The issue is an Indiana abortion
case, Box v. Planned Parenthood. In 2016 the state
passed a law banning so-called selective abortions—based on race, gender or
disability—and requiring that a baby’s remains be cremated or buried after the
procedure is finished. The law was challenged, and the Seventh U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals found both provisions unconstitutional.
Last week’s Supreme Court ruling only partially settled the matter. It upheld the state requirement on the disposal of fetal remains but declined to consider the constitutionality of laws that prohibit what he termed “eugenic” abortions. Sooner or later, writes Justice Thomas, the court will have to take up the issue. “Having created a constitutional right to an abortion, this Court is duty bound to address its scope.”
Those words come at the end of Justice Thomas’s concurrence, which amounts to a 20-page summary of the eugenics movement in the U.S., how it found common cause with abortion-rights activists, and the ramifications of this alliance. Margaret Sanger, feminist icon and founder of Planned Parenthood, opposed abortion but thought birth control—including forced sterilization—should be used to prevent “unfit” people from reproducing.
Sanger was especially concerned about black people having children. She campaigned for birth control in black communities and set up a clinic in Harlem in 1930. “Support for eugenics waned considerably by the 1940s as Americans became familiar with the eugenics of the Nazis,” Justice Thomas explains. But “even after World War II, future Planned Parenthood President Alan Guttmacher and other abortion advocates endorsed abortion for eugenic reasons and promoted it as a means of controlling the population and improving its quality.”
Whether or not today’s abortion-rights advocates share the views
of yesterday’s eugenicists, technology has made the elimination of fetuses with
unwanted characteristics disturbingly commonplace. Abortion rates for babies
diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome are close to 100% in some European
countries. Sex-selective abortions in India have resulted in some 50
million more men than women in the country.
And eight decades after Margaret Sanger set up her birth-control
clinic in Harlem, Justice Thomas writes, “there are areas of New York City in
which black children are more likely to be aborted than they are to be born
alive—and are up to eight times more likely to be aborted than white children
in the same area.” Pro-choice advocates cite black poverty and discrimination
to explain high black abortion rates, but other low-income minorities, such as
Hispanics, terminate pregnancies at far lower rates than blacks.
isn’t the first time Justice Thomas has used a concurrence or a dissent to lay
out the relevant racial history of a case. And whenever he does so it’s a
A National Association of Scholars study last month concluded that “a massive number of schools have institutionalized racial segregation” in orientation programs, residential arrangements and graduation ceremonies.
While segregation was once looked down upon as a sign of intolerance, liberals now embrace such separation as a “multiculturalist achievement.” By relentlessly dividing students along the lines of collective identity, argues Greenwald, campus progressives will only “harm most those they claim to be helping” by reinforcing social barriers and “undermining the education of generations.”
NOTE: In the late 70s I participated in 13 Civil RIghts marches resulting in 4 serious injuries. For the first 10 years of my career I studied White Supremacy groups in the U.S. and provided intel briefings for various government agencies. I share this because I know first hand what REAL Racism is.
NYC – City Department of Education brass are targeting a “white-supremacy culture” among school administrators — by disparaging ideas like “individualism,” “objectivity” and “worship of the written word,” The Post has learned.
A presentation slide obtained by The Post offers a bullet-point description of the systemic, supposedly pro-white favoritism that Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza claims must be eradicated from the DOE, and provides just one insight into his anti-bias training efforts.
The list — derived from “Dismantling Racism: A Workbook for Social Change Groups” by Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun — names more than a dozen hallmarks of “white-supremacy culture” that school administrators are expected to steer clear of.
“They include such dynamics as “paternalism,” a “sense of urgency” and “power hoarding,” according to the slide, which an insider said was part of mandatory training sponsored and funded by the department’s Office of Equity and Access and recently administered to principals, central office supervisors and superintendent teams.
The seminar is concurrent with Carranza’s larger push to root out “implicit bias” in the school system — an effort that some veteran DOE members blasted as creating a view of “toxic whiteness” detailed in a front-page story in Sunday’s Post.
“The training is not focused on white supremacy and white privilege,” Carranza said after a City Council budget hearing on Monday, referring to his larger campaign.
“It’s about what are our biases and how we work with them.”
The two slides were shown to top managers but were not part of a $23 million city wide implicit bias training, officials said.
The mandatory session for higher-ups included a “White Privilege Exercise” sheet in which attendees were asked to score the personal relevance of certain statements on a scale of 0 to 5.
“If a police officer pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race,” one scenario reads.
“I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to ‘the person in charge,’ I will be facing a person of my race,” another says.
The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the materials used for the administrators’ training, but one adviser said that if the program’s frankness is making people uncomfortable, that’s because it’s working.
“It requires discomfort,” said Matt Gonzales, who serves as an outside adviser on the DOE’s school diversity task force and is a director of New York Appleseed, an advocacy group for school integration.
“Having to talk about someone’s own whiteness is a requirement for them to become liberated.”
Several recent attendees of the DOE’s overarching implicit-bias training sessions — mandatory for all, including teachers — have bristled at the program’s emphasis on the inherent insidiousness of “white” culture.
White employees who object when accused of harboring deep-seated bias are branded “fragile” and “defensive,” one insider who received the training has said.
But Carranza said on Monday that such skeptics often don’t realize their own biases until they are forced to confront them and that they are likely the ones who need the training the most.
“It’s good work. It’s hard work,” Carranza said. “And I would hope that anybody that feels that somehow that process is not beneficial to them, I would very respectfully say they are the ones that need to reflect even harder upon what they believe.”
Carranza also waved off allegations by at least four white DOE administrators who are poised to sue the department over their claims that, under his watch, they were demoted or stripped of duties in favor of less qualified persons of color.
“It’s always been my experience that anyone that comes in as a CEO of an organization takes a look at the organization and, based on their experience, makes some changes,” he said. “This is no different.”
The schools boss insisted that there was room on his staff for people of any race who share his emphasis on equality.
“I have some deputy chancellors that are white, but have an incredible equity lens as well . . . for making sure that historically underrepresented communities are being served,” Carranza said.
But one Manhattan middle school teacher who underwent mandatory implicit-bias training in December said she left feeling as though everything she had learned about “colorblindness” was being uprooted.
“I say they’re my students whether they’re green, purple, orange or black,” the educator, who asked not to be identified, told The Post. “We’re being told if you’re not recognizing students as African American, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Dominican, et cetera, you’re wrong.”
“It feels like I’m in a dystopian novel where all of a sudden being white is bad. All of a sudden, I’m the enemy.”
But “the only truly modern component” found in left-wing, right-wing and Islamic anti-Semitism alike is Israel: “Anti-Israel sentiment is already the predominant justification for violence, murder and hatred against Jews in the Middle East and Europe.
Now it’s coming here.” Indeed, “the only anti-Semitism still widely used in public discourse is the kind masquerading as anti-Zionism.” Fact is, “when outlets like The New York Times spend decades normalizing the idea that Zionism is tantamount to fascism and apartheid, it’s just a matter of time” before some editor can’t differentiate between a “supposedly ‘anti-Israel’ cartoon and a demonstrably anti-Jewish one.”
Nothing aggravates anti-Semites more “than the idea of Jews protecting themselves after 1,800 years of being at their mercy.”
Last week, The New York Times featured an illustrated timeline of “white extremist” killings over the last nine years. According to the Times, the record shows “an informal global network of white extremists whose violent attacks are occurring with greater frequency in the West.”
No one will deny that people who kill in the name of white supremacy commit evil, but is it true that white extremists are sowing a growing amount of worldwide mayhem? The evidence suggests otherwise.
Even a superficial glance at the record indicates that of the nearly 20,000 people killed in thousands of extremist killings in 2017, white supremacists were responsible for very few.
The worst terrorist event of 2017, according to the State Department, was the explosion of a truck bomb in Somalia, which killed more than 580 people. This act is believed to have been the work of Al-Shabaab, which was responsible for 97 percent of the 370 instances of extremist killings in Somalia in 2017, accounting for about 1,400 deaths.
The deadliest extremist attack in Egypt’s history took place in 2017, when ISIS-Sinai terrorists converged on a mosque and slaughtered 312 people when they came outside.
White nationalists committed none of the above violent acts, and that’s nothing remarkable: Almost all the world’s extremist violence is concentrated in a handful of regions, where very few white people live. In areas where whites do live (America, Canada, Europe and Australia/New Zealand), white nationalists do indeed perpetrate a significant proportion of the relatively uncommon acts of extremist violence.
Again, this is unsurprising, because whites make up the overwhelming majority of the population there.
The New York Times timeline of “white extremist” murders covers nine years and 15 incidents, bookended by the heinous and indisputably racist attacks in Norway (in 2011) and Christchurch. Some of the most prominent killings among the remaining 13 incidents, though, resist categorization as acts of white racial terror.
Ali Sonboly, the son of Iranian Shiite Muslim immigrants and visibly a racial minority, carried out the 2016 Munich mall shooting. The 2016 Umpqua Community College shooting was carried out by a self-identified “mixed-race” man, as was the 2014 Isla Vista massacre, whose perpetrator believed that being half-Chinese made him unattractive to women.
The 2018 Toronto van massacre was perpetrated by a white man who declared that he was part of an “Incel Rebellion” against the “Chads and Stacys” of the world — in other words, he was angry that he could not get a girlfriend and was committed to overthrowing the “beautiful people.” The Times’ inclusion of these four incidents calls into question the value of its diagnosis of “white extremist killers.”
When Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that white supremacists were responsible for the most extremist killings of 2017, she was obviously wrong (if she meant worldwide, which is unclear from her tweet). There were at least 8,500 such incidents worldwide that year, and white supremacists accounted for perhaps 15 or 20 of them, depending how you count.
Perhaps Ocasio-Cortez was thinking of the US and relying on an Anti-Defamation League report, “Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017.” According to the ADL, 34 people were killed as a result of extremist violence that year in the United States, eight of them by Sayfullo Saipov on Halloween in lower Manhattan. Another victim was Heather Heyer, who was run over by James Fields during the Charlottesville protests.
Heyer’s killing can legitimately be labeled an act of white-nationalist violence, as Fields was an open admirer of Hitler and the Confederacy. But the other murders that the ADL counts as “extremist-related” are fuzzy, even by the ADL’s standards.
For instance, Frank Ancona, a Klan member from Missouri, was killed in a domestic dispute by his wife, also a Klan member.
The Wall Street Journal, citing the US Extremist Crime Database, reports that the frequency of violent hate crime in the United States has been about the same for 50 years.
White supremacy is insane and immoral, and it may be a significant threat. But it doesn’t account for anywhere near the preponderance of global extremist violence, though one might get a different impression from recent coverage.
JetBlue was forced to apologize Thursday after honoring convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur – mother of Tupac Shakur – as part of Black History Month at a John F. Kennedy International terminal in New York.
The airline removed the poster after an image of the Shakur tribute appeared on social media.
$79.98 Featuring a wonderful, wandering floral print on a refreshing pastel background, this dress feels both festive and romantic. It has an embroidered mesh yoke pan…
“The intention was always to unite our crewmembers and customers around the importance of Black History Month and we apologize for any offense the poster may have caused,” a JetBlue spokesman said in a statement, according to FOX 29 Philadelphia.
The image of Shakur, also known as Joanne Chesimard, was in the exhibit for 21 days before one flier noticed.
“Became the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list after escaping to Cuba from prison where she was serving a life sentence for the 1973 murder of a police officer,” one of the bullet points read.
The tweet posted by Jen Muzio originally said the poster was at LaGuardia Airport, but she later clarified the poster was seen at JFK.
Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted of murder for a 1973 shooting that led to the death of a New Jersey State Trooper. She escaped from prison in 1979 and is believed to be living in Cuba.
On Monday, the 37-year-old has a court date in connection with charges he’s facing in Philadelphia that include aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation for allegedly being part of an Antifa mob in November that attacked two Marines, Alejandro Godinez and Luis Torres, both Hispanic. Alcoff and two others charged in the attack have pleaded not guilty.
But while Democratic officials are distancing themselves from Alcoff now, until recently he was a well-connected, aspiring political player in Washington who may have even had a hand in key policy proposals.
His endorsement apparently mattered when several congressional Democrats in February 2018 issued press releases with his quote backing their bill on regulating payday lenders.
As the payday campaign manager for the liberal group Americans for Financial Reform, Alcoff participated in congressional Democratic press conferences, was a guest on a House Democratic podcast and met with senior officials at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2016 through 2018.
He was also pictured with now-House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Both committees oversee financial regulatory policies Alcoff was advocating.
Alcoff met with then CFPB Director Richard Cordray and other senior CFPB officials on April 2016, again in March 2017 and a third time in May 2017, as first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
During this time, he reportedly was an Antifa leader in Washington. Alcoff’s former employer had little to say about the matter.
“As of December, Mr. Alcoff no longer works for AFR,” Carter Dougherty, spokesman for Americans for Financial Reform, told Fox News in an email.
Dougherty didn’t answer whether Alcoff had been fired or resigned. He also didn’t answer whether the organization was aware of Alcoff’s associations during his employment.
Alcoff was reportedly also an organizer for Smash Racism DC, the group responsible for gathering and shouting threats outside the home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson in November and for heckling Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife Heidi at a Washington restaurant in September. Reports have not said Alcoff was directly involved in either incident; only that he was associated with the group.
Democrats are hardly eager to be associated with Alcoff now. Most spokespersons for Democratic members of Congress did not respond to inquiries from Fox News, or distanced themselves from Alcoff.
In one appearance, Alcoff dressed up as “Lenny the Loan Shark” at an event last Marchheld outside the CFPB headquarters, which featured Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va.
“The congressman has never interacted with him nor has he taken any financial policy advice from him. Their names have appeared on the same piece of paper,” Beyer spokesman Aaron Fritschner told Fox News. “He appeared at the same press conference, but they didn’t speak to each other. This person was literally wearing a shark outfit.”
In the February 2018 press statement, House and Senate Democrats co-sponsoring the Stopping Abuse and Fraud in Electronic (SAFE) Lending Act, which boosted regulation on payday lenders, issued versions of a press release, most including the Alcoff quote.
“The Consumer Bureau and Congress have in the past understood the way that payday lenders structure loans to catch Americans in a cycle of debt with exorbitant interest rates,” Alcoff said in the press releases. “It is unfortunate that some in Washington would rather open the loan shark gates than continue to think about sensible borrower protections. The SAFE Lending Act would put Washington back on track to stop the debt trap.”
In August, Alcoff was a guest on the House Democrats’ Joint Economic Committee podcast, criticizing the decline of the CFPB under the Trump administration.
“It’s been an incredible kind of erosion [Trump administration actions] recently, but these are really, really important basic functions [CFPB’s mission] that people across the country should be able to look to Washington and expect,” Alcoff said on the podcast.
In connection with the subsequent attack in Philadelphia, the two Hispanic Marines said the Antifa mob of about 10 or 12 attackers shouted racial slurs during the beating. Only three from the mob were identified and arrested. The attack happened at the same time as a right-wing rally in Philadelphia, which Antifa showed up to protest. The Marines who were assaulted said they were not even aware of the rally.
“On one side, you have the Proud Boys, a racist group of Nazi thugs. On the other side, you have anti-racist activists,” Alcoff’s lawyer Michael Coard told Philadelphia Magazine. “Unfortunately, in the mix, there were two Marines who were caught up in the whole thing as innocent bystanders.”
Coard, an African American activist in Philadelphia, also told the magazine regarding the alleged slurs, “The question that I have for the D.A.’s office and the police is this: Does anybody think that I, Michael Coard, would represent a racist? … I would never represent a racist. In fact, if I believed that he was a racist, I would prosecute him myself.”
For me, being black and armed in America is intellectually taxing. Add the fact that I am one of the most recognized gun rights advocates in the country, and it can be downright exhausting.
As a black man, some people expect me to say that being armed and black in America is dangerous. My whole life I’ve heard that a black man with a gun is always going to be considered a threat. I’ve also carried a gun for years and have been pulled over many times while carrying a gun with no problems—and I have no plans of stopping.
Guns have done more to keep blacks safe in this country than being unarmed has ever done.
So, do I think it is safe to be black and armed in America? In truth, I think it is unsafe to be black and not armed in America. Guns have done more to keep blacks safe in this country than being unarmed has ever done. I also believe that the more black people arm themselves, the safer it will be to be black and armed.
Just consider: Harriet Tubman carried a revolver to protect against slave catchers and their dogs while she led black slaves to their freedom. Black civil rights activist Robert F. Williams obtained a charter from the National Rifle Association and set up a rifle club to defend blacks in Jonesboro, Ark., from the Ku Klux Klan and other attackers. The Black Panthers followed police around, armed with firearms and law books to police the police. C.O. Chinn was a black man during the civil rights era who was armed to the teeth and provided security to the “nonviolent” sectors of the civil rights movement. The Deacons for Defense and Justice, an armed African-American self-defense group, was founded in 1964 to protect civil rights activists and their families. Black men used guns during the Civil War to fight for their freedom. And countless black Americans use guns every day to protect themselves, their families and others they love.
Guns keep black people safe. It is true that, compared to a lot of their non-black counterparts, gun ownership among blacks can come with a unique set of risks. But I believe it is important to realize that these risks don’t outweigh the benefits.
The first time I carried a concealed firearm, I experienced a wide array of emotions. I waited a long time for my permit to come in, so I was giddy with excitement when the wait was over. I felt empowered knowing that I didn’t need to rely on a police officer magically appearing if I were attacked.
But I also felt anxiety. I was a young black man with a gun, and up until that point, I had been taught that if a cop ever realized I had a gun on me,he’dmore likely think I was a criminal than a legal concealed carrier. As a result, I took the painstaking effort to make sure my gun was completely undetectable. I even learned what signs cops look for to determine if someone was carrying a gun and made it a point not to do those things.
But one question remains: Why the hell would I, as a young black man, get a concealed-carry license and carry a gun on me 90 percent of the time if I believed all this? I decided to carry a firearm despite the perceived dangers from the police for the same reasons teenage gangbangers and drug dealers carry guns illegally—they are more worried about being caught without a gun by an enemy than with one by a cop. In the same way, on a subconscious level, I was more concerned about being caught without a gun by a criminal than I was by a cop when I was legally carrying a firearm.
The anxiety of avoiding the ordeal of being seen as a threat by police if you have to draw your firearm in public is not limited to blacks.
Note, I am not saying that I can’t become the victim of a cop or another armed citizen who, because of my race and the gun I carry, might treat me like a threat instead of another legally armed citizen. What I am saying is that those people are the exception, not the rule.
Since last July, there have been three cases in which a black good guy with a gun was shot and killed by police. At the time of this writing, these cases are still under investigation, so I’m not going to speculate on the motivation behind the shootings. But I will say that the anxiety of avoiding the ordeal of being seen as a threat by police if you have to draw your firearm in public is not limited to blacks. After carrying a firearm for some time, I began researching and learning more about the intricacies of concealed carry. I discovered that the question of what to do so you don’t get shot by a cop if you have to pull your gun in public had been a topic of discussion in the online gun community for years, by gun owners of all races.
Though we are fortunate to have the Second Amendment in this country, we also have a large segment of the country that believes anyone carrying a gun who is not law enforcement is a bad guy. Unfortunately, some who believe this become police officers. I believe threat identification and de-escalation have long been weak points of training in police departments. In a country with the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, learning how to deal with potentially armed citizens at the scene of an active-shooter situation should be a top priority for all police training. Long story short, if you’re going to carry a badge and gun in this country, unless a person is actively shooting at you, shooting at other people who are clearly not a threat, or threateningly presenting a firearm, you should err on the side of the possibility that the person might be a good guy with a gun.
This country’s “mainstream” media machine, in its rabid attempt to vilify guns and sway people away from exercising their Second Amendment rights, has done everything in its power to push the image of bad gun owners as the rule, instead of the exception. Our media have excessively promoted the image of the armed, gang-banging, hyper-aggressive, violent black male, while at the same time pushing the narrative that all white male gun owners are potential mass-shooting domestic terrorists who hate black people. Are we then surprised that there might be incidents in which a good black guy with a gun is prematurely seen as a bad guy with a gun by someone who’s only image of a black man with a gun has been what the media have portrayed?
If such a tragedy occurs, the same media that have mastered the art of sensationalizing these incidents will breathlessly report and speculate about racial motivations, without having any truly relevant information or facts. They do this to insidiously reaffirm the narrative they have been pushing for years—if you are black and carry a gun, you will be shot. Ironically, the same media never talk about racist origins of gun control laws, or how most such laws were designed to keep guns out of the hands of blacks. Nor do they discuss how the very same violent image of black men they push today is the same image that was used in the past to scare unassuming whites, causing some of them to support those racist gun control laws.
Two years ago, I received a message from the mother of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black concealed-carry license holder who was pulled over and killed by officer Jeronimo Yanez when he thought Castile was reaching for his gun. The letter was a scathing critique of my response to the shooting. The part of the message that hit the hardest was her closing line: “You ain’t no exception; the same thing can happen to you.”
Admittedly, the letter made me feel terrible. But what was I supposed to do? Stop carrying my gun? Stop exercising my rights? What happened to Castile was terrible, and, like I said in my open letter about it, it could have been avoided altogether if the officer had conducted the stop the way he was trained to perform a felony stop. Nevertheless, cases like Castile’s are still the exception.
I know one thing is for sure: It has never been safer to be black and armed in this country than it is right now.
I know that’s not a popular thing to say as a black man in today’s political climate, but that’s why these cases are such a big deal when they do occur. And even then, the motivations behind the shootings are never clear-cut—at least not clear-cut enough to say that a cop shot a black guy with a gun just because he was a black guy with a gun, and not for some other reason, justified or not. As a result, these cases send my cognitive dissonance—about what I’ve been told my whole life, what I’ve actually experienced, what the statistics show, and what reality has presented—into a downward spiral where I second-guess myself into oblivion on these issues.
However, I know one thing is for sure: It has never been safer to be black and armed in this country than it is right now. There were times in the past when it was legal to beat and even kill a black person who was found to have a gun, or any other weapon, on him. Today, there are black gun rights groups, social media accounts dedicated to black gun ownership, black firearm instructors and black gun rights advocates. There was a time when it was not safe for blacks to vote, but we continued doing it anyway. Regardless of how dangerous it might or might not become to be black and armed in this country, I’ll continue to exercise my natural rights the same way black people of the past—who faced more significant and more consistent harm—chose to exercise theirs.
Eastern Turkey had a large and thriving community of Christians a little over 100 years ago, but since then most have been dispersed or killed. The BBC’s Eli Melki went to look for traces of a relative, who was martyred at the age of 33.
One evening in June, I sat in the sunset among the Roman ruins of Zirzawan hill, in south-east Turkey. This is where it’s said the remains of one of my ancestors are buried in a mass grave. Leonard Melki was about 33 years old at the beginning of World War One, and his fate was determined by his Christian faith.
At that time, between a fifth and a quarter of the inhabitants of eastern Turkey – then part of the Ottoman Empire – belonged to an array of Eastern denominations of the Christian Church, including the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Church, the Church of the East (Nestorians) and the Chaldean Church.
All except the Armenians worshipped in Syriac – a dialect of Aramaic, the language of Christ.
They lived among the empire’s Muslim majority and, while many prospered, at some times and in some places they were subject to outright persecution; in World War One, it went far, far beyond that.
Leonard, my great-grandfather’s cousin, was born a member of one of the Eastern churches – the Maronites – but later became a Capuchin friar, and in his mid-20s he was sent to run the order’s school in the city of Mardin, close to what is now the border between Turkey and Syria.
At this point Christians represented between 35% and 40% of Mardin’s inhabitants. The Capuchin monastery, where Leonard taught boys the rudiments of the Christian faith, stood alongside a Franciscan monastery in a prominent position in the city centre.
To find out more about Leonard, I spoke to his great-nephew, Fares Melki, who has set up a website dedicated to Leonard and other missionaries from Baabdat, the small town near Beirut where we were both born. As we sat under our family oak tree, he told me that Leonard was born Yusuf (Joseph in Arabic) in about 1881, one of 11 children. As a boy he would have tilled the land around where we were sitting.
Fares showed me some yellowed letters and photographs Leonard sent to relatives and to his superiors. They reveal a young man dedicated to his faith, attached to his sister Tamar, and eager – despite problems with his health – to embark on a mission 1,000km from his picturesque and prosperous home in Mount Lebanon.
In one letter, written in 1912, he wrote about young Muslim men from Mardin being sent to fight in the Balkan Wars.
“Poor souls, I pity them. They are marching like sheep to the slaughter, poorly trained and equipped, but displaying an admirable courage despite of it all. Lacking everything – even bread – they end up by devastating everything and terrorising people wherever they set foot. May God put an end to all this misery, and grant peace and tranquillity to the land.”
But not long afterwards, World War One did the opposite, and the nationalist Young Turks then in control of the Ottoman Empire began to fear a possible alliance between the local Christian populations and Russia, which had quickly gone on the offensive.
The decision was taken to deport the Armenian population into the interior provinces – though in practice men were often simply executed, and women and children forced into convoys that morphed into death marches.
While these actions were directed against the Armenians, they had the effect of signalling that all Christians in the region had lost the protection of the state. The result was a wave of pogroms, carried out both by the local Ottoman authorities and some Kurdish tribesmen.
Some Syriac Christian churches are estimated to have lost up to half their congregation in the violence. They call this Seyfo, the Year of the Sword, and Leonard was one of the victims.
Today, almost nothing remains of Mardin’s ancient Christian heritage. There is no trace of the Capuchin monastery in Mardin, though by chance I met a local historian – possibly the last Armenian living in the city – who was able to point out the precise location of the neighbouring Franciscan monastery. Using old photographs and the memoirs of her grandmother – once a pupil at the girls’ school run by Franciscan nuns – she has been able to pinpoint exactly where each arch of the building stood. Today the site is a busy and noisy car park among the narrow shopping streets of this Turkish city. It’s hard to imagine now the sounds of the schoolyards and the monastery bells.
But below ground level, in a former public bath building, my Armenian guide showed me an archway, a remnant of one of the two defunct monasteries. And suddenly in my mind’s eye I could see Leonard and his pupils passing by – or being dragged along after his arrest.
Leonard was seized in June 1915, when the authorities rounded up a number of clergymen and other notables of the city on trumped up charges of collaboration with the enemy, usually the French. Christians had widely come to be seen as a fifth column of the Western powers, and the missionaries treated as enemy agents.
We walked along the winding old main street referred to by a Dominican monk, Jacques Rhétoré, in his account of the arrests.
“Father Leonard, a Capuchin, was in front of the convoy of detainees, between two students of Saint Francis’s school. As he passed by his convent, he looked upward, in a last salute to the holy house where he lived in the bliss of doing good deeds. There, the soldier flanking him dealt him a blow on the head with a club, yelling at him: ‘Walk straight you dirty Fraranji (Frenchman)!'”
The convoy, one of many, was led towards the city of Diyarbakir, where the detainees were to be tried for treason. However, in the middle of the journey, the column of detainees, now in a sorry state, was led to the hill of Zirzawan.
Their final hour was recounted by another Dominican, Hyacinthe Simon.
“They were killed by groups of four, with knives, daggers and scimitars, or clubbed to death, then their bodies were thrown in the wells. The old fortress still holds their bones and the secret of their last moments,” he wrote.
Sitting on Zirzawan hill, I wondered what must have gone through Leonard’s mind as his life was about to end. Did he remember our peaceful hometown, the family land with its majestic oak tree, his fellow friars, his beloved sister?
For me, Leonard personifies the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of mostly innocent and unarmed people, who were were killed during the fateful spring and summer of 1915 in the eastern part of the Ottoman Empire. It helps me to fathom the enormity of this disaster.
In the distance, I could still see the sprawling new city of Mardin. The old road taken by the death march has now been replaced by a motorway, emblematic of a resurgent Turkey, a country where the two-millennia-old Christian presence has been reduced to the ruins of places of worship. And to about 2,500 Syriac speaking people, who still cling, against all odds, to a handful of towns and villages in the nearby region of Tur Abdin, the “Mountain of the Worshippers”.
What was once one of the most ancient and dense Christian presences in the world now stands on the brink of extinction.
The study analysed millions of tweets but human rights campaigners claimed they lacked the data to explore Jew-hate
Amnesty International has been criticised for not including antisemitic abuse of Jewish women in the largest ever study of abuse of female politicians and journalists on Twitter.
The study analysed millions of tweets received by 778 journalists and politicians from the UK and US who were selected by researchers concluded that black women were “disproportionately targeted” by “abusive or problematic tweets.”
Claudia Mendoza, the Jewish Leadership Council’s director of policy and public affairs, condemned the abuse against MPs like Diane Abbott but said: “Amnesty International may wish to look further into the antisemitic abuse aimed at prominent Jewish women including MPs so prevalent on Twitter.
“This is even more important considering that such abuse has occurred from within their own organisation.”
This refers to how, in 2012, Amnesty campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict tweeted an antisemitic joke about three Jewish MPs.
Mark Gardner, the Community Security Trust’s director of communications, referred to a previous Amnesty report into Twitter abuse against women – published in September 2017.
He told the JC: “This is the second time in just over a year that Amnesty has released reports on misogyny, racism and social media that utterly ignores antisemitism, despite the widely documented Jew-hatred that so many female Labour MPs have suffered in recent years.
“It typifies the way in which antisemitism is ignored by Amnesty and many other groups, from whom we still instinctively – but very wrongly – expect solidarity.”
Publishing the results of their Troll Patrol project on Tuesday, Amnesty produced a diagram illustrating the ethnic background of those receiving abuse did differentiate between women of Black, Latinx, Asian, Mixed race and White background.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said their survey backs up “what women have long been saying – that Twitter is endemic with racism, misogyny and homophobia.”
Danny Stone, chief executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust (APT), criticised the failure to include analysis of antisemitic abuse.
Three weeks ago, research commissioned by the Community Security Trust and the APT showed Jewish women in parliament face a disproportionate amount of antisemitic abuse online.
Mr Stone told the JC on Tuesday: “This (Amnesty) report makes for shocking reading, it is appalling the extent of the abuse women experience online.
“Last month, we helped organise the Sara Conference, to shine a light on the growing and frightening overlap of misogyny and antisemitism, particularly online. That conference marked the beginning of a conversation which, judging by the omission of Jewish women from this report, is evidently very much required.”
One MP, who asked not to be named, said it was “beyond comprehension” why Amnesty had not identified abuse directly aimed at Jewish women in their study.
“Study after study in recent years has highlighted the issue of antisemitic abuse directed at Jewish women,” the MP added. “It is beyond comprehension why Amnesty were unable to look at this problem themselves.”
Amnesty said its findings were the result of a collaboration between Amnesty International and Element AI, an artificial intelligence software product company.
They surveyed millions of tweets received by 778 journalists and politicians from the UK and US throughout 2017 across the political spectrum.
Using cutting-edge data science and machine learning techniques, they said they were able to provide a quantitative analysis of unprecedented scale of online abuse against women in the UK and USA.
An Amnesty spokesperson told the JC: “Despite our best efforts, we didn’t have enough data about the Jewish background of the women in our sample – this was publicly available for women MPs in the UK but not for the journalists in our study.
“It was a level of analysis we were keen to make, together with disaggregation of abuse by women’s sexual orientation but that meta-data is much harder to research.
“That is why we are reinforcing our calls to Twitter to release meaningful data on how it responds to reports of abuse, in particular abusive tweets that direct hate against a protected category.”
Amnesty’s study found black women were 84 per cent more likely than white women to be subjected to abusive tweets. One in 10 posts mentioning black women contained “abusive or problematic” language.
Ms Abbott, the shadow home secretary, urged Twitter to take action over “highly offensive racist and misogynist” abuse on the platform.
Milena Marin, senior advisor for tactical research at Amnesty said: “Although abuse is targeted at women across the political spectrum, women of colour were much more likely to be impacted, and black women are disproportionately targeted.
“Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices.”