Posts Tagged ‘propaganda’
What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, this picture is a bigot test. If you agree with the meme expressed, you’re a bigot. It’s that fucking simple. Bigotry isn’t hard to understand, it’s making wild generalizations about people based on things like their race, religion, gender, etc. In the case above, the generalization is so wild it’s almost breathtaking in its stupidity. The meme above comes out and says there is something so hateful and intolerant about Islam that it sets it apart from other religions. And I know damn well many people think that, even the majority of atheists think Islam is the “worst” religion, which shows atheists are just as prone to bigotry as anyone else.
OK, a few facts. It should go without saying that a religion with over a billion adherents is going to be all over the map, just like in any major religion. However, let’s look at specifics. Malaysia. 61% Muslim. Secular constitution, rights of religious minorities are guaranteed. And in fact most Malaysians are proud of their multicultural and multireligious society. Let’s go to Bosnia. Muslims are the majority at 45% of the population. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Third one I checked, Indonesia. Muslim majority. Religious minorities rights protected by the constitution. So factually speaking, the meme is already garbage. It’s safe to say that in numerous Muslim countries there will be religious rights for minorities in their constitutions.
Of course the bigots will claim that even though they have these rights on paper, there are still problems with some Muslims wanting to trample the rights of non-Muslims. News flash, all religions have tendency to trample the rights of minorities when they are the majority. In some countries, like the one I live in, a religious majority whines about having their rights trampled. Well, not all of them, just the holy rollers stuck in the Bronze Age. I’ve kind of had it with people who think their religion means they get to decide the law of the land for everyone. Even people who don’t follow their religion! Yes, dear readers, I’ve wandered near another point. And I’m going to make it. Many religions exhibit a nasty tendency to persecute minorities under the right conditions, it kind of comes with the territory. How is Islam different from, say, Christianity in this regard? It isn’t, Christians have a long proud history of suppressing the rights of those that disagree with them. To this day many Christians are working tirelessly to turn the USA into a theocracy and trample the rights of non-Christians. And sadly even Judaism, long a trampled upon minority, has shown a nasty tendency in this persecutory regard now that they are a majority in one country. So singling out Islam in this regard is hypocritical at best, bigoted and hateful at worst.
That’s another point that needs to be made about this image. How, exactly, is making this hateful generalization about Islam helpful? Will this encourage people in America to be more tolerant of their Muslim neighbours? No, the opposite in fact, it encourages fear and loathing. That may not be bigoted, but I sure think it’s evil. We’ve even got such paranoid dogmeat as state legislatures outlawing Sharia Law. The chances of any Muslims enacting Sharia Law anywhere in the USA are zero, so this is ridiculous on the face of it. And if some Muslims wanted to use Sharia Law to adjudicate civil affairs among Muslims, who gives a shit? We don’t care about Orthodox Jews, Quakers, or numerous other religious groups that chose to live by their religious code within the framework of secular criminal law, why the hell would anyone care if some Muslims did this? Hint: The answer starts with b. And no, I’m not suggesting we let Muslims stone each other to death, any more than we would let a Christian cult stone its members to death for blasphemy. (Lev. 24:16)
The sad thing about images like this is how effective they are. If one wants to have a bad view of Muslims (or anyone) in general, it’s easy to find all sorts of stuff on line to reinforce one’s prejudices. And the mainstream media as well as hordes of amateurs are only too happy to generate and spread hateful images. It’s by no means limited to the right or conservatives as well. I know I’ve pilloried some hateful images by atheists and liberals in previous posts, I find propaganda hateful no matter who is targeted. I think this is a terrible failing of the modern media and online world, it’s making people more divided, not less. I’ll expand on this train of thought in a future post.
Hope everyone is having or had a great weekend. I’m having a BBQ.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Pretty sure that unless the author actually took the trouble to file a copyright, images on Facebook are public domain, correct me if I’m wrong.)
Yes, this image isn’t completely fair. Still, it’s not that far off. Only a tiny handful of people are killed and injured by rockets fired from Gaza. Vastly more people are killed and injured by IDF violence in the occupied territories. That’s because Israel has a vast array of modern weaponry at its disposal, they are one of the world’s great military powers. The Gazans have hand weapons and home made rockets and mortars. So that’s the first lie that is perpetuated by the media, that this is is some sort of conflict between equals. No, they aren’t equal in any sense of the word. This goes hand-in-hand with the lie that Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories are neighbours, and this is some sort of squabble between two regions, and that Israel is “defending its borders.” No, Israel is not “defending its borders,” since the occupied territories lie within Israel’s borders. That’s why they are called the occupied territories, Israel invaded and occupied them in 1967, and since no one wanted them back, they are stuck with them. Israel created the current situation with the Palestinians in the occupied territories, they aren’t some hapless victim.
There are lots of lies in this situation. Israel was based on lies, known as propaganda in the modern parlance. The very first lie set the tone for what was to follow. This was the story that the 700,000 Palestinians who fled what is now Israel in 1948 did so because the Arab governments told them to flee. Even Israeli historians now admit this was a fabrication from beginning to end, Arab governments did no such thing. (Why the f**k would they, no nation wants refuges flooding into its country.) The Palestinians fled because there was a war going on, which people always do when there’s a war. Israel then not only refused to allow them to return, they stole their homes and businesses, and deny to this day that a terrible crime was committed. In fact it’s illegal to commemorate the Nabka, the 1948 Palestinian exodus, in Israel. When one flees their legal residence during a war, one does not magically give up one’s residency. That’s one of the things so infuriating about the “the Arab governments told them to flee” lie, even if was true, so what? It wouldn’t magically change the law, the Palestinians that fled what became Israel were legal residents, and held legal title to their homes and property.
It went downhill from there. One common lie is that “there is no such thing as a the Palestinian people.” There are many permutations to this, basically boiling down the the racist attitude that the Palestinians are Arabs so they should go live in Arab countries. Again, the beauty of this lie is that even it it’s true, there never was a nation called Palestine, so what? The Palestinians living in Palestine were legal residents of the land, because they aren’t mentioned in the Old Testament doesn’t magically make it OK to steal their homes and property. A codicil to this lie is the “no partner for peace” lie. This is the idea that for one reason or another, none of the Palestinian leaders are “fit” to negotiate with. Israel not only chooses its own leaders, why, they are so superior, they can chose what leaders are appropriate for the benighted Palestinians! And of course none of the Palestinian leaders ever lives up to Israel’s standards, convenient, nu? It’s Israel that refuses to negotiate in good faith, not the Palestinians.
Notice a theme here? Racism. Both of these lies are much easier to believe if one thinks that Muslims/Arabs are somehow less than fully civilized, or even less than fully human. This comes out clearly in lie three, the big lie, the one repeated so often that much of western humanity believes it implicitly. And this lie is simple: “Jews are peaceful, Palestinians are violent.” I hardly even know what to say about this. Anyone who believes it is a racist for starters. Humans are violent, and there aren’t really any exceptions. Israel especially isn’t an exception, in fact they are one of the most violent militaristic nations on Earth, the violence they have perpetrated is at least the equal of the violence perpetrated by Palestinians. And in terms of people killed and wounded, Israel is the hands down winner, killing far more Palestinians than vice versa. And as of today, are Israelis striving for peace with the Palestinians in Gaza? Some few are, but many are braying for blood. Of course the western media and Netanyahu’s apologists love to portray images of Muslims espousing violence, while images of Israelis braying for blood will never sully the airwaves. Jesus wept.
Lastly, the coup de grace, the capstone lie that glues the rest all together. Once one understands that the Palestinians are an illegitimate, uncivilized, violent people, the natural conclusion is obvious. The Palestinians deserve what is happening to them, Israel has no choice but to use violence to defend itself. If the Palestinians would only behave themselves, Israel wouldn’t have to resort to such measures. Siege mentality, biblical insanity, racism, all of the above, whatever one wants to call it … Netanyahu and his supporters have blinded themselves into thinking that violence is their only option. Unless one grants that Netanyahu was motivated by simple domestic politics, a desire to drum up support before upcoming elections. Racism or killing babies for votes, take your choice. If that is the case, I think Netanyahu may have made the biggest miscalculation in Israeli history. Since the last time Israel waged war on its occupied territories the Arab Spring has occurred, as well as an explosion of social media in the Middle East. He is making millions of new enemies for Israel across the Muslim world, this is not the road to peace.
I have a friend in Egypt. She’s an engineer, an educated and good person, someone anyone would be proud to have as a friend. And yes, a supporter of democracy and secular values in her nation. IE she is not some jihadist wing-nut who spends her time calling for the destruction of Israel. This is what she posted on Facebook about the current Gaza violence:
“May your skies forever rain with rockets … may you never sleep in peace … my you never have a worry-free smile … may you never live in peace … may you never be safe as long as you live on Palestinian lands … go back to where you came from … to where they kicked you out and burned you alive … “
And note she was careful to say that this sentiment is directed at the baby killers in the IDF, not all Jews or Israelis. To put it mildly, Operation Pillar of Defence, is not going over well with Israel’s neighbors. That’s because it is a genocidal cowardly attack on a helpless population, a population Israel has kept imprisoned in stateless limbo since 1967. That Americans fall for Netanyahu’s siege mentality and disproportionate brutality is a sad reflection of how our western media simply regurgitates Israeli propaganda as if it were fact. If a population of Jews or Christians were being treated the way Israel treats the Palestinians in the occupied territories, Americans and the mainstream press would be foaming at the mouth with the injustice of it all. Yes, hypocrisy has become America’s core value.
Merry Christmas indeed.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. This won’t be my last post on Netanyahu’s insanity, and if it goes on, they will get even less diplomatic than this post.)
Introduction. Above is today’s Facebook gleaned image. I could post an image every day from Facebook if I wanted to. A very very carefully selected image. Many people I know on Facebook post dozens of images a day. I’ve even unsubscribed to people because they posted so many images, cartoons, bon mots, quotes, etc. Even if I agree with the sentiment, unless it really grabs me or makes me laugh, I’m not inclined to forward it. This one though makes me laugh. As with most things that make me laugh, it’s because I see layers and subtlety in it. Or in more common parlance, it appeals to my particular sense of humour, warped though it may be. Anyhow, moving right along …
Random news. Terrible police shooting in England. Two policewomen were lured to an abandoned building and shot to death. The shooter turned himself in afterwards. It’s the worst police shooting in the UK since 1966, which kinda shows how Britain is still head and shoulders above the US in regards to gun violence. Just in the past few years I know there were several policemen killed in a bi shootout in Oakland. Most cops in the UK still don’t carry guns, neither of the women were armed. And apparently there isn’t much call for them to do so, which again shows that in the USA a frontier mentality still prevails. Maybe we’ll grow up as a nation, but we got a ways to go yet.
Random musing. People pairing up and becoming couples, sex or no sex or whatever, is the most natural thing in the world. People were doing it long before we were even people, if there was no culture or religion and we just lived in little bands of family and friends … couples would still form. It’s kind of at the core of what it is to be human. This is why the primitive religions try to define and control coupling, because if they can get people to surrender control of their core identity … it’s a easy slide to completely controlling them. Religions that completely control their followers are the ones that try and impose their beliefs on other people. It’s … a shame … that fundamentalism persists on a large scale into the 21st century, but the fact that huge numbers of Christians, Jews, and Muslims have managed to reconcile their faith with the 21st century gives me hope. I mean, any sort of just God would want us all to get along with each other, nu?
Random true story. This young to-be-famous-someday author was waiting for a boat one fine day. Standing on the dock next to him was a “slip of a girl” in his words. And in one of those impulses humans have, he pushed her off the dock. He was instantly mortified, he didn’t even know if she could swim. Moments later, she came to the surface, and flashed him a beautiful ear to ear smile. He immediately thought “My God, that’s the woman I’m going to marry someday.” And he did.
Random science. Or random nonsense science as the case may be. A book was just published that claims to re-examine Velikovsky’s theories. The interview at the link is fascinating. This man has carefully cherry picked a host of scientific mysteries and uses them to support Velikovsky’s whack-job idea that Venus was ejected from Jupiter in historic times. I wonder if he’s a con-artist, or does he actually believe his theory? I am going with “he believes it.” Lately it’s become very clear to me that there is an amazing similarity between the thought processes of those people who fiercely believe in “alternate” theories, from Creationism to Velikovsky to the Electric Universe. All of them appear to be absolutely convinced that theirs is the only possible explanation and there is a conspiracy among mainstream thought to suppress their version of reality. Then they carefully pick and choose whatever little bits of whatever that “support” their theory. Sometimes these things fade with time, like the Face on Mars nonsense, and sometimes they don’t, like Velikovsky apparently. To be fair, I tried to read one of Velikovsky’s books once. It was one of his later books where he tried to support his theories using only “modern” scientific data. I didn’t get far, because it quickly became clear that the man had obsessively read several centuries worth of geology books and papers, and carefully selected the paragraphs, sentences, and sentence fragments that, taken out of context, supported his “theory.” Um, any theory could be “proved” this way. It also should be noted that Velikovsky was motivated by religion, he was very much trying to prove that the events of the Old Testament were literally true. It was nonsense when he wrote it, and it’s nonsense now.
Closing. Well, no war yet. America’s foreign policy in the Middle East does seem to be unravelling though. Whether by accident or design, the recent anti-Islam movie has proved to be a lightning rod for anti-American sentiment. And the USA has created a lot of anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world since at least 1953 when the USA arranged a coup against the democratically elected government of Iran and installed the Shah in its place. There have been some positive points in US policy in the region, like in 1956 when Eisenhower told the British, French, and Israelis that the USA would not stand for their invasion of Egypt and acquisition of the Suez Canal. It’s pretty much been downhill since, and took a nose dive after 9/11. Compound that with an increasingly government/corporate compliant media, and we have created a situation where the USA is wildly and justly unpopular throughout a vast swath of the Muslim world, and the vast majority of Americans are not only clueless, a lot of what they do “know” abut the situation is simply wrong. On the plus side, if Romney gets elected, we’ll be able to dispense with further foreplay and proceed directly to World War Three. That will be some fun blogging.
(Once again the above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I don’t know where it comes from, it appears to be a picture of something stuck to a wall. That’s how images like this were disseminated in the old days. Say, the 1990s. If one wanted to post this image in say, the building next door, a copy of it had to be carried by hand to the next building! Hard to believe, eh?)
Well, it’s certainly getting interesting over in the Middle East. The response to it around these parts is pretty interesting too. Neither are the good kind of interesting, they are the cursed form of interesting. As the putative Chinese curse goes: “May you live in interesting times.” In really local news, I, for the first time ever, banned a commenter. His comments just got angrier and angrier, and I’m not even sure why. I certainly didn’t get into it with him, he mostly just seemed to be really upset about stuff I was posting. My blog, my opinions. And I try to be respectful of others, I can’t read hard core conservative or liberal (or whatever) blogs because they are so, well, personally insulting of the other side’s beliefs. In any event, I’m not angry at Steve. I used to fly off the handle like that myself, I hope he finds peace someday. Clearly reading my blog wasn’t helping him any in that sense.
People can and do get outraged by stuff they read. Or, say, see in a movie trailer. And in the right context, can get violent over it. People get irrationally violent over all sorts of things. All depends on how propagandized and and programmed they are. Typically people believe violence on their side’s part is rational, and violence on the other side’s part is irrational. And they believe this so strongly that for the most part there’s no point even trying to debate with them. They have such a negative perception of the other side that they can’t even begin to see it from their perspective, and judge it by their own standards. Standards which are often culturally or otherwise enforced in spades. This is how some Americans were able to rationalize civilian deaths in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were Buddhists, they believed in reincarnation, so dying wasn’t a big deal for them. I hope most of my readers can see that this is a profoundly racist and culturally imperialist view, which basically reduces the other side to the status of little more than animals to be butchered without remorse. Leaders of all sides, with few exceptions, espouse this sort of toxic nonsense.
Which brings us the the current sorry state of affairs in the Middle East and beyond. Anti-American and anti-western riots. People dead. Those crazy Muslims is the typical refrain in the west, rioting over a movie trailer. Proof that Islam is a violent (read: irrational and primitive) religion? I mean, these people are rioting and making death threats because their religion was insulted, how irrational does it get? Well, when one has been taught since birth that Muslims and Arabs are inherently violent primitive people who don’t want peace, despite all the west has done for them, it sound irrational as hell. This is the beauty of propaganda, once people have internalized it, they will believe the most egregious nonsense. Not only will they believe it, many of them will actively seek news that reinforces their belief. It’s called confirmation bias. This is how Hitler was able to convince many Germans that they lost World War One because of the Jews. Were the Germans being prejudiced believing this? You betcha.
By now my more astute readers may have discerned where I am going with this. At the risk of losing friends, not that I have a whole lot of friends, a person that thinks Islam is a violent religion compared to say, Christianity and Judaism … is a bigot. While this movie trailer is the catalyst for the riots, it’s not the cause. The cause is decades of western crimes against Muslim nations in the Middle East and central Asia. We’re talking war, occupation, ethnic cleansing, and arming brutal undemocratic governments that were in the west’s pocket. The sorts of things that Americans would be seething with rage about had they been on the receiving end. Look how apeshit many Americans went after 9/11, yet many Muslim countries have suffered and continue to suffer at western hands crimes that kill far more people than 9/11. It’s OK though according to many in the west, the Muslims brought it on themselves with their violence.
And so the violence continues, with all sides believing egregious nonsense about the other side. And far too many leaders on both sides doing their best to reinforce the prejudices their followers hold. Clinton and Obama gave lovely speeches basically calling Muslims violent primitive savages, of course all couched in oh-so-reasonable language, and the media was all-too-happy to reinforce this prejudice with endless stories about Muslims rioting over the movie trailer, completely without any context as to why there might be seething discontent in many Muslim countries directed towards the west. Whoever translated movie this trailer into English has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in reinforcing western prejudice against Muslims, frankly I suspect Israeli counter-intelligence is behind that. The timing was just too perfect.
What will happen now? Damned if I know. Christians, Jews, and Muslims have lots in common. All are easily propagandized and all will support and execute amazing levels of violence. And in the modern world where propaganda is so easily and widely disseminated, it’s a problem. Add to it a situation where many or most leaders on many fronts have made the sociopathic calculation that a war now will advance their interests in the long run, and we have a recipe for a wider or even a global war. Stay tuned.
“It takes two fools to have a fight.”
(The above image is all over Facebook, so again, no clue on copyright. Not being used for profit yadda yadda yadda. Yes, it would be nice if Jesus, Moses, and Mohamed came back and told their followers to cool their jets. Not going to happen of course, since dead people don’t come back, ever. Maybe if the aliens tied everyone to a chair for a few days and showed them images of what violence actually accomplishes. That’s my plan for peace. And if they don’t do that, maybe they could take those of us who still want to live in peace with their neighbours away? A man can dream.)
I have a question for both Republicans and Democrats. There’s something I don’t understand. Since the 1970s both of these parties have systematically and consistently sold out the American people to corporate, military, big oil, and big banking interests. The result has been the largest upwards transfer of wealth in history, an economy based on fast food, banking, and selling each other houses. And the largest pile of debt in history, debts our grandchildren will be paying off. Or more simply put, every year since the mid 1970s the poor and middle class have lost ground, while the rich got richer … every step of the way overtly or tacitly accepted by both parties.
And here we are, forty years later, and I hear fervent republicans and democrats claiming that their party will fix this mess, and the other party will make it worse. So here’s my question. How can any inteligent person think that the people who made the problem in the first place are going to fix it? It defies reason, though boy, the rationalizations, prevarications, and denial coming from both camps is fast and furious. How come so many people are passionately defending the status quo, because if they vote for either party that’s what they have been doing for decades, while being absolutely convinced that their party will make the needed changes?
It’s not a rhetorical question. It is however a question that I think I have some insight into. I think there’s a number of things going on here that have created and are perpetuating this mess. Some of them due to human nature, some due to the nature of society and culture at large, and some due to very cynical propaganda and advertising by the people at the top who are profiting enormously from all this mess. This is sort of a collated rant, bear with me.
A key part of our current situation is hyping social controversies to the point of no end. Things like abortion, prayer in school, gay marriage, gun control, immigration, and others. These are all social policy issues that people have been programmed (easily enough since people do tend to feel strongly about them,) to think of as major issues of national importance. No, they’re not. That’s right, abortion, gay rights, and all the rest are not issues of national importance. They may be divisive, they may be emotional, but they don’t have anything to do with running the country. Because they have been shamelessly politicized by politicians pandering for votes does not actually make them political issues.
They serve their purpose though, they are a great way from distracting people from the real issues. Or more accurately, they really help convince people that their party is the right party … and completely obscure that fact that on important issues of national policy, both parties are the same. Both parties are pro war, pro big government, pro foreign meddling, pro deficit spending, and anti constitutional. These are important issues, but because people are so focused on social issues, they get ignored. Or worse. people tacitly support them by not rocking the boat and staying in their designated republican or democratic lane.
Another part of this is that people deep down hate and fear change. Especially sudden and unexpected change. So they tend to be very wedded to the status quo. Which doesn’t mean things can’t change, it just means they change incrementally and people accept it. The boiling frogs syndrome. Now the the banks and big business own everything, they are very concerned about not rocking the boat. And it’s easy enough to convince people that they don’t want that either, since that’s just how people are. In fact we have all sorts of powerful forces who very much want things to remain as they are, no matter how bad it is for the country at large.
Lastly, one final way the powers that be continue to keep people in line is divide and conquer. IE a great deal of effort is made to blame (take your pick depending on your party,) immigrants, gays, liberals, evangelists, unions, welfare recipients, etc. Anything but the actual people in power. Which is of course exactly why the Occupy Wall Street movement is so dangerous to the people in power, it’s the first mainstream political movement in decades that is actually questioning the very foundations of power in the country, so of course it must be stopped at all costs. The Empire must go on, money must continue to roll into the coffers of the wealthy.
This may get a lot more interesting before it’s over. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is claimed as fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, is central to illustrating the post, and is properly attributed: Free Speech “Zone” at the 2004 DNC Convention. (Photo: Jonathan P. Berger, flickr) These are fenced zones where free speech is allowed. I don’t think people truly understand what a horrific development this is for a free country. If free speech is only allowed inside the designated area … that implies it’s not allowed outside of it. So almost all of us are on the wrong side of the fence.)
Just a few more hours and the tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be history. Of course in a sense 9/11 will never be over, we have entire institutions and wars devoted to the memory of 9/11, and they aren’t going to slip quietly into the night. In a way, and not a good way, 9/11 is becoming a cult. I’m sick of it. 9/11 was like a rat biting an elephant on the snout. Yeah, it hurt like hell, and yeah it pissed us off. And we should have squashed the rat and carried on. Instead, we have spent ten years trumpeting and snorting wildly, wreaking havoc around us and wearing ourselves into exhaustion in the process. And even though a few months back we finally trampled on the rat that bit us, there’s no sign of an end to the madness.
Sigh. I’ve avoided most of the news today, but I did catch that Obama said that 9/11 “made us stronger.” No surprise there, this is the guy who claimed that Navy Seals gunning down an unarmed old man in his PJs was one of the “greatest military operations in US history.” Obama’s ability to utter the most egregious nonsense while appearing sober and presidential is what got him elected, and he’s clearly not lost his touch.
No, 9/11 did not make us stronger. Or to be more accurate, our response to 9/11 did not make us stronger, it made us weaker. The Bush administration and a compliant media encouraged the USA to hysterically over-react to 9/1, and we paid and are still paying a terrible price for it. A price in both treasure and blood, a price vastly greater than our losses on that day ten years ago. And the horrors we have inflicted on other lands in the name of 9/11, are these the actions of a Christian nation?
Our costs though. In treasure, it’s been enormous. Three trillion dollars at least for the cost of our wars and increased homeland “security.” And even if we ended the War on Terror tomorrow, there would still be trillions more to go in terms of veteran’s care in decades to come. This is money we didn’t have, it was borrowed from our grandchildren, plain and simple. There’s not any question that we got almost no economic benefit from this spending, aside from obscenely enriching the arms and security industry. This added debt is a huge part of why our economy is on the ropes, how the hell does piles of debt make a nation stronger?
Then there’s the cost in blood. Several tens of thousands of Americans have been killed and maimed in our wars, the actual numbers are muddy because the Pentagon works very hard to conceal and obfuscate them. And hundreds of thousands more veterans will have permanent psychological issues and trauma from their service, about one in three combat veterans never really get over it in one sense or another. This is a terrible cost by any measure, and for what? Propping up two of the world’s most corrupt field states? Sending Americans to die on the other side of the planet doesn’t make us stronger, it makes us weaker.
And then there’s the psychological cost. The hysteria mongering after 9/11 was among the most intense in history. The government left no stone unturned telling Americans that terrible monsters lurked everywhere, and that we had to give the government a blank check, including suspending some of our own freedoms, to fight this new menace or surely a falling airliner or a dirty bomb or germ warfare would be coming soon to a neighbourhood near them. And Americans, traumatized by the endlessly repeated sights of 9/11, fell for this twaddle by the tens of millions and gave the Bush administration the green light to seize control of the world’s oil. And it continues to this day, tens of millions of Americans dutifully regurgitate “our troops are fighting for our freedom” while the administration continues to weave tales of terror and death. Letting fear of a trivial enemy guide our national policy does not make us a stronger nation, it makes us a nation of cowards and sheep.
Lastly, I’m saddened and disgusted by what a narcissistic spectacle 9/11 and the “War on Terror” has become. It’s like when Commodus, the Emperor of Rome, took to fighting naked gladiatorial contests in the Colosseum. And charging the city staggering sums of money for the privilege. All right thinking Romans were horrified. The survivors and heroes of 9/11 should be mourning quietly and privately, not being paraded through the streets of Rome for the glory of the Empire.
It’s really that weird.
(The above image is claimed as Public Domain under US copyright law as it was painted in 1526. It’s a Painting titled “The Fall of the Rebel Angels” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It’s just another way to articulate the situation we find ourselves in: America went mad on 9/11, and its going to get worse before it gets better.)
The death of OBL is the most significant historical event I have ever been around to blog about. At least in terms of current American history. For the past decade OBL and 9/11 have been one of the primary themes of the American experience. From almost the hour of 9/11 Osama was made out to be an enemy of almost mythical proportions. Well, the myth is dead. I wonder what else will die with him? This is a very speculative post. I speculate that the USA will take this wonderful opportunity to make the world a better place and totally flub it. In fact the USA will take this opportunity to pursue its own interests in defiance of what would be good for the world and ultimately itself. Still, as with any watershed event, unexpected consequences are to be expected. My ongoing thoughts, in no particular order:
The plethora of conspiracy theories is already a cottage industry. Heck, the fact that his body has already been disposed of is mighty suspicious. In fact, it’s so suspicious … that it’s suspicious. Was the Obama administration deliberately trying to give fodder to conspiracy theorists? Very possibly. This is something that conspiracy theorists overlook. The 9/11 truthers and the birthers and such are doing exactly what the government wants … distracting the populace from the real conspiracies. The main one being that since 9/11 the USA has wildly exaggerated the threat of terror in order to justify foreign intervention, military spending, and the consolidation and expansion of federal power in unconstitutional ways.
And speaking of exaggeration, Obama made it clear that the US policy of exaggerating terror is to continue unabated. He made the claim that the death of Osama made the world a safer place. That’s always been Obama’s great strength, he can utter the most transcendentally absurd statements while looking serious and professional and presidential. The world is not safer with Osama dead, because the threat Osama posed was trivial. In comic books and Hollywood movies evil geniuses can destroy the world. In the real world, people like Osama are bit players. His resources were incredibly limited compared to the awesome firepower that say, small governments like Libya can muster. 9/11 was a fluke, as much caused by our own complacency as anything Osama did. If you piss off a midget, and turn your back on him and he sucker punches you, is the midget some sort of evil genius?
Which leads to another point that our government wants us to ignore. Yes, 9/11 was a terrible crime, killing innocents is never justified. However, and it’s a big however, Osama didn’t take up arms against the USA because he was some nutbawho hated us for our freedoms. He was a nutbar who hated us for our support of dictators in the Muslim world, the presence of American troops on Saudi soil, and our unequivocal one sided support for Israel. This doesn’t justify his actions, but it does mean the USA should seriously debate the wisdom and consequences of our foreign policy. “Kill all the bad guys” isn’t a foreign policy, it’s a recipe for endless terrorism.
We’re not safer since 9/11. The opposite in fact. Before 9/11 how any Americans died from terrorist attacks? One a month on average? Now American troops come under attack every day, and just in general the level of carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan is ghastly. Not to mention that we have taken sides in just about every insurgency on the planet. Basically our response to 9/11 was to create failed states and paint a bullseye on the back of every American everywhere. Not to mention stripping Americans of their freedoms. I’ve never understood that one, if they hate us for our freedoms, wouldn’t giving up our freedoms be doing their work for them?
Sigh. And yes, I’ll say it, I am ashamed of Americans who celebrated Osama’s death as if the USA had just won the world cup. There’s just something unseemly about celebrating a death. This wasn’t much of a victory, if any, and it certainly wasn’t justice. Justice would have been Osama getting a fair trial. That’s what once made us the good guys, not killing people in foreign lands. On the plus side at least some are calling for a reassessment of the USA’s foreign policy, especially our involvement in Afghanistan. When Americans start coming home from our foreign wars, that’s when I’ll celebrate.
In any event, this is all I have to say about Osama’s death unless there is some stunning new news. Next, fascism and fundamentalism, will we all be living under sharia law soon?
(The above image dates from World War One and is public domain under US copyright law. Its a dead German soldier mostly buried. I chose it to illustrate that there’s nothing particularly romantic or appealing about killing people, it’s just killing people. World War One didn’t end all wars, pretty much the opposite in fact. I fear Osama’s death will be the same.)