“‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East” – NYTimes.com

In a New York Times article David Motadel examines the role of religious protectorates past and present to help shed light on current events in the Middle East.  Several powers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries declared themselves protectorates of coreligionists in other states. For example, Russia declared itself the protector of Orthodox Christians within Ottoman territories and then used this as leverage to intervene in Ottoman affairs. As Motadel points out this type of “politics of religion…subverted states, fueled divisions within them — and often ended in violence.”

Currently in the Middle East it is Iran and Saudi Arabia who are engaging in the politics of religion. Motadel argues that “Iran’s attempts to become the global defender of Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to lead the Sunnis have become central in their battle for mastery of the Middle East, transforming the region’s international system from an order of states to an order of faiths.” And just as in the past this political maneuvering is destabilizing the region and fueling the violence. Obviously the causes of instability in the region are many, but I think Motadel has indicated an important contributor to the current unrest.  Read the entire article here:

‘Defending the Faith’ in the Middle East – NYTimes.com.

"An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images "

“An anonymous painting of Turkish Emperor Mahmud II leading his troops. Credit Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images “

Update: Japanese Denial of WWII Crimes

Joyman Lee wrote an article at the HNN titled, “The Conservatives in Japan Who Are Refusing to Acknowledge the Crimes of World War II Think They’re Helping Their Country. They are Sabotaging It.” But rather than explaining why Japanese denialism is harming Japan, he explores the reasons why Japan has been able to engage in such denial. Nevertheless, it is an interesting perspective on Japan’s WWII denialism.
He writes, “The Cold War stands among the central reasons as to why Japan has not been compelled to address the war issue with more conviction. Whereas the political goal of European integration has helped to move forward Germany’s reconciliation with its European neighbors, no similar motive exists for Japan. The U.S.-Japan alliance and America’s reluctance to be directly involved in disputes over war memory further eliminates pressure “from above” for Japan to placate its Asian neighbors.” Read the entire article here:

History News Network | The Conservatives in Japan Who Are Refusing to Acknowledge the Crimes of World War II Think They’re Helping Their Country. They Are Sabotaging It.

japanese-troops WWII

Amazing! Atlanta TV Exposes ALEC

ALEC got a lot of attention because of the Stand Your Ground laws were linked to them, but in the end nothing changed. Please watch the clip linked to in this blog post! Thanks for sharing this story Diane!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Just when you thought that the mainstream media had forgotten how to do investigative journalism, along comes a surprise.

In Atlanta, local NBC channel 11 station did an exposé of the secretive far-right group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. Under the aegis of ALEC, Georgia legislators met in a posh resort with corporate lawyers to decide their priorities for the next session.

Except for Bill Moyers on PBS, this is a topic the mainstream media won’t touch.

For a thorough and chilling review of ALEC’s plans to privatize education, see ALEC Exposed. ALEC loves charters and vouchers, hates unions, loves profits.

ALEC has model legislation, which legislators introduce into their states. It even has tax credit legislation, similar to the one that Governor Cuomo introduced in Néw York. It has already been adopted by several states to benefit private and religious schools.

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Two Bronze Horses and Other Nazi Art Recovered

Read story here: Dutch art sleuth helps German police track down Nazi art – Yahoo News.

Two bronze horse statues by artist Josef Thorak are transported on a flatbed trailer in Bad Duerkheim, southwestern Germany, Thursday, May 21, 2015. A German investigation into black market art had recovered the two statues that once stood in front of Adolf Hitler's grand chancellery building in Berlin as well as other Nazi-era pieces that had been lost for decades. Police in five states conducted coordinated raids during more than a yearlong investigation into illegal art trafficking. (Fredrik von Erichsen/dpa via AP)

Two bronze horse statues by artist Josef Thorak are transported on a flatbed trailer in Bad Duerkheim, southwestern Germany, Thursday, May 21, 2015. A German investigation into black market art had recovered the two statues that once stood in front of Adolf Hitler’s grand chancellery building in Berlin as well as other Nazi-era pieces that had been lost for decades. Police in five states conducted coordinated raids during more than a yearlong investigation into illegal art trafficking. (Fredrik von Erichsen/dpa via AP)

Was Austerity Responsible for the American Revolution?

In The New York Review of Books, Steve Pincus argues that George III’s austerity policies were responsible for the Revolution. He writes,

“Today, we tend to regard the practice of using government spending to stimulate economic growth as an invention of John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. But already in the eighteenth century, self-styled Patriots, followers of Pitt on both sides of the Atlantic, argued that what the British Empire needed if it was to recover from the fiscal crisis was not austerity but an economic stimulus. In the midst of the crisis one journalist wrote that Pitt and the Patriots believed that the burgeoning debt could be reduced by increasing ‘the national stock,’ or Gross National Product, whereas Prime Minister Grenville believed ‘that an hundred and forty millions of debt is to be paid by saving of pence and farthings.’” To read the entire article go here:

1776: The Revolt Against Austerity by Steve Pincus | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, Connecticut Detail from The Great Financier, or British Economy for the Years 1763, 1764, 1765, showing British Prime Minister George Grenville holding a balance in which debt outweighs savings, 1765

Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, Connecticut
“Detail from The Great Financier, or British Economy for the Years 1763, 1764, 1765, showing British Prime Minister George Grenville holding a balance in which debt outweighs savings, 1765”

“The Secret History of American Religion: Christian Fundamentalism Started As a Capitalist Ad Campaign” | Alternet

Timothy Gloege in Guaranteed Pure: The Moody Bible Institute, Business, and the Making of Modern Evangelicalism tells the story of Henry Parsons Crowell, the founder of Quaker Oats, and his role in the creation of modern fundamentalism. Gloege is not the first to point out that religion was enlisted in the service in capitalism beginning with the Gilded Age, but in telling a little known part of this story he enriches our understanding of this alliance. Daniel Silliman describes Gleoge’s book as a “fascinating narrative of the origins of modern evangelicalism.” Read Silliman’s interview with Gloge here:

The Secret History of American Religion: Christian Fundamentalism Started As a Capitalist Ad Campaign | Alternet.

Quaker Oats and Henry Parsons Crowell

Quaker Oats and Henry Parsons Crowell