Saturday, February 19, 2005

HISTORY, POVERTY, ETC. has a great piece on the general public's ignorance of history. And not facts from 200 years ago, like who the first president was, but more recent stuff, like which side did the U.S. support in the Vietnam War and why?

His essay is of a piece with the works of Chomsky in that he doesn't take the side of the West just because he's a Westerner. He takes the side of what's right. And that's the problem with most neocons--they're cheerleaders for their team rather than cheerleaders for what's right. For example, Alberto Gonzales called the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and implied if not said outright that torture is permissible in certain circumstances. Neocons (Dems and Repukes) fell all over themselves praising him and couldn't wait to confirm him. Because Gonzales was who Bush wanted, and Bush is the leader (at least the figurehead) of their team, and therefore since it's their team they'll do it even if torture is always wrong and we've tried to mature to that way of thinking in the several centuries since the Enlightenment.

Anyway, here's some highlights of the Pilger essay:

Do they not read history? Or is the history they know, or choose to know, subject to such amnesia and omission that it produces a world view as seen only through a one-way moral mirror? There is no suggestion of conspiracy. This one-way mirror ensures that most of humanity is regarded in terms of its usefulness to "us," its desirability or expendability, its worthiness or unworthiness: for example, the notion of "good" Kurds in Iraq and "bad" Kurds in Turkey. The unerring assumption is that "we" in the dominant West have moral standards superior to "them." One of "their" dictators (often a former client of ours, like Saddam Hussein) kills thousands of people and he is declared a monster, a second Hitler. When one of our leaders does the same, he is viewed, at worst like Blair, in Shakespearean terms. Those who kill people with car bombs are "terrorists"; those who kill far more people with cluster bombs are the noble occupants of a "quagmire."

Pretty damn perceptive if you ask me. Again, a rightwing radical/neocon type would scream "moral relativism" and strenuously point out all the good we've done in the world. And conveniently leaving out the bad, which is far more memorable to the victims than to the perpetrators.

Then Pilger discusses a pat, inaccurate and overly broad history of the Vietnam War and concludes finally:

"Phew, loads for you to learn here..." say the authors of the revision guide, "so get it learned right now." Phew, the British empire did not happen; there is nothing about the atrocious colonial wars that were models for the successor power, America, in Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, to name but a few along modern history's imperial trail of blood, of which Iraq is the latest.

And now Iran? The drumbeat has already begun. How many more innocent people have to die before those who filter the past and the present wake up to their moral responsibility to protect our memory and the lives of human beings?

And about the last bit--Iran. Bush said yesterday that he's "heard the rumors" and the scuttlebutt about how we're getting ready to take down Iran. But rest assured, says he, we're going to use diplomacy. That must be why we already have troops in the country ostensibly doing reconnaissace when in fact they're there to provoke an attack against us so Bush can say that we tried diplomacy but these evil Muslims attacked us so what were we to do...

One Nation, Underprivileged

The more I read of "One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All" byt Mark Robert Rank, the more astonished I am. You know how Bill O'Reilly and his ilk are always complaining that liberals want "redistribution of wealth" and mean it to imply that our side just wants to burn the rich at the stake and start a class war? Why don't those guys ever acknowledge the massive redistribution of wealth that has taken place in the opposite direction in the last thirty years? The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer:

In particular, the very top of society has been reaping temendous material rewards over the past thirty years, while the middle has remained stagnant and the poor have fallen further behind. the levels of income and wealth concentration have reached or surpassed those of the Gilded Age of the 1920s. For example, the top 10 percent of the U.S. population earned 41 percent of total income in 1998, up from 33 percent in 1980...Between 1983 and 1998, the top 20 percent of the population experienced 91 percent of the total gain that occurred in net worth. For example, the wealthiest 1 percent of American households saw their total net worth go from $7,175,000 in 1983 to $10,204,000 in 1998 (in 1998 dollars). On the other hand, the bottom 40 percent of households saw their net worth drop from $4,700 in 1983 to $1,100 in 1998. [p. 160]

So Bill O'Reilly will complain bitterly about wealth redistribution, even though he's got plenty of wealth and so do those in his same financial stratum. But the facts are clear--wealth has been redistributed, all right, from the bottom and middle to the top. And not just the top, but the very top. And that's how O'Reilly and Limbaugh and their kind want it. And that's how the flashy TV Christians think it should be.

I mean, the rich are getting what they want--more money, more tax breaks while the rest of us are getting screwed. Then the rich pundits go on the air and complain bitterly about how being taxed a little more is communistic wealth redistribution. Remember, they only say that when they're referring to wealth from them going to the common good and helping out you and me and our families. If it helps the little guy, it's evil communism. If it helps the rich, it's the free market. It's all a semantic game for a scheme thousands of years old--it's called "Fuck The Poor."

Stop the War

Again, stop the war. Bring the troops home NOW. Jeff Gannon sucks. I hope he is the freak that helps bring down GWB and ends this nightmare...

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