People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones, or Is This The End of English Monarchy?

‘The Sun has sunk to a new low’, ‘British public reacts with fury after tabloid publishes 80-year-old pictures of the seven-year-old Queen and the Queen Mother being taught a Nazi salute’ – these are just some of the headlines following publication of the current Queen of England performing Nazi salute 80 years ago.

There is a lot of talk about banishing The Sun, and about restricting Murdock’s rights of entering the UK. While I understand the sentiment behind it, I disagree with the idea. UK is a free, democratic country. The Sun, while being an absolute rat rag, published a factually correct story.

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth

Instead of calling for heads to roll and for banishing people and businesses, the English establishment should stop and think about what this really means to them.

The way I see it, a 7 years old girl had been brainwashed to become a Nazi sympathiser. Instead, she grew up to be a woman of good stature and a reasonable Queen. She had shown the strength of character befitting of a monarch. If anything, the English should see it as a feel-good story.

On another side of the divide, there are loud voices calling for the end of monarchy and for introduction of a republic.

This just makes me cringe. I wonder if these same individual protest all and any political and/or economic dealings with the US government, which was quiet happy to acknowledge the French Vichy government as the official government of France. The fact that it was Hitler’s little puppet didn’t seem to bother anyone in Washington.

In all fairness, France  and USA weren’t the only ones who openly (or secretly) embraced the Nazi regime. Russia had signed a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, aimed at carving up bits of Europe.

It Is also a well-known fact that Muslim Brotherhood’s leader Hassan al-Banna, was an ardent supporter of Nazi Germany, as was a Grand Mufti of Jerusalaem.

It wasn’t just the political and religious leaders who willingly cooperated with Nazis.

There was a lot of money to be made, and some big businesses couldn’t contain their greed.

Nazi Concentration Camp Tattoo

Nazi Concentration Camp Tattoo

That’s why I wonder how many of these same republicans that call to abandon the monarchy, simply because a 7 year old girl gave Nazi salute, are driving Fords? Henry Ford was Hitler’s close friend and the only American who received Nazi Germany’s highest honour – the Grand Cross of the German Eagle. Or how many of them use IBM equipment? Remember those infamous tattoos that Nazi victims were given upon entering concentration camps? They are the serial numbers that were fed into IBM’s accounting systems to insure efficiency.

The list of the companies who made their fortunes by cooperating with Nazis is quite long. Some of them made (or at least attempted to) make amends for their dark past, some are completely happy and comfortable with their history.

I guess what I’m saying is that before calling for the heads to roll, and for monarchs to be toppled, the instigators should have a good look at themselves and make sure they are not tainted.

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Destroying Our History…. and Confederate Flags

For the past week America has been busy. Busy burning flags, editing them out of movies, removing references to Confederate flags, getting ready to demolish statues and rename the streets named after the Confederate leaders.

Why? It follows the tragedy of the shooting at Charleston church. The shooting suspect has been seen in a photo holding the Confederate flag.

Confederate Battle Flag was simply just that. A battle flag. It was never even a National flag, so how could it have flown over a slave nation or represented slavery or racism

Confederate battle flag

Is the Confederate flag a symbol of racism? Maybe. Does is have anything to do with the church shooting, or the murder of blacks in America that seems to be an everyday occurrence?  I doubt it.

In fact, of all blacks murdered in USA in 2013, over 90% were killed by other blacks. So we are not looking at wide-spread, racially motivated phenomenon here.

My first thought when I’ve heard about this idea of editing the flag out of history – “It’s just like Orwell’s 1984!” Not really surprising, considering the current political climate in America.

My second thought was – why is it, that displaying an ISIS flag, or a Hezbollah flag is perfectly fine, and Amazon selling ISIS flag, but removing Confederate flag is also fine with everyone – apparently it’s all about the “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression”, but displaying a Confederate flag is suddenly an act of evil?

On emotional level I can understand the reaction. Innocent people dying is an ugly, horrifying event. An event that is sure to affect people’s ability to think rationally. However it should never result in us erasing our collective history. It’s amazing though, how often we engage in this kind of destruction of our history.

Lenin

Founder of the Communism in Russia

From the Tatars burning orthodox churches of Russia and Ukraine to the Communists destroying everything related to the Tsar family, to the current Ukrainian government destroying statues of Lenin and all things Commy, to the ISIS destroying mosques in Syria, to the Americans destroying their history of slavery, the story is always the same. Regardless of who’s holding the torch (or controls the demolition ball), from Golden Horde to the Communists, from Nazis to terrorists, from Whites to Blacks to Yellow, we are all engaged in one common action – destruction of the history of the humanity.

So maybe next time we stumble across something “offensive” or “undesirable” from our past, before we start looking for matches, I suggest we stop for a minute and think not about “here” and “now”, but about how erasing this particular part of our past will affect our future.

Our history, good or bad is what brought us here. Just like a tree cannot grow without its roots, the humanity cannot move forward without knowing its history.

Putin’s nomination for Nobel Peace Prize

OK, I admit it. I am a big fan of a current Tsar of Russia, Vladimir Putin. So it would come as no surprise that when I’ve heard about Putin being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, I just jumped at an opportunity to write about this deserving man receiving equally deserving prize.

Putin nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Russian Tzar is nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Everyone knows about The Nobel Prize. But what is the criteria to get nominated for such a prestigious award? Here is what it says: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

It makes sense then, that the latest nominee is the Russia’s darling, Vladimir Putin. After all, supplying weapons to regimes known for their genocidal tendencies is totally in line with “reduction of standing armies” – with enough weapons you can reduce any opposing army, right? It is during Putin’s administration that Syrian rebels received supplies of high-grade weapons. It is also during his administration that the conflict between Russia and Chechnya escalated to its highest form.

So why did he get nominated? Did someone make a mistake? A once-off lapse of judgement? Hardly. Unfortunately, The Nobel Prize became too much of a political tool and not enough of an instrument by which true peace achievements can be recognised.

Lets have a look at a few other Laureates, whose achievements are controversial to say the least…

2009 – Barak Obama. Yes, he is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Deserving choice, some might say. It would be, if it wasn’t for the fact that he got nominated only 12 days after taking office. I wonder what outstanding things he’s done in these first 12 days?

2004 – Wangari Maathai. Wangari is Kenyan environmental and political activist. Controversy? She has been accused of claiming HIV/Aids was spread deliberately in Africa by Western scientists.

Anwar Sadat - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Anwar Sadat – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

1978 – Anwar Sadat. The President of Egypt received this honour for his part in negotiating the peace agreement with Israel, known as Camp David Agreement. What’s interesting is the reason he got involved in the talks in a first place….Egypt attacked Israel, got their ass kicked by Israelis and had no choice but sit at the table and negotiate.

1973 – Henry Kissinger. Reason? His role in Paris Peace Accords.  What wasn’t mentioned during the nomination is that Kissinger instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltrating NVA in Cambodia.

Putin’s nomination gives him an honor of joining other nominees: Tzar Nicholai II, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. It also proves once again that anyone can be nominated. The Nobel Prize has become nothing more than a popularity award. It makes me think that Nobel Prize these days is just like the Logie Awards… makes the winners feel all warm and fuzzy, but doesn’t really mean anything to anyone else.

Logies Award or Nobel Prize?

Logies Award or Nobel Prize?

 

Who will watch the watchmen?

I couldn’t help but think about this phrase as I was reading news about deteriorating relationships between USA and Russia. The two superpowers (or at least that’s what they like to think of themselves) hit yet another low point in their relationships after Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Obama even had a hissy fit and cancelled his meeting with Putin. Reminded me about observing kids in kindergarten – “I’m not gonna be friends with Johnny no more, he’s playing with my toy, and he doesn’t even want to share!”

Obama and Putin fighting over Snowden

Obama and Putin fighting over Snowden

I understand why the US government is upset and screams “traitor” – I would be upset too, if I were caught red-handed stealing from my friends. One can argue, that giving out state secrets is in fact a treason, and should be punished as such. But at the same time, a government – any government should be accountable for its actions and for the actions of its branches and institutions.

Whenever a government installs more CCTV cameras, or attempts to introduce a National Identity Card, or introduces laws that allow Police to listen in on people’s communications without a warrant, all these attempts are met with an outcry of civil libertarians.

Who is watching you?

Who will watch the watchmen?

The government’s standard response? If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide.  Makes perfect sense, right? Right, but only if the government is prepared to live and be governed by the same rules.

Another important aspect here is the freedom of information. We are lucky enough to live in a democratic society, and whether we are talking about Australia or America, the basic principles are the same. One of those principles is that public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by society.

These days even the Chinese government has a Regulation on Open Government Information, so unless we want one day to find ourselves being dragged across the coals by Chinese, we better stop pretending that we are a democracy and start acting like one.

Now, I am not a whinger, but…. the question remains – who will watch the watchmen?