European Art History
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“This mantle, made with a sixteenth-century Ming Dynasty velvet, is purely European in form. The gold thread is typically Chinese in style: gilded paper wound on a core of orange silk.”
Western trade with China is something that has existed as far back as the Roman Empire, when Chinese goods were spread throughout Central Asia, then Western Asia, and then the Mediterranean, through the silk road. There is a legend of a legion of Roman soldiers led by general Marcus Crassus that eventually came to settle in what is now the Xinjiang region. Residents of the village of Liqian have notedly White features, and sometimes have green eyes or blonde hair, and recent DNA tests have proven them to have European genes. On top of that, archaeological digs in the area have uncovered Roman artifacts.
So as you can see, it’s pretty difficult to pinpoint one specific point in time when Chinese trade with the West really began, and at what point Chinese goods began to affect Western fashion, because, quite simply, it’s always been there, long before Netflix insists.
Stitched in France, just in case you were curious!
WEDNESDAY, JUN 24, 2015
Imagine if the hours on Fox spent pretending racial problems don’t exist were spent honestly trying to solve them
AARON R. HANLONTalking about “dog-whistle” politics and racially charged “code words” generates no modicum of skepticism on the right. “The only people who consistently decipher these codes or hear these dog whistles,” writes Jonah Goldberg, “are liberals themselves.” For Goldberg (sardonically), liberals have a particular “sensitivity and acuity” for spotting racism that “even real racists seem to lack.”This critique is part of a larger characterization of the left that comes straight out of the 20th century culture wars playbook, the idea that liberals’ questioning of fixed categories (like traditional gender roles) and stable truths (like Christian soteriology) renders liberals a bunch of feelings-driven, wishy-washy pajama boys with a tenuous grasp on reality. This is why, for someone on the right, saying something is “postmodern” is tantamount to saying it’s both “a liberal thing” and “a made-up thing”; once we on the left start playing our crazy language games, men become women, white becomes black, and everything is racist.
I don’t agree with that line of thinking, but I’ll work with it for a second on its own terms. Calling someone or something racist is a serious charge, because we can all agree—well, maybe not all of us—that being a racist is a terrible thing. So when we decide to label something racist, we should be sure about it. It should be obvious. I’m not talking about “coded language” here; I’m talking about unimpeachable evidence. Consider, for example, Dylann Roof, who confessed to killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., last Wednesday evening. What do we know about him?
We have photos of him wearing pro-apartheid flags. We have his friends and acquaintances on record saying he tells racist jokes, expresses support for segregation, wants to start a civil war, and rants about how black people have “raped our women” and are “taking over the world.” And then, of course, we have his actual confession, in which he claims he premeditatedly walked into an AME church and murdered nine people for the purposes of starting a “race war.”
So are we allowed to say now—as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has finally come around to saying—that Roof has committed a hate crime, that his choice to murder nine black people in a historic black church was fundamentally an act of racism? Even with this much evidence, it remains a prominent position on the right that the Charleston shooting was not about race, and that those attempting to “make it” about race are manipulating the truth to suit a race-baiting political agenda.
In these moments we glimpse the true colors of the proponents of that position. Dylann Roof didn’t drop subtle or coded hints to friends and police about how he just couldn’t stand to eat chocolate and vanilla ice cream out of the same bowl, or was never much a fan of Trick Daddy; he said black people have “raped our women” and “are taking over the country,” and copped to murdering nine of them to try to start a race war. If you can’t accept this as evidence of a crime motivated by racism, then you simply lose all credibility in discussions of what constitutes racism.
I’m tempted to say that innocent people shouldn’t have to die to bring into relief the grotesquely cynical deception involved in denying the existence of racism in jokes and coded language as groundwork for denying the existence of racism full stop, even when racism results in mass murder. But what brings me to tears is that such a statement—innocent people shouldn’t have to die to demonstrate that racism is real—means nothing unless we actually recognize that racism is real, and do something about it. And yet, like “Voldemort” in Harry Potter, the right refuses to speak the name, as if denial of a thing has the power to destroy it.
So now we know who’s willing to turn away from evidence to suit a political agenda, who’s willing to pretend like we can never really know the truth behind Dylann Roof’s racist words. But unlike those who, in good faith, muddle through the material and psychological challenges posed by gender and race, the right’s sudden embracing of the instability of language and the complexities of human subjectivity when it comes to the non-question of Roof’s motivations is nakedly disingenuous. It’s soft posturing deserving of the rightist epithet “postmodern,” and commensurate with the lack of understanding of that very term.
This is the crux, then: it matters that language can be slippery, identity perplexing, and intentions multifaceted. It’s one thing to grapple with the hard stuff; it’s entirely another to stare, dumbfounded, at the easy stuff and pretend like you don’t understand. When a man says he killed nine black people to start a race war—and that man isn’t a character in a Philip Roth novel—you grant yourself the racism angle and move onto figuring out how to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
WED JUN 24, 2015
by Walter Einenkel
Governor Robert Bentley (R) ordered the removal of the racist Confederate flag from the State Capitol’s grounds today.
Two workers came out of the Capitol building about 8:20 a.m. and with no fanfare quickly and quietly took the flag down. They declined to answer questions.
Moments later Gov. Bentley emerged from the Capitol on his way to an appearance in Hackleburg. Asked if he had ordered the flag taken down, the governor said, “Yes I did.”
Alabama doesn’t have a law about that flag disallowing the governor from making that executive decision.
Asked his reasons for taking it down and if it included what happened in Charleston last week, the governor said, “Yes, partially this is about that. This is the right thing to do. We are facing some major issues in this state regarding the budget and other matters that we need to deal with. This had the potential to become a major distraction as we go forward. I have taxes to raise, we have work to do. And it was my decision that the flag needed to come down.”
I’m going to make my own executive decision here and say that this is 100% “about that.” Otherwise, doing “the right thing” would have already happened…like 150 years ago. Don’t forget, Alabama has all of the Confederate flags—all three of them.
They are the First National Confederate Flag, commonly preferred to as the “Stars and Bars;” the second flag is the Second National Confederate Flag, more commonly known as the “Stainless Banner;” and the last flag standing is the Third National Confederate Flag.
About 90 minutes after the battle flag was removed, about a half dozen workers removed those remaining flags. The workers did not answer questions.
Now that the “right thing” got done in Alabama, Governor Bentley can go back to being racist towards recent immigrants now!
Physicians say national health service faces lawsuits, bullying, and privatization under contentious trade pact
by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Doctors in the United Kingdom are warning that passage of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will mean certain death for the country’s public healthcare system, opening the door for privatization and lawsuits from the United States’ for-profit medical industry.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Liverpool on Tuesday, Dr. Henry McKee of Belfast warned members that “if there is anything resembling an [National Health Service] by the time this treaty is in negotiation, it won’t survive this treaty.”
“The correct motion is to kill this treaty dead, not to tolerate it sneaking in and mugging us,” he added.
McKee’s comments came as BMA members voted in favor of lobbying the UK government against the trade agreement, advocating for a provision that would remove healthcare from the contentious pact. In a vote earlier this month, the European Parliament backed a similar recommendation though it is up to the official European trade negotiators to demand such exclusions.
The TTIP and other pending global trade deals—the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)—have come under fire for their corporate-friendly provisions, which many warn will promote business interests above the environment, workers rights, and public health. Particularly, the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision would allow multinationals to sue governments for alleged loss of profits due to industry regulations.
In an address during the BMA meeting, Edinburgh physician Gregor Venters also warned that the “introduction of private providers into public services” will “allow the big American corporations to interfere with the NHS.”
Europeans are concerned that the United States’ lax rules regulation of genetically engineered, or GMO, crops and other lower health standards will allow for a “race to the bottom” in global food and health standards.
“Private corporations could use the process to bully governments into dropping legislation to improve food standards,” he explained.
In a related development, recently leaked sections of the TPP revealed how the deal would give big pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine by undermining government efforts to subsidize pharmaceuticals and medical devices, effectively crippling public healthcare programs worldwide.
Earlier this month, faced with growing public and internal opposition, European Parliament President Martin Schulz cancelled a vote on the Parliament’s recommendations for the treaty. Negotiations are set to continue in July.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted to back Fast Track trade promotion authority, which enables President Obama to ratify international trade deals with only an up or down vote by the U.S. Congress, essentially guaranteeing the passage of the TPP and TTIP.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Published on Monday, June 22, 2015
by Common Dreams
‘Europe must belong to everyone, not just to the Germans and the banks,’ said a demonstrator in Rome
by Lauren McCauley, staff writer
As an emergency summit concluded in Brussels on Monday with no clear resolution for the spiraling Greek debt crisis, a call throughout the streets of Europe for lenders to ease their punishing “reforms” in Greece is reverberating.
On Sunday, more than 5,000 protested in Brussels, Belgium—the site of the ongoing negotiations between the Greek government and officials with the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission—while hundreds more marched in Amsterdam.
According to reports, protesters carried banners that read slogans such as, “Our lives do not belong to creditors,” and “If Greece were a bank it would have been saved.”
Expressing a sentiment that has spread throughout Europe, Sebastien Franco, the organizer of the Brussels demonstration, told Belgian media, “Austerity is not working, it reduces the income of poor people in the name of reimbursement to creditors…who continue to enrich themselves.”
Echoing that idea, another protester told Euronews, “All the things they are doing now to the Greeks they will do it also to us. So that’s why we are here. Not only because of Greece but also because of ourselves.”
And Saturday, at migrant solidarity marches in Paris, Berlin, and Rome, demonstrators also expressed support for their Greek brethren and against the EU’s adherence to austerity at all costs.
“We are here to save our Europe, which includes immigrants, refugees and Greece,” said Luciano Colletta, who demonstrated outside the Roman Colosseum. “Europe must belong to everyone, not just to the Germans and the banks.”
At the same time, Greeks themselves were also rallying against so-called austerity “reforms,” calling on the Syriza government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, to stand strong in the face of they characterized as EU “blackmail.” Additional marches were reported in Athens on Monday.
The wave of support comes ahead of a critical June 30 deadline, on which Greece is due to pay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF. If creditors refuse to release bail-out funds by that time, Greece risks defaulting on its debts, possibly spurring an exit from the European Union.
On Monday, officials held an emergency meeting at which the Greek government reportedly delivered a last-minute list of reform proposals. According to Guardian journalist Jennifer Rankin, who is following the talks in Brussels, the Syriza government may have backed down on some of its earlier “sticking points,” including raising tax rates and making changes to the country’s pension system. Another meeting is set for Thursday, during which officials say they are still hopeful an agreement can be reached.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Ilan Pappe The Electronic Intifada 23 June 2015
“In the operation we had to cleanse the inhabitants. This uprooting of a villager, rooted in his village and turning him into a refugee, by simply expelling him, and not one, two or three of them but a real eviction. And when you see a whole village is led like lambs to the slaughter without any resistance you understand what is the Holocaust.” — An Israeli soldier’s testimony in the documentary Censored Voices, directed by Mor Loushi (2015)
In the wake of the June 1967 war, the Israeli author Amos Oz, then a reserve soldier in the Israeli army, together with a friend collated interviews with Israeli soldiers who participated in the war and asked them about the emotions the fighting triggered in them. The interviews were published as a book titled Conversations with Soldiers, more popularly referred at the time by my generation as the ”shooting and crying” book.
The military censor (a function that still exists today, held recently by the present minister of culture, Miri Regev), erased 70 percent of the evidence since he claimed it would have harmed Israel’s international image.
This month an industrious Israeli filmmaker, Mor Loushi, is showing her new documentary based on most of this erased material. The atrocities reported by the soldiers include forced expulsions, like the one quoted above, graphic descriptions of summary executions of prisoners of war and hints of massacres of innocent villagers.
This 48th commemoration of the 1967 war coincided with the 67th commemoration of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine before and after Israel’s founding in 1948. There is more than a symbolic connection here. The evil repertoire confessed by the soldiers in the new film reminds us of the atrocities perpetrated 67 years ago on a much larger, though similarly horrific, scale.
The 1948 atrocities were ignored by the international community and for a long time the entire Nakba was denied while the Holocaust memory seemed to provide carte blanche to Israel to continue the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
No wonder then, when in 1967 Israel’s territorial appetite was satisfied with the occupation of the whole of historic Palestine, as well as large territories from Egypt and Syria, it was achieved with the help of similar inhumane ethnic cleansing operations of expulsions and massacres.
There was one difference between the two chapters of atrocity committed in the two wars. In 1967, Israel was less secure about possible global, and even American, complacency in the face of its cruel methodologies on the ground and therefore attempted to hide them from prying eyes. The wall of secrecy Israel built, however, nearly cracked, when the US navy ship USS Liberty eavesdropped on the communications between the troops in the Gaza Strip on 8 June 1967, revealing probably both the summary execution of Egyptian prisoners of war and Palestinian civilians. The ship was destroyed on the same day from the air by the Israeli air force.
Later on, the atrocities were substantiated by eyewitnesses and came to the fore when mass graves were exposed in 1995 in the al-Arish area in Sinai, straining Egypt’s relations with Israel, as CNN reported at the time.
The network interviewed, for the first time, relatives and survivors of these war crimes who recalled the massacre of hundreds. The link between the unprovoked assault on the USS Liberty and the wish to hide the massacres and executions was thoroughly investigated by James Bamford in his 2001 book Body of Secrets.
Thus, the newly released tapes corroborate atrocities already known and told by those who were their victims (in this case, including 34 American navy personnel). This was very much in the same way as Israeli documents declassified in the 1980s corroborated the Palestinian oral history and testimonies of the Nakba.
Purifying the perpetrators
In both cases, it took a while for the victims’ version to be heard after years of being brushed aside by Western academia and the media as a figment of an oriental imagination.
The Israeli eyewitnesses in the new film do not mention names of places or dates — neither do we know who the Palestinian or Egyptian victims were. De-naming and dehumanization are two sides of the same coin and thus the new harrowing testimonies are cautiously presented as an act purifying the perpetrators rather than honoring the victims.
It is another case of “shooting and crying”: namely the problem is not that a girl lost her eye, a man’s house was demolished or an unarmed prisoner of war was executed. The aim is to cleanse the tormented soul of the victimizer and there is nothing like a good confession to make it all go away.
Names and dates, and even more so real human beings, require not only acknowledgement but also accountability. Saying sorry is not always enough, especially when the lesson is not learned. And, thus, year after year since 1967, including in recent weeks, Palestinians, with faces and names, are still expelled, imprisoned without trial and killed.
This new film gives the impression that these crimes were the inevitable outcome of the June 1967 war. But in fact the crimes committed after the war were much worse in every aspect. The atrocities were not the outcome of the war, they were part of the means used by Israel to solve the predicament the new territorial achievement produced for the Jewish State: it incorporated in 1967 almost the same number of Palestinians it had expelled in 1948.
After the war, other means were added in the search for reconciling this predicament. The aim was still the same: to have as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible. The new strategy, after the war, was based on the logic that if you cannot uproot people you root them deeply in their areas of living without any outlet or easy access to the world around them.
The Palestinians all over Palestine were, since 1967, incarcerated in small enclaves surrounded by Jewish colonies, military bases and no-go areas that bisect their geography. In the occupied territories, Israel created a matrix of control many African National Congress leaders regard as far worse than the worst of apartheid South Africa. The Israelis marketed this method to the world as a temporary and necessary means for maintaining their rule in the “disputed” territories. The “temporary” means became a way of life and transformed into a permanent reality on the ground, for which Israel sought international legitimacy through the 1993 Oslo accords – and nearly got it.
This month as we commemorate the 48th year of the 1967, war we should remind ourselves once more that this was a chapter in a history of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and occasionally genocide of the Palestinians.
The “peace process” that began more than two decades ago was based on the assumption that the “conflict” began in 1967 and will end with Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The “conflict” had actually begun in 1948, if not before, and the worst part of it was not the 1967 military occupation of those parts of Palestine that Israel had failed to take over in 1948, but rather that the international immunity for these crimes still continues today.
One can only hope that those with the power to effect change in the world will understand, as did the soldier quoted in the opening of this piece, that there is more than one holocaust and that everyone, regardless of their religion or nationality, can be either its victim or its perpetrator.
The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.