Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Dianne Feinstein remembers Wonder Woman









Yesterday, the following was broadcast by Q+A (Australia's ABC):

Jen Robinson is the blond woman in the orange dress in the video above.  She's one of Julian Assange's attorneys. 

Jen Robinson: We addressed a briefing room of MPs.  It was packed to standing room only.  And all of them said the importance of being in that room was not only because he's an Australian citizen and a the free speech implications of this case but because their constituents are on the phone calling for this to happen.  And so I think we now have unity in Australia but the question is what the US government does with it.  And the right thing to do with it is to drop the prosecution because what the United States is doing is prosecuting journalism.  It is criminalizing journalism practices.  It diminishes the moral authority of the United States to raise free speech concerns with any other government.  We've not got Russia using the US precedent, charging a WALL STREET [JOURNAL] journalist, Even Gershkovich, with espionage -- for the first time since 1987 -- off the back of what the US is doing to Julian Assange -- Chinese officials saying 'well don't raise Cheng Lei or other people imprisoned here because you guys are imprisoning Julian Assange.  It diminishes our ability to raise free speech concerns internationally.  But, at the core of it, this is an Australian citizen who is imprisoned for award-winning publications and it is wrong.  And history will look back on this.  And the question is how long we will allow this to go on?  It's already been long enough.

Julian Assange remains imprisoned and remains persecuted by US President Joe Biden who, as vice president, once called him "a high tech terrorist."  Julian's 'crime' was revealing the realities of Iraq -- Chelsea Manning was a whistle-blower who leaked the information to Julian.  WIKILEAKS then published the Iraq War Logs.  And many outlets used the publication to publish reports of their own.  For example, THE GUARDIAN published many articles based on The Iraq War Logs.  Jonathan Steele, David Leigh and Nick Davies offered, on October 22, 2012:

A grim picture of the US and Britain's legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee's apparent deat

The Biden administration has been saying all the right things lately about respecting a free and vigorous press, after four years of relentless media-bashing and legal assaults under Donald Trump.

The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has even put in place expanded protections for journalists this fall, saying that “a free and independent press is vital to the functioning of our democracy”.

But the biggest test of Biden’s commitment remains imprisoned in a jail cell in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been held since 2019 while facing prosecution in the United States under the Espionage Act, a century-old statute that has never been used before for publishing classified information.

Whether the US justice department continues to pursue the Trump-era charges against the notorious leaker, whose group put out secret information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, American diplomacy and internal Democratic politics before the 2016 election, will go a long way toward determining whether the current administration intends to make good on its pledges to protect the press.

Now Biden is facing a re-energized push, both inside the United States and overseas, to drop Assange’s protracted prosecution.

I'm seeing someone who is completely not helping Julian right now.  He considers himself a journalsit -- he's connected to the sewer that Max Blumenthal now resides in.  Someone who cares abou tthis piece of garbage should pull him aside and say, "Stop."  Because he's not helping Julian with what he's done in the last 24 hours.  

There's a detail about the case that came out in a hearing that we covered years ago.  And we covered the detail in real time.  We continued to mention it afterwards.  And then Michael Ratner asked me a few months later, what's the point of covering it now when Julian's a prisoner?

Michael was right.

It's a fact and it's a pertinent fact.  And we can debate it all we want when Julian's free.  But Julian is not free.  If you're trying to help Julian, the fact that someone has changed their mind -- for whatever reason -- and is saying Julian should be free?  Celebrate that.  Amplify that.  Don't get all bitchy and high and mighty.  That's not helping Julian. 

In fact, why not grasp that one member of the press changing their mind about Julian right now, if publicized and put out there, gives cover for others who maybe just went along with the pack mentality and who could now say, "Well like so and so, I've changed my mind.  Julian needs to be free!"

I know logic and rationality don't thrive in the sewer Max now resides in but someone has to have a modicum of sense -- even there -- and that's who needs to tell the person attacking a member of the press for changing their mind that this is not helping Julian.

Again, I've bit my tongue for years now on one thing.  And it's not a critique.  It's a legal point.  When Julian's free, I'll return to discussing it.  But right now is not the time.

That message will probably fly over Max's buddy's head.  There's no real hope for him.  Like too many of Max's associates these days, the man is a transphobe and is having a meltdown that The Museum of Jewish History noted that trans people were targeted by Hitler.  He's got a Tweet with the 'offensive' over this statement.  Here's what was issued by The Museum that so triggered Maxi's little friend:

Before 1933, Germany was a center of LGBT+ community and culture, with several renowned organizations serving and supporting trans and gender non-conforming people. Hitler’s Nazi government, however, brutally targeted the trans community, deporting many trans people to concentration camps and wiping out vibrant community structures. As transgender people are now increasingly targets of discriminatory legislation and hate, join the Museum for a program exploring these stories and experiences prior to and during the Holocaust.

This panel conversation features Dr. Anna Hájková, Associate Professor of Modern European Continental History at the University of Warwick; Dr. Katie Sutton, Associate Professor of German and Gender Studies, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at Australian National University; and Dr. Bodie A. Ashton, a Postdoctoral Researcher and Lecturer at Universität Erfurt, with moderator Rabbi Marisa Elana James, Director of Social Justice Programming at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York.

Watch the program below.

MJH recommends

Recommended Resources
During the program, a number of resources were mentioned for further research. One of these was the book Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature by Max K. Strassfeld. Another was the magazine The Third Sex which was printed in Weimar Germany from 1930-1932. We also recommend historian Jake Newsome’s series LGBTQ+ Stories from the Holocaust, where he shares the true stories of LGBTQ+ people in Nazi Germany.

Learn More About the LGBTQ+ Community in Pre-War Germany
Before WWII, Berlin was a center of life for the LGBTQ+ community. Robert Beachy’s book Gay Berlin chronicles the milieu that gave rise to the international gay rights movement, with key strides made for scientific research, advocacy, and visibility. Learn more in this conversation between Beachy and Eric Marcus, creator of the podcast Making Gay History.

Discover the Life of Eve Adams
Eve Adams was a rebel. Born to a Jewish family in Poland, Adams emigrated to the United States in 1912. She befriended anarchists, sold radical publications, and ran lesbian and gay-friendly speakeasies in Chicago and Greenwich Village. Then, in 1925, Adams risked all to write and publish a book titled Lesbian Love. In a repressive era, when American women had just gained the right to vote, Adams’ association with anarchists caught the attention of the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, leading to her deportation into the Nazis’ reign of terror, where she was sent to Auschwitz and killed. Learn more about Adams’ life in this Museum program.

If you're wondering, that is a year old.  But Max's buddies are slow readers -- whose lips move when they read just as their knuckles drag on the floor when they walk -- and they've only just now discovered The Museum's announcement.

The Museum is addressing events that actually happened.  You don't want to admit that it happened?  I guess that makes you a denier but, hey, you fondle the extreme right-wing with your writing, so you're in denial about a lot of things.  Here are some facts from Holocaust Memorial Day Trust:

By the 1920s, Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code, which criminalised homosexual acts, was being applied less frequently. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science led the world in its scientific approach to sexual diversity and acted as an important public centre for Berlin lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender life. In 1929 the process towards complete decriminalisation had been initiated within the German legislature.

Nazi conceptions of race, gender and eugenics dictated the Nazi regime’s hostile policy on homosexuality. Repression against gay men, lesbians and trans people commenced within days of Hitler becoming Chancellor. On 6 May 1933, the Nazis violently looted and closed The Institute for Sexual Science, burning its extensive collection on the streets. Unknown numbers of German gay men, lesbians and trans people fled abroad, and others entered into marriages in order to appear to conform to Nazi ideological norms, experiencing severe psychological trauma. The thriving gay culture in Berlin was lost.

The police established lists of homosexually active persons. Significant numbers of gay men were arrested, of whom an estimated 50,000 received severe jail sentences in brutal conditions. Most homosexuals were sent to police prisons, rather than concentration camps, where they were exposed to inhumane treatment. There they could be subjected to hard labour and torture, or they were experimented upon or executed.

An estimated 10-15,000 men who were accused of homosexuality were deported to concentration camps. Most died in the camps, often from exhaustion. Many were castrated and some subjected to gruesome medical experiments. Collective murder actions were undertaken against gay detainees, exterminating hundreds at a time.

During the 1935 redrafting of Paragraph 175 in Germany, there was much debate about whether to include lesbianism, which had not been recognised in the earlier version. Ultimately lesbians and trans people were not included in the legislation and they were subsequently not targeted in the same way as gay men. In Austria, after Anschluss (the annexation of Austria into greater Germany under the Nazi regime), a similar debate led to the inclusion of lesbianism in the penal code. Lesbians suffered the same destruction of community networks as gay men. They were not allowed to play any role in public life and therefore they often experienced a double economic disadvantage.

After World War Two

After the war, the Allies chose not to remove the Nazi-amended Paragraph 175. Neither they, nor the new German states, nor Austria would recognise homosexual prisoners as victims of the Nazis – a status essential to qualify for reparations. Indeed, many gay men continued to serve their prison sentences.

People who had been persecuted by the Nazis for homosexuality had a hard choice: either to bury their experience and pretend it never happened, with all the personal consequences of such an action, or to try to campaign for recognition in an environment where the same neighbours, the same law, same police and same judges prevailed.

Unsurprisingly very few victims came forward. Those who did, even those who had survived death camps, were thwarted at every turn. Few known victims are still alive but research is beginning to reveal the hidden history of Nazi homophobia and post-war discrimination.

I guess that's uncomfortable because it won't help the extreme right-wing -- that group that Max and his buddies try to flirt with these days.  But it is what happened.  And what happened then has resulted in a lot of people being alarmed by what's happening right now.  But if Max Blumenthal called out attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, he couldn't grift to the extreme right-wing for money, now could he?

No, Maxi Pads needs his dollars.  Certainly more than he needs dignity, right?  Or self-respect?  

So following the end of WWII, LGBTQ+ people remained persecuted because of who they were which was too much for the delicate sensibiliteis of the US.  That's outrageous.  It's outrageous that reality was denied and it's outrageous that Max's roll-dog wants to lie about this community today.

But most of all it's outrageous that someone is so damn stupid that they'd rather rag on a reporter for coming around to supporting Julian then try to build support for Julian.  

That is what's needed.  I find Jen's words very encouraging but at present?  All they are right now: Words.  Julian remains imprisoned.  Max and his buddies do get that, right?


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