The criticisms against Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan are coming from all corners. But most are missing the point.
President Joe Biden is under a tremendous amount of pressure from his own Democratic Party and the liberal media establishment for daring to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and allowing the country to fall back into the hands of the fundamentalist Taliban regime. Biden, in a statement on August 14, said, “One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country.” Just two days later, after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled and the Taliban stormed into the capital, Kabul, President Biden in a speech from the White House defiantly maintained that “there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces,” but was forced to admit that the Taliban resumed control of Afghanistan “more quickly than we had anticipated.”
Republicans predictably jumped on this demonstrable foreign policy failure, neglecting to mention that it was Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump who laid the groundwork for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and worked with the Taliban to do so. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expostulated, “This debacle was not only foreseeable, it was foreseen,” as if Trump would have done any better as a second-term president. Trump’s former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview on Fox News with Chris Wallace chimed in, saying, “It looks like the Biden administration has just failed in its execution of its own plan,” even though of course the Democratic president was essentially carrying out Trump’s plan. The Republican National Committee has now deleted a page on its website that had celebrated Trump’s dealings with the Taliban, perhaps hoping no one would notice.
The corporate media was equally unforgiving of Biden. The Washington Post’s editorial board issued a scathing opinion blaming Biden for any future deaths, saying that the U.S. “assumed at least partial responsibility for all Afghans. Leaving them now means walking away from that responsibility.” The Post also worried about America’s global prestige, saying, “at risk is the United States’ reputation as a partner, as would-be allies around the world watch and calculate the value of an American commitment.”
In a similar vein, the New York Times’ Bret Stephens demanded to know, “What on earth was Joe Biden thinking—if, that is, he was thinking?” Like the Post, Stephens was deeply concerned about the nation’s reputation, asking, “What kind of ally is the United States?”
Such criticisms miss several glaring points. First, if a foreign military occupation made no progress toward democracy and human rights in 20 years, it is unlikely to do so in 20 more. Second, they are more concerned about the U.S.’s reputation as a global superpower (which is what the term “ally” really implies) than human lives. And third, although a majority of Americans once supported the Afghanistan War and occupation, today most Americans want the occupation to end.
Moreover, most critics of Biden’s botched exit from Afghanistan appear to have missed the fact that the entirety of the occupation has been flawed and led to the debacle of the Taliban’s resurgence. Biden’s missteps were apropos of the entire occupation. Every step of the way, the United States made the wrong choice, regardless of which president, Republican or Democrat, was in power, from George W. Bush’s decision to work with corrupt and violent warlords, to Barack Obama’s choice to validate the Taliban by being the first to engage in peace talks with the ostensible enemy forces.
Biden’s fellow Democrats also joined in the criticism against him but got much closer to the questions that really need to be asked about the disastrous turn of events in Afghanistan. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal.” More importantly, he made the astute observation that “We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures.”
Even though the U.S.-backed Afghan government has been ineffectual and corrupt directly as a result of choices that successive administrations made over the years, the Biden administration could have chosen to coordinate more closely with the institution if only to ensure that billions of dollars of U.S.-bought weapons would not fall into Taliban hands. Instead, according to Associated Press, “the ultimate beneficiary of the American investment [in Afghanistan’s military] turned out to be the Taliban,” who “grabbed not only political power but also U.S.-supplied firepower—guns, ammunition, helicopters and more.”
To summarize, the U.S. went to war against Afghanistan in October 2001 in order to punish the Taliban and Al Qaeda for the September 11 terrorist attacks, spent nearly two decades fighting a “war on terror,” and ended up leaving its ostensible enemy empowered both politically and militarily. American taxpayers, who naively backed the invasion and occupation, spent trillions of dollars in a brutal decades-long exercise in futility that resulted in lost lives, a traumatized Afghan population and a renewal of the forces that terrorized them.
The Taliban couldn’t have asked for a better war
It may be hard to believe that things could have been even worse under Trump. But if the former Republican president were in power now, it is likely we would be witnessing a similar situation but with even more violence. Former Secretary of State Pompeo in his Fox interview advised the Biden administration to “crush these Taliban who are surrounding Kabul,” adding, “We should do it with American airpower, we should put pressure on them, we should inflict cost and pain on them.” Past wars have demonstrated with striking reliability that such infliction of pain is never precise and always results in so-called “collateral damage,” a euphemism for civilian casualties. Trump had a proven penchant for using massive firepower with no regard for civilians, and with Pompeo offering him advice, we would likely have seen the same situation as we are seeing today but with the added horror of bombs falling on people attempting to flee the Taliban.
The Taliban’s takeover of Kabul is being likened by many to the fall of Saigon. Before the Afghanistan War, there was the Vietnam War. And there were many other wars during and before Vietnam and Afghanistan that garnered less attention. If there is a lesson that Americans as a nation ought to take away from these devastating militaristic exercises that consistently do more harm than good, it is to ensure we never again rally behind a desire to bomb, raid, occupy and militarily strike another nation. This means standing up to the liberal and conservative establishments that find a detached comfort in the cold calculus of warfare with no concern for life, safety, or democracy.
By Sonali Kolhatkar
Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations.
Yusril Ihza Mahendra: Prospective Companion for Prabowo Subianto in the 2024 Elections
Telegraf – As the registration for presidential and vice-presidential candidate pairs approaches, only the Anies Baswedan-Muhaimin Iskandar (Cak Imin) duo has definitively emerged as candidates for the leadership of the nation.
While the prospective vice-presidential candidate for Prabowo Subianto and Ganjar Pranowo has not been specifically announced, the nation has various competent figures suitable for the role.
In a public discussion titled “Presentation of Research Results on Public Perceptions of the Vice-Presidential Candidate: The Opportunity of Yusril Ihza Mahendra as Prabowo’s Running Mate” by GoGo Bangun Negeri, it was revealed that Yusril Ihza Mahendra possesses the capabilities, professionalism, leadership, managerial skills, governance experience, and other qualities required to lead Indonesia.
Emrus Sihombing, the Founder of GoGo Bangun Negeri & Indonesian Communicologist, stated that there are at least seven main reasons for Prabowo to form a partnership with Yusril Ihza Mahendra in the 2024 Elections.
Firstly, Yusril Ihza Mahendra holds a significant electoral magnet, especially outside of Java, which is crucial for Prabowo’s victory in the upcoming 2024 Presidential election.
“Secondly, Yusril Ihza Mahendra has close relationships with religious figures and religious communities, the majority of whom are followers in this country. This is also an electoral political asset for the 2024 Presidential election. Furthermore, Yusril Ihza Mahendra is well-known nationally due to his prominent stature,” explained Emrus.
He added that Yusril Ihza Mahendra is recognized as a credible law professor and a seasoned lawyer who has gained positive attention and support from various segments of society due to his advocacy in various legal cases. “The views of this law professor often break legal deadlocks in the public sphere. He consistently offers legal ideas and solutions in discussions or dialogues.”
Another reason is that Yusril Ihza Mahendra could partner with Prabowo to advocate for legal sovereignty in the nation. Currently, legal handling in our country falls far short of the expectations of the majority of the Indonesian population,” he disclosed.
The seventh reason is that Yusril Ihza Mahendra, the Chairman of the Crescent Star Party and one of the parties supporting Prabowo, is very humble and avoids unnecessary controversies. Yusril even positions himself as an alternative vice-presidential candidate if a deadlock occurs within the Prabowo coalition.
“Because in this coalition, there could be power struggles with the sectoral political interests of each party. Yet, in reality, according to my opinion, Yusril Ihza Mahendra has the competence to be a presidential candidate,” Emrus explained.
In the same context, Effendi Gazali, an Expert in Public Communication, stated that based on his experience in running the government, Yusril Ihza Mahendra is deemed to play a significant role in assisting Prabowo Subianto.
“In addition to his experience as an intellectual and having run the government, Yusril Ihza Mahendra is seen as able to represent the voices of people outside Java. Since Prabowo is associated with Java, Yusri is seen as capable of dispelling the Javanese-centric stigma and also stepping in to represent the Muslim community,” he added.
This view was also supported by Fahri Bachmid, an Expert in Constitutional Law, who stated in this event that Yusril Ihza Mahendra is considered capable of representing a national voice, representing Indonesia’s diversity.
“The elected presidential and vice-presidential candidates must according to the law garner more than 50 percent of the total votes, with a minimum of 20 percent of the votes in each province spread across more than half of the total provinces in Indonesia. Yusril Ihza Mahendra is the last hope to inherit a strong constitutional system, capable of building a system that can embrace all parties and all potential of the nation,” said Fahri.
Meanwhile, Anggawira, the Secretary General of the Central Board of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association, stated that Prabowo needs a companion capable of accommodating all the needs of the nation.
“Yusril Ihza Mahendra is a strong leader, and based on his experience, he is capable of resolving all state problems. A solid combination with Prabowo and complementing each other, it is hoped to be able to accommodate all the needs of the nation,” Angga mentioned.
As of now, Prabowo Subianto, in coalition with the Indonesia Maju Coalition (KIM), is supported by Gerindra Party, Golkar Party, PAN, Democratic Party, Crescent Star Party, Gelora Party, and Garuda Party.
To date, the Indonesia Maju Coalition (KIM) is gathering public input regarding the prospective vice-presidential candidate for Prabowo Subianto in the 2024 Presidential Elections. Several names have entered the fray, including Yusril Ihza Mahendra, Erick Thohir, Sandiaga Uno, Gibran Rakabuming, Airlangga Hartarto, and Yenny Wahid.
The Diminishing Performance of Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency
Telegraf – Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency (BNN) has been under scrutiny recently, with concerns raised about the organization’s declining performance. The agency, which has facilities equivalent to a ministerial level and access to significant funding, has been accused of distancing itself from civil society organizations and the media.
This is a stark contrast to the practices of previous BNN heads, such as Ahwil Lutan, Anang Iskandar, and Budi Waseso, who actively involved the media and other civil society organizations to ensure the agency’s work was felt by the public.
Now, however, the continuity and sustainability of the agency’s programs are being questioned. The BNN’s reluctance to collaborate with organizations and the media is hindering its work, leaving many to wonder why the agency’s performance has become lacklustre despite having access to significant resources.
Budi Jojo, the founder of the Desa Cegah Narkoba initiative and publisher of a village newspaper aimed at educating communities about the dangers of drugs, has reminded the BNN that the success of their work depends on the involvement of communities. He suggests that the BNN should collaborate with various organizations to help prevent drug addiction in the country.
READ ALSO: BNN at Ministerial Level. Already Know?
The head of the Ridma Foundation, Ketum Ridma, has criticized the BNN’s current performance, stating that the agency has distanced itself from the media and civil society organizations. He notes that when the BNN lacked the resources it has now, previous heads ensured the media were involved in their work, which resulted in the public feeling the impact of the agency’s work.
The BNN is a non-ministerial government agency responsible for the prevention, eradication, and control of drug abuse and drug trafficking, excluding tobacco and alcohol.
To optimize the BNN’s performance, the government deemed it necessary to provide the agency with equal financial resources and facilities. In line with this, President Joko Widodo signed Presidential Regulation No. 47/2019 on July 4, 2019, amending Presidential Regulation No. 23/2010 on the BNN.
The regulation changed several provisions in Presidential Regulation No. 23/2010, including elevating the position of the BNN head to a senior leadership position. Despite having access to more resources and funding, the BNN’s performance has decreased, and its distance from civil society organizations and the media has contributed to its decline. It is time for the BNN to take a more proactive approach and collaborate with the public to combat the country’s drug problem.
Western ‘Naturalism’ Disrespects Nonhuman Animals And The Entire Natural World
One species has transformed into a material backdrop for its tribulations the 10 million other species that constitute its extended family, its giving environment, and its daily cohabitants. More specifically, it is one small population of this species that has done so, the bearer of a merely historical and local culture. Making all other living beings invisible is a provincial and late phenomenon—not the product of mankind as a whole. Imagine a people approaching a land populated by a myriad of other related peoples, and declaring that they don’t really exist, and that they are the stage and not the actors (ah yes, it’s not a fiction that requires a lot of imagination, as it also comprises vast swaths of our history). How did we accomplish this miracle of blindness toward the other creatures of the living world? We could hazard here—to exacerbate the strangeness of our heritage—a rapid history of the relations between our civilization and other species, a history which leads to the modern condition: Once nonhuman living beings were debased ontologically (that is to say, considered as endowed with a second-order existence, of lesser value and lesser consistency, and thus transformed into ‘things’), human beings came to believe that they alone truly existed in the universe.
It simply took Judeo-Christianity to expel God from ‘Nature’ (this is the hypothesis of the Egyptologist Jan Assmann), to make Nature profane, then the scientific and industrial revolutions to transform the nature that remained (the scholastic phusis) into a matter devoid of intelligence or of invisible influences, available to extractivism, for human beings to find themselves as solitary travelers in the cosmos, surrounded by dumb, evil matter. The last act involved killing off the last affiliation: Alone in the face of matter, human beings nevertheless remained in vertical contact with God, who sanctified it as his Creation (natural theology). The death of God entails a terrible and perfect loneliness, which we might call the anthropo-narcissistic prison.
This false lucidity about our cosmic solitude put the final seal on the serene exclusion of all nonhuman beings from the field of the ontologically relevant. It explains the ‘prison house’ of the philosophy and literature cultivated in the great European and Anglo-American capitals. My choice of this expression is not arbitrary: Not only are these fields now a prison house or ‘closed room’ in the sense of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play “No Exit”—but also the prison house is the world itself, the universe, which is populated only by us and the pathological relationships with our fellow humans entailed by the disappearance of our plural, affective, and active affiliations with other living beings, nonhuman animals and environments.
This ubiquitous theme in 20th-century literature and philosophy, which foregrounds the cosmic solitude of human beings, a solitude elevated to grandeur by existentialism, is intriguingly violent. Under cover of the heroism of the absurd (as Albert Camus defined it), under cover of having the courage to face the truth, this violence is a form of blindness that refuses to learn how to see the forms of existence of others, negating their status as cohabitants, postulating that, in fact, they have no communication skills, no ‘native senses,’ no creative point of view, no aptitudes for finding a modus vivendi, no political promptings. And this is the great cunning, and therefore the hidden violence of Western naturalism, which in fact aims to justify exploiting all of nature as a raw material lying to hand for our project of civilization—it means treating others as matter ruled by biological laws, refusing to see their geopolitical promptings, their vital alliances, and all the ways in which we share with living beings a great diplomatic community in which we can learn anew how to live.
The human subject alone in an absurd universe, surrounded by pure matter lying to hand as a stock of resources, or a sanctuary for humans to recharge their batteries spiritually, is a phantasmal invention of modernity. From this point of view, those great thinkers of emancipation, Sartre and Camus, who have probably infused their ideas deeply into the French tradition, are the objective allies of extractivism and the ecological crisis. It is intriguing to reinterpret these discourses of emancipation as vectors of great violence. Yet it was they who transformed into a basic belief of late humanism the myth that we alone are free subjects in a world of inert and absurd objects, doomed to giving meaning through our consciousness to a living world devoid of it.
This myth took away from that world something it had always possessed. The shamanists and animists described by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Philippe Descola know very well what this lost state had involved, namely complex social relations of reciprocity, exchange, and predation which are not peace-loving or pacific, and do not follow Isaiah’s prophecy, but are political in a still enigmatic sense, and call for forms of pacification and conciliation, of mutualist and considerate cohabitation. After all, there are meanings everywhere in the living world: They do not need to be projected, but to be found, with the means at our disposal—translation and interpretation. It’s all about diplomacy. We need interpreters, intermediaries, and in-betweens to do the job of starting to speak again with living beings, to overcome what we might call Claude Lévi-Strauss’s curse: the impossibility of communicating with the other species we share the Earth with. “For despite the ink spilled by the Judeo-Christian tradition to conceal it, no situation seems more tragic, more offensive to heart and mind, than that of a humanity coexisting and sharing the joys of a planet with other living species yet being unable to communicate with them,” Lévi-Strauss said in conversation with Didier Eribon.
But this impossibility is a fiction of the moderns—it helps to justify reducing living beings to commodities in order to sustain world economic exchanges. Communication is possible, it has always taken place; it is surrounded by mystery, by inexhaustible enigmas, by untranslatable aspects too, but ultimately by creative misunderstandings. It doesn’t have the fluidity of a café conversation, but it is nonetheless rich in meaning.
As an enigma among other enigmas, the human way of being alive only makes sense if it is woven into the countless other ways of being alive that the animals, plants, bacteria, and ecosystems all around us demand.
The ever-intact enigma of being a human is richer and more poignant when we share it with other life forms in our great family, when we pay attention to them, and when we do justice to their otherness. This interplay of kinship and otherness with other living beings, the common causes they foster in the politics of life, is part of what makes the ‘mystery of living,’ of being a human being, so inexhaustible.
Independent Media Institute_______________________
Baptiste Morizot is a writer and lecturer in philosophy at Aix-Marseille University in France who studies the relationship between humans and other living beings. His many books include Ways of Being Alive and Rekindling Life: A Common Front, both published in English by Polity Books.
Flipping the Script on Turkey’s Cancel Culture
Despite its negative connotation, “cancel culture” – ostracizing someone for their harmful views – has had a big impact on addressing inequalities in the West, particularly discrimination of women. But in Turkey, it is women themselves who are getting canceled.
In late July, actress Birce Akalay took to social media to lament Turkey’s current economic crisis, expressing disappointment in the declining value of labor and the plummeting value of the lira. “I’m fed up,” she wrote. “Our workers, our people have become miserable.”
Akalay, of course, was right. The lira has been steadily depreciating, and inflation has reached 79 percent, the highest among OECD countries. And yet, because Akalay is a woman, her views were almost immediately discounted as heresy.
Turkiye newspaper columnist Cem Kucuk twice threatened Akalay over her criticism. The first time, Kucuk made her an open target by saying that “those who have spoken like this in the last 20 years have either gone to jail or fled or their careers are over.” In a follow-up piece, Kucuk even compared Akalay to the ex-president of the TUSKON business organization, Rizanur Meral, who was accused of supporting Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim preacher implicated by Ankara of masterminding the 2016 attempted coup.
Sadly, Kucuk is not the only powerful man to scorn outspoken Turkish women. Following the June 2013 anti-government protests in Istanbul, when 14-year-old Berkin Elvan was killed by a gas canister fired by police, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Elvan a terrorist and encouraged thousands to boo his mother.
Since then, condemning women for taking a stand against injustice has become a government-sanctioned epidemic – with many victims.
In August 2020, a suicide note left by an 18-year-old woman from Batman, in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast, claimed that she had been kidnapped and raped by a Turkish sergeant, Musa Orhan. Orhan was eventually charged and found guilty of rape, but a judge refused to issue an arrest warrant.
Like thousands of concerned citizens, actress Ezgi Mola expressed outrage on Twitter, writing: “Shame on you for releasing an inglorious rapist.” But when Orhan sued Mola for libel, accusing her of “insulting” him, he won, and Mola was fined nearly 7,000 lira ($390) for her post.
Another egregious example surfaced in October 2021, after Ece Ronay, a 22-year-old Kurdish musician, publicly accused comedian Mehmet Ali Erbil of sexual harassment. On social media, Ronay published some of the messages Erbil had sent her – including a proposition for sex. Yet rather than come to her defense, the public victimized Ronay all over again.
Erbil defended his actions by claiming Ronay had marketed her body via TikTok, and therefore, shouldn’t be coy about sex acts. Not only did he get his followers to shame Ronay using a raunchy hashtag, he also sued her for defamation. That lawsuit is still pending.
While femicide and harassment have been long-standing problems in Turkey, they have become worse during the Justice and Development Party’s two-decades-long reign. Violence against women has risen by 70 percent in the last 15 years, and 246 women have been killed by their partners in 2022. According to a March 2022 report from Turkish polling agency Metropoll, domestic violence is the biggest problem that women in Turkey face.
Turkey did have a flicker of a #MeToo moment after the brutal rape and murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan, in 2015. But it never caught on, and contrary to women’s movements abroad, Turkey’s push against sexual abuse and harassment has arguably backtracked. Erdogan’s decision last year to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention – a decree that aimed to prevent and combat violence against women – only reaffirms the statement of Canan Gullu, the president of the Federation of Women Associations of Turkey, that “government is an explicit ally in hatred against women.”
Journalists, entertainment moguls, and politicians are fueling this violent, hate-filled rhetoric, while the Turkish judiciary system keeps rewarding men who treat women like property. People who have the ear of the public should not target women with their vileness, as doing so will only perpetuate the injustice.
In countries like Turkey, where media censorship is high and transparency is low, social media is the frontline of political debate, the most democratic platform for silenced opinions. But with a new social media law in the pipeline, where “intention” will dictate whether speech is deemed illegal, it is women who have the most to lose. The only solution is to flip the tables and cancel the men who continue to live in the past.
Alexandra de Cramer is a journalist based in Istanbul. She reported on the Arab Spring from Beirut as a Middle East correspondent for Milliyet newspaper. Her work ranges from current affairs to culture, and has been featured in Monocle, Courier Magazine, Maison Francaise, and Istanbul Art News.
Mendel’s Genetic Revolution and the Legacy of Scientific Racism
Scientific advances are not always linear; they zigzag in unexpected ways. This is particularly true of genetics, which has a dark history of being coopted into eugenics and race science.
In July, the world celebrated 200 years since the birth of Gregor Mendel, who is widely accepted as the “father of modern genetics” for his discovery of the laws of inheritance. His experiments with peas, published in 1866 under the title “Experiments in Plant Hybridization,” identified dominant and recessive traits and how recessive traits would reappear in future generations and in what proportion. His work would largely remain unacknowledged and ignored until three other biologists replicated his work in 1900.
While Mendel’s work is central to modern genetics, and his use of experimental methods and observation is a model for science, it also set off the dark side with which genetics has been inextricably linked: eugenics and racism. But eugenics was much more than race “science.” It was also used to argue the superiority of the elite and dominant races, and in countries like India, it was used as a “scientific” justification for the caste system as well.
People who believe that eugenics was a temporary aberration in science and that it died with Nazi Germany would be shocked to find out that even the major institutions and journals that included the word eugenics as part of their names have continued to operate by just changing their titles. The Annals of Eugenics became the Annals of Human Genetics; the Eugenics Review changed its name to the Journal of Biosocial Science; Eugenics Quarterly changed to Biodemography and Social Biology; and the Eugenics Society was renamed the Galton Institute. Several departments in major universities, which were earlier called the department of eugenics, either became the department of human genetics or the department of social biology.
All of them have apparently shed their eugenics past, but the reoccurrence of the race and IQ debate, sociobiology, the white replacement theory and the rise of white nationalism are all markers that theories of eugenics are very much alive. In India, the race theory takes the form of the belief that Aryans are “superior” and fair skin is seen as a marker of Aryan ancestry.
While Adolf Hitler’s gas chambers and Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews and Roma communities have made it difficult to talk about the racial superiority of certain races, scientific racism persists within science. It is a part of the justification that the elite seek, justifying their superior position based on their genes, and not on the fact that they inherited or stole this wealth. It is a way to airbrush the history of the loot, slavery and genocide that accompanied the colonization of the world by a handful of countries in Western Europe.
Why is it that when we talk about genetics and history, the only story that is repeated is that about biologist Trofim Lysenko and how the Soviet Communist Party placed ideology above science? Why is it that the mention of eugenics in popular literature is only with respect to Nazi Germany and not about how Germany’s eugenic laws were inspired directly by the U.S.? Or how eugenics in Germany and the U.S. were deeply intertwined? Or how Mendel’s legacy of genetics become a tool in the hands of racist states, which included the U.S. and Great Britain? Why is it that genetics is used repeatedly to support theories of superiority of the white race?
Mendel showed that there were traits that were inherited, and therefore we had genes that carried certain markers that could be measured, such as the color of the flower and the height of the plant. Biology then had no idea of how many genes we had, which traits could be inherited, how genetically mixed the human population is, etc. Mendel himself had no idea about genes as carriers of inheritance, and this knowledge became known much later.
From genetics to society, the application of these principles was a huge leap that was not supported by any empirical scientific evidence. All attempts to show the superiority of certain races started with a priori assuming that certain races were superior and then trying to find what evidence to choose from that would help support this thesis. Much of the IQ debate and sociobiology came from this approach to science. In his review of The Bell Curve, Bob Herbert wrote that the authors, Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, had written a piece of “racial pornography,” “…to drape the cloak of respectability over the obscene and long-discredited views of the world’s most rabid racists.”
A little bit of the history of science is important here. Eugenics was very much mainstream in the early 20th century and had the support of major parties and political figures in the UK and the U.S. Not surprisingly, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a noted supporter of race science, although eugenics had some supporters among progressives as well.
The founder of eugenics in Great Britain was Francis Galton, who was a cousin of Charles Darwin. Galton pioneered statistical methods like regression and normal distribution, as did his close collaborators and successors in the Eugenics Society, Karl Pearson and R.A. Fisher. On the connection of race and science, Aubrey Clayton, in an essay in Nautilus, writes, “What we now understand as statistics comes largely from the work of Galton, Pearson, and Fisher, whose names appear in bread-and-butter terms like ‘Pearson correlation coefficient’ and ‘Fisher information.’ In particular, the beleaguered concept of ‘statistical significance,’ for decades the measure of whether empirical research is publication-worthy, can be traced directly to the trio.”
It was Galton who, based supposedly on scientific evidence, argued for the superiority of the British over Africans and other natives, and that superior races should replace inferior races by way of selective breeding. Pearson gave his justification for genocide: “History shows me one way, and one way only, in which a high state of civilization has been produced, namely the struggle of race with race, and the survival of the physically and mentally fitter race.”
The eugenics program had two sides: one was that the state should try to encourage selective breeding to improve the stock of the population. The other was for the state should take active steps to “weed out” undesirable populations. The sterilization of “undesirables” was as much a part of the eugenics societies as encouraging people toward selective breeding.
In the U.S., eugenics was centered on Cold Spring Harbor’s Eugenics Record Office. While Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and its research publications still hold an important place in contemporary life sciences, its original significance came from the Eugenics Record Office, which operated as the intellectual center of eugenics and race science. It was supported by philanthropic money from the Rockefeller family, the Carnegie Institution and many others. Charles Davenport, a Harvard biologist, and his associate Harry Laughlin became the key figures in passing a set of state laws in the U.S. that led to forced sterilization of the “unfit” population. They also actively contributed to the Immigration Act of 1924, which set quotas for races. The Nordic races had priority, while East Europeans (Slavic races), East Asians, Arabs, Africans and Jews were virtually barred from entering the country.
Sterilization laws in the U.S. at the time were controlled by the states. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the doyen of liberal jurisprudence in the U.S., gave his infamous judgment in Virginia on justifying compulsory sterilization, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough,” he ruled in Buck v. Bell. Carrie Buck and her daughter were not imbeciles; they paid for their “sins” of being poor and perceived as threats to society (a society that failed them in turn). Again, Eugenics Research Office and Laughlin played an important role in providing “scientific evidence” for the sterilization of the “unfit.”
While Nazi Germany’s race laws are widely condemned as being the basis for Hitler’s gas chambers, Hitler himself stated that his inspiration for Germany’s race laws was the U.S. laws on sterilization and immigration. The close links between the U.S. eugenicists and Nazi Germany are widely known and recorded. Edwin Black’s book War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race described how “Adolf Hitler’s race hatred was underpinned by the work of American eugenicists,” according to an article in the Guardian in 2004. The University of Heidelberg, meanwhile, gave Laughlin an honorary degree for his work in the “science of racial cleansing.”
With the fall of Nazi Germany, eugenics became discredited. This resulted in institutions, departments and journals that had any affiliation to eugenics by name being renamed, but they continued to do the same work. Human genetics and social biology became the new names for eugenics. The Bell Curve was published in the 1990s justifying racism, and a recent bestseller by Nicholas Wade, a former science correspondent of the New York Times, also trot out theories that have long been scientifically discarded. Fifty years back, Richard Lewontin had shown that only about 6 to 7 percent of human genetic variation exists between so-called racial groups. At that time, genetics was still at a nascent stage. Later, data has only strengthened Lewontin’s research.
Why is it that while criticizing the Soviet Union’s scientific research and the sins of Lysenko 80 years back, we forget about race science and its use of genetics?
The answer is simple: Attacking the scientific principles and theories developed by the Soviet Union as an example of ideology trumping science is easy. It makes Lysenko the norm for Soviet science of ideology trumping pure science. But why is eugenics, with its destructive past and its continuing presence in Europe and the U.S., not recognized as an ideology—one that has persisted for more than 100 years and that continues to thrive under the modern garb of an IQ debate or sociobiology?
The reason is that it allows racism a place within science: changing the name from eugenics to sociobiology makes it appear as a respectable science. The power of ideology is not in the ideas but in the structure of our society, where the rich and the powerful need justification for their position. That is why race science as an ideology is a natural corollary of capitalism and groups like the G7, the club of the rich countries who want to create a “rule-based international order.” Race science as sociobiology is a more genteel justification than eugenics for the rule of capital at home and ex-colonial and settler-colonial states abroad. The fight for science in genetics has to be fought both within and outside science as the two are closely connected.
Prabir Purkayastha is the founding editor of Newsclick.in, a digital media platform. He is an activist for science and the free software movement.
Essential Things Prohibited in Marriage According to Java Tradition and Culture and in Bible’s Point of View
Indonesia is a vast archipelago consisting of more than 17,000 islands, has more than 1340 ethnic groups and tribes, according to the 2010 BPS census.
The Javanese are the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, accounting for 41% of the total population and the most populous population. Java is divided into 5 provinces and one district with a community character that has strong cultural ties is Surakarta or well-known said as Solo.
It is located in Central Java Province and the other city is Yogjakarta in the Special Region of Yogyakarta. It is said that for centuries, culture and beliefs that have been passed down from time immemorial need to be preserved and appreciated, especially in a life event that is predicted to involve bad luck and good fortune. In the marriage culture, there is a sign that there are still many who believe and consider it when they decide on their life’s partner when come to marriage life.
People understand that there are consequences of prohibition in the culture, especially Javanese culture. The author describes things as follows concerning the prohibition of marriage according to Javanese culture.
First: do not hold any celebration especially Wedding Party in “Suro” month (Muharram)
Whoever he is, if he is Javanese and is going to hold a celebration, especially a wedding party, then one thing that must be considered is that every Javanese, whoever and adheres to any religion, this community group must avoid any celebration in the month of Suro or well-known also as Muharram. The month, which is considered sacred for most Javanese people, is believed to bring bad luck or bad things to those who do not heed the prohibitions that have been existing in Javanese society for generations.
It is said that it was Nyai Roro Kidul, the ruler of the Java Sea holds the celebrations in the month of Suro, and therefore ordinary people are forbidden or unable to hold parties/celebrations, or they would get a disaster for ignoring the prohibition.
Second: do not get married if “weton” calculation is not matched
One way to determine a mate is based on a weton compatibility calculation. In Javanese culture, the calculation of “weton” or date and day is very important, let someone a miscalculation, it can damage the marriage life, for example if it does not match the weton of one of the future couple. On the other hand, if the couple is matched according to the calculation of the weton, the two will be in harmony and will live a good life together. If according to Weton, the couple is not compatible and force themselves to get married, it is believed that disaster and disharmony will come in their marriage life. Concerning this weton, the author will continue his description in the next chapter based on calculations and predictions of marriage. 1 dan 1; 1 dan 1 dan 1, 1 dan 3.
Third: never marry on position of birth 1st with 1st , 1st with 1st and 1st and 1st, and 1st with 3rd
There are things that are forbidden if the first child will marry the first child (siji lan siji). If they insisted on getting married, then it would lead to bad luck for the future couple. It is believed that they will face disaster or calamity. Usually, for families who believe in their beliefs and follow Javanese culture, that option should be considered. Logically, the burden of the first child will be heavy if the parents are too old or die, then the first child will be responsible for his brothers and sisters including the whole family.
It is also prohibited when 1st gets married with 1st and 1st (siji jejer telu), it refers to couple of 1st child with 1st child and one of their parents are 1st child too. If the calculating is like that, it is better to avoid or not proceed the marriage, it will cause you bad luck and disaster also will threat their relationship.
Another prohibition is when 1st child gets married with 3rd child (siji lan telu), it means if couple is 1st child and 3rd child, and they still insist to get married, only few of this society who believes that their marriage would get a lot of trouble. Maybe Javanese believe that character between 1st and 3rd child is different, therefore will cause lots of problem.
Fourth: do not break the marriage rules because of wrong house’s position
There are interesting things to note about the position of the couple’s home. If this is not taken care of, there will be lack and no happiness in their marriage even their parents will pass away soon.
Marriage cannot be held if house of the couple is face or opposite each other. If they are insist to held a marriage, then one of them have to give in with house renovation and heading the house so it will not face each other. Or one of the couple, have to “thrown out of the family” and take by other family closed to their house but not face each other.
Marriage is not allowed if the house is adjacent to the in-laws’ house. In the prohibition of Javanese customs this must be taken into consideration. If this is unconsidered, the consequences for parents will pass away in short time.
Marriage cannot be held if the prospective spouse’s house is only five steps away.
This prohibition is quite interesting. This means that, it refers to the house around, which incidentally is a close neighbor. Wouldn’t it be closer to understand better the situation or character of a potential partner??? However for those who adhere to Javanese customs, this is prohibited. If they break up, it can give such result like an unhappy marriage, not getting along and there are only shortcomings.
Fifth: prohibit rule that related with day and date of birth
In addition to not being allowed to carry out marriages in the month of Suro (Muharram), there are also based on calculations to determine the hour, day, month; but some are calculated based on the date of birth. Determining the date of marriage for the Javanese, is very important. If you choose the wrong date for the wedding, bad luck will follow you. But if you choose the right wedding date and always get the fortune. In addition to certain days, dates and months, those who follow Javanese custom, it is believed that if the wedding is held on the groom’s birth date, the marriage shall bring the fortune to the couple and keep the disaster away from their marriage’s life.
Sixth: prohibit rule that related with gift
At the time of the wedding, the invited guests usually give the gifts to the bride and groom as an expression of prayer and congratulations. For the present time, it is more in terms of benefit and practically therefore, it is not merely about the form of the gift itself. According to Javanese myth, the first gift that should be opened is the one that will be used first in starting or treading family life. If this is done then the family will get good luck.
Bible and Christianity point of view concerning Javanese culture
Basically, in Bible it was written that every day is a good day (Genesis 1:3, 31 & Galatians 4:9-11). There is no bad day, everything happens is in God hand. Eternal relationship and journey of marriage life become a good events, not because of weton calculation, day, birth position and what would be the celebration, but more to God’s word also put Bible as a guidance in marriage. Put Bible above culture, as form to honor our Almighty God to rule our life (Matthew 15:1-20). More than that, the fundamentals of marriage life are pray, loving, trusting, patient and struggle (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23). Kindly our Lord the Almighty, be the center of happiness and prosperity.
Editor: Nia S. Amira
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