Tag Archives: Carthage

For All Souls Day (aka “Day of the Dead” and/or Feast of the Faithful Departed): Human Sacrifice in Africa Today

Should we be surprised that Human Sacrifice, Slavery, and Cannibalism are Prevalent All Over Africa, today in late 2013?  In Colonial Mexico and Central America, after the Spanish Conquest, there is good evidence that Human Sacrifice persisted in many rural areas for at least 200 years after the Spanish Conquest despite continual Spanish Rule and the violent and often brutal suppression of the Native Mesoamerican priesthood, the tragic burning of ancient libraries, and the systematic destruction of temples.  There are many parallels between the practices of Human Sacrifice, Cannibalism, and Slavery in Africa and Mesoamerica, as Sir James G. Frazer noted in the Golden Bough, and as in fact was apparent even to the Spanish Conquistadors themselves, as in for example the writings of Bernal Diaz del Castillo.  

Child sacrifice, reported as widespread and common in Africa up through the present day (and even as a “thriving commercial business” in Uganda and Nigeria), was common among the prehispanic Mesoamericans.  There are relics surviving at least until the 1980s (by my own personal observations) of the importance of live children “bound with ropes and croaking like frogs” under the table of the Cha-Chaac, the modern Yucatec Maya Rain Ceremony, during years following the discovery of massive offerings of childrens’ skeletons under the altar of Tlaloc (the Aztec raingod) in the Templo Mayor excavations of Aztec Tenochtitlan in the heart of Mexico City.  Habitual child sacrifice was recorded at least as far north as among the Natchez of the Mississippi Valley up through the final obliteration and extermination of the Natchez by the French in the late 1720s.  Vestiges of Child Sacrifice (including the Sacrifice of adult children, such as the sons of the Kings of Israel and Judah who were made to “walk through the fire” in the Books of Chronicles and Kings) occur throughout the Bible, and legends of Jewish cannibalism of children are part of the “blood libel” that persisted at least through 15th century throughout Europe (consider the story of “Little St. Hugh” of Lincoln, which was one of many stories which led to the expulsion of the Jews from England in the 1320s.  (I had an uncle named “Hugh”, who now counts among the “Faithful Departed”).   As highly prejudicial and undocumented as the charges against Mediaeval European Jewry may be, the archaeological evidence recovered at by Harvard archaeologists at Carthage in Tunisia and by many excavations throughout Syria and Lebanon all document the ubiquity of child sacrifice among the Phoenicians  (most closely related by their alphabet and other customs to the Israelites) and all other Western Semitic peoples of the Bronze and Iron Ages.  Whether this heritage could support the legendary evidence that the Jews carried child sacrifice with them after the diaspora into Western Europe is, without archaeological evidence, a matter of mere conjecture.

Leaving Aside Slavery and Cannibalism, and considering only Human Sacrifice and Ritual Killing (including child sacrifice throughout Africa, and leaving aside the highly controversial questions of racially or politically motivated murders in, for example, Liberia, Sierra Leon, and above all in post-Apartheid South Africa, as of fourteen months ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights made this rather timid, cautious, almost apologetic report, allowing as how human sacrifice might violate the UN Charters on Individual Human Rights even if it infringes on the rights to freedom of religion and exercise of human conscience: http://hrbrief.org/2012/09/the-practice-of-ritual-killings-and-human-sacrifice-in-africa/

The Practice of Ritual Killings and Human Sacrifice in Africa

September 6, 2012 By \\

Despite the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’ that provides an individual is entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person, ritual killings and the practice of human sacrifice continue in several African countries. These practices entail the hunting down, mutilation, and murder of the most vulnerable people in society**, including people with disabilities, women, and children. Reports indicate that killings of this nature occur in Nigeria, Uganda, Swaziland, Liberia, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Because of the secrecy involved in ritual sacrifices, a majority of these incidents go unreported and uninvestigated. Anti-sacrifice advocates face an uphill battle in combating these rituals because the practices are largely denied and touch on cultural underpinnings, resulting in an ideological conflict between protection of human rights and respect for the beliefs and practices of other cultures.

Those who practice sacrifice and ritual killings believe them to be acts of spiritual fortification. Motivations to carry out these acts include the use of human body parts for medicinal purposes and the belief that human body parts possess supernatural powers that bring prosperity and protection. In Uganda, reports indicate that child sacrifice is a business where the wealthy pay witch doctors to conduct sacrifices in an effort to expand their fortunes. In Swaziland and Liberia, politicians allegedly commission ritual killings to improve their odds in elections. In parts of South Africa, ritual killings are culturally accepted, and the practice is often not reported by community members.

Questions of cultural relativism may arise with respect to ritual killings because they may be linked with religious beliefs. Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights guarantees freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion. The article also states that “No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.” While a broad reading of Article 8 guaranteeing the right to religious freedom could theoretically permit ritual killings for religious reasons, the “subject to law and order” clause may be invoked to limit the free practice of religion with respect to ritual killings. Furthermore, reading the Charter in its entirety supports a prohibition on ritual killings. For instance, Article 5 states that every individual shall be “entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.” If ritual killings were permitted as an acceptable exercise of religious freedom, the door is opened to many of potential human rights violations on the basis of religion.

In response to recent reports of ritual killings allegedly conducted by some traditional healers, other healers have spoken out against ritual killings, arguing that those practices are a disgrace to the history and culture of African medicine men and healers. In March 2012, Sierra Leone’s union of traditional healers met to put forward their campaign against ritual killings. Since the union’s founding in 2008, their mandate has always been to stop indiscriminate killings and afflictions of the innocent.

Activists rallying against ritual killings are calling for stronger protections, including legislation that would allow for the regulation of traditional healers. Some countries, such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Nigeria have taken steps to begin regulate traditional healers, but regulation is not widespread. Appropriately regulating traditional healers could provide necessary protection for individuals seeking care from traditional healers and could hold healers accountable for unlawful acts, such as ritual killings. Furthermore, regulation could provide protection for traditional healers, for example, with respect to intellectual property rights.

As they have done for centuries, traditional healers continue to fulfill an important role of providing beneficial medical services to communities. However, the practice of ritual killings and human sacrifice goes against the fundamental human rights norm of ensuring respect for an individual’s life and integrity of person. Although the African Charter guarantees the right to freely practice one’s religion, ritual killings are not permissible on this basis. The positive contributions of traditional healers to many African societies should not be compromised by the practice of ritual killings. Activists and governments can ensure respect for the human rights of all individuals by working to ensure transparency and accountability among traditional healers.

**CEL III Note Added: is it even worth mentioning that the minority Whites in post-Apartheid South Africa, not to mention any whites foolish enough to remain in Zimbabwe or Namibia, are among the most vulnerable members of society?

Richard Wagner: the Founder of the Modern Theatre, Theatrical Style, and Godfather of Modern Love?

What a strange irony that the artistic creator of what is arguably the greatest music created by man in all of human history, the inventor of the modern stage and theatrical style, and the author of beautiful poetry and transformational tellings of ancient myth as Richard Wagner should be remembered by the world at large, as a matter of popular culture, for his anti-semitism.

And in relationship to that quote attributed to Hitler, “Whoever wishes to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner,” for which I still cannot find or verify a single time and place source, what an irony that the Man who dreamt of German Conquest and Domination of the World single-handedly, or as single-handedly as any ruler could, made inevitable the mass destruction of Germany and Austria, and yet is primarily remembered for his “destruction” of the Jews.

The term “Holocaust” is an ancient Greek term for “sacrifice by fire” or as the term is so often translated in the Bible, “a burnt offering.”  The Ancient Kings of Israel and Judah routinely sacrificed their own children as “burnt offerings”—this is a commonplace among the Western Semitic people, best documented archaeologically from the several decades of Harvard University excavations at Carthage in Tunisia (founded by the Phoenicians who sailed west from Tyre and Sidon in modern Lebanon, as closely related to the ancient Israelites as any people of the world could possibly have been).  Pits filed with burnt children sacrificial victims are among the most commonplace  “major ritual and ceremonial” finds at ancient Carthage.

The purpose of all human sacrifice is to generate new life.  It is well known that, early in his Chancellorship, Hitler urged the emigration of Jews to Palestine, and the Constitution of Palestine as a Jewish Homeland.  It is also well known that within 36 months and a fortnight of Hitler’s April 30, 1945 suicide in the Berlin Bunker, the State of Israel was announced by David Ben Gurion on May 14, 1948.  Furthermore, it is all but universally acknowledged that but for the “Holocaust”, Israel would most likely never have come into existence as a Jewish nation and homeland.  

So was Adolf Hitler really the extreme nemesis of the Jewish People of the World?  Or was Adolf Hitler really the Godfather of Israel, much as he was the Godfather of the United Nations and a single world in which nations (including, presumably, eventually, both Germany and Israel, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, England, France, Spain, Italy, Scotland, and Ireland, are all to be abolished?

Nietzsche is famous for his axiom: what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  Did Hitler know or could he have envisioned that his actions would lead to the destruction of Germany?  His best generals all believed that this end was foreseeable.   So did Hitler know or could he have envisioned that on the barely cold ashes of Nazi Germany, Israel would be built?  

So who provided the greatest number of sacrificial lambs for the “burnt offering” or Holocaust offered to create the state of Israel?  Was it the Jewish Victims of Nazi Oppression, or was it the People of Germany who saw their world bombed and obliterated to smithereens?  How lost more lives?  Who gave more children?  Are these not legitimate questions for historical dialogue and research?

Wagner Bicentennial Symposium
Evil Genius:
Constructing Wagner as Moral Pariah, Part 2

wagner-013,016 words

Part 2 of 4

Wagner’s Racial Thinking

In addition to his concern about the baleful Jewish influence on German culture, Wagner, under the influence of Darwinism and the French racial theorist Arthur de Gobineau, became increasingly concerned about the fate of the White race generally. Wagner met Gobineau in Rome in 1876, and then again in Venice in 1880 when he read the French author’s bestselling An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Raceswhich had been published 25 years earlier.

Wagner thought that Gobineau had demonstrated in this famous essay that “we should have no History of Man at all, had there been no movements, creations, and achievements of the White man,” and was taken with his pessimistic notion that Western society was doomed because miscegenation would inevitably lead to the degeneration of the White race.

He nevertheless disagreed with Gobineau’s claim that this degeneration was unstoppable. In his essay “Hero-dom and Christianity,” Wagner writes that:“We cannot withhold our acknowledgment that the human family consists of irremediably disparate races, whereof the noblest well might rule the more ignoble, yet never raise them to their level by commixture, but simply sink to theirs.” The Jews, however, offered a unique exception to this general rule:

The Jew, on the contrary, is the most astounding instance of racial congruence ever offered by world history. Without a fatherland, a mother tongue midst every people’s land and tongue he finds himself again, in virtue of the unfailing instinct of his absolute and indelible idiosyncrasy: even commixture of blood does not hurt him; let Jew or Jewess intermarry with the most distinct of races, a Jew will always come to birth. [1] 

While accepting many of Gobineau’s basic premises, Wagner, in his 1881 essay about the German people entitled “Know Thyself” rejects the idea of complete Aryan superiority and writes about the “enormous disadvantage at which the German race . . . appears to stand against the Jewish.” Furthermore, when Gobineau stayed with the Wagners at Wahnfried for five weeks in 1881, their conversations were punctuated with frequent arguments. Cosima Wagner’s diary recounts one exchange in which Wagner “positively exploded in favor of Christianity as compared to racial theory.” Wagner proposed that a “true Christianity” could provide for the moral harmonization of all races, which could, in turn, help prevent the physical unification of the races, and thereby the degeneration of the White race through miscegenation: 

Incomparably fewer in individual numbers than the lower races, the ruin of the white races may be referred to their having been obliged to mix with them; whereby, as remarked already, they suffered more from the loss of their purity than the others could gain by the ennobling of their blood. . . . To us Equality is only thinkable as based upon a universal moral concord, such as we can but deem true Christianity elect to bring about.[2] 

Wagner had first developed the idea of a revolutionary new Christianity in the opera text Jesus of Nazareth (1849), which depicted Jesus as redeeming man from the materialism of the “Roman world . . . and still more, of that [Jewish] world subject to the Romans. . . . I saw the modern world of the present day as a prey to the worthlessness akin to that which surrounded Jesus.”[3] Wagner here drew heavily on Kant’s critique of Judaism. Enslaved to the Law, the Jews had rejected Jesus’ message of love; Jewish egoism and lovelessness had led Judas to betray him. The Jews had preferred “power, domination . . . [and] the loveless forces of property and law, symbolized by Judaism.”[4] Wagner’s hope for the emergence of a “new Christianity” to act as a bulwark against miscegenation and the degeneration of the White race has not transpired, although some Jewish commentators see it as having being realized in the ideology and practice of National Socialism.

For the Jewish music critic Larry Solomon, in Richard Wagner “all the racist historical models from Luther to Fichte, Feuerbach, Gobineau, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Chamberlain, come to full maturity.”[5] Yet, despite the irate epithets routinely directed at Wagner, most of his assertions are objectively true — not least his many warnings about the dangers of the Jewish economic and cultural domination of Western nations. The evidence shows that the races are unequal intellectually and physically, and race mixingdoes lead (on average) to the cognitive decline of the more intelligent racial party to the admixture. It should also be noted that Wagner’s racial views were mainstream opinions at the time he expressed them — not least among the leading Jewish intellectuals I cited in my review of Jews & Race — Writings on Identity and Difference 1880–1940.[6]

Wagner’s views on the Jewish Question strongly paralleled those of the leading Zionist Theodor Herzl. Both Wagner and Herzl saw the Jews as a distinct and foreign group in Europe. Herzl saw anti-Semitism as “an understandable reaction to Jewish defects” brought about by the Jewish persecution of gentiles. Jews had, he claimed, been educated by Judaism to be “leeches” and possessed “frightful financial power.”[7] For Herzl, the Jews were a money worshipping people incapable of understanding any other motives than money. Kevin MacDonald notes in Separation and Its Discontents that Herzl argued that “a prime source of modern anti-Semitism was that emancipation had brought Jews into direct economic competition with the gentile middle classes. Anti-Semitism based on resource competition was rational.” Herzl “insisted that one could not expect a majority to ‘let itself be subjugated’ by formally scorned outsiders that they had just released from the ghetto.”[8] Pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim notes that “Wagner’s conclusion about the Jewish problem was not only verbally similar to Herzl’s” but that “both Wagner and Herzl favored the emigration of the German Jews.”[9] Despite their convergence of opinion on the Jewish Question, Herzl avoided the opprobrium that was posthumously heaped on Wagner; intellectual consistency being the first casualty of Jewish ethnic warfare through the construction of culture.

Jewish Responses to Wagner’s Ideas

Basically ignoring whether Wagner’s views on Jewish influence on German art and culture had any validity, a long line of Jewish music writers and intellectuals have furiously attacked the composer for having expressed them. In his essay “Know Thyself” Wagner writes of the fierce backlash that followed his drawing “notice to the Jews’ inaptitude for taking a productive share in our Art,” which was “met by the utmost indignation of Jews alike and Germans; it became quite dangerous to breathe the word ‘Jew’ with a doubtful accent.”[10] Wagner was surprised by the hornet’s nest he had stirred up, and in a letter to Liszt noted that “I seem to have struck home with terrible force, which suits me purpose admirably, since that is precisely the sort of shock that I wanted to give them. For they will always remain our masters — that much is as certain as the fact that it is not our princes who are now our masters, but bankers and philistines.”[11]

Wagner’s critique of Jewish influence on German art and culture could not be dismissed as the ravings of an unintelligent and ignorant fool. Richard Wagner was, by common consent, one of the most brilliant human beings to have ever lived, and his views on the Jewish Question were cogent and rational. Accordingly, Jewish critics soon settled on the response of ascribing psychiatric disorders to Wagner, and this has been a stock approach ever since. As early as 1872 the German Jewish psychiatrist Theodor Puschmann, offered a psychological assessment of Wagner which was widely reported in the German press. He claimed that Wagner was suffering from “chronic megalomania, paranoia . . . and moral derangement.”[12] Cesare Lombroso, the famous nineteenth century Jewish Italian criminologist branded Wagner “a sexual psychopath.”[13]

In 1968 the Jewish writer Robert Gutman published a biography of Wagner (Richard Wagner: the Man, his Mind and his Music) in which he portrayed his subject as a racist, psychopathic, proto-Nazi monster. Gutman’s scholarship was questioned at the time, but this did not prevent his book from becoming a best-seller, and as one source notes: “An entire generation of students has been encouraged to accept Gutman’s caricature of Richard Wagner. Even intelligent people, who have either never read Wagner’s writings or tried to penetrate them and failed . . . have read Gutman’s book and accepted his opinions as facts.”[14] The long-time music critic for the New York Times, the Jewish Harold Schonberg, described Wagner in his Lives of the Great Composers as: “Amoral, hedonistic, selfish, virulently racist, arrogant, filled with gospels of the superman . . . and the superiority of the German race, he stands for all that is unpleasant in human character.”[15]

Another prominent refrain from Jewish commentators like Jacob Katz, the author of The Darker Side of Genius: Richard Wagner’s Anti-Semitism, is that Wagner’s concern about the Jewish influence on German culture stemmed from his morbid jealousy at all the brilliant Jews around him like Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer and Heine. Taking up this theme, the music writer David Goldman insists that: “Wagner ripped off the scenario for his opera ‘The Flying Dutchman’ from Heine and knocked off Mendelssohn’s ‘Fingal’s Cave’ overture in the ‘Dutchman’s’ evocation of the sea. Wagner tried to cover his guilty tracks by denouncing Jewish composers he emulated, including Giacomo Meyerbeer. Wagner was not just a Jew-hater, then, but a backstabbing self-promoter who defamed the Jewish artists he emulated and who (in Meyerbeer’s case) had advanced his career.”[16]Boroson, writing in the Jewish Standard, likewise claims that Wagner’s envy of Meyerbeer’s success “played a pivotal role in Wagner’s suddenly becoming a Jew-hater.”[17]

Numerous sources trace Wagner’s anti-Semitism to his perception that a clique of powerful Jews (led by Meyerbeer and Halévy) had thwarted the staging of his Rienzi in Paris, and “at his dependence on money lenders, mostly presumably Jewish, at this time.”[18] Carr notes that from early in his career Wagner’s profligacy “put him in hock with moneylenders who were usually Jews.” Already in Magdeburg where he courted his first wife Minna, “he railed at having to deal with the ‘Jewish scum’ because ‘our people’ offered no credit. In Paris he pawned his goods to Jews and did work he felt was menial for, amongst others, Maurice Schlesinger, a Jewish music publisher. Schlesinger’s cash helped ward off starvation but that made the struggling composer feel no better.”[19] Magee notes that the two-and-a-half years Wagner spent in Paris trying and failing to establish himself was “the worst period of deprivation and humiliation he ever had to suffer.”[20]

Invoking Freud and the Frankfurt School, the Jewish music writer Marc A. Weiner in hisRichard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination, claims that: “Wagner’s vehement hatred of Jews was based on a model of projection involving a deep-seated fear of precisely those features within the Self (diminutive stature, nervous demeanour and avarice, as well as lascivious nature) that are projected upon and then recognized and stigmatized in the hated Other.”[21] Weiner’s view echoes that of the Jewish psychiatrist Theodore Rubin who views anti-Semitism as a “symbol sickness” that involves envy, low self-esteem, and projection of one’s inner conflicts onto a stereotyped other.[22]

All these various theories, where Wagner’s criticism of Jewish influence is made a scapegoat for his own psychological frustrations, vastly overemphasize the irrational sources of prejudice and effectively serve to “clothe the Jews in defensive innocence.”[23] According to these theories, anti-Jewish statements are never rational, but invariably the product of a warped mind, while Jewish critiques of Europeans and their culture always have a thoroughly rational basis.

Another well-worn theory has it that Wagner may have been part-Jewish, and that his anti-Semitism was his way of dealing this unedifying prospect (a variation of the “self-hating Jew” hypothesis). It is claimed that Wagner’s biological father was not his presumed father, the police registrar Friedrich Wagner who died of typhus shortly after Wagner’s birth, but his stepfather, the successful actor and painter Ludwig Geyer. However, there is no evidence that Geyer had any Jewish roots. In his biography of Wagner, John Chancellor states plainly that he had none, and that: “He [Geyer] claimed the same sturdy descent as the Wagners. His pedigree also went back to the middle of the seventeenth century and his forefathers were also, for the most part, organists in small Thuringian towns and villages.”[24] Magee is even more categorical, stating that: “Geyer was not Jewish, and it had never occurred to anyone who knew him to think that he might be. He came from a long line of church musicians; for generations his forebears had been Lutheran cantors and organists in the town of Eisleben. There was nothing Jewish about his appearance that might have misled people who were ignorant of his background.”[25]

Chancellor blames Friedrich Nietzsche for first raising the question of Geyer’s possible Jewishness to add extra sting to his charge of illegitimacy, after the philosopher famously fell out with Wagner after years of close friendship. In his 1888 book Der Fall Wagner(The Case of Wagner) Nietzsche claimed that Wagner’s father was Geyer, and made the pun that “Ein Geyer ist beinahe schon ein Adler” (A vulture is almost an eagle) — Geyer also being the German word for a vulture and Adler being a common (but not exclusively) Jewish surname. Magee, while agreeing that Nietzsche undoubtedly intended to rile Wagner with the suggestion of his possible Jewish ancestry, believes Nietzsche’s words also represented a jibe of a quite different kind.

Wagner, a provincial with a regional accent, a lower-middle class family background, and a long personal history of penury, had risen late in life to walk with kings and emperors; and somewhere along the way (strikingly reminiscent of Shakespeare, this, as so often) he allotted himself a coat of arms. This was revealingly (it shows what he thought his descent was), the “Geyer” coat of arms, prominently featuring a vulture against the shield while the kings and emperors would have been displaying their royal or imperial eagles. I think it is more than likely that Nietzsche was being sarcastic about Wagner’s self-promotion to the arms-bearing ranks of society with his “a vulture is almost an eagle.”[26]

If, as has been often claimed, Wagner was concerned with denying the possibility that Geyer may have been his father (because of Geyer’s possible Jewish ancestry), why would he have adopted the Geyer coat of arms and insist it be prominently displayed on the cover of his autobiography? This obvious fact apparently did not deter Gutman who contended that Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima tried to outdo each other in their anti-Semitism because they both had Jewish roots to conceal. While offering no proof whatsoever that Geyer was Jewish, Gutman maintained that Wagner in his later years discovered letters from Geyer to his mother which led him to suspect that Geyer was his biological father, and that Geyer might have been Jewish. Wagner’s anti-Semitism was, according to Gutman, his way of dealing with the fear that people would think he was Jewish. Derek Strahan recycles this discredited theme in a recent article, noting that: 

Geyer’s affair with Wagner’s mother pre-dated the death of Wagner’s presumed father, Friedrich Wagner, a Police Registrar who was ill at the time young Richard was conceived, and who died six months after his birth. Soon after this, Wagner’s mother Johanna married Ludwig Geyer. Richard Wagner himself was known as Richard Geyer until, at the age of 14, he had his name legally changed to Wagner. Apparently he had taken some abuse at school because of his Jewish-sounding name. Could his later anti-Semitism have been motivated, at least in part, by sensitivity to this abuse, and by a kind of pre-emptive denial to prevent difficulties and suffering arising from prejudice?[27]   

According to the only evidence we have on this point (Cosima’s diaries, 26 December 1868) Wagner “did not believe” that Ludwig Geyer was his real father. Cosima did, however, once note a resemblance between Wagner’s son Siegfried and a picture of Geyer.[28] Pursuing the theme that anyone who expresses antipathy toward Jews must be psychologically unhealthy, Solomon draws a parallel between Wagner and Adolf Hitler in that: “Both feared they had Jewish paternity, which led to fierce denial and destructive hatred.”[29] For Magee, these theories, which are now widely entrenched in the Wagner literature, are the “crassest falsehood,” and: “The idea that Geyer might have been Jewish, or even that Wagner thought that he might have been, is pure fabrication, distilled nonsense.”[30]

Notes

[1] Richard Wagner, “Hero-dom and Christianity,” trans. by William Ashton Ellis, In:Richard Wagner’s Prose Works Vol. 6 (London: 1897; repr. 1966), 275–84,http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/waghero.htm

[2] Richard Wagner, “Know Thyself,” trans. by William Ashton Ellis, In: Richard Wagner’s Prose Works Vol. 6 (London: 1897; repr. 1966), 264–74,http://users.belgacom.net/wagnerlibrary/prose/wagknow.htm

[3] Quoted in Paul Lawrence Rose, German Question/Jewish Question, 361.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Larry Solomon, “Wagner and Hitler,” http://solomonsmusic.net/WagHit.htm

[6] Brenton Sanderson, “Jews and Race: A Pre-Boasian Perspective,” The Occidental Observer, February 1, 2012, http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2012/02/jews-and-race-a-pre-boasian-perspective/

[7] MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents, 57.

[8] Ibid., 54.

[9] Daniel Barenboim, “Wagner, Israel and the Palestinians,”http://www.danielbarenboim.com/index.php?id=72

[10] Richard Wagner, “Know Thyself,” Ibid.

[11] Magee, Wagner and Philosophy, 352.

[12] Quoted in Martin Kitchen, The Cambridge Illustrated History of GermanyIbid.

[13] Christopher Nicholson, Richard and Adolf: Did Richard Wagner Incite Adolf Hitler to Commit the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2007), 131.

[14] Monsalvat website, “Parsifal and Race: Wagner’s Last Card,”http://www.monsalvat.no/racism.htm

[15] Harold Schonberg, The Lives of the Great Composers (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 268.

[16] David P. Goldman, “Muted: Performances of Wagner’s music are effectively banned in Israel. Should they be?” Tablet, August 17, 2011, http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/music/75247/muted

[17] Warren Boroson, “Richard Wagner — The Devil Who Had Good Tunes,” Jewish Standard, August 7, 2009, 16.

[18] Michael Steen, The Lives and Times of The Great Composers (London: Icon Books, 2005), 464.

[19] Carr, The Wagner Clan, 83.

[20] Magee, Aspects of Wagner, 26.

[21] Marc A. Weiner, Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 6.

[22] Theodore Isaac Rubin, Anti-Semitism: A Disease of the Mind (New York: Barricade, 2011), 12.

[23] Quoted in MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents, 58.

[24] John Chancellor, Wagner (New York: HarperCollins, 1980), 6.

[25] Magee, Wagner and Philosophy, 358.

[26] Ibid., 360.

[27] Derek Strahan, “Was Wagner Jewish: an old question newly revisited,”http://www.revolve.com.au/polemic/wagner.html

[28] Quoted in John Deathridge, Wagner: Beyond Good and Evil (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2008), 1.

[29] Solomon, “Wagner and Hitler,” Ibid.

[30] Magee, Wagner and Philosophy, 358.

Confessions of a Lifelong-Heroine Addict….(oh well, since I was 6 or 8 I guess, probably not so much before that…)…from Dorothy Gale to Katniss Everdeen

The California Secretary of State having quite literally locked the doors to my running for Senate this year (at least in Tulare and Fresno Counties)—and the California Courts not seeming to offer a sufficient or accessible remedy—I now have time to indulge other (if related) obsessions my life, such as my sufferings from a lifetime of heroine addiction….  

Like almost every other aspect of my life, I blame my mother Alice and grandmother Helen almost equally….

It was my mother and father who, when I was very small, used to take me down by the Thames in Westminster near the Houses of Parliament and show me the statue of Boadicea (aka “Budica”), the last independent Iceni Queen of East Anglia who rebelled and died trying to evict the Roman Conquerors, in whose memory it was said and sung that “Britons never shall be slaves.”  We also took one trip out to Norwich to visit one of the woods where the Iceni supposedly worshipped their own goddess of Victory….called “Budika” in the Ancient British language of the Druids….(my parents were both heavily into historical and comparative linguistics).  Budika/Boadicea in A.D. 60-61 apparently burned Roman Londinium to the ground along with several other cities before being defeated and poisoning herself by the long Roman Road called “Watling Street” which we also visited…. She was a heroine and supposedly a great archer….  

Of course my parents also tried, as heart as their own agitated and addled lives would permit them, to make me aware of a very different heroine, regarding whom they required me to memorize “the Magnificat” from a very early age….”My soul doth magnify the Lord….Abraham and his seed forever…” And yes, the Virgin Mary was indeed a rebellious heroine… and she has remained a heroine to hundreds of millions of people up to the present time….  Later on, I learned to sing the Magnificat and other pieces of Anglo-Catholic “Maryolatry” as a choirboy in the junior Choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, under the tutelage of the late, Great Russell J. Brydon (who died just a few months after this post was originally written, in September 2012 at the age of 88:

http://www.dallasnews.com/obituary-headlines/20120906-russell-j.-brydon-jr.-longtime-dallas-church-and-temple-organist-dies-at-88.ece

But it was my grandmother Helen who was something of a heroine in my young eyes herself, and it was Helen who introduced me to the very first literary  (as distinct from Historical or Biblical) heroines of whose stories I ever learned in detail: namely Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and the Roman Goddess Diana and her Sacred Temple by Lake Nemi  near Ariccia (Diana was also an archer…)

The path of fictional heroines from Dorothy Gale’s grey home in Kansas to Katniss* Everdeen’s equally grey home in District 12 of Panem took 108 years….from the first publication of the Wizard of Oz in 1900 through the appearance of archer Katniss Everdeen  Hunger Games in 2008**….is really the history of the idealistic dreams and ultimate failure of the 20th century (idealist dreams in Baum’s time giving way to a more cynical realism by 1939, passing through the somewhat confused “liberation” of the 1960s, sinking into the dark, pessimistic world of Buffy and Angel and finally coming to rest in the despair of District 12 in Panem in 2008—the year Barack Hussein Obama took over from George W. Bush…two different faces for the heartless, soulless, President Snow….)

But the difference in spirit between those two places traces indeed the tragic story of the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (and of the American Dream) in the 20th Century. Major stopping points along the way (for me at least) include 1939 with the Dorothy Gale’s transformation in the person of Judy Garland and Scarlett O’Hara’s complete redefinition of the concept of “progress” in the late 19th century, Jane Fonda’s comic Cat Ballou and Barbarella in the 1960s, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in movie and television from 1992-2003.  

At each of these intervals, the world is more cynical and darker, and the heroines more complex.  Many critics have observed that the “head injury/dream sequence” aspects of the 1939 Movie Wizard of Oz and the metathesis of real individuals to “dreamtime” residents of the Land of Oz (which was COMPLETELY absent from L. Frank Baum’s book) resulted directly from Freudian psychoanalysis and the early popularity of psychology.  The general effect is to radically weaken the power of Oz as metaphor or lesson—but the movie was a wonderful hit—a lightly comic Wagnerian gesammtkunstwerk of acting, visual art, and music, so nobody really cared.  

A lot of the verbal banter and humor in the movie likewise showed a certain “worldly” sophistication with which I think Frank Baum would only have been somewhat congenial. E.G. the Cowardly Lion’s song “there’s just no use denyin’, I’m just a DANDYlion…” and the Wizard’s closing comment to the Scarecrow:

Back where I come from we have universities, 
seats of great learning 
-- where men go to become great thinkers. 
And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more brains than you have .... 
But! They have one thing you haven't got! 
A diploma!

As a former denizen of the great academic halls of Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 and Chicago, Illinois 60637 (from various halls of which august institutions I did, for all the good that it’s done me or the world, get diplomas), and a regular visitor to many other such places, I can tell you that the Wizard here is absolutely right: 

And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more  brains than you have.... 

But such cynicism simply was not part of the original vision of Oz, and although Baum occasionally did occasionally turn such comments to ridicule life back in North America in later books, he did not at all in his first installment in which he remade European folk mythology and archetypes and reshaped them in a very idealized panorama of a world where death was rare if non-existent and even the most evil of men and creatures did not kill for sport or pleasure.

For all of L. Frank Baum’s futuristic visions, I do not think he could have foreseen the transition from the naïve and hardworking life of Kansas to the nightmarish dreamworld of Suzanne Collins’ grim opera—neither a soap opera nor a very lyric, although even in the written version (which I finally got around to reading), music plays an immensely important part in the methathesis of metaphor and character, from Katniss’ Father to Peeta, from Prim to Rue… as between the unnatural National Anthem of the Conquering Capitol and the free world of nature and the poor of the “outlying districts.”

L. Frank Baum’s Oz books in so many was shaped and defined the culture of early-to-mid 20th Century of a predominantly White Christian America, especially after the release of Judy Garland’s movie….***  The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Kansas was stiflingly dull and harsh—the American dream had already, at that point, apparently kind of run aground and needed new life— The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Oz was half atavistic throwback to the Middle Ages, half filled with futuristic wonders (such as Glinda the Good’s Magic Picture, which permitted her what we would now call “live video access” to whatever was going on in Oz or elsewhere earth she was interested.

Dorothy Gale was a simple, pre-teenage girl (Judy Garland was at least ten years older than the original character was portrayed as being in the First Oz Book, but Dorothy Gale remained essentially a-sexual throughout the series, never had a boyfriend or a beau…. perhaps recapitulating some archaic notion of “the Virgin Goddess”,  e.g. Diana Nemorensis or the Virgin Mary or the “Virgin Queen”, Mary again or Queen Elizabeth I) whose strength derived from common sense, great courage, love, and determination.  Dorothy Gale was a generalist who never specialized in anything or focused on any particular trade, profession, or way of earning a living (all throughout the long series of Oz books, in fact).  She was just flexible, imaginative, and practical—kind of a “Renaissance girl” in a very low tech way.

Being a non-specialized generalist seems to be the primary role of all feminine heroes.  Of the earliest three I knew (Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and Diana Nemorensis), if Dorothy Gale had the purest and most asexual identity, Scarlett O’Hara surely had the most impure and sexual.  

It was perhaps for that reason that I was never really taken with her until I was a teenager, even though with my grandparents I religiously had watched Gone with the Wind at every possible opportunity and my grandmother compared the mythic South with the real South over and over again.   Scarlett O’Hara was beautiful, flirtations, and OWNED men in a way that is both fairly realistic and quite cynical.  But the book and movie Gone with the Wind were brilliantly timed between the First and Second World Wars to show that the American War Between the States of 1861-1865 was the first really and truly modern war of total destruction.  

Throughout history, up until Abraham Lincoln loosed Sherman on Georgia and Grant on Virginia, the goal of Conquest Warfare had been to preserve as much of a conquered land’s wealth as possible—so that it could be stolen and appropriated for the victors.  There might have been a lot of talk in Ancient Rome about how “Carthage must be destroyed” and about Salting the Earth once it was vanquished, but Carthage was not only not burnt to the ground and left to rot by the Roman Conquest, it became one of the Great Cities of the Roman Empire, as 20-30 years of Harvard Archaeological excavations in Tunisia have so clearly shown.  Gone with the Wind showed something else when Sherman’s “wind blew through Georgia.”  The purpose was indeed, as the opening lines of both the movie and the book suggested, to wipe out an entire civilization, a way of life—to replace what Marxists call one “mode of production” with another.   NONE of Baum’s villains in Oz were as bad as that, although the movie version of the Wicked Witch of the West was pretty murderous in her general attitude….

One major innovation of Jane Fonda’s heroines Cat Ballou and especially Barbarella in the 1960s was the advent of “free love”, which never appeared even once in any of Baum’s pre-1920 writings, which was only very obliquely alluded to in Gone with the Wind, but which by the 1960s was all anyone really cared about.  

Like Dorothy Gale and Scarlett O’Hara before her, Cat Ballou and Barbarella were unspecialized generalists who could adapt to almost any situation.  They were strong, intelligent, sexy, deadly in a good cause, and then Jane Fonda went to Hanoi….  In retrospect she may have been right to do it because the Vietnam War was totally wrong, a seriously failed experiment in 1984-type “perpetual war”….but Jane Fonda’s actions did not seem positive at the time.  

In this defiance of the outward semblance of world order sense, Jane Fonda’s characters of both Cat Ballou and Barbarella somehow came to life as defiant outlaws….crossing boundaries that no one else would cross, and doing so with both impunity and (what seemed most shocking at the time) complete immunity from real official sanction.  Like the righteous killer Catherine Ballou who avenged her father’s death in the Wild West—Jane Fonda first enacted herself as a mythic reality and then, by going to Hanoi, remade herself as a historic metaphor—walking through the image of a treacherous act, unscathed, in essence to show that Vietnam was all a staged event….. a dramatic diversion to keep the masses simultaneously afraid, amused and absorbed….  

Fast forward 24 years from Jane Fonda as Barbarella and you arrive the first incarnation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a completely modern LA County San Fernando Valley girl with no hints of modesty or virginity about her…. followed by the much more intriguing evolution of Buffy Summers in the TV Series from virginal high school freshman to intensely sexual college freshman, in a world which is increasingly dark and where reality is increasingly concealed….. Buffy’s Sunnydale was a mythic place, a lot like Los Angeles, while her first boyfriend and lover Angel eventually goes to the real Los Angeles and sets up shop as first as a private detective and then director of a large law firm—two professions which, in Los Angeles at least, possibly in the movies generally, have almost acquired the status of modern Jungian archetypes….  

The increasingly dark and brooding, sad and depressed Buffy Summers never lost her general adaptability—she could never specialize in any profession or line of work any more than Dorothy Gale or Scarlett O’Hara or Catherine Ballou… but the realization that the dark forces of the world were effectively unbeatable and had pre-existed anything good in the world—these were major transformations of the American Dream from the Early 20th Century.  And it was during the 7 televised seasons of Buffy that the 20th Century, which came in with a little girl magically transported by a tornado from dull grey Kansas to a bright and beautiful alternative universe which knew no death, went out during Buffy’s Freshman year at UCLA with a young adult barely out of her teens who was alone in the world, with her small circle of more specialized friends, fighting vampires and the forces of darkness.

And five years after Buffy ended, Katniss Everdeen picked up the bow from her archetypal ancestors the Goddesses Inanna and Diana and Queen Boadicea, and began to hunt for meagre food in the desperately hunger fringes of District 12 (in what was once called Appalachia in what was once called North America).  

The gruesomeness of the Hunger Games apparently shocks some people—I would have thought that Americans had long since forgotten how to be shocked about or by anything.  Children murdering children for sport isn’t the most pleasant of ideas, to be sure. But in that 17-19 year olds have gone off to fight in every war America has ever seen….along with a few 16 year olds here and there, and since the History Channel periodically shows authentic news clips of 15-16 year old resistance “werewolves” in 1945 Post-World War II Germany being shot by firing squads of American Troops, and countless tens of thousands of teenagers have been silently snuffed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, it is hard to believe that the idea of children fighting and dying is really such a big deal to our ever hypocritically squeamish population.

The Hunger Games resonate with so much in our history and culture—with the original Victor Hugo version of Les Miserables (hopelessly buried and lost in the Broadway Musical of the same name), and in Suzanne Collins’ own account with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.  

But above all the Hunger Games resonates with the year 2012 in which America has taken so many steps towards being a brutal, repressive dictatorship like Panem, already—with idiot fake and fraudulent “Conservatives” like Lindsey Graham and Newt Gingrich competing with idiot truly fraudulent “Liberals” like Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama competing with one another to see who can shred the Constitution fastest.  

Interesting to me, given that I based my own doctoral dissertation at Harvard in large part on revisiting Frazer’s the Golden Bough and with it Diana’s Temple by Lake Nemi near Ariccia, are the parallels between the Hunger Games and the myths and rituals of Divine Kingship.  There is nothing in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, however, about games or about Tributes being well-fed and allowed every luxury leading up to their deaths.  But precisely this treatment is common in the rites of Divine Kingship, where sacrificial victims, like the individual selected for sacrifice during the rites of Toxcatl among the Aztec, are equated with the God Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) during the last year of their lives, given wonderful food and drink, and then sacrificed.  Similar paradigms of sacrifice are found throughout the world—

And the sacrifice of children, likewise, is extremely common: to the rain gods in Mesoamerica, relic traces of this existed even among the modern Yucatec Maya who tie small children to the legs of the altar during the cha-chaac or rain ceremony—although the children have to do nothing more that happily chirp like rainy season frogs (but woe to the boy who croaks like a dry season Toad—he will be beaten, not sacrificed, but beaten).  The Hebrew Bible itself is filled with child sacrifice (all through the Books of Kings and Chronicles, in particular, are Kings who make their children “walk through the fire”—perhaps most famously the daughter of Jeptha…), and by way of archaeological parallel—the excavations at Carthage have revealed hundreds and thousands of child sacrifices…. Among the Natchez of Mississippi, families sacrificed their children in order to rise in social status from commoners (“Stinkards”) to “Honored” Nobility according to the French records by Dupratz and recounted by John R. Swanton….

And in this sense it is perplexing: sacrifice almost always lead either to elevation in status or to outright deification: why the elite of Panem would not have recognized the risk embodied in Golden Bough-Divine Kingship type of analysis: the sacrificial victim—like the Rex Nemorensis at Ariccia who becomes King by killing the old one in combat, will always become the next king.  

At the end of the first book of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, Katniss Everdeen is poised to become (with Peeta), Queen and King of Panem.  This was not only foreseeable, it was in comparative mythological terms inevitable—and yet Suzanne Collins’ trilogy does not allow this drama to evolve that way.  In part, this may be because technology and traditions of oppression have obliterated the natural succession of Divine Kingship….

But Sir James G. Frazer’s point in writing the Golden Bough was to show that Divine Kingship involving the deification of sacrificial victims and their elevation as Kings is a nearly world-wide phenomenon.  I sit here puzzling at the significance of all the trappings of Divine Kingship and the Golden Bough in the Hunger Games.  

Frank Baum had either borrowed or unconsciously recreated so many motifs from ancient mythology—the Four World Quarters with colors Winkie-yellow Quadlin-red Munchkin-blue and Gillikin-purple with Green for the Center of the Emerald City are like nothing so much as the mythological and symbolic organization of (1) Ancient Mesopotamia, “Land of the Four Quarters” centered on Uruk, (2) Celtic Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Connaught, Leinster, and centered on Midhe (Meath) at Tara, and (3) pre-Hispanic Yucatan which, at several Classic sites, is divided into quarters dominated (as recorded on Stelae A & H at Copan) by Tikal, Calakmul, Palenque, and Copan and which even now is divided into four quarters (Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Petén, with Belize claimed by Guatemala and Geographically appearing to be a southern extension of Quintana Roo).

But in Frank Baum’s Oz, kingship is never strong and is always frowned upon, as are all attempts at centralization or standardization of culture, customs, or laws among the four/five regions of Oz.  For that reason, I would assume, there are no hints or traces of divine kingship in Oz—it is a Federal egalitarian Democracy of sorts (even though no one ever votes).  

But by the time of Buffy, as the 20th century closes, the need for a leader has brought forward the Slayer—“one girl in all the world” who fights the Demons.  Now Joss Whedon optimistically ended his series with a devolution of power and prowess from Buffy through the magic of Willow to Millions of “potential” slayers—-but it didn’t quite ring true, in a Television series where even the most outrageous vampiric and magic witchcraft was somehow made to feel “emotionally authentic.”

In the Hunger Games, Dictatorship is the reality and the two victors of the Hunger Games, Katniss & Peeta, are set to become the Divine Kings and possibly the real sovereigns of their land.  Perhaps the need for leadership, the need for someone to save the population, is not yet great enough, but in terms of the political and emotional significance of our story-telling, I think that the journey from Dorothy Gale’s Grey Kansas to Katniss Everdeen’s Grey District 12 tells us the story of the loss of hope and impending doom and despair which was the 20th Century.

*  Katniss is named after a plant called Sagittaria, and my grandmother was born under the sign of Sagittarius—it could be that Katniss reminds me a great deal of my grandmother Helen—similar complexions and faces…. Actress Jennifer Lawrence certainly fits very precisely the image in Suzanne Collins’ book…. and the younger pictures I’ve seen of my grandmother with long hair as a teenager in the time before the U.S. entered WWI….growing up in a place very much like the defeated districts of Panem in the Southern USA.

** In some New Age texts, 108 years is said to be a Venus Cycle, the more ordinary astrological cycle is one of 104 years.  108 is used, but oddly enough, is four years longer than longest calendrical cycle and planetary identity of the Ancient Goddess of Love, namely Inanna/ Ishtar/Aphrodite/Venus.  The calendrical cycles of Venus and the sun are said to “bind” (i.e coincide) every 2920 days, but the ultimate binding of 5 Heliacal Cycles of Venus with 8 Calendar years …. (365 x 8 = 5 x 584 = 2920 x 13 = 37,960 = 2 x 52 years (my current age) = 104 calendar years/105 “tuns” or 360 day periods—the root of the Maya and Aztec Calendars).  Like her Roman Counterpart Diana, Aphrodite and Inanna were both archers—it seems to be the feminine weapon of choice, possibly for purely sexual Freudian reasons, possibly for some mixture of Freudian sexual and Jungian archetypal causation.

*** In the 1970s, Broadway Musical and 1978 movie “the Wiz” the just recently departed Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson did their best to reframe and appropriate the Baum story for African-America in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement (or Fraudulent Civil Rights Fiasco) of the 1950s-60s…. I have never been comfortable Easing on Down the Road with them in that direction…. although my grandfather was a great supporter of alternative all black productions (now almost extinct) because they upheld and even developed, really and truly, the old segregationist’s doctrine of Separate but Equal (we actually attended the Wiz at the Majestic Theater on Broadway as well as an all black revival of Guys & Dolls in my one major summer with him (ever in my life) in 1976.