar and award-winning professor in demand around the country and internationally. Also, his case is widely recognized as a test case for Academic Freedom around the country – and given the current repressive atmosphere at UC Davis in that arena, it seems especially appropriate,” said Amir Ali, an event organizer and junior neurobiology, physiology and behavior major.

    After an investigation, the University of Colorado fired Churchill in 2006 for plagiarism and academic integrity violations. In addition, critics have questioned whether or not he is American Indian, as he claims to be.

    Churchill contends his firing was in retaliation for his essay on Sept. 11 titled “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens”, in which he wrote that the Americans working in the Twin Towers were “little Eichmanns,” an allusion to convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. The fallout from his essay garnered wide publicity and cries of outrage across the nation.

    Several student groups, including Aggies for Israel, have criticized SPJ’s decision to invite Churchill to campus.

    “Aggies for Israel and the Davis community are appalled that Ward Churchill will be speaking at UC Davis,” said Yoni Sassoon, vice president of Aggies for Israel in an e-mail interview.

    Sassoon, a sophomore economics major, said Churchill’s lecture title alone is offensive and incendiary.

    “Zionism does not share a ‘common theme’ with Nazism and saying that it does is clearly false and openly inflammatory,” he said. “Ward Churchill and the extreme groups that are hosting him are dangerously using false comparisons between Jews and Nazis to defame Israel.”

    “As students, we hope this speech does not [incite] hate on campus,” Sassoon said.

    When asked about the title of the lecture, Ali said he was unaware of the specifics of what Churchill will discuss.

    “I cannot speak for Ward Churchill, as I’m not his spokesman. But what I can tell you from the title is that he will be paralleling these ideas and providing the audience with the common, generally overlooked, similarities – and more importantly, consequences,” he said.

    Khalida Fazel, president of the MSA, said the organization believes Churchill has a right to share his views.

    “The MSA does not necessarily condemn or condone everything Churchill says, but we stand by his right to express his opinions on issues we feel are extremely relevant to the current domestic and international state of affairs,” said Fazel, a senior civil engineering major, in an e-mail interview.

    “Granted, [Churchill] is indeed a controversial figure, but his perspective is one that has been suppressed in public and private discourse, and what better setting to engage with these issues than on a university campus,” Fazel said.

    Allison Daley, chair of the Davis College Republicans, dismissed Churchill’s credibility.

    “Ward Churchill coming to speak… is a disgrace and an embarrassment to UC Davis. Presumably groups on campus bring speakers who represent their beliefs and values. Radical groups bring radical speakers,” said Daley, a junior political science major.

    “Ward Churchill has fabricated his education and his ethnicity, and has called for the eradication of the United States itself. Worst of all is his pathetic claim to fame – writing that the victims of 9/11 deserved to die and that the U.S. may need more 9/11s,” she said.

    Ali said he believed Churchill’s opinions have been twisted by popular media.

    “Ward Churchill’s views on the 9/11 attacks have been grossly misrepresented by the mass media,” Ali said.

    Ali also cited Churchill’s human rights award from the University of Arkansas’ Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights for his essay on Sept. 11.

    “The issue he raises is looking at why people might be motivated to engage in such attacks, and that’s something everyone should discuss. [Republican presidential candidate] Ron Paul proposed a similar [argument] in the discussion of etiology on a national platform, and no one other than Rudy Giuliani questioned him and/or asked him to apologize,” Ali said.

    In 2006, the Investigative Committee of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct at the University of Colorado at Boulder concluded Churchill had committed falsification, fabrication, plagiarism and “failure to comply with established standards regarding author names on publications [and] serious deviation from accepted practices in reporting results from research”, according to a CU news report released on May 16, 2006.

    Churchill responded to the findings on his official site.

    “This ‘investigation’ has all along been a pretext to punish me for engaging constitutionally-protected speech and, more generally, to discredit the sorts of alternative historical perspective I represent,” Churchill said.

    But CU has contended Churchill’s firing is unrelated to his opinions. According to a June 25, 2006 statement by University of Colorado Interim Vice Chancellor Vince DiStefano, “The content and rhetoric of Professor Churchill’s essay on 9/11 and other works that we examined were protected by the First Amendment.”

    However, DiStefano agreed that Churchill had engaged in academic dishonesty and recommended his termination. The CU Regents fired Churchill in July 2007.

    Hamilton College invited Churchill to speak in 2005, but rescinded his invitation after hundreds of letters of protest and safety concerns. UC Davis Assistant Vice Chancellor Griselda Castro said free speech laws allow Churchill to speak at UC Davis and campus security will be present at tonight’s event.

    “The Office of Student Programs and Activities has worked closely with the sponsoring student organizations and the campus police department to ensure a safe environment consistent with the law and campus policy for free expression and dissent,” she said.

    Castro emphasized that the university is not sponsoring Churchill’s visit and he does not represent its opinions.

    “Freedom of expression applies to all members of our campus and society in general,” she said. “While the university does not encourage or discourage provocative speakers from coming to campus, we hope that when they do, it will give members of our campus community another opportunity to put the principles of community into practice by modeling civil and respectful discourse that is at the core of a free society.”

    The California Aggie contacted Churchill through his wife, who said he was traveling and would not be available for an interview before press time.

    “Aggies for Israel and the Davis community are appalled that Ward Churchill will be speaking at UC Davis,” said Yoni Sassoon, vice president of Aggies for Israel in an e-mail interview.

    Sassoon, a sophomore economics major, said Churchill’s lecture title alone is offensive and incendiary.

    “Zionism does not share a ‘common theme’ with Nazism and saying that it does is clearly false and openly inflammatory,” he said. “Ward Churchill and the extreme groups that are hosting him are dangerously using false comparisons between Jews and Nazis to defame Israel.”

    “As students, we hope this speech does not [incite] hate on campus,” Sassoon said.

    © Copyright 2007 The California Aggie

  22. Neal said on November 27th, 2007 at 6:20pm #

    dan elliott,

    I still do not see your answer to my question. I answered yours. You can answer mine.

  23. AJ Nasreddin said on November 28th, 2007 at 10:12am #

    Neal, where are you getting your info? It seems rather backwards.

    “Likely the greatest slaughter of a discreet group of people in all history is the slaughter in the Indian subcontinent in which 80 million people were killed by the Muslim invaders between 1000 and 1525.”

    The source you quote has its detractors:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Growth_of_Muslim_Population_in_Medieval_India

    “Simon Digby criticized the book in a review in “Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies”:

    “The author is known for his detailed studies of the Khalji dynasty and of the fifteenth-century Delhi Sultanate. He is well versed in the sources of medieval North Indian history. In the present study he has assembled almost all the conceivably relevant data and for this reason it will remain of value as a compendium of references. Yet the unknown variables are so great and the quality of the data yielded by our sources so poor that almost any detailed general estimates of population based upon them must appear wilful, if not fantastic.” ”

    Here is some classic BS:

    “Again: those who invaded the Indian subcontinent – perhaps misunderstanding their own faith – concluded that the inhabitants being of non-permitted faiths, had the choice to convert or be put to the sword. About that, there is no doubt.”

    In fact Muslims and Buddhists lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. Moreover, the idea of “People of the Book” was extended to a large number of people whose religions had a book. Early Muslim scholars estimated over a hundred prophets sent to peoples all over the world giving each of their communities guidance in a book. It was established in the past that both Hindus and Buddhists are considered “People of the Book” – granted this is not agreed on universally by all Muslims, past or present.

    And here is more BS:

    “What I claimed is that, in conquering, Muslim armies have historically tended to adhere to classical theological notions, well established in accordance with the view of the existing legal schools which, in fact, did hold basically to the views I ascribed to them.”

    Classical theological notions were not even developed at the time the Muslims entered Afghanistan or India. In Sunni Islam there were tens of schools of law which varied widely and were sometimes in flux according to the principles they held. George Makdisi’s “The Rise of Colleges” is a good book on Islamic education in Medieval Iraq.

    Bottom line Neal – you seem to NOT understand that the scholarly work on Islamic/Middle East history is filled with bias – and you seem to attach importance to what ever justifies your prejudicial notions of right and wrong.

  24. Neal said on November 28th, 2007 at 11:28am #

    AJ Nasreddin,

    I beg to differ. First, I am not a right winger.

    Second, I stand by the view of famed historian Will Durant. Note that I quoted him. I also note that such view is well supported in a standard work on Indian history, The Cambridge History of India, which notes mass killings on an extraordinary scale by Muslims of non-Muslims for the sin of being non-Muslim followers of non-permitted religions.

    You assert that the theological underpinnings did not exist. Are you joking? By the year 1000, there was pretty good Islamic theology that had been in place for centuries. The same for law, which was pretty well developed going back to the 9th Century, much less the 11th Century. See David Cook, Understanding Jihad. You may wish to examine chapter one of his book which can be read here. http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10213/10213.ch01.html

    You may also note this section which relates to Shari’a law:

    Out of the disorganized mass of hadith a coherent body of law was produced. By the early ninth century, Muslim jurists had begun to codify the basic materials of the tradition to form the shari’a, sometimes translated as the “Divine Law.” Although this was never a unified body of law, and is essentially the sum total of all the jurists’ discussions and commentaries on the subject, it provides a focus for legal and definitional aspects of jihad that are not addressed in the Qur’ an or the hadith literature. It also seems clear that the jurists of Islam wanted to regulate the nature of the warfare, as they did other aspects of social intercourse.

    One of the bases for this type of regulation was defining the manner in which war should be declared and what its limits were.

    The Messenger of Allah, when he would send a commander with a raid or an army would enjoin upon him the fear of Allah, especially with regard to himself, but also with regard to the Muslims, and say: When you meet your polytheist enemy, call to him [to choose] between three possibilities—accept whichever one they accept, and desist from them:

    1. Call them to Islam; if they accept, then accept it from them and desist from them. Then [if they accept Islam] call them to move from their homes to the home of the muhajirun [immigrants]; if they do this, then they will have the rights and the responsibilities of the muhajirun. If

    2. they refuse, then designate their home, and inform them that they will be like the Muslim Bedouin—Allah’s law, which is incumbent upon the believers, will be incumbent upon them, but they will not have any right to the movable or nonmovable spoils, except when they fight at the side of the Muslims.

    3. If they refuse, then call them to pay the jizya [poll tax]. If they accept, then accept it from them and desist from them.

    4. If they refuse, then ask Allah for aid against them, and fight them. If you besiege the people of a fortress, and they desire to surrender unconditionally (ala hukm Allah), do not accept this from them, but let them surrender according to your judgment, and do with them what you wish afterwards.25

    With these statements jihad is made into a legal process, regulated, and defined. While the Muslim history books leave us with the impression that Muslims always acted in accordance with the above regulations, this is difficult to accept and is not backed up by non-Muslim sources. But the mere establishment of such regulations, albeit with the goal of augmenting the Islamic polity, was a step toward systematizing warfare.

    Now, there is also source material for the specific references about dealing with non-Muslims when they were conquered. I have correctly cited to them, as this is a subject about which I have made a careful study of first hand sources. I shall have to see whether I can find such materials online, in which case I can provide them to you.

  25. hp said on November 29th, 2007 at 7:56pm #

    The Muslim invasion of India is in a class of its own. All so-called holocausts may be measured by the immensity of this the mother of all holocausts.
    Just because it is relatively unknown only proves the dearth of truth in education in the West and the depth of denial of the Muslims themselves.

  26. Dissident Voice : The Hidden Holocaust: Our Civilizational Crisis said on December 10th, 2007 at 5:02am #

    [...] part 1, we reviewed the emergence of the modern world system through a process of systematic genocidal [...]