Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh boy...

I'm part of an anti-genocide group on campus known as STAND, and both the leader of the group and I are of Jewish heritage. We both had interest in spreading the word about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and I sent him an article that I felt like showing STAND. Here's our exchange so far. I'll add to our email exchange as it progresses.

"Hey there, I feel that this would be a good synopsis of the occupation for STAND to read. *attachment* If some people can't read pdfs, they can read everything--albeit without the images/graphs/charts--here. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/history/ I think we should also watch the first 6 minutes of this at our next meeting, as it provides a more empirical context for understanding the conflict. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VV8N9J9gJ9c"

See you on Wednesday,
Sam

Innocent enough, right? Read forth...

"That PDF is NOT a good resource. For one, it calls early Zionists "extremists." Also, it says that Zionists tried to prevent Holocaust refugees from fleeing to Western countries, which is a serious allegation―and highly offensive if it's not supported. It also seems to avoid using the word "Holocaust," which I suspect is because it seeks to cater to people who deny it. Unbiased info is hard to find, but please analyze your sources critically."

Isn't it funny how we call insurgents extremists with relative ease, but never occupiers and invaders? Is the leader of an "anti-genocide" group seriously apologizing for poor Israel and all of the crimes that it happened to innocently commit? Just because Jews dealt with the horrors of the Holocaust doesn't mean that Israel can be allowed to go against basic standards of morality. My response went as follows:

"Obviously the Zionist movement was more diverse than the colonizers themselves were, but the fact remains that the colonial Zionists formed an expansionist state by kicking hundreds of thousands out of their homes and massacring several more. Those particular Zionists were "extremists" just as we often call armed Muslim groups extremists (and with less effort). The current situation in Palestine is an ethnic cleansing, and I think that matters a little more than the selective language of the article. Don't be so hasty to accuse anti-Zionist language as anti-Semitic.

Sources are cited in the more detailed history here. http://ifamericansknew.org/history/origin.html

"“In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” John Quigley, “Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice.”"

Quigley also appears to be a respectable scholar, as his wikipedia page illustrates. That said, I don't think it's worth overthinking the sources we use. We shouldn't apologize for occupying countries or otherwise dwell too much on them.

More on the site, since you seem concerned. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_Americans_Knew and http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/whoweare.html"

Sam

And then I responded again, just to further illuminate him about why I provided him a pro-Palestinian source.

"An addendum, I think it's also key to remember how extreme of a bias our own mainstream media has regarding the conflict. (Whereas, the international media is far more willing to criticize Israel.) Muslims are always portrayed as the belligerents whereas the state of Israel is typically referred to as defending themselves, in spite of the fact that far more Palestinians have died in the occupation. Therefore I have little problem with one generalization about the Zionist movement compared to endless anti-Palestinian media coverage. Remember, we're trying to inform people that their tax dollars are going to these atrocities, and the U.S. media hasn't done a sufficient job of that whatsoever."

Sam

Hopefully he'll understand, but I have my doubts.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Compelling Article on the Emergence of Elitism

http://www.zcommunications.org/fearing-the-masses-by-david-swanson

David Swanson writes: It used to be 9-11 theorists. Then it was doomsayers wallowing in their post-Obama hope overdose. Now it's people who are afraid of majority rule and want to avoid it. At a recent book-tour stop there were three examples. First, one gentleman wanted to impose testing and allow only the smartest 10 percent of Americans to vote. The basis for this was his claim that "most people just don't have the sense that god gave a cat."

Second, a professor told me that if we didn't impose checks on majority rule the teabaggers would take over the United States just as the Nazis did Germany.

He later writes: The teabaggers will never ever be a majority. No activist group has ever been a majority. The one thing you can always count on the majority to do is . . . not a damn thing. The rights of individuals are being eroded in this country against the will of the majority, but with the support of an elite minority. Of course, we need to prevent a slide into fascism. The question is: how?

Going by public opinion polling, I would take the will of the majority over the will of our current government any day on just about any topic. But how do we get more people who hold enlightened views to get off their butts and do anything? I don't think we can do so by focusing on disenfranchising people, blocking majority rule, keeping the filibuster in place, or shielding elected officials from election challenges. I think we need to get more people more information, more education, and more useful ways to get active.

I have to agree with him. It's really damning of liberals and the left as a whole to engage this elitist train of thought, and it continuing on such a path may very well sink the left. Furthermore, what Swanson says of public opinion polling is absolutely true.

Do Americans want single-payer healthcare? Mounting evidence suggests that, yes, they overwhelmingly want single-payer healthcare. http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/PollResults.html

And that only pertains to the main issue that's energized the Tea Party. From Paul Street's great article on the suicide of the Democratic Party,

* 71 percent of Americans think that taxes on corporations are too low (Gallup Poll, April 2007), 66 percent of Americans think taxes on upper-income people are too low (Gallup Poll, April 2007) and 62 percent believe corporations make too much profit (Pew Survey 2004).

* 77 percent of Americans think there is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies (Pew Survey 2004), 84 percent think that big companies have too much power in Washington (Harris Poll 2007), and two-thirds think that “big business and big government work together against the people’s interests” (Rasmussen Reports, 2009).

*A majority of American voters think that the United States' "most urgent moral question" is either “greed and materialism" (33 percent) or "poverty and economic injustice" (31 percent). Just 16 percent identify abortion and 12 percent pick gay marriage as the nation's "most urgent moral question" (Zogby, 2004). Thus, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the population think that injustice and inequality are the nation's leading "moral issues” (Katherine Adams and Charles Derber, The New Feminized Majority [Paradigm, 2008], p.72).

* Just 29 percent of Americans support the expansion of government spending on "defense." By contrast, 79 percent support increased spending on health care, 69 percent support increased spending on education, and 69 percent support increased spending on Social Security (Chicago Council on Foreign Relations [hereafter "CCFR”], "Global Views,"2004).

* 69 percent of Americans think it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide health coverage to all U.S. citizens (Gallup Poll, 2006) and 67 percent “think it’s a good idea [for government] to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27 percent dissenting” (Business Week, 2005).

* 59 percent of Americans support a single-payer health insurance system (CBS/New York Times poll, January 2009) and 65 percent of Americans respond affirmatively to the following question: “Would you favor the government offering everyone a government-administered health insurance plan – something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and over get – that would compete with private health insurance plans?” (CBS-New York Times, September 23, 2009)

Yeah, I would definitely trust the majority over the government.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pirates vs. Emperors

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQBWGo7pef8

I had a conversation with somebody about Alexander the Great today--in addition to other matters regarding land disputes (to say the very least)--and I think this is a perfect summary of the argument that I was making. In short, conquerors are all dirty scumbags, but we fail to recognize those qualities in the conquerors that we're supposed to like. Alexander the Great conquered the known world to "spread civilization," Israel to "defend itself against its hostile neighbors," and United States interventions are typically attributed to the two aforementioned pretenses. However, ask a citizen of any country that isn't the U.S., Israel or Britain what motivates our foreign policy. You will probably get a different answer than you would from the mainstream media.

Even Europe considers the U.S. and Israel to be the greatest threats to world peace, although I would disagree with them in considering Israel to be a greater threat than the U.S. Perhaps it's because Israel as a state is so ideologically obsessed with expanding its borders, such that some within the government would potentially consider nuking all of Israel's enemies if it were to reach the verge of destruction. I would argue that the Samson Option is Israel's attempt at empty nuclear apocalypse rhetoric, and I would also argue that by virtue of being a U.S. client state, Israel can't be a greater threat to world peace than the U.S. Nevertheless, the poll is compelling on several levels.

Remember, condemning emperors--or even considering emperors to be worse than pirates--does not mean that you have to side with the pirates. It just means that you have learned to fit things into a proper context.

Empire, or humanity?

Viggo Mortenson reads Howard Zinn here. Very cool.

It's time to revive this shit!

Around this time last year, I created this blog because I was in a really dark place. I figured that, maybe, a blog could help me solve the world's problems as well as my own.

Well, I'm bringing it back, only I'm only going to use this blog to post my feelings on current events, political philosophies, etc. My last iteration of this here blog only had two posts, but with this iteration of it, I would--as suggested by my 'About Me'--like to express my feelings on current events in a decently constructive way.

So, here I am. Rock me like a hurricane.