Monday, May 23, 2005

BuzzFlash interviews James Carroll; CounterPunch's David H. Price on the CIA and Robert Cray's lyrics to "20"; NYC IMC on Sharon protests

Here's an excerpt from BuzzFlash's interview with James Carroll:

BuzzFlash: You write about the the beginning of the Crusades as a rather dramatic departure for Christianity.
James Carroll: It was. Remember, there were seven or eight Crusades, depending on how you count, the first beginning in 1096, and the last in the early 13th Century – so over a couple hundred years. The positive story of the Crusades is that they were chivalrous attempts to win back for Christian Europe the Holy Land -- the sites of the life of the story of Jesus, and take them back from the infidel. Of course, what’s really at work in the Crusades is Europe’s desperate response – quite threatened response – to the growth of Islam. The Crusades are a religiously justified violent campaign against a whole other civilization that defines itself differently. The Crusades are most notable, in my view, for Christian history, for being the first time the Church formally defined a work of violence as a source of salvation. You could go to heaven if you got in the Crusade.
BuzzFlash: And, today, you can go to heaven if you die in a jihad, so ...
James Carroll: Exactly. It's the same mentality, the holy war mentality, which is that the killing of the other is sanctioned by God, and you're blessed if you die in the act of it – as we see expressly articulated among extremist Muslims today.
But it's actually just an inch below the surface of the culture of patriotic valor, the way in which we valorize our own war dead. There is a kind of salvation and redemption offered by the act of dying in a nation’s wars. It’s one of the corruptions of a nationalist ideology, if you ask me. And there's a way in which it does really take firm root in the European imagination with the Crusades -- dying for the cause. In those days, it was religiously defined as an act of salvation.

Also just at that time, Christian theology began to define the death of Jesus in a new way. In 1096, the absolute beginning of the Crusades, the most important theologian of the day, Saint Anselm, wrote a treatise called "Why God Became a Man," which was a definition of the death of Jesus as a sacred act of violence willed by God the father. And that's the Christian theology that holds sway today. We saw it on powerful display with Mel Gibson's film.

Boston Globe columnist James Carroll's book Crusade: Chronicles of an Unjust War is available as a BuzzFlash premium.

Lyle e-mails that Ty's comments in the roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review reminded him that he wanted to share David H. Price's "CIA Skullduggery in Academia"
from CounterPunch:

My recent CounterPunch exposé ("The CIA's Campus Spies," ) on the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP) bruised those tender souls in spookworld, also Senator Roberts. After this piece circulated and some press coverage followed, Roberts gave some interviews designed to diminish concerns that something was wrong with secretly placing students on the payrolls of the CIA and other intelligence agencies in American university classrooms.
Senator Roberts' spin was interesting for what it addressed and what it conceded. Roberts dismissed the possibility that the PRISP scholars covertly funded by the CIA would or even could compile dossiers on faculty and fellow students. The Wichita Eagle reported: "Roberts noted that legal safeguards against domestic spying are in place that weren't in the 1950s and 1960s, when the anti-Communist fervor of former Sen. Joe McCarthy and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover created a climate that contributed to agency abuses. Specifically, a 1981 presidential executive order clearly prohibits physical surveillance of American citizens by agencies other than the FBI." This is a remarkable statement. Pat Roberts, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, really does not understand that the U.S. Patriot Act dismantled safeguards preventing domestic surveillance by the CIA and other agencies.
More revealing is that when pressed by reporters, Roberts and sources at CIA did not dispute the likelihood that having undisclosed CIA operatives amongst the ranks of academics could seriously damage the credibility of American academics conducting domestic and foreign research. This blasé attitude concerning the collateral damage of hapless academic bystanders will
win Roberts no friends in the academy as the damage from such actions can be widespread.

Also at CounterPunch, I'll note that Robert Cray's "20" has been posted. From CounterPunch, here's Cray's comments on "20:"

"The song is about an innocent young guy, who, after the events of 9/11, wants to do his part for his country. He doesn't know he's going to end up in Iraq, watching the horror that's going on thereand he ends up losing his life. It's a subject that needs to be spoken about and is in some ways, a continuation of one of the songs we did on the last album."

Click the link to read the lyrics and also, at the bottom, you'll see this:

"Twenty" is the title cut from the Robert Cray Band's new album. The song is available on streaming audio at

Lastly, Rob e-mails genug's "NYC protests Sharon rally at Baruch College" from NYC IMC:

A group of Jewish community human rights activists descended in protest on a highly-touted rally today featuring Israeli PM Ariel Sharon. Crying "Stop the mishegos [craziness], end the occupation!" the activists asked the crowd of executives of major Jewish organizations: "which of you will represent the Jews who want peace?""This rally doesn't show that American Jews support Sharon's bloody plan to annex the major settlements and shut Palestinians out of Jerusalem forever -- it just shows that there are 1000 American Jews with the means to put on a big show, and say they're speaking for the rest of us," said Malkie Weitz, an Israeli human rights activist based in Palestine. "Jews around the world are desperate to put an end to violence, to stop being oppressors to Palestinians. What big-politics Jewish organization will finally represent us?"

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