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Forum Post: chomsky on charlie hebdo

Posted 5 years ago on Jan. 14, 2015, 9:29 a.m. EST by flip (7101)
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We Are All – Fill in the Blank

The world reacted with horror to the murderous attack on the French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. In the New York Times, veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger graphically described the immediate aftermath, what many call France’s 9/11, as “a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around Paris.” The enormous outcry worldwide was accompanied by reflection about the deeper roots of the atrocity. “Many Perceive a Clash of Civilizations,” a New York Times headline read.

The reaction of horror and revulsion about the crime is justified, as is the search for deeper roots, as long as we keep some principles firmly in mind. The reaction should be completely independent of what thinks about this journal and what it produces. The passionate and ubiquitous chants “I am Charlie,” and the like, should not be meant to indicate, even hint at, any association with the journal, at least in the context of defense of freedom of speech. Rather, they should express defense of the right of free expression whatever one thinks of the contents, even if they are regarded as hateful and depraved.

And the chants should also express condemnation for violence and terror. The head of Israel’s Labor Party and the main challenger for the upcoming elections in Israel, Isaac Herzog, is quite right when he says that “Terrorism is terrorism. There’s no two ways about it.” He is also right to say that “All the nations that seek peace and freedom [face] an enormous challenge” from murderous terrorism – putting aside his predictably selective interpretation of the challenge.

Erlanger vividly describes the scene of horror. He quotes one surviving journalist as saying that “Everything crashed. There was no way out. There was smoke everywhere. It was terrible. People were screaming. It was like a nightmare.” Another surviving journalist reported a “huge detonation, and everything went completely dark.” The scene, Erlanger reported, “was an increasingly familiar one of smashed glass, broken walls, twisted timbers, scorched paint and emotional devastation.” At least 10 people were reported at once to have died in the explosion, with 20 missing, “presumably buried in the rubble.”

These quotes, as the indefatigable David Peterson reminds us, are not, however, from January 2015. Rather, they are from a story of Erlanger’s on April 24 1999, which made it only to page 6 of the New York Times, not reaching the significance of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Erlanger was reporting on the NATO (meaning US) “missile attack on Serbian state television headquarters” that “knocked Radio Television Serbia off the air.”

There was an official justification. “NATO and American officials defended the attack,” Erlanger reports, “as an effort to undermine the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia.” Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told a briefing in Washington that “Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic’s murder machine as his military is,” hence a legitimate target of attack.

The Yugoslavian government said that “The entire nation is with our President, Slobodan Milosevic,” Erlanger reports, adding that “How the Government knows that with such precision was not clear.”

No such sardonic comments are in order when we read that France mourns the dead and the world is outraged by the atrocity. There need also be no inquiry into the deeper roots, no profound questions about who stands for civilization, and who for barbarism.

Isaac Herzog, then, is mistaken when he says that “Terrorism is terrorism. There’s no two ways about it.” There are quite definitely two ways about it: terrorism is not terrorism when a much more severe terrorist attack is carried out by those who are Righteous by virtue of their power. Similarly, there is no assault against freedom of speech when the Righteous destroy a TV channel supportive of a government that they are attacking.

By the same token, we can readily comprehend the comment in the New York Times of civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams, noted for his forceful defense of freedom of expression, that the Charlie Hebdo attack is “the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory.” He is quite correct about “living memory,” which carefully assigns assaults on journalism and acts of terror to their proper categories: Theirs, which are horrendous; and Ours, which are virtuous and easily dismissed from living memory.

We might recall as well that this is only one of many assaults by the Righteous on free expression. To mention only one example that is easily erased from “living memory,” the assault on Falluja by US forces in November 2004, one of the worst crimes of the invasion of Iraq, opened with occupation of Falluja General Hospital. Military occupation of a hospital is, of course, a serious war crime in itself, even apart from the manner in which it was carried out, blandly reported in a front-page story in the New York Times, accompanied with a photograph depicting the crime. The story reported that “Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.” The crimes were reported as highly meritorious, and justified: “The offensive also shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Falluja General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties.”

Evidently such a propaganda agency cannot be permitted to spew forth its vulgar obscenities.



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[-] -1 points by StillModestCapitalist (343) 5 years ago

Greed and Jesus: The Republican Perversion of Faith  By Allen Clifton 

When it comes to Republicans, it seems many of them suffer from cognitive dissonance. You see, cognitive dissonance is a person’s brain trying to decipher two contradicting realities. An example of this is often seen in an abusive relationship.  Reality obviously shows abuse, yet the person being abused often creates some alternate form of reality where abuse equates to love. Often their brain will then develop excuses for such action.  It’s their fault or the abuser has their reasons for the abuse.  The reality is their brain simply cannot accept two different realities that contradict, so it creates another. This is never more prevalent than when it comes to Republicans and Christianity.  Their “Christian faith” is a foundation for which their entire political party is based, yet their entire economic ideology contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ—you know, that key figure in Christianity. Their entire economic policy states that we need to give those who have the most more and the rest of us will benefit from their windfall of new riches. Let that sink in for a second… 

An economic policy based upon this notion: If we feed greed, it will then benefit the rest of society. When has greed ever benefited a society? But let’s take a look at what the Bible does say about greed: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) It becomes a driving obsession to acquire still more. Once the acquiring has happened, then comes the need to protect what has been acquired. This is selfishness and it is sin. (Ecclesiastes 4:8) Once the greed-driven have acquired and protected, they begin to covet. They are not satisfied with all they have; their eye is on all that they don’t have. (Luke 12:15) This coveting begets more greed, the greed begets more selfishness, and the selfishness begets more coveting and so on to madness. “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” (Ecclesiastes 5:12) By this point, there is no room left in for God. Money is now the master of the house. (Matthew 6:24) 

Seems pretty straight forward.  Greed is perpetual.  The more one has, often the more they want.  Isn’t that exactly what we’ve seen in the past 30 years?  Isn’t this what Trickle Down Economics has given us?  In the past 30 years the top 1-5% has grown exponentially, never more so than in the last decade.  Yet what has it brought us?  Economic failure not seen in over 80 years. Millionaires crying out they need more.  To save our economy they must have—more.  

Many of these same businesses that proved in the 90′s, with higher taxes, that they could experience historic economic growth now claim that higher taxes destroy growth.  They now claim economic prosperity isn’t obtainable at “job destroying” levels of taxation like we had in the 90′s—when we had historic economic growth. The fact is, they’re right.  Their economic prosperity of perpetual greed cannot be sustained at a higher level of taxation.  The more we feed into this myth of Trickle Down Economics, the more they expect in order to expand their greedy nature.  To raise their taxes would mean their giant profits would probably be taken down to just, well—big profits. This isn’t about these businesses making profits — they can easily do that — what they want are larger profits.  What they had in the 90′s is no longer acceptable, they want more. 

Of course it’s impossible to return to the very same tax rates that brought us the best economic growth in our history, because then their greed would have to return to a lower level.  Then as the Bible says, greed is perpetual—it’s never ending.  We gave them more, and now their solution to fix our problems?  You guessed it, they want even more. Isn’t that exactly what the Bible warns will happen?  Did we not have wealthy Americans in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s? The answer is yes, they just weren’t as wealthy.  

Trickle Down Economics was the catalyst for the acceptance of greed.  It gave those with the most more and any mention of taking it back is met with a horrific depictions of economic Armageddon. Does it make any sense?  Why would we face economic disaster by returning to tax rates that had no problem making millions of Americans very rich? The answer is simple—greed. We gave them easy access to reach levels of unheard wealth.  We allowed them to see year to year profit as insufficient—they want larger profits.  Success for this year is based on beating the success of last and success for next year will be based on beating the success from this year.  As the Bible says, it is perpetual—it’s never ending. 

This model is unsustainable in a healthy society. Jesus warned that the love of money is the root of all evil.  The Bible states that greed leads to madness.  Yet here we sit, with one of the two most powerful political parties — in the most powerful nation on earth — saying we need to support that madness or else face economic destruction. And there you have it, cognitive dissonance.  The reality is exactly what the Bible said would happen, did happen.  Yet their political ideology completely contradicts the realities we’ve seen and the Bible supports.  They preach Christian values at the same time they advocate a policy that says giving into greed will benefit our society.  The human brain simply can’t handle two conflicting realities, so for many Republicans it has created one of its own. The more we allowed the wealthy to have, the more they asked us to give.  We did this at the detriment of our economy. 

 If Trickle Down Economics works, shouldn’t their success and our success mirror one another?  As they gain, we gain.  However, that isn’t what happened.  The more they’ve gained, the more they wanted, and the more they took it from everyone else. 

Think of a small 12 foot fishing boat.  If weight is equally dispersed, it’ll stay buoyant and afloat.  But what if the weight shifts greatly to one side or the other, what happens?  The boat becomes unstable.  Now imagine if suddenly 98% of the weight is shifted to one side, what would happen? Simple — the boat will suffer sudden instability, capsize, then sink.  As our nation’s wealth rushed to the top 2% in the past decade, that’s exactly what happened — our “boat” capsized then sunk. Does this contradiction between faith and political ideology suggest that they believe Jesus supported greed?  It sure seems like it.  So far they believe him to have been a man who would have judged homosexuals, condemned women, and considered the poor as lazy moochers seeking a handout.  So why not perpetuate the belief that he would have supported greed?  

Don’t let scripture in the Bible sway your views, it’s much easier to simply allow yourself to give into, and concoct, a delusional reality. What Republicans have done is a complete distortion of the Christian faith.  Their version of Jesus doesn’t even fit into the very nature of what he lived and died for.  Every economic stance they support benefits the wealthy. What Republicans claim to follow isn’t Christianity, and it sure isn’t the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity is a faith that states: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” Meaning those who have the means to make a difference, should, and should do so unselfishly. Yet, to a Republican this is socialism and it is un-American. But isn’t Christianity about giving, loving and helping those who cannot help themselves? These are the principles I live by as a Christian. But I’m a Democrat.  You know, the party that lacks faith.  Lacks morals.  Envies the rich.  You know all of that rhetoric the “good Christian” Republicans tell people we are—even though none of it is true. Yet there they sit, a walking contradiction.  A party who supports faith in God above anything and policies that favor greed over everything. 

Jesus Christ, whether you believe in him or not, is a man we should all strive to be more like.  Because even if you don’t believe in Jesus, you can believe in what he symbolizes.  He’s a symbol for what humanity should represent.  A man who didn’t judge.  Who stood for those who couldn’t stand for themselves.  Who never felt slighted or that life was unfair.  Who was wary of people who spoke of God on their lips but lacked true faith in their hearts.  A man who embraced everyone, even those who disagreed with him.  A man who personified what we should be as people.  Not just Christians—but people.  Because while I understand Christianity is polarizing, the values for which Jesus Christ symbolizes should be transcendent to everyone of any faith–or no faith at all.  They’re values of humankind, not just a singular faith. As far as Republicans go, who knows what they worship?  If the policies they support are a reflection of their faith, it sure as hell isn’t Christianity and it damn sure isn’t the teachings of Jesus Christ.