Friday, May 30, 2014

Pacifica/KPFA Radio's new 8 am host and the Congo conflict

Sonali Kolhatkar
KPFA's new 8 am host

The most serious complaint against yanking Pacifica's KPFA-Berkeley's 8 am Morning Mix off the air to replace it with Sonali Kolhatkar's Uprising, a syndicated show from KPFK-LA, is that she displaced racially and intellectually diverse local voices who are on the ground in local struggles in the station's Northern California fm signal area. Those voices include Richmond residents trying to keep Chevron from buying their next Mayor and City Council, cities and counties' trying to become clean energy buyers' co-ops, and the campaigns for justice for Andy Lopez, Alan Blueford, Alex Nieto, and other victims of police violence.

However, there are more reasons to protest the sudden placement of Uprising in KPFA's 8 am slot, including Kolhatkar's coverage of U.S. wars in Africa, which she consistently fails to understand as such, despite her credentials as an opponent of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Kolhatkar has repeatedly reproduced corporate and militarist narratives that mask U.S. involvement in African conflicts, particularly in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, which includes Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2010, on Pacifica's KPFK Radio-Los Angeles, Kolhatkar interviewed Louise Arbour, the President and CEO of the International Crisis Group (ICG). The ICG Board and Senior Advisory Group are composed of former top state department, UN, and military officials and top corporate executives from around the world, including former NATO Allied Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, and Canadian mining and oil baron Frank Giustra. Giustra became the most generous donor to former President Bill Clinton's foundation, after Clinton helped him secure exclusive rights to mine Kazakhstan's uranium.

Kolhatkar, however,  did not identify any members of the International Crisis Group, and without question, allowed Arbour to characterize it as a "civil society group." She did not ask Arbour why, as the former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, she protected Rwandan "President" Paul Kagame from prosecution for the assassination of his predecessor, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira. Instead Kolhatkar presented Arbour as a leader and thinker qualified to propose peaceful solutions for DR Congo, not as part of the problem, even as Kagame covertly continued his catastrophic war and plunder there.

Louise Arbour 

As the ICTR's Chief Prosecutor, Arbour suppressed the evidence delivered to her by UN Special Investigator Michael Hourigan and accused him of working outside his brief, even though he had been officially tasked with investigating the assassination of the two presidents with a missile that shot their plane out of the sky, as they flew home after signing a peace agreement to end the 1990-1994 war between the Rwandan Army and Ugandan army troops led by General Paul Kagame.

Hourigan later testified that he had submitted firsthand witness testimony that Kagame ordered the assassinations, but that Arbour had suppressed his report. The KPFA Evening News reported on Hourigan's death and the significance of his work in 2013.

After assassinating two African presidents and seizing power in Rwanda''s capital Kigali, Kagame and his mentor, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, invaded neighboring DR Congo, starting the First and Second Congo Wars and ongoing conflict that have cost well over six million lives. The U.S. backed those catastrophic invasions, which displaced France as the dominant power in the DRC, as even Newsweek reported in 1997, but Kolhatkar made no mention of that.

Information about the International Crisis Group and about Louise Arbour's role in protecting President Kagame is readily available online. Indeed, Arbour offered ICG's website,, to Kolhatkar and KPFK listeners.

This 2010 interview with Louise Arbour, former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, is just one example of an collaborator and advocate for U.S. wars in Africa featured on KPFK-Uprising's airwaves after being introduced as an advocates for peace.  Since the names of others are no more familiar to American audiences than Louise Arbour's, I can't simply list names and expect the list to be meaningful without context.  That will have to be the subject of another, longer article, on Pacifica's broader trend toward advocacy of US wars.

I have no evidence that Sonali Kolhatker or any other Pacifica host has been intentionally promoting advocates for war as advocates for peace, but ignorance is no excuse, especially with so much information about any public figure now so readily available online.

And the Pacifica Radio Network is, by name, committed to peace.

To listen to Kolhatkar's 2010 interview with Louise Arbour, click segment #1, "Arbour,"

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Bilingual Dutch Republic

The francophone history of the Netherlands is often described in terms of tolerance for religion. The Dutch generously received Huguenot refugees in the 18th century.

Based on the huge influence of both the Walloone Calvinists in the 16th century (first two Dutch Reformed Synods were bilingual) and the direct link between Guillaume d'Orange and French Huguenots it might be more helpful to propose a different reading; The Bilingual Republic.

So many hard to understand facts of Dutch history fall into place once we accept this heuristic. But let's add Emden to the mix.  At the 1571 Emden Synod three documents were adopted:
 'The synod affirmed the presbyterian character of the Reformed Church, organized churches within a geographical region into "classes", adopted the 1561 Confession of Faith (later known as the Belgic Confession), and approved use of the Heidelberg Catechism in Dutch-speaking congregations while promoting the Geneva Catechism for French-speaking churches'
The bilingual character of the Dutch Church is obvious from this short statement. The influence of Petrus Datheen is obvious as well. He became president of the bilingual synode in 1578. Also note the synods of 1566/1567 where armed revolt is authorized against a government that suppresses religious and civil liberties. The tensions between Petrus Datheen and Guillaume d'Orange that led to Datheen's eventual exile might have had a linguistic diminsension as well.

Did Datheen meet Knox in London and Frankfurt? Their Relationship and the refugee churches in Frankfurt might be of interest. Much emphasis has been placed on political thought and the Dutch revolt. Both a 19 century discussion of the proceedings of the 1571 Emden synod and Martin van Gelderen's misleading comment that the adoption of the French confession of faith was (merely) in recognition of the link with the French protestant churches are illustrations of how the French aspect of Dutch protestantism is not properly understood by most historians. Dutch historians dissmissing the factual claim concerning the Walloone origins of the founder of New York last year, illustrate this same phenomenon.

In Wyger Velema' 'Republicans: Essays on Eighteenth-century Dutch Political Thought' we read:
'The fact that in the third quarter of the century at least six French editions of the Esprit des Lois were published in Amsterdam alone therefore tells us very little about the Dutch reception of the book. What it does suggest, however, is that iti was readily avaible to the contemporary bilingual Dutch elite-readership, well versed in both French and Dutch.'
 Here we see, once again, clear evidence that the Dutch Republic was a bilingual republic. However, the reference to a supposed 'elite-readership' is a symptom of the popular and persistent myth in Dutch society that associates French with the elite. Margaret Jacobs argues that radicalization among the french speaking community in the Netherlands was directly related to the persecution in France and the subsequent, related invasion of England. William the third, a direct descendend of Gaspar de Coligny, recruited his guard almost exclusively from among the Huguenot community. That in itself tells us a lot. The story of the Walloons by William Elliott Griftis might give us additional information of the role of this large community in the Dutch Republic. In the first lines of his thesis, La Grande Arche des Fugitifs? Huguenots in the Dutch Republic after 1685, Michael Joseph Walker repeats the misleading assumption that the Walloons were refugees in the Netherlands. Without Walloons The Republic would not exist. But he also acknowledges the fact that :
in the Netherlands, the Huguenots retained their separate culture and identity for the longest time of any of the areas of resettlement,arguably into the nineteenth century'
A possibility is that Napoleons occupation ended this, in similar fashion as German separete identity in the US ended after the second world war.

The impressive list of Walloon pastors in the Netherlands in the acts of the Walloon Church of 1603 - 1697 does not mention the fact that Petrus van Mastricht was raised in a Walloon church in Cologne where his grandfather Nicolas de la Planque was pastor. There was a  College Walloon in Leiden (1606- 1699) where for example Hendricus Reneri studied with the huguenot theologian André Rivet, tutor of William II (Archibald Alexander discusses him). Hendricus Reneri also met Pierre Gassendi, who had worked in Aix-en-Provence. An article about this Walloon College states that Daniel Massis was it's director from 1643- 1668. Interesting details on how student life and the focus of the studies. The nomination as professor of André Rivet, who had been the moderator of the Vitré Synode (Synode Nationale de l'église Réformée de France), , 'after the purges at Leiden in 1620' might be an indication of the success of the Walloon Church's 'course of religious moderation in theological matters'(I would have to investigate to understand what 'moderate' means in this context) and it's close ties with the French Reformed Church (factual). In 1632, André Rivet 'came to The Hague as tutor to Prince William of Orange and brought with him a wealth of connections'. Throug Rivet Anna Maria van Schuurman connected with  the Palatine princess Elisabeth. His son Frederique Rivet became counsellor 'to the illustrious Raad van Prinsen van Oranje'.

van Mastricht started his career in a Cocejan congregation, after which he wrote a forerunner of his work TPT, and later moved to Frankfurt to a church with a lot of Hugenot members which reminds me of Walloon village of New Pfaltz, a name that refers to Pfaltz which hosted many Huguenots at the time. Petrus Datheen fled to Frankenthal(Pfalz) in the 16th century where he translated the Heidelberger Catechism. Note that van Mastrichts brother married a le Brun, who's brother was involved in William Penn's Pennsylvania company in Frankfurt. TPT clearly builds on Cocceius and is closely related to the controversies since the synod of Dordrecht and his experience in different churches.

Petrus van Mastricht's statement that 'the Voetius-Cocceius disagreements did not have to be as vitriolic as they were' confirms my impression that van Mastricht did not belong to either camp, worked in a Cocceian environment in Germany and deals with the same problems. John D. Heusden insists that 'Edwards favorite Mastricht continued to insist on the covenant ideas of Ames and Cocceius in a time of great theological change'.

In a way Petrus van Mastricht's synthesis of Voetius and Cocceius reminds of how natural law was merged with presbyterian thought by Francis Hutcheson and John Witherspoon. In the post-synod of Dort world of the late 17th century it's Petrus van Mastricht who provided the best solution to the Arminian question, although Paul Helm thinks otherwise. The link to Edwards  through the scottish students Erskine and Carstares.  Petrus van Mastricht connection to Voetius and Utrecht was through his pastor in Cologne Hoornbeek. The church in Cologne had regular meetings with the German and Huguenot members(see footnote on the international contacts of the consistory page 28 of this book).

- The Walloone archive in Leiden.

The history of the Collège Wallon by Posthumus Meyes might be great source. The College Wallon was closed in 1699 when the states stopped funding it. Bertrand Van Ruymbeke and Randy J. Sparks suggest this was caused by 'the intesified refugee problem'. A lot of conjecture in the book edited by these two. For example the claim by Willem Frijhoff that the States feared Huguenot (and Walloons) wanted to introduce theocracy:
'Obviously they quickly provoked ome irritation, be it for their moral claim, for their eschatological view of political reality, or simply for poverty, which presented a challenge to Dutch society'
'In the eyes of the Dutch, the true stanger was he who did not recognize the primary of the country's civil power but desired instead to promote that of the ecclesiastical authorities'
Which Dutch and which Huguenots? The ones that thought 'armed revolt is authorized against a government that suppresses religious and civil liberties'?. What evidence does Willem Frijhoff present to justify these strong claims? None. Amazing, such huge oversimplifications of the role of Calvinism in Dutch(and Huguenot) politics by this Free University professor. Let's read his CV to see what baggage he brings to his academic work. In the book Theology, Politics and letters at the crossroads of European civilization we can read the exact opposite: Dutch Reformed Church fighting 'heterodoxy' among the Huguenots inside the Walloon church.

Parking Guillaume d'Orange(Caspar Fagel introduced William Carstares to Guillaume d'Orange and Willem Bentinck, who's close friend he became) for a second, political philosopher Pieter de la Court sounds like an interesting entrance into tracing the political influence of French speaking protestants in the Netherlands. Let's see what David Onnekink has written on this topic in this article investigating how Huguenot exiles 'imagined their own identity'.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Huguenot Roots of Constitutional Abolitionism

Benjamin Parham Aydelotte's role in laying the foundation for the constitutional abolitionist movement in Cincinnati and across the US has sofar received little attention from scolars. A comment by Jonathan Blanchard in an april 1842 letter to Thaddeus Stevens reads:
'Chase, may be considered at the bottom of the political enterprise in this City. They have started a Liberty roll, which I see is signed by Henry Starr, a very wealthy Lawyer of this place: Dr Aydelotte, President of Woodward College and other men who are regarded by the people as Dr. Schmucker is by the people of your neighborhood as to standing and influence'
Well connected with friends like Daniel Drake, who had taught with James Blythe at Transylvania University, Aydelotte knew everything about the debate on slavery in the region. Aydelotte's commencement speech at Woodward College june 29th 1843 is one of the strongest constitutional abolitionist documents that I have ever read. One comment stands out:
'This is a subject that has awakened the thoughts and touched the harts of men of all parties, from Washington and Jefferson, down to Adams, and Jay, and Key of our day. And the wise and the pious of every religious domination have, with the Edwards, and Benezets, and Finleys, of former times, united their counsels and their prayers for the removal of this great national evil.'
An interesting comment while closely related to his own family background. His son John Henshaw aydelott, who was a city missionary in Cincinnati, wrote this about his father's background:
'Benjamin Parham Aydelott, M. D., D. D., was born in Philadelphia, in 1795, being on his father's side of direct French Huguenot blood, while his mother came of the original Quaker stock, who were the first settlers of Philadelphia. His father being an officer in the US Navy, was necessarily absent from home the larger part of his time, and for this reason his boyhood training fell almost entirely upon his mother, whose great ambition was that her son should become a physician. He was sent while quite a lad to the "Protestant Episcopal Academy" at Cheshire, Conn., where he graduated, and then entered the "College of Physicians and Surgeons" of New York City, from which he graduated in 1815. In 1816, he was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Dob, of New York, by Rev. Christian Bork.'

It gives insight in how the Aydelotte family continued to consider itself Huguenot, allthough founding members of the first presbyterian church in the US in Snow Hill. He had apparently attended Princeton, but I haven't yet found a lot of details about that. But his ideological link with Anthony Benezet (a huguenot Quaker), John Jay (a huguenot Episcopalian) and Princeton, through Snow Hill, obviously play a huge role in how he understands the American revolution.

It's also interesting to note how much his mother wanted him to be a physician. Might have been triggered by the experience of the yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793. The large number of french speaking Haïtian refugees that arrived in Philadelphia and Baltimore and the French revolution made politics and theology a hotly debated issue in early 19th century America. Aydelotte would most likely have read Age of Revelation by Elias Boudinot as well.

Still wondering which Finleys he is alluding to in the above comments. I myself would think it to be Samuel Finley, the architect of the American revolution & uncle of Benjamin Rush, and not Robert Finley, the founder of the American Colonization Association. The ambiguity might be intentional. And I find it highly unlikely that Aydelotte would praise Robert Finley while the opposition to slavery at Princeton fractured in 1816 between the Elias Boudinot - and the Robert Finley approach. Or was the warfair between the two approaches not there at that time? Robert Finley had married the foster daughter of Boudinot. And he was connected to the above mentioned Key.

Elias Boudinot's views on religious tolerance and opposition to slavery led him to found the American Bible Society in 1816. Samuel P Chase was the president of the Young American Bible Society in Cincinnati. This society was founded in 1816 as an abolitionist society, the same year the American Colonization Society was founded. Elias Boudinot worked closely with William Jay in preparing the constitution of this society

These competing societies are at the heart of the debate on slavery in the first half of the 19th century. Let's see what William Jay thought of the American Colonization Society in 1835 as written down in his Inquiry into the character and tendency of the American Colonization , and Anti-Slavery Societies. It includes, as expected, a frontal attack of Henry Clay (just search on Clay in the document). It closely follows John Birney's letter on colonization of july 14 1834.  September 15th of 1834 John Birney had an interview with Henry Clay of which we can find a transcript in his Birney's biography:
'He spoke of Mr. Robert J. Breckenridge having put himself down in popular estimation by his having advocated emancipation, and that he and Mr. John Green - two gentlemen of great worth - had disqualified themselves for political usefulness by the part they had taken in reference to salvery'
Robert J. Breckenridge 'became a hard-line member of the Old School faction, and played an influential role in the ejection of several churches in 1837. In 1849 Robert J. Breckenridge had lobbied for a new Kentucky state constitution providing for gradual emancipation. His article on this topic in the Princeton Review of october 1849. In 1857 Breckenridge gave a speech on Henry Clay, might give some interesting insights. It was Breckenridge who made sure Kentucky stayed inside the Union in 1860 and he presided over the Republican National Convention that renominated Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He was rewarded for his Old School Presbyterian stances by being elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly in 1841'. In October 1835, Birney and his family moved to Cincinnati. January 8th 1836 James Birney states (see James Birney and his times page 231)
 'Mr. Clay has deliberately enrolled himself among the opponents...of the liberty of the press and of speech'
Elias Boudinot descended from one of the founders, and the first elder, of the French Church in New York:
'It is a suggestive incident that among the acts of hostility to which he had been subject before his emigration, was a judicial prosecution for employing a private tutor of the Reformed faith in the education of his children.'
William Jay talks about a local president of the American Colonization Societ blocking the opening of a shool for colored girls in Connecticut:
'In the signleness of its object it has often been compared to the Bible Society; what would have been thought of SUCH an appeal to the American Bible Society?'
From John Jay's correspondence with William Wilberforce, Elias Boudinot, Benjamin Rush and Anthony Benezet emerges a clear picture. Especially Jay and Boudinot's involvement in the 1819 campaign to prevent Missouri's admission to the union as a slave state is noteworthy while it coincides with John Quincy Adams/Henry Jay's efforts in removing James Blythe as President of Transylvania University. Note that:
'Leadership of the drive to restrict slavery in Missouri had been assumed by Presbyterian and Congregationalist churchmen'
The James Blythe vs. Henry Clay lawsuite on land in Missouri further indicates that these two were not on friendly terms. In addition during this time Henry Clay threatened to break up the Union. Elias Boudinot at that time was President of both the Society of the Cincinnati and the American Bible Society. John Jay's november 1819 letter to Elias Boudinot on 'the Missouri question' gives us insight into their approach at the time.

One other common denominator of the different leading Huguenots seems to be their choice to become more then Huguenots. This idea is reflected in the constitution of the American Bible Society.

The join-or-die spirit summarized by Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the declaration of independence. Working together in spite of differences. The tensions among the different presbyterians (English, Scottish, French) at Princeton were managed well by Samuel Finley. Working together with Whitefield, Edwards and finally bringing back together the Old- and New Lights. Attracting John Witherspoon closed the circle. But tensions remained, half of the teachers left when John Witherspoon arrived. The problems surrouding Samuel Stanhope Smith later on are symptoms of the same problem.

The bulletin de la Société de l'histoire du protestantisme Francaise discusses how historians have perceived the influence of Huguenots in the US. One detail is overlooked (page 73), the fact that in the presbyterian leadership Huguenots played a huge role, as mentioned above (Boudinot, Aydelotte,  Annis Stockton Boudinot, Julia Rush Stockton ), not just Scots-Irish and New England puritans. The beauty and strength of Princeton (during the time of Samuel Davies and Samuel Finley) was the ability to bring together people from so many different backgrounds which was essential to it's thoughtleadership leading up to the American revolution.  This probably explains why Samuel Finley was a New Sider, but working hard for reconciliation with the Old Siders.

further reading , a letter to Henry Clay   , 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Henry Clay & Kentucky Presbyterians

In his debate with Nathan L. Rice, Jonathan Blanchard makes a point that points again to the importance of events in Kentucky in 1816:
'And where think you, was this book printed, when, and by whom? It was published in 1816, at Georgetown, Kentucky, by the Rev. David Barrow.So the doctrines of Clarkson, which I will read, were once popular in Kentucky, before the gold her piety became dim, & and her fine gold changed.'
Henry Clay's role as trustee of Transylvania University in Kentucky at that time has sofar not been linked to the abolitionist controversy. Has nobody ever tried to clarify this interesting question?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Abraham Lincoln's Admiration for Henry Clay

Henry Clay, the Kentucky politician whom Lincoln called his "beau ideal of a statesman," died on June 29, 1852. The same day, Lincoln appointed a committee in Springfield, Illinois, to arrange a public tribute

To build the Republican coalition Abraham Lincoln reached out to his Whig friends by heaping praise on to their deceased leader Henry Clay. It's amazing how to this day people still believe this admiration was real. Thomas Rush in a biography on the website of the RUG writes:
 'His words and ideas were a major influence on Lincoln who would later often quote Clay on the subject'
Henry Clay might have influenced Abraham Lincoln in many ways, but not in his views concerning slavery. Abraham Lincoln built his views on the work of the abolitionist leaders John Birney and William Jay and Salmon P Chase. Unlike the Garrisonians, many of whom became anarchists, these antislavery constitutionalists favored political action, writes Randy E. Barnett.

The brilliant strategy of praising Henry Clay helped break away large chunks of Whigs during the election of 1860 en helped keep Kentucky in the Union during the civil war.

In 1844 John Birney and William Jay's liberal party had succesfully blocked Henry Clay's road to the presidency. Clay's Compromise of 1850 'fractured the Whigs along pro- and anti-slavery lines, with the anti-slavery faction having enough power to deny Fillmore the party's nomination in 1852'. Whig history is complex, but Lincoln was obviously trying to bring as much Whigs into his Republican party as he could.

Both Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams built their reputation on their role in ending the 1812-1814 war that ended with the treaty  of Ghent. This treaty had an anti-slavery clause that ensured for a long time their reputation as anti-slavery politicians. But at the same time most likely both men played a role in decapitating the presbyterian leadership of Transylvania University in Kentucky in the years after the Ghent treaty. James G. Birney studied under Reverend James Blythe at that University before Henry Clay made sure Blythe and his Scottish colleague Bishop lost control of the institution.

John Quincy Adams role in decapitating the presbyterian leadership of Transylvania University can be inferred from his close relationship with the successor, a Unitarian minister from Boston:
'Holley came to Lexington from Boston, where he knew Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams. His wife, Mary Austin Holley, was a cousin of Stephen F. Austin, a Transy alum for whom Austin, Texas, was later named. Holley was a Unitarian minister and admired educator who helped burnish Lexington’s image as the “Athens of the West.”

How Abraham Lincoln viewed John Quincy Adams and how that fits in with the general view of him among the Whigs during the first half of the 19th century is a good question in this context.

What is clear is that John Quincy Adams refusal to ban slavery from Washington DC in 1839 partly triggered the decision by a small group of abolitionists to take part in the 1840 elections as a separate entity. Henry Clay's negative role inside the party had been crystal clear since Birney's troubles in Cincinnati when publishing his paper, the Philantropist. Clay's words, february 7th 1840 didn't add that much to his established untrustworthy reputation. Abolitionists made sure Henry Clay did not get the nomination in 1840. In 1840 Clay got the nomination, but again abolitionists made sure he did not win the presidency.

Note however that Horrace Holley's brother, Myron Holley, played an important role in the formation of the liberal party in 1840.

How did Thaddeus Stevens strategy of reaching out to the know-nothings influence Lincoln? It's an interesting question.