The choir then sings (at 4 minutes 30 seconds in) 'Do You Hear the People Sing' from Les Miserables - a song the relevance of which requires no explanation - before tearing into 'Özgürlük' again.
Much of the commentary on events in recent days in Turkey has focused on comparisons with various Occupy movements in countries such as the United States. Some of the protestors are doing this themselves. I think it is an error. The moral and political importance of the protests in Turkey is much greater, given the nature of its government, the country's history, dominant religion and strategic importance.
For every iPad carrying hipster protesting in Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir over the last week, there seem to have been four or five people from a variety of social classes and cultural groups on the streets of drab Anatolian cities and towns.
I wonder how long it will take certain sectors of the chattering classes in Britain and the US to class them as 'Islamophobic'. (HG.)
Irwin Cotler, former Canadian justice minister, has been keeping busy. Here Terry Glavin details Cotler's part in efforts 'to focus the world's attention on the victims of the Khomeinist despotism in Iran and to end the privileges of impunity that Tehran's butchers have been enjoying all these years'.
This week in Ottawa, Cotler brought Conservative and Opposition MPs together around a House of Commons motion initiated by the Massacre88 Campaign, a movement of Iranian-Canadian lawyers, activists and academics. The motion makes Canada the first country in the world to formally recognize the Khomeinist slaughter of thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 as a crime against humanity.
Then, in the Jerusalem Post, Cotler himself highlights 'the failure to prosecute and convict those responsible for the indiscriminate terroristic murder of Argentine civilians in 1992 and 1994 – attacks that targeted innocent civilians based on nothing more than their identity as Jews or Israelis'. Cotler writes:
It is simply unacceptable - and indeed incomprehensible - that, despite the issuance of six international arrest warrants there have been no convictions in connection with these horrendous terrorist attacks. Simply put, the Argentine government has failed to pursue any international juridical remedies against the Iranian regime for its demonstrable complicity in these acts of international terrorism, which clearly constitute grave violations of Argentine sovereignty and international human rights.
But worse, reports from 2011 show that Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had reportedly offered to freeze the ongoing AMIA inquiry in exchange for enhanced economic relations with Iran, despite the outcry in Argentina by the families of the victims, Argentinian jurists, Argentinian special prosecutor Nisman himself, and the by the broader Argentine public.
'Simply unacceptable' - except for those for whom it isn't.
I cannot have overlooked it - but I have. My friend Tom Deveson reminds me (on Facebook) that today is Cole Porter's birthday, and one of Tom's links is to 'Night And Day'. What a song! And it's love, all right. Here...
'Only you beneath the moon and under the sun' is knowing how to woo someone, especially if you can also dance like Fred. And that's not overlooking Ginger's contribution.
Further to my post on Raphael Lemkin and the state of international law regarding genocide, Andrew Sullivan makes an interesting remark in passing in his column in the Sunday Times today. Andrew is writing about President Obama's recent appointments of Samantha Power and Susan Rice as, respectively, US ambassador to the United Nations and US national security adviser and he explains the move as designed 'to ensure that the Democratic party's liberal interventionists stay in the Obama tent as the world simmers and occasionally boils'. What caught my eye, though, was this (£):
[B]oth women are strikingly out of line with the president's cautious realism in dealing with intervention abroad. Power wrote a book about genocide that simply assumed it was the West's job to intervene anywhere to prevent it. Rice still smarts from her time in the Clinton administration when the Rwandan genocide took place. She later remarked: "I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required."
I'm interested in the phrase 'simply assumed it was the West's job to intervene anywhere to prevent it'; because one could argue that, in view of the UN Genocide Convention, that's a reasonable assumption to make, and not just about the West. Article 1 says: 'The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.' So, if this article of international law were already an authoritative and effective legal norm, the assumption in question - of Samantha Power's book - would not be a wayward one at all. Unfortunately, as things stand, the UN Genocide Convention is more like an ideal - something the international community is committed to as a future aim, but one that for the present is frequently blocked by considerations of great power politics. In this light, simply assuming it is the West's job to prevent genocide becomes more problematic. Yet the world is a lot worse for this fact than it would otherwise be.
Bob Fletcher, a former California agriculture inspector who, ignoring the resentment of neighbors, quit his job in the middle of World War II to manage the fruit farms of Japanese families forced to live in internment camps, died on May 23 in Sacramento. He was 101.
His death was confirmed by Doris Taketa, who was 12 when Mr. Fletcher agreed to run her family's farm in 1942, the year she and her extended family were relocated to the Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas.
"He saved us," Ms. Taketa said.
After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States government forced 120,000 Japanese-Americans on the West Coast out of their homes and into internment camps for the duration of the war.
Near Sacramento, many of the Japanese who were relocated were farmers who had worked land around the town of Florin since at least the 1890s. Mr. Fletcher, who was single and in his early 30s at the time, knew many of them through his work inspecting fruit for the government. The farmers regarded him as honest, and he respected their operations.
After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order in February 1942 that made the relocation possible by declaring certain parts of the West to be military zones, Al Tsukamoto, whose parents arrived in the United States in 1905, approached Mr. Fletcher with a business proposal: would he be willing to manage the farms of two family friends of Mr. Tsukamoto's, one of whom was elderly, and to pay the taxes and mortgages while they were away? In return, he could keep all the profits.
Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Tsukamoto had not been close, and Mr. Fletcher had no experience growing the farmers' specialty, flame tokay grapes, but he accepted the offer and soon quit his job.
For the next three years he worked a total of 90 acres on three farms - he had also decided to run Mr. Tsukamoto's farm. He worked 18-hour days and lived in the bunkhouse Mr. Tsukamoto had reserved for migrant workers. He paid the bills of all three families - the Tsukamotos, the Okamotos and the Nittas. He kept only half of the profits.
Bob Fletcher 'never did agree with the evacuation'. Of his actions during the war he said, 'I don't know about courage... It took a devil of a lot of work.'
You'll just never run out of folk willing to embarrass themselves over the absurd claim that there's no such thing as an enduring human nature. A few years ago I highlighted the fact that Guardian journalist Oliver Burkeman seemed to know of people for whom a belief in human nature was 'incendiary', and I then followed up on his failure to come up with anything persuasive in response to what I'd said.
Now there's a post by Jesse Spafford taking me to task for having cited the denial of human nature as an example of a deepity (a concept explained by Daniel Dennett). But, according to Spafford, while I do establish satisfactorily that the denial of human nature is manifestly false on any straightforward reading of that claim, I don't successfully show what reading of the claim makes it true but trivial. Sorry, Jesse - you just missed it, is all. Here is the true but trivial sense: 'So it turns out that the denial of an enduring human nature amounts to some changeable or non-universal features of the human character not being unchangeable. What else is new?' Spafford thinks the prevarication of those who deny a human nature can be rescued because what they're really meaning is that 'people aren't necessarily selfish [or] dominance-seeking' - which is a significant proposition. It is. But if that's what they really meant, that's what they could really say. To deny there's a universal human nature, only to fall back on the thesis, when pressed, that there's the human nature there is but not the one there isn't, is a fool's game.
Spafford has trouble, likewise, with my treating the denial of biological differences between men and women as a deepity. Well, to say there are no such biological differences when what you actually think is that there are only the biological differences between men and women that there are, is a waste of people's time. You'd start out on a sounder footing if you tried to distinguish, through empirical research, biological differences from non-differences.
Being seven minutes or so of street scenes shot in Berlin between 1900 and 1914. As the source has it: 'the videos show us a more relaxed city, one unaware that World War I and decades of destruction were right around the corner'.
A new title for those who want to learn more about Raphael Lemkin - his unfinished autobiography, put together 'from drafts deposited in the New York Public Library' - brings this discussion of Lemkin's life's work by Jay Winter, professor of history at Yale. It's an interesting review and tells of the difficulties Lemkin experienced. His fate, Winter thinks, is 'largely [to have] disappeared from history'.
Lemkin was a prophet without honors, descending into illness and poverty and dying alone, in 1959, of a heart attack at a bus stop on 42nd Street in New York City. Seven people showed up at his funeral.
The man who gave the world a definiton of the new crime of genocide wrote at one point:
I find myself pleading a holy cause at the U.N. while wearing holey clothes. My friends at the U.N. "plot" to see that I eat at least one meal a day. I am ashamed and try to limit myself to a bowl of soup when I am their guest.
Despite all this, I think it's an exaggeration to say that Lemkin has 'disappeared from history'. He's not a household word, it's true; but his name is well known to anyone interested in international human-rights law, genocide and crimes against humanity - and that isn't only legal scholars but a more general public tuned in to these important topics.
Be this as it may, I find the bigger question Winter pursues in his review handled in a way that is curiously off centre. A detail, though a not unimportant one, is Winter's saying that 'Lemkin's life's work was to make the destruction of an entire people illegal'. Yes and no. It did make the destruction of an entire people illegal, but it went further than that: for the UN Genocide Covention 'defines genocide as any of a number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part (my emphasis), a national, ethnic, racial or religious group'. More generally, Winter considers why the law against genocide hasn't been more effective and why, correspondingly, Lemkin's achievement has been obscured. He offers several possible reasons, among them: 'Lemkin worked not in an institution but as a one-man crusade'; the survival and flourishing of the nation state; that globalization hasn't done much for human rights; the changing nature of war and the illiberal excesses of liberal states; and 'the Holocaust was so monstrous in its scope that putting other abominations alongside it and saying, yes, this too is genocide, has been difficult'.
That is, to speak frankly, a mish-mash. It doesn't matter how Lemkin worked, the Genocide Convention was adopted by the UN, as Winter himself emphasizes; and if prevention of genocide really does depend on the death of the nation state, we'll be waiting a very long time for any improvement in this area. What globalization has or hasn't done for human rights doesn't bear specifically on the matter of genocide prevention, and neither does the changing nature of war or illiberal measures adopted by liberal states. Finally, putting other abominations alongside the Holocaust and seeing them as genocide is not at all difficult if in fact they fit the definition.
On the other hand, international law, including the law on genocide, is only as effective as it is - which isn't always very effective - and powerful geopolitical interests often operate to block global institutions from doing what needs to be done when genocides threaten or occur. That is not Raphael Lemkin's failure, and this is a more economical explanation than is Winter's throwing in of everything including the kitchen sink.
After reading a report last night about an Israeli study showing why '[s]imple, everyday activities like crossword puzzles or reading books may stave off the mind-robbing Alzheimer's disease', I had the strangest dream. I dreamt...
Based on the long-suspected evidence that a build-up of Emmylou-beta protein in the brain causes Alzheimer's, which affects 5.4 million people in the United States alone, Israeli researcher Inna Slutsky has found an important missing link.
It's not just the amount of Emmylou that can create the onset of Alzheimer's, she says, but the specific kind of Emmylou protein found in the brain. An imbalance of Emmylou-beta 40, compared to its counterpart Emmylou-beta 42, is found in those suffering the effects of the disease.
In her research, Slutsky wanted to see if she could restore the balance between the two Emmylous.