United States, from Andrew Jackson to Donald Trump


Map about ethnic cleansing of Native Americans by President Andrew Jackson

By Tom Mackaman in the USA:

Trump turns to American history

The strange political afterlife of Andrew Jackson

21 March 2017

The White House, led by its fascistic top advisor Stephen K. Bannon, is attempting to cast Donald Trump as the reincarnation of the seventh American president, Andrew Jackson. Trump has hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office.

Last Wednesday, Trump visited Jackson’s Tennessee plantation, the Hermitage, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Jackson’s birth. “Inspirational visit, I have to tell you. I’m a fan,” Trump said of Jackson. Speaking in Detroit earlier the same day, the president asserted that “my election was most similar to his.”

As a preliminary matter, Trump’s election more closely parallels that of Jackson’s opponent John Quincy Adams in the election of 1824. Like Trump, Adams lost the popular vote by a wide margin. But Adams gained the White House instead of Jackson after Kentucky Senator Henry Clay threw his support behind the candidate from Massachusetts in a House of Representatives vote on February 9, 1825.

Bannon, a student of Italian fascism who is closely tied to the “white nationalist” far-right, is behind Trump’s embrace of Jackson, who was elected in 1828 and served as president from 1829 to 1837. “[L]ike Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement,” Bannon said in November after Trump’s victory. Bannon and White House adviser Stephen Miller have reportedly given Trump books to study on the seventh US president.

Such historical comparisons always say much more about the present than they do about the past. The question is, of all presidents, why does the White House seek to drape Trump in the mantle of Andrew Jackson?

Jackson is an important figure, but no one could ever say of him, as Marx did of Lincoln, that he was “one of the rare men who succeed in becoming great without ceasing to be good.” Jackson, unlike Lincoln, was not known to exercise the quality of mercy. While Lincoln commuted more death sentences than all other American presidents combined, Jackson, in his pre-presidential career as a military commander, reveled in carrying out executions of deserting soldiers, Indians, and, in one case, two British civilians.

Jefferson, who knew Jackson, called him “a dangerous man” who was “most unfit” to be president, pointing in particular to his disregard for the law and his notoriously violent temper. “He could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings,” Jefferson said of Jackson. “I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage.” …

Jackson took office in 1829 after the end of the “Era of Good Feelings,” a period falling roughly between the War of 1812 and the end of the James Monroe administration in 1825. This was an era of profound social and economic change, marked by such economic and industrial achievements as the construction of the Cumberland Pike and the Erie Canal. The growing complexity of the American economy brought about significant changes in social relations, including closer links between the agricultural economies and market towns, increasing social differentiation, and the growing power of Northern industry.

Jackson was a reactionary figure whose modus vivendi depended on burying, as much as possible, the powerful contradictions building up during this period—especially those having to do with slavery—which would ultimately find resolution in the Civil War.

Jackson presented himself as a “man of the people.” However, parties and politicians must be assessed not by what they say about themselves, but by what they objectively represent.

His Democratic Party emerged out of the period of Republican domination stretching through the administrations of the Virginia Dynasty of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. The Democrats were a political union of the Southern slaveholding aristocracy, sections of American capitalism associated with state-level banking and the lucrative cotton trade, and corrupt big city political machines such as New York’s Tammany Hall that were emerging in the North. It was, in other words, a party of the most reactionary forces in American society.

The political art of the early Democrats consisted in their ability to hide the controversy over slavery behind a veil of nationalism, racism and populist demagogy, and thereby subordinate many farmers and workers of the North to a reactionary program largely dictated by the Southern planter class, of which Jackson was an extremely wealthy member.

The controversy over slavery, which first erupted with the debate over whether Missouri would be admitted as a slave state in 1819, was temporarily resolved through national expansionism, which the Democratic Party motivated ideologically with the concept of “Manifest Destiny.” It asserted the right, even sacred duty, of Americans to possess all the lands of North America, whether they were inhabited by Indians or claimed by Britain or Mexico.

The dispute over who would inherit the lands of the West—the sons of the slaveowners or the sons of the yeoman farmers of the North—could be thus delayed. Yet in the main, territorial expansion was designed to benefit the Southern planter class. This began under Jackson with the appropriation of the fertile lands of the southeast in Georgia, Alabama and Florida, taken from the so-called Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast—the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminoles—in a forced exodus to Oklahoma remembered as “the Trail of Tears.” In executing this policy, which today would be called “ethnic cleansing,” Jackson notoriously defied a Supreme Court injunction.

Then there was Jackson’s populist demagogy in the so-called “Bank Wars” against the re-chartering of the Bank of the United States. Jackson and the Democrats were not opponents of finance in general, but were aligned with state-level banks and favored decentralized and inflationary monetary policies.

Jackson’s phony anti-bank politics provided a false explanation for the first major financial crisis in US history, the Panic of 1819, which arrived simultaneously with the crisis over Missouri. Agriculture in the North had been given a great push forward by the Napoleonic Wars, increasing the prices of American food crops. This in turn drove up the price of land, feeding a speculative frenzy that burst with the Panic of 1819.

Thousands of banks collapsed, and many tens of thousands of overextended farmers and businessmen were ruined. The mysteriously powerful calamity, which hit like a force of nature, was little understood. The trauma even triggered the religious fervor that “burnt over” the rural areas in the 1820s, known as the Second Great Awakening.

Finally, Jackson and the early Democrats had to contend with the first stirrings of the working class. In the 1820s, together with the emergence of the slavery issue and the upheaval wrought by the panics of 1819 and 1825, the old guild system, by which apprentices learned a trade, advanced to the status of journeymen and hoped to one day become masters, collapsed.

Ancient methods and rites of labor vanished. Masters no longer worked side-by-side with journeymen and apprentices. They became rich employers of wage-earners, joined by growing streams of impoverished immigrants. The American Revolution’s promise of equality, for which the urban artisans had fought in organization such as the Sons of Liberty, allying with Jefferson and Madison against Hamilton and Adams, seemed to have been betrayed.

In the 1820s, the beginning of “the Age of Jackson,” the first strikes and trade unions appeared in the cities. Then, in the late 1820s, came the sudden emergence of dozens of local political parties, generally taking the name Workingmen’s Party. The largest appeared in the two biggest cities, New York and Philadelphia, where they won broad support among workers and challenged the new Democratic Party for political control. [1]

In response, the northern Democrats, led by Jackson’s vice president and successor, Martin Van Buren of New York, attempted to dissolve the class issue into a vague anti-elitist and, for the first time in US history, racist politics. The northern Democrats acted through the new species of career politician, the sprawling “Penny press,” made possible by developments in printing technology, and the most popular form of entertainment of the day, blackface minstrelsy, which lampooned Whigs, abolitionists, free blacks and slaves.

Advertisement for blackface minstrels, 1843

The plausibility of the Democratic Party ideology was aided by the two-party system itself. Factory owners, seeking tariff protection from British competition and the promotion of infrastructure, oriented to the Whigs. Small numbers of free blacks and abolitionists repulsed by the Democratic Party’s shameless racism joined them.

This explains a striking paradox of American history. Just as the right to vote was extended in the North to all white men, without property qualifications—proudly championed by Jackson and the Democrats—it was denied or even stripped away from free black men. In many northern states, including Pennsylvania, African American men did not earn the right to vote until after the Civil War. So savage was the Democratic Party’s racism, blacks were denied the right even to settle in entire states, Illinois and Iowa included. [2]

The effectiveness of this politics made the Democratic Party the stronger of the two antebellum parties until the late 1850s, with the Democrats generally controlling the presidency, the legislature and the Supreme Court, and dominating most state governments, South and North. Jackson was a nationalist whose support for slavery did not stop him from opposing South Carolina in the nullification crisis of 1832, in which the planter elite of that state threatened secession rather than accept a tariff bill designed to support northern manufactures. Jackson’s threats to use military force against the state prevented—or rather, delayed—its attempted secession.

Bannon is not unique in trying to appropriate Jackson’s legacy. Until recently, Jackson was held up by American liberals as an icon, a characterization most famously put forth by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in his enormously influential Age of Jackson, which appeared in 1945. Schlesinger presented Jackson as a tribune of the people, and his Democratic Party as the party of “the common man.”

Like Bannon today, Schlesinger had political motivations. During the years the author researched and wrote Age of Jackson, Roosevelt’s Democratic Party shifted to the right, abandoning the New Deal and preparing to purge from its ranks left elements in and around the Communist Party, with which it had been allied.

The Harvard historian wrote about Jackson and the Democratic Party of the 1820s and 1830s in order to present the mid-20th century Democrats—the party that dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, interned the Japanese and suppressed the strike wave of the 1930s and 1940s—as a “peoples’ party.”

At about the same time the Age of Jackson appeared, the Democratic Party spearheaded the anti-Communist purges of the 1940s and 1950s, which began in the trade unions and later spread to Hollywood and academia. In essence, the attack was not against individuals, but against the idea, which had gained wide acceptance during the Great Depression, that there existed a class struggle. The consequences of the anti-socialist witchhunt for American intellectual and cultural life have been incalculable.

Schlesinger’s hagiography of Jackson played its role in all of this. The Harvard historian, a personal friend and advisor to John Kennedy, was a major intellectual representative of what has been called “liberal anti-communism.” Soon after the Age of Jackson, beginning in the late 1940s, state Democratic Party organizations began to hold “Jefferson-Jackson” fundraising dinners. …

However, the president and his political guru need only follow the history lesson a few years further past the Age of Jackson to understand Jacksonian politics’ total and catastrophic failure. The nationalism of “Jacksonian democracy” may have delayed the eruption of the colossal contradictions of the antebellum, but it did not prevent it.

Footnotes

[1] Bruce Laurie, Artisans into Workers, Labor in Nineteenth-Century America. University of Illinois Press, 1997.

[2] Leon Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860, University of Chicago Press, 1965.

LOOKS LIKE THE SECRET SERVICE CAN’T AFFORD TRUMP The agency tasked with protecting the president asked for an additional $60 million, about $27 million of which was to go to securing Trump Tower. The Office of Management and Budget said no. [HuffPost]

Dutch painter Vermeer, new book


This 2001 video is called Vermeer: Master of Light (COMPLETE Documentary).

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Saturday 18th March 2017

IN HIS relatively short life — he died in 1675 at the age of 43 — Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer was unknown outside his native country and his name faded into obscurity after his death.

That changed in the mid-19th century, when his paintings of domestic interior scenes of middle-class life grew in popularity in Europe and, eventually, internationally.

Vermeer was not a prolific painter — only 34 canvases are directly attributed to him today — because he worked slowly and meticulously.

He was by no means wealthy and the pigments he used were expensive and this is possibly a reason why his works are few in number.

Almost all his paintings appear to be set in two rooms in his house and feature the same furniture and decorations and very often the same people, usually women.

Taschen publishers are noted for the quality of their art books and that is again in evidence in the newly and sumptuously produced Vermeer: The Complete Works (£25).

It draws on the complete catalogue of his output, with the images accompanied by a detailed and informative commentary.

The quality of the reproductions are such that Vermeer’s extraordinary representation of light shines through on every page and close-ups of selected canvases enhance one of the great pleasures of observing Vermeer’s work — constructing one’s own narrative about his subjects.

The book is a fitting tribute to a painter acknowledged as one of the greats of the Dutch “golden age.”

COMPETITION

Win a copy of Vermeer: The Complete Works. The Morning Star has a copy of Vermeer: The Complete Works to give away as a prize. All you have to do is name Vermeer’s birthplace and send your answer on a postcard to Vermeer Competition, 52 Beachy Road, London E3 2NS or by email to dawnpower@peoples-press.com. Please ensure you include your full name and address with your answer.

Closing date: Saturday March 25, 2017

Jörg Baberowski, German extreme right professor


This video says about itself:

National Geographic: Hitlers SS Death Squad Schutzstaffel

10 October 2015

An examination of Hitler‘s elite SS division that carried out mass murders in Ukraine and in Belarus, and engaged in other crimes against humanity.

By the International Youth and Students for Social Equality in Germany:

Stop the shift to the right at Humboldt University!

2 March 2017

A political conflict is evolving at Berlin’s Humboldt University, the significance of which reaches far beyond the university campus. Professor Jörg Baberowski, who regularly advances xenophobic, authoritarian and militarist positions in public, is going to court and mobilising right-wing students to suppress criticism of his far-right positions.

Should Baberowski succeed, it would represent a blow against freedom of opinion and a further step in the transformation of the Humboldt University into a centre of right-wing, militarist ideology. While Baberowski is using his position as head of the Department of Eastern European History to propagate far-right positions at the university and beyond, students who challenge his views would risk punishment and significant professional disadvantages.

The issue is not merely a dispute at Humboldt University, but involves fundamental political questions. Baberowski’s attacks on refugees and calls for a strong state are now official German policy. Refugees are being discriminated against and deported, the police and intelligence agencies strengthened, and the defence budget doubled. There are even public discussions about the reintroduction of military service and the need for Germany to acquire its own nuclear weapons.

Broad sections of the population oppose these developments. The realisation of such a programme would require, as in the 1930s, a dictatorship. This is why Baberowski speaks out in favour of a strong state, welcomes the election of Donald Trump, defends the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and praises the Nazi jurist and theoretician of the state of emergency, Carl Schmitt.

How Baberowski deals with critics

Last year, Baberowski secured a preliminary injunction against the Student Union (Asta) in Bremen, banning it from citing and criticizing some of his right-wing statements.

Last October the Asta in Bremen called for a peaceful protest against the appearance of the right-wing professor at the university, where he was due to speak at the invitation of the Association of Christian Democratic Students (RCDS) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The Asta cited comments by Baberowski on the refugee crisis and the “war on terror,” which they now cannot criticise or cite without risking a fine of up to €250,000. The Asta challenged this order, and the State Court in Cologne is due to rule on the case on March 15.

The action taken by the HU professor against the student representative body of another university has provoked outrage. The student parliament at Berlin’s Free University and the Assembly of Student Representative Councils (FRIV) at Humboldt University, along with other student bodies, registered protests. In Bremen, around 100 students took part in a solidarity meeting at which representatives of the IYSSE reported on the conflict with Baberowski in Berlin. The IYSSE organised a well-attended solidarity meeting addressed by representatives of the Bremen Asta at Humboldt University.

Baberowski responded to this wave of solidarity with heinous personal insults and threats directed against IYSSE members campaigning for solidarity with the Bremen students. At one of his lectures, he denounced the IYSSE, the Trotskyist youth organisation with four elected representatives on the student parliament, as a “Stalinist sect.” He accused the university management for being “cowards” because it allowed these “criminals” to act and do as they pleased. He called on his students, whose marks and career prospects depend on him, to act against the IYSSE.

An open letter is now circulating among right-wing students and ancillary staff at the institute of history addressed to the HU president, accusing the IYSSE of defaming and slandering Baberowski. It calls upon the university management to “prohibit” the IYSSE’s criticism. Management has so far remained silent about these incidents, even though the IYSSE has filed a complaint against Baberowski’s insults and threatening behaviour.

It is significant that neither Baberowski nor the students he has mobilised have uttered a word about the content of his right-wing positions. They are doing everything to silence criticism of Baberowski, but they are incapable of answering a single argument.

Yet there is no other professor who appears so frequently in the media or at public meetings and speaks so openly in favour of xenophobic, authoritarian and militarist positions. He does not even attempt to formally separate his role as a right-wing agitator from his teaching activities at the university. On his university web site, where academic publications are usually listed, he registers no less than 101 radio interviews, 39 television contributions, 32 newspaper articles and 148 essays, the vast majority of which deal with political topics.

Baberowski’s right-wing agitation

The list also includes the demagogic columns authored every month by Baberowski for the Basler Zeitung, owned by Swiss right-wing populist Christoph Blocher. The views promoted by Baberowski correspond with those advanced by Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon. It is no accident that the Breitbart News web site, which Bannon previously headed, repeatedly praised the “renowned professor” Baberowski for his agitation against refugees.

Like Trump and Bannon, Baberowski praises Brexit—“a democratic exclamation mark”—as a decision of the citizens of Britain “against the policy of open borders … which Chancellor Merkel wants to impose on Europe.”

Tirades against Merkel’s refugee policy alternate with calls for ruthless state violence against Islamic terrorism. “Indifference is just another word for cowardice,” he writes. “Whoever understands only the language of violence should feel it themselves.” Referring to politicians who called for prudence in the wake of the Berlin terrorist attack, Baberowski rails, “On the political stage, the song of self-disempowerment is being sung.”

He celebrates Trump’s election victory in the Basler Zeitung as a blow “against the culture of political correctness.” He defends the AfD against the “groundless accusation” that there were fascists among its parliamentary deputies.

Another recurring issue that recalls Trump and Bannon is Baberowski’s attacks on the media and established political parties. The professor, who enjoys access to a wide range of media channels and who ruthlessly attacks his critics, creates the impression that he lives in a dictatorship where opinions are suppressed. Commenting on criticism of Völkish-nationalist ideas and xenophobia, he wrote: “With a moral pistol, the safety catch off, the dictatorship of the politically correct compels citizens to say only what it wants to hear.”

At the height of the refugee crisis in October 2015, Baberowski raged in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung against the “virtue-mania” of the “authorities,” who excluded those opposed to refugees from the debate on immigration. “In the world of the moral righteous, into which Germany has been transformed by the mainstream media, prudence and reason have been outlawed. Whoever refers to healthy common sense risks exclusion and contempt. Whoever violates the limits of the republic of virtues is to be banished to darkest Germany.”

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Baberowski simultaneously played off socially disadvantaged sections of the population against refugees, in the style of the AfD or France’s National Front. “Why should an immigrant receive for free what those who live here have worked hard for decades to secure?” he asked. “Secretaries, construction workers, mothers who have little money available in their old age, hairdressers unable to afford a home because their wages are insufficient, do not understand why the social welfare net is there for those who have made no contribution to its financing.”

He ultimately drew on the arguments of cultural racism to justify his agitation against refugees. “The integration of several million people in a short time interrupts the continuity of our traditions, on which we base ourselves and which sustain a society and provide it with consistency,” he wrote.

There can be no doubt about the extreme right-wing character of Baberowski’s views. Even in the [right-wing] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jannis Panagotidis, Patrice Poutrous and Frank Wolff have criticised Baberowski for abandoning in his polemics “knowledge derived from historical migration research in favour of intervening in the debate as a ‘concerned citizen’ with pre-scientific professions of faith.”

In the taz newspaper, Daniel Bax accused “prominent publicists” of acting as “mouthpieces for right-wing and far-right circles,” and referred to Baberowski as an example. “Baberowski was invited to a CSU (Christian Social Union) meeting in Erding in early October,” he wrote. “But his theses are also shared by the NPD (a neofascist party).”

The fact that Baberowski advances far-right positions is recognized not only by his critics, but by the extreme right as well. Along with Breitbart News, the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer praised Baberowski for his agitation against refugees. In Germany, he is lauded for the same reason by the far-right newspaper Junge Freiheit and the fascist NPD.

Baberowski’s revision of history

There is a good reason why Baberowski does not separate his role as a right-wing agitator from his work as a historian. In his academic field, he also advocates far-right theses based on historical revisionism.

His work on Stalinist violence is motivated by his support for the work of Ernst Nolte, who downplayed the Nazis as an ultimately understandable reaction to Bolshevism. Although Stalin’s reign of terror in 1937 and 1938 was aimed above all against the leadership of the October Revolution, Baberowski persistently refused to acknowledge any break between the October Revolution and Stalinism. And although the mere accusation of Trotskyism amounted to a death sentence, he denies the fact that the Trotskyist Left Opposition waged an embittered struggle against Stalinism on the basis of a socialist and internationalist perspective.

In early 2014, Baberowski told Der Spiegel that he had already defended Nolte at the time of the Historikerstreit (Historians’ Dispute) when Baberowski was a student. “Nolte was done an injustice, historically speaking, he was right,” he added. As with Nolte, Baberowski’s writings are characterised by the downplaying of the crimes of the Nazis. He told Der Spiegel in the same interview, “Hitler was no psychopath, and he wasn’t vicious. He didn’t want people to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.”

In Baberowski’s books, there are many passages suggesting that the Nazis’ war in the east was not planned as a war of annihilation, but forced on the Wehrmacht by Stalin. This is also the case in his latest book, Räume der Gewalt (Spaces of Violence), which, in addition, virtually denies the Nazis’ anti-Semitic motives.

The word anti-Semitism does not appear once in the entire book, and the word “anti-Semites” only three times, and then only in a negative sense, as Alan Posener noted in [conservative daily] Die Welt. He cited Baberowski’s assertion regarding the paramilitary death squads of the SS, “Not even in the Einsatzgruppen were particularly motivated anti-Semites to be found,” before adding ironically, “They just murdered Jews.” Posener summed up his criticism by stating, “There was a time when such a dismissal of the role of anti-Semitism in the Holocaust would have been a scandal in Germany. The intellectual level of the country has degenerated to such an extent that Baberowski is being feted.”

Baberowski’s book on violence lacks even the most basic scientific method and serves to justify a right-wing policy of law-and-order. His theory of violence presents human beings as unalterable and violent, explains violence purely on the basis of the immediate situation and denies it has any relevant social or ideological causes.

According to his thesis, order can only be established by means of the force of the state and not through social progress. As he said at a panel discussion in Berlin, “All the money spent on social programmes to civilise people could just as well be tossed in the (river) Spree.” Instead, he called for a better equipping of the state to reinforce its monopoly on the use of force. These views also overlap with those of Bannon, who wants to “deconstruct” the welfare state and strengthen the police instead.

The ruling elite’s shift to the right

The aggressiveness with which Baberowski puts forward his right-wing positions and attacks his critics can only be understood in the context of the global shift to the right by the ruling elites in every country. They are responding to the global crisis of capitalism, which has further deepened since the 2008 economic crisis, as they did in the last century: with war and dictatorship.

The coming to office of Donald Trump, the most right-wing president in American history, has increased the danger that humanity will be wiped out in a nuclear war. Trump and his cabinet, made up of billionaires, generals and right-wing ideologues, have declared war on the American working class and the entire world.

The situation is no different in Germany and Europe. This is the reason why a right-wing professor like Baberowski encounters virtually no opposition in leading media and political circles, and is praised as a “renowned historian.”

As in the United States, the ruling elite is preparing for new wars. “In the coming years, Germany will face foreign policy and security challenges of which the country cannot even dream today, possibly not even in its worst nightmares.” Jan Techau, the director of a US think-tank in Berlin, wrote recently in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. According to Techau, Germans must therefore urgently be “forced to give up their neurotic desire for a morally clean foreign policy.”

French historian arrested in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

October 5, 2015 a panel discussion Vichy France and the Jews, revisited: Robert Paxton in conversation with Henry Rousso and Phil Nord.

From France 24:

Renowned French historian detained for 10 hours by US customs officials

2017-02-26

A French historian was detained for 10 hours by US customs officials this week while on his way to an academic conference in Texas.

Henry Rousso, 62, a specialist in the history of World War II who has taught at the Sorbonne in Paris and Columbia University in New York, was held for questioning after his flight from Paris landed in Houston on Wednesday.

The Frenchman said on Twitter late on Saturday: “I confirm. I have been detained 10 hours at Houston Itl Airport about to be deported. The officer who arrested me was ‘inexperienced.”

Rousso was on his way to a Hagler Institute Symposium at Texas A&M University, local daily The Eagle reported.

While he was being detained Rousso called the university faculty who worked with immigration lawyer Fatma Marouf to help secure his release.

“When he called me with this news two nights ago, he was waiting for customs officials to send him back to Paris as an illegal alien on the first flight out,” The Eagle reported Golsan as saying on Friday.

According to Golsan, customs officials said there was a “misunderstanding” regarding Rousso’s visa.

The Paris-based scholar is currently a senior researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique, or CNRS), in Paris, one of France’s largest public research institutes. His work focuses on France in WWII and the post-war period, and he has spoken many times at the Texas A&M University on the French Vichy government during World War II and the Holocaust.

He was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1954, but his family was expelled from Egypt in 1956.

From the Houston Chronicle in the USA:

A prominent Holocaust historian who was detained at George Bush Intercontinental Airport en route to speak at a Texas A&M University symposium last week, said Sunday that he might think twice before returning to the United States given the new climate surrounding immigration.

Professor Rousso on his arrest: here.

USA: Muhammad Ali’s son asked, ‘Are you Muslim?’ by border agents: here.

Bird paintings by Aert Schouman exhibited


This 17 February 2017 Dutch video is about an exhibition in Dordrecht of bird paintings by Aert Schouman (1710-1792).

Among his works are big oil paintings for the walls of Prince William V‘s palace in The Hague.

Now, these paintings are usually in Huis ten Bosch royal palace in The Hague. However, that palace is being reconstructed (which costs lots of taxpayers’ money). So, from now till September 2017, there is an exhibition of Schouman’s work in the Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht.

Biologists have helped with this exhibition as the birds depicted are from many countries and Schouman often did not know which exact species he depicted.

Henry David Thoreau, United States environmentalist author bicentenary


Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an essayist, poet, philosopher, opponent of slavery, naturalist, and historian from the USA.

This video from the USA says about him:

31 May 2009

Henry David Thoreau sought the simple life in 1845 when he moved to the woods outside Boston to live on Walden Pond. We visit the remains of his home. …

In wildness is the preservation of the world,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in 1851 at a time when he was one of the few thinking about environmental conservation. Six years previous he had embarked on a now-famous experiment in simple living. He’d gone to the woods outside Boston to live in a 150-square-foot cabin to avoid living “what was not life”. …

He spent two years, two months and two days in his cabin at Walden Pond and in 1854, he published his reflections on life in the woods in the book Walden. The book is credited with helping to inspire environmental awareness. …

Due to his detailed observations of the natural world during his days at Walden, his work is now being used to help modern scientists study climate change.

When he died in 1862, the industrial revolution was just beginning to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. His recordings of when and where plants flowered in the area are now being studied to show patterns of climate change.

Conservation biologists reported in 2008 – based on Thoreau’s research- that common species are flowering 7 days earlier than they did during his day and 27% of the species he studied have disappeared (another 36% are endangered).

Henry David Thoreau did not only inspire environmentalism in the USA, but also in many other counties. This morning, Dutch Vroege Vogels radio said that without Thoreau, famous Naardermeer nature reserve would now be a landfill.

Thoreau was also a big influence on literature, both in the USA and elsewhere. Walden, the name of Thoreau’s cabin and book, became the name for the Walden utopian socialist community in the Gooi region as well; founded by Dutch poet Frederik van Eeden.

From the site of The Thoreau Society in the USA:

Thoreau Bicentennial Gathering: Celebrating the Life, Works, and Legacy of Henry David Thoreau

The Thoreau Society Annual Gathering & Bicentennial Celebration of
Thoreau’s Life, Works, and Legacy

July 11-16, 2017
Concord, Massachusetts

Be it life or death, we crave only reality.
Henry D. Thoreau

Film on 1871 Paris Commune reviewed


This video from London, England says about itself:

15 February 2017

The New Babylon is a 1929 Russian silent film about the 1871 Paris Commune. It was directed by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, with a musical score by Dmitri Shostakovich. Ian Christie, Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck College, explains the importance of this film from a political and film history context.