#terrorism, Fiction, history, Uncategorized

The Assassin

 

The following is a segment of a novel on German History and Philosophy that I have been writing, off and on, for the better part of a decade. I don’t know when it will be finished (it already runs over 100,000 words) but I thought that in honor the anniversary of the start of The First World War, the Great War, that I would post this episode dealing with the assassination of the heir to the Throne of the now defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand. I have done my best to be as accurate as possible, and all the people mentioned within the story are real, and their motivations real, and I have had them say only what I believe makes sense within the context of the time and situation. Any mistakes are entirely my own. Enjoy.

Prologue: Some Weeks Before Summer

The young man sat on his hands so that the others could not see them shaking. He had never been so nervous before in his. There was nothing he could do to silence the chattering of his teeth though so he kept laughing nervously in a futile attempt to cover up the sound. This only served to draw more attention to Gavrilo Princip, however, and he had to be content with his compatriots thinking him an idiot instead of a coward. The nervous young man (who everyone seemed to agree looked like a dyspeptic ferret) was surrounded by a few other men his own age who nonetheless seemed to be made of sterner stuff than he was. They were joined by two proud looking military types who exuded effortless authority and composure. The group were huddled on old bar stools around a table in a decrepit and humid little basement in the low rent district of Mostar, Herzegovina. The sound of domestic squabbles could be heard over their heads and every once and awhile a tremendous boom shook the whole building as someone or another smashed some piece of furniture onto the floor. It was not the best place to be plotting a terrorist action, but it was at least out of the way of prying eyes and ears.

            The fellow who brought the meeting together was a man by the name of Danilo Ilić. He was a thin and stern looking man with a thin mustache and an air of authority to him. He wore a brown overcoat and black trousers. He was the only one of the group not seated. He was pacing about as though he were unable to contain his nervous energy. He had a scowl on his face and he spoke with a loud but rather high pitched voice.

            “So you are telling me that the police searched the train for contraband and you felt compelled to through all of the weapons out the window? Out the window of moving train? And they didn’t even search you in the end?”

            Ilic was addressing his angry words to a rather pompous looking fellow seated at the head of the table. He was a Muslim Bosnian by the name of Muhamed Mehmedbašić. He was the eldest of the assembled men and he had the look of a man who would broker no disrespect from anyone. He snarled at Ilic and all but spat out his reply.

            “Well it is easy for you to stand there and castigate me, Ilic. I was the one taking all the risk. Perhaps if you had the intestinal fortitude to do the deed yourself perhaps Governor Potiorek would already be dead. I was not going to risk 15 years in a Austrian prison just so I could keep up to you and your dear leader’s ridiculous schedule. How is dear old Apis by the way?”

            Gavarilo and the other youths gasped. Apis was the code name of Dragutin Dimitrijević, a Serbian military officer and leader of the feared Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist group devoted to the idea of a Serbia free of the yoke of Austrian imperialism and cultural hegemony. Apis’ was a name that could strike a sort of awe into even the most jaded sort of revolutionary. Ilic was startled enough to remain standing in place for a few moments, but he ignored the obvious baiting by Mehmedbašić.

            “I would have done it myself if I had not been on urgent business in Toulouse. Things have changed Muhamed. Events are moving faster than either of us could have possibly imagined possible even a few weeks ago. Potiorek is old news, merely the governor of Bosnia district. He was never much of a catch if you ask me. A waste of time.”

            Mehmedbašić laughed. “Well do your blessed higher ups have any other esteemed members of the Austrian Empire in mind? We are all ears Ilic.”

            Gavarilo could feel the tension in the room like a weight on his chest. He could barely breath he was so on edge.

            Ilic grinned and finally took his seat at the other end of the table. He looked like the cat who had caught the songbird. “The governor was a waste of time from the beginning. Who gives a shit if some functionary is killed? They’ll just replace him with someone more hardline. No, we need to send a message, do some real damage, strike a blow for the Slavic people—“

            “For the love of God Ilic just get on with it already! Who did the Black Hand suggest?”

            “The Heir.”

            There was silence like that of a crypt in the winter. No one dared even to breath. Gavrilo could hear the blood pumping in his oddly spaced ears. It was Mehmedbašić who finally broke the quiet.

            The Heir? You mean Ferdinand? The Archduke? You’re kidding? You can’t be serious. He is perhaps the most heavily guarded man this side of the Danube. Surely Apis can’t be serious about this?”

            Ilic was so wound up that he forgot he was choosing not acknowledge the existence of the leader of the Black Hand. “Oh he is deadly serious. He has a plan, and he has the weapons, and he is certain it can be done. And I agree with him. Everyone expects a plot against a military man like Potiorek or one of the generals, but no one would even dream of an attempt against Franz Ferdinand. He is beloved and as you said he is well protected. Only a ship of fools would embark on such a mission… which is precisely why it will work. There have been whispers of a possible royal visit to Sarajevo late in the springtime. A sort of moral boosting and face saving trip to the “territories” for the heir. Given the revolutionary activity in the region we can be almost certain that the most powerful man in the empire who is not a doddering old goat (all due respect to his Imperial Majesty) will want to make a show of force. Where better than the center of revolutionary activity? Sarajevo my friends: mark my words it will be before summer comes, I promise you!”

            Mehmedbašić looked as skeptical as ever. “I admire your devotion to the cause of Slavic freedom  Ilic, but I think you and your masters may have bitten off more than you can possibly chew with this scheme. The Habsburgs are doddering and may be weaker than ever before, but they are still a force to be reckoned with. They will not leave the only heir to their power and authority exposed. And besides, who do you plan to use for this sort of mission? We are short on men and supplies as it is and I do not know of any man stupid enough to take up such a suicidal cause.”

            Ilic gestured about the room grandly and Gavrilo could feel his face blush. “These fellows have agreed to take up the banner of Slavic unity. They will gladly fight, die, and kill for a free Yugoslavia! This is Trifko, Gavrilo, and Nadeljko. I selected them for their devotion to our people and the fearless willingness to lay down their lives on a whim. They shall be heroes of the revolution!”

            At the urging of Ilic the young men stood and saluted the still seated Mehmedbašić. He looked less than impressed by what he saw. “I am sure their devotion is beyond reproach but you cannot be serious about these fellows. The one with the ferret-face looks like he is 12!”

            Gavrilo spoke up before he could think better of it. “I am 19 sir! And—and I am ready to—fight and die for—“    

            Mehmedbašić raised a hand to silence him. “Enough. I get the idea. Ilic I can see that there is no talking you out of anything. You are far too proud for that. I will not take part personally in a project so destined for failure, but I will not abandon you totally in this time of urgent need. Tell me what you need procured and I will find a way to smuggle it in for you. I shall pray for you Ilic, but I will not allow myself to hope.”

            Ilic clapped his hands and bowed to his compatriot. “I knew you would come through for me Muhammad! I will require little enough in the way of material support: some short fuse grenades, some pistols, preferably Brownings but anything you can get with such little notice will be fine, and also we shall require some cyanide tablets.”

            “Do you planning on poisoning the Heir? If so may I suggest a better poison—“

            “It is not for the Heir. It is for us. We shall not be taken alive, succeed or fail. If we do not escape we will take the poison. We must not let any member of the revolution fall into Habsburg hands. The torture we would all be subject too would surely break us and cause us to reveal secrets that would be best left unheard.”

            Gavrilo’s eyes went wide. Suicide? Dying in battle was one thing, but taking poison win or lose? His hands once more began to shake. He could only hope that this was bravado on the part of Ilic.

            Mehmedbašić wrote something on a scrap of paper he had pulled from his pocket and then finally stood from the table. He embraced Ilic and grasped his hand. “I wish you all the luck in the world my friend. I fear this will be the last time we meet. One of my associates will contact you soon about the delivery of your supplies. I guarantee this time we will not take the train to deliver them!”

            “Thank you Muhammad. You are a true Slavic hero. I will do my best to prove your fears to be unfounded. Gavrilo! Escort Mehmedbašić back to the street and be sure he is not followed.”

            Gavrilo jumped to his feet with such eagerness that he knocked his knee against the edge of the table. He hobbled over to Mehmedbašić and led him up the stairs and out of the basement and up to the ground floor above. There were people sleeping on the floor and drunks taking sips from hidden flasks sitting up against the crumbling walls. The smell overwhelmed Gavrilo and he held his sleeve over his nose and mouth. He was not used to the scent of poverty. Mehmedbašić was unfazed by it all and merely stepped over the strewn bodies like so much trash. Gavrilo hugged the walls and followed behind as close as he could. When they finally emerged into the fresh air Gavrilo felt like he had been released from a tomb. There was a light drizzle and the air felt pregnant with static electricity.

            Mehmedbašić took a slender cigarillo from his pocket and stuck it on his lip in a haphazard fashion. Gavrilo leaned against the outer wall of the apartment and tried to look as inconspicuous as possible.

            “You, Gavrilo was it? Do you have a match?”

            Gavrilo was surprised to be addressed by this important man. He hesitated a moment and then searched his pockets. He found a few stray matches still attached to crumpled book he had picked up somewhere or another. Mehmedbašić walked over and leaned in so that Gavrilo could light the end of the cigarillo. The sweet, thick smoke curled around Mehmedbašić’s head and was soon dispersed by the light drizzle still falling on both of their heads.

            “So I suppose you intend to go through with it, this madness with the Archduke I mean?”

            Gavrilo took a deep breath before answering. “Yes, yes I do.”

            Mehmedbašić acted as though Gavrilo had not spoken. “If you do go through with it you must realize that Ilic is not looking for soldiers or even assassins. He is looking for martyrs. He does not care if he succeeds or fails, for making the attempt and dying in the process is victory enough for him. He will not hesitate to sacrifice each and every one of you to the cause. You must know this if you wish to proceed.”

            Gavrilo blanched and looked nervously at his feet.

            Mehmedbašić continued. “I of course would not be at all sanguine about your chances even if Ilic cared enough to make a decent attempt. That being said there is no reason why you should be led blithely and meekly to your demise.” The middle-aged conspirator reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a pistol. He weighed it in his hand and checked the aim down the sight. He tossed the pistol to a surprised Gavrilo who caught it against his chest.

            “It’s a semi-automatic FN Browning model 1910 pistol so all you have to do is load it, aim, and squeeze the trigger. Squeeze it, mind you, do not pull on the trigger. It takes 7 .32ACP rounds and it packs quite a punch if you hit the right areas. By that I mean the head or the chest. Don’t bother with the extremities or the belly. Also, once you start firing never stop until you have emptied the gun or are shot down yourself. Practice shooting one handed at a tin can placed on a stump or a fence rail at 20 meters. If you can hit that can under those conditions you should have no problem hitting a man moving slowly at 10 meters or so. Don’t stick around after you stop firing. You think you can manage that?”

            Gavrilo’s minded was swimming with all that he had been told and he was far from certain he would be able to execute these orders with the skill that Mehmedbašić seemed to be demanding. Gavrilo did not wish to disappoint the man though so he nodded slowly and looked the gun over in his hand.

            “Excellent. You may yet get out of this mess with your hide. But probably not. Don’t tell Ilic we talked. He’ll get jealous and kick you out of the mission. I must be getting back to the train station before this drizzle turns into a real downpour. It was nice chatting. Have a good life Gavrilo.” Mehmedbašić turned his back on the young man and walked away in the direction of the train station. Suddenly the man paused and turned back to look at Gavrilo. “On second thought, what the hell do I have to lose? I am a revolutionary and I have been one my entire life. I have risked my life for my race and my country countless times without any thought given to the odds. If you, little Gavrilo, can muster up the courage to take on this foolish mission then certainly I cannot abandon my cause in this hour of need.”

            The man sighed and then followed up with a hearty laugh. “Not like I have anything else to live for. Tell Ilic that I will take part if he still wants me. I’ll meet up with him again in a few weeks, after I get some affairs in order. I cannot help but think that if I am not around if Ilic finally gets something right I will never be able to live it down. Anyway… goodnight once again, and thank you in advance for taking the message to Ilic.” He turned around once more and headed away with a new lightness to his step.

            Gavrilo watched him until he disappeared out of sight around a corner. He put the pistol into his right jacket pocket and looked around to make sure no one had seen him place it there. Satisfied that he had not been seen, nor Mehmedbašić followed, he headed back into the apartment and closed the door behind him.

June 28th, 1914, Sarajevo

It was a rather unremarkable looking bridge. Gypsum made up most of the span but some rather ugly paved streets were added in deference to traffic patterns. Every one of means had to have an automobile now and so of course the ancient cities of former Roman, then Byzantine, then Ottoman and finally Austrian controlled South Eastern Europe had to be mutilated to accommodate these fossil belching monstrosities. They called it the Latin Bridge for some God only knows why reason in this city that had once been the center of the region that had once been part of the Bosnia Sanjak of the Devlet-i Aliyye-i Osmâniyye. Some Turko-Bosnian tanner made the first bridge out of wood and it had been improved on ever since. Well improved until the automobiles came of course. Sarajevo was an old city of course but it was one that had not stood still, preserved in amber.

No one really knew why the Archduke-Heir Apparent had chosen Serbia as the site of his yearly parade/inspection of the forces. Perhaps he wanted to be seen as strong in the face of violent Bosnian nationalism? Or he wanted an excuse to drive around in his gaudy black Double Paeton? Maybe he just liked the coffee?

The reason, perhaps, was more personal. He had decided to take his wife Sophie, a woman who was gorgeous and far more attractive a persona than her gawky square faced husband. No one really liked him but everyone loved the Duchess of Hohenberg. Even their host, Provincial Governor Oskar Potiorek, was more popular than the next Emperor of Austria-Hungary.

Maybe he wanted to make a statement? It was widely known that subject of the heir’s marriage was a sore one for the monarchy, and especially for Franz Ferdinand. Sophie, a woman the aloof but hopelessly romantic Archduke truly loved, was not the sort who would normally be allowed much respect or deference. She was of noble birth, from an ancient line, but she was not of royal blood. The Emperor was not about to let some Bohemian petty aristocrat carry the title of Empress, so he had initially forbid the union. The stubborn Archduke would not relent. He truly loved this woman and he was willing to gum up the gears of succession in order to have her. To complicate matters further, Franz Ferdinand was the favorite of the formidable Archduchess Maria Theresia, the Emperor’s sister in law and the all but acknowledged head of the family. Everyone was terrified of this strong willed and intelligent woman, not least the Emperor. Franz Joseph had been unable to control this woman during the peak of his long reign and he certainly was not going to try and overrule her now that he was teetering on the brink of his dotage. The marriage was approved, though the happy groom’s joy was tempered a bit by the condition that he must declare that his beloved, and any children from their union, would never wear the crown of Austria-Hungary. It had only been recently that Sophie was granted the title of Princess and Franz Ferdinand was not in the mood to appease his uncle by leaving her behind during his trip. Sophie would get the reception, the respect, she deserved in Sarajevo.

The whole visit had a slapdash feel to it, like no one was really taking the whole thing seriously. The Austrian military bureaucracy warned against the particular trip at this particular time; there were too many known militants who had disappeared into the ether as of late and there were rumblings from within the Serbian establishment that the 28th had far too much local and national significance to risk a display of imperial authority. It was St. Vitus’ day, a holiday honoring a saint brutally martyred by an Imperial oppressor. The day also marked the anniversary of the end of Serbian autonomy and the beginning of a long and humiliating subjugation to Ottoman rule after the bloody battle of Kosovo. Overall it was a bad day to be a foreign potentate in Serbia. It did not help matters that the city of Sarajevo was the center of activity for anarchist madmen, nationalist zealots, pro-Ottoman types and even Russians, the latter because everything within 5000km of Moscow is considered part of the Russian domestic sphere of influence.

The ugly car left the local city garrison barracks with the Governor and the royal couple. The Duchess, her still ample figure obscured by a painfully tasteful frilly white gown, smiled and waved at the surprisingly receptive, and much larger than anticipated, crowd as the motorcade made its way towards its destination. Franz Ferdinand leaned over to whisper in his wife’s ear, his hushed voice nonetheless full of pride. “Listen to them, Sophie, they love you!” Sophie kissed her husband on the cheek. They were headed to a reception in their honor at the town hall, hosted by the mayor. They would have to run a gauntlet to get there. Arrayed all along the road running adjacent to the ancient river Milijacka, something they called the Apple Quay, were the seven would-be assassins, including the ringleader Ilic, stood at their preappointed places. Somewhere a clock-tower, one of the many built by the city’s former Ottoman overlords, stuck 10am. The car came within sight of the first assassin, Mehmedbasic, who had the choice of shooting or bombing the parade. He chose neither. He simply lost his nerve. There were far more people than he had anticipated. Trying to draw as little attention to himself as possible, Mehmedbasic dropped the gun and pulled the fuse from the bomb. He disappeared into the crowd. The man who had built his image around revolution and Serbian Nationalism, the man who had helped recruit half a dozen men into an all but suicide mission, had proven himself a coward at the one moment in his life he had to be brave. Ilic had planned for this eventuality, or at least he had tried his best to. The best was not what Vaso Čubrilović was prepared to offer; upon seeing a police officer with a rather impressive saber at his side he dropped his gun and ran as well. He panted as he ducked and weaved through the excited, and oblivious, crowd, leaving an unnoticed trail of urine in his wake.

Nedeljko Čabrinović was made of sterner stuff. He stood on the opposite side of the road from the two cowards, holding a timed bomb. He had refused the pistol offered him by Illic, his thought being that if he hit his target on the first try he would be killed soon after. He had the heart of a martyr and he welcomed death in the service of his nation. He waited until the motorcade came into view and seeing that his target was in the second of the four vehicles he whispered a hurried prayer and pitched the bomb at the slow moving vehicle. The bomb was thrown well and it looked like it would hit its target…but instead it hit the convertible cover of the Graf & Stift automobile and bounced onto the street. The next car in the motorcade rolled over the bomb and a moment later it went off with an impressive bang. The car was lifted a good half-meter off its tires and the explosion peppered the horrified, screaming crowd with shrapnel and dislodged pavement. The two lead cars took no chances and sped off at full speed down the road and away from the scene of the crime. The cars sped by three assassins, Illic, Grabez, and Popovic, who could only look on in shock as their well laid plans fell apart right before their eyes. The three men retreated into the still panicked crowd.

Popovic turned to face Illic who was pale as a freshly washed sheet. “Are we just going to let them get away? All this planning? For nothing?”

Illic snarled and tried his best to look composed and confident. “We’ll get another chance. Have you noticed how few gendarmes they have posted? We’ll just wait for the next chance.”

“The next chance? They probably have Nedeljko in custody! They’re probably torturing him for information as we speak! And where was Mehmedbasic? And that little shit Cubrilovic?”

“Shut up! They’ll overhear us. We’ll split up and and meet near the train depot, assess our options…”

Grabez laughed. “Our options? What options? Do you really think our friends in the special services are going to risk their hides to come and save a bunch of failed Brutus’?”

“Enough! Do you want to just stand here and wait for the gendarmes to grab us? Do you have any better ideas? I expected we would all be dead at this point!”

Popovic hung his head. “We are disgraces…we are traitors to the Serbian people…”

Illic rolled his eyes but deep down he could not help but agree with his fellow militant. “Let’s not waste any more time. Go now!”

Grabez looked around, confused, for a moment before he departed the scene. “Where is that pup Princip?”

***

 

The great part of the crowd surged forward into the street, people jumping over the prone bodies of the wounded in a desperate attempt to escape the area. The police un-holstered their weapons and began running about looking for anyone suspicious. Čabrinović, his hand shaking with shame and disappointment after missing his intended target, reached into his pocket and withdrew the small cyanide tablet. He bit down on the glass tablet and the poison ran down his throat. The pill did not have the desired effect; instead of killing Čabrinović the poison merely made him violently ill. He vomited dramatically onto the shoes of a nearby reveler, who shoved him away in disgust. A nearby police officer noticed the commotion and ran over to investigate. Čabrinović panicked and, still vomiting all over himself, jumped from the nearby bridge, hoping to drown himself in the waters of the Miljacka. Unfortunately, the water reached only to his shins. The officer grabbed ahold of the would be Serbian hero and dragged him kicking and choking back onto the street. The officer realized he had probably captured a wannabe regicide and he screamed out as much to the crowd still milling about the scene. The enraged Sarajevans rushed forward, some still covered in cuts and bruises from the explosion and subsequent panic.

A woman stepped forward and spit in Čabrinović’s face. “He threw the bomb! I saw him! Anarchist filth!” She spit at him again and the police officer stepped back. He sensed that the crowd had decided to administer some extra-judicial punishment and he did not want to get in the way of their mindless wrath. The crowd ran forward, taking the woman’s expectoration as a cue, and began to kick and pummel the helpless would be assassin. He howled in pain and did the best to protect his head. Blood spilled from cuts that formed on his hands and scalp. He was soon completely covered by angry men and women unable even to see the sky above him.This went on for a good couple of minutes before the officer summoned more police over to break up the beating. The now nearly unrecognizable Čabrinović was dragged by his limp arms away towards a nearby cafe, where he was shackled to a drain pipe while the officers decided what to do with him.

***

 

“Well, Governor, that was quite a warm reception you had planned for us.”

“I do not know what to say. I am going to have a stern word or two with the captain of police. I am so ashamed, your highness.”

The motorcade had reached the town hall, where an excited delegation of local dignitaries and military officers. The assembled people had not yet heard of the incident by the river and they applauded as the motorcade deposited its passengers at the foot of the stairway, complete with red red carpet, leading into the building. The Archduke was not pleased.

“My wife was in that car, Potiorek. The mother of my children. You’d think there would be more than a token force of gendarmes on the route.”

“You are absolutely right of course, your highness. I promise, heads will roll over this outrage.”

“They had better. My Uncle will not be pleased.”

Governor Potiorek swallowed. “I-I imagine not, your highness.”

“You imagine correctly, Governor.” He turned to his wife, who had just exited the auto. “Sopherl,” he cooed pleasantly, using his favorite pet-name for his wife, “My darling, are you ok? Are you hurt?”

The Duchess smiled and shook her head. “Not at all, my dear, I am fine. It was quite exciting actually, driving about at that ungodly speed through the streets! The children would have loved it all!”

The Archduke sigh and then forced a strained smiled on his face. “I am sure they would have. I am overjoyed that you are ok. Governor Potiorek?” His tone changed instantly from one of affection to one of commanding condescension.

“Yes, your highness?”

“Let’s get this over with.”

“Of course your highness. Follow me.”

The governor took the Duchess’ gloved hand and led her up the stairs. The Archduke paused a moment and reached into his breast pocket. He withdrew the speech he had written for the occasion and was alarmed to find it stained with fresh blood. It took him a moment to realize it was his own, from a cut on his hand right at the base of this thumb. It was a small cut, but a deep one, and it was still bleeding freely. He pulled a pair of black driving gloves from his back pocket and pulled them over his hands. He looked around to see if anyone had noticed his wound. It seemed no one had. He took a deep breath before mounting the staircase behind his wife. He waved to the crowd less out of a desire to be magnanamous than to hide the fact that his hands were shaking like an infant’s rattle.

 

***

 

Where was the motorcade? Good God, had he missed it entirely? Was he not in his appointed place? Princip broke out in a cold sweat. He was the youngest in the group, the greenest of them all, and he had cocked up so royally that he did not even get a shot at his sworn mortal enemy WHILE HE WAS PARADING right by him! shame caused his face to flush crimson and he sauntered away in no particular direction

 

The convertable sputtered a but, the exhaust coughed and belched. clearly the suspension was off kilter. The Governor bowed. “I am sure the car meets your requirements my–

Franz Ferdinand grabbed Sophia and roughly brushed by the Governor on the way to the auto. The fucking car was hit with a bomb. Get me and my wife someplace were they are not trying to kill me. I need to wire the Emperor immediately. I can’t let this news cause any sort of disturbance. too delicate.” the car pulled off, and the Governor had to dab the perspiration from his heavy brow.

 

the auto sputtered along towards the apple quay parallel to the Milkacka River on the right. “I am unbelievably sorry, Sophia my pet. I am humiliated…I cannot even protect you from this rabble.

Sophia squeezed his arm. “You are a good man, and I love you dearly. That is all I need from you.”

“Unbelievably sorry.” Franz Ferdinand slapped the back of driver’s seat. “Can you PLEASE try to not to take the streets so fast. the body of the car is shot to hell.

The driver blanched. “I am so sorry, My Lord Archduke.” he turned onto a lane leading to Franz Joseph street. Maybe if he switched out a tire it would look like he was doing something about the car…He pulled up to the curb in front of a delicatessen.

Princip slouched down into a chair on the patio of some deli belonging to a Schiller. The irony of this fact was lost on the school-aged Bosnian Serb who could not be expected to have an understanding of German literary conventions. He wondered if the pastrami was any good? He could at least get a good meal in before he shot himself in the head—my god that was him sitting in the car. His heart skipped a beat while he lept from his chair, gun drawn, cocked, and pointed at the Archduke and, oh no, his wife not his wife too—

 

the lead slug tore through the Franz Ferdinand’s neck, causing the poor man to gargle horribly with his own blood. His wife screamed out in horror and bravely threw her body onto her best friend. Another slug punched its way into her gut, knocking her nearly senseless with pain. both jerked about like fish on the end of a line as the life drained from them. Gavrilo dropped the gun and ran like the scared boy he was. The bystanders, and there were at least a dozen or more, were stunned into inaction for a moment by the sudden outbreak of death in front of them, but they soon focused their fear and rage on the snotty little serb who had done the deed. A Gendarme materialized from around the corner, having heard the gun reports, and he chased the poor boy down into the gutter, kicking him and beating him with the broad side of his sword.

But the boy felt no pain. He was invincible, even as the crowd rained blows down upon him and the gendarmes dragged him away. He was a hero of the Serbian people at last. He was! bullheaded Gavrilo who got kicked out of school, just killed the only direct blood heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire! He was a hero! He deserved a golden prize! God, how he wished he had a beer to drink or a woman to make love to.

 

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2nd Amendment, poetry

One Nation Under Gun

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I’m pro-life

And so are you!

Give out AR-15’s

To every blessed fetus

as it exists the womb

Everyone has the right

to defend themselves

from a world that is not out to

get them

30,000

a year

is a small price to pay

for the right

to walk around like

a suburban

Jesse James

We pledge

Allegiance

to the Gadsden Flag

and to the States Rights

of America

And to the Confederation

For which it stands

One Nation

Under Gun

Unreasonable

With liberty for all and

Justice for

the best armed

America is an arms race

to the top

And if you disagree

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Atheism, Religion

Why Richard Dawkins & the New Atheists Do No Speak For Me

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There is no “Atheist Movement”, there are only people who lives without the need for, or a belief in, a deity or “supernatural power” and who seek reason and peace. Movement “A”theists (and they desperately want that capital A) only seek to empower themselves and to find a place in the existing power structure. They want the same influence that Christians have had in the halls of power, the Universities and the boardrooms for generations and they are willing to cater to the worst impulses of their followers to achieve this.

Case in point, Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins, PhD, the biologist and scientific educator, has played his part in making atheists respectful and taken seriously by the establishment in Western cultural and governmental institutions. His scientific theories are interesting and have added much to the popular understanding of science. Richard Dawkins the man however, the leader of an atheist “movement”, is another matter entirely. He is just another in a long line of powerful, elite, rich white men who have decided that the gravitas granted them by their standing and education gives them the the right to pontificate on everything from torture to date rape. Richard Dawkins twitter (@RichardDawkins) is filled with “logic” based analyses of pretty much anything and everything that pops into his head.

Oddly enough this has recently been rape. He goes on about how terrible it is that men who rape women when they are drunk and cannot remember the whole incident have their “lives ruined”. He goes on about how date rape is not as serious as violent stranger rape and is generally an ass to anyone who would try to get him to see how his “logic” is anything but when applied to such a complex and painful topic as sexual assault. It is not so much the content of what he says, which is bad enough, but the fact that he feels that his position in popular culture and the New Atheist movement gives him the right to act as a moral arbiter of issues that will never affect him as a powerful rich white heterosexual man. It is the sort of privilege that he does not recognize he possesses and in fact does not even recognize as privilege. This is no different than the mindset of many men in various other movements, be they Christian, Jewish, Islamic or any number of secular fields.

Dawkins has made Ayaan Hirsi Ali in particular, and anti-Islamism in general, one of his pet causes. He has tended to attack and shame any atheists or secular group that has any problem with Mrs. Hirsi Ali’s anti-Muslim and Western Imperial apologist tendencies. This recent tweet shows how he takes his position of authority rather too seriously, to the point of almost seeming to “excommunicate” secular groups that do not toe the Anti-Islamic line:

“Inviting a speaker [like Ayaan Hirsi Ali] is not “disrespecting” anybody. I, however, hereby disrespect Yale Atheists, Humanists & Agnostics” (https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/511279615844048896

Dawkins seems to have little time for feminists unless they are explicitly anti-religious or anti-Islamic. The fact that Mrs. Ali is the partner of fellow white pro-Western Imperialism master of the Universe Niall Ferguson may have something to do with his affinity for her cause.

Dawkins has also defended and played apologist for philosopher and New Atheist fixture Sam Harris. Harris has some interesting things to say in the fields of philosophy and neuro-biology but his views on Muslims and civil rights are troubling to say the least. Mr. Harris has stated that

“torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror”, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/in-defense-of-torture_b_8993.html

Mr. Harris has also posed extensive thought experiments about the nature of torture in a crisis that have more in common with a plot from the show 24 then anything approaching reality or scientific understanding of torture. Mr. Dawkins has not been shy in his defense of Mr. Harris, a man who believes as he does that Islam in general is a threat to the “West” and secular society. This sort of support for the apologists for big government programs that violate civil liberties is troubling and betrays a sense of moral superiority that is troubling and odd in someone who wishes to reject the power and influence of religion in public life. The New Atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens and his defense of the brutal US/UK invasion of Iraq, seem to have an affinity for Neo-Liberal and Neo-Conservative policies, especially regarding the so called “war on terrorism”. It leads me to wonder if they realize that they are defending the institutions that are most infiltrated and influenced by the same messianic and power-based religious ideology they attack in other forums? Writer and moral philosopher Chris Hedges had this to say about the New Atheists

“I was stunned at how the very chauvinism and bigotry and intolerance that they condemn in the Christian Right they embrace under the guise of atheism […] they also create a binary worldview of us and them.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMcd_yWL2DM]

When reason and logic are used in furtherance of the same goals that are espoused by the religious, cultural and governmental powers that be then it may be time to question if what these men are trying to popularize is in fact free-thought at all, or merely another way for the powerful to couch their ideology, misogyny and power aims in a new and more up-to-date form of moral apologia. People who seek out an alternative to the dogmatic, chauvinistic, misogynist and violent religious sects that dominate the world do not need more heavy-handed and morally superior musings from men who benefit, knowingly or not, from the privilege they make their bones attacking. Why do atheists need leaders at all? Why can’t we have a community of freethinking, privilege defying, open-hearted people who do not wish to impose a secular religion of unquestionable “logic”? Why must the same rich white faces keep on telling us what is in our own interest? These are questions we must all struggle with and find our own answers to.

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Israel, Middle East

I am Done Apologizing For Justice: A Response to Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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The Following is a response to the Essay “I’m Done Apologizing For Israel” written by Rabbi Menachem Creditor. That essay can be found here:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-menachem-creditor/im-done-apologizing-for-i_b_5606650.html

The Palestinian people are done apologizing for daring to not be Jews. Ever since the Western Imperial powers gave into pressure from the Conservative Christian, Zionist Jewish, Cold War Hawk and Corporate lobbies and recognized Israel, the Middle East has been most troubled and violent of regions. After the evil that was the Holocaust the Western Powers made “never again” their mantra and bought into the absurd and racist ideology of imperialist Zionism as a way to assuage their own guilty consciences for not acting to save the Jews of Europe when they had the chance. It did not hurt that the West now had a non-Arab/Muslim foothold in the oil and gas rich Middle East, a foothold in the form of an expansionist, violent nation that owed its very existence to Western support and eventually largesse. Eastern European Jewish survivors of the horror that was the Holocaust joined with wealthy zionists from the diaspora and forged a nation whose only legitimate justification could be found in a covenant with an unknowable deity which led to an ancient campaign of genocide and brutal expansionism against a native pagan population described in a 3,000 year old book of religious fables and theology. Using intimidation, economic exploitation and outright terrorist tactics (like those of the Stern Gang and others) the zionists were able to force a conflict which led to the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Arab Palestine to make way for Zionist settlement and expansion.

The Palestinians were forced to flee, forcibly evicted from their homes and property and in many cases were outright killed. Many ended up in ghettos and many more in refugee camps in poor and despotic nations that did not want them. The colonizers, who named their “nation” after the ancient semitic Kingdoms of Israel & Judea, broke their promise to the international community, and to the Palestinians themselves, by refusing to compensate the dispossessed Palestinians for their land and property and by refusing to allow them the right to return to the land of their birth. Many of these Palestinian Arabs had lived in the area for generations, even centuries. They had lived in peace, or at least in absence of conflict, with Jews, Christians and others for centuries under Ottoman authority. This was their home and the Zionist colonizers stole it from them based on a mythical contract executed by a mostly mythical man with an invisible and implacable god. This new nation went on to defend itself against an Arab world that saw a threat in the powerful, colonizing, advancing and Western backed ethno/religious state. That a crime had been committed against the Palestinians was never denied, indeed some Israeli leaders admitted that the Palestinians had legitimate grievances against their conquerors. David Ben Gurion himself stated

 

A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily… it is easier for them to continue the war and not get tired than it is for us… The Palestinian Arabs are not alone. The Syrians are coming to help. From our point of view, they are strangers; in the point of law they are foreigners; but to the Arabs, they are not foreigners at all … The centre of the war is in Palestine, but its dimensions are much wider. When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves — this is only half the truth […] the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves […] The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside.

 

The Zionist vision has always been an imperial vision, a vision of an ethno-religious liberal republic (at least for those who bow down to overall Jewish superiority in the nation) built upon the territory of people who are seen as “occupiers” of a land they and their ancestors worked, improved, and lived on for generations. Zionism in its most militant form is remarkably similar to Nazism: it is based on a conception of race & heritage that is completely artificial, it is based on the idea of a national living space for a growing and virile master race, it is militaristic and based upon the appropriation of land thought promised to the chosen race under a spiritual, moral covenant that is coherent only to those whom it benefits. These two ideologies create aliens out of people who have lived within the land for all their lives, creates terrorists and militants out of people fighting for their lives, their dignity and their land, and makes hypocrites and charlatans out of a proud Jewish people who have historically fought for dignity and for the right to live in peace.

It is said that those who are hurt in turn hurt others…if we look from this perspective the Zionist mission is understandable if not forgivable. That the Jewish people, or at least a large segment of them, wish to do to Palestine what the Americans did to the Native Tribes, what the Spanish did to Native Empires of South America, and what the Chinese did to the kingdoms of central and southern Asia, is understandable if not forgivable. But 3000 years of imperialist wrongdoing does not make what Israel did and continues to do to the Palestinian people right. As desperate, as violent, as seemingly misguided as the resistance against Israel by the Palestinians is, and as foolish, opportunistic and bigoted as their chosen representatives, like Hamas, are, that does not mean the Palestinian fight is any less righteous, any less just. If Israel has the “absolute right” to defend itself, then what of the Palestinians, the ones who are truly dispossessed? A cheap rocket coming from Gaza is a weapon of terror but a million dollar bomb dropped from a billion dollar Israeli F-16 is righteous and justified by the “facts on the ground”? Were the Afrikaaners justified in keeping the native population of South Africa in check? Was the African National Congress and other black African groups “terrorists” for violently resisting their oppression and the theft of their land? If we say that Israel is morally justified in its mission in Palestine then what basis do we have to deny the same stamp of approval to what the Whites did in South Africa? Remember that the ANC was once known as a terrorist group and Nelson Mandela and his fellow Black African freedom fighters were as vilified and hated as the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are today. It is moral relativism of the most disgusting, the most self-serving sort to give the mandate of a just cause to one while rightfully condemning the other as an international embarrassment.

And now we have Rabbi Creditor with his cloying, solipsistic and morally repugnant apology for his support of the Zionist cause. We are asked by the author to pity him for having to defend the actions of an international pariah who has defied the international community and waged aggressive war against the people whose land they occupy. We are told were are “anti-Semitic” (a tired intellectual strawman if there ever was one) for daring to point out atrocities committed in the name of a nation claiming the mandate of heaven. We are told that because the Israelis treat some of the scores of people, mostly civilians and children, they maim and slaughter with weapons of war they extreme violence should be excused. We are told with a straight face that people in a crowded city that has been blockaded for a decade who shoot rockets into a nation with nuclear weapons and missile defense systems is a sign that the latter nation is “under-siege”.  We are told that a group, as odious as it may be to some, chosen in internationally recognized and administered democratic elections to represent the Palestinians of Gaza is “illegitimate” and must surrender this authority because it dares fight back against an occupier. We are told that lack of enthusiastic support for the nation of Israel is essentially the same thing as morally condemning all Jews, everywhere. To coin a phrase—enough of this mashugana!

To equate the great Jewish people of the world and all that they have given to the shared cultural and scientific heritage of earth with a violent, xenophobic and imperialist nation state is an insult to Jews everywhere and throughout time. The real, and totally disgusting, crimes committed against Jews as a people do not justify the actions of the nation of Israel nor do they add any legitimacy to its theological justification for existence. To admit this fact is not to commit any violence against the Jewish people. Jews must be held to the same standards of moral culpability and agency that every other nation is, or should be, held to. Rabbi Creditor, and anyone who supports imperial violence, xenophobic hate and ethnic cleansing under whatever banner it chooses to wave, should have to apologize, and vociferously at that, for such support. I, and millions of others, are done apologizing for our pursuit of justice for the people of Palestine under siege.

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Activism, terrorism

Tea Party Terrorism

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According to Right Wing/Tea Party “logic”, if someone does something distasteful within a few miles of an Occupy rally then all Occupy rally people are terrorists. But if two members of the Bundy Ranch movement show up at a Pizza place, shoot two (armed) cops, another person, and leave Don’t Tread on Me flags at the scene while screaming “revolution” that is just a sign that the “Obama loving” media is manufacturing a crisis. You know, like they did with Waco. And Oklahoma City. And the Militia Movement. And violence and intimidation from the Rand Paul campaign. And Eric Rudolph. And sovereign citizen attacks on police and other law enforcement. And countless other incidents of political intimidation, hate speech and paranoia going back at least to the early 20th Century. Right Wing wing activism in the US has always been closely associated with violence, implied or overt. We ignore this fact as a society because the perpetrators have the “right” levels of melanin in their skin.

Swastika’s were found at the shooters home. The haunted the Bundy Ranch and seemed to be obsessed with guns and violent rhetoric. They saw tyranny and oppression all around them…but directed at the Tea Party and scared white people (but I repeat myself). How much more violence is it going to take before the US realizes it has a violent right wing fanatic problem, a movement obsessed with guns and convinced they are taking part in a revolution that in fact exists only in their paranoid minds. The Right is trying to roll back voting rights, minority rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, workers rights and have now moved on to attacking the very law and order officials they used to lionize. This is a movement that verges from activism in favor of limiting democracy on one hand to active politically motivated violence on the other. We must do something as a society. We must educate ourselves. We must demand that the media report the facts about right win violence and activism and stop the false equivalency games trying to manufacture a similar threat from the left  to create “balance” in coverage. We must confront the fear and paranoia and violence in our midst before incidents like the Vegas shooting become a weekly, or even daily, event.

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Politics

Bundy Bungle: Conservatives and Their Slavery Delusion

Carrey

I am getting sick and tired of conservatives saying that having to pay taxes to service a large federal debt is the same or (and I cannot believe THEY even really believe this) WORSE than the enslavement of black Americans. Sure it sucks to have to pay taxes to finance a debt that is out of control (mostly because of wars ad corporate welfare and subsides and because we plundered the SS fund) but to compare that to SLAVERY?

Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/cliven-bundy-wants-to-tell-you-all-about-the-negro/361152/)

“Slavery is torture as a system of governance, corporal destruction taken as the mere cost of doing business […] Enslaved black people were, with some regularity, beat with cowhide whips, tongs, pokers, chairs, and wooden boards. Nails were driven through their palms, pins through their tongues. Eyes were gouged out for the smallest offense.”

If you think that even REMOTELY resembles having to pay a debt you think is too high then you are so stupid that I am surprised you did not stab yourself in the eye with your toothbrush this morning.

Bundy is a thief one step above a cattle rustler. He is obviously a racist and has no comprehension of how stupid he actually is. We need to ignore this man and let the Federal Government get our money back from him. What worries me more is how many conservatives who normally would keep their mouths shut on issues of race and gun rights are now coming out and declaring this man a hero or a revolutionary. This is dangerous. This is how Oklahoma City happened. This is how doctors get assassinated. This is how people start dying.

The conservative movement in this nation has been taken over by people who are not even classically conservative at all. They are militants hoping to reestablish a racially segregated and violently maintained economic and social utopia that never existed and could never have existed. Conservative white America is eating itself alive. Many cannot comprehend the idea that white supremacy would be the a priori state of US society and governance. They buy more guns, buy more self-segregated housing, go to more economically segregated schools, and even read/watch a self-segregated media. Far less self-delusion and ignorance has led to violence of unimaginable intensity and cruelty. It is not if the Right wing will violently strike out against a liberalizing and diversifying nation but when. We as citizens and as human beings must be prepared for this and we must not give in to the temptation to strike back or take revenge. We must not behave like these people because we are not these people. Of course we should defend ourselves but as a society, not as bunch of scared-shitless individuals armed to the teeth and closing their eyes against reality and the tide of history.

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terrorism, Violence

Boston Massacre

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Yesterday 3 people were killed and over 100 maimed by two massive explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon. First, how the hell did the attacker[s?] get 2 massive bombs at the finish line of one of the most watched and attended sporting events in the entire United States? I mean…where was security? Where were the police? You’d think this would be the ONE spot on the race that would be watched and searched endlessly.

A Huffington Post report said that at least 25 people lost at least one leg in the explosion and that blood and limbs were strewn everywhere across the street and sidewalks. I saw the video taken and the photos afterward and I believe it…it looked like Aleppo or Homs. I have never seen a bombing like this in the US. I believe that we are now starting to get a real taste of the extremist violence that has plagued much of the world for decades now…

No one knows who did this yet but of course the right wingers and racists are already claiming that this was done by someone who does not look like a white person. Professional bigot Michelle Malkin even tweeted something that claimed the suspect was a “dark skinned” man…Is she TRYING to get people mobbed and killed?

I hope they find who did this and they put them on trial and put him in prison for the rest of his or her life. These people were just trying to run a marathon, a real display of human skill and devotion. To deliberately bomb an event like this really shows that some people have no love in their hearts and minds at all.

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