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John Pilger does what a journalist is supposed to do. He questions decisions made by those who are in charge and hold them to account for their decisions. As witnessed during the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003 most of the easily accessible media in the West is, for the most part uncritical and (appallingly) accepting of what those in power want us to believe.
This isn’t new information – let’s go back to 1946.
“In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”
Stirring up fear and blind patriotism is the first ingredient in the propagandist’s recipe book. For people who are afraid, are all to willing to forget their common humanity when they perceive a “threat” to their future.
The real reasons we fight ‘terrorism’ and ‘defend our freedoms’.
“The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.
The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an “agreement” that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague. Independence of this kind is intolerable.
As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.
From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage.”
Actual freedom and actual independence are the official enemies. There is no international glorious commitment to human rights and freedoms, but rather, the economic and political machinations of state that are the true driver of the various ‘humanitarian interventions’ across the globe.
Did you need to see this in action on a smaller scale. Well, there just happens to be a captioned poster for that.
This is why words like ‘power’ and ‘justice’ must be so carefully defined and put into the proper context – because people experience these concepts in vastly different ways depending on their place in the social hierarchy. It is particularly fair? Not even close, but it is how power, and by extension, how our society works.
State terrorism and religious terrorism are directly correlated.
“According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The Unicef report on the children killed says, “most [of them] under the age of ten”.
As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS.”
Within most of major media, the results of our violence is almost never mentioned. The silence is deafening with regards to our culpability in committing these atrocities.
“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”
The complicity of most of our media means that state power, and the ‘national interest’ remains potently in the background, unchallenged, unexamined, and uncritically accepted.
“The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, “What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”
He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq”.
It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question — Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.
In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.”
Demand better of your media outlets. Spend time perusing alternate sources of media, be cognizant of the ‘official’ narrative. Ask questions.
Well, nearly quoted the whole damn article, but so very important. Go to the national observer for the rest.
“In Wednesday’s House of Commons debate on Bill C-16, also known as the Transgender Rights Bill, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who introduced the legislation back in May, explained:
“Gender identity is a person’s internal or individual experience of their gender. It is a deeply felt experience of being a man, a woman, or being somewhere along the gender spectrum. Gender expression is how a person publicly presents their gender. It is an external or outward presentation through aspects such as dress, hair, makeup, body language, or voice.”
But these statements show a deep misunderstanding of what gender is and how it works. Gender is a product of patriarchy. Ideas around masculinity and femininity exist to naturalize men’s domination and women’s subordination. In the past, women were said to be too irrational, emotional, sensitive, and weak to engage in politics and public life. Men were (and often still are) said to be inherently violent, which meant things like marital rape and domestic abuse were accepted as unavoidable facts of life. “Boys will be boys,” is the old saying that continues to be applied to excuse the predatory, violent, or otherwise sexist behaviour of males.
The feminist movement began back in the late 1800s in protest of these ideas, and continues today on that basis. The idea that gender is something internal, innate, or chosen — expressed through superficial and stereotypical means like hairstyles, clothing, or body language — is deeply regressive.
Beyond misguided language there is the fact that we are very quickly pushing through legislation that conflicts with already established rights and protections for women and girls.
Women’s spaces — including homeless shelters, transition houses, washrooms, and change rooms — exist to offer women protection from men. It isn’t men who fear that women might enter their locker rooms and flash, harass, assault, abuse, photograph, or kill them… This reality is often left unaddressed in conversations around gender identity. This reality is sex-based, not identity-based. Men cannot identify their way out of the oppressor class so easily, neither can women simply choose to identify their way out of vulnerability to male violence.”
As unpopular as this fact has become, a man or boy who wishes to identify as a woman or girl, perhaps taking on stereotypically feminine body language, hairstyles, and clothing, is still male. He still has male sex organs, which means girls and women will continue to see him as a threat and feel uncomfortable with his presence in, say, change rooms. Is it now the responsibility of women and girls to leave their own spaces if they feel unsafe? Are teenage girls obligated to overcome material reality lest they be accused of bigotry? Is the onus on women to suddenly forget everything they know and have experienced with regard to sexual violence, sexual harassment, and the male gaze simply because one individual wishes to have access to the female change room? Because one boy claims he “feels like a girl on the inside?” And what does that mean, anyway?
Generally, the claim that one “feels” like the opposite sex “on the inside” is connected to a list of sexist gender stereotypes: a boy likes dolls and dresses, a girl plays with trucks and cuts her hair short, a man enjoys wearing pantyhose and getting manicures, etc… There is no scientific foundation for the idea that sex is defined by a “feeling” or by superficial choices. One cannot, in fact, “feel” like a man or a woman “on the inside,” because sex is something that simply exists. It is a neutral fact. Aside from having a mental condition like body dysmorphic disorder, the only reason one could claim not to “feel” like the sex they are, biologically, is because they identify with the gender roles assigned to the opposite sex. Key word: assigned.
It is unlikely any of us feel comfortable with the restrictive roles we are socialized into as men or women. Certainly those who step out of those roles are punished viciously, and that includes trans identified people. But that problem is a social one, and the solution is not to reinforce sexist ideas about gender, but to push back against the idea of gender itself – that is to say, the idea that males and females have innate behaviours and preferences they are born with. As feminists and progressives, we should challenge the idea that superficial things like clothing, toys, makeup, or mannerisms define us.
We live in a time when women and girls are killed every day, across the globe, by men. Things like rape, domestic abuse, and the murder of Indigenous women and girls in Canada are still not considered hate crimes. Yet we have managed to push through legislation that may very well equate “misgendering” to hate speech.
Women are protected under the human rights code on the basis that we are, as a group, discriminated against on account of our biology. Employers still choose not to hire women based on the assumption that they will become pregnant. Women are still fighting to have access to women-only spaces (including washrooms and locker rooms) in male-dominated workplaces like fire departments, in order to escape sexual harassment and assault.
Legislation and policies that protect “gender identity and expression” unfortunately set up a clash between women’s rights and those who identify as transgender. There are solutions. It was not always the norm, for example, that public buildings had to be accessible for people with disabilities. It is perfectly reasonable to expect public buildings to install private gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms for people who don’t wish to use either the women’s or the men’s room. We can effect change and ensure people have access to the services and support they need without imposing on already established and still very much needed rights of women and girls.
Women are socialized, from the time they are born, to prioritize the feelings and comfort of everyone else but themselves. We learn that our boundaries will not be respected by men, as we are talked over, leered at, cat called, groped, and raped. Girls’ images are constantly being shared electronically by boys and men alike, against their will. There is a real fear that images of our bodies will be put online in order to exploit and degrade us.
Our fears of men are justified, proven over and over again to be (sadly) rational, not irrational. That is something that needs to be respected, not treated as bigoted or hysterical. Society has disregarded women’s feelings, concerns, and safety for long enough.
Listening the radio, I heard this interview and appreciated the revisiting of colourful part of Canadian political history. Thankfully the Current on CBC radio one now fully transcribes their episodes, so I can share the highlights of the interview here.
“AMT: Remind us, what did the Liberal sponsorship scandal involve?
DANIEL LEBLANC: Well, it was kind of—officially, it was national unity program to increase the visibility of Canadian symbols, Canadian signs in Quebec. And let’s remember, this is after the 1995 referendum which was a squeaker, the “no” side won by about 50,000 votes. And Jean Chrétien, the prime minister of the day wanted to make Canada relevant to Quebecers. It was a very simple idea to put up flags and you know there was hot air balloons in the form, in the shape of maple leaf for example, and a bunch of cultural events and sporting events were sponsored by this program in exchange for putting up Canada banners at their event sites. But ultimately, it became embroiled in scandal. There was the advertising firms that were the intermediaries between the government and the events, some of them kickbacked money to the Liberal Party. There were some fraud and some of the events as well were quite close to the Liberal Party of the day. So it became known as a slush fund scandal and you know it kind of became bigger and bigger as time wore on. And you know it led ultimately to the Gomery inquiry in 2004, 2005, which created massive problems for the Liberal Party, especially in Quebec where they lost most of their seats after, during the 2004 election. So it’s kind of a scandal that was about you know more than a decade ago, but it did have a huge impact on Canadian politics of the day.
CHANTAL HÉBERT: Canadians or Quebecers, I think, would take from that sentence the word past rather than the wrestling of chains because so much happened to the Liberal Party over the post-sponsorship decade that Justin Trudeau’s party—in Quebec in particular—certainly bears little resemblance to the party that Jean Chrétien or even Paul Martin led in so many ways. You know when I think about—in hindsight, because now that all these years have gone by—the sponsorship scandal probably was over time a good thing for the Liberal Party. It forced it to renew itself at the time when it desperately needed to do so. Think of it like a brush fire, a really bad one and what grows after the fire is extinguished. That’s literally what just happened to the Liberal party in Quebec and possibly Justin Trudeau’s victory in Quebec—he did win the majority of the seats—would not have happened if the Liberal Party had just gone on and on, on the path that it was set when Jean Chrétien retired.
AMT: Well, tell me a little bit more about that, Chantal. What happened to the Liberal Party insiders in Quebec who then were caught up in this scandal? How did they—what happened after the brush fire?
CHANTAL HÉBERT: Okay. So let’s first go back to that time when Jean Chrétien leaves and Paul Martin comes. The sponsorship has not yet hit the party in the way that it will hit. And at that point, on this week before the sponsorship report from the auditor general comes out, the polls show the Liberals in Quebec at 55 per cent under Paul Martin and the Liberals have been riding very high on Quebec at the tail end of the [unintelligible] era, on the basis of Chrétien’s last decisions and particularly the decision not to sign up for the war in Iraq. But the internal workings of the party were already broken. This is a party that been ongoing a civil war between two factions: Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. And if you want to go back even further, between John Turner and Jean Chrétien as of 1984. By the time Paul Martin becomes prime minister, he sets up the Gomery commission thinking that there is distance between him and the sponsorship stuff because there is really two parties, two warring factions within the party and because it’s two main characters. Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin are from Quebec. Quebec is a battleground where people are gunning for the other faction and the sponsorship affair takes place in the middle of that and that kind of forces everybody off the ice. Within a couple of years, there is no Liberal left that is elected in ridings where the vast majority of voters are Francophones in Quebec. They are pushed back to the west end of Montreal. After the Orange wave, there is not even a seat left in the [unintelligible] region, which is a highly Federalist region. So by the time Justin Trudeau becomes leader, there is no Liberal party.”
Listen to, or read the full transcript at the link below.
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This excerpt is from an essay by Bill Moyers titled “Money and Power in America”.
“The movers and shakers — the big winners — keep repeating the mantra that this inequality was inevitable, the result of the globalization of finance and advances in technology in an increasingly complex world. Those are part of the story, but only part. As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, “In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of the doctrine of the equality of men. But the capitalist really depends on some religion of inequality.”
Exactly. In our case, a religion of invention, not revelation, politically engineered over the last 40 years. Yes, politically engineered. On this development, you can’t do better than read Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of political science.
They were mystified by what had happened to the post-World War II notion of “shared prosperity”; puzzled by the ways in which ever more wealth has gone to the rich and super rich; vexed that hedge-fund managers pull in billions of dollars, yet pay taxes at lower rates than their secretaries; curious about why politicians kept slashing taxes on the very rich and handing huge tax breaks and subsidies to corporations that are downsizing their work forces; troubled that the heart of the American Dream — upward mobility — seemed to have stopped beating; and dumbfounded that all of this could happen in a democracy whose politicians were supposed to serve the greatest good for the greatest number. So Hacker and Pierson set out to find out “how our economy stopped working to provide prosperity and security for the broad middle class.”
In other words, they wanted to know: “Who dunnit?” They found the culprit. With convincing documentation they concluded, “Step by step and debate by debate, America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefitted the few at the expense of the many.”
There you have it: the winners bought off the gatekeepers, then gamed the system. And when the fix was in they turned our economy into a feast for the predators, “saddling Americans with greater debt, tearing new holes in the safety net, and imposing broad financial risks on Americans as workers, investors, and taxpayers.” The end result, Hacker and Pierson conclude, is that the United States is looking more and more like the capitalist oligarchies of Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, where most of the wealth is concentrated at the top while the bottom grows larger and larger with everyone in between just barely getting by.
Bruce Springsteen sings of “the country we carry in our hearts.” This isn’t it.”
The points of view put forward here represent the thinking of an individual that does not believe in the political process, and one that believes that change can come from inside the process. Fascinating stuff.
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, that’s precisely what we’re trying to do. There is a point where you have to—do I want to keep quoting Ralph?—but where you have to draw a line in the sand. And that’s part of the problem with the left, is we haven’t.
I covered the war in Yugoslavia, and I find many parallels between what’s happening in the United States and what happened with the breakdown of Yugoslavia. What is it that caused this country to disintegrate? It wasn’t ancient ethnic hatreds. It was the economic meltdown of Yugoslavia and a bankrupt liberal establishment that, after the death of Tito, until 1989 or 1990, spoke in the language of democracy, but proved ineffectual in terms of dealing with the plight of working men and women who were cast out of state factories, huge unemployment and, finally, hyperinflation.
And the fact is that these neoliberal policies, which the Democratic Party is one of the engines for, have created this right-wing fascialism. You can go back—this proto-fascism. You can go back and look at the Weimar, and it—Republic—was very much the same. So it’s completely counterintuitive. Of course I find Trump a vile and disturbing and disgusting figure, but I don’t believe that voting for the Democratic establishment—and remember that this—the two insurgencies, both within the Republican Party and the—were against figures like Hillary Clinton, who spoke in that traditional feel-your-pain language of liberalism, while assiduously serving corporate power and selling out working men and women. And they see through the con, they see through the game.
I don’t actually think Bernie Sanders educated the public. In fact, Bernie Sanders spoke for the first time as a political candidate about the reality the public was experiencing, because even Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, was talking about economic recovery, and everything was wonderful, and people know that it’s not. And when you dispossess—
ROBERT REICH: Well, let me—let me—
CHRIS HEDGES: Let me just finish. Let me finish. When you dispossess that segment, as large as we have—half the country now lives in virtual poverty—and you continue to essentially run a government that’s been seized by a cabal, in this case, corporate, which uses all of the machinery of government for their own enrichment and their own further empowerment at the expense of the rest of the citizenry, people finally react. And that is how you get fascism. That is what history has told us. And to sit by—every time, Robert, you speak, you do exactly what Trump does, which is fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. And the fact that we are going to build some kind of—
ROBERT REICH: Well, let me—let me try to—
CHRIS HEDGES: —amorphous movement after Hillary Clinton—it’s just not they way it works.
ROBERT REICH: Let me try to inject—let me—let me try to inject—
AMY GOODMAN: Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich?
ROBERT REICH: Let me try to inject some hope in here, in this discussion, rather than fear. I’ve been traveling around the country for the last two years, trying to talk to tea partiers and conservatives and many people who are probably going to vote for Donald Trump, to try to understand what it is that they are doing and how they view America and why they’re acting in ways that are so obviously against their self-interest, both economic self-interest and other self-interest. And here’s the interesting thing I found.
This great antiestablishment wave that is occurring both on the left and the right has a great overlap, if you will, and that overlap is a deep contempt for what many people on the right are calling crony capitalism—in fact, many people on the left have called crony capitalism. And those people on the right, many, many working people, they’re not all white. Many of them are. Many of them are working-class. Many of them have suffered from trade and technological displacement and a government that is really turning its back on them, they feel—and to some extent, they’re right. Many of them feel as angry about the current system and about corporate welfare and about big money in politics as many of us on the progressive side do.
Now, if it is possible to have a multiracial, multiethnic coalition of the bottom 90 percent that is ready to fight to get big money out of politics, for more equality, for a system that is not rigged against average working people, where there are not going to be all of these redistributions upward from those of us who have paychecks—and we don’t even realize that larger and larger portions of those paychecks are going to big industries, conglomerates, concentrated industries that have great market power, because it’s all hidden from view—well, the more coalition building we can do, from right to left, multiethnic, multiracial, left and right, to build a movement to take back our economy and to take back our democracy, that is—
CHRIS HEDGES: I don’t think it makes any difference. The TPP is going to go through, whether it’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Endless war is going to be continued, whether it’s Trump or Clinton. We’re not going to get our privacy back, whether it’s under Clinton or Trump. The idea that, at this point, the figure in the executive branch exercises that much power, given the power of the war industry and Wall Street, is a myth. The fact is—
Can a compromised system produce results that benefit the non-elite portions of society. I’m thinking no.
This excerpt from Paul Street’s essay, “Bob Kerrey, Fulbright University, and the Neoliberal Erasure of History.”
“And besides, the conventional imperial American exceptionalist wisdom holds. mistakes happen. It’s true, dominant media and reputable intellectuals acknowledge, Uncle Sam and his innately gallant gendarmes occasionally make “mistakes” in their inherently noble (because American) zeal to improve an often nasty and unruly world. It’s a messy, imperfect planet on which the intrinsically benevolent, peace- and freedom-loving United States struggles selflessly to make its righteous mark. Slip-ups and oversteps occur. “Mistakes,” you know, like the so-called Vietnam War and its many My Lais and Thanh Phongs. “Mistakes” like the U.S. invasion of Mesopotamia, which led to the premature death of more than a millions Iraqis. Still, the reigning American thought-habit holds, U.S. intentions are always virtuous. The “blunders” take place in the context of an ugly and dangerous world where evil is rife – a world where the United States always strives mightily to stay morally upright while dealing with “bad guys” like “the Viet Cong” (the American military and media’s racist label for Vietnamese revolutionaries who fought for national independence and social justice). As Bill Clinton’s second Secretary of State Madeline Albright (the one who said that the death of more than half a million Iraqi children through U.S-led economic sanctions was “a price worth paying” for the advance of U.S. foreign policy goals) once explained, “The United States is good…We try to do our best everywhere.”
We must never forget how splendid we are, something that makes it essential for us to toss vast volumes of U.S. “foreign relations” (imperial) history down Orwell’s “memory hole.”
Scholar and feminist activist Jasmine Curcio addresses this polemic and the domination of men in leftist politics, especially around issues pertaining to feminism:
“And so many years on, feminist discussions around the left continue to be subtly dominated by men and their perspective, with the aid of theoretical frameworks that marked disdain towards feminism in decades past. Men have become gatekeepers of feminist discussion, and many debates take place with ignorance, disdain, and sometimes subtle tactics of bullying. Phenomena that lie outside of the bourgeois-proletarian contradiction are not really taken on board as material facts, but either made to fit with constructed orthodoxy or they are discarded.”
Paradoxically, when women point this out, the reality of sexism bites back and they are regarded as “bitches,” “whores,” and even shut down both on social media and in public forums.