Other Peoples' Indians; or Why the Soviets Loved James Fenimore Cooper for All the Wrong Reasons


The Paris Review is first mystified by the Soviet Union's love of American frontier novelist James Fenimore Cooper, but is soon set straight by someone who points to the ideological jockeying it represented:

I was perplexed to learn that the Soviet Union, in its waning days, produced a series of five vivid postage stamps devoted to James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. It seemed as if some lazy Soviet bureaucrat must’ve made a mistake. Why, after all, would the USSR want to commemorate some of the foundational texts of American lit, especially when Natty Bumppo stands as a paragon of rugged individualism? In other words, how had one of our folk heroes found an audience in a place where he should’ve been reviled?

Sandra Nickel, an author of young-adult novels, got the answer from her daughter’s Russian godmother, whose youth was apparently filled with totally authorized American classics:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Thomas Mayne Reid. Almost every Russian child had read these by the age of twelve—and read them more than once.

I am sure the Soviet state approved these books because of their propaganda value. Put together, these three volumes could portray Americans as slave-owning destroyers of Native Americans, who are bigoted against Mexicans. Racists, across the board, in other words.

Instead of finding the disgusting evidence of prejudice and imperialism, though, young Russian readers tended to see the novels as ripping good yarns, so much so that their characters were inducted into public life.

As I've said before and will say again, other people's Indians.

The German Press Edits Out Another Inconvenient Truth

As might be expected, German news sources have been all over the shooting of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black male who was shot by police near Tulsa, Oklahoma a few days ago. The German TV channel RTL even calls him a "pastor", which is guaranteed to awaken false associations in Germans, who are unaware that this title is meaningless in the USA. (Ministers of the established German Protestant Church are staid, well-educated civil servants.) The Bild-Zeitung, Germany's highest-circulation tabloid, confidently announced (g): "These pictures leave hardly any questions." Another story suggests it's murder.

The police officer who fired the fatal shot claims Crutcher had repeatedly refused to follow instructions, was behaving erratically, and reached into his car. She claims she thought he was going for a weapon.

None of the many reports I've seen in the German press mentions a fact that is in almost every US news report: Police found PCP in Crutcher's car. There's no evidence yet whether he was actually under the influence of the drug at the time of his shooting, but officers at the scene claim he was acting in a bizarre manner which they thought looked like intoxication with some strong hallucinogen (and this was before they had searched his car).

What is PCP intoxication like? Let's turn to Drugs.com:

A moderate amount of PCP often causes users to feel detached, distant, and estranged from their surroundings. Numbness of the extremities, slurred speech, and loss of coordination may be accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. A blank stare, rapid and involuntary eye movements, and an exaggerated gait are among the more observable effects. Auditory hallucinations, image distortion, severe mood disorders, and amnesia may also occur. In some users, PCP may cause acute anxiety and a feeling of impending doom; in others, paranoia and violent hostility, and in some, it may produce a psychoses indistinguishable from schizophrenia. Many believe PCP to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse....

At high doses of PCP, there is a drop in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Psychological effects at high doses include illusions and hallucinations.

People on PCP can display unusual strength owing to the adrenaline rushes caused by terrifying hallucinations. I worked for a while at a public mental hospital in Texas when I was younger. Every couple of weeks, we would get a new admission of someone who had done PCP and then been found in public screaming and/or naked and/or covered in feces and/or wandering in traffic, or some combination of the above. Often, they'd injured themselves or attacked people. The cops brought them to the mental hospital, where we had to deal with them. Usually the effects had worn off somewhat by the time they were delivered to us, but their behavior was still unpredictable. One of them, while locked in an isolation cell because of his violent outbursts, chewed his own thumb off and ate it.

PCP isn't 'just another drug'. It's incredibly dangerous, and everyone knows this. Anyone who would try it even once has serious psychological problems simply for wanting to try it. Here is a video of people under the influence of PCP, which is definitely not for the faint of heart:

Obviously, there should be a full investigation, mere drug possession or intoxication doesn't justify an unwarranted killing, etc. This could still turn out to be an unjustified shooting, in which case the officers should be punished and reforms introduced.

Nevertheless, evidence Crutcher possessed this drug and that officers believed he was under its influence is relevant to understanding the context of the video. But alas, the purpose of German news reporting on American is almost always to reinforce prejudices, not to foster understanding.

The Wrong Kind of Mass Shootings

One of the more grimly amusing things an American can do is watch the international press try to decide which shootings are worth covering. Now don't get me wrong -- it is indeed the case that multiple-victim shootings happen routinely in America. But not all get international coverage.

This is because the shooters, and often the victims as well, are usually gang members. And much more often than not, black. This sort of thing doesn't fit in at all with the preferred narrative, which is gun-crazed white supremacist cops and citizens opening fire on hapless young black males. In the first few hours, any shooting may seem to a Guardian news editor like a potential confirmation that there is 'open season' on young black males. But then the narrative is ruined by new facts, and the story is dropped like a hot potato.

The latest incident to get this treatment were the shootings in Austin, Texas about a day ago. Believe it or not, the incident went viral, generating multiple news stories in the British press and even one in India! Why Indian readers should be concerned about some shooting happening on the other side of the globe is beyond me. Unless, of course, it turns out to be the last installment in racist gun-mad crackers mowing down innocent black youth.

But alas, it usually doesn't. The last story that went 'poof' before this one was the shooting at the Club Blu nightclub six days ago, which killed two people and left almost 20 injured. Again, the international press was all over this, hoping it might be the next Orlando or Charleston. But alas, the victims were all black, the shooters will also turn out to be black, and the reason for the mindless carnage will be some stupid gang beef or perceived insult.

The New York Times recently looked at 358 cases of shootings involving four or more victims:

Seeking deeper insight into the phenomenon, The New York Times identified and analyzed these 358 shootings with four or more casualties, drawing on two databases assembled from news reports and citizen contributors, and then verifying details with law enforcement agencies....

They chronicle how easily lives are shattered when a firearm is readily available — in a waistband, a glove compartment, a mailbox or garbage can that serves as a gang’s gun locker. They document the mayhem spawned by the most banal of offenses: a push in a bar, a Facebook taunt, the wrong choice of music at a house party. They tally scores of unfortunates in the wrong place at the wrong time: an 11-month-old clinging to his mother’s hip, shot as she prepared to load him into a car; a 77-year-old church deacon, killed by a stray bullet while watching television on his couch.

The shootings took place everywhere, but mostly outdoors: at neighborhood barbecues, family reunions, music festivals, basketball tournaments, movie theaters, housing project courtyards, Sweet 16 parties, public parks. Where motives could be gleaned, roughly half involved or suggested crime or gang activity. Arguments that spun out of control accounted for most other shootings, followed by acts of domestic violence.

Most of the shootings occurred in economically downtrodden neighborhoods. These shootings, by and large, are not a middle-class phenomenon.

The divide is racial as well. Among the cases examined by The Times were 39 domestic violence shootings, and they largely involved white attackers and victims. So did many of the high-profile massacres, including a wild shootout between Texas biker gangs that left nine people dead and 18 wounded.

Over all, though, nearly three-fourths of victims and suspected assailants whose race could be identified were black. Some experts suggest that helps explain why the drumbeat of dead and wounded does not inspire more outrage.

“Clearly, if it’s black-on-black, we don’t get the same attention because most people don’t identify with that. Most Americans are white,” said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston. “People think, ‘That’s not my world. That’s not going to happen to me.’ ”

What most of the international press still doesn't realize is that the majority of gun homicides are committed by American blacks. White Americans own a lot of guns, the murder rate among white Americans is only slightly higher than the European average. The murder rate among blacks is, in comparison to Europe, astronomical. Here's a chart from a Quartz explainer on the racial dynamics of crime in the US:


The majority of Europeans, even the ones who think they understand the US, are ignorant of this phenomenon. The reason is simple: black-on-black crime doesn't fit The Narrative of a nation mired in racism, where hapless blacks cower in fear of being gunned down by racist whites. Instead, it paints a more complex picture in which blacks do not appear exclusively as helpless victims. And why confuse your readers with complexity when there's a Narrative to be pushed?

The US and the UK Should Be Forced to Take Millions of Refugees

I know I'm over the limit on migrant crisis posts, but I thought I should just add, one thing for clarity's sake: the primary nations that should be taking in millions of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the United States and then the United Kingdom.

It was the disastrous decisions to launch a full-scale invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq that are the root causes of most of the turmoil and conflict from which the refugees are fleeing. All issues of expense, integration, practicality fade into insignificance against the moral culpability of the US and UK. In a just world, the US and UK alone would be forced to deal with the problems of integrating these millions of refugees, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Since we don't live in a just world, other countries have to deal with the nightmare the US and UK (with some help from regional actors) unleashed. But every American news article about the alleged failures of European leaders should begin with the phrase: "Since the United States has cravenly ducked responsibility for the refugee crisis it caused..."

Consider that phrase beginning all my remaining posts about refugees from the Middle East.

Handelsblad, Are You Crazy?

The Dutch broadsheet Handelsblad ran a review of three recent books on the state of race relations in America. Here are the graphics and the headline accompanying the review. You will notice the headline needs no translation:


The Washington Post was not amused

How a group of Dutch editors decided to publish an attempt to examine race and racism in the United States, using the English n-word and blackface in a major newspaper is beyond comprehension at the least, and rage-inducing at worst. Indeed, the Twitter reactions were swift and angry. Michel Krielaars, editor of the Book supplement for NRC, said that the paper had taken down the illustrations online, in order not to “offend non-Dutch speakers who only read Twitter.” The illustration still appears on their online reader, however.

To summarize the backlash so far: the author of the review says he had nothing to do with the illustrations or headline choice, which is plausible. The editor who did make these choices has pointed out that the content of the review was sympathetic to the plight of black Americans. The quotation used as the headline comes from one of the books. The illustrations were not meant to be offensive: in fact they show black Americans cowering before well-armed white figures (90% of American black homicide victims were killed by blacks, and the white-on-black homicide rate is extremely small). He admits that there are no black editors in the book review section of the paper (although there are in other sections), and that he didn't get any input from any black people on the graphic. 

I read enough Dutch to know that the review is, of course, sympathetic and praises the books. But you'd hardly need to read Dutch to know that. It's Charlie Hebdo redux, fortunately without the mass murder. Europeans create a caricature graphic design incorporating centuries-old tropes about how to portray black people. They are either unaware that these tropes are considered offensive in the Anglosphere, or they think the Anglosphere are a bunch of PC hypocrites who should lighten up already. The Europeans point out, correctly, that the content of the caricature or text is anti-racist. The Anglosphere, usually unable to evaluate this claim, insists that's not the point; these stereotyped depictions are inherently evil and must never be used.

A few more points about this amusing kerfluffle:

  • You may be wondering why a Dutch newspaper should be so concerned about the state of race relations in America. After all, that country is across a vast ocean. America's race relations have negligible effect on Dutch society, and Dutch people can do nothing to affect them. Yet you will find wall-to-wall coverage of American race relations in the Western European news media. To understand this, you should understand that...
  • ...a bourgeois urbanite's opinions on race relations in America are a shibboleth, just as opinions on immigration are. The idea that America is an irredeemably racist society in which helpless blacks are excluded, oppressed, and harassed at every turn is part of the standard European urban-liberal catechism. This attitude has complex roots. Partly anti-Americanism, of course. Partly a response to mindless American crowing about being the Land of Opportunity. Partly a matter of compensation: 'Sure I supported austerity for Greece, but that doesn't prove I'm a reactionary -- look at my righteous outrage about America's blacks!' Soviet bloc countries denounced American racism as a defensive counterpoint to critiques of their own human-rights failings, as does China today. Europeans who denounce US racism may also harbor genuine concern for the plight of black Americans, but I've found most of them have never taken any concrete action. In any case, one of the reasons modern European left-liberal issues loud denunciations of American race relations for the same reason frogs issue mating calls: signaling.
  • This is what makes being called out by actual black people for using offensive caricatures and language so disturbing to people like Handelsblad editors. They consider themselves to be on the right-on progressive side of the issue of race in America (as to the issue of race in the Netherlands, it's complicated. Other People's Indians, you see). It strikes at a fundamental component of their identity. It's like accusing a devout Catholic of having recited an incorrect version of the Our Father her entire life.

In any case, I predict that Anglosphere norms about how to depict people of other races will soon spread throughout Europe. The pressure of international outrage in the era of Twitter is likely to prove irresistible. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing I leave for you to hash out in comments, if you care to.

'European Awakenings' and Dead German Tourists

Following up on the last two posts, here's a term I coined a while ago: 'European Awakenings.' This refers to the eye-opening experience Europeans have encountering ghettos in the US. Europeans, you see, are fed a constant, unrelenting stream of naked propaganda about how racist the United States is, because the assumption of enduring, inherent, systematic racism of the USA is one of the fundamental building blocks of the left-liberal urban bourgeois European worldview. You know, the people who used to control what Europeans see and read.

As a result of this  world-view, African-Americans are sacralized victims. European documentary producers routinely send camera crews to rough neighborhoods and stenographically report whatever the residents have to say without any attempt at fact-checking. Reports on the place of blacks in American society are filled with errors and exaggerations like this one and this one. And the errors and exaggerations always, without exception, portray blacks as helpless, innocent victims of pervasive racism by white Americans. No unflattering portrayals of American blacks are permitted in the Northern European media.

As a result, ordinary Europeans have a thoroughly one-sided view of race relations in the US, and are unaware of facts such as the ones mentioned in the last post. This means that when Europeans visit the USA, they scoff at Americans who tell them of the potential dangers of certain neighborhoods. In fact, German tourists getting killed in Florida has become such a cliche that there's a Miami punk band named Dead German Tourists.

The ones who survive -- and, of course, most of them do -- have a 'European Awakening'.

Example: I once visited Baltimore, recently in flames and routinely among the top 5 most dangerous cities in the USA, with a couple friends, one of whom was from, say, Slovakia. Let's call him Gumbo. Like many Europeans, Gumbo is fascinated by Edgar Allan Poe, who thanks to Baudelaire is even more of an intellectual hero in Europe than the US. Gumbo wanted to visit the historic Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore.

I said 'sounds like a great idea. I'll call a cab.' He said 'No, no way. It's a nice day. I'll walk there!'

I said, 'Uhh, that might not be such a good idea.' He said: 'Why?' I said: 'Because it's in a not-very-nice neighborhood, and you'll also have to walk through some not very nice neighborhoods to get there.'

'Oh I get it, you mean black neighborhoods,' he said.

'Well, yes. Poor black neighborhoods. There are plenty of middle-class black neighborhoods in Baltimore which are fine to walk through, but these aren't.'

'Well, I have to say I think that's a bit racist of you. I'm sure nothing will happen.'

'Yes, it's 99% likely that nothing will happen to you. But this isn't Europe. If the 1% happens, the person making it happen will have a gun. Anyway, I can't stop you, so go nuts!'

So then Gumbo, with his extremely pale skin, sandals, and bulging backpack, set out on a trip through Baltimore. I made sure his cellphone was fully charged.

A few hours later he returned, safe and in one piece, but a bit shaken. I asked him how it was. He said, 'Uhh, well, I can sort of see what you mean. Lots of people pointed at me and talked to me, and I couldn't understand them, and boys on bikes were always circling around me. And I saw some things I wish I hadn't seen. Many things, actually.'

From that point on, he took my advice about which parts of American cities to not choose for a leisurely stroll.

UPDATE: Here's a website that features current warnings about dangerous parts of Houston, Texas. This helpful contribution was written by a person who actually lives in one of those areas:

Welcome to Houston , I'm a 36yro native . I grew in north and northwest houston . The Northside is low income/middle class . The worst parts of it are Northeast and Northwest .Some of the reviews are correct and some are based on opinion . I'm going to explain the inner suburbs in this region . 


3. White Oak Terrace * 

* denotes seriously deadly area 
A. White Oak Bayou 
B. Metro Rt 85 , 45 , 79 
Most Dangerous Streets 
Before I mention the streets , They will have * denoting very high crime and deaths . Some info will be mentioned .
I. Antoine *- Metro Rt 85, This street is very busy around the clock . It junctions with two major rail lines BNSF to the north and UP to the south . It intersects with streets listed above . It runs north to Veterans Memorial and south to Memorial Dr. . It runs through the western portion of Oak Forest near 290 in White Oak Terrace . From Pinemont intersection to intersection of South Victory across White Oak Bayou to the north is White Oak Terrace . This is very high crime area normally at night especially on the side streets . Antoine is safe . Do not get on the side streets . There are many apt clusters on this stretch that are riddled with drug trafficking , prostitution , and murder .
IA . * Desoto St. - This street is to be avoided at all costs day and night . This street is two segments . It runs west from White Oak Bayou to Antoine and from White Oak Bayou east to Ella in Acres Homes both segments are deadly to be driving on especially at night . This street is known as the most deadliest street in the city namely the western portion . It got its name and reputation from the Hurricane Katrina / Rita period when the evacs were here and the crime was high then . There would be two or three murders in a day or a week . Every night I would hear sirens going and coming . Today ,it is now drug trafficking in and out of there because of a recently rebuilt property by the city and drugs have taken it over .It got so bad that it poured into the complex I'm currently residing in . But we kicked it out before it got started . Sadly it ended up at a property across the street . Stay off Desoto St period . If you are moving do not move there . 
IB ** Antoine/Tidwell to Tidwell/Bingle - This stretch is to be extremely advoided at anytime day or night .Walking , biking or driving. If you don't live there or know someone who lives there, you don't have no business around there period . There have been many murders take place there . Summer 2012 , two people man and woman have been shot to death and there have been death by stabbing . Gangs are known to hide out there . Go on though and don't stop for anything .It is best to go through there during the day and not at night . This stretch is a cluster of apts from one intersection to another . Pay close attention to this vacinity . 
IC. * Hollyview- This street is located to the north of the property I'm currently residing in . It is a dead end street like Desoto but it curves southeast from Antoine . The last major incident that took place on this street is a police officer was gunned down in his cruiser. Over the years that have been major drug busts . It has toned down but never take it lightly that it has the potential of increased crime . The area is somewhat dark at night but there is plenty of lighting due to any old complex that was demolished by the city as an eyesore . Don't chance it with Hollyview St. Keep going . 

And here's a somewhat poetic contribution, also focusing on Desoto Street:

I am a missionary from London UK and on a Saturday evening my friend
invited me to go jogging as I did not know the area I thought it was ok but we ended up on
a park at Desoto st called Highland Park in Acres Homes I only found out later
where I was as I don't know the area and we live in some houses complex nearby
I was attacked by about 8 black youths ( I am black) my friend is white
And I was seriously assaulted I could have died, when we saw them coming
We tried walking away but 3 followed and hit me from behind.
I was shocked, so Stay Away At All Cost.
I work and leave near so I have to get the 45,40 and 44 bus but as others have 
Said if you have no business here stay away.
Not even when I was on the streets of Rio I suffered an assault like here.
Thanks and God Save America

Does Anyone Fact-Check 'Die Zeit'?

Doing a bit of research, I came across this unbelievable howler (g) in Die Zeit, from the pen of one Sebastian Moll (my translation):

The incarceration rate for black Americans suggest systematic racism in American institutions. 60 percent of American prison inmates are black, although they make up only 30 percent of the population. 

It took me approximately 4 seconds in Google to find out that the black population of the United States is 12.6%, and the percent of black prisoners is 39.4%. Of course, this statistic is misleading without the crucial context that blacks commit crimes at much higher rates than whites, but that's another story.

Who's Afraid of Big European Cocks? America, That's Who.


[Hans von Thann (g) ringin' the bell of the Zytgloggenturm in Bern, Switzerland, if ya know what I mean]

I don't mean to give offense, so let me be clear: the word cocks doesn't mean what you're thinking. I only meant to refer to penises. When the BBC wanted to strap big English cocks into big English codpieces on the front of actors playing 16th-century Englishmen, the pussies at American Public Broadcasting Service said: 'not in my America': 

The codpieces in the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall are “definitely too small”, according to a Cambridge academic who has been researching the 16th-century accessory through the literature and paintings of its time.

Victoria Miller, who is due to give a paper on codpieces at a Cambridge University conference on 30 April, concurred with actor Mark Rylance, who plays Thomas Cromwell in the adaptation and who said late last year: “I think the codpieces are just too small. I think that was a directive from our American producers, PBS. They wanted smaller codpieces.”

...“They’re way too small to be accurate – they should be at least double the size. You can kind of see them there, but they aren’t really stuffed, and are easily missed – they’ve really toned them down for a mainstream audience. The codpiece was meant to draw the eye to the general region.”

[h/t JR] Said it before, say it again: national stereotypes don't materialize out of thin air. Here's a photo from the Biblical Creation Museum in Kentucky, where the biggest challenge was, as Faggoty-Ass Faggot put it, how to hide Adam's cock:


Saturday Night Live once aired a skit (can't find the video, or even an image, alas) featuring John Belushi sitting at a bar. The guy next to him goes to the bathroom and comes back out with a noticeably grosser crotch bulging from his tight late-70's jeans, and a girl immediately latches on to him. Belushi tries the same thing with a few handfuls of toilet paper, to no effect. Then Belushi returns to the bathroom and stuffs entire rolls of toilet paper down the front of his pants until there's a bulge the size of a small automobile. He then waddles gingerly back into the bar and is immediately surrounding by fawning honeys.

According to the linked piece on Hans von Thann, Swiss codpieces were usually stuffed for protection of the genitals and contained enough room to store things like coins and keys, since the pocket wasn't invented until 1754. The German Word of the Week, by the way, is the antiquated German term for codpiece, Schamkapsel, or 'shame-capsule'. This joins shamelips, shamehair, shameregion, etc.

Bad Kaarma: 70 Years for Montana Burglar Trapper

Remember Markus Kaarma, the Missoula, Montana man who waited outside his garage for someone to come burglarize it, then fired his shotgun into the garage, killing German exchange student Diren Dede?

Well, as you might expect in America's gun-obsessed paranoid fanatic culture of cowboy-style vigilantism, he claimed self-defense under the frontier-style 'Castle Doctrine' and acquitted. He is now on a celebrity speaking tour among American gun-rights groups.

Sorry, having a bit of fun there. You didn't think I could pass up a chance to poke a little harmless fun at German Besserwisserei, did you? Kaarma was convicted of murder by a jury and sentenced by a judge to seventy (70) years in prison:

He dismissed Kaarma's claim he suffered from "anxiety" and an "anti-social disorder," saying it "doesn't excuse the anguish you have caused."

"You pose too great a risk to society to be anywhere else but the Montana State Prison. Good luck to you, son," McLean said.

"I'm sorry my actions caused the death of Mr. Dede," Kaarma told the judge before learning his fate.

He will be eligible for parole in 20 years. As a law-talking guy, I feel compelled to use this as a teaching moment. Right after the shooting, both Kaarma and his wife, apparently believing Montana law gave them the right to do what they did, spoke in detail. They described how they had been burglarized many times, got fed up, and set a 'trap' by leaving their garage door open and waiting until a motion sensor told them someone was inside. Then Kaarma fired.

When a lawyer reads about people talking so freely about their involvement in a homicide, our reaction is similar to a doctor seeing a pregnant woman down a liter of vodka. If you're ever arrested -- and I hope  some of my readers live life loud enough to risk this -- do not say a word to anyone, no matter what, until you have spoken to a lawyer. This rule applies to everyone, everywhere, no exceptions. It's the equivalent of a fundamental physical constant, one of the basic building blocks of the legal universe. By chatting so volubly about his motives and actions, Kaarma didn't just tie his lawyers' hands, he practically chopped them off.

FWIW, I should add that this penalty, like most American criminal penalties, strikes me as Draconian. It is certainly longer than he would have gotten for a comparable crime in most European countries, including Germany.