Common to these cases is a belief expressed by the individuals that they were not bound by the snappily-titled Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.4) Regulations 2020, as made by the Secretary of State exercising the powers conferred by sections 45C(1), (3)(c), (4)(b), (4)(d), 45F(2) and 45P of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
It’s because, they say, of Magna Carta, and of something called “common law”. This theory has gone viral in certain corners of social media, with perhaps the most popular template of the legal argument being this:
This document has apparently been posted in the windows of pubs, salons and other businesses by owners believing it to confer immunity from the regulations requiring them to close their businesses for 4 weeks. Unfortunately, as the proliferation of punitive financial penalties demonstrates, no such immunity exists.
And that’s because this document – and the assertions of law that it contains – is pure nonsense. It is a species of what regular attendees at courts will recognise as the pseudo-legal rubbish peddled by self-styled “Freemen on The Land”, a grouping of proselytising individuals who believe that by misquoting Magna Carta and basic tenets of contract law, they can somehow place themselves outside the jurisdiction of the law of England & Wales. By making various incoherent and illogical assertions cloaked in legalese, they profess to be bound by “other” laws, such as the laws of the sea or long-repealed mediaeval treaties, and claim that the legal system has no control over them.
Many adherents are harmless enough; they rock up to the magistrates’ courts armed with their scripts and pseudo-legal babble and are duly and properly convicted, with court time wasted but the enterprise otherwise victimless. But on an organisational level, there is the risk of very real harm, with “gurus” seeking to part the scared and unwary from their money in return for the secrets to legal omnipotence. Furthermore, when this empty doctrine escapes the conspiracist echo chamber and enters the social media feeds of people who trust and act upon it, we see desperate people facing financial ruin.
The phenomenon is by no means unique to this country; there is an international dimension to this fraud. In Canada in 2012, a judgment of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in the case of Meads v Meads painstakingly and comprehensively dismantled the legal shibboleths of these various linked movements (referred to by the judge as “Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Argument litigants”, or “OPCA”, due to a common thread of the groups’ arguments being that in order to be bound by the law, you have to explicitly agree to it, akin to entering a commercial contract).
And while there is a risk that by engaging and explicitly debunking the falsehoods we risk conferring upon them an unearned legitimacy as a credible “alternative” school of legal thought, I think that given the prevalence of this rubbish, and the very real harm that it is doing to innocent people, we lawyers have a responsibility to put the truth into the public domain.
So let’s look at the document above, and break down, line by line, what the law actually says.
“I do not consent.”
Consent is a recurring theme in OPCA arguments. But it is meaningless. While your consent is required to enter into a legally-enforceable contractual agreement with another person or organisation, there is no principle of English & Welsh law that you are required to consent before being bound by the laws made by Parliament. The principle underpinning our constitution is that Parliament is sovereign, and can make or unmake any law it wishes (see, among other sources, the Bill of Rights 1688/9, the Act of Settlement 1701, the Claim of Right Act 1689 (Scotland), the Acts of Union of 1706 and 1707.) It would rather defeat the point if Parliament could be thwarted simply by individuals declaring that they do not “consent”. And you can’t.
“This business stands under the jurisdiction of common law.”
It certainly does. As do we all. Common law is the incremental development of the law by the higher courts; it fills the gaps between legislation made by Parliament. Parliament is sovereign, meaning that legislation enacted by Parliament takes precedence over previous court decisions (common law), and courts are required to interpret existing common law principles consistently with legislation. But – and this is the key point – we are all bound by both sources of law. You cannot elect to live under the jurisdiction of only one or the other. It’s a nonsense. “Common law” is cited by OPCA groups as if it has some special indestructible quality, but it doesn’t. It is an important source of law, for sure, but it cannot override primary legislation, and, once a principle of common law has been superseded by statute or by a development in the common law, it can’t be revived by somebody saying, “I still consider myself bound by the old common law”. To give an example, it used to be an understood common law principle that a man could not, as a matter of law, be guilty of raping his wife. This changed in 1992, when the House of Lords (the predecessor of our Supreme Court) clarified that a man could in fact be convicted of raping his wife. A man could not today run a defence to rape asserting that he was bound by the old common law.
“As the business owners, we are exercising our rights to earn a living”.
There is, I’m afraid, no absolute legal right to earn a living that overrides your obligation to obey the criminal law. There’s no such right provided by statute, either domestic or international, nor under common law. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights provides a freedom to choose an occupation and a right to work, but the UK famously secured an opt-out of the Charter when a member of the EU, and is no longer bound at all post-Brexit.
“Under article 61 of Magna Carta 1215, we have a right to enter into lawful dissent if we feel we are being governed unjustly”.
No you don’t. Chapter (not ‘article’) 61 of Magna Carta 1215 provided:
SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:
The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us – or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice – to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.
Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.
In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.
The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.
We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.
There is no mention of “lawful dissent”, but King John did agree that the 25 barons to whom this agreement applied could “distrain upon and assail” the monarch “in every way possible” if the monarch or his servants offended or transgressed this agreement. However, the first point here is that this right was only granted to those 25 barons and people who had sworn an oath to follow the commands of those barons, not to the population at large. And secondly, and fatally for this argument, Magna Carta 1215 was declared void by the Pope within a year. It was reissued several times, in various forms, but Chapter 61 was never revived. Indeed, out of the 63 chapters that appeared in the 1215 Magna Carta, only four are still in force today, the remainder having been repealed over the centuries.
So in short, Chapter 61 no longer exists, and even when it did, it didn’t give a general right to dissent or rebellion.
“Contrary to common belief, our sovereign and her government are only there to govern us and not rule us. This must be done within the constraint of our common law and the freedoms asserted to us by such law. Nothing can become law in this country if it falls outside of this simple constraint”.
Again (and I am running out of different ways to word this), the fundamental principle underpinning our constitution is that the Queen in Parliament is sovereign, and can make or unmake any law she likes. Attempting to draw a semantic distinction between “govern” and “rule” does not get around the fact that laws, lawfully made, are binding on those to whom they apply – i.e. all of us. As above, sovereignty means that Parliament can legislate to completely overturn the common law. No common law principles have immunity in this respect. This paragraph completely misstates how our legal system works.
“I am not under any obligation, nor will I, answer any questions or give you any details”.
It is not stated at whom this declaration is directed, but yes, you are generally under no obligation to answer questions or provide details to anybody. However, there are exceptions. If, for instance, a police officer reasonably suspects that you have committed or are committing a criminal offence – say, breaching the Covid regulations – and is unable to ascertain your name by asking you, they would be entitled to arrest you under section 24(5)(a) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 in order to establish your details.
“ I am a living person and statutory regulations only apply with my consent”.
This is another common rhetorical device deployed by OPCA litigants, and it is meaningless. We all, from the moment of birth, have a legal personality. You can’t opt out of it by declaring yourself a “living person”, or a “natural person”, or a freeman-on-the-land, or by claiming (as is common with Freemen-on-The-Land) that “I’m not John Smith, I’m John of the Smith Family! And you have no legal power over him!”. None of these devices has any legal meaning or effect. And as we’ve seen above, the idea of consent being required before statutory regulations apply is chaff.
“I will conditionally accept your demands on proof of the following…If I do not receive the evidence as requested, I will thereby take your silence as your assent and agreement.”
What follows is a list of supposed terms, requesting that the reader of the notice supply various specified “evidence”. None of these has any legal effect. Contract – and this is pretty basic undergraduate stuff – requires offer, acceptance and consideration (“quid pro quo”). You can’t enter a contract with someone by sticking up a poster of demands and saying, to the world at large, “I’ll take silence as your agreement”. This isn’t a Twitter spat. But, as above, even if you were somehow to enter a legally-binding contract with, say, an individual police officer or local government official, this would not have any effect on whether the law applies to you, or what powers the state has available to it. If the police reasonably suspect that you are breaking the law, they have a host of enforcement powers available, none of which are conditional on them obtaining your consent or complying with a list of demands that you’ve blu-tacked to your window.
The house owner did not hear when Ms Mahlangu drowned in the family swimming pool. She was a domestic worker who had given 22 years of her life to tending to that family’s needs. Like most domestic workers in South Africa, she was a Black woman. Her daughter – Sylvia Mahlangu – sought to claim compensation from a statutory fund set up for employees who suffer injuries at work. Her claim failed because the legislation excluded domestic workers, like her mother, from the definition of ‘employee’ (see here, (xviii)(d)(v) excluding a domestic employee employed as such in a private household” from compensation).
The Constitutional Court of South Africa unanimously held that the exclusion of domestic workers from the statutory definition of employee breached the right to equality (see here), and, by majority, the rights to dignity and to social security. What I wish to focus on in this post is the diverging approaches to equality between the ‘dissenting’ judgment of Jafta J, on the one hand, and the ‘majority’ judgments of Victor AJ and Mhlantla J, on the other. In particular, I wish to focus on the way Victor AJ and Mhlantla J relied on the concept of ‘intersectionality’ to understand what was truly constitutionally offensive about excluding domestic workers from the statutory definition of employee. What follows is a necessarily high-level overview (at the risk, I accept, of being somewhat blunt). I hope the reader will understand that it is due to the constraints of space in a blog-post; I can only direct the interested reader to the judgments themselves.
Domestic work in South Africa
The backdrop to the Constitutional Court’s discussion of intersectionality is the nature of domestic work in South Africa.
The overwhelming majority of domestic workers in South Africa are Black women (Judgment,  (all references to the Judgment, unless otherwise stated)). It is difficult work, as discussed in Justice Mhlantla’s judgment. It is not just that the hours are long, and the work is physically demanding . It is also that domestic workers dedicate substantial time to support other families at the expense of their own . Further, the work is poorly paid. As of March 2020, the minimum hourly wage for a domestic worker is roughly 75 pence (R15.57). A weekly job, working 9 to 5, five days a week, would give a minimum salary of 30 pounds.
This modest sum must also be spread thinly.
One of the many hangovers of apartheid is that South African cities are divided between poorer townships and more affluent suburbs. As a result, domestic workers will often have to travel far to get to work. Soweto (a large township in South West Johannesburg) is, for example, 40 kilometres from the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg. There is no real, reliable public transport; minivans (called ‘taxis’) will shuttle workers around the city. Yet, even in a taxi, to travel from Soweto and back again – each working day – leaves very little left of an already paltry wage.
To this it must also be added what is colloquially referred to in South Africa as a “black tax”. This refers to the expectation that a person who has an income will share it to meet family needs. In a country with high unemployment, a single individual will often have multiple dependents. Domestic workers are not just breadwinners for themselves, but often “responsible for the upbringing of children in multiple families”  (see also ).
Equality under section 9 of the Constitution
Section 9 of the South African Bill of Rights, entitled “Equality”, provides as follows:
(1) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one
or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
There are two relevant rights under section 9 for our purposes. The first, under section 9(1), is what may be called the ‘right to equality’. This is a broad-ranging right to have like cases treated alike. As Lord Hoffmann famously explained in the Privy Council,such a rule is an axiom of rational behaviour (Matadeen,  (but see also ). Under this ‘right’, the state cannot lawfully fail to treat similar situations in a like manner, unless there is a rational justification for doing so.
The second, under section 9(3), is a right which may be called the ‘right against unfair discrimination’. This is a right to not be subjected to unfair discrimination on one or more of the listed grounds in section 9(3). Two points are of note.
First, the list of grounds is not closed (see s9(3) “including”). The Constitutional Court has, for example, held that a person’s HIV status is a protected ground under section 9(3). This is relevant because Ms Mahlangu was poor. Social status is not listed in terms under section 9(3), but it was considered by the Constitutional Court as one of the grounds on which Ms Mahlangu was discriminated against.
Second, and critically for the discussion of intersectionality, section 9(3) does not require an individual to point to only one ground for unfair discrimination; an individual might establish unfair discrimination on “one or more grounds” (emphasis mine). This is relevant because Sylvia Mahlangu argued that her mother had been discriminated against on the combined grounds of “gender” and “race” (, ).
The opinions of the individual judges
The ‘dissenting’ judgment of Justice Jafta is limited to the right to equality under section 9(1). The state conceded that there was no legitimate purpose in excluding domestic workers from compensation under the statutory fund. It had failed to proffer any justification for refusing to treat like cases (namely domestic workers, on the one hand, and all other workers, on the other) alike. The legislation was therefore unconstitutional under section 9(1) . On this view, it was not necessary to consider the unfair discrimination claim under section 9(3) .
The judgments of VictorAJ and Mhlantla J explored the unfair discrimination claim under section 9(3) in some detail. Victor AJ’s judgment relies heavily on the concept of intersectionality. Atrey, writing in 2019, explained that intersectionality relies on a broad conception of prejudice as follows (cited ):
First of all, intersectionality conceives of ‘disadvantage’ broadly, including every kind of harm, oppression, powerlessness, subordination, marginalisation, deprivation, domination and violence. Moreover, the disadvantage is defined not by isolated or stray incidents but by systemic or structural nature. It represents a pattern of historic motifs of disadvantage which have been entrenched over time. Such disadvantage is also not personally towards random individuals but suffered by individuals because of their membership to a social group.
The term was first coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in a highly influential paper in 1989 (cited ). Her philosophy of intersectionality sought to respond to the “problematic consequences of the tendency to treat race and gender as mutually exclusive categories of experience and analysis”. It recognises that individuals may be disadvantaged by overlapping – or intersectional – grounds of discrimination. Intersectionality allows us (indeed, requires us) to reckon with the fact that Black women as discriminated against not only as women (gender), and not only as Black people (race), but, rather, as Black women (race + gender). Intersectionality can lead to a more nuanced understanding of discrimination. White women, for example, may be discriminated against as women, but may still also enjoy certain privileges as a result of their race.
Victor AJ recognises intersectionality as a “useful analytical tool to understand the convergence of sexism, racism and class stratification” that Ms Mahlangu faced . She found herself “at the intersection or convergence of multiple oppressions” , saddled by a “triple yoke” of gender, race and class . To understand how Ms Mahlangu experienced discrimination – on the axes of race and gender and class – was necessary to fulfil the ambitious constitutional project of redressing past inequalities .
Mhlantla J does not in terms refer to the concept of intersectionality, but wrote separately to “unpack the patterns of race, sex, gender and class” . Her judgment explores the reasons why the domestic work that Ms Mahlangu provided has historically been undervalued. She explains that this is in part due to racism (“the discriminatory notion that domestic work […] should be performed in most instances by black people” ), and in part due to sexism (“the gendered character of domestic work” ). The learned judge goes on to note that, post-apartheid, the make-up of households has changed, and domestic workers are employed “in households of diverse races, religions, cultures and varying socio-economic classes” . The historical prejudice, however, explains why, today, Black women are for a large part expected to shoulder the responsibilities that form the heart of domestic work. This anchors the exclusion of domestic workers from the statutory definition of employee in the broader context of sexism, racism and class prejudice.
One might, as a final point, contrast this intersectional approach to understanding the nature of the discrimination that Ms Mahlangu’s faced, with the way the dissenting judgment deals with the dignity claim. This claim failed on the grounds that:
Of itself, the exclusion [of domestic workers form the statutory definition of employee] does not have a dehumanising or degrading effect on the groups of workers to whom it applies. Nor does it reduce their worth as human beings 
On the dissenting view, there is nothing inherently degrading in excluding a “grou[p] of workers” from certain statutory benefits.
By contrast, the intersectional approach advocated for in the judgments of Victor AJ and Mhlantla J would recognise that that “grou[p] of workers” were Black women excluded from protection because of long-standing prejudices rooted in racism, sexism and class prejudice. To view the exclusion of such workers simply as an irrational case of refusing to treat like cases alike does not necessarily capture the full picture. By contrast, to recognise their exclusion as an unfair discrimination rooted in overlapping prejudices perhaps better captures why Ms Mahlangu’s work was not considered real enough to earn her the status of employee under the legislation.
The facts underlying Ms Mahlangu’s death sharply – if not shamefully – illustrate existing inequalities in South African society. The judgments of Victor AJ and Mhlantla J in the Constitutional Court’s show the value of intersectionality as a means of understanding the inequalities (plural) that those in Ms Mahlangu’ shoes face. I leave the final words with Victor AJ on this point:
[…] Such textured analysis in relation to discrimination is an indispensable legal methodology and, using the intersectionality framework as a legal tool, leads to more substantive protection of equality. Adopting intersectionality as an interpretative criterion enables courts to consider the social structures that shape the experience of marginalised people. It also reveals how individual experiences vary according to multiple combinations of privilege, power, and vulnerability as structural elements of discrimination. An intersectional approach is the kind of interpretative approach which will achieve “the progressive realisation of our transformative constitutionalism 
On September 21, 2004, the Museum of the American Indian is to open on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., after a highly successful fund-raising drive, largely among Native American tribal leaders. This culminates a history of false starts and false pretenses.
As the founding Executive Vice President of the American Indian National Bank in 1974, and subsequently as President of its consulting arm, The Native American Economic Development Corporation, I participated in one of these early efforts to create a national museum for Native Americans. Unfortunately, this initiative was for them and not by them and for a hostile agenda.
The bank itself was a creature of three of the big “seven sisters” oil companies. I discovered this too late after I had hand-carried $2,000 in cash from Peter McDonald, the new, charismatic, and revolutionary head of the Navajo Nation, as the initial capital to meet the deadline for incorporation in the District of Colombia. In the official photo of the original AINB Board of Directors, I am standing next to the president of the bank, Barney Old Coyote (Montana Crow), who was honest but had been carefully selected, and the chairman, W.W. Keeler, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, who was a former CEO of Phillips Petroleum Company. Within a year I was out on my ear.
My special interest was in commemorating the tradition of what we today might call broad-based capital ownership in the means of production, because Native Americans, more than most others, work most effectively not as hourly laborers but as owners of their own enterprises. This, however, was the precise opposite of the Bank’s dictated strategy. The purpose of the Bank, as stated then by Marvin L. Franklyn, Assistant to the Secretary for Indian Affairs (who today would be entitled Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs), was to provide employment of Indians (read “cheap labor” by “wage slaves”) for private firms (read “colonial exploiters”), and to transfer the billion-plus dollars of funds (the exact amount was secret) held in trust by the BIA to big New York banks at half the prime rate of interest (better than the 0% earned previously) for reinvestment de facto by the oil companies.
The purpose of the Bank, I recommended, and of its consulting arm should be what President Nixon himself, with a little help from me, called “Red Power,” consisting of all-Indian-owned firms in such fields as energy and high technology, as originally urged by the visionary Paul Bernal, the spiritual leader of Taos Pueblo, and backed by Wendell Chino, the highly respected leader of the Jicarilla Apaches, and the legendary Bob Jim, leader of the Yakima and a member of the original AINB board until his tragic and untimely death. The executives of the International Bank of Washington, which in fact controlled the board of the American Indian National Bank, told me, “You are talking Chinese.” I explained that the purpose of Indian-owned economic power is to strengthen the inherent sovereignty of the Indian nations and revive their spiritual wisdom to strengthen America. The oil company and International Bank officials curtly informed me, “You have got it all backwards.”
Similarly, the American Indian Museum to be sponsored by the Bank was to serve the agenda of the three special interest groups that controlled the Department of the Interior, namely, minerals, timber, and cattle, in order to keep Native Americans in their place, exploit their natural resources, and maintain the original cultures of America as quaint vestiges of an irrelevant past.
Much has happened in the ensuing thirty years as a result of the still hesitant national liberation movements in Indian country. When asked in January, 2004, what the purpose of the new Museum of the American Indian is, its director affirmed that every display and every project and every part of the museum is to affirm the constitutional sovereignty of Native American nations and to preserve their spiritual heritage for future generations.
The Heritage of the Ani Waya
Of the original seven Cherokee clans, three were officially disestablished by the federal government in 1905, when the Cherokee system of representative government was abolished in favor of a single chief appointed by the President of the United States and when the Cherokee religion was declared to be subversive and was officially abolished. One of these three was the Ani Waya, which means Clan of the Wolf. The function of this clan was to preserve the religion and the traditions.
After the loss of the written tradition, the oral history of the Cherokee religion passed down through the Ani Waya to what are called the traditionalists, including my great uncle Joseph Franklin Bever (who had another name in Oklahoma). He was one of the last formally trained Cherokee imams. He called the Athan every morning, but when challenged he replied simply that he was calling the hogs. Like all Cherokees, he started every prayer with “Ya Allah.” All the prophets, starting with Abraham, are honored in the tradition. Until 1895, the Cherokees held the hajj, with tawaf, on the land of Uncle Henry Bever (spelled Beaver among the Oklahoma Ani Waya) three miles southwest of Hillsboro, Indiana. The last custodian of this sacred land lived nearby when I lived a mile away until shortly after Pearl Harbor.
Until the last hajj, Cherokees came all the way from Oklahoma to attend, but only those with native fluency in Cherokee were permitted to participate, including my great-grandmother, who was born seven years after the forced migration in 1839, known as the Trail of Tears, from North Carolina and Georgia to Oklahoma. She helped raise me. The last of those who were trained by my great uncle is Ben Mitman, my second cousin, who lives in Indianapolis and is now in his mid-nineties but, like most of my family in their advanced age, is still hale and hearty. My great grandmother, who spoke only Cherokee after she announced that it was time to die, had coal black hair down to her waist when she was in her nineties. We have a home video of another of my great grandmothers dancing at the age of ninety-six at one of the last great Bever-Crane clan reunions.
For the Cherokees, the Trail of Tears was the last of the great acts of ethnic cleansing that began with the American Revolution. The first period of genocide came when the younger generation sided with the British against the encroaching American settlers. The older traditionalists opposed war in principle and refused to be pawns in foreign wars. Although the wisdom of the traditionalists eventually triumphed in a feeble cultural renaissance after the American Revolution, this strategy of what Gandhi called satyagraha failed in the end. In 1839, despite the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshal that Cherokee sovereignty was higher than that of the State of Georgia, the president of the United States ordered the U.S. Army to drive the Cherokees in the middle of winter all the way to Oklahoma.
Although reportedly a third of them died en route while the federal troops watched, not all of this third actually died. Three groups broke off from the Trail of Tears, one going to Ohio and two to Indiana, because they feared extermination once they would arrive in Oklahoma. The Cherokee religion was best preserved for more than a century in an isolated Indiana group, because the Christian and U.S. governmental drive to stamp out the Cherokee religion in Oklahoma had significant success. My great uncle went from the other Indiana group near Hillsboro, Indiana, in 1903 at the age of 22 down to Oklahoma, where the formal religious training was headquartered.
In 1905, after he had studied for two years at the seminary there, the U.S. government abolished the Cherokee religion and imprisoned everyone who performed the salah publically. The Katoowa Society was formed to fight back, but they were crushed. My great uncle then spent two years trying to organize all the Native American tribes to fight for religious freedom, but despite some interest among the Navajo, Hopi, Crow, and Blackfeet, he failed miserably and so went back to Indiana where I knew him as a boy. I was impressed because he knew the names of 269 plants.
The true knowers of the Cherokee religion have kept it secret. The traditionalists who live isolated in the woods of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma told me when I was last there thirty years ago as a personal emissary of President Nixon that when anthropologists come to study the religion, the traditionalists entertain them with a bunch of nonsense and then whoop with laughter when they see this nonsense printed in scholarly books.
According to the traditionalists, the Cherokee religion came in the form of a book that was brought in a great fleet of ships out of the east when the Cherokees lived on an island where it was never cold. After three generations, the bad people from the south killed almost everyone on all the islands and destroyed the book. The remainder of the Cherokees immigrated west to the Great Land.
Their mass migration from a tropical island in the Caribbean to the Yucatan Peninsula in the late 1300s was verified by the leading Meso-American archeologist, T. B. Irving (Al Hajji Ta’alim Ali). He was the only person who had recorded the relevant inscriptions. Twenty years ago, he said he would write up this history, but he died last year without ever doing so. I have visited the Yucatan and asked other Mesoamerican archeologists about this history, but they know nothing about it.
After some more generations, the number of which I have forgotten, the bad people attacked again. This time the Cherokees all migrated north and eastwards to find the lost book, because they knew that it came out of the east. This is the origin story according to the Ani Waya clan.
What this all means is open to modern research and interpretation. There is now thorough documentation of a great expedition of da’wa that the Emir of Mali, Abu Bakr, sent across the Atlantic in 1310 A.C. after he met Chinese Muslims in the hajj. Scholars do not seem to be clear on whether he was hoping to bring Islam to China or to America, because there is evidence that at least two earlier Muslim expeditions had visited America, one in 1100 going westward from Africa and the other in 1178 eastward from China. When the first expedition did not return, Emir Abu Bakr sent a second expedition two years later in 1312, reportedly including Mandinga members from what is now Liberia. The detailed manifests of each of the Emir’s ships are now of historical record.
In recent years hidden libraries have been found in Timbuktu on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in Mali. I attended a conference in Mali’s capital Bamako in 1999 but could not get permission to travel the 200 miles north to Timbuktu, because, I was told, the French-influenced government in Bamako wants to hide its great Islamic past. These libraries should be micro-filmed while they still exist in order to compare the practices of popular Islam with those of the Cherokees.
Although the customs of several tribes, some archeological evidence, and ethno-linguistic analysis give circumstantial evidence of this early presence of Islam in America, the only oral tradition, as far as I know, comes from my own ancestors in the Ani Waya tribe of the Cherokee. We are not supposed to interpret tradition, because this can introduce distortions, but the ancient Cherokee traditions of what is called simply the “people” (Ani Yunwiya) coincide with the devastating attacks by the Caribs from what is now Venezuela at the end of the 1300s. And Mayan inscriptions of the next century record the arrival of a great people from the east. The details about this people may be buried in the personal papers of the Muslim translator of the Qur’an, T. B. Irving. Early evidence of Islam may be found only by scholars who are specifically looking for it.
The Modern Period
The history of the Cherokees after they arrived in the Carolinas is part of modern America, but it is not much clearer than their history in the earlier period, despite a wealth of documentary material and shelves of books on the subject.
Historians acknowledge that the Cherokees when first encountered by Europeans lived in large towns of several thousand people with two story brick buildings and an advanced system of legislative, executive, and judicial government. They also acknowledge that within two hundred years from 1600 to 1800 their population had been reduced to only a fraction of what it had been. This was part of the universal history of European colonialism, which managed to reduce the total native population in America from at least ten million to as little as a few hundred thousand. With this catastrophic disruption came a similar loss of their religious and cultural heritage, including, in the case of the Cherokees, the dilution of authentic Islam.
Some Western anthropologists have speculated that the Cherokee religion with its emphasis on a sophisticated divine law and system of government may derive from a lost Jewish tribe, but this may be merely an attempt by Christian missionaries to hide the Cherokees’ true Islamic identity.
Perhaps the best, recent research may be found in the book by Thomas E. Mails, The Cherokee People: The Story of the Cherokees from Earliest Origins to Contemporary Times, published by Marlow and Company. Mails leads the others in his conclusion that the remarkable similarities between the Abrahamic religions and the traditional Cherokee religion precede any possibility of adoption from European influences.
Like the others, however, he concludes that such similarities must come from the ancient Hebrews. This probably stems from his ignorance of Islam and his familiarity with the commonalities with the Jews in the Cherokee origin stories, including Adam and Eve, the flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, the crossing of the Red Sea, Moses, the wandering in the wilderness, and the ark. It is difficult to understand how he can ignore the fact that the traditionalist Cherokees started every prayer with Ya Allah and prayed five times a day and fasted during Ramadhan, though it is understandable that Mails does not know the Cherokee rituals of the Hajj, since these have been kept highly secret.
Unfortunately, only a knowledgeable Muslim would be able to mine the wealth of very difficult source material to compare this with Islam. The major original source, since the Cherokees had lost their written language long before they moved to what is now the United States, is the fourteen volume collection known as the John Howard Payne Papers, Ayer MS 689, in the Ayer Collection of Americana, Newberry Library of the University of Chicago. These are in miniscule handwriting and in script that is very difficult to decipher. The Payne papers are by Payne and by a couple of others who authored individual chapters, especially Daniel Sabin Butrick, who was a Christian missionary to the Cherokees from 1817 to 1847.
In another file on the Cherokees that probably is in my sister’s historic stone barn in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, I have reference to a typewritten copy of the Payne originals prepared by his great granddaughter. She spent an entire year turning the almost illegible manuscript into readable copy. Payne, who lived from 1791 to 1852, unlike Butrick, was sympathetic to the Cherokees. His informants among the Cherokees were born as early as 1735 at a time when contact with outsiders had barely begun. Payne was a poet by trade and lived with the Cherokees during the period of their successful effort to gain U.S. Supreme Court acceptance of their sovereignty and their unsuccessful effort thereafter to stop their removal to Oklahoma. One would have to examine the so-called Payne papers to determine what may be authentic scholarship on the Cherokees and what was propaganda and spin to demean them. My impression is that the unexpurgated Payne writings are available to whoever can find them or at least were until forty years ago. In all research on the wisdom of Islam in the Cherokee religion, one must beware of a long history of cultural genocide.
The earliest account of the Cherokees was James Adair’s The History of the American Indians. He was a trader with the Cherokees in 1736 and first pointed out the identity of the Cherokee religion with Abrahamic sources. In 1888, James Mooney’s Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees does not discuss these origins but does treat in detail Cherokee astronomy, which he learned about from Cherokees who were born as early as 1800. Other books, such as Haywood’s of 1823 and Washburn’s of 1869 should be compared with the more recent books, such as The Eastern Cherokees by William Harlen Gilbert, Jr. and others, which are stored, together with my most valuable books, in my sister’s barn.
The more recent books in some ways are more objective, but the definitive history of the Cherokees, and especially analysis of the relation of Islam to the founding of America has yet to be written. This is the task of young American-born Muslims, because they know that other Americans fear what they do not know and that this history would show that Islam is not foreign to America.
The Original Founders of Modern America
The Cherokee were Grandfathers of the Great American Experiment in the holistic symbiosis of order, justice, and liberty. Jefferson said that he borrowed the American system of government from the Iroquois confederation. If the Cherokee religion and political culture were introduced into America by Muslim settlers from North Africa two hundred years before Columbus “discovered ” America, then it remains to be researched whether the Iroquois system of representative government comes from the Cherokee nation.
Jefferson was familiar with the Iroquois and maintained contact with the leaders of a great religious revival among the Iroquois from about 1800 to 1810. He spent some time with their greatest religious leader, known as Handsome Lake of the Seneca, and not only corresponded with him but invited him twice to the White House. The details are in The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca by Anthony F C Wallace, Vintage, 1972, 395 pages.
The origin of this religious rebirth, like that of the coeval rebirth among the Cherokee further south, lay in their response to the destruction of the native way of life by the white settlers, especially by the introduction of alcohol and gambling, and by the destruction of the nuclear family and of moral community. It was also a reaction against the missionary efforts of the Christians who wanted the Iroquois to assimilate into Western society and disappear. Handsome Lake was convinced that his people could not adopt Christianity without adopting everything bad about Western society along with it.
Part of the spiritual quest by young American Muslims today should be to explore whether the religion that he revived was Islam as borrowed from the Cherokee, who had been adopted under the tribal name of Tuscarora into the Iroquois confederacy. By the year 1500, the Cherokee had established a vast trading empire in eastern North America, and a portion of them, known as the Tuscarora, moved from North Carolina to Iroquois country before the arrival of the first European settlers. The Tuscarora who lived with the Iroquois were the first to adopt Christianity as their religion, but the original religion of the Tuscarora was not the ancient Iroquois religion but Islam. This origin of the Seneca rebirth was not known to Wallace, but he recounts in detail the revival of this religion and Jefferson’s admiration of it.
The specifically Islamic sources of the Iroquois revival and much of Native American religion might be revealed only by knowledgeable people specifically looking for it. Historians seem to have neglected obvious indicators referred to by modern Cherokee traditionalists in urban America. For example, according to research by the Cherokee-Blackfoot Muslim, Mahir Abdal-Razaaq, who is a Pipe Carrier for the Northeastern Band, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship that was signed on the Delaware river in 1787 bore the signatures of Abdul Haqq [spelled Abdel Khak] and Muhammad ibn Abdullah.
According to an article in The Message, published by the Islamic Society of North America, in July, 1996, the last Cherokee chief with a Muslim name was Ramadhan ibn Wati, who lived from 1806 to 1871 and governed during the time of the great split between the Union Cherokee and the Confederate Cherokee in the American Civil War. Chief (Emir) Ramadhan was a Confederate brigadier general who shared the South’s opposition to the encroaching power of the industrialized North. He surrendered his command to President Lincoln on June 23, 1865, and his young son, Saladin Watie, named after the famous liberator of Jerusalem in 1187, Salah al Din, served in the Southern Cherokee delegation to sign a treaty of surrender in Washington, D.C.
The traditionalist Cherokee political system was based on governance from the bottom up, rather than from the top down as was common in Europe. The ultimate sovereign was Allah and he governed through the individual members of the Cherokee nation, each of whom carried the amana to be a representative of the divine on earth. The nation was composed of autonomous bands or clans, such as the Ani Waya. The members of each band chose their leaders through a system of indirect election of at least four communities. One community represented the warriors, one the religious leaders, and one the merchants. The fourth I believe may have been the judicial community. These four elected leaders in turn elected the head of the band, and the heads of the bands elected the leader of the nation.
This system today is known as constitutional or republican federalism. It contrasts with the system of absolutist democracy bound by popular majority rule, which all of America’s founders condemned as inherently unjust and dangerous.
In times of trouble, women rose to prominence, especially to arbitrate between the young warriors who wanted to risk the lives of their sons and the elders who preached non-violence in all except the greatest threats to group survival. This matriarchal custom still existed at the time of the American Revolutionary War, according to Theda Perdue’s “Cherokee Women and the Trail of Tears,” published in Journal of Women’s History, vol 1, 1989, pp. 14-17. But, the butchering of the Cherokees by the American settlers and their abandonment by the British undercut the traditionalists and nearly destroyed the entire set of cultural traditions that had survived for centuries since the time of the origins in the Caribbean. This period of Cherokee history, which exceeds in its tragedy even that of the Trail of Tears, and the role of the Cherokee women is described in Tom Hatley’s book, The Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians through the Era of the Revolution, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 220 ff.
The Cherokee leaders often were known by Anglo names. The most famous was Nancy Ward, who was known as the principal Ghigau of the Cherokee Nation, a term translated by the colonialists as “war-leader.” In fact, she was the principal peace leader, as described in Norma Tucker’s article, “Nancy Ward: Ghigau of the Cherokees,” in Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol. 53, 1969.
She persuaded the Raven of Chota, who was the war leader of the principal Cherokee town, to seek peace. As the official emissary of the entire nation, she persuaded Jefferson’s emissary, Arthur Campbell, to declare an armistice or truce prior to the signing of a peace treaty. Unfortunately, according to Campbell’s own diary, “I wished first to visit the vindictive part of the nation … and to destroy the whole as much as possible by destroying their habitations and provisions.” Although he had spared Chota in the past out of respect for Nancy Ward, he attacked in the middle of winter and commenced to destroy a thousand houses, fifty thousand bushels of corn, and all but a few small towns.
The Raven of Chota reported later, as recorded in O’Donnell, Southern Indians in the American Revolution, pp. 118-119, the Virginians “dyed their hands in the blood of many of our women and children, burnt 17 towns, and destroyed all our provisions by which we and our families were almost destroyed by famine this Spring.”
Jefferson was a Virginia politician so he did what was politically correct. But, at the same time, he was impressed by the Cherokee traditionalists, including the women leaders at the time of their maximum tragedy, who tried to practice what Mahatma Gandhi called satyagraha or peaceful defense based on spiritual power. This is a well established practice in Islamic history, but needs much further research.
The Iroquois adopted the best of the Cherokee religion, and this is what most impressed Jefferson in later years. The religion as revived by Handsome Lake opposed both cultural assimilation, which is suicide, and cultural nativism, which is the continuation of a culture based on worship of one’s own ethnic group rather than on the enlightened understanding of divine revelation and natural law. According to Wallace’s book, The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca, Handsome Lake’s primary message consisted of four basic principles:
1) All people came from the same source, a transcendent God, and thus are equal in dignity.
2) All religions are legitimate paths to God. Therefore one should not blame the Christians for not accepting the divine revelation that he was reviving. They should follow their religion until they understand that the religion that he was reviving teaches a truer knowledge of God.
3) Violence results from ignorance of true religion. Therefore knowledge is the most powerful weapon against war, and war is almost never the best solution to conflict. And
4) More important than knowledge is love of the transcendent God, because love is the path to knowledge.
Much research remains to be done to connect Jefferson’s then unique concept of federalism with Islamic concepts of religious and political pluralism. The efforts of both the Cherokees and Iroquois to conduct interfaith meetings with the Europeans as equals impressed the Christian missionaries, since such interfaith outreach without any effort to convert others was almost unknown in the Christian world.
Jefferson tried to keep his personal relationship with God secret and largely succeeded, though recent research in his twenty volumes of hitherto secret personal correspondence should shed much light on this, including the influence of Islam.
Perhaps his major message was the same as that taught by the Cherokee and Iroquois. No people, he said, can remain free unless they are educated; education consists above all in knowledge of virtue; and no people can remain virtuous except within a religious framework, whether it be Christian or of some other faith tradition, and unless this framework of respect for the divine legitimacy of cultural and religious pluralism and for the power of interfaith cooperation pervades all public life.
This is the profound wisdom of the Great American Experiment, but we have just begun to explore its ancient roots.
A totalitarian system would reduce the possibility of a confederation of peoples.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended sanctions against Union home minister Amit Shah for his stewardship the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which introduces religion as a criterion for citizenship. What does it mean to India? Leave aside technicalities, I’m sure this (the USCIRF stand) will be a help to the people of India to fulfil the vision of Mahatma Gandhi to build a true confederation of peoples. The opposite of the confederation is a single ruler, who could have an electoral system, but decisions are made independent of that. A totalitarian system would reduce the possibility of a confederation of peoples.
The Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case in Ayodhya has caused dismay to many people, not just Muslims, because the court upheld “faith over facts” in settling the dispute in favour of a temple in place of the masjid. Most Muslims have taken it in their stride, for the sake of peace. Would you advise acceptance or back those who still opt for litigation? I am with those who accept the verdict and have decided to move on. The advantage is that this gives India and its people time to understand their religion. Do you understand the enlightened source of authority in Hinduism, of responsibilities of people because human rights don’t exist by themselves? What are the responsibilities of Hindus in Hinduism? That’s the ultimate question.
How can minority communities navigate the choppy waters of majoritarianism, especially when the ruling dispensation blatantly pushes the Hindutva agenda? Stay away from those who attack Islam and Muslims. Have a positive message. If you focus on Islamophobia, you are also popularising Islamophobia. I deleted 100 pages from my book, on Islamophobes, because I thought I still popularised them. Don’t get upset by what’s going on now to the extent that you give up. It could take generations for India to return to its founding principles. Educate the youth. We are not going to determine the future of America or India, the younger people will and it depends on education.
Given your vast knowledge of different religions and finally embracing Islam, what advice would you give to minorities in a multi-religious nation? Minorities have a choice; one is to assimilate, which I would argue is suicide of your cultural identity. The other is to integrate, but integration is often taken to be the same thing (assimilate). But I would say integration means the opposite; you bring in the best of your religion and culture to the nation. It’s mutual cooperation, learning from each other. Most of the Muslims in America choose between assimilation and integration without distinguishing between the two. In Catholicism, there are two solutions. One is the Benedict option. St Benedict, at the end of the Roman Empire, found himself monasteries to maintain the religion. The second is the Franciscan option; you take the best of your religion and best of all that you have and preach from housetops. That’s what Muslims should do. But don’t attack anybody in the process.
Does the American experience with tackling racial discrimination offer any lessons for caste and religious discrimination in India, the legacy of centuries of invasions? A little bit of history here. Slaveholders in America realised that with the advent of machines, it was uneconomic to maintain slaves and their families. Then Abraham Lincoln was able to outlaw slavery. But the problem was slaves were now citizens like everybody else! Once you accept human beings as nonhuman beings, how do you change that? I think we in the US had made a lot of progress. The lesson for India is to educate its youth, who should be trained in the paradigm of arts against others who would want to manage paradigms of power; they will control everything, including human thought, through the tool of artificial intelligence.
Do you think the rest of the world is intolerant of Islam and wary of Muslims as in experiencing Islamophobia? Yes, it is only because of reasons from their point of view; there are a lot of radical Muslims in different parts of the world. They are reacting to oppression. In the US, we don’t think we oppress anybody. But they just hate us. We can’t understand why they become radicals. I mean ISIS doesn’t give a damn about anything, they say they will destroy everything as they refuse to accept oppression. In America, the military thinks there is a military solution to every problem. But the fact is military does not solve problems, rather creates them.
Islam is a religion of love and peace but why does it beget extreme violence in its so-called followers? Has Islam a paradigm to tackle terrorism? The radical wing of Muslims sees political power as the ultimate goal in life. In practice, power is what they want. When some youth thought that the Muslim Brotherhood was not radical enough, they left and formed Al Qaeda and those who thought Al Qaeda was not radical formed ISIS; you can’t get any more radical than ISIS. I would blame the Sufis to some extent. Sufis followed the Benedict option as in Christianity; they stayed away from public life. For about 600 years until recently, the Sufis stayed away, the intellectuals sympathised with them but the essence of Islam disappeared. The Sufis should have been active in public life, like the Franciscans. I think they will have to do it again. They are growing rapidly all over the world but they aren’t influencing public life much as yet.
Is it not a fact that Judaic religions are strident, as manifest in their proselytising agenda, and this aggravates frictions in a multi-religious milieu? Religion is misused as a tool for power. Look at Confucianism, which has been both a religion and political tool. I think the Chinese will promote Confucianism around the world and they have 3,000 Confucian centres, financed by the Communist government. So it isn’t that Abrahamic religions alone are used for political purposes; all religions have their temptation. But I don’t associate the Jews with trying convert people. Most Christians believe that if you don’t believe in Jesus, you will go to hell. So they convert people. I don’t think Islam tried to convert anybody. Islam, in a classical sense, better reflects human nature.
You think the UAE brand of moderation will help in spreading the concept of a middle path? Does it have a major role to play? The word moderation is misleading. Moderation means ‘I’m in the middle, I don’t support anything’. Rather, integration is the objective. I would prefer peaceful engagement instead of moderation. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, was truly one of the three leading inter-faith leaders of the 20th century. It isn’t just peace you want; it’s building on peace to bring more peace.
Dr Robert D. Crane, who was an adviser to late US President Richard Nixon and a former deputy director of the US National Security Council, embraced Islam in the 1980s. In Abu Dhabi for the launch of the youth forum of the World Council of Muslim Communities, Dr Crane says, in an interview with John Mary, the Muslims in India should be like the Franciscans, who, with deep commitment, declared their convictions from the housetops rather than remaining reclusive and withdrawn from public life. That’s what Muslims should do, while eschewing violence.
New Directions for Counter-Terrorism: Some New Definitions in Holistic Education by Dr. Robert D. Crane In the field of counter-terrorism the biggest issue is or should be whether the most effective strategy is to focus primarily on countering the “bad guys” or on supporting the “good guys”. The second biggest…
Is the Islamic State an Oxymoron? by Dr. Robert D. Crane The Roman philosopher, Cicero, once advised his students, “Before you discuss anything whatsoever, first define your terms”. Three weeks ago, the American Secretary of State John Kerry, announced that from now on officials will use the Arabic term da’esh,…
Will the Taliban Rise Again? by Dr. Robert D. Crane Sometimes amidst an avalanche of bad news, there is a nugget of hope. According to a front-page story in the October 23, 2014, issue of the New York Times, leaders among the new generation of Taliban support girls’…
Tariq Ramadan vs Sherman Jackson: A Traditionalist Perspective on American Muslim Leadership by Dr. Robert D. Crane The real issue in American Muslim engagement with the American “public square” was finally “outed” by Tariq Ramadan after forty years of either incomprehension, silence, or rejection by most of the formal…
The Right Side of History: Can the Sunnis Destroy ISIS without Agreement on Three Autonomous Nations in an Iraqi Confederation? by Dr. Robert D. Crane The current crisis in Iraq is now considered to be the gravest threat to peace, prosperity,and freedom in Southwest Asia in recent times. This crisis…
The Natural Law of Holistic Education: Essence of Reality, Pattern of Purpose, Practice of Justice by Dr. Robert D. Crane The most significant conflict in the world today, beyond the beastiary of conflicts that dominate the popular media, is between traditionalist conservatives and modernist liberals. Most significant…
From Cairo to Kiev: A Critique of Abdallah Schleifer’s “Flip-Flop” Article by Dr. Robert D. Crane The Russian invasion of the Crimea at the end of February, 2014, and the inability of anyone or any country in the world to do anything about it raises questions about the future of…
Common Ground: Toward a Global Vision of a Greater Spring by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Forecasting and Planning through the Nazm of Fractal Tawhid The principal limitation in human thought and action is the fragmentation of knowledge resulting from the…
“Wipe Israel Off the Map”: Neo-Con Propaganda Requires More than Ad Hoc Answers by Dr. Robert Dickson Crane President Bush is right that we are in a war against evil, but the battle front consists in defining what evil is and in identifying its perpetrators. The propaganda run-up…
Interfaith Dialogue: Part II, What and Why by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Introduction The series of interviews sponsored by the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DCID) for Ramadhan 2013 reflects an upsurge in religion all over the world. This challenge is to shift one’s perspective on the world…
Interfaith Dialogue: Part I, Is It Islamic? by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Introduction Is interfaith dialogue Islamic? Perhaps this is the first question Muslims should ask in the Qatar Foundation’s special Ramadhan series of radio interviews and scholarly follow-ups on the role of comparative religion and interfaith dialogue in…
Muslim Leadership in the Harmony of Justice Rehabilitating the Role of Religion in the World through Natural Law and Global Ethics by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Defining Terms The great Roman philosopher, Cicero, once said two thousand years ago that before one discusses anything whatsoever one should first define…
Interfaith Dialogue: A Ramadan Introduction by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Introduction The Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DCID) is sponsoring a series of twenty-five dialogue interviews for Ramadhan 2013 as part of what clearly is an upsurge in religion all over the world. Unfortunately, the…
Turkey’s Slippery Slopes by Dr. Robert D. Crane The so-called Ottoman illusion should be popular in Turkey, but not if it requires centralization and and strengthening of governmental power. In America we would call it the libertarian moment, which can come only in successful societies. It calls…
New Directions for UMMA: Why, Whither, and When by Dr. Robert D. Crane The focus of the eleventh annual convention of the Universal Muslim Association of America in Dearborn, Michigan, during Memorial Day Weekend 2013 was a rousing epic of self-congratulation. Certainly it was far above the level of…
Russia’s 9/11 in Chechnya: Waging Jihad against Muslims who Hijack Islam by Dr. Robert Dickson Crane I. The Causes of Chechen Terrorism On September 3rd, 2004, nationalist extremists from the Caucasus region of Russia demonstrated their demonic hatred of everything sacred by taking a thousand…
Islamic Apologetics and Interfaith Cooperation by Dr. Robert D. Crane Academics, led by Christianity’s perhaps leading theologian, Hans Kung, and developed in his trio of 1,000-page books on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, have introduced a new concept and issue termed essentialism. The practical question is whether Islam…
A Generation of Idiots?: Was Einstein Right as a Long-Range Global Forecaster by Dr. Robert Dickson Crane A humorous series of pictures is circulating in the internet world showing modern youth absorbed in i-phones and similar gadgets. This is used to highlight Albert Einstein’s wisdom in his…
Gender Ethics and Natural Law by Dr. Robert D. Crane The question of gender ethics can be approached by exploring whether natural law is natural and to what extent. The natural law of gender ethics is indicated in the Qur’an and modern physics. All sentient beings live in pairs,…
Freedom versus coercion in Islamic education, parenting, and governance by Dr. Robert D. Crane Discussion of coercion versus freedom, whether in education or any other field, raises the issue of governance, especially through the almost diametrical opposites of democracy and a republic. By definition, democracy is authoritarian. The authority…
Global Awakening: Toward the Interfaith Harmony of Global Ethics by Dr. Robert D. Crane Two years after the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring, we are in a new era. Some people call it simply the Post-Arab Spring. Some call it the Arab Winter. The Chinese written language has a…
Obama and Justice: Good Guy, Bad Guy, or Both? by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Where’s the Vision? President Barack Hussein Obama clearly is a man of his time, truly an American. He is both hated and beloved even by his own supporters and for the same reasons. Two centuries…
Perils of Prediction and Prognosis: Have We Become a Generation of Idiots? by Dr. Robert D. Crane A humorous series of pictures is circulating in the internet world showing modern youth absorbed in i-phones and similar gadgets. This is used to highlight Albert Einstein’s wisdom in his…
Gang Rape and Global Ethics: The New Challenge of Phobic Orientalism by Dr. Robert D. Crane Alternet’s apology two days ago for helping an anti-Islamic attack go viral around the world raises the issue whether, in its words, “Today we have a phobic version of Orientalism—expecting and only seeing…
Muhammad: Seeker of Compassionate Justice By Dr. Robert D. Crane All of the billion Muslims throughout the world regard The Prophet Muhammad as a model for their own lives and as a manifestation of the divine on earth. Unfortunately, anything of such…
The Renaissance of Kurdistan in Syria? by Dr. Robert D. Crane Potentially, the most powerful nation in the the Middle East, other than Iran, Turkey, and Egypt has always been Kurdistan, which is precisely why the colonial powers after the First World War broke it up…
Deconstructing Ideological Approaches to the Arab Spring by Dr. Robert D. Crane Dogmatic approaches to reality, truth, and justice have always been common, if not predominant, in all religions over the millenia. Imperial oppression has also always been a part of history but usually was a contributor to dogmatism, not…
Responding to the Embassy Bombings: Freedom of Religion Requires Respect for the Sacred by Dr. Robert D. Crane The first issue in responding to the attacks on American embassies beginning on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 is one of cause and effect. Did the mere appearance of the film, “The…
Justice as Grand Strategy: The Missing Dimension in American Foreign Policy Toward the Muslim World by Dr. Robert D.Crane The ancient Roman philosopher, Cicero, wisely advised that before one begins to discuss anything whatsoever one should first define terms. This would apply to perspectives and entire paradigms…
The Arab Spring and Global Ethics in an Era of Radioactive Justice by Dr. Robert D. Crane The International Criminal Court was created in 2002 after half a century of determined advocacy by supporters of human rights. The purpose was to gain widespread support for a global jurisdiction designed…
Shi’a-Phobia Exposed by Dr. Robert D. Crane The latest in the campaign to demonize Shi’a and especially the Ithna’ashari or mainline Shi’a in Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain is the effort to claim that the Shi’a did not first develop, support, and use the human rights embodied in the Islamic normative…
The Global Awakening: Developing a Consensus Paradigm – Part III The Global Awakening: Developing a Consensus Paradigm through a Common Language of Normative and Compassionate Justice by Dr. Robert D. Crane Part Three The Challenge of Disunity and the Response of a Paradigm Spring During the last half century as…
The Global Awakening: Developing a Consensus Paradigm through a Common Language of Normative and Compassionate Justice by Dr. Robert D. Crane Part Two Mimetic Challenges to Developing a Common Language I. Asabiya Four of the terms that cause the most confusion among both…
The Global Awakening: Developing a Consensus Paradigm through a Common Language of Normative and Compassionate Justice by Dr. Robert D. Crane Part One Jurisprudential Metaphysics I. Introduction During the last week of May, 2012, at the Ritz-Carlton in Doha, the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy convened the 9th…
Paradigmatic Boxes: Beyond “Tolerance”, “Diversity”, and “Pluralism” to “Interfaith Communion” by Dr. Robert D. Crane (aka Faruq ‘Abd al Haqq) It seems that increasingly many people in America are stuck in paradigmatic boxes. It seems more than clear that for half a century Muslims have been among the worst offenders.…
Forecasting and Planning the Future of the Global Muslim Umma by Dr. Robert D. Crane As a professional, long-range global forecaster, it appears to me that Muslims and, in fact, the entire world are at a juncture where individual civilizations and even the entire global civilization on earth will…
Transformative Integration, Not Assimilation by Dr. Robert D. Crane In their fear of an Islamophobic onslaught that has made detainment camps for American Muslims and the nukeing of Makkah legitimate topics for polite discussion, some Muslims are debating whether they should flee America or at least assimilate by…
Arab Spring: Developing Unity through a Common Language of Normative and Compassionate Justice by Dr. Robert D. Crane Abstract The universal principles of normative jurisprudence, known in Islam as the maqasid al shari’ah, may provide a common language for the moderate middle in the spectrum of forces that produced…
The Real Issue in 2012: Is America a Democracy or a Republic? by Dr. Robert D. Crane Our foreign policy wonks have tried to brainwash the entire world to sell democracy and make sure that no-one knows America is a republic. The result has been abject failure, because…
Rehabilitating America as a Moral Model for the World: The Challenge for Classical American Traditionalism by Dr. Robert D. Crane The Dean of the prestigious Claremont School of Theology in an article published on March 25th, 2012, in the Los Angeles Times reports that, according to recent surveys,…
A Common Language for a Muslim Spring in America: Challenge and Response by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Challenge and Response As a professional long-range global forecaster, it is apparent to me from simple trend analysis that both the Muslim Umma and civilization on earth may not have a long…
The Politics of Fear and the Crash of Newt Gingrich, Part II by Dr. Robert D. Crane Now the bad news. Newt Gingrich has not yet irrevocably crashed. Thanks to this Wicked Wizard of Oz, one can argue that Americans now face one of the clearest and most…
The Politics of Fear and the Crash of Newt Gingrich, the Wicked Wizard of Oz by Dr. Robert D. Crane Here is the latest news: Gingrich, the wicked wizard of Oz, crashes in Iowa. During the first half of December, 2011, the two opposites, the progressivist Gingrich, and the libertarian,…
Justice: the Newest Meme in Modern Mimetic Warfare by Dr. Robert D. Crane Mimetic warfare is the use of symbols, like words or memes, to manipulate the mind of one’s opponent subliminally, that is, without the opponent even knowing that he is a victim. Two of the standard weapons are…
Libya and the Just War Doctrine: Does ‘Humanitarian Democracy’ Justify ‘Wars of Unilateral Preemption’? by Dr. Robert D. Crane Many articles have been published recently on both the moral legitimacy and the practical consequences of humanitarian intervention. Does support of human rights justify modern warfare. In theory, the answer is…
Crisis in Tunisia: Defining Shari’ah and Caliphate by Dr. Robert D. Crane The issue of the “6th caliphate” is at least temporarily blocking political progress in Tunisia. This crisis is important because Tunisia is the closest the Arab Soring has come in any country to generating a politico-economic…
‘Id al Adha versus Kurban Bayramy: Arab Literalism versus Persian Symbolism as Opposite Factors in the Spread of Islam by Dr. Robert D. Crane Kerim Balci’s seminal article, “The Feast of Proximity”, available at firstname.lastname@example.org, is excellent on the difference between the Arab emphasis on external acts in the feast…
Libya, America, and Human Rights: Facts or Fiction by Dr. Robert D. Crane I. Definitions A free press is the first essential of human rights. Human dignity is the second. Muammar Qaddafi was a model tyrant and totalitarian because he flagrantly violated both of these essentials for a legitimate government. …
Liberating the Heart of Africa: A Case Study of the Classical Monkey Syndrome by Dr. Robert D. Crane We finally now seem to be militarily committed to chase down the Lord’s Resistence Army as an opening to liberate the Heart of Africa. The Neocons did not create…
Religious Freedom in Saudi Arabia: Is King Abdullah Serious? by Dr. Robert D. Crane Perhaps the time has come to call a spade a spade in the growing crisis of Southwest Asia, because pussy-footing around will only make it worse. Yesterday in Vienna, Austria, with much fanfare, the…
A Melungeon is an ethnic group of people who are distinct from African Americans, Native Americans, and White Americans. They have lived in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The first documented reference to the word, “Melungeon” was in 1810. The people were described as not Negro or Native American, but of foreign descent. The Melungeon people have an oral history of their Portuguese ancestry. Their customs were described by Elizabeth Hirschman in her book, Melungeons, The Last Lost Tribe in America. She describes Melungeons as people who preferred coffee to tea, played a stringed instrument very similar to those played in the Middle East. She describes the way they planted their gardens to be similar to that of the Portuguese, and described the women as wearing long dresses and scarves or bonnets. In this book she gathers DNA samples from several people who identified themselves as Melungeons and found that most of them had a mixture of Native American, Irish, and Portuguese genes.
The existence of Melungeons proved problematic in a racially divided America. Melungeons refused to be relocated to Native American reservations because they did not identify themselves as Native American, threatening their right to vote. They were not accepted by White people, and were not known to be African American. Instead they insisted that they were Portuguese. Because of this claim, the Moor Sundry Act of 1790 was passed in South Carolina. This act concluded that Melungeons were in fact descendants of Morocco and should be treated as Free Persons of Color. Understanding the race of the Melungeons was important at that time because it was forbidden for people to marry from outside their race. Therefore, many Melungeons intermarried for several generations. Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley are believed to have Melungeon ancestry.
How Melungeons came to live in the Appalachian mountains is a mystery. Some claim that Moors sailed to the Americas to escape the Inquisition of Spain between the 1200’s and 1500’s – perhaps before Columbus. Many site the frequent use of the word Allah and in the Cherokee language, Cherokee chiefs of the 1800’s with Arabic names, and the Cherokee’s use of the turban as some hints of the encounters between Cherokees and Muslims.
Most people refer to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. This was England’s first attempt to settle in the New World. The English were in fierce competition with the Spaniards and did not want to allow the Spaniards to claim all of the New World and its riches. This colony was established first established in 1584, but the people returned to England after experiencing an Indian attack. In 1587, John White, an artist, brought 150 Englishmen and several slaves to Roanoke Island to attempt to create an English settlement once again. The ships were captained by Sir Francis Drake, who wrote about his adventures. Through White’s drawings and Drake’s writing much of the documentation of the events of Roanoke were recorded. Drake wrote that John White brought about 200 Moors. The Moors were galley slaves, enslaved after the Inquisition of 1492. He told them he would take them to Morocco, but instead, he took them to Roanoke. John White left the colonists to return to England for more supplies. He did not return right away because Spain was attacking England and his passage was blocked. When he finally did return in 1590, he found the colony deserted. No skeletons or even sign of attack was evident. The only clue was the letters CRO etched in a tree. While assumed from this that the colonists had joined a friendly group of Native Americans named the Croatians. To this day, many people are mystified about what happened to the colonists.
While it is clear that Melungeons are not Muslims, it is clear that they were significantly influenced by the culture of the Muslims from Spain and Portugal. According to DNA testing, it appears true that they were descendants of Portuguese Muslim slaves. Their ancestors came to America for the same reason other Europeans did. They wanted to find religious freedom and escape being persecuted by Catholics for refusing to be Catholic.
What are Melungeons?
What are some of the descriptions of Melungeon culture as described by researchers?
Summarize the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
What evidence is there to support the claim that Moors were brought to Roanoke?
Why weren’t the names of the Moors who came to Roanoke recorded?
List some famous Americans who are likely descendants of Melungeons.
Why was being a Melungeon problematic in early America?
Since there is no statutory definition of workplace bullying (outside harassment and discrimination legislation) there is actually no direct legal remedy for it. As Acas says:
“Unless bullying amounts to conduct defined as harassment in the Equality Act 2010 it is not
possible to make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal about it.”
Basically all one can do is what the Home Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Rutnam did in the Patel case: resign and claim constructive dismissal at a tribunal. This means that you are claiming the behaviour constituted a repudiatory breach of contract on the part of the employer amounting to a breach in the implied term of trust and confidence between employer and employee:
“Constructive dismissal is when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct. The reasons you leave your job must be serious, for example, [the employer] … let other employees harass or bully you.” (Government website)”
Can a person whose behaviour constitutes bullying really be exonerated if there was “no intention” to bully, as the case of Priti Patel, UK Home Secrtary, suggests? The answer is fundamentally no – but overwhelmingly, yes, since workplace bullies throughout the country claim this defence in disciplinary proceedings – and usually successfully when their management is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Can the bully be exonerated because she is working in a “challenging” job with people resistent to change, as Patel claimed? Again the answer is no. If you resort to bullying in these circumstances that would be bullying as a technique of management – and hence intentional; or you’ve simply lost it and should be moved from your post or at the very least get some retraining. But again the answer is “yes” since blaming the victims is always a good ploy for a manager…
Salma Waheedi’s (Harvard Law School) and Musawah’s teams have put together an interactive project mapping out recent developments in the family laws of thirty-one Muslim-majority countries. Titled “Mapping of Muslim Family Laws Globally,” the project seeks to document progress in family law and practice across Muslim nations with an additional focus on the extent to which these countries comply with their CEDAW obligations.
Salma Waheedi partners with gender justice coalitions to advance legal equality in Muslim communities
In Fall 2017, Waheedi traveled with a student team to Geneva to work with activists on advocating for women’s rights at the international level. From left to right: Hyshyama Hamin, Robin Tholin ‘19, Sarah Marsso, Salomé Gómez Upegui, Zainah Anwar, and Waheedi.
Since joining Harvard Law School, Salma Waheedi, a clinical instructor and lecturer on law in the International Human Rights Clinic, has devoted a major part of her teaching and clinical legal practice to training students to become effective international women’s rights advocates. A native of Bahrain and a U.S.-trained attorney with a background in constitutional and Islamic Law, Waheedi has led advocacy and social justice-oriented legal projects in partnership with women’s rights activists in Muslim communities. To change the lived experiences of women most acutely, Waheedi and her partners have focused on family law reform.
Salma Waheedi joined Harvard Law School in 2016 as a joint fellow in Islamic Legal Studies and the International Human Rights Clinic. Today, she is a clinical instructor and lecturer in law in the International Human Rights Clinic and associate director of the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World.
“Despite its huge impact on women’s lives, it’s an area that receives relatively little attention in human rights circles,” Waheedi said. “We are talking about a system of laws that govern all aspects of women’s private lives, including marriage, divorce, child custody, matrimonial property, inheritance, as well as freedom of movement and work and protection from violence.”
Advocating for family law reform in Muslim legal contexts presents a unique set of challenges and sensitivities. In the majority of Muslim legal systems, Shari’a—Islamic Law—is a part of the constitutional order and often forms the foundation of Muslim family laws. Many of these laws are based on interpretations that entrench gender-based discrimination and fail to protect women’s rights in the family sphere.
Waheedi’s practice focuses on lending legal support to women’s rights advocates working with their local communities, as well as international coalitions working to foster cross-regional collaborations. One key example is Musawah, a global movement advocating for justice and equality in the Muslim family. Musawah takes strong positions against child marriage, forced marriage, and polygamy and calls for equality in spousal rights, custody rights, access to divorce, and inheritance rights. It advocates for these changes through a holistic framework that integrates progressive Islamic legal interpretations, human rights principles, local constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination, and the lived experiences of Muslim women.
“Many current legal provisions are no longer tenable given the lived realities of Muslim women today,” Waheedi said. “Muslim feminist scholarship aims to create a paradigm shift by emphasizing the need to return to the core principles of the Quran, such as justice, equality, and dignity for all, as a basis for an alternative rights-based reading of Islamic legal sources that responds to the contemporary needs of the Muslim family.”
To help conceptualize current reforms and outdated laws, Musawah and Waheedi’s student teams have put together a comprehensive Muslim family law mapping project. The project is a resource for researchers and academics to look comparatively across 31 countries with Muslim majorities or minorities. Importantly, the initiative also outlines positive developments for women’s rights in the Muslim world, celebrating successes, as well as marking lessons for how to continue to advocate for change.
In Fall 2018, Samantha Lint ’20 (middle) traveled to Geneva with Waheedi to work with women’s rights advocates to present a report on Mauritius to UN committees. Lint is seated between advocates Narghis Bundhun (right) and Anushka Virahsawmy (left).
Over the years, Waheedi’s student teams have also collaborated with international coalitions, local organizations, and grassroots activists to develop legal reform proposals and strategic advocacy reports to address gender discrimination in countries including Jordan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Kenya, Mauritius. Salomé Gómez Upegui LL.M. ’18, who worked with Waheedi in 2017-2018, said working on such advocacy reports required “creative thinking,” asking students to learn and rely on comparative law, alternative interpretations of Islamic law, and human rights standards. After working on the reports, students often worked closely with activists to develop engagement strategies with their local legislatures or at the international level with United Nations mechanisms.
In fall 2018, International Human Rights Clinic alumna Samantha Lint ’20 worked with Waheedi, Musawah, and Mauritian family law expert, Narghis Bundhun, to document gaps in legal protection for married Muslim women. After working on the report, Lint traveled with Waheedi to present the findings to the U.N. Committee on the Convention on the Eliminations of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Lint, who had come to law school after working in women’s empowerment and global reproductive health, learned a tremendous amount about how to “support NGO advocacy in a U.N. treaty review process.” Importantly, she noted, working on the project demonstrated how change is possible within a large and bureaucratic organization like the U.N.
“After presenting our report to the CEDAW Committee, several members focused on the issues we raised when questioning the government of Mauritius. The government seemed a bit taken aback, and the committee really emphasized the problems with the lack of clear codified rights for Muslim religious marriages,” Lint said. “I saw that civil society advocates are a huge resource to the Committee, and are key in elevating issues that may otherwise go overlooked.”
Moreover, after presenting the report to the U.N., Lint and her team learned that the “the review process served as a catalyst for on-the-ground discussions and change [in Mauritius].”
Waheedi emphasized that she teaches her students that, as international lawyers, their role is to amplify the voices of local communities and grassroots activists.
She added, “local activists know the situation on the ground best. They are very clear about their priorities and needs. But many of these activists don’t always have the capacity or the resources to manage a full advocacy campaign at the international level. That’s where we come in,” she said. “In those cases, we have been able to work with the advocates to distill issues of concern, articulate proposals for legal reform, formulate advocacy strategies, and help them figure out where to put pressure on certain priority points to make change happen. But at the end, their voices are the ones that must be heard.”
Tarek Zeidan, executive director of the LGBT rights organization, Helem, was a cross-registered Harvard Kennedy School student in the International Human Rights Clinic. Zeidan worked with Waheedi on a project advocating for legal equality and protection of women from violence in Kuwait and Oman, gathering testimonies from local women and learning how to weave such first-hand evidence into documentation for advocacy purposes.
Working on the project gave Zeidan professional insight into how to structure human rights documentation and link it to “existing international legislatures to make the strongest case for equality-oriented legal reforms.”
Zeidan still draws on the lessons he learned with Waheedi as he now leads Helem in Lebanon: “I based a lot of our engagement plans with international organizations like the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or the United Nations Development Programme on what I learned about appealing to international organizations in the clinic.”
“One of my main objectives is to train lawyers and advocates who would listen mindfully, set aside their assumptions and preconceptions, and work in collaboration with local activists and communities to develop solutions that correspond to their needs and priorities. Strengthening students’ cross-cultural sensitivity and the competency to translate between contexts are key learning goals in all these projects,” Waheedi said.
In 2018, Waheedi was named associate director of the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, a research program at Harvard Law School, which has enabled her to foster stronger engagement with scholars and policy experts and to bring contemporary debates on gender, feminism, and legal advocacy in Muslim contexts to HLS.
In late November, Waheedi will participate in Musawah’s global convening on Muslim family law reform, which will bring together activists, scholars, and policy makers from over thirty different countries to strengthen networks of mutual learning and support. Advocates will hold consultations over the course of five days to identify key barriers and challenges to reform in national contexts, share good practices, and work to develop key messaging to build public support for advancing equality and justice and to challenge Islamist and Islamophobic narratives.
The meeting will also celebrate and build upon the recently launched Musawah initiative, the Global Campaign for Justice in Muslim Family Laws. In early October, Waheedi curated a webinar for the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World to highlight the campaign and the voices of Muslim women activists campaigning for egalitarian reform. The webinar, titled, “Muslim Women Creating New Futures,” featured Zainah Anwar, executive eirector of Musawah; Marwa Sharafelden, Musawah’s MENA region senior expert; and Hala Al-Karib, regional director of the strategic initiative for women in the Horn of Africa, and was moderated by International Human Rights Clinic alum Upegui.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has made “the work more relevant and urgent,” says Waheedi. As the UN has observed, the virus has been associated with a “a shadow pandemic,” a rise in violence against women and girls, and has exacerbated inequalities faced by women in the realm of marriage and the family. Musawah’s campaign and Waheedi’s advocacy for women’s rights operate within this context.
“It is important to recognize that there are no quick wins in this line of work, yet my students and I are always motivated and inspired by the dedication and perseverance of our partners in the most challenging of circumstances. We are energized by positive changes that are achieved through the relentless work of grassroots activists and organizers—from family law reforms in Jordan and Morocco to passing a law against domestic violence in Kuwait this year to banning triple talaq in India in a 2017 Constitutional Court victory. Change is not only possible; it is inevitable.”
“American children have so many vaccine injuries by the time they are 21 that over half have diseases and syndromes that nobody had seen in these numbers before the 1960s when Big Pharma began rolling out so many more vaccines.
Now we know why Israel has opted to use the Russian vaccine and refused Pfizer, Moderna and Astra Zeneca’s offers.”
Dr Judy Mikovits said that this coronavirus vaccine could kill 50 million Americans over the next 40 years. The versions being released by Pfizer and Moderna require storage at minus 70 degrees Celsius (minus 94 F) and might be far more deadly than even she originally estimated.
Why so cold? Children’s Health Defense explained in an August 6th article, “mRNA vaccines undergoing Covid-19 clinical trials, including the Moderna vaccine, rely on a nanoparticle-based “carrier system” containing a synthetic chemical called polyethylene glycol (PEG).”
The use of PEG (polyethylene glycol) in drugs and vaccines is increasingly controversial due to the well-documented incidence of adverse PEG-related immune reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Roughly seven in ten Americans may already be sensitized to PEG, which may result in reduced efficacy of the vaccine and an increase in adverse side effects.
If a PEG-containing mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 gains FDA approval, the uptick in exposure…
Bill Gates is actively financing and promoting new untested vaccines supposed to keep us at least somewhat safe from a ghastly death from the novel coronavirus and supposedly allow us to resume somewhat “normal” lives. The Pharma giant Pfizer has now announced what they claim were spectacular results in initial human tests. They use an experimental technology known as gene editing, specifically mRNA gene-editing, something never before used in vaccines. Before we rush to get jabbed in hopes of some immunity, we should know more about the radical experimental technology and its lack of precision.
The financial world went ballistic on November 9 when the pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced in a company press release that it had developed a vaccine for Covid19 that was “90%” effective. The controversial US head of NIAID, Tony Fauci, rushed to greet the news and the EU announced it had purchased 300 million doses of the costly new vaccine. If you believe financial markets, the pandemic is all but past history.
However it seems Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, doesn’t share the confidence of his own claims. On the day his company issued its press release on the proposed vaccine trials, he sold 62% of his stock in Pfizer, making millions profit in the deal. He made the sell order in a special option in August so it would not appear as “insider selling”, however he also timed it just after the US elections and the mainstream media illegitimately declared Joe Biden President-elect. It seems from appearances that Bourla had a pretty clear conflict of interest in the timing of his press release on the same day.
Bourla lied and denied to press that his company had received any funds from the Trump Administration to develop the vaccine when it came out they contracted in summer to deliver 100 million doses to the US Government. Further adding to the suspect actions of Pfized was the fact the company first informed the team of Joe biden rather than the relevant US government agencies.
But this is far from the only thing alarming about the much-hyped Pfizer announcement.
The German Partner
Pfizer, famous for its Viagra and other drugs, has partnered with a small Mainz, Germany company, BioNTech, which has developed the radical mRNA technique used to produce the new corona vaccine. BioNTech was only founded in 2008. BioNTech signed an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in September, 2019, just before announcement in Wuhan China of the Novel Coronavirus and just before BioNTech made its stock market debut. The agreement involved cooperation on developing new mRNA techniques to treat cancer and HIV. Curiously that press release, “The Gates Foundation sees BioNTech potential to ‘dramatically reduce global HIV and tuberculosis’” 05. September 2019, has now been deleted.
BioNTech also has an agreement with one of the largest drug producers in China, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd (“Fosun Pharma”) to develop a version of its mRNA vaccine for novel coronavirus for the Chinese market. Ai-Min Hui, President of Global R&D of Fosun Pharma said in an August statement, “Dosing the first Chinese subject with BNT162b1 marks a milestone of the global co-development program in China. We are closely working with BioNTech and regulatory authorities to evaluate the safety and efficacy of BNT162b1 and other mRNA vaccine candidates…”
This means that the same German biotech company is behind the covid vaccines being rushed out in China as well as the USA and EU. The vaccine is being rushed through to eventual approval in an alarmingly short time.
Both US and EU authorities and presumably also Chinese, waived the standard animal tests using ferrets or mice and have gone straight to human “guinea pigs.” Human tests began in late July and early August. Three months is unheard of for testing a new vaccine. Several years is the norm. Because of the degree of global panic engendered by WHO over the coronavirus, caution is thrown to the wind. Vaccine makers all have legal indemnity, meaning they can’t be sued if people die or are maimed from the new vaccine. But the most alarming fact about the new Pfizer-BioNTech gene edited vaccine is that the gene edited mRNA for human vaccine application has never before been approved. Notably, two year peer reviewed tests with mice fed genetically modified corn sprayed with Monsanto glyphosate-rich Roundup first showed cancer tumors after nine months as well as liver and other organ damage. Earlier Monsanto company tests ended at three months and claimed no harm. A similar situation exists with the gene edited mRNA vaccines that are being rushed out after less than 90 days human tests.
Dr. Michael Yeadon replied in a recent public social media comment to a colleague in the UK, “All vaccines against the SARS-COV-2 virus are by definition novel. No candidate vaccine has been… in development for more than a few months.” Yeadon then went on to declare, “If any such vaccine is approved for use under any circumstances that are not EXPLICITLY experimental, I believe that recipients are being misled to a criminal extent. This is because there are precisely zero human volunteers for…whom there could possibly be more than a few months past-dose safety information.”
Yeadon is well qualified to make the critique. As he notes in the comment, “I have a degree in Biochemistry & Toxicology & a research based PhD in pharmacology. I have spent 32 years working in pharmaceutical R&D, mostly in new medicines for disorders of lung & skin. I was a VP at Pfizer & CEO…. of a biotech I founded (Ziarco – acquired by Novartis). I’m knowledgeable about new medicine R&D.” He was formerly with Pfizer at a very senior level.
Human guinea pigs?
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is experimental and far from guaranteed safe, despite the fact that Pfizer, the EU and the notorious Dr Tony Fauci seem ready to roll it out even before year end to hundreds of millions of humans.
The experimental technology is based on a rather new gene manipulation known as gene editing. In a major article in the 2018 New York Council on Foreign Relations magazine, Foreign Affairs, Bill Gates effusively promoted the novel gene editing CRISPR technology as being able to “transform global development.” He noted that his Gates Foundation had been financing gene editing developments for vaccines and other applications for a decade.
But is the technology for breaking and splicing of human genes so absolutely safe that it is worth risking on a novel experimental vaccine never before used on humans? Contrary to what Bill Gates claims, the scientific answer is no, it is not proven so safe.
In a peer reviewed article in the October, 2020 journal Trends in Genetics, the authors conclude that “the range of possible molecular events resulting from genome editing has been underestimated and the technology remains unpredictable on, and away from, the target locus.”
Dr. Romeo Quijano, retired professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila, noted some of the dangers of the experimental gene editing when applied to human vaccines. Quijano warns of, “the danger that the vaccine might actually “enhance” the pathogenicity of the virus, or make it more aggressive possibly due to antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), as what happened with previous studies on test vaccines in animals. If that should happen in a major human trial the outcome could be disastrous. This serious adverse effect may not even be detected by a clinical trial especially in highly biased clinical trials laden with conflicts of interest involving vaccine companies. Even when a serious adverse event is detected, this is usually swept under the rug.” He cites the case of another Gates mRNA vaccine candidate, Moderna, where “three of the 15 human experimental subjects in the high dose group suffered serious and medically significant symptoms. Moderna, however, concluded that the vaccine was “generally safe and well tolerated,” which the corporate-dominated media dutifully reported, covering-up the real danger…”
He notes, “Exogenous mRNA is inherently immune-stimulatory, and this feature of mRNA could be beneficial or detrimental. It may provide adjuvant activity and it may inhibit antigen expression and negatively affect the immune response. The paradoxical effects of innate immune sensing on different formats of mRNA vaccines are incompletely understood.” Quijano adds, “A mRNA-based vaccine could also induce potent type I interferon responses, which have been associated not only with inflammation but also potentially with autoimmunity… and may promote blood coagulation and pathological thrombus formation.”
Quijano writes in the extensively documented article, “among other dangers, the virus-vectored vaccines could undergo recombination with naturally occurring viruses and produce hybrid viruses that could have undesirable properties affecting transmission or virulence. The…possible outcomes of recombination are practically impossible to quantify accurately given existing tools and knowledge. The risks, however, are real, as exemplified by the emergence of mutant types of viruses, enhanced pathogenicity and unexpected serious adverse events (including death) following haphazard mass vaccination campaigns and previous failed attempts to develop chimeric vaccines using genetic engineering technology.”
Bill Gates, the mRNA vaccine makers including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, and their close allies such as Dr. Tony Fauci of the NIAID are clearly playing fast and loose with human lives in their rush to get these experimental vaccines into our bodies. Notably, the same Dr. Fauci and his NIAID owns the patent on a vaccine for dengue fever known as Dengvaxia, marketed by Sanofi-Pasteur and promoted as an “essential” vaccine by Tedros’ WHO since 2016. Robert F. Kennedy jr. noted that Fauci and NIAID “knew from the clinical trials that there was a problem with paradoxical immune response,” but they gave it to several hundred thousand Filipino kids anyway. It was estimated that as many as 600 vaccinated children died before the government stopped the vaccinations.
Clearly the well-established Precautionary Principle–if in serious doubt, don’t– is being ignored by Fauci, Pfizer/BioNTech and others in rushing to approve the new mRNA vaccine for coronavirus. Messenger RNA technology has yet to produce an approved medicine, let alone a vaccine.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
We’ve seen a number of posts on Facebook that claim a government document proves that the Covid-19 vaccine will be mandatory and the government will use the Mental Health Act to section people who refuse the vaccine.
This is not the case. The document in question was not written by the government—it was submitted by academics at the Universities of Oxford and York to a parliamentary committee about how Covid-19 may affect human rights.
It recommends that the government “give serious consideration to compulsory immunisation,” but this is in no way government policy, or even being proposed by the government.
Vaccines are not mandatory in the UK, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock recently said that the government is not proposing to make any future Covid-19 vaccine mandatory. What does the document say?
How depressing that dysfuctionality in private law, like public, has come to be little more than another damning indictment of a family law system so easy to manipulate by vested interests that it is, at root, unfit for purpose.
“Reforms intended by the Government will treat claimants of domestic violence as victims, protecting them in separate waiting rooms and behind screens, increase the use of barring orders and retrain judges according to feminist dogma.
At the same time, the judiciary are taking advantage of the mood to evade their statutory obligation to enforce Child Arrangements Orders.
Of greater concern is that the hard-won presumption of involvement is itself under serious threat. Removal of the presumption would be catastrophic to children and a green light to abusers; children already denied contact would have no chance. It would further promote the theory that all men are violent and abusive and feminists will have taken another great stride forward to achieve their ultimate goal: the destruction of the family.”
the feminist campaign to enshrine a presumption of no-contact into family law
The Fathers’ Campaign
This tale is another story from the Culture War, with which you may well already be familiar. I am going to talk a little about how the commitment of successive governments to enshrine shared parenting in law has become subverted by a powerful opposition.
By “shared parenting” I mean the philosophy that a child’s interests after parental separation are best served by allowing him or her a full and unobstructed relationship with both parents.
By “opposition” I mean the small but vociferous, well-funded and implacable lobby of feminists who believe that fathers are unnecessary and undesirable and that the mother should be the sole arbiter of who, if anyone, has any sort of relationship with HER child, without interference from the courts.
While the Court of Appeal generally respects the principle of shared parenting, many…
Keen as I am to see justice done for the Palestinians, I’ve lately become less interested. This is because, for decades, they’ve allowed their rulers to make fools of them. The endless Fatah-Hamas rivalry is eagerly exploited by their enemies Israel, the US and the UK – the “axis of evil” – and provides them a convenient reason for blocking independence. It’s a sad thing when people who have been savagely oppressed and illegally occupied for 70-plus years, and who have all legal and moral rights on their side, cannot unite and speak with a single authoritative voice.
What is even more depressing is the way a criminal pursuit, Zionism, which terrorises the Holy Land, has the West by the balls, terrified to act.
But the other day I was jolted out of my snooze by another great article from Miko Peled: “Yes, Biden and Harris are self-declared Zionists, but a glimmer of hope remains.” He reminds us that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both brag about being Zionists and most American politicians are infected too, but Trump’s removal from the White House “presents a sense of a new beginning and should be used as an opportunity to change the paradigm on Palestine”.
How come? Because although the politicians might not get it, it’s plain to everyone else (except evangelicals) that Israel is a dangerous, reckless, apartheid state and supporting it only promises instability. “Furthermore, the Netanyahu government is tightly connected to Trump. In fact, one could argue that Trump’s entire foreign policy regarding the Middle East and Iran were dictated by Netanyahu.”
Louder voices please
Peled believes Americans are at last “growing weary of the US arming and financing Zionist ambitions” and beginning to see that Israel not only violates international law and human rights, but is itself a violation of those laws and rights.
Every day that Palestinian refugees languish in camps is a violation of human decency as well as international law… the fact that the homes, land, and property of these refugees were stolen by Israel after they were forced to flee by armed Zionist terror squads – that is an ongoing violation of international law. Each day that Palestinians in Gaza remain locked up in the world’s largest open-air prison is a violation of international law and the human rights of the over two million people who live in the Gaza Strip… No one can be progressive while supporting Israel.
Israel has armed itself with the weapon of anti-Semitism, and the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of anti-Semitism foolishly accepted by governments and non-governmental organisations has created a shield that protects Israel from criticism. But, says Peled, “when the facts are laid out clearly, even the weaponisation of anti-Semitism cannot protect Israel.
There is a change in the air in the United States and although the Biden-Harris duo has declared themselves Zionists, there is an opportunity to push forward an aggressive pro-Palestine, pro-justice agenda… Biden and Harris may be supporters of Zionism today, but that can change. It is the duty of those who care for Palestine to make their voices heard now louder than ever before.
When I interviewed Miko two years ago, he was saying: “The US, and particularly the current administration, accepts that Israel has swallowed all of Mandatory Palestine and there is no room for non-Jews in that country.” European politicians on the other hand “want to appease Israel and accept it as it is. Their constituents, however, demand justice for the Palestinians so, as an act of cowardly compromise, the EU countries in true post-colonial fashion treat the Palestinian Authority as though it was a Palestinian state… even though there is no such state.
They do it in order to appease their constituents without actually doing anything to further the cause of justice in Palestine. These recognitions have helped not one Palestinian, they have not freed a single prisoner from an Israeli prison, they have not saved a single child from bombings in Gaza, they have not alleviated the suffering and deprivation of Palestinians in the Naqab desert or in the refugee camps. It is an empty, cowardly gesture.
They should recognise that Palestine is occupied, that Palestinians are living under an apartheid regime in their own land, they are victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide and that this must stop, and the Zionist occupation must end completely and without conditions.
Miko back then wanted expulsion of Israeli diplomats and Israel to be totally isolated.
There is too much tolerance for those who promote Zionism and promote Israel… Elected officials need to be forced to accept BDS entirely. The Palestine solidarity groups need to move from solidarity to full resistance, and BDS is the perfect form of resistance available. Using the tools we have, like BDS, is crucial.
He felt the passing of the Israeli Nation State Law was an opportunity to bring together the refugees, the West Bank and Gaza, and demand equal rights. And to insist that the Zionist regime, which has been terrorising Palestine for seven decades, be replaced by a free and democratic Palestine. “This opportunity will hopefully be seized.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t.
And BDS hasn’t been adopted by the UK Parliament because it is stuffed with Zionist stooges from the prime minister and the Leader of the Opposition down. The government itself vehemently opposes BDS and seeks to criminalise any organisation or public body that supports it, while happily rewarding Israel for every vile crime it commits. The UK’s corridors of power need disinfecting just as badly as America’s.
Meanwhile the Palestinians remain their own worst enemy, giving their quisling rulers a free ride. And their ambassador in London is quiet as a mouse.
“Who pays and employs these ‘Police’ ?
Who issues and collects the fines?
Who drafted – civil service and passed the legislation – Parliament without debate
So where is the above’s accountability to the public and those who pay them – the public
Where is the Rule of Law and Separation of Powers
Where is our choice , democracy and freedom ?
And who profits from it- Corporate Police. Fine Enforcers ?
How much of our money is paid and to whom, to oppress ?
Why is there no media coverage, public/ political dissent to all of this ?”