FTAC – Syria – Comment on the Revolution on the Inside


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Attitude-belief systems have organic qualities.  The Assad regime believes it owns Syria and Syrians on an absolute autocratic and kleptocratic basis; opposition leadership within the Syrian National Coalition, however, carries forward the intellectual poison that is anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism plus, reverse engineer it, an Islamic contempt for the world that isn’t itself, i.e., other than Muslim.  To traverse the distance from the defensive position they’re in (as trapped between Putin-Assad-Khamenei and assorted bands with varying affiliation or affinity or practical alliance with Islamic Jihad, they have got to do some things within their own poetics or intellectual programming.  While they discover, mull, or wait on that, they’re living through a hell that will not recede if either Assad or Islamic Jihad ascend to clear “victory” of any kind.

Associated with the above though was an L.A. Times’ article about Maloula, the Christian enclave battered between forces.

If attitudes (about others) are predicated on beliefs, which have affect (+/-) and structure in terms of primacy — some beliefs are more fundamental to self-concept than others — then revisiting the earliest linguistic “wiring” or programming demands effort on the part of the soul so slowly but with certainty poisoned.

Breaking news having to do with rebel forces obtaining TOW (anti-tank) missiles underscores the defense position held by Syrian “moderates” in the field.

With extremes provided by a tyrant on one hand and Islamic Jihad on the other, the state of affairs on the field seems impossibly inverted: one would think an inclusive, responsive, and responsible democratic way would have been embraced and pursued by most Syrian, but even if embraced,  most Syrians caught unprepared for civil war have fled the fighting and those remaining “in-country” may not dare to speak so, again, captive between armies and uncertain as regards who might prevail.

In Syria, the center simply did not hold.

Of late, some online have conflated the inhumanity of the Assad regime with “genocide” even thought the Assad cause is Assad and not particularly focused on any single ethnic, racial, or religious community.  The bastards — the dictator “Putin-Assad-Khamenei” — stand together against the aspiring democratic forces (we could have a talk about that phrase as well) that would undo them and their type permanently.

While the revolution in the field bogs down with some escalation in firepower — Russian tanks vs American TOWs — the revolution in the heart seems barely to have gotten a start.

To my Syrian friends, whether established or latent, I would suggest this epigram (doctors write prescriptions –poets must make do with witty remarks): “The whole world may be against what you are against; however, the whole world may be also against what you are for.”

What does Syrian liberation mean . . . now?

What are “moderate” Syrian forces for?

It’s not ping-pong (although I do my sharing of “pinging”) going on in Syria or in Washington’s diplomatic circles.  These matters in political psychology — about national and personal self-concept, about motivation, about attitude-belief systems and their suspension within language and its social grammar — may have an as yet unformed weight as powerful as barrel bombs and Russian tanks.

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FTAC – Kansas City Shooting – Anti-Semitism and Social Grammar


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“The crime of antisemitism is an ageless one . . . .” — no, it isn’t. I may be above 2,000 years old, approximately, and Wistrich is more exact, but it has been very much a part of political rhetoric tuned to theft. Where Jews have done for others and reaped the rewards of service to others; where Jewish numbers have grown and Jewish wealth accumulated accordingly; where Jews, whether for ambition, divine guidance, or just the accumulated wisdom of the ages, have done well in myriad dimensions, someone has wanted to take it from them. The next day: they have killed Jesus; there are are too many of them; all that is evil may be ascribed to their presence (even when they’re completely absent from political space).

I have learned that with a confirmed anti-Semite, reason left that mind a long time ago and in its place is, indeed, the playing out of a “social grammar” probably internalized in infancy, the word “Jew” having possibly been heard and envenomed often over time sufficing for summoning a bad feeling.

“Poisoned ears” may have an epidemiology and etiology all their own, and I would expect the countermeasures for embedded anti-Semitism, bigotry, and xenophobia to emerge from approaches in psycholinguistics that focus on attitude, belief, and behavior formation.

The source of inspiration for the bounce: Small, Charles Asher.  “Violence Erupts When You Tolerate Antisemitism.”  The Daily Beast, April 14, 2014.

Related: Wilbur, Del Quentin.  “Von Brunn, white supremacist Holocaust museum shooter, dies.”  The Washington Post, January 7, 2010.

Although Charles Asher Small warns against bad mouthing the Jew as one might about bad mouthing the Muslim or anyone else, “political correctness” is not what is wanted with either anti-Semites or bigots: what is wanted is clarity with regard to the health of whole language atmospheres and then the encouragement of decency and mutual regard across divisions, and that with the mothers, perhaps, foremost on the lines defending democratic “all-for-all” social systems.

Here too, as with previous of today’s remarks, I may go a little further: America’s free speech concept specifically sets out to protect unpopular speech, the sort of speech we may not wish to hear, and while hoping for great and much needed revolutionary speech (come election time), it well includes hate speech.  Given so capacious a freedom, we leave it to social response to shape the intellectual environment of the state: e.g., we leave David Duke to do his thing from American soil, but, for the most part, we leave him a comparatively isolated figure in American politics and his followers equally isolated as political and social fringe.

If we fail to address and alter the language behaviors that embed in the very young the kernels of a bigoted social grammar, then, indeed, our open society states, our all-for-all democracies, will face greater challenges to their internal coherence and cohesion.

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FTAC – Sawing On — and On and On — (Malignant, Political, Civilizational) Narcissism


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In Egypt, the government that “came to power in a fair election” represented the only party with a program at the time, such had been the character of Mubarak’s suppression of all political competition, and, indeed, it proved its identity in values by immediate rewriting the state’s constitution to serve its own most undemocratic ends. Notably, it not only maintained Mubarak’s torture chambers but made them its own.

While “the problem” may be labeled “authoritarianism” and attention deflected away from Islam thereby, the primary driver in both unconstrained military and theocratic ambition has been “malignant narcissism” AKA “political narcissism” AKA “civilizational narcissism”. In individuals diagnosed with “narcissistic personality disorder” the signal that is “grandiose messianic delusion” may be quite distinct; in politicians, the same in personality may be recognized too late or — as happens with dictators, secular or religious — abetted by the “gonna get something” mentality of their followers plus the naturally strident and normal narcissism of youth.

Result: ih conflict, the same mentality playing on both sides of the table (“different talk; same walk”).

Against both, the middle in humanity — sometimes I call that the “humanity of humanity” — needs to assert or reassert its interests, and that would seem to involve a unique struggle but one familiar to many of many religions: the revolution on the outside may need to be matched by another within the heart.

Inspiration for the above note: Rodrik, Dani.  “The Problem is Authoritarianism, Not Islam.”  World Affairs, August 12, 2013.

Q: Why narcissism?

A: Narcissistic mortification.

Causes and encourages are more probably multivariate regarding contributing factors in producing, say, an actor-producer-director of a personality and a contemporary monster like the dictator Putin-Assad-Khamenei, which is not to suggest that all of their counterparts opposite their position in Syria are honky dory either.

In any case, Dani Rocrick’s essay well covers the “all-for-all” character of the open democracies, the Musketeer quality of my paraphrase extending easily from “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”   However, as if with a sharp plain, he criticizes the authoritarianism on the surface of governance associated with the Muslim-majority states.

It may be noted of BackChannels that while I give portion of the “Islamic Small Wars” attention, such as the junta in Burma, Paul Biya in Cameroon, and Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe are never far from mind either, nor. for that matter at this time is Russia’s President Putin, who appears to have been hastened along his predictable track by his commitment to Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.  “Washington” as if it had a mind rather than contained a collection of such, may have thought that Putin representing Russia’s interests in the middle east would have no investment in Ayatollah Khamenei’s client state and platform for Hezbollah, but it turns out that what Putin, Assad, and Khamenei value most are their respective positions as absolute authorities, achieved or in ambition, in each of their states.  That quality also provides a political basis for greater cooperation between China and Russia.

Where fits Muhammad in this?

Approaching the eve of Passover today, some may be reminded that, “So We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them” (Quran 7:136).

Who is “We”?

The Jewish mythos acknowledges God alone as having parted the Red Sea with Moses as merely a leader: “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided . . . . ” (Exodus 14:21).

Repeat: ” . . . all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind . . . .”

Moses, recruited by God in the first place, speaking to Pharaoh as intermediary for God (for it would not do for God to speak to Pharaoh, Pharaoh having confused himself with God), and, by God’s will, leading the Jewish People and a “mixed multitude” down to the sea, may have in “Abracadabra” fashion reached out a foot or two over the lapping tide, but the language doesn’t change as regards who’s Boss, from beginning to the end, alpha-omega, and Who, exactly, “turned it into dry land”.

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FTAC – Just a Word On Imperial Russia v.2.0


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The Kremlin has returned to the criminal abuse of language in its effort to renew animus with the west and line its oligarch’s pockets with the proceeds attending conflict and contemplated conquest. Basically, the “Vertical of Power” has resuscitated Russian Imperialism.

Inspiration for the comment: an article on Chinese-Russian energy cooperation, which would seem out of left field given plenty of motivation by way of news out of Ukraine and Syria; however, in the back channel behind the back channel (are back channels recursive?), stands the unexplored thesis that the two great superpower dictatorships, Russia and China, understand one another better than they do their treacherous democratic open society partner on the Security Council.

Of course, the two mobsters are going to cut deals to cut out the nice guy.

This BackChannels blog signal travels to at least 112 nations, which provides me with a unique opportunity to pose a challenging question in development and with interest in improvement in the qualities of living across geopolitical space: choose, oh distant reader, how you wish to live: subjugated to economic and political elites whose judgment is capricious and powers strong enough to bend laws to suit their acquisitive, controlling, and unhealthily narcissistic wills?  Or as constituent participants in governments possessed of greater integrity and capable of open public policy and law formulation subject to public or citizen’s audit?

With now state-controlled media and lots of propaganda money spread through the New Old Now Old and Far Out Left, Putin’s Russia will attempt to exploit language to produce renewed anti-American, anti-”western” (i.e., specifically pro-dictatorship) animus and xenophobia.

For the record here, the author of this blog enjoys zero (zilch, nada) political funding, and the only funding I may really want — not that I don’t need money — would be open online journalism or research grant money.  In the universe of institutions, genuinely independent writers, research analysts, and scholars may be made to suffer — I know of no roof today beneath which to seek shelter — but the charm that comes with that fragility is intellectual freedom, a prize without price considering what media mercenaries have demonstrated do for the most tainted of paychecks.

I’ll go a little further to note than I am not the happiest of Americans in acknowledging the role Big Money plays in lobbying for laws and influencing Federal policy, but if, when, and where I may have specific complaint, I have confidence in my being able to research and write about the matter beholden to none and otherwise unfettered.

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FTAC – On Political Correctness in An Elite English Boarding School


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The teacher apologized forthrightly, promptly.  Why persecute?  How small should one wish to be?  How limited a freedom (over arch and dark humor) in speech should we want?  It would be hard criticizing Muslims, some of whom heralded the muzzling of Ayaan Hirsi Ali via a Brandeis executive decision last week, for touchiness if Jews (or some) were to be as miserably passive-aggressive and absent of the wherewithal to joust and riposte.

Inspiration for the observation: “‘I’ll send you to one of your gas chambers’, teacher tells Jewish student.”  Metro, April 13, 2014.

One Facebooker wrote, “she should be fired!”

No, the teacher should not be fired.

The English language needs her right where she is.

I’d rather parry with a sharp tongue than weather the company of a humorless smiling always “PC” eduzombie.

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FTAC – A Remark on Brandeis Reneging on Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Honorary Degree

Ambivalence is built into the challenge, which is arriving at an Islam in greater totality bereft of “Islamist Jihad” (I can put in “etc.” right away because the terminology has not been clarified or sharpened as to who the political terrorist is within Islam), its taking of license without limits, and its motivation in language.  Abandonment and apostasy, humanism, reformation, revisionism — we talk and think about this a lot but know one knows the channel ahead: we do know that Muslims and everyone else expects and indeed should have an inherent right to security in their daily rounds, from mosque to open market, and that security has been deformed not only in the name of the religion but by way of language behaviors — deflection of responsibility; willful deception to name two — associated with it.

I’m just calling it as I see it.

Related Reference: “Brandeis University withdraws planned honorary degree for Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali,” Fox News, April 9, 2014.

Some friends compare Islam to the Borg Collective and expect it to rise “as one man”; others throw Rumi, an expansive humanist-universalist poet, on to their walls along with photographs of bright and dashing New York and Tehran designed Muslim woman’s wear (see, for example, Kavakci Couture).  Dredged out of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan come pictures of colonial and post-colonial western-spirited days, a reminder that what the Islamic space looks like in some quarters today is not what it was in a still recent yesterday.

Nonetheless, all that noted, recent headlines have become wearying in their familiarity: Islamabad Market Bomb Kills at Least 22; Series of deadly car bombs hits Iraqi capitalPhotojournalist Anja Niedringhaus Killed in AfghanistanISIS’ ‘Southern Division’ praises foreign suicide bombersEuropean jihadists form ISIS brigades in Syria; and so on.

Across Syria as I type, Jew-hating Arab nationalists and Jew-hating Islamic zealots are busy killing one another over dreams and desires that have become as archaic as they may be romantic, but it’s out of that bloody mire that one hopes will come a glimmer of sanity for a new era in Islam, whatever is to be, and then foreign affairs, and, finally, human relationships in general.

The revolution on the inside, reactive to despots, secular and theocratic, has yet to surface and bond.


Related: Brandeis won’t give honorary degree to Islam critic.

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Why Is Iran Shipping Arm to Hamas and Hezbollah?


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Why Is Iran Shipping Arm to Hamas and Hezbollah?

On March 20, 2014, the U.S and the U.K. called on the United Nations to investigate Israel’s latest claim that it seized an Iranian arms shipment that amounts to an Iranian violation of Security Council sanctions.

This development compels renewed scrutiny of Iran’s intention behind its weapons shipments to Hamas and Hezbollah, particularly since Israel thwarted several prior Iranian arms shipments, among them the Karine A (January 2002), the Francorp (November 2009), and the Victoria (March 2011). Other countries, such as Turkey, and Cyprus and Italy have also intercepted Iranian arms shipments to the region.”


The piece is short but points out how cynically Ayatollah Khamenei uses language with what might be observed as “talk over talk” — two levels: the lower consisting of intention, e.g., ” Iran’s Army and Revolutionary Guard “will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world” — and that would be “God’s law” according to the despotic Iranian regime; and the upper level consists of the masking of intention: “. . . Iran will “scrupulously refrain[ing] from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations, it supports the just struggles of the oppressed against the tyrants in every corner of the globe.”

Is there an Orwell in the house?


Those who would be clever often prove most talented at making themselves transparent.

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Never Again – the World’s Most Despicable Lie


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Never Again – the World’s Most Despicable Lie

However, as has always been the case even in the darkest chapters of human history, there have been the noble few to whom “never again” was a promise to be kept regardless of the cost, and who have risen above the prevalent apathy and helped those in most need. Despite having their resources and capabilities stretched to the breaking point, for three years neither Jordan nor Lebanon ever closed their borders to the multitude of Syrian refugees. Refugees who managed to reach Turkey found a country and people whose hospitality and generosity knew no limits.
And despite having every reason to hunker down behind a big fence or wall, Israel did no such thing when it came to helping Syrians in need, and thousands of Syrian lives were saved by Israeli medical assistance on the Golan.

My two cents on global sluggishness and resistance to settling the Syrian Civil War with an influx of weapons and manpower sufficient to defeat both Bashar al-Assad and the Al-Qaeda affiliates now operating throughout the battlespace.

  1. Endemic Syrian anti-westernism bolstered by a present if not embraced expanding “Islamism” (Islamic Jihad) may dampen enthusiasm for long-term adversary that needs immediate assistance.
  2. Arab and Arab-Syrian anti-Semitism, of which this blog has taken note, would seem to prove that the revolution would rather fail and die then alter its alignment against the “criminal genocidal imperial colonialist Zionazi entity”.

  3. The Great Dictator Putin-Assad-Khamenei lies, misleads, steals (from its own people) and a third of it is a known nuclear power.

My advice to the “moderate” Syrian revolutionary leadership: lose the anti-Semitic, anti-Western contempt and hate, so that I may remove the quotation marks around “moderate” and others may reevaluate how to meet Russian President Putin’s gambit in Syria and the Middle East for re-founding and sustaining a Greater Russian Empire.


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