by Michael K. Smith
This week's news proves yet again that we are being more than informed by the corporate media and its affiliated journals of opinion. In fact, we are being propagandized.
Writing in Foreign Policy magazine Robert Madsen said that humankind is often blind-sided by "black swans," events so remote from the rationally predictable that we fail to prepare for them. He proclaimed the Japanese nuclear disaster not a failure of human engineering, but "of human imagination."
One can only wonder what planet Mr. Madsen has been living on. Since the dawn of "peaceful" nuclear energy during the Eisenhower administration there have been nuclear accidents, and anti-nuclear protests, by those who didn't lack the imagination to predict them. The failure of emergency core cooling systems due to natural disasters, as just happened in Japan, was routinely identified as a fatal flaw of the new energy. Those who stood to profit from nuclear power chose to ignore the criticism, and continue to. That is quite a different matter from being caught unawares, and Mr. Madsen has an obligation to say so.
Arguing against U.S. intervention in Libya, John Kass in the Chicago Tribune asserted that the civil war in Libya was "not worth the life of a single American soldier." The weekly newsmagazine, "The Week," added that, "The U.S. has just spent a decade at war, trying to save Iraqis and Afghans from themselves. Enough."
Back to reality. The U.S. invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in pursuance of imperial objectives like deposing of an enemy of Israel (Saddam Hussein), and making the world safe for opium poppies (Afghanistan). The idea that these ongoing slaughters were a form of selfless service to others is simply laughable. But apologists for empire know no shame.
Aiming to calm public alarm at the Japanese nuclear disaster, a Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out that "every energy source has risks."
True, but misleading. Nuclear energy is the only power source that is not just carcinogenic, but mutagenic. This poses a threat to the genetic integrity of the species itself, and all unborn generations. Japanese who were exposed to atomic radiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and their descendants) have been shunned by potential marriage partners on the quite rational grounds that any children born of such unions would face a high likelihood of being deformed. How many mutants per kilowatt hour is not a calculation we should relish having to make. Thus, nuclear proponents dedicate themselves to making sure the public doesn't find out this trade-off exists.
The Chicago Tribune editorialized that the prospect of a nuclear accident will always be scary, "but not as scary as a world starved for electricity."
But the world lived without electricity for millenia, and that fact did not make it a frightening place. Given that war is the father of technology, our current war-dominated, technology-saturated civilization is far more frightening than less complex societies, which, whatever their flaws, do not pose a threat to the human race itself. In any case, it is not clear that a world without nuclear reactors has to be a world devoid of electricity. After all, electricity preceded nuclear power by seven decades.
Much commentary was made about GOP Representative Peter King's (Long Island) hearings investigating the threat of "radicalization in the American Muslim Community." Don't blame King because "there's an association between terrorism and Islam," counseled Rich Lowry in National Review Online. Blame Army Major Nidal Hasan, who allegedly shouted "Allahu Akbar!" while gunning down 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, "and all the other homegrown extremists who have perpetrated or attempted mayhem in the name of Allah." It's not bigoted to point out that Islam is infected with extremists who support "uncompromising violence as a political tool," added David Harsanyi in The Denver Post. And Christine Flowers in the Philadelphia Daily News said, "far too many either support or refuse to condemn the actions committed in the name of their religion."
Don't hold your breath waiting for Rich Lowry to mention that "there an association between terrorism and Israel," or that, "radical Islam" is avenging itself against the U.S. and Israel for killing Arabs and Muslims with impunity for decades. And don't hang by your lip waiting for Congressional hearings to investigate Jewish support for "uncompromising violence as a political tool" against the Palestinian people, known in Israel as "drunken roaches in a bottle" and "two-legged animals," among other terms of endearment. A rational observer might be prompted to ask, "Where are the columnists prepared to lecture Jews in a similar way, i.e., that 'far too many of you either support or refuse to condemn the actions committed in the name of your religion?'" These actions obviously include systematic torture and mass murder, so why not say so?
Ask Helen Thomas.
For quoted material, see "The Week," March 25, 2011
-----Michael K. Smith is the author of "The Madness of King George" and "Portraits of Empire," with Common Courage Press.