Tag Archives: Tulane University

Harvey M. Bricker and the Passing of the Great Race’s Memory of Facts: the Culture of Traditional Education

Memories of Memorization, Traditional Education, and the Old Archaeology that came from WASPY Old “Traditional” Harvard.  Education of a kind that almost no one has anymore, from an Educator without fair modern parallels, because of my Memories of a serious man with a wry and dry sense of humor who wore bow-ties and proudly (if somewhat ironically and daringly) sported a Hitler-style “toothbrush” mustache….

Word has come to me second-hand via HSC from the desk of my old honors’ thesis advisor E. Wyllys Andrews V that Professor Harvey M. Bricker of Tulane University passed on, joining his professors and other “Dead White Men” of Academic History in the the Great Symposium in the Sky last Sunday January 15, 2017.  I rarely have occasion to write  or even think about my undergraduate college professors in the 1970s, but Harvey without any doubt was one of my two top favorites out of a faculty of Archaeology and Historical Anthropology that I simply loved, really idolized, and almost worshipped as a younger than average teenager in New Orleans.

It is hard to believe that he must have been 76 or 77 when he died.  Harvey and his wife Victoria R. were among the young generation of professors who totally remade Tulane as a modern university in the 1970s.  (Vicky Bricker was, in fact, my very first professor of Anthropology, and the reason I switched from Political Science to Anthropology as my freshman declaration of major).  

Harvey was an uncompromising traditionalist, an “Old Archaeologist” of the Hallam L. Movius (Harvard) and Francois Bordes/Bordeaux French Palaeoloithic School of careful excavation and stone tool typologies.  Harvey made no attempt to conceal his contempt for the “New Archaeology” of the “Processualists” and for that I absolutely loved him.

He was a great classroom professor, although I’m sad to say I apparently only managed to take two classes from him, namely “Man in the Pleistocene” and “Rise of Civilization”, then catalog numbered Anthropology 625-626.

Today, I am most grateful to him for emphasizing a much maligned feature of learning: memorization.  “Memorization of Facts” is denigrated in the modern world as almost beneath contempt.  “Give me Big Problems; Teach me how to think outside the box; don’t try to lock me in” whine the modern millennial students.

I have always wondered how you ever think outside of the box if you don’t know what’s IN the box.  It’s a serious question.  I firmly believe that thought unanchored in knowledge of all that came before is pretty much worthless.  But that is the way and the story of the modern world: “let’s forget everything that the Dead White Men thought day before yesterday” and “let’s just think whatever we want to think and do whatever we want to do”—that’s a surefire strategy for disaster, and it’s what the cultural marxists are doing with modern education at all levels. 

Harvey Bricker awarded high grades ONLY for recitation of facts.  “Facts are low level observations” which do not require much in the way of comparative thought, while “Theories are Higher Level, synthetic observations.”  Or so I learned another (much  more “Processual”, “New”) Archaeologist, Columbia’s Barbara J. Price, who herself died in New York City, February 18, 2016, at the age of 75.  

To look at the forest or the trees, that is the question.  Except it is really no kind of question: if you don’t look up very close, you won’t, you can’t possibly, know what kind of trees are in the forest, what is the mix of species.  And to really study forest ecology you need a pretty exact census of each tree, vine, and bush in your study area, together with the contents and depths of the soil, the worm and insect population, not to mention the birds and mammals.

So Harvey M. Bricker taught like they did back in my grandparents’ days, back in the time of Madison Grant (the one who wrote of “The Passing of the Great Race”), and Harvey expected students to learn the names of local site phases and radio-carbon dates and the typological contents of tool assemblages.

I was fortunate because my grandparents had required me to memorize lists since I was a kid, and to recite them and test my memory was our family’s version of fun and game time.  My grandfather’s practical point was simple: “Memorization is the key to any kind of business success. I have companies (H.B. Meyer & Son’s, Al Meyer Company, Bell Chemical Company) that depend on sales to very sophisticated corporate and government customers who have “procurement departments” whose employees do nothing but look at the available products’ cost benefits all day long.  If my salesmen can’t remember every single product we have without consulting a catalog, they won’t be able to push the right product to the right customer.  If they can’t remember every chemical component of every product, when it was patented, by us or someone else, and how it was used, they won’t be effective in presenting the substance of what we offer. So these are the same games we play at the office: who can remember the most detail. You’ll never regret learning how to memorize.”

So the attack on memorization of facts is part of the modern “dumbing down” of people to serve computers.  Computers are based on memory, but can a computer really sell a product, or an idea, as effectively, or with as much flare and enthusiasm, as a personal conversation can do?

Academics, of course, both creates and consists of (at least theoretically, ideally) the great marketplace of ideas.  Harvey Miller Bricker belonged to this old school that an archaeologist needed to be (in essence) as good a salesman for his ideas as anyone on my grandfather’s well-disciplined sales team.  In the modern world of “safe spaces” and “trigger words” and political correctness gone mad, well, forcing people to memorize facts is tantamount to forcing them to work, and to accept the world as it is.

But if we haven’t studied the world as it REALLY is, how can we even know for sure that we don’t like it?

I remember my big bulging blue spiral ring notebooks with gold embossed “Tulane University” on the covers, chocked with page after page of notes in my fair-to-awful handwriting and internal manila “pocket” containers stuffed with class handouts, quizzes, and graded tests and papers.

For Anthro 625, “Man in the Pleistocene” (a survey of Old Stone Age/Palaeolithic Archaeology) from the first choppers below the bottom of the earliest floors at Olduvai Gorge to the final end of the ice age and dawn of the Mesolithic, Harvey’s lectures were filled with facts, and I basically couldn’t write down the facts he gave in those speeches fast enough.  I wrote my paper for that course, “Comment Vivaient les Rennes a l’Age de l’homme Préhistorique” hypothesizing that the Later Magdalenian people of Upper Palaeolithic France had domesticated the reindeer, at least to the same degree that the Lapp of Finland have done so in modern times.  (It was at least two years before the release of the Christmas kids’ song, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”… but “L’Age du Rennes” or “the Reindeer Age” is an old-fashioned French expression naming the Upper Palaeolithic.  Harvey made me rewrite it about four times.  It was a great experience.  I remember reading and criticizing the work of an English archaeologist named D.A. Sturdy, and Harvey told me (wrote on one version of my paper) I shouldn’t be so hard on him, that Sturdy wasn’t necessarily “that stupid.”  I was only 17 but Harvey spent a great deal of time with me.

For “Rise of Civilization”, Harvey required us to memorize the local sequence of Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age in each sector of Europe, including the infamous “Reinecke” series.  Thanks to Harvey, names like “Starčevo-Körös-Cris”, Vinča, Vinitsa,  Lepenski-Vir, Dolni Vestonice, Dunaújváros, were fixed in my mind and remained ready to resuscitate talking to archaeologists in 1989-90 when my former Greek wife and I toured Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe during and after the fall of the Iron Curtain while I had a Volkswagenwerk Fellowship at the University of Bonn….  In essence, Harvey  in New Orleans had taught us about local sequences as well as and as thoroughly  as locally specialized archaeologists learn about their own backyards in (the former) Czechoslovakia, Hungary, (the former) Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria.

I never got to go on a dig with Harvey at the Châtelperronian site of Les Tambourets in the Pyrenees in southern France or ever even to see him in action, except in the classroom, but I heard so much from him, and found him so inspiring, that I feel like I did.  

http://www.worldcat.org/title/chatelperronian-of-les-tambourets-haute-garonne-france/oclc/907679210

http://www.paleoanthro.org/media/dissertations/Scandiuzzi2008-abstract.pdf

I don’t know how it is now, but in those days the Anthropology Professors at Tulane all ate at the University Cafeteria with the students, and so we got to spend lots of time with them out of class.  Harvey at a table with students was always funny in his stern dry way, twitching his mustache  meaningfully in ways that the Führer himself could never have matched.  He and Vicky had their share of the Anthro Department parties, including the annual Ritual of the Passing of the Golden Bough, at their home on Cherokee Street.  I miss those days…. they were so carefree and fine and fun…. and so very interesting.

The passing of a great old fashioned professor like Harvey is a very sad moment.  He and Vicky, starting 42-40 years in the past, so long ago, played a major role in shaping my life, my mind and intellect, such as it is….and they definitely formed a large part of how I look at the world…. through their very conservative lenses of cultural evolution and archaeological prehistory, the evolution of civilization and the development of cultures.  I did not know them when they were focused on Maya astronomy and all that has remained pretty much beyond my grasp until the present day anyhow…. I am ashamed that I do not even own their magnum opus as of today, although I plan on buying it immediately:

https://www.amazon.com/Astronomy-Codices-Memoirs-American-Philosophical/dp/0871692651

But above all I remember them walking across the Tulane campus together looking so dedicated, so serious, and determined.

America in general, Tulane in particular, was different back then.  But if we remember and rebuild, mixing memory and desire, as T.S. Eliot wrote in the Wasteland, perhaps it could be that way again.  Perhaps students will rediscover the joys of memorization and building knowledge carefully and slowly, one brick, one stone tool, one Palaeolithic burin or type of clay at a time…. and both our theories and the world may be better for this.

SEE ALSO:

http://obits.nola.com/obituaries/nola/obituary.aspx?n=Harvey-Miller-Bricker&pid=183715426

http://www.legacy.com/memorial-sites/tulane-university/

Public Meetings on Confederate Monuments in New Orleans on Thursday 13 August

Removal of Confederate Monument Public Hearing

http://www.nola.gov/hdlc/

The New Orleans HDLC will hold a public hearing on Thursday, August 13, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 1300 Perdido Street on code section 146-611 – Removal from public property by request from the New Orleans City Council, evaluation and recommendation: Robert E. Lee Statue, PGT Beauregard statue, Battle of Liberty Place monument, Jefferson Davis statue. The deadline for comment submissions has passed.

Removal of Confederate Monument Public Hearing

The New Orleans Human Relations Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 1300 Perdido Street on code section 146-611 – Removal from public property by request from the New Orleans City Council, evaluation and recommendation: Robert E. Lee Statue, PGT Beauregard statue, Battle of Liberty Place monument, Jefferson Davis statue. If you would like to submit a comment, please complete the feedback form below. The deadline for comment submissions has passed.

My position is as follows:

New Orleans, as a city, embodies the Old South, and it was the greatest City of the Old South AND the Confederate States of America.  Removing Robert E. Lee’s statue, or any of the other monuments, would be amount to a Stalinist attempt to rewrite history, to alter the nature and character of this city, and to falsify reality. IF this City really wants to disown the legacy of slavery and the cultural economy of the Old South—what really needs to happen is that (1) the French Quarter, (2) the Garden District, especially the houses along Jackson and Washington Avenues and First-Seventh Street, and Prytania and much of Magazine, need to be razed. These houses and Antebellum Greek Revival architecture ALL owe their origins to Slave Labor—they are MONUMENTS to the wealth of the South Created by Slave Labor—and it’s just too hypocritical to remove the Statues but not the Homes, not the neighborhoods or the street names—because these are reflective of the deeply ingrained nature of slave-based, Antebellum culture… which produced, whether we like it or not, most of the gloriously beautiful city which is the New Orleans of today.
The magnificence of Victorian Era, with monuments like the oldest buildings of Tulane University and “Uptown” around Audubon Park and “Up-River” St. Charles and Prytania Avenues…these are the monuments to the survivors and first Children of the Confederate States of America.  Tulane University itself is named for one of the South’s Chief Financiers, who donated more money to the Confederate States Government and Army than any private individual in history had ever done to any war, even compared to George Washington’s personal contributions to and investment in the American Revolution.  While the oldest building at Tulane (the administrative hub of the University, Gibson Hall) is named after another Confederate General, Randall Gibson.
And please don’t forget the hypocrisy implied by taking Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and Jefferson Davis down, but leaving the Statue of Andrew Jackson standing. 
By any standards of International Human Rights or U.S. Civil Rights law, Andrew Jackson was genuinely guilty of “Genocidal War Crimes” but by those same standards, Robert E. Lee, Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis were not.  The 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans was celebrated here in January without major controversy, but this is simply a perversion of history.  The Battle of New Orleans was in fact without any real military or political significance, certainly no ideology was at stake.  It was all about the glorification of Old Hickory.  And I have no problem with that a priori, except that, by comparison, Jackson was a monster and we are vilifying Confederates who fought for liberty and the Constitution.

Jackson, of course, made war, both on the battlefield and in the Courts of the United States, and generally abused and oppressed the American Indians—the Five Civilized Tribes, but he also owned slaves.  Accordingly HIS statue, at the very center of New Orleans, should come down BEFORE LEE’s or DAVIS’ or BEAUREGARD’s, IF that’s the real issue….  But I question whether it is the heritage of slavery, or the heritage of Constitutional Liberty and Limited Government, which is the real target of those who seek to denigrate the heritage of the Confederate States of America…

It would be a MASSIVE miscalculation and great historical hypocrisy to take down the monuments to the Confederate (and post-Confederate) leaders.  Even the layout of the city along the river, and the street names (e.g. “the Muses”, Prytania), are testaments to the importance of the Greek Revival and Classical heritage of Athenian Democracy in this City—if you want to obliterate the Southern Legacy in the history of New Orleans, you just need to NUKE THIS CITY, maybe twice, and then think about nuking the rest of the State and the whole of the South—everything of any historical importance comes back to one major truth—Cotton was King and the Mississippi was its Royal Road….

https://charleslincoln3.com/2015/07/16/banning-the-confederate-flag-monuments-is-genocide/
https://charleslincoln3.com/just-nuke-new-orleans-now/

Nightmare on Bourbon Street—Saturday 30 May 2015—Western Civilization is Dead

I went on a rare walk down Bourbon Street last (Saturday) night. The behavior and demeanor of the people I saw made me want to vomit…. It’s time to reinstitute mass deportations of degenerates…. or perhaps even mass executions….there’s no point in trying to “reform” this many drunken, sex-obsessed, aimless people—send them all to whorehouses in Thailand… or give them a relatively painless death. They are of no use to themselves OR the rest of humanity….. but this is only part of my greatest gripe:

The remnants of the Great South are vanishing every day. The great moral and patriotic spirit of the Anglo-Saxon, German, Spanish and French Colonial people has been mostly, perhaps totally, extinguished. What’s especially sad is the view from here in New Orleans of the present day, once the greatest city and shining light of Southern and Western Civilization.

In 1860, Bourbon Street was something like the sum total of what Madison Avenue plus Fifth Avenue between 75th and 85th plus Central Park West are today—in the midst of the elite residences and commercial financial district was founded the greatest Opera House in the Western Hemisphere (aka “The French Opera”) at the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon.

Now, given the modern reality, I normally avoid Bourbon Street like the bubonic plague it so closely resembles, but when visitors come into town they ALWAYS want to see Bourbon Street. Last night was a typical Saturday night—mobbed with people, black and white, in the lowest stages of self-destructive, voluntary degeneracy.

The people, both black and white and “other” I saw out on Bourbon Street were mostly residents of the Southern USA, to the degree I could hear their accents in the hopeless cacophony and din… William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams wrote of what they perceived as the degeneracy of the ruined post-War, post-Reconstruction South—but they never saw ANYTHING as bad as the scene on Bourbon Street—on a normal Saturday night…

So today, all we can see today is the exact OPPOSITE of the spirit of patriotism and freedom that led to Revolution in 1776, Secession in 1860-61, and brave resistance 1954-1974. And now indeed, in the crowds of wretched humanity evidenced on Bourbon Street, what should have been the symbolic center of Southern and Western American Civilization, we see ONLY the offal (the waste and bi-products) of the world—they are to be pitied, up to a point, but I wish I didn’t have to look at them in MY favorite city.

And of all the great monuments to the Southern people, some commie-pinko bastard has been passing out fliers all over town “There are several hundred examples of white supremacist monuments in New Orleans, Here are about 2 dozen examples….” Starting of course with the Robert E. Lee obelisk and monument “@Lee Circle” but (somewhat ironically) even including “Judah Touro Hospital” because Judah Touro was a “Jewish slaveholder” and Tulane University because “Paul Tulane” (a northerner who graduated from Princeton University in New Jersey) “gave the most money to the Confederacy.”

The people are all anesthetized (temporarily?) or permanently brain dead…..Cry for our Beloved Country!

I knew Jim Garrison—he used to hang around the UC Cafeteria at Tulane University in the 1970s

I knew Jim Garrison— my grandfather introduced me to him at a George Corley Wallace for President campaign dinner at Commander’s Palace in 1971, and later, in 1975-1977, Garrison used to hang around the University Cafeteria on the Tulane Campus in New Orleans in the 1970s, until he was elected to the New Orleans Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, and talk to any student who would listen about his experiences and opinions.  Like Wallace e was a lifelong Democrat but he understood why I chose to be President of Tulane College Republicans and visited our group on two occasions.  He knew that life had kind of passed him by…. that he was prosecuted  by special order to silence him for his writings about the Kennedy assassination  in the aftermath of the attempt on George Wallace’ life. And he knew that most professors at the Tulane Law School, from which he graduated in 1949, thought he was a crank…or at least they pretended to in order to build their own careers.

But in fact, even though Judge Garrison was not Kevin Kostner, and even though the one case of his I use most was one he lost to the ACLU (Dombrowski v. Pfister, 1965), in my opinion Jim Garrison was one of the great heroes of the 20th Century, possibly of all American History.  He saw the truth and he spoke the truth and he lived the truth, although he did not get far enough to finish proving the truth, which was almost certainly that Lyndon B. Johnson sponsored and organized the murder of John F. Kennedy…. Everything I know from my family in Dallas and elsewhere in Texas, my life in New Orleans, and my life experiences elsewhere tell me that this is true: Kennedy refused to implement the New World Order, he was unwilling to do so, and for that sin he died in Dallas.  Here is an excerpt from his 1970 book he wrote that is almost now forgotten (A Heritage of Stone):

By Jim Garrison

In a country with advanced technology for news distribution, the removal of a nation’s leader by a coup d’etat will never be attempted unless those sponsoring the murder feel assured that they will have an effective degree of control over the dissemination of the news. Government control must be at a high enough level to guarantee the subsequent distribution of official news releases encouraging the belief that, however tragic the incident, it was essentially meaningless and all is well.

The high speed of news dissemination is used to great advantage in contemporary intelligence assassinations. The official fiction can be spread to every corner of the world and obtain acceptance as reality long before any separate inquiry, if one ever occurs, has begun. The sheerest illusion is spun into the only reality the public will ever know.

Creation of a believable cover for an assassination is routine for an intelligence agency of a major government. The cover story which is initially distributed by the press release creates a degree of acceptance virtually impossible to dislodge. This is the case especially when the official fiction is supported by the prearranged activities of a decoy pointing in the direction of a false sponsor of the assassination.

The actual events of the assassination become irrelevant. All that remains relevant is the cover story issued to the press and the power to control the investigation and conceal the evidence.

A new political instrument has been created. It provides for the permanent removal of a man whose philosophies do not coincide with that of the dominant power structure of the United States. The danger that the press will recognize what is happening and will make relevant criticism has been demonstrated to be zero. The thinnest of covers will set the press off in the direction opposite to the truth, like greyhounds pursuing the artificial rabbit. The victim can be dispatched with a shotgun and an official announcement that it was done with a bow and arrow will produce editorials condemning the use of bows and arrows.

No one wants to recognize that somewhere along the line America has ceased to be the home of the brave and the land of the free, and that only in after-dinner speeches is it still the sweet land of liberty. No one wants to recognize that there are assassins at work in the land, symmetrically eliminating men who speak out for the human race and for the future. No one wants to admit that in America peace is dangerous business. Better to have the assassinations accompanied by wafer-thin deception, eagerly accepted one after the other, than to have to face the truth.

Justice is not so blind that it pursues the most powerful forces in the country. Nor is the press so committed to truth that it wants the burden of knowledge of what is happening.

America has become a nation controlled by men who seek ever-increasing power. Justice is whatever they want to happen. Truth is whatever they announce has occurred.

-A Heritage of Stone, New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1970, 31-32.

 

New Orleans’ Top Federal Lawman came here to Confiscate Guns in Louisiana, and to change the psychology of the people…. and to go to schools to ask children to sign a Pledge to inform on their parents and friends who have guns…..

(1) Night before last, Wednesday, 9 October, for the second time I attended a lecture in a lecture series “Voices of Hope” at Trinity Episcopal Church at 1329 Jackson Avenue in New Orleans, about five blocks from where I’ve been living since March 8 of this year.  The program for last night had not been announced in advance (apparently for security reasons), but last week I attended a presentation by Clancy DuBos, political editor for the New Orleans Gambit and it was just interesting enough that I wanted to follow up, especially given the delights of the children’s choir at the 5:30 Wednesday Eucharist and the Wednesday dinner that follows.  (Mr. Dubo’s great message of hope for the people of New Orleans on October 2 was that the city’s two biggest problems were, “Crime and Keeping Water out of the City”; he apparently spent 40 years as an alternative press journalist to reach this conclusion…..but curiously, it was a fairly good lead in to the October 9 presentation)
(2) Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., is a good-looking, articulate, very “polite”, and friendly African American lawyer of impeccable establishment (Eastern Seaboard) credentials who claims (at 37) to be the second youngest U.S. Attorney currently serving in the United States.  He as born in New Orleans in 1976 when I was a Freshman/rising Sophomore at the College of Arts & Sciences at Tulane and attended De la Salle High School uptown on St. Charles—a world away, as he said, from the world into which he was born and raised “mostly” by his mother.  13 years after I graduated Tulane in 1980, K.A. Polite followed the common path of so many of the best and brightest everywhere from De la Salle in 70118 to Harvard 02138, where he graduated in 1997, and then attended Georgetown U. Law Center, where he received his J.D. in 2000 after editing an American Criminal Law Review.  Since then he has served with several major law firms in Delaware, New York, and New Orleans, in addition to serving for three years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York 2007-2010. He was interested in criminal law and “gun violence” from childhood, because his father was a New Orleans (NOPD Second Police District, 4317 Magazine Street Across from Casamento’s Restaurant, right by St. George’s Episcopal School) police officer and, perhaps more significantly because his older brother was killed in a street gunfight in New Orleans when Kenneth was a teenager.
(3) Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., (do people just naturally conform to their surnames, like the long-time Yale archaeologist “Frank Hole”, the distinguished New York Court of Appeals Judge “Learned Hand”, the New Orleans Civil Rights Enforcer “John Minor Wisdom”, or my stodgy Trust officer, after my grandfather’s death, when I was in my first and second years at Harvard, “James Dullworth?”), Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., defines his primary mission in the 13 Parishes of the Eastern District of Louisiana as “to stop Gun Violence, and that means disarming the most heavily armed state in the union”, and specifically to overcome and invalidate Louisiana Amendment 2, which passed last year with 74% of the popular vote, and guaranteed “Strict Scrutiny” for any and all restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.  Amendment 2 gave Louisiana gun-owners the strongest possession rights of any state, and Judge Darryl Derbigny, a fellow-Tulanian undergraduate (Columbia Law School, who formerly taught at Loyola Law school next door to Tulane) and self-described “Cajun-Jeffersonian” black Judge in New Orleans, ruled on March 25 of this year that the protection even extends to convicted felons who have served their time and been released, invalidating one of the particularly discriminatory aspects of gun control laws, which is that, once charged with (never mind convicted of) any felony, or any crime of “domestic violence”, no matter what the nature of the crime, a person loses his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms FOREVER, not subject to restoration except by special Presidential or Gubernatorial order (under the Executive Pardon Power).  
(4) Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., made sure to specify that the arrest and conviction of all beneficiaries of Louisiana Amendment 2 was among his top priorities, but far beyond that, that he wanted to “stamp out the culture of guns” in Louisiana “once and forever, because this state is too dangerous.”  
(5) “The Louisiana Courts’ exemption for convicted Felons is subordinate to Federal Law and must not be allowed to prevail, and I have directed the 55 attorneys under my direction to use the full extent of our prosecutorial discretion to make this one of the top priorities of our enforcement program.  Saving lives by confiscating guns is more important than any other of the four pillars of justice to the justice department program.  This is part of the war on terrorism, this is part of the war for helpless victims, this is part of remaking America.”
(6) To my mind, one of the more amazing proposals Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., ever so politely made was effectively to enroll every child as a Federal agent against guns. “We want to implement here the program started in South Carolina schools, and that’s the second most heavily armed state in the Union, where we ask every High School Student to sign a detailed pledge and promise to report all gun ownership, whether it’s their friends or family, to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and to reward those who participate in this program.  There will be age-appropriate simplified versions of the pledge for Middle and Elementary School students because we simply cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in emptying our streets and homes of the guns that killed my brother and kill 41 people every day in America.  That means that every 100 days, more people die of gun violence than died on 911, so yes, this is about fighting terrorism as our first priority in the United States, of making this country safe and secure in every way.”
(7) I am reminded of the “alternative history” movie “Fatherland” where a “Good Nazi” and officer of the SS discovers evidence of mass murder and seeks to defect to the United States to report it, but is reported to the Gestapo and murdered when his very young son follows his schools’ directives and reports his father’s activities as evidence of “mental illness.”  Of course, the use of child informers and reporters is well-documented in the former Soviet Union, by the East German STASI, and throughout the “Cultural Revolution” until today in the People’s Republic of (Red) China.
(8) During the comments period, several members of the audience approvingly commented on the need to psychologically manipulate children and otherwise “treat the psychopathy of guns”.  “There is too much prestige and pride associated with gun ownership and gun use” said one, “we clearly aim at education to turn that around” said Kenneth A. Polite, “we have to develop alternative sanctions to jail, jail is one of the places where the culture of gun use and gun violence is taught among the inmates and passed on from generation to generation; the cycle needs to stop.”
(9) One member of the audience, a psychologist from Santa Barbara, California, recently moved to New Orleans, made a fairly extensive statement about the biological predisposition that can be detected even in small children to the psychopathy of the gun culture and how simple tests should be administered to determine who is “at risk” and to treat these “pre-criminals” to avoid future crimes, to reorient their psychological framework and cultural ideology.  The new U.S. Attorney, Mr. Polite, shook this fellow’s hand afterwards and agreed to meet him “very soon” in his office downtown.
(10) I spoke to Mr. Polite after the meeting and asked him about corruption and in particular the massive foreclosure fraud committed by the banks.  Mr. Polite once again mentioned “prosecutorial discretion” and said that yes, “many desperate people faced with foreclosure have resorted to scams and alternative, illegal programs of resisting foreclosures and that this was a major target of the Justice Department White Collar Crime program Nationwide… It is really terrible when you see people resorting to crime to save their homes, it is so sad.”  I pressed him about the Banks fraud, fraud in the financial service sector and he said that obviously when such issues came up they would be investigated, but that gun related crime took priority over the relatively minor and rare issues of bank and financial institution fraud, “We saw a lot of that when I was an AUSA in New York, but I haven’t heard that’s much of an issue down here,” he said, “our priority is to keep people alive by rooting out gun violence and that means disarming this state and ending the iconic cultural status that guns have in our population; I dream of a gun-free Louisiana, where only law enforcement will ever be able to use deadly force.”
(11)  Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., presents a fine picture and articulate eloquence to the Upper and Upper Middle Class Audience at Trinity, built in 1847 and so the oldest standing Episcopal Church in the entire Louisiana territory purchased from France in 1803 (Christ Church Cathedral, although the congregation was founded in 1805, is housed in a gothic revival Church building begun in the 1880s, and Trinity in Natchitoches, the Second oldest standing Episcopal Church, where my grandmother Helen was baptized and once served as organist, was built in the 1850s).  The audience in Bishop Leonidas Polk Hall (named after Confederate General and Martyr General Leonidas Polk, the First Bishop of Louisiana) was 95% white, with Black maids, nurses, and companions to the elderly constituting the sole representatives of Mr. Polite’s race.  The one black lady to participate in the discussion period questioning complained that her brother was trying to have her “interdicted” (the Louisiana Civil Law Equivalent of civil commitment for mental incompetence)(she had to leave shortly thereafter because it “was her mistress’ bedtime”).  
(12) Upper Class White people fear crime.  White people fear being shot.  Father Mitch Smith described his time in the hospital over the past 8 months visiting a member of the parish perpetually hospitalized after being shot while gardening just a few blocks from Church.  Upper Class White people meeting in Leonidas Polk Hall may not realize the irony of their endorsement of governmental programs of gun confiscation.  The Second Amendment, prior to 1861, was a sure guarantor of the right of the Southern People to Secede, but since the Second Amendment did not carry with it a corresponding duty to keep and manufacture cannons in each state, the South was “outgunned” and ultimately (as Father Mitch recalled) led to the martyrdom of His Grace, General Polk).  
(13) I have previously written about my discussions with New Orleans policemen about the Second Amendment.  Their ambition is to “make sure we are not outgunned.”  Should the people or the Police hold the balance of Power?  In New Orleans and Louisiana, at the present time, there is widespread governmental fear that the government is outgunned in this state, and that the people hold the balance of power.  It is a “clear and present danger” to Federal Supremacy that Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., has come back to his hometown to wipe out forever.
 

Charles Edward Lincoln, III

“Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint, und das mit recht

Matthew 10:34-39
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

33 Years (and one week) was a Long Ice Age Lifetime—May 11, 1980 to May 18, 2013—has been 33 Years and One Week

According to my old professor of Biological Anthropology, Erik Trinkaus, from whom I took several of the most amazing courses I ever had during my graduate career, Ice Age Humans (Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons) in France, Europe, and the Near East did not typically live as long as I have to date (53 years).  In fact, life expectancies were probably less than 30 years for both males and females, and if we have more burial data from older individuals, it is because anyone who lived beyond 40 was practically a godlike object of ancestor worship (OK, that’s my embellishment, not anything Erik ever actually said.  But for what Erik Trinkaus’ “thumbnail” summary opinion was, see an article which cited him in the New York Times, just for a casual and basically random example: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/science/11obneanderthal.html?_r=0).

So it is with shock, awe, and dismay that I realize now that I graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences at Tulane University 33 years and one week ago as of May 18, 2013.  That day is also illuminated by the following historical trivia:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On this date:

Montreal, Quebec, was founded in 1642

The Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, began in 1863

Plessy v. Fergusson was decided in 1896

Haley’s Comet Passed by the Earth in 1910

Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933

Apollo 10 blasted off in 1969

Mount St. Helens’ Volcano in Washington Exploded in 1980

I graduated from Tulane University on May 11, 1980, 33 years and 1 week ago today—Oh yeah, I guess I already mentioned that….

Montreal being founded was a good thing.  Montreal is a really nice city (lots of cute little French-Canadian girls up there, and the food is great too).   I hear Vicksburg was OK before the siege, but it got kind of boring afterwards.   As for the TVA—well, I have heard the TVA was such a success that they never dared to repeat it, which is just as well, because it was essentially just another Communist-Marxist-Stalinist 5 year plan that has now lasted 80 years…. Now that’s a REALLY long time for a 5 year plan to go on….. Aside from the Federal Reserve Banking System, the TVA is the United States Government’s largest “privately” owned corporation.  That is confusing, isn’t it: how can the U.S. Government own anything privately?  Well, the TVA is set up as a private corporation, it’s employees are not US Government employees, but it is wholly owned by the Government.  In other words, the TVA operates as even even more of a “private, closely held” corporation than (a) the Virginia Company, (b) the Massachusetts Bay Company, (c) the Hudson’s Bay Company, or (d) the British East India Company ever was until after the Sepoy Mutiny let to the annexation of India to the Crown as an “Empire.”  But the sole owner of the TVA is the U.S. Government, so it’s a private corporation owned by the largest and most powerful public entity (the U.S. Government) in the world.

Anyhow, I deeply resent the passage of time.   As “the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem” wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

At least verse five gave Hemingway a good idea for a memorable title for one of his novels….some obscure travelogue about Spanish Bullfights in Pamplona.  I think there was a precociously slutty British socialite, a Rich American Jew, a War Veteran, a couple of drunken Scots, an underage Spanish Bullfighter who ends up with the aristocratic slut……

There’s also a holographic mirror at Antoine’s Restaurant in one of the private side rooms (in the New Orleans French Quarter on St. Louis) called “All is Vanity“—it’s a picture of an exquisitely beautiful young lady, probably a close relation of those French-Canadian girls from Montreal mentioned above, whose face when seen from a different angle turns into a rather frightening death’s head skeletal neck-on-shoulder with skull still in place.  And like unto that image, the inscription over so many rural Mexican cemeteries: “Aquí se Acaba el Orgullo Mundial” (Here Endeth Earthly Pride—compare also “Under the Volcano“—both the book and the movie).

As of the 33 years that have passed since my graduation Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum Laude, from Tulane.  Well, “what profit” indeed have I to show for my labour?   I suppose I have learned a lot.  But have I put it to good use?  Continuing from the first Chapter of Ecclesiastes:

13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow

Have I accumulated a large estate?  No and No.  I suppose, in all honesty, thanks in large part to my failed marriage and related matters: I have BLOWN a large estate sky high.   That’s an accomplishment of sorts I guess, which certainly not everyone has had the opportunity to do.

I finished a doctoral dissertation at Harvard which was immediately accepted for publication but I didn’t get around to publishing it in a timely manner and now the Peabody Museum isn’t willing to publish it under the original terms as Peabody Memoir 20 unless I completely rewrite it and resubmit it and get it approved for publication.  In other words, essentially, if I do my doctoral research (why not my doctorate?) all over again.

At the end of my 52nd I got a chipped tooth and developed dental problems which remind me of the human osteology class I had with Erik Trinkaus, using Gray’s Anatomy  (the Classic Medical School Anatomy text and reference book, not the TV soft-porn prime-time soap opera series).   I developed this broken molar problem in New Orleans.  That’s the only saving grace.  I’m finally living back in my favorite city in the USA, albeit as something of a perpetual tourist rather than a real resident (at least I go to Church more regularly than most tourists who come here, I dare say).

And in that connexion, talking of Church, today was the Feast of the Pentecost, and I have to say I think that Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles did a better job of making Pentecost memorable than I have ever seen anywhere.  They had red-ribbon banners and parasols (and/or Chinese lanterns) representing the tongues of fire through which the Holy Ghost entered the Apostles, giving them the ability to speak in tongues.  The Church was generally draped in Red, and since I was a very small child, Red has basically been my favorite colour (my exceedingly conservative grandmother Helen worried that I might turn out a communist—but I didn’t).

And the Psalm today I noticed on Thursday when I went to the mid-day mass on my first day back from Florida.  It was Psalm 104 and it was not appointed for Thursday, but for some reason I opened the Book of Common Prayer and fixated on that Psalm, and it was the Psalm for this beautiful Sunday Service after the reading from the Book of Acts concerning the first Pentacost and the first spontaneous translations of the Gospel by the Apostles….: 

104 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.

12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.

32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.

35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.

There’s that wonderfully melancholy but self-absorbed song in Jesus Christ Superstar about the spiritual transformation of the 12.  It’s called “Always Dreamed that I’d be an Opossum” or something like that (they’re all drunk while Jesus is waiting to be arrested).  A totally appropriate thought for Pentecost, I suppose….

Equally blasphemous is my question about Psalm 104: WHY would God have created “the Leviathan….to play therein?”  (or in a more modern translation “the Leviathan, who thou created just for sport”).  Some passages in the Bible are so hard to deal with…. But on the whole Psalm 104 is so beautiful, and so evocative of the natural balance of the world.   All those lions eating other creatures at night and stuff—“It’s the CIRCLE, the Circle of Life….”

Argo, Iran, and the September 1-6 New Horizon International Independent Film Festival & Conference in Tehran

Three weeks ago, on September 29, 2012, I attended a lecture by Mark Weber at the Institute for Historical Review headquartered in Newport Beach, Orange County, California.  It was a major eye-opener for me, and I would encourage anyone and everyone interested in international politics to listen to what Mark Weber had to say:  http://www.ihr.org/audio/MWIran092912.mp3.  

As a matter of fact, as I told Mark Weber after his speech, I think this presentation should be required listening in every college, high school, and army and navy recruitment center in the USA…..especially the latter.

Weber’s address focused on the questions of whether Iran poses a threat of nuclear or convention aggression in the West Asian arena, whether Iran has or plans to acquire or develop nuclear weapons, and whether the Israeli Prime Minister’s recent “saber rattling” against Iran rests on any rational basis.  

Weber answered summarily and categorically “no” to each of these questions, and as background discussed his recent visit to Tehran to speak at the conference held in conjunction with the First Independent International Filmmakers Festival “New Horizon” sponsored by: http://indfilmfest.com/ujcke3, held from September 1-September 6 of this year.

Apparently very few Americans were in attendance, owing doubtless to Iran’s reputation in this country as part of what our penultimate President W. Bush called “Axis of Evil” along with current member North Korea and (former?) member Libya.

Weber’s portrayal of Iran was certainly not of an evil nation or of a people anxious for war or “jihad” against the West, but Iran has had the dubious distinction of straddling all world conflicts as the largest truly “non-aligned” nation in Asia, throughout the 20th and now 21st centuries.  Iran stayed out of World Wars I and was only drawn into World War II, “kicking and screaming” by a joint British-Soviet invasion to secure the oilfields of the country, and Iran declared war on Germany in 1943 and thus became eligible for membership in the newly envisioned but then only just barely nascent United Nations.

What happened after World War II in Iran was one of the least known but most decisive events in shaping the Cold-War and Post-Cold War environments in Europe.

To wit, in 1951, a Democratic-Social reformer  Prime Minister of Iran Mohammed Mosaddeq (also “Massaddegh”), appointed by the Shah, persuaded the Iranian parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry, in what became known in the international press as the Abadan Crisis.

The Shah owed his crown to British power and his wealth to British Oil, but he did little or nothing to stop or restrain Mossaddegh. Despite British pressure, including an economic blockade, the nationalization and seizure of all British Oil Interests continued. Mossadegh (the 60th Prime Minister of Iran) left office briefly 1952 but was quickly re-appointed by the shah as the 62nd prime minister, due to a popular uprising in Mossadegh’s support. The Shah himself went briefly into exile in August 1953 after a failed military coup by Imperial Guard Colonel Nematollah Nassiri.  

Then  on August 19, 1953, a successful coup was organized by the American (CIA) with the active support of the British (MI6) (known as Operation Ajax).   The nominal leader of this coup was headed by a retired army general Fazlollah Zahedi.   The coup included a propaganda campaign of disinformation and outright lies designed to turn the population against Mossaddegh, finally forced Mossaddegh from office.

These events of sixty years ago have lingered bitterly in the memory of Iranians of all classes until the present time. Mossadegh was arrested and tried for treason. Found guilty, his sentence reduced to house arrest on his family estate while his foreign minister, Hossein Fatemi, was executed. Zahedi succeeded him as prime minister.  The new British and American supported regime suppressed all opposition to the Shah, specifically the National Front and Communist Tudeh Party.

Last year on this blog I described Josh Tickell’s movie “The Big Fix” as the best documentary ever produced in the United States.  It covered the history of Mossadegh’s deposition by the British oil interests as one of the key starting points for understanding British Petroleum’s complete indifference to democracy and human life seen throughout the 2010 “Deep Horizon” Oil spill and its aftermath off the coast of Louisiana.  

Earlier this year, other pundits proclaimed Dinesh D’Souza’s “Obama 2016″ as the greatest documentary of all time, but D’Souza would clearly NOT have felt at home at the International Filmmaker’s conference in Tehran because of his vociferous support of Israel, and his criticism of Obama for taking a “soft” stance against Iran and the “threat” it poses.

All this brings up a very interesting point, ONLY radicals (of both the right and left) ever have anything good to say about Iran and/or anything bad to say about Israel.  Dinesh D’Souza singled out Dr. Edward Said (Ph.D. 1964, Harvard GSAS) as one of Obama’s personal “Founding Fathers.” Ironically enough Said was a nearly exact contemporary and sometime classmate (in English Literature) together with my late father.  According to Dinesh D’Souza, Said influenced Obama against Israel and shaped his thinking about the Post-Colonial World.  

Again, readers of this Blog know that I despise Barack Hussein Obama with the bloodiest of purple passions, but I cannot say a single bad thing about Edward Said, no do I think that Said was a socialist or anti-American in any of the ways Obama quite clearly is. Indeed, it is somewhat ironic to me that Dinesh D’Souza would attack Said, since they are both Christians born in populations which are overwhelmingly “something else”).

Quite aside from the fact that my father had known him in graduate school, and always spoke highly of him, I attended at least two dozen lectures by Said over the course of about 30 years from New Orleans 70118 to Cambridge 02138 and from New Haven 06511 to Chicago 60637.  I was never once less than overwhelmed by his erudition and articulate presentation of the relationship between the Arab-Islamic and Anglo-Christian worlds.  Said was born Jerusalem to Palestinian Christian parents (his mother hailed from Jesus’ town of Nazareth), and Said advocated justice for the non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs, both Christian and Muslim.  

Whether D’Souza has justly grouped Said with Obama or not, the perception of most “mainstream” conservatives (and centrist liberals) in the United States is that only radicals of the left or right could possibly say anything bad about Israel or anything good about Iran.  Despite admiring Edward Said almost as much as D’Souza claims Obama does, I am generally of a radical right-wing persuasion, if any at all.

Among the radical rightists who have supported Iran are David Duke of Louisiana, whose commentaries on the (in many ways inspiring, and technically irreproachable) movie The 300 (about the Spartan resistance at Thermopylae—a name which means “Hot Springs” in Greek) show how certain pro-Israeli propagandists were preparing to turn the American population against Iran by massive disinformation equivalent to the old American & British Campaigns against Mossaddegh.  See especially: http://www.davidduke.com/?p=2381 “The Movie 300: Neocon Racial Propaganda for War.”

Now I cannot sympathize in the least with David Duke’s obsessive antisemitism, but (again ironically), Duke in all his commentaries on Iran directly echoes Edward Said in his judgment that American perceptions of Iran rest on media disinformation and politically motivated mischaracterizations intended to dehumanize the people of Iran.  

I am probably the only person on planet earth to see a major analytical parallel between David Duke’s racial politics and Edward Said’s post-Colonial, post-modern deconstruction of American popular culture perceptions of Iran. But my analysis fits in with the routine conundrum it is to say that ONLY the radical left-and-right wingers oppose Israel.  

The late William F. Buckley once (back in the 1970s I think, during or shortly after the Henry Kissinger era) satirically commented that so central was Israel to American National Defense Policy that it would make sense to admit Israel as the 51st state of the Union.  Buckley noted in support of this proposal that the 4500 air miles from Washington D.C. to Honolulu are only approximately 1000 miles less than the distance from Washington to Tel Aviv…. and that Guam remains a recognized U.S. Territory at 9,000 miles from Washington….

Mark Weber highlighted, as has Representative Ron Paul, that Israel remains to this day the center of U.S. Foreign Policy—more critical in so many ways than the U.K., Germany, or Japan—

Men of my father’s and grandfather’s generation read the poetry of the East as part of a “Gentleman’s education” (only partly as Colonialists in Said’s interpretation, but also as men seeking deeper understanding of the wisdom of the world, especially in conjunction with the mysticism of their beloved Scottish Rite Freemasonry.

As Mark Weber emphasized, most modern American perceptions divorce the people of Iran from their deep historical traditions of literate civilization, which has produced some of the most distinctive poetry and philosophy of both the pre-Islamic (e.g. Zoroastrian Zend-Avesta) and Islamic (e.g. Ferdowsi’s “Book of Kings” or Shahnama followed by the Sufi [“Sophy”] poets Rumi [The Masnavi and Divan-e Shams], Sadi, Hafiz Shirazi, and Al-Ghazali [e.g. “Alchemy of Happiness”] not to mention Scheherazade’s Thousand and one Nights which I, like countless generations of schoolboys before me, grew up reading in awe and fascination of the “mysterious orient”).

The concept of “mysterious east, land of snake charmers and flying carpets” got at least passing message in Ben Affleck’s new movie Argo which I finally got to see last night (October 19)—delayed by my going on two weeks in Fresno—but Peyton and I finally discovered that they DO have cinemas here…. and we desperately needed a break from the Medical Marijuana/Federal vs. State power constitutional controversies we’ve been working on.  

Argo is an excellent movie, whether you remember just how ashamed you were to be traveling abroad during America’s most disgraceful 444 days in history from November 4 1979-January 20 1981, or whether you’re of the modern (born, like my own son Charlie, in 1992 or after) generation for whom even the name of President Jimmy Carter conjures up nothing more than a little bit of a vague and fuzzy memory that he might or might not have been the first peanut farming Navy Officer from Georgia ever to become President…. and the first (and last) U.S. President to be born in the DEEP South (which does not include Texas) since before the War Between the States of 1861-65.

I remember the Iranian Revolution distinctly and I remember thinking it was a very bad thing.  The Shah had favored the modernization and Westernization of Iran—women could wear dresses without veils and things like that.  

The outrages of the Oil-Based Political Economy became intolerable in 1973—but not only did the American people accept that status quo without revolution, they did not seek to punish the oil companies for their price-gouging and irrational profiteering and the wild fluctuations in the price of oil (with a steady and inexorable upward trend) that has become a permanent feature of our lives…..

In any event, Argo did not “trash” the Islamic Revolutionary Iranians but it portrayed them very much as I remember them from the “mainstream media” in 1979-1981.  They were definitely America’s enemies.  At Chichén Itzá on my archaeological project, one of my student assistants Rafael “Rach” Cobos Palma used to go around with a towel on his head (before “towel-head” was considered a politically incorrect racist epithet) chanting “Death to America” and periodically trying to rattle me by reporting fictitious news items that the price of oil had doubled or tripled and the dollar had accordingly collapsed…. He thought this was the funniest thing on earth since back in those days I was working in Mexico on that extremely advantageous dollar-to-peso exchange rate that prevailed throughout the 1980s.  

Argo was basically historically truthful in all details, so far as I can tell anyhow.  The cast and script were both beyond reproach, from Affleck’s heroic role as Anthony Mendez to John Goodman’s predictably brilliant and humorous performance as John Chambers [Clea Helen D’etienne DuVall has certainly had a fascinating career since she played Marcie Ross the invisible girl in the First Season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer—Episode 11 “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”.]

In any event—Argo reminded me of the first time I bitterly reflected on Iran as a true humiliation to the United States.  We (our UK and US governments and the American and British oil cartels whcih control our governments) created the Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi as an absolute monarch.  He had started out, during his early post-war years as a young King, apparently in favor of Mossaddegh and Constitutional Democracy) and supported him blindly, ignoring the unhappiness of the vast majority of the people of Iran.  

Reza Pahlevi ended his life and career envisioned by many of his people as a blood-sucking vampire.  But the US supported the Shah and, as Argo clearly showed, our intelligence did not anticipate, perceive, or recognize any threat to his rule as late as a month before he fell in 1978.  Our country was then humiliated by the Revolutionary Guard of the nascent Islamic Republic over and over again, not least when Ross Perot sent in a private paramilitary team which literally crashed and burned….

When I first heard that Ronald Reagan might have authorized or encouraged Oliver North to purchase Iranian weapons for the Contras of Iran, my first reaction was that Reagan was aiding and abetting the enemies of the United States and should be impeached for treason—and how could Reagan have done it when he knew all about the hostage crisis and how the Iranians had made us look like mental and moral midgets….McDonald’s munching morons whose only values were comfort and pleasure obtainable with the least possible effort….in thought or work.

Mark Weber’s perspective on Ahmadinejad marks the most major, thoughtful counterposition to the mainstream media views, which were (to the extent they were reasonable) formed and shaped by the Iranian Islamic Revolution and the Hostage Crisis, in which the Iranian actors played the parts of the most-grotesquely brutal haters of America.  As bad as the American role in the Shah’s rise and evolution as a tyrant may have been, there was not a single member of the embassy staff who could possibly have been held responsible.  The Iranians, as shown in Argo were just formulaically bullying their prize captive Americans as spies….and threatening them all with kangaroo trials and public executions…..

So Iran has suffered from its status as a Non-Aligned nation with significant oil wealth—it was reduced to a quasi-Colonial status right at the end of the Colonial Period, in the early 1950s—and was the first example of a nation colonized primarily for Oil—Oil at any cost, oil above all other human values.   

Mark Weber of the Institute of Historical Review gave a wonderful presentation—he is mostly conceived as a right-winger, although a much more academically respectable right-winger than “Dr.” David Duke with his degree from a rather obscure “Management” school (MAUP) in the Ukraine… 

Equally respectable and more directly politically active than Duke, currently, with less seemingly preposterous baggage, was another American in attendance at the New Horizon Independent Film-Fest in Tehran, Merlin Miller.  Merlin Miller is the Presidential candidate of the newly formed American Third Position “AP3” Party, which just came into existence in or about January 2010, formed and chaired by William D. Johnson, a Nippono-philic Los Angeles lawyer  currently running for Congress in Michigan’s “open” 11th Congressional District.  Merlin Miller has apparently only achieved ballot access in 3 states for the November election and California is not one of them.

What does it say about the United States that the only Americans of any note willing to attend a film festival in Iran are two solid right-wingers (Weber & Miller) and apparently several black film-makers and artists from the extreme left of Detroit and Miami?  Apparently, “core” Hollywood and Beverly Hills media figures were all but totally absent and unrepresented. 

And at this conference in Tehran, I get the impression that very little was said about the American popular conception of Iran—even a relatively positive perspective as formed in Josh Tickell’s 2011 The Big Fix, the mostly neutral but historically accurate portrayal in 2012’s Argo or the negative (but not particularly highlighted) view of Iran suggested in D’Souza’s Obama 2016.

Cultural exchange combined with political dialogue would, in my opinion, produce positive results between Iran and the US—and the American People MUST somehow become educated.  Mark Weber reports and I have independently confirmed that certain polls have shown that 71% of the U.S. population believe that Iran now possesses Nuclear Weapons.  

After the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” lies that roped us into Iraq—into COLONIZING Iraq—the American public DESERVE to hear Mark Weber and Merlin Miller speaking out about their recent first hand experience with the Iranian people and in particular with President Ahmadinejad.