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The Dark Beneath Part II

March 30, 2020

The Dark Beneath: Lindbergh and Ford

Note from me:  I had intended to finish this up quickly but I made the mistake of doing more research.  This, as always, muddied the waters of my conclusions.  Actually, I have more questions than conclusions.  Input would be helpful.


In this post, I’m concentrating on two American icons, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh.  Both were looked up to as examples of Yankee initiative and success.  Both held deep beliefs concerning ‘racial purity’.  I’ve been reading a lot about the conflict many people feel when they discover that their heroes did things or had attitudes that are personally repugnant to them.  Thomas Jefferson is a classic example of this.  But Jefferson didn’t encourage others to buy slaves.

                Henry Ford was among the richest industrialists in the United States.  He made cars that most people could afford.  When he was losing employees due to the mind-numbing boredom of the assembly line, he raised the pay to five dollars a day.  He hired immigrant workers, paying for them to learn English and take citizenship classes. He rewarded those who became citizens, honouring them at ceremonies.  He’s held up as an example of a capitalist who cared for his people.

                Unlike most other employers, “Henry Ford’s promise of a Five Dollar Day was not tainted with discrimination; blacks were paid a wage equal to that of whites. During the late teens, “the name Ford became synonymous with northern opportunity,” recalled LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), inspiring hundreds of black southerners to travel North with their sights set on a job at the Ford Motor Company (fmc).¹

In many ways, he helped more Americans move into the middle class than any other industrialist while becoming incredibly wealthy. 

He was also a virulent anti-Semite.   It’s not clear where he developed this belief.  He was a farm boy who had likely never met a Jew until he was an adult.  But, by the time he was in his twenties, he had formed the firm idea that Jews were an inferior ‘race’ who happened to have a talent for making money.  From this he concluded that all negative events were somehow caused by a cabal of Jews.  He suspected Jews of causing World War I, a belief heartily endorsed in Germany by Adolph Hitler.  Ford also thought Jews were responsible for Jazz and short skirts, not really well explained in his work.

Hitler found out about Ford’s belief through the ­Dearborn Independent,  a newspaper that he bought in 1919.  From 1920, the paper ran a column on the front page called ‘The International Jew’. Ford’s major complaint was that the Jews had “no interest in manufacturing” but only in finance.  And Jews have become so adept at finance that they control the economics of the world. “There is apparently in the world today a central financial force which is playing a vast and closely organized game, with the world for its table and universal control for its stakes.*  Ford was certain that Jews also controlled the press, something that has been repeated by modern demagogues.   Hitler must have rejoiced when reading, “The Jew in Germany is regarded as only a guest of the people; he has offended by trying to turn himself into the host. There are no stronger contrasts in the world than the pure Germanic and pure Semitic races;…”   This may have encouraged the Fuehrer to believe that America would never fight to save Europe from fascism.

Ford’s influence extended far beyond Dearborn MI.  He insisted that all his dealers take out subscriptions and give them free to anyone who bought a model T.  There was an uproar in many circles and some dealers refused.  Eventually, he was convinced to issue an apology, but the paper continued.

What to make of Ford?  He did great things for the middle class.  He was apparently open to having immigrants and people of colour work for him.   He revolutionized manufacturing.  If he had just been anti-Semitic, making comments at parties or preferring not to hire Jews, I might have believed that this was a reflection of the times.  But he not only published his beliefs (along with a lot of incorrect history, a cardinal sin in my eyes) he printed an English translation of the infamous forgery “The Protocols of Zion”.  This early conspiracy theory has long legs.  I found a copy at along with the comment that it was suppressed history.  One can also find all 722 pages of The International Jew.  Perhaps there are readers who agree with Ford, but I can’t look at him as a benefactor of humanity any more.

If this is too long to hold your attention, there is a 2013 American Experience from PBS on Ford that covers some of this and there are several books on it, including Henry Ford and the Jews:The Mass Production of Hate, by Neal Baldwin.

Charles Lindbergh

charles-lindbergh---opposition-to-world-war-ii.jpg1.BATES, BETH TOMPKINS. “Henry Ford Ushers in a New Era for Black Workers.” In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, 39-68. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2020.

In May of 1927, at the age of 25, Charles Lindbergh became the darling of America when he became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic.  He was an ideal of the all-American boy, good-looking, diffident, from a solid Midwestern background.  He was idolized by all.   Two years later, he married Anne Morrow.  He might have faded into semi-obscurity, especially with the shock of the Great Depression, except for the horror of the kidnapping and murder of his first child, Charles Jr. in 1932.  The media circus around the event drove the Lindberghs to move to Germany where they lived until 1939.   “While living abroad, Lindbergh, acting at the U.S. military’s request, made multiple trips to Germany to assess the country’s aviation capabilities. He was impressed by what he encountered: As historian Thomas Doherty says, Nazi Germany shared Lindbergh’s admiration of “Spartan physicality” and aviation-centric militarism.”  (Meilan Solly, “The True History behind the Plot Against America”  Smithsonian , Mar 1, 2020)

He seems to have also been impressed with German ideas on racial purity. In this, Lindbergh is much less a cipher than Ford.  He hated Jews; he believed they were secretly running the world, but he also hated Negroes, Slavs, Chinese, Arabs—anyone who wasn’t ‘Aryan’. 

When he came back to the US, Lindbergh became a spokesperson of the “America First” movement.  This was a strong isolationist group that did not want to be involved in another European war.  Lindbergh’s father had been opposed to American’s entering World War I, feeling that it was only intended to make Wall Street financiers richer.  Along with his German experience, this made the aviator a perfect representative. He gave speeches all across the country.  Lindbergh’s main argument for staying out of the war was military. “But we in this country have a right to think of the welfare of America first, just as the people in England thought first of their own country when they encouraged the smaller nations of Europe to fight against hopeless odds.”  Hitler was winning and the war was already lost.  Why fight a losing war?  Many agreed with him. Then, in a speech in Des Moines Iowa, in September of 1941, he stated, “I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war.”   Other comments made it clear to most of America that he preferred the Nazis to Communists and that he felt Hitler was the only one keeping the “Asiatic hordes” at bay.  For more information, including the texts of his speeches, see:

When the war began, Lindbergh went on his own to the Pacific.  Eventually, he flew several combat missions.   Many people forgave or ignored his pre-war folly.

Charles Lindbergh died in 1974.  It wasn’t until 2001 that three of his seven German children revealed their existence, later proved with DN tests.  Starting about 1957, Lindbergh had simultaneous affairs with three women in Germany and Switzerland.  He may well have been fond of all of them, but there is also a suspicion that he was acting on the belief that the world needed more Aryan children. 

charles-lindbergh—opposition-to-world-war-ii.jpg1.BATES, BETH TOMPKINS. “Henry Ford Ushers in a New Era for Black Workers.” In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, 39-68. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2020.

charles-lindbergh—opposition-to-world-war-ii.jpg1.BATES, BETH TOMPKINS. “Henry Ford Ushers in a New Era for Black Workers.” In The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford, 39-68. University of North Carolina Press, 2012. Accessed March 20, 2020.

henry_ford_grand_cross_1938.jpgApart from believing in America first, Ford and Lindbergh also shared  the ‘honour’ of the highest civilian award Nazi Germany gave, The Order of the German Eagle.  Ford’s was given in 1938 in Michigan, Lindbergh’s was presented by Herman Goering in 1939. 

Lindburgh and Goering.jpg

Now, when I began working on this, it was because I was wondering if the positive things people did were negated when they also did evil things.  I still don’t know.

But I do know that the feelings expressed by Ford and Lindbergh are becoming more prevalent today.  America First is a catchphrase again.  Bigotry of all sorts is becoming more open.  And, while most of the world is coming together through a shared fear, there are those who somehow still have decided to blame the Jews.  I have read a number of comments to the effect that George Soros is somehow behind the virus.  The NY Post just had an article on Neo-Nazis encouraging those who have tested positive to give the disease to Jews, who invented it so they could sell vaccines.  Tricky, since there isn’t one.

Since I started writing this, the world has changed.  It’s not just hatred of the Jew; as I said in my last post, that’s just a warning sign.  In Bangladesh, the internet has been cut off in Rohinga refugee camps.  Why?  I have no idea.   I do know that the misinformation and blaming of others is coming from the very top.  We can follow that into chaos or we can decide that this is a chance to make the earth one unified entity, remembering, as so may have said, we’re all in this together.

The Dark Beneath

March 16, 2020

If any one of these groups–the British, the Jewish, or the administration–stops agitating for war, I believe there will be little danger of our involvement.
           Charles Lindbergh- September 11, 1941

“The Jew is the world’s enigma. Poor in his masses, he yet controls the world’s finances. Scattered abroad without country or government, he yet presents a unity of race continuity which no other people has achieved. Living under legal disabilities in almost every land, he has become the power behind many a throne. There are ancient prophecies to the effect that the Jew will return to his own land and from that center rule the world, though not until he has undergone an assault by the united nations of mankind.”

Henry Ford, The International Jew 1922

Help desk

In 1939, Sen. Robert Reynolds of North Carolina (who ran his own anti-Semitic newspaper, the American Vindicator), proposed bills to end all immigration for five years, declaring in a June 1939 speech that the time had come to “save America for Americans.”

“America First” has been a rallying cry throughout the history of the US.  Of course, what was always was meant was “My America First”.  The Puritans didn’t want Quakers, even hanging some who proselytised.  William Penn had to acquire a new colony for them to settle.  Catholics were only welcome in Maryland, and so forth.   Native Americans and Africans were rarely considered as human.   As the nineteenth century progressed with immigrants needed as a work force, Catholic Irish were vilified, as were Italians, Greeks, and then those from Eastern Europe.  There were a number of Chinese exclusion acts up until the 1930s.  But, throughout Western history, the canary in the coal mine of intolerance has been the Jews. 

This seems to be a feeling always lurking beneath the surface of society.  Years ago, when I was in grad school, I was called for jury duty.  I took a copy of “The History of Christianity” to study. A sweet woman in her fifties came up to me and said, “I think it’s just a miracle that Christianity has survived all those persecutions, don’t you?”  I considered.  “Well,  I answered. “It’s more amazing that Judaism has survived.”

Her whole face changed. Her eyes narrowed; her mouth twisted; her skin  grew red.  It was like watching the Slythereen pull off their masks to revert to alien form.

“You’re Jewish, aren’t you?” she accused.

I answered without thinking because my conclusion had been based on scholarship, not religion.

“No,” I said. “I am an historian.”

She vanished.  But I was shaken by her transformation and wondered how many other kindly people in the room harboured such a clear hatred of those not like them.

I started thinking about the icons of American culture who also were strong anti-Semites.   We have already seen a rise in the desecration of Synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, with discrimination becoming more blatant.

My greatest worry is that it never stops with the Jews.  That’s just the beginning.  All the racial, religious and social bigotry that lies beneath the surface starts oozing to the top.  Fear may resurrect feelings that always lay beneath or even create them as people search for a scapegoat. 

Since I’m also staying home, which I enjoy, I’ll post tomorrow on Lindbergh, Ford and other American role models who also had dark sides.  Their beliefs had a disproportionate effect on the rest of the country.

The Saint, the Goddess and the Hope of Spring

February 1, 2020

St. Brigid, Imbolc and the Hope of Spring

Today, February first, is St. Brigid’s Day.  In Ireland it’s been celebrated for thousands of years. I know, someone will point out that Christianity has only been in Ireland for fifteen hundred years.  But, thanks to Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) missionaries were encouraged to adapt local holy places to Christian saints.  So Brigid, the Celtic Goddess, became Saint Brigid, a miracle-working abbess.

There may have been a real woman named Brigid, born sometime in the sixth century, who was first married to the lord of a feuding family to bring peace.  It didn’t work and, in on battle, her son was killed.  Converted by St. Patrick, she asked the local king for land to build her monastery.  He refused and so she asked only for the land that could be covered by her cloak.  The king agreed.  She lay out her cloak and it grew and grew until it covered acres and acres.  This became her abbey of Kildare.

Bridgid.jpgHowever, the goddess and the abbess never really separated in the minds of the Irish and still live comfortably together in rituals and art. In the picture to the left, Brigid holds her symbolic cross, which is made of reeds on January thirty-first.  The cross is placed over a door or window to protect the house from evil.

February first is Imbolc, one of the four Irish fire festivals to mark the seasons.  The name means ‘in the womb’ or ‘in milk’, apparently referring to the hope of a successful lambing season.  The next festival is Beltane, ‘bright’, at the beginning of summer.  Harvest season is marked by the feast of the sun god, Lugh, called Lughnasagh.  Finally comes Samhain ‘summers end’ now celebrated universally as Halloween.

In her other hand Brigid holds eternal fire.  That was another aspect of the goddess.  Both women watch over new mothers and protect cows. The goddess also protected poets and sailors.

“St. Brigid is the patron saint of babies, blacksmiths, boatmen, cattle farmers, children whose parents are not married, children whose mothers are mistreated by the children’s fathers, Clan Douglas, dairymaids, dairy workers, fugitives, Ireland, Leinster, mariners, midwives, milkmaids, nuns, poets, the poor, poultry farmers, poultry raisers, printing presses, sailors, scholars, travellers, and watermen.”

          There are many shrines to Brigid, many of them at holy wells.  We visited one the other day, near the Cliffs of Moher. It’s a grotto where a stream runs through a small hallwaySt. Bridget's Well 2.jpg. On the ways are hundreds of photos of people who have died.  There are also religious statues festooned with rosaries.  Sometimes toys or other mementos are also left.  Looking at these was very poignant.  People come here to grieve and find comfort.  It’s a place of shared sorrow.  They know that, since St. Brigid lost a child of her own, she would be kind to those who had also lost someone.  The day we were there, late January of 2020, we were the only pilgrims.  Having had three friends die in the proceeding weeks and feeling weighed down with the state of the world, I found solace in the thought that for so many centuries, both Brigids have been comforting people and reminding us that there will be another spring.

St Bridget's Well 4.jpg
St. Bridget;s Well 1.jpg

Warnings from History

January 22, 2020

Part II Philip the Fair, Pope Boniface VIII and the separation of Church and State.

Nogaret’s men arrest the pope

When the constitution of the United States was written, the founders established a principle that was unheard of in Western (or perhaps any) society.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Since many of the original colonists had come fleeing religious persecution by their governments, this made sense. But it was a radical solution to a problem that had existed for millennia.

Philip IV of France is a classic example of the struggle for power between Church and State.

Just a bit of background first.  Contrary to what is taught almost everywhere, the popes in Rome did not control the minds of every Christian in Europe.  Nor did the rulers of the various countries always feel obliged to obey them.  Yes, by and large, most people in Western Europe considered themselves Christian.  However, there were wild variations in how they understood the faith.

Philip IV of France was not the first ruler to take on the popes.  In the eleventh century the Holy Roman emperors had huge fights with Rome over the right to appoint bishops. It was called the Investiture Conflict. Barrels of ink have been used to describe the fun and games that ensued, so I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say that there was a lot of shouting, some fighting and several anti-popes.  However, all the participants were of the same faith even if they each thought the others to be heretics and power-grabbers.

Philip wanted something more.  He had a lot of issues concerning his family and religion. First of all, since the time of his umpteenth great-grandfather Louis VII, the kings had been anointed at their coronations with holy oil, found in the tomb of St. Remi. Popular belief stretched this much further back, to the time of the first Capetian, Hugh Capet, in 987.  To this they added that the oil had been delivered from heaven by the Holy Spirit, in its form of a dove.

Added to that, his immediate ancestors had all been pious crusaders.  Philip had a lot to live up to and those pesky popes kept getting in his way.

So, Philip set about slowly easing power from Rome.  He believed, and there is some truth in this, that the papacy was nothing more than a prize in a power struggle among the noble Roman families and not a divine calling.

The pope he faced was Boniface VIII,  the current winner, who was concerned to keep the rights of the church out of the hands of monarchs.

In Philip’s war with Edward I of England,* both sides had taxed the clerics, especially wealthy monasteries.  This was a no-no. said the pope.  The  tithes from churches and abbeys helped keep the papacy afloat. Boniface forbade the kings to take more money from the Church.  Did I mention that Philip and Edward both had active armies?  After some fuss, Boniface backed down and proclaimed that kings could tax the church without approval from the pope if there were a clear and present danger. 

Round one to Philip.

In 1297, after some pressure, Boniface declared Philip’s grandfather Louis IX, who had died on crusade, to be a saint.

Round two to Philip.

Next Philip heard that a bishop from the south of France had, while in his cups, said some nasty things about him.  Bernard Saisset was Bishop of Pamiers and a good friend of Pope Boniface.  He and Philip had already been on opposite sides of a land dispute.  According to many witnesses, Bernard had said of Philip, “Our king resembles an owl, the fairest of birds, but worthless. He is the handsomest man in the world, but he only knows how to look at people unblinkingly, without speaking.”  He also accused Philip of being a bastard and opined that St. Louis was in hell.  This insulted Philip and, even more, the counsellors who wrote most of his pronouncements.

Naturally, Philip went ballistic.  He ordered the bishop arrested and charged with heresy and treason, among other things.  Now, all clerics accused of a crime were supposed to be tried in religious courts.  If they were convicted, they might be turned over to secular courts for punishment.  Boniface couldn’t ignore the treatment of a bishop and a friend.  Perhaps unwisely, he sent a pronouncement to the king, titled Ausculta fili. Loosely translated, it means “Listen up, kid”. 

Philip’s minions quickly went to work and published a “slanted summary of its main points which gave the impression that the pope was claiming the feudal lordship of France.”@   This gave Philip the opening to attack the pope directly.  As I mentioned in the first part of this essay, he accused Boniface of heresy, sodomy, murder, idolatry and simony.  The actual author of this charge was Philip’s chief advisor, Nogaret.  He arranged for assemblies to be held across France to condemn Boniface.  Then, with the help of a rival Roman family, Nogaret went to Italy and captured the pope in his home town of Anagni.  Reports differ as to what was done to him, but he was certainly abused.  The citizens of Anagni rose up and freed Boniface but the pontiff, in his eighties, died a month later.

This round was sort of a tie.

Finally, Philip got a French pope, Clement V, who would compromise enough to dissolve the Templars. 

Are you still with me?  Because I’m finally getting to the point.

Philip IV wanted money, but he also wanted to be free of papal meddling.  He was divinely consecrated, the grandson of a saint.  “ In accusing Bernard Saisset of heresy, Nogaret  created the chance to affirm the right of the Capetian king to replace the pope, if necessary, in his Christlike function Henceforth, “what [was] committed against God, against the faith or against the Roman Church, the king consider[ed] committed against himself.” #

Philip was establishing himself as the direct link to God, above the popes.  His broadsides confirmed this.  During the trial of the Templars, another advisor, Guillaume de Plaisians, told the assembly that “The king of France has come to announce to you great joy!” This was the dissolution of the Templars.  Plaisians was stating that, like the angels, Philip had received word from Heaven without going through the pope.#   God had sent Philip to the French, and he agreed, styling himself  “the most Christian king”, in the world.

Louis XIV

So Philip, and the kings who followed him, up to Louis XVI, did not want to separate church and state; they wanted control of both.  And, with power over both, people had no one to appeal to against the excesses of the monarch.  It was as if the American president also controlled the Congress and the Supreme Court,

The framers of the Constitution got it right, in my opinion.  They learned from history that legislating private belief is tyranny.  Let’s don’t let it happen again.


*The war continued, off and on, for over a hundred years.  You may have heard of it.

@ Malcolm Barber, The Trial of the Templars. P. 30

#Julien Théry-Astruc, “Guillaume de Nogaret and the Conflicts Between Philip the Fair and the Papacy”  The Capetian Century ed. William Chester Jordan and Jenna Rebecca Phillips.(Brepols, Turnhout, Belgium, 2017) p219

Saudi Arabia-the beginning

December 6, 2018

Know your terrorist: the Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia and the Family Saud.[1]

Yes, I know it’s been ages since I posted anything.  The Saud family and  Wahhabi Islam shouldn’t have taken so long.  I did keep busy with other things, of course, but the research for this report kept expanding.  I began to feel that I was writing a dissertation.  And, just a few days ago, I read an article by Carlotta Gall about Saudi influence in Kosovo.[2]  But more about that later.

Saudi Arabia, as far as I know, is the only country in the world named for its ruling family.  It was founded, in 1932 by Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud (Ibn Saud).  However, Ibn Saud was preceded by nearly two hundred years of determined ancestors whose beliefs made the Puritans seem easy going.

It all began in the early 1700s.  At that time, Arabia was ruled, in principle, by the Ottoman Empire.  It was actually a land of many tribes who spent most of their time fighting each other.  One aspect of the society was the blood feud.  This was not unique to Arabs.  As in other cultures, the tribe of the murderer could pay a blood price to the aggrieved family.  If this failed, there existed an elaborate system of rules. Revenge could reach to the fifth generation and if the perpetrator died before the family of the  victim could take revenge, his nearest relative would be targeted.[3]  Loyalty to the tribe was essential for self-protection.

The Ottoman rulers were not terribly interested in Arabia.  Most of its interaction with the outside world was trade. From the time of Herodotus, North Arabia  produced many luxury goods, not available  elsewhere: frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and laudanum.  They also transferred spices, silks and other luxury goods from India and Yemen.  [4]

Both the Saud family and their religion came from the central region of the peninsula. known as the Najd. (plateau)  Surrounded by coastline and mountains, it was little explored and thought to be inhabited only by nomadic Bedouin traders.  However, hidden among the arid dunes were a number of oasis towns.  Under the Najd is an enormous glacial aquafer.  Grain, dates and other fruit were grown and the culture allowed time for poetry and study. [5]  Gertrude Bell in 1927 was still surprised by the oases, “ It was curious riding through hilly ways and cultivated country to-day after three weeks of desert.”[6]

Now the stage is set.  Imagine this remote, independent cluster of towns at the beginning of the eighteenth century.  Apart from trade and Muslim pilgrims, most inhabitants neither know nor care about the world outside.

Part Two, The Purifier of Islam

Mohammad ibn Ahd al-Wahhib was born in the town of Uyaina, in 1704.  He came from a family of scholars.  His father was a qadi, or judge according to the Hanbali school of shari’a law.  Ahd was Mohammad’s first teacher.  By the time he was ten Mohammad had memorized the Quran.  He  then went to Mecca on the hajd, or pilgrimage.  There he studied for a time, then continued to Medina for further education.  Over the years, he traveled as far as Bagdad and Damascus.[7]

In his studies and his travels, ibn Abd al-Wahhib was shocked at how far the Muslim population had strayed from the teaching of the Prophet.  He began preaching a return to the roots of Islam. Only the Qur’an, and the Hadith were authoritative.  Every innovation since then was shirk, idolatry.

In Islam at the time, many people believed in the power of saints to give aid to the living.  Pilgrims brought offerings to their graves.  They also believed in holy stones, trees and caves, soothsayers and the power of djinn, all of which horrified ibn al-Wahhib.  Even more, he was shocked by the mysticism of the Sufis, who tried to achieve oneness with Allah. This was blasphemy.

His book of Islam is still studied by all Wahhabi followers,  It has influenced radical fundamentalist groups such as Al-Quaeda, ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. It begins with a commandment that may sound familiar:

“And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): ‘Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah).’ 

In some places where he preached, local authorities were tolerant of his ideas.  However, many towns made a good income from the pilgrims. Others saw no problem with popular belief and considered ibn al-Wahhib a trouble maker.[8]  He was expelled from one place to another until he had the good fortune to land in Dariyah, the home of emir Mohammed ibn Saud, who “presented himself before the Sheikh as one of his students of Islam, along with his family.”[9]  This was the beginning of the partnership that would result in the formation of the theocracy of Saudi Arabia,

[1] Nawaf E. Obaid. “In Al-Saud We Trust”,   Foreign Policy, No. 128 (Jan. – Feb., 2002), p. 74

[2] Carlotta Gall. “How Kosovo Was Turned to Fertile Ground for ISIS” New York Times, (May 21, 2016)

[3] Alexi Vassiliev, History of Saudi Arabia, Saki Books, (2013) Kindle edition. Chapter One, p. 25 As a side note, there was a gang-related murder in Ireland recently where the victim was a relative of a target who could not be found,

[4] Sharifah M. Al-Boudi, “Najd, the Heart of Arabia”. Arab Studies Quarterly  (Summer, 2015)

[5] Al-Boudi p 10

[6] Gertrude Bell, Letters Jan. 10, 1927.

[7] Vassilev, Chapter 2 p. 3

[8]Joseph Nevo, “Religion and National Identity in Saudi Arabia”,  Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Jul., 1998), pp 37-38

[9] ‘Alamah’ Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di. Explanation ‘ Of an by Mohammad Ibn Wahhadi ‘s Kitab the At-Tauhid ,   nd

______________________________________________________________________________IIf there is interest in my thumbnail sketch of how we got so entangled with Saudi Arabia and why I, along with many others, find it unsettling, let me know and I’ll post another piece on how we wound up in this situation.  There are many good books on the topic.  I’m writing for those who just want the basic information.  Thanks, Sharan.

My Women’s Shuffle inWashington

January 29, 2017


Here I am, totally ignorant of what will happen, trying on my pussy hat for the Women’s March on Washington. ( “SPES” by the way, is Latin for “hope”, something in short supply lately.)

People asked me why I felt I had to take my walker and go all the way across the country to do this when there were protests in town.  There are either too many answers to that, or none.  One reason is that more than half my ancestors have been in the country since before 1700.  They settled the land, served in the armies and government.  Some were kind, compassionate people, some weren’t.  Some clear cut trees for their fields, fought Natives in King Joseph’s War, owned slaves and persecuted Quakers.  One can be proud of Colonial ancestors but also see the results of their actions.

I stand with Standing Rock, because they were among those who pushed Natives onto reservations.  water-is-life


I stand for women’s rights because my  male ancestors refused to vote for them.susan-c-davis-young

I believe Black Lives Matter remembering how those of my family believed their lives were property.  black-women

In short, I believe in not repeating history but in working hard to make the world better and more equal for all.

So, I went to Washington and it was a euphoric experience.  Whatever you hear, I was surrounded by people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, ages, genders and professions.  They say that there were so many causes that it was chaos.  I didn’t see one sign I didn’t agree with.  Heidi Stemple put it better than I can:

I’m seeing lots of criticism of the Women’s Marches. Let us all remember, that whatever it meant to each of us– every one of those reasons are important and significant. Did we save access to health care for women? Did we stop the pipeline or make undocumented people more safe? No. But, we needed each other and we showed up to prove that we are here and not to be taken lightly, forgotten, or discounted. We are women who, when pushed, will push back. Will letters or phone calls help these causes? Perhaps not. But, we, the daughters, mothers, lovers, and sisters, we will raise our voices and shout down those who wish to keep us down–every damn time– until the time when we find or make or learn other ways to make a difference. We ARE the wall. We will take care of the children you will leave behind and we will boil the water you make unsafe to drink. We will nurse the ill who have no access to health care. We will teach the science you refuse to believe. We will remember the souls you shoot and kill on the streets. We will form the secret networks to help all the people you care nothing about. We are not snowflakes. We are the people who birthed you, fed you, nurtured you. Do NOT mistake our femininity as weakness. Because, even when we are down, WE ARE NOT WITHOUT POWER.

What she said.  Here are some examples of the wonderful people who came out to support us all:



United Health Workers.  There were at least a hundred of them, with shirts, purple hats and stickers.  (They gave me one)  They marched for health care for all and better working conditions for those who do the real caring; home health workers, CNAs and nurses.


There were many people supporting gay and trans issues.



Domestic workers came to many of the marches all over the country.  They wanted respect, immigration reform, health care and decent pay.  Or, as they said. Human Rights for all.

These speak for themselves.  Personally, I think that a man wearing a pussyhat is very appealing. A man who takes his daughter to a march for human rights is a treasure and an example to fathers everywhere.


When your congress person votes to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, this young man is the one who will have fewer treatment and education options.  Many people were concerned about health care cost and availability.  I rant about this all the time.  We are the only first world country without national health.  Could is possibly be because there is such a powerful health insurance lobby ?


So, this is my new Facebook image, partly because I need to keep reminding myself not to fear and partly because I really would like to look as beautiful as she.


Crusades material and class plan

September 23, 2016

First of all, for those of you who have been patiently waiting for my report on the Saudi family, I’m still working on it. Every time I thought I was finished. I found something more.  I will finish it asap.

Now, for those of you taking my class on the Crusades, this is where you will find extra information and synopses of previous classes as well as my general ideas for the whole course.


This map will be on the screen at the next class.  In the last class we….

Set the scene by touching on the complexity of the situation in the three major areas: Western Europe, the Byzantine Empire (which they called the Roman Empire) and the Turkish Caliphs in Baghdad.  We also touched upon the various Christian sects in the east.  I forgot to mention that there were also at least three Jewish sects, Talmudic, Karite and Samaritan.  Yes, those Samaritans.

The idea of a Crusade to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims had been floating about for some time.  Pope Gregory VII had tried to stir up interest in 1071.  Prof. Andrew Holt has an excellent article on this in his blog:

Why the call to a Crusade failed in 1071 and was wildly popular in 1095 is not easy to say.  There are a number of theories.  Some have been discarded by historians, such as the belief that invading the Holy Land would be an outlet for younger sons or that all of Europe blindly obeyed the pope. (They wished!)  One thing I stressed was that most individuals were very religious, if not respectful of clerical authority.  Whatever their other motivations, the remission of sins was a major reason to take the cross.

In the east the long wars between Byzantium and Baghdad had weakened both sides.  This was compounded by civil war among the Byzantines and loss of authority among other Islamic groups by the Sunnit Caliphs.  The Shi’ite Fatimids of Egypt were also moving into the Near East.  For the Caliphs, they were a greater threat than the  Christians.

We discussed the beginnings of the First Crusade and will go over this in the second class, along with the travel across Europe by both the “Peasant Army”  led by Peter the Hermit, and the “Army of the Barons”, led by an uneasy coalition of upper nobility.clearer-peter

The remaining five classes will cover:

2.  The First Crusade and settlement in the Crusader States.

3. The space between the Crusades and the acculturation of the new settlers as well as the reactions of Muslims, Eastern Christians, Jews and others to their arrival.

4. The Second and Third Crusades, both led by Kings.

5. The Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople leading to an altered attitude toward crusading.

6. Other “crusades”: the Albigensian Crusade in Southern France, the Children’s Crusade and the expeditions of Louis IX aka St. Louis.

Well, that’s the plan, anyway.  I’ll give you a reading list at the end so that you can fill in the gaps.



The Rules of War?

January 24, 2016


I’ve  been away for a few weeks and am later than usual in posting.  In spare moments, I have been researching the Koch brothers and the Saudi Royal family and, the more I do, the less difference I see between them. Did you know that the Koch brothers’ father was a founding member of the John Birch Society? Both families donate heavily to charities of their choosing and both show a wanton disregard for the rights of others. I’ll keep working on this, but it is very depressing.


So, while I’m depressed already, I thought I would discuss one of the more bizarre beliefs that seems to be shared by a number of people and, worse, governments. That is the myth that war has rules. I keep hearing that DAESH isn’t abiding by the rules of war, that everywhere civilians are being killed, hospitals bombed, people being raped and tortured and ancient art being destroyed.

Hello? That IS war. It isn’t two lines of eager volunteers in an empty field going at each other. That’s called football. War is when all laws, ethics and human decency break down. It’s when the people with weapons are encouraged to release their inner psychopaths. Civilization is simply the constant attempt to keep savagery tamped down. We aren’t doing a very good job of it at the moment, even though we’ve been trying for thousands of years.

(As a medievalist, I feel obliged to add here that, if the Catholic Church had been as powerful and good at mind control as many believe, then the Peace of God and the Truce of God would have ended war in Europe nine hundred years ago)

I think that a good first step would be to stop talking about rules of war and war crimes. War is a crime.

And, in my opinion, the ones with the guns aren’t the worst criminals. Many of the most terrifying crimes against humanity are committed by people in elegant offices with manicured fingers; people who donate to the charities of their choice.

p.s. I know nothing I say here is new, but it needs constant repeating if a real civilization has a chance.

Know Your Terrorist

November 20, 2015

I heard someone in politics say today that we have to refuse admittance to immigrants because this is a “very unique time”. This is incorrect on two counts. One: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘VERY UNIQUE’. IT IS AN ABSOLUTE. Two: This is not a unique time. America has always wanted to lock the door after “our” people came in. In the 1800’s Irish Catholics were going to turn the country over to the Pope. Then the Italians were all anarchists (see Sacco and Vanzetti) Eastern Europeans would bring communism when they arrived in the 1920s. The Chinese and Japanese were too “oriental” ever to fit in. In the 1940s millions of those who died in concentration camps were refused any place of exile. Jews again, of course, but who even suggested that we let in Roma or homosexuals or the handicapped? They would destroy our society. In the 1970s there was a backlash against the Vietnamese who ate strange food and overran the fishing industry and weren’t well enough vetted to keep out the Viet Cong and communists. Apart from the fact that Latinos settled mainly in states that were originally colonized by Spain and might make people nervous that they’ll try to take back Texas, I’m not really sure why we are worried about them.

Now who are the terrorists?

  1. Timothy MeVeigh, a white American, killed 168 people, including many children in Oklahoma City, in 1995
  2. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, white Americans, killed thirteen students and one teacher at Columbine High School in 1999
  3. Wade Michael Page, a white American, killed six people in a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in 2012
  4. Adam Lanza, a white American, killed teachers and children at a Sandy Hook school in 2012
  5. James Egan Holmes, a white American, killed twelve people in a theater in Aurora CO. in 2012
  6. Dylan Roof, a white American, killed nine people in a church in Charleston SC. In 2015

There are too many more to keep track. If you’re feeling masochistic, add your own.

The glaring exception here is the Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar.  They were white Chechnians who immigrated to America as children with their mother.  If you are wondering about the perpetrators or 9/11, all of them were here legally, coming from our good friend and ally, Saudi Arabia.  The shooter in Chattanooga this year, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, was a naturalized US citizen who came from our other ally, Kuwait.

I tried to find a report of any of the fears about earlier immigrants coming true. Of course, there is some question about Italians bringing the Sicilian Mafia with them. Perhaps we should have been more careful about Italians.

What I do find is that almost all of these murderers were men under the age of thirty. Also, the shooters in Paris were young men. Most of the members of Boko Haram, DAESH, and The Lord’s Christian Army, are young men, although some were unwillingly recruited as child soldiers. Al Shabaab, actually means “youth” in Arabic.

See a pattern? Clearly, if we are going to censure a group for the deeds of a few, we should be rounding up all males between the ages of fifteen and thirty and putting them in “comfortable detention” camps until they are deemed to have no homicidal tendencies.

Makes sense to me, statistically.

An interim interview

September 20, 2015

While I’m trying to decide which terrorist to write about next, here is a very nice discussion I had recently with Candace Robb on her WordPress website.

Now, which do you think, the Koch brothers

Koch brothers

….or the Saudi Royal family?


They both are only know on the surface to most people and both scare me equally.