Clemens Heni

Wissenschaft und Publizistik als Kritik

Schlagwort: sexism

Kenneth L. Marcus’ Oxymoron: Trump and Civil Rights

The Times of Israel, March 12, 2018

Fighting for civil rights and working for Donald Trump is an oxymoron. Activist Kenneth L. Marcus was nominated as assistant secretary for civil rights in the U.S. Department of Education. A first committee hearing took place on December 5, 2017 with a result of 12 to 11 in his favor, and finally the full Senate will vote. Given the GOP majority he will be confirmed.

I know Ken Marcus personally, ever since he gave a talk when I was at Yale in 2008/09. He regularly appears at international conferences on antisemitism, be it in London, Jerusalem or New York City. He is a smart person and I always thought of him as a mainstream guy, who analyzes various forms of today’s antisemitism in order to fight them. His main field is defending Israel, which is important and makes good sense. However, I failed to realize some important things.

It was instructive for me to follow his nomination becoming a major topic in public discourse in the US, including articles in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA). The JTA reported on January 19, 2018:

“Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the committee, focused almost entirely on Marcus’ support of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ rollback of Obama administration guidelines that emphasize the rights of alleged victims in campus sexual assault cases.

Marcus, who served in similar civil rights positions in the George W. Bush administration, also has opposed affirmative action and resisted pursuing bias cases without evidence that there is intent behind the bias. He has also opposed equities for LGBTQ Americans, but told the committee that his views in that area had ‘evolved’.”

The crucial failure of Kenneth Marcus, who mentioned his wife and family being with him at the hearing, is the following:

“Murray asked Marcus to ‘name a single example of something President Trump has said or done when it comes to discrimination or women’s rights or civil rights you disagree with.’ Marcus could not, which in the current political environment would doom any candidate from accruing substantive Democratic support.”

Donald Trump abused women and proudly told other men that a celebrity such as he is, can “grab her by the pussy.” What would Marcus say if one of these abused women was his wife or his neighbor?

Trump ridiculed journalist Serge Kovalevsky from the New York Times, he ridiculed a handicapped person. That was the moment that broke the heart of actress Meryl Streep, as she said at the Golden Globe in January 2017.

Then, after a neo-Nazi had killed an antifascist counter-protester in Charlottesville and hundreds of neo-Nazis screamed “Jews will not replace us,” the US President said that there were “very fine people” among those neo-Nazis.

Trump called Mexican immigrants “criminals and rapists,” aiming at an undefined group of people from Latin and South America and he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the US.

These are all topics of women’s and civil rights abuse in the US by Trump before and after his election.

Again, listen to Senator Murray’s question and read the answer by Kenneth Marcus:

“Murray asked Marcus to ‘name a single example of something President Trump has said or done when it comes to discrimination or women’s rights or civil rights you disagree with.’ Marcus could not, which in the current political environment would doom any candidate from accruing substantive Democratic support.”

This disqualifies Marcus from every single post dealing with civil rights and women’s rights. He takes side with a sexist criminal, plain and simple.

That is of course nothing unusual in our world. Many men have no problem with sexism, the abuse of women in particular; take the #metoo campaign as an example. But a high-profile politician in a department dealing with civil rights should or; must know much better.

Many nation-wide civil rights groups and umbrella organizations have objected to the nomination of Marcus. This holds for the biggest Hispanic civil rights organization, the UnidosUS:

“UnidosUS (formerly NCLR) and the National Urban League joined today in opposing the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus as the next Assistant Secretary for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education. The groups noted his troubling record with regard to enforcing the rights of immigrant students and English learners, and past attempts to undermine critical policies aimed at remedying racial discrimination, including affirmative action.

Marcus’ nomination had been met with opposition from a broad range of civil rights groups who have raised concerns about the nominee’s hostility to affirmative action and other equal opportunity initiatives. Marcus did nothing to assuage those concerns during a recent nomination hearing where he failed to commit his office to enforcing the law on a number of civil rights issues in which the OCR has played a pivotal enforcement role in the past.”

The defense of Marcus by groups such as Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), StandWithUs, the Algemeiner or the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and many other Christian and Jewish groups is frankly ridiculous as they insinuate that opposition to his nomination is based on anti-Israel bias. There might be a very few groups that oppose Marcus because of his take on anti-Zionist antisemitism, like the Arab American Institute (although they do not reject Zionism and the Jewish state as such in their long statement, only “policies of Israel”). The main opponents of Marcus, though, have an issue with his analysis and policies regarding racism and sexism.

The biggest and best-known Jewish civil rights organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) does not come out in support of Marcus. That speaks volumes.

Then, take a leading pro-Israel Senator such as Elizabeth Warren – she did not even address the topic of Israel or BDS, as Marcus’ positions in that respect are not controversial at all to her. However, she rejects him for this job, because he fails to send a clear civil rights message when it comes to racism, for example, according to the Washington Post:

„Here’s another exchange between Warren and Marcus:

WARREN: Mr. Marcus, if confirmed, you would be responsible for protecting the civil rights of American students at a time when Nazis and white supremacists are marching across college campuses with tiki torches, and many young people are literally afraid to go to school because of the hateful climate that has been fostered by Donald Trump. If confirmed, will you commit to fully enforcing civil rights laws and protecting all students from discrimination and harassment?

MARCUS: Yes.

WARREN: Good. So, I just want to find out a little more detail about what that commitment means to you, and I thought we might go through a few fact situations. So, let’s start with an easy one. Say there’s a school district that has some mostly white schools and some mostly black schools, and let’s say that the mostly black schools have less experienced teachers, teachers with fewer qualifications, those schools have fewer books, they have fewer computers in the library, fewer AP courses available. By any objective measure, those schools have clearly been shortchanged. If confirmed, would your office step in to protect the civil rights of that district’s black students?

MARCUS: If I were confirmed, I would ensure that any complaints alleging violation of Title VI would be — would be reviewed.

WARREN: Mr. Marcus, I don’t want to start a dance here. This is a set of facts that come to you in your position, if you are confirmed, and my question is are those facts adequate? Will you step in to protect the civil rights of the district’s black students?

MARCUS: Senator, I would certainly hope to be able to provide protection for the civil rights of those black students to the extent possible under law, but what . . .

WARREN: But, that’s the question I’m asking how you see this. You’re allowed to answer hypotheticals, here, so this one should be easy. A yes or a no, would you step in on those facts, or not?

MARCUS: I appreciate that, senator, but unfortunately in my experience the cases that OCR deals with are much more complicated than hypotheticals.

WARREN: So, you don’t think that’s enough evidence, what I’ve just said?

MARCUS: I think I would need to look at it very carefully.

After questioning him, Warren said: “I don’t think we need someone in this position whose view of civil rights enforcement is to do as little as possible to protect as few students as possible. I think that would be bad for students overall, and with Betsy DeVos as secretary of education, I think it would be even worse.”

A leading pro-Israel group, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), which is part of the Leadership Conference, a major umbrella organization of civil rights groups in the US, also rejects the nomination of Marcus. Why?

“Hillel would not address Marcus’ views on federal policy and sexual harassment. Marcus endorses the decision by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to remove the Obama-era guidelines that advocates said made it easier for victims to level sexual assault charges on campus. The guidelines discouraged universities from allowing an alleged assaulter to directly cross-examine his accuser, and discouraged what until then was the common practice of requiring that the accused and the accuser first attempt to resolve the issue face to face or through mediation.

As leverage, the Obama administration made the rules under Title IX, a law that prohibits federal funding for schools that allow discrimination against women.

Feminists said that before the Obama guidelines, the process revictimized assault victims. DeVos has said that Obama’s rules instead made victims of the accused.

That was the nomination killer for the NCJW, said Faith Williams, the group’s senior legislative associate.

“In light of growing number of #MeToo moments and the scandal at Michigan State University, we need these Title IX protections,” she said, referring to the explosion of sexual assault allegations by women and the recent conviction of a sports therapist at the university who was accused of assaulting nearly 200 women in his care.

Also opposing the Marcus nomination is Jewish Women International, which has developed programs in partnership with Jewish fraternities and sororities to counter sexual assault on campus.

“We are deeply concerned by the answers given during his confirmation hearing last week supporting Secretary DeVos’ rescission of important guidance clarifying the responsibilities of colleges and universities in cases of sexual assault,” Jewish Women International said in a statement last month.

In my view, and I think I am not alone, Kenneth L. Marcus’ stance helps to delegitimize the entire pro-Israel camp, a camp he stands pars pro toto, as he has a blind eye concerning the civil rights abuses by Donald Trump. In addition he seems to be supporting very dangerous policies by DeVos, downplaying if not affirming sexist and racist policies by the current Trump administration.

Most people who will gather, again, at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism, organized by the Israeli Foreign Ministry (including Netanyahu himself), March 19–21, 2018, will enjoy handshakes and have drinks, celebrating themselves as the elite of true fighters against antisemitism. Real heroes.

I myself participated in that conference in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2015. No longer. In a time when major participant organizations of the conference including the AJC, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Zionist Organization of America (see Bret Stephens’ attack in the New York Times on the ZOA’s invitation to fascist antisemite Steve Bannon) embrace a sexist, racist and Holocaust distorting president, that kind of conference is a joke, a self-congratulatory farce. As long as women, Hispanics, the handicapped, Muslims and the Dreamers behold the reluctance of a leading pro-Israel activist to genuinely support their civil rights, even while he is being considered for a high civil rights position, in the midst of his loving embrace of Trumpism, the pro-Israel camp is in deep trouble.

Zionism and Israel deserve better!

 

 

 

Trump, Anti-Western Ideology, Sexism, Fascism and the End of Pro-Israel Tents in Germany and Austria

Times of Israel, November 18, 2016

Dr. Clemens Heni is director of The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA)

November 8, 2016 was probably the most shocking day in the history of elections in the United States of America. It was a huge victory for the anti-Western camp all over Europe, North America and elsewhere. If you can behave and speak like Trump, every single leading neo-Nazi, right-wing extremist, New Right, Alt Right, right-wing populist or fascist politician at least in Europe can become President or Prime Minister, take Norbert Hofer in Austria as next example.

Trump lives in the post-fact world. He lied and lied and lied – and nothing happened. Like Boris Johnson lied, the people voted for Brexit and the next day he had to admit that he just – lied and agitated with purpose.

A person who behaved like a misogynist, racist fascist was elected by the majority of Americans, according to the not-so-democratic American electoral system (Clinton won the popular vote with some one million more votes, and even several million more votes for her in California, New England or New York wouldn’t have changed anything, think about that. So why should more people go voting in these areas, states or cities, if it doesn’t change anything?).

The core problem we are facing is racism, white supremacism, authoritarian personalities all over America and Europe, nationalism and hatred of “the other,” be it Muslims, immigrants, women, LGBT people, physically disabled, left-wingers, liberals. Those who share Trump’s personality and agenda are for example Islamists.

Shadi Hamid, Senior Fellow – Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy, U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, writes about similarities between Trump and the Islamists:

As a minority and a Muslim, the result of this election is distressing—and perhaps the most frightening event I’ve experienced in my own country. (…) It’s almost unfair to compare Trump to the democratically elected Islamists that I normally study, since Trump’s open disrespect not just for liberal norms, but democratic ones as well, has been so unabashed. In his infamous statement during the final presidential debate, Trump refused to commit himself to democratic outcomes if his opponent won. Mainstream Islamist groups that participate in elections—whatever we think their true intentions are—have rarely gone this far. The differences between ethno-nationalist parties, such as Trump’s new Republicans, and religious parties are of course numerous, which makes the similarities all the more glaring. There is the same sense of victimization, real and imagined, at the hands of an entrenched elite, coupled with an acute sense of loss. In both cases, the leader of the movement is seen as the embodiment of the national will, representing “the people.”

However, the German pro-Israel camp is rather happy about a sexist and racist in the White House.

A leading organization, I Like Israel, run by Sacha Stawski, and organizer, for example, of the German Israel Congress and an active part of the German pro-Israel camp with their group Honestly Concerned, are not concerned at all. They are rather happy about the outcome of the American election.

ILI’s newsletter from Nov 13, 2016, links to a pro-Trump article by far right publicist Henryk M. Broder. Broder was a left-wing antifascist in the 1970s and published books about German neo-Nazi in the FRG. Later he also dealt with left wing and mainstream antisemitism in the 1980s. After 9/11, he documented German anti-Americanism and their rejection to fight jihad.

In recent years, though, he has become a mouthpiece of right-wing extremists and those who hate Islam – which must not be confused with fighting jihad and Islamism, like the author of this article who is the author of the 2011, 2013, and 2017 editions of the entry about Germany in the World Almanac of Islamism by the American Foreign Policy Council, based in Washington, D.C.

Broder was supportive of a crowd of far right and neo-Nazi people in Dresden, October, 3, 2016, the German day of “reunification.” They shouted in vulgar language against the elites of state and society, someone even hold a poster with a quote by the Nazi Party NSDAP and Goebbels. On TV, Broder supported the crowd of the “Patriots against the Islamization of the Occident” (Pegida).

Even a former ally of Broder, publicist Michael Miersch, in January 2015 left Broder’s page on the internet, Axis of the Good (Achgut or Achse des Guten), due to the nasty right-wing extremist climate on that page. Ever since, it became even worse. Broder’s page is even part of a campaign against pro-Israel, anti-antisemitism and anti-racist Amadeu Antonio Foundation, run by Anetta Kahane.

Now, two independent (former?) Marxists join the ranks of the pro-Trumpists in Germany, Alex Feuerherdt, a blogger, and Gerhard Scheit, a Vienna based scholar in literature, author of the publishing house ça ira and the journal sans phrase. Scheit wrote an article on Feuerherdt’s blog LizasWelt, where he insinuates that German philosopher Hegel might have had a play in the outcome of the election. Hegel’s “ruse of reason” was behind the election, Scheit and Feuerherdt believe.

They derealize every single sexist or racist rant, including those against Latinos as well as physically disabled. They believe, even against the intention of Trump reason did win! Reason! Never was the left so dumb or ignorant and unreasonable as in this article by Viennese Marxist Gerhard Scheit. He and his publisher Feuerherdt takes side with both fascism and antisemitism in the White House, take Bannon and breitbart.com as worst examples, but they are not the only ones. Ha’aretz left wing Zionist columnist Bradley Burston concludes:

We should have been more active in countering the preposterous but widely spread lies about Hillary Clinton being anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. Trump’s kid-gloves coddling of anti-Semites and their vicious works have served him in good stead. Now the haters will be only too happy to return the favor by stepping up their attacks. On Wednesday, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s murderous Kristallnacht pogroms which pre-figured the Holocaust, Trump’s victory gave anti-Semites across America an additional reason to raise a glass in celebration. Within minutes of the announcement of Trump’s victory, former Klan leader David Duke – whom the ADL has called “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite” – tweeted, “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life – make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump!”

It is shocking and a disgrace to scholarship and Shoah remembrance to see someone like Gerhard Scheit supporting a fascist like Donald Trump who is about to employ the Alt Right in the White House. Formerly, Scheit edited books by Holocaust survivor Jean Améry.

While the ADL’ Jonathan Greenblatt at its Nov. 17 conference “Never is Now” is shocked by Trump, Jewish historians in the US urge America to stand clear from Trump, antisemitism, racism and hatred of Muslims, the German pro-Israel camp takes side with the Far Right.

The group of Jewish historians declares:

We condemn unequivocally those agitators who have ridden Trump’s coattails to propagate their toxic ideas about Jews. More broadly, we call on all fair-minded Americans to condemn unequivocally the hateful and discriminatory language and threats that have been directed by him and his supporters against Muslims, women, Latinos, African-Americans, disabled people, LGBT people and others. Hatred of one minority leads to hatred of all. Passivity and demoralization are luxuries we cannot afford. We stand ready to wage a struggle to defend the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans. It is not too soon to begin mobilizing in solidarity. (…) However, it is not only in defense of others that we feel called to speak out.  We witnessed repeated anti-Semitic expressions and insinuations during the Trump campaign.  Much of this anti-Semitism was directed against journalists, either Jewish or with Jewish-sounding names.  The candidate himself refused to denounce—and even retweeted–language and images that struck us as manifestly anti-Semitic.  By not doing so, his campaign gave license to haters of Jews, who truck in conspiracy theories about world Jewish domination.“

One of these anti-Semitic tropes was Trump’s and his camp’s agitation against George Soros. They insinuate, as does Hungarian President Victor Orbán, that Soros is funding NGOs in order to bring refugees into Europe and to destabilize European nation-states. Soros is Jewish and that kind of conspiracy myths are a classic in modern anti-Semitism.

Anti-Semitism is an essential component of Trump and his camp around the world. Other outrageous quotes by Trump can be found here, including this one: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

Again: Not even the most notorious argument by Trump, the influx of immigrants in Europe and the end of European nation-states, has a point. As if 1, 2 or even 5 million immigrants or refugees could topple a continent or the European Union (EU, which is just the Western part of Europe, not including Western Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) with over 450 million inhabitants, not including the UK.

Take the 20% Muslims Israel has, by the way, but the German pro-Israel camp is not really interested in what Israel really is. They are also obsessed in fighting the circumcision or “archaic rituals.” The (post?)Marxists of the journal “Bahamas” went so far and urged their few followers not to join the first ever pro-circumcision rally in Germany in August 2012. “Bahamas” pretends to be pro-Israel, but their agenda is mainly anti-Islam (and not just anti-Islamist). In addition, they have an anti-feminist, sexist agenda, like their prayer leader Justus Wertmüller, a feminist student group in Frankfurt argues against him.

The leading left wing monthly, though, Konkret and its publisher Hermann L. Gremliza, is to some degree different (not the journal as such, but at least the publisher, I assume). While Gremliza in 1976 took sides with the anti-Zionist and antisemitic hijacking of Entebbe, and had some kind of Schadenfreude on 9/11 and even published conspiracy myths after 9/11 in his paper, he changed sides and is now a leading pro-Israel voice in the small left-wing camp in the FRG. For example, Gremliza published a book by American sociologist and political scientist Professor Andrei S. Markovits from the University of Michigan (who in 2006 was the second reader of my doctoral dissertation at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, about the threat deriving from mainstreaming the “New Right” in the FRG from 1970-2005) against anti-Americanism and antisemitism in Germany. I very well recall an event with Gremliza and Markovits, promoting Markovits’ book, Nov. 19, 2004, in Café Sybille in Berlin-Friedrichshain.

Gremliza is also an outspoken antifascist, anti-racist and against the New Right like the Alternative for Germany (AfD). In 1964, he started as a student at the University city of Tübingen in the south-west of the FRG and decovered the Nazi past of “anthopologists” (Volkskunde in German) such as Gustav Bebermeyer.

Taken Feuerherdt and Scheit as examples, this stance by Gremliza against the Far Right has to be emphasized. Gremliza also rejects Germans to give Jews advice in regard to the circumcision. “After Auschwitz,” he says, “Germans should stay away from that kind of advice – at least for the next 1000 years,” he says in a book he published with Suhrkamp publishing house in 2016.

Suhrkamp was the place where Gershom Scholem and Critical Theory were published.

We need a pro-Zionist approach in Germany and Europe that is antiracist, antisexist, anti-Alt Right, anti-New Right, anti-nationalist, antifascist, anti-antisemitic and anti-Islamist, of course.

For many in Europe, it is too difficult a task to be both Zionist and anti-European nationalism. That is the history of both the 19th and 20th centuries. To promote European nationalism will lead to more antisemitism and more Trumps all over Europe. Trump supports Assad, and therefore the Iranian regime, and his admiration for Turkish Islamofascist leader Erdogan as well as Russian authoritarian regime under Putin are shocking, too. The worst case is of course the red button and nukes in the hand of a narcissist lunatic in the White House.

To embrace someone who fought the most vulgar and ugly election campaign ever in a western democracy in recent decades as substantial parts of the German pro-Israel camp does is not just suicidal for Zionism and the Jewish state. It is in itself sexist and racist. Every single sexist and racist rant during the campaign was a reminder to victims of sexism and racism. This retraumatization lies at the bottom of this campaign by the Alt Right’s superhero Donald J. Trump.

Many in Germany saw the end of public life when hundreds of criminal male Arabs or Muslims mainly from the Maghreb abused women on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Hamburg and other cities. A man who “grabbed women by the pussy” and elsewhere, who just “kisses them” if he likes to was elected President of the United States – and this is now portrayed as a savior of the West. Read: if Muslims abuse women it is a scandal and crime, if a white American man does so, he is elected President.

Broder was the keynote speaker of the German Israel Congress 2016, Feuerherdt is a close ally of him and an author at Broder’s Blog. They represent substantial parts of the German pro-Israel tent, which no longer is a tent, as a collaboration with people who endorse Donald Trump is impossible for any antifascist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-antisemitic, Zionist position.

Israel needs serious allies. The German and Austrian pro-Israel camps are done as long as they are represented by people like those criticized above.

It is a perfidious tactics to abuse Israel and the Jews and embrace Trump, as he is supposedly pro-Israel. Someone who abuses women, who promotes antisemitic conspiracy myths, who mocks Jewish journalists, who defames Muslims and Latinos, who likes Erdogan, Putin and Assad (=Iran) – a friend of Israel?

He is a vulgar sexist, racist, a fascist and an enemy of the Western world. “Make America great again” translates into “destroy the Western world.” To weaken the West and to embolden the jihadists or secular enemies of the free world like Russia. That is Donald J. Trump.

German mainstream journalists of the center-right daily Welt, Richard Herzinger and Hannes Stein, are clear about the threat deriving of Trump and the Alt Right in the White House. Trump is a hero for the anti-liberal, anti-Western international camp. Herzinger writes: “to underestimate Trump is suicidal.”

Finally, look at Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, an Irish Labor Party Senator. He spoke in the Irish Senate and said the following:

How [are we] supposed to deal with this monster who has just been elected President of America? (…) America has just elected a fascist (…) I am embarrassed by the reaction of the Irish government to what’s happened in America. Can the government not understand what is happening? We are at an ugly international crossroads. What is happening in Britain is appalling. What is happening across Europe is appalling. It has echoes from the 1930s, and America, the most powerful country in the world, has just elected a fascist. And the best you can come out with from a government spokesperson is: ‘Well, we have to talk about foreign direct investment. We have to be conscious of American investment in Ireland.’ There are 50,000 Irish people illegal in America who I am quite sure are fearful of their futures. When are we going to have the moral courage to speak in terms other than economy all the time and to realize what is happening? I am frightened. I am absolutely frightened for what’s happening to this world and what’s happening to our inability to stand up for it.”

Jamie Kirchick, fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative, correspondent for the Daily Beast, and columnist for Tablet Magazine, puts it like this:

To put it in terms our insult-strewing president-elect can relate to: Don’t put lipstick on this pig.”

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