Why Early Christians Were Despised


Why Early Christians Were DespisedThe Christian Church, in its earliest centuries after Jesus, endured wave after wave of persecution. All kinds of insults and charges were hurled at them.

A document written in the late 2nd century A.D. called The Octavius of Minicius Felix describes a debate between a Christian and a pagan at the Roman port of Ostia. It provides valuable insight into how Christians were reviled and how they responded.

Minicius Felix was walking about Ostia with two friends, Octavius a Christian, and Caecilius a pagan. When Caecilius pauses to pay respect to a pagan idol, Octavius objects. An extended debate develops. Here is an adaptation of their debate drawn from that document as well as other early church sources for a taste of that time. We suggest you look carefully at the following charges and consider in what ways Christians today are similarly accused, and where the specifics of opposition now may have changed.

Charge: Cannibalism
CAECILIUS THE PAGAN: You Christians are the worst breed ever to affect the world. You deserve every punishment you can get! Nobody likes you. It would be better if you and your Jesus had never been born. We hear that you are all cannibals–you eat the flesh of your children in your sacred meetings.

OCTAVIUS The Christian: That story is probably based on reports that we share together a meal of the body and blood of Christ. That we do. But it is not human flesh we eat. It is bread and wine we consecrate to commemorate our Lord’s death.

IMAGE LEFT: Ruins at Ostia can be visited today at this ancient Roman port. 12 million barrels of corn came through Ostia annually from Egypt. It was the setting for the encounter between the Christian Octavius and the pagan Caecilius as recorded by Minicius Felix in the late second century A.D. and was used as a basis for this issue

It amazes me you give credibility to these rumors of cannibalism. You know what we’re like. Keep in mind that if you have a child and it is a girl but you wanted a boy, or if the child is deformed, or if you simply don’t want it, what is done? You leave the child outside, exposed to die.

CAECILIUS: You know that it is far more merciful to let the baby die than to bring it up in a home where it is not wanted.

OCTAVIUS: We do not expose our children, and you are well aware how so many of the little ones that have been left out to die have been rescued by Christians and given a home. So it’s just the opposite of what you accuse us of, Caecilius. We don’t consume human life; we rather protect and defend it.

Charge: Gross Immorality
CAECILIUS: All right. Granted, it was just a rumor, but we also hear that you meet in secret, even before sunrise, and the gross immorality that we hear goes on in those places is repulsive — especially the incest.

OCTAVIUS: If you came to one of our meetings you would find that the lovemaking and intimacy you are so quick to imagine is of a totally different nature. We meet before sunrise because we are working people. We have jobs to go to. We do not always meet in secret, but we have no temples or synagogues, so we use somebody’s home which has enough room. We call one another brother and sister and pledge to love one another because that is what our Lord commanded us to do. And we greet one another and bless one another with a holy kiss, not out of lust but out of genuine love and concern for one another. Come and you will see that we demand the highest standards of morality among all who join us.

Charge: Poor and Lower Class
CAECILIUS: Take a look at your gatherings. What are they made up of? Mostly women, gullible children, the majority are from the working classes, not well-educated, mostly poor and even slaves. It makes me laugh when I think how poor you are, barely enough to live on. If this God of yours is so great and so loving, why are so many of you so poor? Either He’s not that loving and doesn’t care that you are poor or He is not that great and is unable do anything about it. Some God! No wonder you¥re all regarded as fools.

OCTAVIUS: If you had bothered to take the time to find out, you would know that there are many from the upper classes among our number, even some of Caesar’s staff. And notable scholars, who were once pagans, have written in defense of our faith for the more educated to consider. But let’s not quibble. Many of our number — most of our number are poor. But what is more important is how we regard ourselves. We consider ourselves to be rich. We have that which is most valuable, the most precious gift, which cannot be lost. And for your information, there are those of us who are wealthy. We do not despise wealth; we welcome it when it comes lawfully. But we do not lust after it. And when we get more wealth, we simply give more away. Wealth can be a great burden. It weighs you down with many cares and concerns. Traveling light has its advantages — some big advantages!

CAECILIUS: Sorry, I haven’t noticed any. I’ll take the wealth instead any day.

OCTAVIUS: You know, Caecilius, talking to you makes me realize why God doesn’t automatically bless us with wealth. Because if he did, people like you would rush to become Christians and miss the whole point. So don’t pity us. We have plenty, not only for ourselves but also for those in need, the ones that you walk right by.

Charge : Self-righteousness
CAECILIUS: Oh, aren’t you so pure and good. That’s another thing that bothers me: you all think you are so righteous and better than the rest of us.

OCTAVIUS: First you accuse us of cannibalism and orgies, now you’re offended because we seek to lead a holy life. Let me assure you, we do not consider ourselves to be holy. Every Lord’s day we have a service of communion, and it is a service of thanksgiving — thanksgiving because we are forgiven, not because we are holy, and if we are forgiven, then we shall seek to lead lives that are like Christ.

Charge: Atheism
CAECILIUS: What concerns me is what you really are. This is the reason that you are hated across all the lands of this vast empire. Let’s get to the real problem. You are atheists.

OCTAVIUS: Yes, we are atheists — if you mean that we do not pray to or believe in all of the gods that we are expected to worship. But these are not gods. We worship the one true God, the Lord over all.

Charge: Novelty
CAECILIUS: You act as if you people know more than the rest of us. You think you know more than all of our fathers. What it comes down to is that you people are captive to novelty.

OCTAVIUS: That is simply just not the case. Why is it you do not require the Jews to sacrifice to your gods. They alone are given exemption. Why? Because of the antiquity of their religion. Well, be assured that the God that the Jews worship is the very same God that we worship. Their sacred writings, the Law and the Prophets, we revere and read aloud in our meetings. And because we worship this God of the Jews, the one thing we cannot be accused of is novelty. It is just the opposite. Our faith looks back beyond the beginning of time to the God who created all that is. What you won’t listen to and what the Jews refuse to accept is that this God has come into our world to show us what He is like in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we love and serve.

Charge: Foolishness, Lack of Patriotism
CAECILIUS: How you tire me with this reckless babble! I shall not take the time now to answer you, except to say, how absurd to think that even if the “one true God,” as you assert, were to come to earth, he would surely do better than to come as an unschooled, working-class carpenter in a place like Galilee in Judea. And if forgiveness were to be found through some man, I assure you that it would never come through the death of some convicted and crucified criminal. But let’s put aside such simplicity and naivet¨ for now, for we are a tolerant people, and you are free to believe as you wish. In many ways you do not sound all that different from some of the mystery religions, and they are left alone. But what makes you people so offensive is your stubbornness. Believe what you will, but that is no excuse for the lack of patriotism.

You people are happy to benefit from all that is ours, living in this greatest time of all history, but where is your gratitude? You are antisocial snobs. You will not show proper respect for our anniversary festivals. You will not sacrifice to the genius of the emperor. You will not fight and join the empire. Simply put, you are disloyal, unpatriotic, and not to be trusted. As far as I am concerned, you are a danger to society.

OCTAVIUS: Hold on! One at a time, please. We do not join the army, and we do not fight because we do not believe in killing. We love our enemies and do good to them. Even though we are often hunted down and killed because of accusers like you, we do not even take up arms to defend ourselves. So I fail to see how we are any danger to anyone. But yes, you are right. We do not pray to the emperor or join with our neighbors in the sacrifices to the gods. But while we do not pray to the emperor, we do pray for the emperor. We recognize those in authority as appointed by God to preserve order. We seek, we pray for the peace and tranquility of the empire. God knows, if any group seeks a quiet and undisturbed life, it is us. We never know when we will be blamed for anything that is going wrong, be hunted down and arrested.

Charge: Cause of God’s Anger
CAECILIUS: Not without cause, I assure you. Why can you not see what is so clear to everyone? Your lack of patriotism has caused us all grief and suffering. The gods have been good to Rome. They have given us great victories, good food, fertile land. That is why we must propitiate them and rid ourselves of you atheists. You are no more than criminals and must be dealt with as such.

OCTAVIUS: Oh yes, we have heard that before, too many times. As one of our fathers wrote: If the Tiber overflows its walls, if the Nile does not rise to the fields, if the sky doesn’t move or the earth does, if there is famine, if there is plague, the cry is at once, “The Christian to the lion!”

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

, Christians as the Romans Saw Them.

As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, interesting rumors and conspiracies formed out of Roman misunderstanding of Christian ritual and belief. Many Romans were confused and ignorant of the Christian community of faith and the ceremonies that were practiced in house churches of Christianity’s first generations. The gatherings of the faithful: calling themselves brothers and sisters of Christ and sons and daughters of God, aroused suspicion of incest. The Eucharist, the symbolic or mystical consumption of the body and blood of Christ conjured an image of cannibalism. Strangely, few pagan sources from Rome collected and preserved these accusations against Christians, however, figures from the church itself did record the amusingly grotesque theories of Christian debauchery. The following five accounts can be found in Robert Louis Wilken’s fascinating book, Christians as the Romans Saw Them. The passages contain the outlandish rumors that circulated the Roman Empire as Christianity began to expand and the response of Roman officials who came in contact with the misinformed gossip.

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

1. The Octavius of Marcus Minucius Felix – Cannibalism and Incest

A young baby is covered over with flour, the object being to deceive the unwary. It is then served before the person to be admitted into the rites. The recruit is urged to inflict blows onto it—they appear to be harmless because of the covering of flour. Thus the baby is killed with wounds that remain unseen and concealed. It is the blood of this infant—I shudder to mention it—it is this blood that they lick with thirsty lips; these are the limbs they distribute eagerly; this is the victim by which they seal their covenant…

On a special day they gather in a feast with all their children, sisters, mothers—all sexes and all ages. There, flushed with the banquet after such feasting and drinking, they begin to burn with incestuous passions. They provoke a dog tied to the lampstand to leap and bound towards a scrap of food which they have tossed outside the reach of his chain. By this means the light is overturned and extinguished, and with it common knowledge of their actions; in the shameless dark with unspeakable lust they copulate in random unions, all equally being guilty of incest, some by deed, but everyone by complicity….               (Wilken page 19)

Marcus Minucius Felix (active approximately from 150 to 270 C.E.) recorded a perversion of Christian terminology and ritual. The symbolic or mystical absorption of Jesus’ blood and body devolved into licking the blood of a murdered child. The idea that the members of the Christian community are sons and daughters of God mutated into orgies of incestuous debauchery. The mutated portrayals of the Eucharist and the religious community combined into a shockingly horrifying scene of evil.

Bacchanal with a wine vat by Andrea Mantegna, 1475

2. Panarion by Epiphanius of Cyprus/Salamis (310-403 C.E.) — Phibionite Heretical Debauchery

When they thus ate together and so to speak filled up their veins from the surplus of their strength they turn to excitements. The man leaving his wife says to his own wife: “Stand up and perform the agape with the brother.” Then the unfortunates unite with each other, and as I am truly ashamed to say the shameful things that are being done by them, because according to the holy apostle the things that are happening by them are even shameful to mention, nevertheless I will not be ashamed to say those things which they are not ashamed to do, in order that I may cause in ever way a horror in those who hear about their practices. After they have had intercourse in the passion of fornication they raise their own blasphemy to heaven. The woman and man take the fluid of emission of the man into their hands, they stand, turn toward heaven, their hands besmeared with the uncleanness, and pray as a people called stratiotikoi and gnostikoi, bringing to the father the nature of all that which they have on their hands, and they say: “We offer to thee this gift, the body of Christ.” And then they eat it, their own ugliness, and say: “This is the body of Christ and this is the Passover for the sake of which our bodies suffer and are forced to confess the suffering of Christ.” Similarly also with the women when she happens to be in the flowing of blood they gather the blood of menstruation of her uncleanness and eat it together and say: “This is the blood of Christ.”                          (Wilken 20).

This account seems too outlandish to be a simple misunderstanding of Christian ritual, but the passage does have some similarities with Christian ceremony. The account may be a corrupted representation of “passing the peace of Christ” in which the church community greets each other at the onset of the service. The final portion of the passage certainly was a perversion of the Eucharist ceremony and, perhaps, the collection of tithes. As in the previous passage, the rumor claimed that this sect of Christians actually drank human blood, far surpassing the symbolic or mystical Eucharist of the orthodox church of the time. The community of faith was, again, devolved from a gathering of the faithful, into an orgy of the sinful.

Emperor Trajan

3. Emperor Trajan (53-117 C.E.) to Pliny the Younger (61-113) – Suspicion of the Masses

I have received your suggestion that it should be possible to form a company of firemen at Nicomedia on the model of those elsewhere, but we must remember that it is societies like these which have been responsible for political disturbances in your province, particularly in its cities. If people assemble for a common purpose, whatever name we give them and for whatever reason, they soon turn into a political club (hetaeria).                                                            (Wilken 12)

Trajan distrusted all gatherings of people for political reasons. In this passage, Trajan refused to allow a fireman’s club to form as he feared the political ramifications of such gatherings. Trajan’s fear of a simple fireman’s club suggests that he would have had an equal, or greater suspicion of Christian gatherings.

Statue of Pliny the Younger at the Cathedral of S. Maria Maggiore in Como

4. Pliny to Trajan – Roman Officials Countering Conspiracies

They declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this; they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery, to commit no breach of trust and not to deny a deposit when called upon to restore it. After this ceremony it had been their custom to disperse and reassemble later to take food of an ordinary harmless kind.                                                     (Wilken 22)

Pliny, a Roman governor, certainly came into contact with the elaborate rumors that targeted Christians. While he did not give any credence to the rumors in this passage, the fact that he took precious time to object to the rumors is proof that some Romans believed the rumors. Why challenge something if no one believes it to be true? Pliny clearly challenged the rumors of cannibalism when he stated that Christians eat “food of an ordinary harmless kind.” Pliny’s tone attempts to soothe the fearful when he stated that Christians did no more than pray to be virtuous people in their secret meetings during the early morning.

Emperor Trajan

5. Trajan to Pliny – Do Not Hunt; Let Them Recant

You have followed the right course of procedure, my dear Pliny, in your examination of the cases of persons charged with being Christians, for it is impossible to lay down a general rule to a fixed formula. These people must not be hunted out; if they are brought before you and the charge against them is proved, they must be punished, but in the case of anyone who denies that he is a Christian, and makes it clear that he is not by offering prayers to our gods, he is to be pardoned as a result of his repentance however suspect his past conduct may be. But the pamphlets circulated anonymously must play no part in any accusation. They create the worst sort of precedent and are quite out of keeping with the spirit of our age.                             (Wilken 28)

Trajan did not start a hunt for Christians. If the faithful remained out of sight and mind of the Roman government, then Christians could live their lives with relative ease. Trajan even wanted the anti-Christian pamphlets to be ended, which were likely filled with all of the rumors of cannibalism and incest contained in the above passages. Emperor Trajan, however, observed Christians with the same suspicion he had for any gathering of people, such as the fireman’s club. Eventually, the gruesome rumors about Christianity would disperse, but it would be the true beliefs of the Christians—specifically the belief in one, and only one, God—that would cause emperors to hunt down the faithful until the rise of Constantine in the fourth century, which ushered in an acceptance of Christianity into the Roman Empire.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To suggest that the West is headed into the kind of social turmoil that led to fascism in Italy and Spain and Nazism in Germany is, well, Obviously!

From the candidacy of Donald Trump to the British decision to leave the European Union (EU), from the rise of a radical movement of antigovernment county sheriffs to a metastasizing rage aimed at political and economic elites, something important and incredibly dangerous is happening in the Western world.

The beast of right-wing populism is reawakening.

When author Martin Lee titled his 1997 book The Beast Reawakens, the phrase he coined referred to the resurgence of Nazism in Europe. Today, it describes a far larger and far more dangerous set of movements that threaten to tear apart societies in both the United States and Europe. Their ideology is populist — the idea that “pits a virtuous and homogenous people against a set of elites and dangerous ‘others’ who are depicted as depriving the sovereign people” of their prosperity and rights, according to scholars Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell.

In the United States, Trump is appealing directly to working- and lower middle-class whites and suggesting that their very real problems and insecurities are the fault of self-interested social elites — traditional politicians of both parties and media leaders — and of “dangerous others,” particularly Mexicans and Muslims. And, in typical populist manner, Trump offers himself up as the strongman who can solve seemingly intractable problems with bold, simple strokes.

In Europe, the leaders of the “Brexit” campaign managed to convince some 52% of voters that the cause of their economic and cultural malaise was a refugee and immigrant crisis enabled by the leaders of the European bloc. Those who voted to quit the EU were overwhelmingly older whites, many of them from the British equivalent of Rust Belt states in America. The sad irony is that those are the very areas that have been subsidized with huge amounts of money from the EU.

In the United States, the disaffection is helping drive a radical movement that seeks to delegitimize government, something seen in the “constitutional sheriffs” movement and the Bundy standoffs examined in this issue. In Europe, beyond the United Kingdom, it is reflected in the rise of populist, and often anti-Semitic and racist, political parties in places like France, Germany, Poland and Hungary.

The causes are complex. Globalization has increasingly knit nations together in a world economy, spurring huge movements of both workers and capital and causing enormous dislocations as a result. Manufacturing wages have been declining across the West for decades, income inequality is at historic levels, and the digital revolution has left those without university-level education far behind.

At the same time, major cultural changes — the rise of large immigrant communities, for instance, and the advance of same-sex marriage — increasingly are making many whites feel that the world they grew up in is disappearing. The idea that the future holds better things is under assault in both America and Europe.

Anne Marie Slaughter, who heads the New America Foundation, compares the present moment to the upheavals seen at the beginning of the 20th century, another period of brutal change. “What we are seeing,” she told The Atlantic in July, “is anger at the disruption of our economy and, really, our social order — of the magnitude we saw when the agricultural age gave way to the industrial age.”

“The digital revolution … is completely upending how we work,” she said, “what the sources of value are, how people can support their families, if they can at all, and creates tremendous fear and rage in the sense that you are at the mercy of forces you cannot control.”

In an essay for the History News Network, scholar Stephen W. Campbell analyzed the roots of Trump voters’ anger but also pointed out that the white working class still has long had it better than American minorities. “Part of [their] anger stems from economic inequality, but a major part, whether they will admit it or not, stems from the fear of rapid demographic change,” he wrote. “They are losing the privilege that has accumulated and redounded to their advantage over generations and almost no one willingly gives up privilege without a fight.”

This kind of rage, nurtured by opportunistic politicians and pundits riding the wave of political discontent, can be hard to quell. In the past, it has led to historic horrors like the rise of populism and racial nationalism that very nearly destroyed Europe in the 1930s and ’40s.

In the wake of the Brexit vote — which was preceded days earlier by the assassination of a pro-EU legislator by a neo-Nazi — Britain experienced a major wave of hate crimes against a whole array of minorities. On our side of the ocean, anti-Muslim violence and terrorist plots against government agencies reflect the rise of populist fury.

To suggest that the West is headed into the kind of social turmoil that led to fascism in Italy and Spain and Nazism in Germany is, hopefully, going too far. But to put the beast of populism back to sleep will require the best efforts of wise leaders, thoughtful voters, and effective government programs — all of which have been in short supply in recent years.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Michael PARENTi

This is Google’s cache of http://map.sdsu.edu/firenet/files/datadownload.htm. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Oct 19, 2017 20:24:38 GMT.

Data Download

An effort is being made to collect and disseminate all GIS-related data and information  available  via  this  website.  It  is  our intent to contact, coordinate and acquire additional sources of data relating to the San Diego Wildfires  including  those  collected  by various agencies, organizations, research  facilities, educational facilities, and interested parties. It is a  SDFRN  Data  Management  goal  to  incorporate  as  much of this data as possible.  At  this  time,  however, only one set of data has been included below.  If  you  have  or know of additional datasets that can be included, please contact Dr. Ming-Hsiang TsouDr. Scott Fleury or Ms. Angela Johnson.

The  data  included  below  is  one  set  of GIS data that has been created during/post  the  San Diego fires. The GIS data listed below were collected and  developed  by  the  Department  of  Interior  Burned  Area  Emergency Stabilization  and Rehabilitation (BAER) Team. Some of the data layers were used  for making maps for the Cedar, Paradise, Otay, and Old fires. As part of  these  efforts,  over fifty maps were also developed. The data and maps were transferred to Technology Association International Corporation (TAIC) where the data were reorganized for distribution.

The GIS data were categorized into several packages, according to thematic types. They are as follows:

  •   Base GIS data package
  •   ICS data package (GIS data about fire suppression)
  •   GIS data package for watershed and vegetation treatments
  •   GIS vegetation data package
  •   GIS data package for watershed assessment
  •   GIS data package for hydrologic watershed modeling
  •   Photographic image files (currently not available)

Each  package  includes Cedar, Paradise, Otay and Old fires subdirectories. An  “allfires” directory covering all four fires is typically included with each  package.  Each  subdirectory  includes several shape files, including .shp, .dbf, .shx, .prj,  and .xml (metadata) files.

The  projection  for all GIS data relating to the Cedar, Paradise, and Otay fires is California State Plane, Zone 6, NAD 83; mapping units are in feet. The  projection  for all GIS data relating to the Old fire is UTM, Zone 11; mapping units are in meters.
      * Click the links to download the data. After downloading, you could unzip these ZIP files with WinZip or other data-compression tools.

File Structure Outline
v Base Package
All fire(14.7M) Lakes   (398K) Coverage
Soils  (10.4M) Coverage
Tribal  (276K) Coverage
Counties  (3.6M)
Cedar fire (620K) Ownership   (620K)
Otay fire (147K) Ownership   (54K)
BLM_wilderness  (94K)
Paradise fire (96K) Ownership  (96K)
Old fire (43K) Ownership (43K)
v ICS Package Cedar fire (185K) Fireline   (53K)
FirePerim  (41K)
FireProgress  (75K)
ICS Pts   (9K)
Origin  (9K)
Otay fire (35K) Fireline  (11K)
FirePerim  (3K)
ImpactedFence   (9K)
Origin   (4K)
Sign&Mirrors  (7K)
Paradise fire (197K) Bridges  (9K)
FireLine   (33K)
FirePerim   (20K)
ICS pts ( ICS Points)  (8K)
102603_Perim_Poly (October 26, 2003)  (8K)
102703_Perim_Poly (October 27, 2003)  (11K)
102903_Perim_Poly (October 29, 2003)  (15K)
103003_Perim_Poly(not used on the map) (16K)
110103_Perim_Poly (*November 1, 2003)  (16K)
110203_Perim_Poly(not used on the map)  (17K)
110303_Perim_Poly (*November 3, 2003)  (19K)
Old fire (318K) FireLine   (40K)
FirePerim   (12K)
ICS_pts (ICS Points)  (7K)
102503_1745_peri.shp (October, 25, 2003)  (18K)
102603_1345_peri.shp   ( October, 26, 2003)  (28K)
 102703_1645_ old_u11n27.shp ( October, 27, 2003)  (34K)
102803_0830_old_u11n27.shp   ( October, 28, 2003 8:30am)   (39K)
102803_1715_old_u11n27.shp   ( October, 28, 2003 5:10pm)  (40K)
 102903_1200_peri.shp   ( October, 29, 2003)   (30K)
110103_pm_peri.shp   (  November, 01, 2003)  (16K)
110203_pm_peri.shp   ( November, 02, 2003)  (15K)
110603_ics_poly.shp   (  November, 06, 2003)  (12K)
v Treatments Package All fires (37K) BaronaGolf_own_int  [1]  (10K)
Hydromulch   (12K)
Treatments   (16K)
Cedar fire (219K) Values (values at risk)  (21K)
Treatments    (14K)
Hydromulch  (5K)
ChannelDebris  (5K)
Weed_control  (7K)
Weed_monitor  (138K)
 Barona_haztree [2]  (7K)
Barona_haztreeusrvey [1]  (7K)
 Inaja_haztree [1]  (6K)
Barona_haztree [1]  (7K)
Viejas_haztree  [1]  (8K)
Otay fire  (81K) Values (values at risk)  (13K)
Weed_control  (Vegetation Control Area)  (25K)
Weed_monitor ( Vegetation Monitoring Area)   (36K)
Paradise fire  (207K) Values ( values at risk)   (15K)
 Weed_control    (19K)
Weed_monitor   (140K)
Treatments   (13K)
SanPas_haztree  [1]  (8K)
Rincon_haztree  [1]  (3K)
Old fire  (56K) Treatments   (12K)
Weed_monitor  (44K)
v Veg Package Cedar fire (8.3M) Veg  ( Pre-Fire Vegetation)  [3]  (6.2M)
 Vegmort  (Vegetaion Mortality)   (2.1M)
Otay fire (763K)  Veg  ( Pre-Fire Vegetation)  [3]  (738K)
  Vegmort  ( Vegetaion Mortality)  (17K)
Paradise fire (1.6M) Veg  ( Pre-Fire Vegetation)  [3]  (1.4M)
 Vegmort  ( Vegetaion Mortality)  (249K)
Old fire  (507K) Veg ( Pre-Fire Vegetation)  (503K)
v Watershed Package All fires (2.7M) Watershed_analysis (107K)
Baer_hydro  (2.6M)
Cedar (13.5M) Response  ( Watershed Response)  (4.8M)
   Severity ( Burn Severity)  (3.7M)
Erosion_pot  (Erosion Potential) GRID FORMAT  (4.0M)
Otay fire (943K) Response  (Watershed Response)    (151K)
Severity (  Burn Severity)  (275K)
 Erosion_pot  (Erosion Potential) GRID FORMAT  (706K)
Paradise fire (2.8M) Response  ( Watershed Response)   (1.2M)
 Severity (  Burn Severity)  (715K)
Erosion_pot  ( Erosion Potential) GRID FORMAT)  (920K)
Old fire Analysis_watersheds  (3K)
v Modeling Package(2 parts) Package Cedarparotaygrids  (modeling package part 1) streams  (2.2M)
model_pour_points  (6K)
cpo_watersheds  (61K)
 several ArcInfo GRID files used for watershed modeling.  These include flow accumulation, flow length, and elevation.
 Watershed_dialog.avx – ArcView 3x Extension used by the BAER Team for their watershed modeling  [4]
precipgrids (modeling package part 2) Storm Event isopluvials from the California Rainfall Atlas.    2 year – 1 hour, 6 hour, 24 hour
  10 year – 1 hour, 6 hour, 24 hour
  25 year – 1 hour, 6 hour, 24 hour
 [1]  Original shapefile.  This file was preserved in order to retain the XML metadata associated with it.

[2]  Original shapefile.  This file was preserved in order to retain the XML metadata associated with it.

[3]   Note data source is the “veg95” coverage distributed by SANDAG.

[4]   These data could be requested by contacting:

           Mr. Michael Parenti Phone: (510) 883-9150
          M. Parenti & Associates Fax: (510) 883-9148
         2526 Califonia Street Cell Phone: (510) 508-4392
         Berkeley, CA 94703

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Everything is gentrification now’

theguardian.com

‘Everything is gentrification now’: but Richard Florida isn’t sorry | Cities

Oliver Wainwright

He’s the prophet of placemaking, the king of the downtown revival, the patron saint of avocado toast. More than any other figure in urban thinking, the US academic Richard Florida has been held up as the ultimate champion of gentrification, at once celebrated by mayors for reviving their struggling cities and vilified by critics for fuelling urban inequality.

His 2002 bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class hit on what now seems blindingly obvious: that the “clustering force” of young creatives and tech workers in metropolitan areas was leading to greater economic prosperity. Don’t waste money on stadiums and concert halls, or luring big companies with tax breaks, he told the world’s mayors. Instead make your town a place where hipsters want to be, with a vibrant arts and music scene and a lively cafe culture. Embrace the “three T’s” of technology, talent and tolerance and the “creative class” will come flocking.

Florida was essentially holding up a mirror to an urban revival that was already well under way. But he packaged his findings in a such a digestible, marketable form – complete with snappy rankings such as the “Bohemian Index”, encouraging cities to compete for a place on his lists – that the message was irresistible to policymakers across the globe. Soon, no town was without its own arts and creativity strategy, innovation hub or pop-up poetry corner.

Fifteen years on, it hasn’t quite turned out as he planned. Florida’s formula has proven to benefit the already rich, mostly white middle class; fuel rampant property speculation; displace the bohemians he so fetishised; and see the problems that once plagued the inner cities simply move out to the suburbs. Does he now regret promoting any of the principles that he has championed for so long?

“I’m not sorry,” he barks, sitting in a hotel lobby in Mayfair, wearing a leather jacket and black T-shirt. “I will not apologise. I do not regret anything.”

His defensiveness comes in response to the reaction to his latest book, The New Urban Crisis, which has been widely interpreted as a mea culpa for opening up the great can of gentrifying worms. After years of proselytising loft-living and shabby-chic cafes, Florida’s eyes have been opened to the downsides of the back-to-the-city movement, sorely felt from London to San Francisco and beyond (although not much beyond, in his western-centric study).

He says it was the election of populist rightwing mayor Rob Ford in 2010, in his adoptive hometown of Toronto, that finally triggered his awakening. If even this liberal creative capital could swing so violently to the right, the backlash had well and truly arrived.

“It forced me to confront this divisiveness,” he says. “I realised that we need to develop a new narrative, which isn’t just about creative and innovative growth and clusters, but about inclusion being a part of prosperity. It was the service class – the class I had forgotten – that was taking it on the chin.”

It was something of an epiphany. As he writes in the introduction to his new book: “I entered a period of rethinking and introspection, of personal and intellectual transformation … I found myself confronting the dark side of our urban revival that I had once championed and celebrated.”

Florida’s Creative Class Group, a lucrative consultancy, had turned his book into an entire movement, giving him a celebrity status that saw his speaking fee balloon to $35,000. He became the rockstar of regeneration, extolling his message to packed-out venues with the rousing conviction of an evangelical preacher. His client list includes everyone from Austin, Texas, to Barcelona, Brisbane, Dublin, Pamplona and the United Nations.

With fame and commercial success came a backlash. He was accused of being a salesman, an opportunist, peddling the same “creative city” toolkit to every no-hope rustbelt town going. He even spawned his own dedicated opposition group, the Creative Class Struggle, who were keen to highlight his (publicly funded) salary as director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto, which now stands at over $360,000. His slick soundbites are parodied on Twitter in the form of @Dick_Florida (“Problem: Cops are the shock troops of structural power. Solution: What if they had a booth at this farmers market?”).

Criticism has come from both ends of the political spectrum. “In the States, 99% of my critics were socially conservative, rightwing people, who said I had a gay agenda, or that cities couldn’t be built by yuppies, sophistos, trendoids and gays,” Florida has said. But, for a man who professes to be a social democrat, it was the attacks from the left that really stung.

Some labelled his theories elitist, while others picked holes in his indexes correlating hipster culture with economic success. As the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser wrote: “There are many good reasons to be tolerant without spinning an unfounded story about how bohemianism helps urban development.” It was “skilled people” rather than creatives, Glaeser concluded, who “are the key to urban success”.

“My leftwing critics created a straw man,” Florida tells me, with the air of someone bruised by attacks. “I’m certainly not the architect of gentrification. I wish I had that much power. The truth is, I underestimated the virulence and ferocity of the move back to the city. I missed it by an order of magnitude.”

Following the Rob Ford shockwave, it was the surprise election of Donald Trump that really made him take notice of the divisions between the cities and the regions, and the great mass of people beyond his creative urban centres.

“It’s the working class – and I’m sorry, but I’m a member of the working class, I come from the working class – that has voted for this nationalistic agenda,” he says. “If Marx came back to life, he would say, ‘This doesn’t surprise me. I told you the peasantry was a backward-looking class.’ They weren’t part of the forward-looking momentum of capitalism.”

He is fond of quoting Karl Marx, and he describes his own theoretical position as “a fusion of Marx, [economist Joseph] Schumpeter and Jane Jacobs”, whose sentiments he regularly summons.

“After the attack on the twin towers, I asked Jane what we should do. She said, ‘Richard, you’re a nice guy, but you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not what we should do; it’s about them, the people who live and work in those neighbourhoods.’ That’s what my work has tried to be about ever since.”

The New Urban Crisis paints a gloomy picture of what Florida calls “winner-take-all urbanism”, charting the rise of “superstar cities” such as New York, London and Tokyo. Today, the 50 largest metropolitan areas are home to just 7% of the world’s population, yet generate 40% of its economic growth.

Supported by an arsenal of statistics and rankings from his research team, he shows how the most creative cities are also the most unequal; how urban segregation exists in “patchwork” form, not just inner-city v periphery; how the next big crisis is the suburbs. There are winners and losers, good guys and bad guys, urban optimists and urban pessimists, superstar cities and everywhere else.

The book reads as if assembled from different articles over the years. He notes that inequality is an obstacle to growth, while also stating that unequal places such as San Francisco and New York are booming. He rails against Nimbys (or “New Urban Luddites”, as he calls them) and argues that planning regulations “have a substantial negative effect on the economy” – yet says deregulation is not the answer. He says public transport is key, while he himself takes taxis from the airport to London, as the preface to the book reveals.

When I suggest that perhaps his creative class v service class definition isn’t particularly helpful, given that many artists also wait tables, he pauses in his usually fluent spiel. “Maybe,” he says. “But the real issue is the immiseration of the service class.

“Yes, there are many artists and musicians who struggle, but the creative workers have colonised the best spaces in cities, pushing the service workers out to the periphery.”

At the mention of gentrification, he launches an impassioned tirade against the corrosive effects of what he sees as the guilt-laden left in urban academia, which in many ways rings true.

“Everything is gentrification now!” he cries. “Kids come to my office in tears. They say: ‘I took this class in urban geography and I want to make my city better, but they say everything I want to do is gentrification. A better school is gentrification, empowering artists is gentrification, working to improve the condition of parks is gentrification. What can I do? Just let it go all to shit?’ I think this academic urbanism is so dangerous, because it disempowers people. It is so removed from the reality of everyday life.”

Both in private and on stage, Florida speaks at such a fast pace and in a tone so declarative and self-assured that it’s sometimes hard to decode when he’s not saying much at all.He treated a packed auditorium at the London School of Economics to such a show two weeks ago, recounting his humble origins as the son of a factory worker from Newark, New Jersey, and charting his successive academic epiphanies. Mid-lecture, he stopped dramatically, and started reciting Jane Jacobs quotes like mantras. “Density in the absence of pedestrian scale can be a very dangerous thing … she was a genius.”

He is frank about how he has changed his mind since Trump and the EU referendum: “If you read the galleys of my book, you’ll see I was proclaiming that President Hillary Clinton will establish a new council of cities, that we’ll finally see national investment in transport and housing.

“But I’ve come to realise that the nation state is the problem,” he says. “We have to move power back to the local level. If I can live in my little hamlet, where they’re not going to impose Brexit on me or take away women’s reproductive rights, and it’s the kind of place I want to live, then that’s great. We vote with our feet and choose the places we want to live.”

So what are his solutions? The book concludes with a series of principles (the “seven pillars”) for how we might build a new inclusive “urbanism for all”. He wants better jobs, more affordable housing, improved public transport and “a global effort to build stronger, more prosperous cities in rapidly urbanising parts of the emerging world”.

It’s mostly inarguable, though there is scant detail on how these things might actually happen. When I ask him about the benefits of a land value tax, mentioned briefly in the book, he says: “It’s time for new thinking. Many of the solutions may not work, but we need to try things and talk about new solutions. We need incentives for greater development, not only of housing in general, but of affordable housing.

“I don’t have all the answers,” he adds, in response to my confused frown. “I always say: ‘Here’s a menu of things that seem interesting, but you guys are gonna have to figure out what works best for you.’”

Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense

Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense

The breach, considered the most serious in years, could enable Russia to evade NSA surveillance and more easily infiltrate U.S. networks

Vesselin BontchevOctober 6, 2017 9:57 AM

An opinion from someone who has worked 15 years in the anti-virus industry (and has spent another 13 doing anti-malware stuff in academia) and who knows Eugene Kaspersky personally and is very familiar with the early versions of his product:

1) Kaspersky is a man of very high intelligence and high integrity. He would never do such a stupid thing intentionally.

2) I believe that the accusations are true – in the sense that the attackers indeed used the data feed from his product to locate a prospective target. This is not a real “leak” (in the sense of a rogue employee babbling to the press); this information was released to the Washington Post intentionally.

3) I do not believe that KAV was used to penetrate the target and to exfiltrate the data – and I don’t think that the article claims that it was.

So, it is very natural for Kaspersky to ask for evidence – he wants to know how exactly 2) was achieved and if there is something in his product that he needs to fix.

Note: the following is speculation from my part.

Several months ago Google’s Project Zero found a serious problem in how KAV was checking SSL certificates. Instead of a proper cryptographic check, they only checked the name and a CRC-32 checksum. This allowed for MitM attacks. After the bug was reported, it was fixed – but the leak is from 2015, when the bug was still present.

If the certificate checking was the same everywhere in the product (very likely, IMO), it would have been possible for the attackers (Russian intelligence) to MitM KAV’s data feed on Russian soil and to monitor what it was reporting to Kaspersky.

The product is very good as an anti-virus product, meaning that its detection rate is excellent. It is definitely possible that it detected some of NSA’s tools when it was scanning them. Since it didn’t find anything it knew exactly (those were new tools, under development after the Snowden leaks) but only some bits of code associated with other Equation Group malware (i.e., the NSA), they were reported as “suspicious” or “new variants”. Most good AV programs have the ability to submit automatically suspicious samples to the developer. It is always optional but in some products it is opt-in, in others it is out-out. I don’t recall how exactly it is in KAV; I think it’s opt-in. Assuming it was turned on on the scanned computer, these samples were submitted to Kaspersky Lab.

When the attackers monitoring the feed saw “new variants of Equation Group malware”, they knew it was an interesting target. Maybe they saw other things that looked promising – like the paths of the scanned files or other interesting telemetry data. That’s how they figured out that the computer was worth attacking, so they hacked it and exfiltrated the data.

What we need to know:

1) Is this the bug in KAV that was used (which would mean that it is now fixed) or was it something else (that still needs fixing)? Thus Kaspersky asking for concrete evidence.

2) Why banning only Kaspersky? Why not Dr. Web (also a Russian product)? Why not ban all non-US anti-virus products? How do you know that Bitdefender isn’t being similarly exploited by the Romanian intelligence, for instance? Or Avira by the German BSD? Or Sophos by the GCHQ?

You do realize that the REAL problem is an NSA employee taking classified materials to his home PC. You can hardly blame Kaspersky for that. If there is still a vulnerability in his product that allows third parties to monitor its telemetry, then he needs to be told about it, so that he could fix it.

Unfortunately, most likely we’ll never get a proper answer. For instance, imagine if the NSA has some HUMINT intelligence on the Russian side, telling them “the GRU hacked Kaspersky’s data feed to locate the target, I don’t know how”. They can’t reveal the existence of this source and they don’t know how KAV was hacked exactly, so there is nothing substantial they can reveal.

The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md. An NSA contractor took highly sensitive data from the complex and put it on his home computer, from which it was stolen by hackers working for the Russian government, people familiar with the matter said.
The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md. An NSA contractor took highly sensitive data from the complex and put it on his home computer, from which it was stolen by hackers working for the Russian government, people familiar with the matter said. Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
By

Gordon Lubold and
Shane Harris

WASHINGTON—Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.
The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, these people said.
The theft, which hasn’t been disclosed, is considered by experts to be one of the most significant security breaches in recent years. It offers a rare glimpse into how the intelligence community thinks Russian intelligence exploits a widely available commercial software product to spy on the U.S.

Newsletter Sign-up

The incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t discovered until spring of last year, said the people familiar with the matter.
The stolen material included details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the computer code it uses for such spying and how it defends networks inside the U.S., these people said.
Having such information could give the Russian government information on how to protect its own networks, making it more difficult for the NSA to conduct its work. It also could give the Russians methods to infiltrate the networks of the U.S. and other nations, these people said.
The breach is the first known incident in which Kaspersky software is believed to have been exploited by Russian hackers to conduct espionage against the U.S. government. The company, which sells its antivirus products in the U.S., had revenue of more than half a billion dollars in Western Europe and the Americas in 2016, according to International Data Corp. Kaspersky says it has more than 400 million users world-wide.
The revelation comes as concern over Russian infiltration of American computer networks and social media platforms is growing amid a U.S. special counsel’s investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign sought or received assistance from the Russian government. Mr. Trump denies any impropriety and has called the matter a “witch hunt.”
Intelligence officials have concluded that a campaign authorized by the highest levels of the Russian government hacked into state election-board systems and the email networks of political organizations to damage the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
A spokesman for the NSA didn’t comment on the security breach. “Whether the information is credible or not, NSA’s policy is never to comment on affiliate or personnel matters,” he said. He noted that the Defense Department, of which the NSA is a part, has a contract for antivirus software with another company, not Kaspersky.
In a statement, Kaspersky Lab said it “has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident, and as a result, we must assume that this is another example of a false accusation.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in a statement didn’t address whether the Russian government stole NSA materials using Kaspersky software. But he criticized the U.S. government’s decision to ban the software from use by U.S. agencies as “undermining the competitive positions of Russian companies on the world arena.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D., N.H.) on Thursday asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on the issue. “As you are aware, I have been concerned about the serious dangers of using Kaspersky software due to the company’s strong ties to the Kremlin,” she wrote in a letter to Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the committee chairman. She urged Mr. McCain to “expeditiously” schedule a hearing with Adm. Rogers and other administration officials.
“Given the serious national security implications of this breach and the jurisdictional relevance to the [committee] I believe a full committee hearing on this issue would be beneficial both to members of the committee and the constituents they represent.”
The Kaspersky incident is the third publicly known breach at the NSA involving a contractor’s access to a huge trove of highly classified materials. It prompted an official letter of reprimand to the agency’s director, Adm. Michael Rogers, by his superiors, people familiar with the situation said.
National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.
National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers. Photo: saul loeb/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Adm. Rogers came into his post in 2014 promising to staunch leaks after the disclosure that NSA contractor Edward Snowden the year before gave classified documents to journalists that revealed surveillance programs run by the U.S. and allied nations.
The Kaspersky-linked incident predates the arrest last year of another NSA contractor, Harold Martin, who allegedly removed massive amounts of classified information from the agency’s headquarters and kept it at his home, but wasn’t thought to have shared the data.
Mr. Martin pleaded not guilty to charges that include stealing classified information. His lawyer has said he took the information home only to get better at his job and never intended to reveal secrets.
The name of the NSA contractor in the Kaspersky-related incident and the company he worked for aren’t publicly known. People familiar with the matter said he is thought to have purposely taken home numerous documents and other materials from NSA headquarters, possibly to continue working beyond his normal office hours.
The man isn’t believed to have wittingly aided a foreign government, but knew that removing classified information without authorization is a violation of NSA policies and potentially a criminal act, said people with knowledge of the breach. It is unclear whether he has been dismissed from his job or faces charges. The incident remains under federal investigation, said people familiar with the matter.
Kaspersky software once was authorized for use by nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies, including the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Justice and Treasury.
The headquarters of the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab.
The headquarters of the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab. Photo: Savostyanov Sergei/TASS/Zuma Press
NSA employees and contractors never had been authorized to use Kaspersky software at work. While there was no prohibition against these employees or contractors using it at home, they were advised not to before the 2015 incident, said people with knowledge of the guidance the agency gave.
For years, U.S. national security officials have suspected that Kaspersky Lab, founded by a computer scientist who was trained at a KGB-sponsored technical school, is a proxy of the Russian government, which under Russian law can compel the company’s assistance in intercepting communications as they move through Russian computer networks.
Kaspersky said in its statement: “As a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.”
Suspicions about the company prompted the Department of Homeland Security last month to take the extraordinary step of banning all U.S. government departments and agencies from using Kaspersky products and services. Officials determined that “malicious cyber actors” could use the company’s antivirus software to gain access to a computer’s files, said people familiar with the matter.
The government’s decision came after months of intensive discussions inside the intelligence community, as well as a study of how the software works and the company’s suspected connections to the Russian government, said people familiar with the events.
They said intelligence officials also were concerned that given the prevalence of Kaspersky on the commercial market, countless people could be targeted, including family members of senior government officials, or that Russia could use the software to steal information for competitive economic advantage.
U.S. investigators believe the contractor’s use of the software alerted Russian hackers to the presence of files that may have been taken from the NSA, according to people with knowledge of the investigation. Experts said the software, in searching for malicious code, may have found samples of it in the data the contractor removed from the NSA.
“The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security,” the DHS said Sept. 13 in announcing the government ban.
But how the antivirus system made that determination is unclear, such as whether Kaspersky technicians programed the software to look for specific parameters that indicated NSA material. Also unclear is whether Kaspersky employees alerted the Russian government to the finding.
Investigators did determine that, armed with the knowledge that Kaspersky’s software provided of what files were suspected on the contractor’s PC, hackers working for Russia homed in on the machine and obtained a large amount of information, said the people familiar with the matter.
All antivirus software scans computers looking for malicious code, comparing what is on the machine to a master list housed at the software company. But that scanning also gives makers of the software an inventory of what is on the computer, experts say.
“It’s basically the equivalent of digital dumpster diving,” said Blake Darché, a former NSA employee who worked in the agency’s elite hacking group that targets foreign computer systems.
Kaspersky is “aggressive” in its methods of hunting for malware, Mr. Darché said, “in that they will make copies of files on a computer, anything that they think is interesting.” He said the product’s user license agreement, which few customers probably read, allows this.
“You’re basically surrendering your right to privacy by using Kaspersky software,” said Mr. Darché, who is chief security officer for Area 1, a computer security company.
“We aggressively detect and mitigate malware infections no matter the source and we have been proudly doing it for 20 years,” the company said in its statement. “We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals.”
Kaspersky Lab Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky. The company said it never would help ‘any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.’
Kaspersky Lab Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky. The company said it never would help ‘any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts.’ Photo: Sharifulin Valery/TASS/Zuma Press
The breach illustrates the chronic problem the NSA has had with keeping highly classified secrets from spilling out, former intelligence personnel say. They say they were rarely searched while entering or leaving their workplaces to see if they were carrying classified documents or removable storage media, such as a thumb drive.
Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper pushed President Barack Obama to remove Adm. Rogers as NSA head, due in part to the number of data breaches on his watch, according to several officials familiar with the matter.
The NSA director had fallen out of White House favor when he traveled to Bedminster, N.J., last November to meet with president-elect Donald Trump about taking a job in his administration, said people familiar with the matter. Adm. Rogers didn’t notify his superiors, an extraordinary step for a senior military officer, U.S. officials said.
Adm. Rogers wasn’t fired for a number of reasons, including a pending restructuring of the NSA that would have been further complicated by his departure, according to people with knowledge of internal deliberations. An NSA spokesman didn’t comment on efforts to remove Adm. Rogers.
Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reagan, White As Snow

Reagan, White As Snowby Alec Dubrohttp://www.tompaine.com/, May 13, 2007

Ronald Reagan. The man was a saint, a positive saint. Such strength, such warmth, such conviction, such vision. Such claptrap.

Reagan was a mean, crazy old man with a withering contempt for most of the world’s people, beginning with African Americans and extending most strongly to black Africans.

Last week, as we’ve heard, the Republican presidential candidates praised the name and heritage of Ronald Reagan 40 times during the televised Show and Tell at the Reagan Presidential Library. That none of them mentioned Reagan’s legacy of white supremacy and support for apartheid is a little like invoking Jefferson Davis and not mentioning treason or slavery. Actually, a lot like it.

Ronald Reagan was a white supremacist to his very core, and left enough traces over his lengthy political career so that it’s evident for anyone who cares to look-which apparently few do.

Domestically, he opposed every legislative remedy for African Americans, betraying a meanness of spirit and an open racism. As Sidney Blumenthal wrote in The Guardian in 2003:

Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (calling it “humiliating to the South”), and ran for governor of California in 1966 promising to wipe the Fair Housing Act off the books. “If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house,” he said, “he has a right to do so.” After the Republican convention in 1980, Reagan traveled to the county fair in Neshoba, Mississippi, where, in 1964, three Freedom Riders had been slain by the Ku Klux Klan. Before an all-white crowd of tens of thousands, Reagan declared: “I believe in states’ rights.”

It’s hard to believe now, but in 1965, a higher percentage of congressional Republicans voted for the Voting Rights Act than Democrats. Reagan, then, wasn’t following party tradition; he was making a grab for the white racist vote-and it worked. Southern Democrats abandoned the party en masse for one more welcoming to white supremacy. No wonder so many loved, and still love, the man: He validated people’s whiteness.

It’s true that Reagan knew enough to occasionally disguise his racism. He appointed Samuel Pierce to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where Pierce presided over the halving of housing subsidies. No matter. Reagan couldn’t remember the man’s name. Once, at a reception for the nation’s mayors, he greeted Pierce with a ‘”Hello, Mr. Mayor.” Despite this, a few black conservatives, such as Armstrong Williams, were willing to validate him as someone who knew better than the “civil rights establishment” what was good for African Americans.

But it was in foreign affairs that he showed that he could rise above mere opportunism and flaunt his racism for all the world to see. He was the best friend that South Africa’s apartheid government had in the developed world.

Reagan consistently opposed taking any stand against the Pretoria regime, no matter what their sins. His administration created a policy called “constructive engagement,” which meant no sanctions.

When the pressure for sanctions grew too great, even within the Republican Party, Reagan refused to relent, claiming the sanctions would hurt black workers. In 1986, Reagan vetoed a congressional sanctions vote, this time claiming that it would help the communist ANC. Moreover, “the U.S., he added, ‘must stay and build, not cut and run’.” When Congress overrode the veto, Reagan made sure that the law was barely carried out.

But it was not just passive support. According to the African National Congress, Reagan ordered his CIA chief, William Casey, to provide the Directorate of Military Intelligence with information on the South African liberation movement. Reagan supported the apartheid government’s invasion of Angola, which didn’t even border on South Africa, saying that they were fighting communism. The Reagan administration never mentioned South Africa’s nuclear weapons – weapons of mass destruction.

If and when the documents of the Reagan-era intelligence community are declassified, we’ll be able to confirm the high-level links between the White House and Pretoria, the various U.S. foundations that funneled money to South Africa and the personal connections between U.S. right-wingers and the apartheid regime-and what exactly was Reagan’s role in the matter.

But even if none of it is ever proved, Reagan showed that he was an implacable foe of racial integration of any sort, domestic or foreign, and would use any tactic to block its implementation. If any of the Republican candidates for president are ignorant of Reagan’s wretched conduct, it’s because they refuse to look.

But the world saw him. After one of Reagan’s pro-apartheid speeches, Bishop Desmond Tutu said:

“I found it quite nauseating. I think the West, for my part, can go to hell . . . Your president is the pits as far as blacks are concerned. He sits there like the great, big white chief of old.”

Reagan proudly upheld a line of philosophy that ran from slavery to Jim Crow, from eugenics to National Socialism, from anti-miscegenation to apartheid. Oh, he usually couched it all in the familiar terms of property rights and individual freedoms. But Reagan was a vicious old racist and anyone who invokes him deserves nothing but contempt

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment