Uzbekistan dictatorship bans political science

Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan map

Weekly The Observer in Britain writes today that the bloody dictatorship in Uzbekistan has banned political science:

In a decree issued on 24 August and later made public, higher education minister Alisher Vakhabov ordered that the words “political science” be dropped from the name of the last remaining course in the subject widely taught in the country, which will now be called The Theory and Practice of Building a Democratic Society in Uzbekistan. It also required universities to move all literature relating to political science from the “general fund to a special fund”, which means students and academics will need permission to access it.

So, in Uzbekistan, the dictator calls his dictatorship ‘democracy’.

Tony Blair, George W Bush, Hillary Clinton and other NATO country politicians seem to agree with this, eagerly wooing the Uzbek dictatorship as a ‘friend’ and a military ally.

I bet the dictatorship’s higher education minister Alisher Vakhabov would be willing to make an exemption about this new rule for at least one political science professor: Herfried Münkler from Germany. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler supports war. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler supports national chauvinism. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler supports dictatorship. Like the Uzbek tyranny, Herr Münkler hates refugees.

United States psychologists’ convention bans participation in torture

This video, recorded in Canada, says about itself:

Anti-Torture Psychologists Celebrate New APA Interrogation Ban

7 August 2015

Steven Reisner and Stephen Soldz, two founders of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, speak to Amy Goodman in Toronto moments after the American Psychological Association approved a ban on psychologists from taking part in national security interrogations. See full coverage here.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

US psychologists’ convention bans participation in torture

10 August 2015

On Friday, the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly adopted a resolution banning participation by psychologists in national security interrogations, in the face of accusations that the proposed ban on torture was “anti-government” and “anti-military.”

The resolution states that “psychologists shall not conduct, supervise, be in the presence of, or otherwise assist any national security interrogations for any military or intelligence entities, including private contractors working on their behalf, nor advise on conditions of confinement insofar as these might facilitate such an interrogation.”

The resolution was adopted at a convention in Toronto by a vote of 156 council members to one, with seven abstentions and one recusal. Following the successful vote, participants and a crowd of observers rose for a defiant standing ovation. Some wore T-shirts that read, “First, do no harm,” referring to the fundamental concept in medical ethics.

The American Psychological Association is a scientific and professional organization embracing 122,500 professionals. Full membership in the organization requires a doctoral degree.

According to an APA press release, “The new policy does allow for psychologist involvement in general policy consultation regarding humane interrogations. The prohibition does not apply to domestic law enforcement interrogations or domestic detention settings where detainees are under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.”

The vote follows the release of a 542-page independent report last month implicating the APA in the CIA torture program, which was prepared by a team of lawyers led by former federal prosecutor David Hoffman. The Hoffman report, commissioned by the APA, exposed a conspiracy at the top levels of the APA, in collusion with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Department of Defense (DOD), to facilitate the involvement of psychologists in the CIA torture program and later to shield the perpetrators from accountability.

The CIA torture program was the subject of a devastating Senate Intelligence Committee report in December of last year, which shamefully continues to be ignored by the establishment media in the US. The Senate report painted a picture of systematic and shocking brutality, infamously including “rectal feeding” and other practices, with the active oversight of the highest levels of the state. The Senate report found that numerous medical professionals had been accomplices or direct participants in torture, including doctors, nurses and psychologists.

In the period leading up to the APA’s annual conference last week, dissident psychologists opposed to torture were targeted for browbeating and intimidation. Tony Williams, president of the APA’s Society for Military Psychology, characterized the ban on torture that was passed Friday as a “politically motivated, anti-government and anti-military stance.” He went on to criticize the Hoffman report as serving “an effort to advance an unspoken political agenda.”

In the face of such efforts, the nearly unanimous vote is certainly a welcome repudiation of the criminal torture practices of the American government that were implemented as part of the “war on terror.” The vote vindicates the efforts of those dissident psychologists who have campaigned for years against torture.

At the same time, it is certainly an indication of the present crisis of American society that a vote was even necessary at all. Torture has been clearly illegal for decades, under both international and domestic law.

The involvement of medical professionals in torture is unambiguously prohibited by the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the trials of Nazi doctors in the aftermath of the Second World War. (See The American Psychological Association, torture and the Nuremberg doctors’ trial.) Under the Nuremberg Code, medical professionals require the voluntary informed consent of their patients, and they are required to minimize harm.

The vote Friday paves the way for ethical complaints to be initiated against the psychologists involved in the CIA torture program, the loss of their licenses, and even prosecutions.

While those psychologists who participated in torture should certainly be held accountable, holding them accountable raises the question of all other civilian, military and intelligence officials and personnel who participated in torture. What about the top officials in the Bush and Obama administrations that orchestrated the program, lied about it, and tried to conceal it?

To date, the Obama administration has consistently refused to hold anyone involved in the criminal torture program accountable, invoking the slogan “looking forward, not backward.” The APA vote on Friday is a reminder that war criminals and torturers remain at large, who have yet to be brought to justice.

Retired Army Colonel Larry James cast the one dissenting vote on Friday. James served as Guantanamo’s chief psychologist in 2003 and as the director of the Abu Ghraib “behavioral science unit” in 2004.

At both Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, according to the Center for Torture Accountability, “James headed teams of ‘mental health’ professionals charged with destroying the mental health of detainees, on the theory that psychologically broken men would provide interrogators with more information.”

James claims that his role was to ensure that the detainees were treated ethically, but the Center indicates that his real function was “to maximize their psychological pain.”

“On his watch, prisoners were threatened with rape and murder, sexually humiliated, left naked in cold cells, chained into uncomfortable ‘stress positions’ for hours on end, and deprived of sleep and human contact, among other psychological regimens,” the Center notes.

In 2008, James became dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In 2009, he served as president of the American Board of Health Psychology. From 2009 to 2010, he served as president elect of the APA’s Division of Military Psychology.

In 2010, James announced that he had been appointed to a task force headed by Michelle Obama called, “Enhancing the Psychological Well-Being of The Military Family.” In a press release, James emphatically agreed with the Obama administration’s policy of “turning the page” on torture—that is, the policy of zero accountability for torturers and their accomplices.

See also here.

Michael Brown’s death and after, by an African American psychologist

Le Monde paper in Paris, with photo about Ferguson

From The Atlantic in the USA:

From Paris to Ferguson

One professor’s journey back home, to the reality of police violence.

Kira Banks 7:00 AM ET

I’m a professor of psychology at Saint Louis University. I have every reason to be comfortable with my life, yet I also have every reason to be outraged by the longstanding and recently highlighted deadly assumptions about and violence against black lives.

Ferguson unfolded as we were in the midst of our first European family vacation. The children were spending their days trying croissants and playing pick-up soccer games in the Parisian neighborhood park. The idyllic scene, however, stood in contrast to the scenes that unfolded on our computer screens by night. After my husband and I put our kids to bed, we watched press conferences and livefeeds of tanks and tear gas. Something felt different about Michael Brown’s killing—unfortunate, urgent—and I longed to be home in St. Louis. The next day, we purchased a local newspaper, Le Monde, and read the headline, which translated to “The Wrath of Black Americans.”

We were being misunderstood even thousands of miles away. I struggled to remain present and enjoy the serenity, cognizant of my privilege, before heading back to what looked like chaos. Yet it was clear that the wrath being expressed reflected the present and historical inequities heaped on the shoulders of African Americans.

I was happy to hear, alongside the justifiable anger at the disregard for Brown’s humanity, the extended commentary on race and racism. I have spent the past 17 years working towards dismantling racism, educating individuals about the deleterious effects of discrimination, and teaching about how we can increase our understanding of unconscious bias and improve intergroup relations. It was clear the protestors weren’t going away, and that their demonstrations had created an opening. I hoped the attention to the topic would last, that the reflections would create momentum. I am keenly aware that social change often takes hold as a result of extreme pressure placed on the system, and the persistence of the protests appeared to be having that effect. It looked like a pivotal moment.

Upon returning home, I jumped into action, yet at the same time felt uncertain about my role. I was old—a “slave to my job”—in the eyes of some young people. And I was relatively young and not “seasoned enough” compared to the elders. I joined the work of my local chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, offering pro bono services and community workshops. I protested with friends and parents from my children’s school.

I was, however, unsure how open I could be about my activism with colleagues at work. Some individuals would rather put Ferguson “behind us,” and it felt as if that opening for understanding the personal hurts and systemic inequities of racism was closing. I forged deeper bonds with protesters and made plans to march as a de-escalator in the upcoming weekend of resistance. People from all over were coming to St. Louis.

And then, in October, 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. was killed—a mile from my home and three blocks from my boys’ school—by an off-duty police officer. On the nights after Vonderrit’s death, protests filled the streets nearby. The vilification of protesters continued, and the justification of militarized police behavior intensified. And I made a decision that I would not shy away from bearing witness.

I was gassed without warning, on the same street where I run for exercise and take my kids out to eat

The night the grand jury announced the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, I was near my home, in the midst of a multiracial, multigenerational, intersectional protest. I joined hundreds of others in the streets. Our attempt to spur reforms by engaging in peaceful protest was rewarded by indiscriminate tear-gassing at the hands of my local police. I was gassed without warning, on the same street where I run for exercise and take my kids out to eat.

When I was later asked to join in seeking an injunction and to testify about that night, I didn’t hesitate. My commitment to bearing witness meant that I had to recognize my privilege and leverage it for the benefit of the movement and more broadly for the First Amendment rights of future peaceful protestors. I believe that most media outlets chose not to show my neighborhood that night because it wasn’t on fire—unlike the images they chose to loop. I believe the police made baseless assumptions, which led to errors of commission and omission, and ultimately to tear gas.

A federal judge agreed. After hours of testimony, she granted a restraining order against the police’s use of chemical weapons on peaceful protestors. My testimony helped disrupt the distorted narrative of protestors. It’s unfortunate, in some ways, that my status as a professor was necessary to justify justifiable rage.

I am no different than anyone else who took to the streets. My experience being gassed was a keen reminder that I am vulnerable and no degrees or affiliations can save me from racism. I have long been familiar with this reality, but this past year showed me another way in which my privileges can potentially serve these disadvantages by being in community and standing with others.

Police violence is disproportionately killing black people. Mike Brown could have been my husband and Tamir Rice my sons. I might have been Sandra Bland. These facts fuel my audacity to do what I can to assert that black lives matter.

Ferguson and beyond: how a new civil rights movement began – and won’t end. DeRay McKesson. We did not discover injustice, nor did we invent resistance last August. But the terror of police violence continues. So, too, does the work of protest: here.

More than 100 gather in Waller County, 1 year after Brown’s death. Teen killed in Ferguson was among those highlighted in rally against racial injustice. By Tina Nazerian Updated 10:46 pm, Sunday, August 9, 2015: here.

The reign of police violence in the US claimed 16 more victims over the past week: here.

Less study of nazi crimes at German university

This United States government-commissioned video by director Billy Wilder is called Historic Stock Footage: NAZI DEATH MILLSCRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.

By Marianne Arens in Germany:

Frankfurt university winds down research on National Socialism

21 July 2015

If the Goethe University in Frankfurt gets its way, future teachers will no longer receive instruction in the history of National Socialism. This is the only conclusion to be drawn from the recent attacks by the university’s education department on the Center for Research on National Socialist Pedagogy.

The head of the Education Department has decided that student attendance of lectures on National Socialist pedagogy will receive little or no official recognition. Students in the teacher training program will no longer receive any credit points, while students in the master’s program in education will, in future, receive only half as many credit points as previously. The credit points correspond to the “certificates” that were previously awarded to students as proof of their academic achievement.

The short statement from the department and the Academy for Educational Research and Teacher Education does not deny depriving student teachers of credit points. In a bureaucratic manner, it refers to the “joint agreement of all German states,” produced at the Culture Ministry Conference on Teacher Education. According to this agreement, topics studied have to concentrate on “instruction, training, diagnostics, and school development.” National Socialist pedagogy, which is ascribed the status of a “special topic,” is considered a “requirement neither in Frankfurt nor in other German or international institutions of teacher education,” the statement reads.

The Research Center for National Socialist Pedagogy was set up four years ago as a pilot project at Frankfurt University. By 2013, it had worked out a two-semester course of study aimed at providing all student teachers and pedagogy students with a knowledge of National Socialism, its crimes and ideology. This course of study has now been carried out successfully three times.

The lectures were always well attended and were frequently overflowing. Professor Benjamin Ortmeyer, who leads the research center, made comparative analyses of pedagogical writings during the period of National Socialism, and researched topics such as National Socialist propaganda against the workers movement and the enforced conformity of opinion (Gleichschaltung) of the Frankfurt University during the Third Reich.

Ortmeyer invited Theresienstadt concentration camp survivor Trude Simonsohn to one of his lectures. Another time, he spoke about Josef Mengele, the concentration camp doctor at Auschwitz-Birkenau, who had written his doctoral dissertation in Frankfurt on “race research” and about whom the professor has written a book (Beyond the Hippocratic Oath: Dr. Mengele and the Goethe University).

The past four years have clearly shown that the course of study on National Socialist pedagogy answers a growing demand. The study of the Third Reich by prospective teachers is all the more important, since the German university and media establishment has evinced a clear trend towards downplaying the role of National Socialism and the lessons of the World War II.

This historical revisionism is closely connected with the revival of German militarism and the aggressive foreign policy of the German government. For example, Herfried Münkler, who teaches political science at the Humboldt University in Berlin, said at the beginning of the year in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “It is barely possible to conduct a responsible policy in Europe based on the notion: We are to blame for everything.” Münkler argues openly for German hegemony in Europe.

Münkler’s colleague Gunther Hellmann is also pushing for a new foreign policy strategy on the part of the German government. He wrote a book for the Munich Security Conference in 2015 and promotes the new white paper of the armed forces on the web site of the Defense Ministry.

Consequently, it cannot be viewed as accidental that the university management refuses to secure the Center for Research on National Socialist Pedagogy in its curriculum. The department has cut even the modest funding that it had previously provided to the academic staff at the research center, who subsist largely on third party funding provided by the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade unions. The presidium will temporarily provide funding, but this is only guaranteed until May 2016.

One of the topics that the research center has already examined illustrates how important the continuation of its work would be. This topic is the enforced conformity of opinion (Gleichschaltung) and the role of the university rector, the infamous Ernst Krieck. In 1939, Krieck wrote, “as in the city of Frankfurt, so also at its university, Marxist ideology and the Jews of a foreign type penetrate and advance. During the epoch of systems, ever more Jews and supporters of Marxism gained academic chairs. … All these elements must be wiped out. … At the same time, the student body will also be purified of them.”

The passage can be found on a panel in the exhibit that was created by students at the university for its 75-year anniversary celebration in 1989: “The brown seizure of power. University of Frankfurt 1930-1945.” The exhibit documents the book burning, suppression and expulsions, “race research and hereditary biology,” and every kind of active support that the Goethe University gave to fascism.

The exhibit plates are still hanging in the old cafeteria building at the Bockenheim campus. Their days are numbered, however, since the university moved to a new location at the Westend campus five years ago. Although the hundred year anniversary of the university was celebrated with great pomp last year, there was no comparable effort or expense put into examining its National Socialist past, and no concrete plans have yet been made to move the exhibit to the new location.