Monday, May 21, 2007

Liars Inc.

by Frank Scott

The atrocity in Iraq began on the basis of lies, and continues with even bigger lies. We were supposed to have invaded because it had WMDs, or its leader was a threat to the world, or it harbored the 911 attackers, or simply because the only decent thing to do for our friends in Israel was to obliterate their enemies. But the near total destruction of that nation has not satisfied the fanatic lust that motivates our policy, and so newer and bigger lies are being perpetrated about how we need to keep killing people until such time as they are able to control their own state, which we destroyed . As if this assault on collective consciousness was not enough, even more malevolent lies are being spread about another supposed threat.

Along with daily items alleging that Iran is rushing toward nuclear weaponry, none of them having any foundation in the material world, came this recent quote from the Mother Theresa of the Holocaust Industry, speaking about the Iranian president :

"When he says he wants nuclear weapons to destroy the state of Israel, I must believe him... How is it possible for the leader of a nation to say that and not to be isolated by the civilized world?''

Given the outrageous attack on logic and truth in that incredible remark, how is it possible for anyone to believe anything that Elie Weisel has ever said? This writer offers a cash reward to anyone who can find such words ever being uttered by Ahmadinejad. A further award will be made for clearly defining what The Weisel refers to as “the civilized world”. Is that the one which invaded Iraq, or is it the one resisting that invasion? Cash amount will depend on the reliability of sources and consistency of reasoning applied, in conformity with what passes for reliability and reason, in the civilized world.

The Weisel’s gift for selling fiction as fact has made him more famous than Paris Hilton. But though this particularly flagrant lie may seem beyond the usual excess in his pursuit of profit by peddling his endless suffering , it merely serves as an example of everyday product in what passes for news reporting . And when no less a renowned fabricator than Eli Weisel can add his lies to the encyclopedic number going around about Iran, and encounter hardly any criticism for telling them, we may be getting closer to another international disaster .

It isn’t just the blood lusting loonies in our government, or the crackpot Israeli supremacists who must concern us. Our major problem is that we’re being fed this steady diet of indigestible mind food, much of it poisonous, with little scrutiny of the items offered on our news menu, or the sanity and motivation of its preparers. When leaders of the opposition party carefully mince their words on foreign policy so that they will allow the president to obliterate Iran only after he gets their approval, we are looking at a pending disaster. And one that has drawn deafening silence from those who would be expected to oppose such madness.

What passes for the progressive wing of the opposition makes only the most cautious criticism of the Israeli lobby, which has for years been beating the drums for obliterating what it sees as a menace from Iran. The menace is for Israel, not the USA, which was also the case with Iraq . But the consumers of this junk food diet of fiction have been led to believe that it is actually the USA that needs protection. How many more poisonous lies do we have to swallow before we become violently ill ?

Separating truth from lies is not the job of our mass media . It is joined at the hip to our government, which is locked in a passionate embrace with corporate capital, in a perverse menage a trois that threatens to bring forth ever more mentally disabled offspring. What this unholy alliance does to our social and natural environments is matched by its endless attack on our internal system, especially our capacity to think.

The officially sanctioned opposition party uses polls and focus groups to measure the extent of public disgust with present policy in Iraq, then boldly strides forward with promises to change things, slightly, in a little while, like , after the next election. It’s general staff manipulates mass consciousness more than it has already been twisted, so that it will seem as though things will be better with a different set of gangsters directing the crime syndicate.

The only hope is that more of the citizenry is questioning not only our mass murdering regime, but its running dog opposition. Even in its rush to maintain mind control of the masses, our ruling caste encounters more difficulty every day, because there are so many anti establishment channels of information now available . While still a minority, more people are not accepting or even consulting the menu of fantasy and irrationality provided by the forces that feed us so much indigestible nonsense.

The lies will not soon stop, but critical views of the material world are available, and even with access to them still falling to only a minority, the days of getting away with the kind of murderous deceit embodied in the quote from Weisel should be numbered. Given the speed with which we seem to be poisoning our food supply and attacking the rest of our natural environment, coming to grips with the vicious distortions and lies that fill our minds may be a more urgent task than ever. Gaining control of what goes into our heads will be necessary before we can assume any kind of democratic nation, or world.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the
fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be
archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that
the author is notified and no fee is charged for access.
Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on
other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author

frank scott

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stern Gang Wrecks N.B.A. Playoffs

So much for sports taking one's mind off the relentless vulgarity of the political arena. This week saw N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern and the League's corporate executives, obsessed with what they fear is the negative image of their black-dominated sport, ruining the best playoff matchup of the year (between San Antonio and Phoenix) by suspending Phoenix's star center Amare Stoudemire, and his back-up Boris Diaw, for leaving the Phoenix bench and venturing onto the court after Robert Horry of the Spurs body-checked their teammate Steve Nash into the stands in the closing seconds of a playoff game the Spurs narrowly lost. N.B.A. rules require that players stay on the bench during any "altercation" on the court, on penalty of automatic suspension if they fail to do so. Unfortunately, this "zero tolerance" rule operates on the pretext that blacks are thuggish by nature and have to be harshly deterred from indulging their savage instincts. The N.B.A. suspends players retroactively for infractions viewed on game films that were not serious enough to capture the attention of the referees at the time they were committed, has banned Hip-Hop attire off the court, and this season increased its hyper-sensitivity in the application of technical fouls. Black men must be kept in their place.

The net result of the Stoudemire-Diaw suspension was to hand the series, and maybe the championship, to the Spurs, who may have been talented enough to win it without such help, but were far from guaranteed to do so. At the time the Horry incident occurred, the Suns were seconds removed from a stunning come-from-behind victory on San Antonio's home court, where the Spurs have been virtually unbeatable in recent years. With the series tied 2-2, there was every reason to believe it would take a nail-biting seventh game to decide the outcome, which it was in the League's best interest to have happen. But thanks to the N.B.A.'s zero intelligence rule, the Suns' hopes were immediately dashed, leaving them, the Spurs, and the fans with no way of knowing which of these outstanding teams was truly the best. This is how David Stern improves the N.B.A.'s public image?

In a telephone interview with ESPN Stern argued that Stoudemire and Diaw had only themselves to blame for their suspension, when in fact there was nothing preventing him from dumping the idiotic rule there and then. His ridiculous argument from precedent contends that because teams have previously been penalized by this arbitrary rule, therefore the Suns playoff hopes must be tossed into the trash can today. Stupid once, stupid forever. Maybe Stern should run for president.

The purpose of the stay-on-the-bench rule is obviously to prevent brawls on the court, not to to turn players into human barnacles. There is nothing inherently desirable about having players stay on the bench. In fact, some of them are peacemakers and help prevent violence during a flare-up on the court. But this matters not at all to the Stern Gang. As with so many other rules requiring "automatic" penalties, this case punished the innocent and allowed the guilty to determine the outcome of the series with a dirty play. The Suns' brilliant come-from-behind victory got almost no attention, the subsequent game was essentially forfeited to the Spurs, and the final game ended the series before the seventh game most people expected and the Suns very probably earned.

Yes, Stoudemire and Diaw knew the rule in advance and are responsible for getting caught up in the emotion of seeing their teammate manhandled by Horry. But that is exactly the point. Human beings are not machines, but creatures of emotion, and when core emotions are stimulated it is reflex that takes over. There is no more wisdom in requiring players to stay on the bench when a teammate is being physically abused than there is in requiring a parent to stay at work when their child is sick. Decent people will always run to the aid of one of their own, and it is foolish to penalize them for doing so.

The N.B.A.'s "automatic" suspension rule, like "zero tolerance" and "three strikes" in education and crime policy, is a walking advertisement of the stupidity of leaders who lack the wisdom for proper exercise of discretion, which neither can nor should be eliminated. There is not the slightest evidence that Stoudemire or Diaw intended any harm by leaving the bench, nor did they in fact commit any. This would have counted very much in their favor if the Stern Gang hadn't been already convinced justice can best be delivered by machine.

In the classic formulation of the officious bureaucrat who does not care what disastrous consequences follow from applying the rules, so long as they are uniformly enforced, N.B.A. Vice-President Stu Jackson conceded that the decision might not have been just, but was nevertheless "correct," a "no-brainer" in fact, which might even be a fair assessment, since the rule absolves Stern and Jackson of any responsibility to have or use brains. Both argue strictly from precedent: because the rule has ruined playoffs before, it must do so again. So let's bring back the Dred Scott decision in fairness to all the slaves who never had a day of freedom on this earth and were entitled to expect similar treatment for all their brethren down through the generations. Fair is fair.

Sadly, the Spurs' Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan dismissed suggestions that their victory was tainted, although it surely was, a fact implied by Horry himself earlier in the series. Steve Nash was forced to sit out for nearly the entire final minute of a razor close game due to a gash on his nose that would not stop bleeding. After the Spurs won, Horry conceded that Nash's brief absence while the game was being decided was a shame, that in fact it was always a shame when the best players were not on the court to insure that the best team won. But days later, when not chance, but League policy, was handing the Spurs a far less deserved victory, his teammates made no similar declaration, though one was badly needed. Instead, they mouthed platitudes about the suspensions being a "League matter" that affected the team in no essential way. In fact, Manu Ginobili went so far as to say that the Spurs were just as happy with their victory over the depleted Suns team as they would have been had they won with Stoudemire in the game, which is a sad commentary on the Spurs' competitive spirit, unless Ginobili was simply delivering a David Stern sound bite.

Even Stoudemire, who earlier in the series had called the Spurs a "dirty team" for kicking and kneeing their opponents, dismissed the affair as nothing more than a bad break. It is sad to witness people of enormous talent and wealth reduced to mouthing slogans that explain nothing and avoid the need to make an explicit value judgment. Only Steve Nash did so, saying he was "disgusted" with the League's decision and calling the rule "stupid." Exactly right.

Whether in sports or in society at large, non-discretionary enforcement policy is a foolish abdication of responsibility. Bad rules and bad laws should not be mechanically enforced, but overturned in favor of intelligent regulations. Had Stoudemire and Diaw left the bench to belt one of the Spurs players, their suspensions would have been justified. But the suspensions handed down by Stern were about as sensible as curing a headache by decapitation. Sure, it works, but the cure is far worse than the disease.

And in this case the only headache was the rule itself.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Israel: The Twisted Dream Turns 59

Ordinarily it is not necessary to belabor the point that apartheid leaves much to be desired as a social system, but when the topic is Israel, lunatic assertions are staple fare, so that the ongoing Bantustanization of Palestine is regularly proclaimed to be the product of the Middle East's sole democracy. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength.

However one evaluates arguments about gas chambers and the Holocaust, the fact remains that Zionist efforts to remove the Palestinian Arabs from their land long predates Hitler's rise as a historical figure. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson's King-Crane Commission reported back from the region that, "No British officer consulted by the Commissioners believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms . . . only a greatly reduced Zionist program should be attempted . . . and then only very gradually initiated." The Commissioners called for a serious modification of existing plans for unlimited Jewish immigration culminating in Jewish statehood. Regarding Britain's 1917 Balfour Declaration, which had promised the Jews a home in Palestine, King and Crane wrote: "A national home is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish state nor can the erection of such a Jewish state be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities." At the time, "existing non-Jewish communities" were Christian and Muslim Arabs constituting 93% of Palestine's population.

During the course of the King-Crane Commission's inquiry, Jewish representatives had not concealed their ultimate hope of dispossessing the Arab inhabitants of Palestine by various forms of purchase, in spite of the fact that ninety percent of the latter were completely against surrendering their land to the Zionist project. "To subject the people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land would be a gross violation" of Wilsonian principle, the Commissioners wrote, "and of the people's rights, though it be kept within the forms of law." Leaving aside the dubious equation of Wilsonian principle with self-determination, it is safe to say that overriding a 93% indigenous majority with whatever forms of pressure can hardly be described as an exercise in democracy.

Sadly, the gross violation the Commissioners warned against occurred, and Israel was founded, but commentary in the U.S. has almost completely ignored the peculiar history behind the event. To wit: a largely irreligious people reclaimed land after an absence of two thousand years based on fantastical Biblical texts few of them believed in; Jehovah's carvings on a Tablet in the Bronze Age became the basis of Near East politics in the 20th Century; a "Jews-only" state bent on conquest and expansion was hailed as a model of democratic socialism with unique sensitivity to morality and human rights. Displaying amazing chutzpah, Zionist leaders embarked on an "in-gathering" of the Jewish Diaspora and plotted the exodus of Jews from lands they had lived in for centuries while intoning the words Hitler had used in carrying out the Holocaust: "You are not a German, you are a Jew - you are not a Frenchman, you are a Jew - you are not a Belgian, you are a Jew."

Reports that the Nazis lost WWII are greatly exaggerated.

The heart of the problem was and remains a serious and deliberate confusion of nationalism with religion. Organized Jewry, a staunch supporter of separation of Church and State outside the Holy Land, condoned their union in Israel, demanding the loyalty of Jews everywhere, whether or not they identified themselves as such. Diasporan Jews supported Israel out of religious duty, though they may or may not have been aware of what Zionist ideology actually entailed. Jewish identity became the basis of Israeli citizenship, with political debate naturally centering on the vexing question, "What is a Jew?" Since Jews, like most people, have a mixed ancestry, Jewish supremacist mythmakers buttressed weak territorial claims with appeals to historical continuity, blurring distinctions between Hebrew, Israelite, Judean, Jewish, and Judaism, while forestalling recognition that these were different people at different times in history with different ways of life. Neither the Jews nor these varied forebears ever constituted a race or even a distinctive pure ethnic grouping, and since Judaism had been of declining significance for most Jews for some time, it quickly became clear that Jewish identity was to be as arbitrary as it was convenient for Israel to have it. Not surprisingly, only Palestinians can't belong.

Inevitably, Israel's birth was traumatic. In November 1947, a Washington-dominated U.N. passed a resolution awarding over 56% of the land of Palestine to 650,000 Jews, who represented just a third of the population and owned some 6% of the land. Britain, its empire near collapse, began withdrawing from its colonies the following Spring when its mandate over Palestine expired. As the British pulled out, Zionist armies attacked Arab villages, driving out roughly three-quarters of a million Palestinians in the process of forging a Jewish state with a sizable Arab minority, the latter forced to choose between exile and perpetual discrimination.

The fundamental injustice in the new state was rooted in the divorce of citizenship from territoriality. Jews around the world had rights in the Jewish state, but there could be nothing like full human rights for non-Jews and only the most limited progress towards a just society. The Jewish National Fund purchased lands on behalf of the Jewish people, from which non-Jews were necessarily excluded. According to official Israeli figures 92% of the state's surface prior to June, 1967 was restricted to Jewish use - in perpetuity. Palestinians had no claim on the land they had tilled for centuries.

Israel acted to guarantee a permanent Jewish majority while establishing the exclusivist institutions that statist Zionism called for. A huge effort was made to attract the Jewish Diaspora to Israel, while expelling as many Arabs as possible. Jews were ceaselessly reminded of the dangers of anti-Semitism and the hopelessness of assimilation. At the same time, and long before Menachem Begin and the Likud bloc took power, Israel's Labor Party gradually incorporated a supranationalist "Greater Israel" movement into its program, preaching expulsion to the Arabs, fear to Diasporan Jews, and reflexively accusing anti-Zionist Gentiles of anti-Semitism.

The Zionist triumph placed a borderless Jewish island in a sea of angry Arabs. Expansionism and new frontiers were its by-products, and war was quite inevitable.

In the fifty-nine years since Israel came into existence as a Jewish state it has not only taken hold of the land but also the structure of opinion and commentary in the West, in such a way that the Palestinians have been quite literally obliterated as a people with any claim to rights or historical continuity. At the same time, the history of Israel that has produced this appalling result has likewise been obliterated, especially in the United States. It is nearly impossible to find mainstream commentary referring to Israel's assassinating leaders at will, bulldozing homes, closing schools, uprooting orchards, arresting, deporting, and torturing anyone posing a "threat" to "security" (read Jewish supremacy), and locking an entire people in a giant, outdoor cage. On the contrary. Everything is carefully filtered through the lens of "little Israel," victim of eternal anti-Semitism, in which Palestinians are congenital terrorists yearning to kill Jews, especially children. The fact that Israel introduced terrorism against civilians to the region, that it originated in conquest, that it has repeatedly invaded and occupied its neighbors, and was instrumental in instigating the blood-drenched disaster in Iraq, never rises to perceptibility in the U.S. media or in American political discourse. In the official optic Israel bears no responsibility for "Islamic terror," and is, in fact the victim of the peoples it occupies and kills.

Every media comment about Hamas or Hizbollah or Iran invokes a cartoon-like fantasy of total despotism, infantile rage, and savage violence, all targeted at "us," the good people who save Jews from gas chambers and otherwise pursue our charmingly harmless lives in a world devoid of illegitimate authority and oppression. Never is there the slightest hint that "militant Islam" caused us absolutely no harm until Washington backed Jewish supremacy over Arab lands, overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran (1953), planted permanent military bases near the holiest sites of Islam, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with economic sanctions. And all this was before the neo-cons engineered the invasion and dismemberment of Iraq.

Fifty-nine years on it is more than time to recognize that "little Israel" is a permanent disaster fully capable of ringing down the curtain on the entire human race. Racist, nuclear armed, violently delusional, it seeks in the name of "security" to destroy any and all resistance to Jewish domination. Though success on these terms is impossible, the attempt to succeed will surely yield unprecedented horrors.

If we let it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

War: State Hate Crime

by Frank Scott

Dealing with serious social problems by creating laws which only protect certain individuals is a method for avoiding root causes by making small changes in their effects. Thus we have new legislation applied to old problems which exist, in part, because old legislation was never fairly enforced. The new laws make some people feel better, especially if they’re in the legal business. But the public is usually divided along familiar for or against lines, remaining in the mindset they had before the new laws were applied to the old problems.

Serious issues of discrimination have brought legal battles which excluded much of the general public by operating over their heads, and out of their minds. The resulting victories were for some individual members of a minority , but actually more for the system which thrives on social discrimination. When privileged groups within targeted populations achieve seeming equality with the mainstream, countless members of those same groups are left still suffering from discrimination that can only be met in part by laws. What is needed is radical change in the system these laws maintain.

Among the national establishment’s favorite new legislative moves are those against what are labeled hate crimes, in a sense implying that some other crimes might be provoked by love . The implication that pain hurts more when it is the result of hate flies in the face of any supposed logic , but the reason for passing such laws seems to be motivation for justice, even if majority injustice continues under cover of minority law. Both language and law sustain rather than change systems of social discrimination which maintain power and class relations, no matter which discriminated group may gain entry level status or protection for some of its members.

Perhaps the worst case of sanitized madness is the massive hate crime called war. In war, mass murder and serial killing are morally legalized as necessary for geopolitical and social safety. This perpetuates the same system that labels some special crimes as being hateful, if they befall a class of minorities which has the legal and political power to gain some exclusion from the social norm of discrimination. But once war is started, no people, minority or otherwise, can demand exception or exclusion from the targeted population: humanity.

Since there is some acceptance of a narrowed and specific view of hate crimes, it may be time to broaden the label to encompass and cover a more general sector of humanity: Everyone.

What can be more hateful than bombing cities, destroying national infrastructures and transforming human beings into corpses, cripples and refugees? The ongoing atrocity in Iraq has seen the near total destruction of a nation and a people, unacknowledged as such by most political and media mind managers who line up in support of hate crime legislation. What if there were a movement to designate war as the most serious hate crime of all? In fact, rather than discriminate against special groups of people, warfare is an equal opportunity mass murderer, with alleged villains joining thousands of innocents in the slaughter.

Can we be serious about protecting the rights of some people from being slandered in speech, when we do nothing to safeguard life itself for humans who have been falsely designated as enemies, or, more usually, are nonexistent in popular consciousness?

If the average American were witness to the carnage that our foreign policy has created in Iraq, or what it supports in Palestine, the movement against such policies and war itself might be much stronger. But as long as we are manipulated into only seeing some hardship and discrimination while missing out on most, we can be swept up in righteous indignation at one form of injustice, while we support an even more criminal form that commits mass murders in our name.

Designating a physical or language assault on another human being as a hate crime, but only in special cases in which response from society is based on segments of an offended group and not all members of the group, serves to strengthen and not change the system from which the discrimination and hate originates. We can make such laws forever, and possibly even help a relative handful of people in the process. But as long as we accept and even in false patriotism fiercely support the mass hatred for humanity that is the reality of war, our law making powers are inflicted on minorities, for other minorities, while majorities remain under the hateful control of powers that show no respect at all for human life.

It makes little sense to claim that someone who hits you over the head with a bat because you are female, nonwhite, or gay commits a more serious crime than someone who hits you over the head with a bat to steal your wallet or purse. By creating new categories and sub categories of people and crimes, we simply add to the list of injustice and court case loads, while doing little or nothing about real discrimination which only rarely involves literally taking a stick upside someone’s head.

Seemingly nonviolent discrimination administered in hiring, housing and health care , widespread in our society, is not seen as criminal. But when we practice large scale social murder, our unwillingness to treat it as criminal is puzzling. Maybe it’s because it hasn’t been suggested that war is the ultimate hate crime, and needs to be confronted and dealt with as such. Consider this such a suggestion . If the mass murder of war is not a hate crime, then there are no hate crimes. And the president of the United States is a brilliant humanist.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the
fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be
archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that
the author is notified and no fee is charged for access.
Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on
other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author

frank scott