By: William Blum
On New Years Eve for 2016 …
I stayed up about two hours past my usual bedtime to watch the New Years Eve celebration in Times Square.
For one reason only.
To see happy people.
A year like 2015 can do that to you.
The sight of many thousands of young people standing in the cold for hours, hugging and kissing, screaming and laughing, was very precious.
Also a bit unnerving. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they know what kind of world they’re living in? Don’t they know that their celebration is a prime target for terrorists?
Well … nothing happened … thank you God that I don’t believe in … try and keep that up …
Christopher Hitchens, in 2007, in response to conservative columnist Michael Gerson’s article: “What Atheists Can’t Answer”, wrote: “How insulting is the latent suggestion of his position: the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided by a celestial dictatorship … simply assumes, whether or not religion is metaphysically ‘true’, that at least it stands for morality. … Here is my challenge. Let Gerson name one ethical statement made or one ethical action performed by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.”
Gerson, great champion of morality, it should be noted, was a speechwriter for George W. Bush. God help us. And pray that Bush and Cheney remain alive long enough to hang.
Dear readers … think … just imagine … What if THIS is the afterlife?
Happy New Year.
Vulgar, crude, racist and ultra-sexist though he is, Donald Trump can still see how awful the American mainstream media is.
I think one of the main reasons for Donald Trump’s popularity is that he says what’s on his mind and he means what he says, something rather rare amongst American politicians, or politicians perhaps anywhere in the world. The American public is sick and tired of the phoney, hypocritical answers given by office holders of all kinds. When I read that Trump had said that Senator John McCain was not a hero because McCain had been captured in Vietnam, I had to pause for reflection. Wow! Next the man will be saying that not every American soldier who was in the military in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq was a shining hero worthy of constant media honor and adulation.
When Trump was interviewed by ABC-TV host George Stephanopoulos, former aide to President Bill Clinton, he was asked: “When you were pressed about [Russian president Vladimir Putin’s] killing of journalists, you said, ‘I think our country does plenty of killing too.’ What were you thinking about there? What killing sanctioned by the U.S. government is like killing journalists?”
Trump responded: “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he’s killed? Because I’ve been – you know, you’ve been hearing this, but I haven’t seen the name. Now, I think it would be despicable if that took place, but I haven’t seen any evidence that he killed anybody in terms of reporters.”
Or Trump could have given Stephanopoulos a veritable heart attack by declaring that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades, has been responsible for the deliberate deaths of many journalists. In Iraq, for example, there’s the Wikileaks 2007 video, exposed by Chelsea Manning, of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign news cameramen.
It was during this exchange that Stephanopoulos allowed the following to pass his lips: “But what killing has the United States government done?”
Do the American TV networks not give any kind of intellectual test to their newscasters? Something at a fourth-grade level might improve matters.
Prominent MSNBC newscaster Joe Scarborough, interviewing Trump, was also baffled by Trump’s embrace of Putin, who had praised Trump as being “bright and talented”. Putin, said Scarborough, was “also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”
Putin “invades countries” … Well, now there even I would have been at a loss as to how to respond. Try as I might I don’t think I could have thought of any countries the United States has ever invaded.
To his credit, Trump responded: “I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know. There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that’s the way it is.”
As to Putin killing political opponents, this too would normally go unchallenged in the American mainstream media. But earlier this year in this report I listed seven highly questionable deaths of opponents of the Ukraine government, a regime put in power by the United States, which is used as a club against Putin. This of course was non-news in the American media.
So that’s what happens when the know-nothing American media meets up with a know-just-a-bit-more presidential candidate. Ain’t democracy wonderful?
Trump has also been criticized for saying that immediately after the 9-11 attacks, thousands of Middle Easterners were seen celebrating outdoors in New Jersey in sight of the attack location. An absurd remark, for which Trump has been rightfully vilified; but not as absurd as the US mainstream media pretending that it had no idea what Trump could possibly be referring to in his mixed-up manner.
For there were in fact people seen in New Jersey apparently celebrating the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers. But they were Israelis, which would explain all one needs to know about why the story wasn’t in the headlines and has since been “forgotten” or misremembered. On the day of the 9-11 attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked what the attacks would mean for US-Israeli relations. His quick reply was: “It’s very good. … Well, it’s not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy (for Israel).” There’s a lot on the Internet about these Israelis in New Jersey, who were held in police custody for months before being released.
So here too mainstream newspersons do not know enough to enlighten their audience.
Russia, as explained to Russians by Americans
There is a Russian website [inosmi = foreign mass media] that translates propagandistic russophobic articles from the western media into Russian and publishes them so that Russians can see with their own eyes how the Western media lies about them day after day. There have been several articles lately based on polls that show that anti-western sentiments are increasing in Russia, and blaming it on “Putin’s propaganda”.
This is rather odd because who needs propaganda when the Russians can read the Western media themselves and see firsthand all the lies it puts forth about them and the demonizing of Putin. There are several political-debate shows on Russian television where they invite Western journalists or politicians; on one there frequently is a really funny American journalist, Michael Bohm, who keeps regurgitating all the western propaganda, arguing with his Russian counterparts. It’s pretty surreal to watch him display the worst political stereotypes of Americans: arrogant, gullible, and ignorant. He stands there and lectures high ranking Russian politicians, “explaining” to them the “real” Russian foreign policy, and the “real” intentions behind their actions, as opposed to anything they say. The man is shockingly irony-impaired. It is as funny to watch as it is sad and scary.
The above was written with the help of a woman who was raised in the Soviet Union and now lives in Washington. She and I have discussed US foreign policy on many occasions. We are in very close agreement as to its destructiveness and absurdity.
Just as in the first Cold War, one of the basic problems is that Exceptional Americans have great difficulty in believing that Russians mean well. Apropos this, I’d like to recall the following written about George Kennan:
Crossing Poland with the first US diplomatic mission to the Soviet Union in the winter of 1933, a young American diplomat named George Kennan was somewhat astonished to hear the Soviet escort, Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village nearby, about the books he had read and his dreams as a small boy of being a librarian.
“We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves,” Kennan wrote, “that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.”
It hasn’t happened yet.
Kennan’s sudden realization brings George Orwell to mind: “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”
It’s easier to deny the existence of God than to deny the existence of certain aspects of the Holocaust. And not as dangerous. In Europe “denying the Holocaust” is illegal in 14 countries.
Ken Meyercord, who lives in Virginia, has long been a researcher of this phenomenon. He writes that the debate over the Holocaust boils down to three principal issues:
- How many died?
- Was the “Final Solution” really an extermination plan or was it a plan to deport Europe’s Jews?
- Were there actually gas chambers?
He’s prepared an 11-page e-pamphlet on the subject, “Did the Holocaust really happen the way we’ve been told?” It can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a good thing the United States doesn’t have a law against reporting on the American Holocaust. I’d have been put away long ago, for the sum total of US foreign policy can well be described by that infamous word beginning with an “H”; indeed, my first website carried the name “American Holocaust”.
However, in California there is now a proposed ballot initiative which would restrict “Holocaust Denial”. The Holocaust Denial Speech Restrictions Initiative (#15-0073) is an initiated constitutional amendment proposed for the California ballot on November 8, 2016. The measure would prohibit any speech in any state-funded school, museum or educational institution that claims Jewish, Armenian or Ukrainian Holocausts did not exist. It would also prohibit Holocaust denial organizations from distributing information or conducting activities at these state-funded locations.
In case you’re wondering what the Ukrainian Holocaust was, it’s something left over from the Cold War – charges of widespread famine caused by the Soviet Union amongst the people of Ukraine. But I believe that such charges must be approached with some caution, given, amongst other reasons, the documented campaign by the Hearst Press in the United States to squeeze out every drop of anti-communist blood they could from the historical events. You can read about this in a book by Douglas Tottle, “Fraud, Famine and Fascism: The Ukrainian Genocide Myth From Hitler to Harvard” (1987), available free online.
- Robert Parry, “Trump Schools ABC-TV Host on Reality,” Consortiumnews, December 21, 2015
- Interview of Donald Trump by Joe Scarborough, December 18, 2015
- William Blum, Anti-Empire Report #138, April 3, 2015
- See for example: the first three minutes of Core of Corruption – Film 1 – In the Shadows – Part 10 and “The Five Dancing Israelis Arrested on 9-11”
- Walter Isaacson & Evan Thomas, The Wise Men (1986), p.158
- California Holocaust Denial Speech Restrictions Initiative (2016)
William Blum is an author, historian, and U.S. foreign policy critic. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others. Read more →
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