Category Archives: Freedom of Expression/Speech

National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices

The US rulers use many tools to disrupt and disorganize the anti-war and anti-imperialist left. Three discussed here include: (1) corporate control of the news media gives them free reign to spread disinformation and fake news against foreign and domestic targets; (2) they use government and corporate foundation resources to fund and promote a compatible left to counter the anti-imperialist left; and (3) the rulers use their control of social media and internet to censor those voices.

Since 2016 their censorship of websites, Facebook pages, Twitter, and Paypal accounts has escalated alarmingly. They target those who counter the narratives the government and big business media feed us, whether it be US intervention and attempted overthrow of other governments, Covid, or stories of Russian interference.

With the Ukraine war, the US government and corporate media immense propaganda power has been directed against Russia and intensified on an overwhelming scale.

As the US empire began the Cold War soon after the end of World War II, with the rise of McCarthyism (which predated Joe McCarthy), news manipulation and suppression often fell under the control of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. The corporate media followed CIA directions in representing the interests of the US rulers. The CIA secretly funded and managed a wide range of front groups and individuals to counter what the US rulers considered its enemies. It encouraged those on the left who opposed actually existing socialism, seeking to foster splits in the left to undermine the communist and build the non-communist left.

Significant liberal and left figures who worked with the CIA included Gloria Steinem, key feminist leader, Herbert Marcuse, considered a Marxist intellectual, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers Union (1946-1970), David Dubinsky, president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (1932-1966). The CIA collaborated with Baynard Rustin, Socialist Party leader and close associate of Martin Luther King, with Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington, who became the fathers of the third campist (“neither Washington nor Moscow”) Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Likewise, Carl Gershman, a founder of Social Democrats, USA, and later founding director (1983-2021) of the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

Through  the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the CIA underwrote the publishing of leftist critics, such as Leszek Kolakowski and Milovan Djilas’ book The New Class. The CIA aided the “Western Marxism” of the Frankfurt School, which included Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer, former director of New School of Social Research, also subsidized by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Corporate foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Open Society, and Tides foundations, among many others, funneled CIA money to progressive causes. The Cultural Cold War (pp. 134-5) noted that from 1963-66, nearly half the grants by 164 foundations in the field of international activities involved CIA money. The Ford Foundation continues as one of the main financers of progressive groups in the US; for instance, both Open Society and Ford foundations have heavily funded Black Lives Matter.

The CIA is regarded as a ruthless organization overthrowing democratic governments that US corporations considered a threat to their profits. While true, overlooked is “gentler” CIA work: underwriting and encouraging a compatible left, one which looks to forces in the Democratic Party for political leadership. This third camp left provides an alternative to an anti-imperialist or a communist left, and yet appears progressive enough to lure radicalizing youth, activists and intelligentsia. This cunning CIA strategy has fostered confusion, dissension, and divisions among these sections of the population.

These secret US government and CIA operations have been detailed in The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, The Cultural Cold War, and AFL-CIO’s Secret War against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage?

In 1977 Carl Bernstein revealed CIA interconnections with the big business media. More than 400 journalists collaborated with the CIA, with the consent of their media bosses. Working in a propaganda alliance with the CIA included: CBS, ABC, NBC, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, United Press International, Miami Herald, Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune. The New York Times still sends stories to US government for pre-publication approval, while CNN and others now employ national security state figures as “analysts.”

Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat operate similarly, participating in covert British government funded disinformation programs to “weaken” Russia. This involves collaboration with the Counter Disinformation & Media Development section of the British Foreign Office.

The CIA pays journalists in Germany, France, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to plant fake news. Udo Ulfkotte, a former editor at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of the largest German newspapers, showed how the CIA controls German media in Presstitutes: Embedded in the Pay of the CIA. Ulfkotte said the CIA had him plant fake stories in his paper, such as Libyan President Gaddafi building poison gas factories in 2011.

The CIA was closely involved with the long defunct National Students Association and with the trade union leadership. The AFL-CIO’s American Institute of Free Labor Development, received funding from USAID, the State Department, and NED to undermine militant union movements overseas and help foment murderous coups, as against President Allende of Chile (1973) and Brazil (1964), as well as defended the rule of their masters at home. This continues with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, which receives $30 million a year from NED.

The CIA created publishing houses, such as Praeger Press, and used other companies such as John Wiley Publishing Company, Scribner’s, Ballantine Books, and Putnam to publish its books. It set up several political and literary journals such as Partisan Review. This CIA publishing amounted to over one thousand books, mostly geared to a liberal-left audience, seeking to bolster a third camp left, and undermine solidarity with the once powerful world communist movement.

That mission largely accomplished years ago, today the national security state works to undermine the anti-imperialist left and build up a left inclined towards the “lesser evil” Democratic Party.

Recent US Government and Media Thought Control Measures

CIA use of corporate media to undermine perceived threats to the national security state escalated with Obama signing NDAA 2017, which lifted formalistic restrictions on security state agencies feeding fake news directly to the US population. The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act in the NDAA, which went into effect in the early stages of Russiagate, created a central government propaganda organ:

to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence over peoples and governments (with the role of the Russian Federation hidden or not acknowledged publicly) through front groups, covert broadcasting, media manipulation, disinformation or forgeries, funding agents of influence, incitement, offensive counterintelligence, assassinations, or terrorist acts. The committee shall expose falsehoods, agents of influence, corruption, human rights abuses, terrorism, and assassinations carried out by the security services or political elites of the Russian Federation or their proxies.

Glen Ford observed:

Every category listed [above], except assassinations and terror, is actually a code word for political speech that can, and will, be used to target those engaged in ‘undermining faith in American democracy’ — such as Black Agenda Report and other left publications defamed as ‘fake news’ outlets by the Washington Post [article on PropOrNot].

This Disinformation and Propaganda Act created the innocuously named Global Engagement Center, operated by the State Department, Pentagon, USAID, the Broadcasting Board of Governors [renamed US Agency for Global Media], the Director of National Intelligence, and other spy agencies. This Center oversees production of fake news supporting US imperial interests, focused primarily against Russia and China (such as Uyghur genocide and Russiagate), but also against Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and others. Verifiable reports exposing US regime change operations and disinformation are often outright censored or labeled pro-Russian or pro-Chinese propaganda.

The Global Engagement Center finances journalists, NGOs, think tanks, and media outlets on board with campaigns to vilify non-corporate media reporting as spreaders of foreign government disinformation. This may shed light on the origins of smears that opponents of the US regime change against Syria or in Ukraine are Putinists, Assadists, tankies, Stalinists, part of a red-brown alliance.

National security state propaganda against Russia surged after it aided Syria in thwarting the US-Saudi war against the Assad government. It reached levels of hysteria with the fabricated Russiagate stories designed to sabotage the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. Seymour Hersh disclosed that the widely covered news of Russian hacking of DNC computers in 2016 was CIA disinformation. Hersh confirmed from FBI sources that Hillary Clinton’s emails were taken by Seth Rich and offered to Wikileaks for money, and that the fake news story of Russian hacking was initiated by CIA head John Brennan. However, exposures of the Clinton-neocon-national security state Russiagate fake news were themselves written off as disinformation concocted by pro-Russian operators.

An example of Global Engagement Center work may be a recent smear against anti-imperialists as agents of Russia appeared in The Daily Beast. It targets Lee Camp, Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, and others: “propaganda peddlers rake in cash and followers at the expense of the truth and oppressed people in Ukraine, Xinjiang, and Syria” because of their accurate reporting that goes against the US propaganda line.

Other articles may indicate this government Disinformation Center use of the third camp left in the tradition of Operation Mongoose. George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian fit the billing:

We must confront Russian propaganda – even when it comes from those we respect – The grim truth is that for years, a small part of the ‘anti-imperialist’ left has been recycling Vladimir Putin’s falsehoods.

Louis Proyect crusaded for Syria regime change, and against those opposing the US war on the country as being part of a “red-brown alliance.” Proyect often relied on British Foreign Office funded Bellingcat for his articles, writing, “The Bellingcat website is perhaps the only place where you can find fact-based reporting on chemical attacks in Syria.” Proyect defended “Syrian revolution” “socialist” Anand Gopal, of the International Security Program at the New America Foundation, funded by the State Department and corporate foundations, and run by Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department official.

Democracy Now, which also repeatedly relied on Anand Gopal as a news source, has long received foundation money, and we see the self-censoring effect this has on its former excellent anti-war journalism degenerating into compatible leftism.

Another product of this government-corporate aid for this Democratic Party “lesser evil” left may be NACLA’s articles smearing the Nicaraguan government. NACLA Board Chair Program Director is Thomas Kruse of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2018, NACLA, New York DSA, and Haymarket Books hosted anti-Sandinista youth activists while on a tour paid for by right-wing Freedom House.

In These Times, which receives hundreds of thousands in foundation money, ran similar articles smearing socialist Cuba. It claimed Cuba was “the Western Hemisphere’s most undemocratic government” – not Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Chile with its police who blinded pro-democracy protesters, not Colombia’s death squad supporting government, nor Honduras’ former coup regime, or Haiti’s hated rulers.

Haymarket Books, which produces many third camp left books, receives Democratic Party aligned think tank and nonprofit money via the pass through Center for Economic Research and Social Change. The Grayzone reported that the DSA, Jacobin Magazine, and Haymarket sponsored Socialism conference featured NED and State Department funded regime-change activists.

Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara is former vice-chair of the Democratic Party’s reform oriented DSA. In 2017 the Jacobin Foundation received a $100,000 grant from the Annenberg Foundation, set up by billionaire publisher and Nixon administration U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Annenberg.

This milieu includes New York’s Left Forum, and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, underwritten by the German government.

Bob Feldman revealed corporate financing for the Institute of Policy Studies, The Nation, In These Times, NACLA, Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), Progressive, Mother Jones, AlterNet, Institute for Public Accuracy, among others.

The US Chamber of Commerce discovered that foundations gave $106 million to workers centers between 2013-2016, and concluded that the worker center movement was “a creature of the progressive foundations that encouraged and supported it.”

These are but a few examples of US ruling class financing of anti anti-imperialist leftists, an effective means to channel and organize the left milieu into an opposition that poses no real threat to their control.

An essential characteristic of this milieu is looking to the Democratic Party as a lesser evil ally.

Alexander Cockburn  pointed out the dangers of this financing back in 2010:

The financial clout of the “non-profit” foundations, tax-exempt bodies formed by rich people to dispense their wealth according to political taste… Much of the “progressive sector” in America owes its financial survival – salaries, office accommodation etc — to the annual disbursements of these foundations which cease abruptly at the first manifestation of radical heterodoxy. In the other words, most of the progressive sector is an extrusion of the dominant corporate world, just as are the academies, similarly dependent on corporate endowments.”

Right after Trump’s surprise 2016 election win, the Washington Post cranked up the anti-Russia McCarthyism by introducing PropOrNot. ProporNot’s catalog of supposed Putin-controlled outlets sought to resurrect the witchhunts of the Red Scare era,  when 6.6 million people were investigated just between 1947-1952. The PropOrNot blacklist includes some of the most alternative and anti-war news sites on the web, including Anti-war.com, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, Naked Capitalism, Consortium News, Truthout, Lew Rockwell.com, Global Research, Unz.com, Zero Hedge, and many others.

PropOrNot asserted 200 websites were “Russian propaganda outlets.” No evidence was offered. PropOrNot refused to reveal who they were or their funding. Alan Mcleod recently uncovered: “A scan of PropOrNot’s website showed that it was controlled by The Interpreter, a magazine of which [Michael] Weiss is editor-in-chief…[a] senior fellow of NATO think tank The Atlantic Council.” The Atlantic Council itself is financed by the US government and Middle Eastern dictatorships, weapons manufacturers Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs; and petrochemical giants like BP and Chevron. Mcleod concluded, “Thus, claims of a huge [foreign] state propaganda campaign were themselves state propaganda.”

Soon after PropOrNot, the German Marshall Fund, largely financed by the US government, concocted Hamilton 68: A New Tool to Track Russian Disinformation on Twitter. This identifies supposed “accounts that are involved in promoting Russian influence and disinformation goals.” Daniel McAdams of Ron Paul Liberty Report noted, “They are using US and other government money in an effort to eliminate any news organization or individual who deviates from the official neocon foreign policy line on Russia, Syria, Ukraine, etc.”

This year, the Department of Homeland Security presented a new censorship and disinformation organ, allegedly to combat pro-Russian fake news, the Disinformation Governance Board. As the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act and PropOrNot showed, what challenges US national security state narratives is often labeled Russian disinformation. Glenn Greenwald forewarned, “The purpose of empowering the Department of Homeland Security to decree what is and is not “disinformation” is to bestow all government assertions with a pretense of authoritative expertise and official sanction and, conversely, to officially decree dissent from government claims to be false and deceitful.”

The national security state, which lied about Russiagate, lied about National Security Agency’s 24/7 spying on the US population, lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, plans to decide what is true and false, and enforce that on big business and alternative media outlets.

Thus, the CIA’s secret Operation Mongoose, devoted to encouraging hostility to actually existing socialism among the left, has morphed into official, public US government McCarthyite agencies directed at shutting down or smearing outlets and activism opposing the US empire and its wars.

What Corporate Social Media instruments are targeting which anti-war outlets?

This joint US government corporate media censorship has become an increasingly open attack. Paypal has allied itself with the Zionist Anti-Defamation League to “fight extremism and hate through the financial industry and across at-risk communities… with policymakers and law enforcement.”

Twitter has shut down many political accounts, even possessed the power to suppress the President of the United States’ account. In 2020, Twitter deleted 170,000 accounts “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China,” and in 2021, it deleted hundreds of accounts for “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.” The company has hired a number of FBI officers for this censorship work. Twitter executive for Middle East is British Army ‘psyops’ soldier Gordon MacMillan of the 77th Brigade, which uses social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to conduct “information warfare.”

Google and Youtube executives team up with government spy agencies to censor anti-imperialist voices. Google’s “Project Owl,” designed to eradicate “fake news,” employed “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative [compatible] content” and downgrade “offensive” [anti-imperialist] material. As a result, traffic dropped off to websites such as Mint Press News, Alternet, Global Research, Consortium News, liberal-left Common Dreams and Truthout.

Wikipedia censors articles on its website, as Ben Norton notes:

The CIA, FBI, New York Police Department, Vatican, and fossil fuel colossus BP, to name just a few, have all been caught directly editing Wikipedia articles.

A minor player,  NewsGuard, “partners” with the State Department and Pentagon to tag websites that deviate from the establishment line.

Facebook relies on PropOrNot’s Atlantic Council to combat reporting contrary to the US government line. Facebook later announced it would further fight “fake news” by partnering with two propaganda organizations sponsored by the US government: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The NDI was chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, while Senator John McCain was the longtime IRI chair.

Just as The Mighty Wurlitzer, The Cultural Cold War, and Bernstein’s The CIA and the Media showed with the big business print media, we are witnessing an integration of social media companies into the national security state.

Who have been censored by this corporate media and social media integration with the national security state? 

Like with any censored book list, national security state targets provide a Who’s Who of what we should be reading and watching: The Grayzone, TeleSur,  Venezuelanalysis, Lee Camp, By Any Means Necessary, Caleb Maupin, Syria Solidarity Movement, Consortium News, Mint Press News, Abby Martin, Chris Hedges, CGTN and other Chinese media, George Galloway, Pepe Escobar, Scott Ritter, ASB Military News, RT America, Strategic Culture Foundation, One World Press, SouthFront, Gonzalo Lira, Oriental Review, Revolutionary Black Network, Sputnik News, Ron Paul’s Liberty Report.  Youtube warns us of watching Oliver Stone’s Ukraine on Fire. Journalists who have collaborated with a Russian media outlet are now dubbed “affiliated with the Russian government.”

The FBI directly shut down American Herald Tribune and Iran’s Press TV. RT and Sputnik are already shut down in Europe. PropOrNot listing of 200 media sites catalogs for us what the national security state doesn’t want us to read, listen to, know, or think.

Since the beginning of the first Cold War, there has been a continuous CIA-national security state operation to neutralize, marginalize, and create disunity among its opponents, often with the collaboration of the left that consider the Democratic Party a lesser evil. This strategy includes extensive foundation financing of leftist outlets and NGOs in order to tame them.

Therefore, it is mistaken to fault the US left for its weakness. The CIA and the foundations have been key players in covertly manipulating opposition to US imperial rule, in part by strengthening the left soft on the Democrats to undermine any working class or anti-US empire challenge. To date, this national security state mission has also shown considerable success.

The problems of building a working class left-wing partly results from the US rulers’ decades long campaign to disrupt the movement. This involves not just imprisoning and killing activists, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or the Black Panthers, but also big business media marketing disinformation as news, their funding of a compatible left, and the present social media and internet censorship of anti-imperialist voices. Rebuilding an anti-war and working class left wing requires us to directly address and navigate through this maze ruling class sabotage has created.

The post National Security State Censoring of Anti-Imperialist Voices first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Google Censorship! Now Your Private Email is under Threat!

Previously, intercepts like the one below, only happened when you clicked on a link in your Browser but Google have taken censorship onto an entirely new level. Google now intercepts your PRIVATE EMAIL, allegedly to protect you against phishing and other online scams.

This is how it works:

The email in question arrives in your Inbox and looks normal until you click on it to open it when this message appears, replacing the content of the email!

Mr intercept

There are two live links in the offending message, one asks you to report the ‘offending’ site by saying “This isn’t a web forgery…” and when you click on it, you arrive at this Google page:

Google intercept

There’s a box at the bottom of this intercept that asks you to report the ‘offending’ page and if you reply, which I did, cursing the bastards for interfering with my right to information, you see the page above, ‘Google Safe Browsing’ [sic] but not safe from Google! The algorithm even intercepts mail from Google!

If you click on the link, “Ignore this warning”, the message disappears and the original Email message is revealed but Google have another trick up their sleeve, as any links in the message, DON’T WORK! There is however, a workaround as the actual link is there it just doesn’t work! If you can, copy the link and paste it directly into your browser (Windows and Macs use a different method to reveal the link) and you’ll get to the site in question.

This is insidious censorship masquerading as protecting the user and it reveals the true nature of Google because it means that Google is not only scanning your PRIVATE EMAIL for ‘questionable’ links but of course, for ‘questionable’ content, which means Google is actually reading the contents of your formally, private Email!

Given the ubiquitous nature of Google’s role in ALL electronic communications, short of returning to actual, physical letters, I’m not sure what can be done about this outrage but at least let’s make the world aware that this kind of outrageous interception of our communications is going on. Frankly it’s the final nail in coffin of any kind of democratic control over communications.

The post Google Censorship! Now Your Private Email is under Threat! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Onus on Those Who Accuse Others of Mis/Disinformation

Musician Neil Young finds himself in the 2022 limelight. It may well generate more on-air play and music sales for the Canadian. Young wrote a letter on his website (since removed) that garnered much attention. It read:

Please immediately inform Spotify that I am actively canceling all my music availability on Spotify as soon as possible. I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.

Young had a specific target in mind: “I want you to let Spotify know immediately today that I want all of my music off their platform. They can have [podcaster Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Sounds a lot like a Neil Young’s nemesis, George W Bush: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

It comes on the heels of a 31 December episode from The Joe Rogan Experience in which one of Rogan’s guests was Dr. Robert Malone, whose self-bio boasts: “I am an internationally recognized scientist/physician and the original inventor of mRNA vaccination as a technology, DNA vaccination, and multiple non-viral DNA and RNA/mRNA platform delivery technologies. I hold numerous fundamental domestic and foreign patents in the fields of gene delivery, delivery formulations, and vaccines: including for fundamental DNA and RNA/mRNA vaccine technologies.” Malone is, notwithstanding, alleged to have spread COVID-19 misinformation.

Of course Joe Rogan doesn’t get everything right. He admits “absolutely I get things wrong.” Don’t we all. Rogan’s interviews are often quite interesting, but he really blew it when he interviewed Yeonmi Park and let her off easily for transparent nonsense about North Korea. But Rogan doesn’t pretend to know all the topics deeply; he is learning, as are, hopefully, all of us.

Does Neil Young get everything right?

When one accuses someone else of misinformation or disinformation, he might not be claiming to know the truth, but he does claim to know what is untruthful. That may be, but this claim carries an onus. If you want to accuse someone of misinformation/disinformation, then to maintain integrity, you should specify what that mis/disinformation is, and you must demonstrate why it is mis/disinformation. If you cannot point to any instance of mis/disinformation and why it is so, then, with all due respect, just shut the f**k up. In the present Young-Rogan kerfuffle, since mis/disinformation has been alleged, if Young can’t back up his allegations, then first, an apology is in order, and second this should be followed by a retraction of the allegation.

If one claims to know the truth from untruth, then that person must specify what she claims to be factually inaccurate. It simply does not pass muster to point out that misinformation was communicated by another person. Any lunkhead on the street can shout misinformation. (And it is salient to make clear the distinction here between misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is when a person mistakenly communicates information that is factually inaccurate. Simply put, he was wrong. Disinformation is far more insidious because the person knows that what she is communicating is factually inaccurate. In common parlance, she lied.)

Imagine the misinformation paradigm:

Neil: That’s misinformation.
Joe: What exactly is that misinformation?
Neil: You said [and here we have to guess what was the faulty information because Neil was never challenged to specify what was faulty].
Joe: [to which Joe could theoretically respond] Why is that information faulty?

The onus is on the accuser to state clearly what information was wrong and prove it to be wrong.

Imagine the disinformation paradigm:

Neil: You lied.
Joe: What lie did I tell?
Neil: You lied about Covid.
Joe: What did I say about Covid that was a lie?
Neil: You said [and here we have to guess what was the lie because Neil was never challenged to specify what was a lie].
Joe: [to which Joe could theoretically respond] How is that a lie?

The onus is on the accuser to state clearly what was a lie and prove it to be a lie, and the accuser has to also prove that the accused knew that he was telling a lie.

Young is probably well meaning, but that does not mean his motivations weren’t ill advised or even morally questionable. In 2014, Dissident Voice editor Angie Tibbs criticized Young for his:

blatant show of support for the apartheid state, a nasty slap in the face for the occupied people of Palestine, and most specifically Gaza where the residents are now counting the bodies and burying their dead as a result of Israel’s latest bombardment.

Who could believe that Neil Young, the long time activist, would ignore the BDS campaign, including a cultural boycott demanding that Israel recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully comply with the precepts of international law?

Young has also been called out for his misinformation concerning the “Tiananmen Square massacre.” Decades after the violence that transpired outside Tiananmen Square, Young was still dedicating his hit song “Rockin’ in the Free World” “to the Chinese students who were killed during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989,” even though the CIA-orchestrated upheaval targeted the killing of soldiers.

As for COVID-19 and how best to treat it, for any non-expert (and, granted, maybe Neil Young has carried out much study and has become quite expert about COVID), to claim epistemological certitude should be greeted with more than a modicum of skepticism. Who can state with absolute or near absolute certainty on all the vectors involved with COVID-19? Likeliest, the virus is spread by aerosols. But who is most at risk? Probably the elderly and the infirm. What are the dangers of infection? What is the best way to combat an infection? What is the best way to gain immunity? What are the best ways to avoid an infection? What reasonable, science-backed precautions should one take: mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, disinfection of surfaces, etc? Should one be vaccinated? What are the side-effects from the vaccines: dangerous? life threatening? short-term? long-term? Does recovery from COVID-19 provide greater protection from re-infection? If vaccination is found to provide safe and reasonable protection (obviously it does not confer immunity), then which vaccine should be prescribed? How much is known about the safety and possible side-effects given that vaccine trials are still ongoing? Can the pharmaceutical manufacturers be trusted? Why have the pharmaceutical companies’ COVID vaccines been indemnified? How should people regard the report that Thailand’s National Health Security Office paid out about 927 million baht (about 28 million USD) to 8,470 people who suffered side effects after being vaccinated against COVID-19? Is the clinical data transparent? VAERS reports reflect what percentage of the adverse events? Is the virus petering out? There is so much to be considered and knowledge is still coming to light.

Some of the I-know-better-than-others crowd have called for censorship. Is censorship how humans arrive at the truth? Have the people who argue for censorship learned anything from when the church proscribed the teaching of heliocentrism? Wasn’t it a heresy at one time (and even still in some backwaters) to theorize human life as having evolved from simpler lifeforms?

We are exhorted by government officials and government spokespersons to follow the science. But when do they ever bother to present the scientific evidence? Do they point to the independent peer-review science literature? Can we trust that doctors and scientists always get it right? Didn’t doctors use to be big boosters of cigarette smoking?

Spotify has reacted to Young’s complaints and removed his music from the platform. Spotify has also promised to be vigilant against misinformation, as we all should be. But is one not promoting misinformation when one falsely accuses another of misinformation?

Rogan supports Spotify’s plan to put a disclaimer at the start of controversial episodes.

For his part, Young denied pushing censorship. “I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information.”

Neil, you say you support free speech, but did you not just threaten Spotify because that platform allowed Joe Rogan to exercise his free speech?

The podcaster has taken the high road.”My pledge to you [the listener] is that I will do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives, so we can maybe find a better point of view.”

Rogan added, “I’m not mad at Neil Young, I’m a huge Neil Young fan.”

Still, it would have been preferable if Rogan had respectfully put the onus on Young to point out the inaccuracies that the musician had alleged.

Maybe Young is an expert on COVID-19, and maybe he can discern what is factually accurate and inaccurate. However, there are thousands and thousands of physicians and scientists (and plenty of Canadian truck drivers and their supporters) out there that disagree with Young.

Top image credit: Loudwire

The post The Onus on Those Who Accuse Others of Mis/Disinformation first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How Israel’s “Facebook Law” Plans to Control All Palestinian Content Online

It is ironic that even former right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had rejected a Knesset (Israeli Parliament) bill which proposed to give the government greater power to control and suppress online content. This was in 2016, and the bill was introduced by Netanyahu’s Likud party rival, Gideon Sa’ar.

Some analysts argued that Netanyahu had feared that a law aimed at suppressing Palestinian freedom of speech online could be exploited by his enemies to control his own speech and incitement. Now that Netanyahu is no longer in the picture, the bill is back, and so is Sa’ar.

Gideon Sa’ar is currently Israel’s justice minister and deputy prime minister. While his boss, Naftali Bennett, is moving rapidly to expand settlements and to worsen already horrific realities for Palestinians on the ground, Sa’ar is expanding the Israeli military occupation of Palestinians to the digital realm. What is known as the ‘Facebook Law’ is set to grant “Israeli courts the power to demand the removal of user-generated content on social media content platforms that can be perceived as inflammatory or as harming ‘the security of the state,’ or the security of people or the security of the public.”

According to a December 30 statement by the Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition (PDRC) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), Israeli censorship of Palestinian content online has deepened since 2016, when Sa’ar’s bill was first introduced.

In their statement, the two organizations highlighted the fact that Israel’s so-called Cyber Unit had submitted 2,421 requests to social media companies to delete Palestinian content in 2016. That number has grown exponentially since, to the extent that the Cyber Unit alone has requested the removal of more than 20,000 Palestinian items. PDRC and PHROC suggest that the new legislation, which was already approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on December 27, “would only strengthen the relationship between the Cyber Unit and social media companies.”

Unfortunately, that relationship is already strong, at least with Facebook, which routinely censors Palestinian content and has been heavily criticized by Human Rights Watch and other organizations. After examining the numerous allegations of Facebook censorship, Deborah Brown, the senior digital rights researcher and advocate at HRW, concluded that “Facebook has suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine.”

Facebook’s involvement in Israel’s efforts aimed at silencing Palestinian online voices that call for justice, freedom and end of the occupation, is itself situated in an agreement the company had reached with Israel in September 2016. Then, the Israeli government announced that it had signed an agreement with the social media giant “to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network.” Within days, the accounts of prominent Palestinian journalists and activists were reportedly being deleted.

Israel’s latest ‘Facebook Law’ does not just pertain to controlling content on Facebook-related platforms, including Instagram and others. According to a Haaretz editorial published on December 29, the impact of this particular bill is far-reaching, as it will grant District Court judges throughout the country the power to remove posts, not only from Facebook and other social media outlets, “but from any website at all”.

Unsurprisingly, Israel’s censorship of Palestinian content is justified under the typical pretense of protecting Israel’s ‘national security’. We all know how Israel interprets this elusive concept to include anything from a Palestinian calling for Israel to be held accountable for its crimes in the occupied territories, to another demanding the end of Israeli apartheid to a third writing a poem. A case in point was the humiliating imprisonment of Palestinian poet, Dareen Tatour. The latter, an Israeli citizen, was thrown in jail in 2015 per court order for writing a short poem entitled “Resist, My People, Resist Them”.

Judging from past experience, undoubtedly, the ‘Facebook Law’ would almost exclusively target Palestinians. Moreover, judging from Israel’s previous successes, many digital and social media companies would comply with Israel’s demands of censoring Palestinians everywhere.

In its January 11 report, the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement – 7Amleh – detailed some of the practices that Israel engages in to monitor, silence, and spy on Palestinians. 7Amleh’s report, entitled ‘Hashtag Palestine 2021’, discusses the increased use of surveillance technologies, especially in the context of a proposed Israeli law that would expand the use of facial recognition cameras in public spaces. It is worth noting that such technologies have already been used against Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints throughout the West Bank for at least two years.

Moreover, the Israeli Pegasus spyware, which has recently made headlines throughout the world for its use against numerous high-profile figures, has also long been used against Palestinian activists. In other words, Palestine continues to be the testing ground for Israel’s human rights violations of all kinds, whether in new weaponry, crowd control or surveillance.

Expectedly, what applies to Palestinians demanding their freedom online does not apply to Israelis inciting violence and spreading hatred against those very Palestinians. According to the 7Amleh ‘Index of Racism and Incitement’, published last June, during the Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip and the subsequent anti-Palestinian violence throughout Palestine in May 2021, “incitement in Hebrew against Arabs and Palestinians increased by 15 times” if compared to the same period of the last year. Much of this has gone unnoticed, and it is hardly the subject of the proposed ‘Facebook Law’ or the sinister activities of the Cyber Unit. For Gideon Sa’ar and his ilk, anti-Palestinian incitement, along with the daily violence meted out against the occupied Palestinians, is a non-issue.

While Israel is permitted, thanks to the deafening silence of the international community, to maintain its military occupation of Palestine, to cement its apartheid and to deepen its control of Palestinian life everywhere, it should not be permitted to expand this matrix of control to the digital realm as well. Civil society organizations, activists and ordinary people everywhere must speak out to bring an end to this mockery.

Moreover, as the Pegasus and the facial recognition surveillance technologies experiences have taught us, what is usually first applied to Palestinians is eventually normalized and applied everywhere else. Israel should, therefore, be confronted in its abuses of human rights in Palestine, because these abuses, if normalized, will become a part of our daily lives, regardless of where we are in the world.

The post How Israel’s “Facebook Law” Plans to Control All Palestinian Content Online first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Cancel Culture’s War on Free Speech

Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.

George Carlin

Cancel culture—political correctness amped up on steroids, the self-righteousness of a narcissistic age, and a mass-marketed pseudo-morality that is little more than fascism disguised as tolerance—has shifted us into an Age of Intolerance, policed by techno-censors, social media bullies, and government watchdogs.

Everything is now fair game for censorship if it can be construed as hateful, hurtful, bigoted or offensive provided that it runs counter to the established viewpoint.

In this way, the most controversial issues of our day—race, religion, sex, sexuality, politics, science, health, government corruption, police brutality, etc.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support.

Free speech for me but not for thee” is how my good friend and free speech purist Nat Hentoff used to sum up this double standard.

This tendency to censor, silence, delete, label as “hateful,” and demonize viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite is being embraced with a near-fanatical zealotry by a cult-like establishment that values conformity and group-think over individuality.

For instance, are you skeptical about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines? Do you have concerns about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election? Do you subscribe to religious beliefs that shape your views on sexuality, marriage and gender? Do you, deliberately or inadvertently, engage in misgendering (identifying a person’s gender incorrectly) or deadnaming (using the wrong pronouns or birth name for a transgender person)?

Say yes to any of those questions and then dare to voice those views in anything louder than a whisper and you might find yourself suspended on Twitter, shut out of Facebook, and banned across various social media platforms.

This authoritarian intolerance masquerading as tolerance, civility and love (what comedian George Carlin referred to as “fascism pretending to be manners”) is the end result of a politically correct culture that has become radicalized, institutionalized and tyrannical.

In the past few years, for example, have been censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that were deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous or conspiratorial.

Most recently, Twitter suspended conservative podcaster Matt Walsh for violating its hate speech policy by sharing his views about transgendered individuals. “The greatest female Jeopardy champion of all time is a man. The top female college swimmer is a man. The first female four star admiral in the Public Health Service is a man. Men have dominated female high school track and the female MMA circuit. The patriarchy wins in the end,” Walsh tweeted on Dec. 30, 2021.

J.K. Rowling, author of the popular Harry Potter series, has found herself denounced as transphobic and widely shunned for daring to criticize efforts by transgender activists to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender. Rowling’s essay explaining her views is a powerful, articulate, well-researched piece that not only stresses the importance of free speech and women’s rights while denouncing efforts by trans activists to demonize those who subscribe to “wrongthink,” but also recognizes that while the struggle over gender dysmorphia is real, concerns about safeguarding natal women and girls from abuse are also legitimate.

Ironically enough, Rowling’s shunning included literal book burning. Yet as Ray Bradbury once warned, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

Indeed, the First Amendment is going up in flames before our eyes, but those first sparks were lit long ago and have been fed by intolerance all along the political spectrum.

Consider some of the kinds of speech being targeted for censorship or outright elimination.

Offensive, politically incorrect and “unsafe” speech: Political correctness has resulted in the chilling of free speech and a growing hostility to those who exercise their rights to speak freely. Where this has become painfully evident is on college campuses, which have become hotbeds of student-led censorship, trigger warnings, microaggressions, and “red light” speech policies targeting anything that might cause someone to feel uncomfortable, unsafe or offended.

Bullying, intimidating speech: Warning that “school bullies become tomorrow’s hate crimes defendants,” the Justice Department has led the way in urging schools to curtail bullying, going so far as to classify “teasing” as a form of “bullying,” and “rude” or “hurtful” “text messages” as “cyberbullying.”

Hateful speech: Hate speech—speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation—is the primary candidate for online censorship. Corporate internet giants Google, Twitter and Facebook continue to re-define what kinds of speech will be permitted online and what will be deleted.

Dangerous, anti-government speech: As part of its ongoing war on “extremism,” the government has partnered with the tech industry to counter online “propaganda” by terrorists hoping to recruit support or plan attacks. In this way, anyone who criticizes the government online can be considered an extremist and will have their content reported to government agencies for further investigation or deleted. In fact, the Justice Department is planning to form a new domestic terrorism unit to ferret out individuals “who seek to commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of domestic social or political goals.” What this will mean is more surveillance, more pre-crime programs, and more targeting of individuals whose speech may qualify as “dangerous.”

The upshot of all of this editing, parsing, banning and silencing is the emergence of a new language, what George Orwell referred to as Newspeak, which places the power to control language in the hands of the totalitarian state.

Under such a system, language becomes a weapon to change the way people think by changing the words they use.

The end result is mind control and a sleepwalking populace.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used.

In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind lest they find themselves ostracized or placed under surveillance.

Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism.

The social shunning favored by activists and corporations borrows heavily from the mind control tactics used by authoritarian cults as a means of controlling its members. As Dr. Steven Hassan writes in Psychology Today: “By ordering members to be cut off, they can no longer participate. Information and sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences are stifled. Thought-stopping and use of loaded terms keep a person constrained into a black-and-white, all-or-nothing world. This controls members through fear and guilt.”

This mind control can take many forms, but the end result is an enslaved, compliant populace incapable of challenging tyranny.

As Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, once observed, “We’re developing a new citizenry, one that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.”

The problem as I see it is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. And we’ve bought into the idea that we need the government and its corporate partners to shield us from that which is ugly or upsetting or mean. The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences.

In short, we have reduced ourselves to a largely silent, passive, polarized populace incapable of working through our own problems and reliant on the government to protect us from our fears.

As Nat Hentoff, that inveterate champion of the First Amendment, once observed, “The quintessential difference between a free nation, as we profess to be, and a totalitarian state, is that here everyone, including a foe of democracy, has the right to speak his mind.”

What this means is opening the door to more speech not less, even if that speech is offensive to some.

Understanding that freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society, James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely.

We haven’t done ourselves—or the nation—any favors by becoming so fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful or closed-minded that we’ve eliminated words, phrases and symbols from public discourse.

We have allowed our fears—fear for our safety, fear of each other, fear of being labeled racist or hateful or prejudiced, etc.—to trump our freedom of speech and muzzle us far more effectively than any government edict could.

Ultimately the war on free speech—and that’s exactly what it is: a war being waged by Americans against other Americans—is a war that is driven by fear.

By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace.

By muzzling free speech, we are contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.”

The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world. When there is no steam valve to release the pressure, frustration builds, anger grows, and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation.

Be warned: whatever we tolerate now—whatever we turn a blind eye to—whatever we rationalize when it is inflicted on others will eventually come back to imprison us, one and all.

Eventually, “we the people” will be the ones in the crosshairs.

At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes “hate” or “extremism, “we the people” might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other.

When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense.

After all, it’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act.

We are on a fast-moving trajectory.

In other words, whatever powers you allow the government and its corporate operatives to claim now, for the sake of the greater good or because you like or trust those in charge, will eventually be abused and used against you by tyrants of your own making.

This is the tyranny of the majority against the minority marching in lockstep with technofascism.

If Americans don’t vociferously defend the right of a minority of one to subscribe to, let alone voice, ideas and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different, then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals).

No matter what our numbers might be, no matter what our views might be, no matter what party we might belong to, it will not be long before “we the people” constitute a powerless minority in the eyes of a power-fueled fascist state driven to maintain its power at all costs.

We are almost at that point now.

Free speech is no longer free.

On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak.

In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow.

The steady, pervasive censorship creep that is being inflicted on us by corporate tech giants with the blessing of the powers-that-be threatens to bring about a restructuring of reality straight out of Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Truth polices speech and ensures that facts conform to whatever version of reality the government propagandists embrace.

Orwell intended 1984 as a warning. Instead, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it is being used as a dystopian instruction manual for socially engineering a populace that is compliant, conformist and obedient to Big Brother.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship, spying and policing.

The post Cancel Culture’s War on Free Speech first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The hounding of Julian Assange leaves honest journalism with no refuge

It is no accident that Julian Assange, the digital transparency activist and journalist who founded Wikileaks to help whistleblowers tell us what western governments are really up to in the shadows, has spent 10 years being progressively disappeared into those very same shadows.

His treatment is a crime similar to those Wikileaks exposed when it published just over a decade ago hundreds of thousands of leaked materials – documents we were never supposed to see – detailing war crimes committed by the United States and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These two western countries killed non-combatants and carried out torture not, as they claimed, in the pursuit of self-defence or in the promotion of democracy, but to impose control over a strategic, resource-rich region.

It is the ultimate, ugly paradox that Assange’s legal and physical fate rests in the hands of two states that have the most to lose by allowing him to regain his freedom and publish more of the truths they want to keep concealed. By redefining his journalism as “espionage” – the basis for the US extradition claim – they are determined to keep the genie stuffed in the bottle.

Eyes off the ball

Last week, in overturning a lower court decision that should have allowed Assange to walk free, the English High Court consented to effectively keep Assange locked up indefinitely.  He is a remand prisoner – found guilty of no crime – and yet he will continue rotting in solitary confinement for the foreseeable future, barely seeing daylight or other human beings, in Belmarsh high-security prison alongside Britain’s most dangerous criminals.

The High Court decision forces our eyes off the ball once again. Assange and his supposed “crime” of seeking transparency and accountability has become the story rather than the crimes he exposed that were carried out by the US to lay waste to whole regions and devastate the lives of millions.

The goal is to stop the public conducting the debate Assange wanted to initiate through his journalism: about western state crimes. Instead the public is being deflected into a debate his persecutors want: whether Assange can ever safely be allowed out of his cell.

Assange’s lawyers are being diverted from the real issues too. They will now be tied up for years fighting endless rearguard actions, caught up in the search for legal technicalities, battling to win a hearing in any court they can, to prevent his extradition to the United States to stand trial.

The process itself has taken over. And while the legal minutiae are endlessly raked over, the substance of the case – that it is US and British officials who ought to be held responsible for committing war crimes – will be glossed over.

Permanently silenced

But it is worse than the legal injustice of Assange’s case. There may be no hack-saws needed this time, but this is as visceral a crime against journalism as the dismemberment of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi officials back in 2018.

And the outcome for Assange is only slightly less preordained than it was for Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. The goal for US officials has always been about permanently disappearing Assange. They are indifferent about how that is achieved.

If the legal avenue is a success, he will eventually head to the US where he can be locked away for up to 175 years in severe solitary confinement in a super-max jail – that is, till long past his death from natural causes. But there is every chance he will not survive that long. Last January, a British judge rejected extraditing Julian Assange to the US over his “suicide risk“, and medical experts have warned that it will be only a matter of time before he succeeds.

That was why the district court blocked extradition – on humanitarian grounds. Those grounds were overturned by the High Court last week only because the US offered “assurances” that measures would be in place to ensure Assange did not commit suicide. But Assange’s lawyers pointed out: those assurances “were not enough to address concerns about his fragile mental health and high risk of suicide”. These concerns should have been apparent to the High Court justices.

Further, dozens of former officials in the Central Intelligence Agency and the previous US administration have confirmed that the agency planned to execute Assange in an extrajudicial operation in 2017. That was shortly before the US was forced by circumstance to switch to the current, formal extradition route. The arguments now made for his welfare by the same officials and institutions that came close to killing him should never have been accepted as made in good faith.

In fact, there is no need to speculate about the Americans’ bad faith. It is only too apparent in the myriad get-out clauses in the “assurances” they provided. Those assurances can be dropped, for example, if US officials decide Assange is not being cooperative. The promises can and will be disregarded the moment they become an encumbrance on Washington’s ability to keep Assange permanently silenced.

‘Trapped in a cage’

But if losing the extradition battle is high stakes, so is the legal process itself. That could finish Assange off long before a decision is reached, as his fiancee Stella Moris indicated at the weekend. She confirmed that Assange suffered a small stroke during a hearing in October in the endless extradition proceedings. There are indications he suffered neurological damage, and is now on anti-stroke medication to try to stop a recurrence.

Assange and his friends believe the stroke was brought on by the constant double strain of his solitary confinement in Belmarsh and a legal process being conducted over his head, in which he is barely allowed to participate.

Nils Melzer, the United Nations expert on torture, has repeatedly warned that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture in the nine years since he fled into Ecuador’s embassy in London seeking asylum from US efforts to persecute him.

That form of torture, Melzer has pointed out, was refined by the Nazis because it was found to be far more effective at breaking people than physical torture. Moris told the Daily Mail: “[The stroke] compounds our fears about [Assange’s] ability to survive the longer this long legal battle goes on. … Look at animals trapped in cages in a zoo. It cuts their life short. That’s what’s happening to Julian.”

And that indeed looks to be the prize for US officials that wanted him assassinated anyway. Whatever happens to Assange, the lawless US security state wins: it either gets him behind bars forever, or it kills him quietly and quite lawfully, while everyone is distracted, arguing about who Assange is rather what he exposed.

Political prisoner

In fact, with each twist and turn of the proceedings against Assange we move further from the realities at the heart of the case towards narrative distractions.

Who remembers now the first extradition hearings, nearly two years ago, at which the court was reminded that the very treaty signed by Britain and the US that is the basis for Assange’s extradition explicitly excludes political cases of the kind being pursued by the US against Assange?

It is a victory for state criminality that the discussion has devolved to Assange’s mental health rather than a substantive discussion of the treaty’s misapplication to serve political ends.

And similarly the focus on US assurances regarding Assange’s wellbeing is intended to obscure the fact that a journalist’s work is being criminalised as “espionage” for the first time under a hurriedly drafted, draconian and discredited piece of First World War legislation, the 1917 Espionage Act. Because Assange is a political prisoner suffering political persecution, legal arguments are apparently powerless to save him. It is only a political campaign that can keep underscoring the sham nature of the charges he faces.

The lies of power

What Assange bequeathed us through Wikileaks was a harsh light capable of cutting through the lies of power and power of lies. He showed that western governments claiming the moral high ground were actually committing crimes in our name out of sight in far-off lands. He tore the mask off their hypocrisy.

He showed that the many millions who took to the streets in cities around the world in 2003 because they knew the US and UK would commit war crimes in Iraq were right to march. But he also confirmed something worse: that their opposition to the war was treated with utter contempt.

The US and UK did not operate more carefully, they were not more respectful of human rights, they did not tread more lightly in Iraq because of those marches, because of the criticism beforehand. The western war machine carried on regardless, crushing the lives of anyone who got caught up in its maw.

Now with Assange locked up and silenced, western foreign policy can return comfortably to the era of zero accountability that existed before Assange shook up the whole system with his revelations. No journalist will dare to repeat what Assange did – not unless they are ready to spend the rest of their days behind bars.

The message his abuse sends to others could not be clearer or more chilling: what happened to Assange could happen to you too.

The truth is journalism is already reeling from the combined assaults against Khashoggi and Assange. But the hounding of Assange strikes the bigger blow. It leaves honest journalism with no refuge, no sanctuary anywhere in the world.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post The hounding of Julian Assange leaves honest journalism with no refuge first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How to Chill Free Speech: Defamation Down Under

The free speech argument in Australia has always been skewed.  Lacking the confidence, courage and maturity to have a bill of rights that might protect it, Australia’s body politic has stammered its way to the frailest of protections.  The Australian High Court has done its small bit to read an implied right into one of the world’s dreariest constitutions, though the judges have been at pains to point out that it can never be personally exercised.  The wordy “implied right to protect freedom of communication on political subjects” can only ever act as a restraint on excessive legislative or executive actions.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Australia is a signatory, enumerates a right to hold opinions without interference and the right to freedom of expression (Article 19).  As uplifting as this is, the article also permits restrictions upon that right for reasons of protecting the rights or reputations of others, national security, public order, public health or morals.  With such exceptions, authorities have vast latitude to clip, curtail and restrain.  But even then, Australia expressly implemented the machinery that would enable anyone in the country to enforce it.

The great stifling brake on free expression in the country comes in the form of draconian defamation laws that can be used by the powerful, the petty and the privileged.  The political classes, for one, regularly resort to that mechanism to silence critics, claiming that their tattered reputations would somehow be impugned by a comedy sketch, an angry social media post, or a hurtful remark.

One particularly nasty example of this has come from current Defence Minister Peter Dutton, described by the late Bob Ellis as a “simian sadist”, a pious detainer of refugees.  Since then, we can also add war enthusiast, given his regular remarks about a willingness to send Australians over to die on that piece of land formerly known as Formosa.

Despite being in a government proclaiming the importance of free speech, Dutton has, like other politicians, availed himself of the tools that undermine it.  That tool – namely, the defamation action – was used recently, with partial and regrettable success, against refugee advocate Shane Bazzi.  It is worth reflecting that the action took place over a six-word tweet posted on February 25 this year.  The tweet was flavour-fuelled with accusation: “Peter Dutton is a rape apologist.”

It had been typed – as things often are – in the heat of anger: some hours after Dutton had told a press conference that he had not been furnished with the “she said, he said” details of a rape allegation made by Britney Higgins, a former Coalition staffer who has spurred a movement to redress Parliament’s sexual violence problem.

That comment, while seemingly rash, had rich context in terms of opinion, taking issue with Dutton’s characterisation of refugee women detained on Nauru as being the sort who were “trying it on” to ensure entry to the Australian mainland.  Those were Dutton’s own words, noted in a 2019 Guardian Australia article mentioned in the tweet.

This legal action was merely one measure of the Morrison government’s general enthusiasm for trying to regulate the Internet and, more specifically, the effusive, often mad hat chatter on social media.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison, no less, has called it “a coward’s place” filled with anonymous abusers and vilifiers, and has been on a crusade to make publishers of defamatory comments, and the platforms hosting them, liable.

Dutton had also promised in March with menace that he would start to “pick out some” individuals who were “trending on Twitter or have the anonymity of different Twitter accounts” posting “all these statements and tweets that are frankly defamatory.”

His government is also drafting laws which will require social media companies to gather the details of all users and permit courts to force companies to divulge their identities to aid defamation cases.  These regulations stink of advantaging the powerful and political whose tendency to be offended is easy to provoke.  They also point to an obvious purpose: reining in criticism, however sound, of the government.

In instigating proceedings against Bazzi, Dutton claimed in the trial that he was “deeply offended” by the contents of the tweet.  He claimed to be a paragon of veracity and accuracy severely misunderstood.  “As a minister for immigration or home affairs … people make comments that are false or untrue, offensive, profane, but that’s part of the rough and tumble.”

Bazzi, however, had crossed the line; his comments were made by a person verified by Twitter.  “It was somebody that held himself out as an authority or a journalist.”  His remarks “went beyond” the acceptably rough and tumbling nature of politics. “And it went against who I am, my beliefs … I thought it was hurtful.”

In court, Dutton outlined a series of measures he had taken as a minister to deal with allegations of abuse.   He created the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.  He dispatched Australian Federal Police officers to Nauru to investigate sexual assault allegations.  It never once occurred to him that these initiatives took place on a problem of his own government’s making.  If you set up concentration camps on Pacific islands to allow asylum seekers and refugees to sunder, subsidizing client states to so, denigration and depravity follow.

Bazzi, through his lawyer, Richard Potter SC, claimed that the defences of honest opinion or fair comment applied.  According to Potter, the honest opinion defence was “a fundamental protection in our society”, “a bulwark of freedom of speech”.  In Australia, such assertions would be going too far, given how difficult they are to apply.

The law firm representing Bazzi, O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors, also made the understandable claim in April that the whole proceedings should worry us all.  “For a politician to use defamation law to stifle expression of a public opinion is a cause for real concern.”

In the public domain, individuals who had known a thing or two about the spiritual and physical torment of rape expressed their puzzlement over Dutton’s response.  Higgins, who is seeking redress for her own suffering in this matter, found the minister’s legal response to Bazzi “baffling”.  “I’ve been offended plenty.”  Despite that, it still afforded “people … the right to engage in public debate and assert their opinion.”  The whole case was a “shocking indictment on free speech.”

From the outset, the Federal Court seemed, as much of Australia’s legal system is, inclined to the complainant.  The Anglo-Australian culture puts much stock in the artificial contrivance of reputation, which is often a social illusion that says little about the conduct of the defamed individual.  Reputations are often false veneers fiercely protected.

And so it came as no surprise that Justice Richard White was critical of the legal firm defending Barazzi.  The justice asked those representing the firm whether they were appearing as solicitors with obligations to be objective and independent, or as “supporters and barrackers” of their client. He preferred the parties to seek a settlement.  “It does seem to me that this should be a matter of capable resolution.  There are risks on both sides.”

In finding for Dutton in November, Justice White ruled that the tweet had been defamatory, and that Bazzi could not resort to the defence of honest opinion.  With classic, skewering casuistry, the judge found that “Bazzi may have used the word ‘apologist’ without an understanding of the meaning he was, in fact conveying.”  If this had been the case, “it would follow that he did not hold the opinion actually conveyed by the words.”  Let it be known: if you do no not understand the meaning of certain words, you can have no opinions about them.

Despite his eagerness to seek damages for all grounds, Dutton was only successful on one of the four pleaded imputations.  Claims for aggravated damages and an injunction targeting Bazzi’s comments, were rejected.  The Defence Minister’s appetite for pursuing Bazzi for his full legal bill also troubled Justice White, who had repeatedly urged the parties to reach a settlement.  Why had Dutton not sued in a lower court, he asked?  The reason, claimed Dutton’s barrister Hamish Clift this month, was because his client was a prominent figure requiring a prominent stage to protect his prominent reputation.  “It would not be appropriate for the court,” retorted White, “to exercise their discretion more favourably to Dutton simply because of the important public and national office of which he holds.”

In stating that all were equal before the law irrespective of their position, White made a sound point that those schooled in aspirational justice would appreciate but hardly believe.  When it comes to Australia’s defamation laws, such a statement is a matter of form and formality, not substance and reality.

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The Branch Covidians are Waging War on Humanity

All embarked, the party launched out on the sea’s foaming lanes while the son of Atreus told his troops to wash, to purify themselves from the filth of the plague. They scoured it off, threw scourings in the surf and sacrificed to Apollo full-grown bulls and goats along the beaten shore of the fallow barren sea and savory smoke went swirling up the skies.

Homer, The Iliad (1.365-370)

The Biden administration’s announcement that Americans employed in companies with over 100 employees would be compelled to take an experimental gene therapy in explicit violation of the Nuremberg Code has opened a new front in the biofascist assault on democracy. Businesses and government agencies that fail to enforce this mandate will potentially face draconian fines. Should the oligarchy succeed in completely weaponizing health care, vaccine passports would undoubtedly become both pervasive and mandatory, but as Tucker Carlson pointed out during one of his recent monologues, it is also likely that dissidents would be handed over to the Cult of Psychiatry. This is not an uncommon practice in police states, and the pathologization of dissent has been ongoing in the West for quite some time now. Only through knowledge, compassion, and camaraderie can the forces of neo-Nazi medicine be outflanked. The days of medical Armageddon are upon us.

As the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and its European counterpart unequivocally demonstrate, the Covid vaccine program is causing tremendous harm and should have been terminated many months ago. Even the efficacy of the vaccines is very much in doubt, as evidenced by soaring Covid case numbers in some of the most vaccinated places on earth, such as the Seychelles (see here and here), Israel (see here, here, here and here), Gibraltar and Iceland. As physician assistant Deborah Conrad pointed out in her interview with The HighWire, VAERS is so dysfunctional that many doctors and nurses are only vaguely aware of its existence.

Addressing the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Joseph Mercola, MD, writes on Mercola.com:

In a June 29, 2021, interview, Fauci called the Delta variant ‘a game-changer’ for unvaccinated people, warning it will devastate the unvaccinated population while vaccinated individuals are protected against it. Alas, in the real world, the converse is turning out to be true, as the Delta variant is running wild primarily among those who got the Covid jab.

As Dr. James Lyons-Weiler and other experts without ties to industry have noted, coronavirus vaccines have long had a poor safety record. Indeed, when scientists attempted to create a vaccine for SARS-CoV-1 the laboratory animals all died due to pathogenic priming.

The vaccine mandates are causing middle class professionals to quit their jobs in droves, from highly trained fighter pilots, to large numbers of nurses leading to maternity wards being shuttered. In what is reminiscent of the anthrax vaccine (administered to the military despite the lack of both informed consent and FDA approval), army doctors are now observing serious adverse events in formerly healthy soldiers. The Covid vaccine drive has surpassed even the psychopathy of the Nazi doctors, as it would have been inconceivable to senior physicians in the Third Reich to give all of German society an experimental vaccine.

In an incident that underscores how delusional the mass media has become, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, an ABC affiliate, reached out to people on Facebook for stories of Americans who died of Covid because they delayed getting vaccinated, but were instead inundated with thousands of stories of people who were killed or seriously injured by the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) gene therapies.

Not only has a two-tier society emerged where the unvaccinated are being denied the right to work, attend university, eat out, go to sporting events, and enjoy the performing and visual arts; but another two-tier society has also emerged, one which has been evolving for quite some time now: the mega rich – for whom none of these draconian rules will apply – and everyone else. Video from a Democratic Party fundraiser hosted by Nancy Pelosi in Napa Valley has emerged showing affluent liberals rubbing shoulders unmasked while their brown servants wear masks. Masks and social distancing were apparently not required at the recent Met Gala in New York, where celebrities get to hobnob, have shallow conversations, and show off their outlandish costumes while millions of their countrymen wallow in unemployment, hopelessness, and despair.

And it would seem that New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (whose real name incidentally is Warren Wilhelm Jr.) is not the only one who delights in imposing punitive measures on those who opt for the control group, with museums and concert halls enthusiastically embracing the heinous practice. The Guggenheim has even written on their website in conjunction with their vaccine requirement that “We focus on safety so you can immerse yourself in art.” (Thankfully, I have a lot of art books).

What will transpire if the mandates remain in place? Will our leaders order their minions to shut off the water of the unvaccinated? Will workers and students be compelled to take an experimental AIDS vaccine or submit to weekly testing? These injunctions are unethical, discriminatory, and unconstitutional, as they transform inalienable rights into privileges which must be earned by participating in a dangerous medical experiment. Restaurants in Manhattan, which have some of the highest commercial rents in the world, are naturally reluctant to enforce these regulations, yet run the risk of being snitched on by Branch Covidian undercover operatives.

Such an incestuous relationship has formed between the FDA, CDC, NIH, NIAID and the pharmaceutical industry, that going to the websites for these agencies invariably yields information that mirrors what is posted on the drug company websites. There is robust science indicating that natural immunity is stronger than vaccine-induced immunity. There is likewise compelling evidence that face masks do more harm than good, yet these facts continue to be ignored by the presstitutes – a gaggle of clowns also on industry payroll.

When reporter Emerald Robinson asked White House principal deputy secretary Karine Jean-Pierre how doctors were testing for the Delta variant, Jean-Pierre became defensive, demanding that we stop asking questions and follow “the experts.” They know best after all, who when not registering vaccinated deaths as unvaccinated and artificially inflating the Covid death toll, are busy turning the country into a nation of opioid, heroin (the two are inextricably linked), fentanyl, barbiturate, benzodiazepine, and psychotropic drug addicts. (American doctors even once prescribed cocaine and heroin). Speaking at the Washington National Cathedral, our imaginary president, Dr. Fauci, said that he was sympathetic to Brits and Americans who are accustomed to certain post-Medieval rights and freedoms, “but now is the time to do what you’re told.”

The FDA “approval” for the Pfizer Covid vaccine attempts to conflate EUA investigational agents with FDA-approved drugs, as FDA has not approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which is still in use, but the Pfizer Comirnaty Covid vaccine, which isn’t even available. The FDA has argued that the two vaccines are indistinguishable from one another and that they can be used interchangeably, which is absurd. Any drug under the auspices of an EUA is by law experimental and cannot be mandated. Senator Ron Johnson wrote a letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Woodcock requesting clarification on this preposterous state of affairs.

It is curious that Hydroxychloroquine is somehow safe as a maintenance drug for lupus, yet suddenly becomes dangerous when used to treat SARS-CoV-2, even if only taken for a very short period of time. Here is the website lupus.org:

Given the drug’s many and varied beneficial effects and its excellent long-standing safety profile, most rheumatologists believe that Hydroxychloroquine should be taken by people with lupus throughout their lifetime. [Italics added]

The FDA temporarily authorized the use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 in March of 2020, but only with hospitalized patients. The FDA notice read as follows:

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate may only be used to treat adult and adolescent patients who weigh 50 kg or more and are hospitalized with COVID-19, for whom a clinical trial is not available, or participation is not feasible.

As Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, Dr. Peter McCullough, and others have noted, Covid protocols using Hydroxychloroquine and other zinc ionophores are most efficacious early in the disease process. In other words, the FDA denied permission for doctors to use a medication for outpatient care where it has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalization and death, but allowed the drug to be used for hospitalized patients where the disease has often spiraled out of control, thereby setting the drug up to fail. Dr. Simone Gold has argued that the prevalence of Hydroxychloroquine in Africa, where it is frequently obtainable as an over-the-counter drug for malaria treatment and prophylaxis, has played a significant role in protecting the continent from Covid.

So eager were the Branch Covidians to torpedo Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2 that they conducted dangerous and unethical trials where patients were deliberately overdosed and given toxic quantities of the drug, likely causing some of the trial participants to die, and causing even far more deaths when public health agencies around the world advised (or in some instances, ordered) doctors to stop using a life-saving medication as a treatment for COVID-19.

Writing for The Defender, the newsletter for Children’s Health Defense, Jeremy Loffredo points out that in addition to threatening the profits of the mRNA vaccines, Hydroxychloroquine posed a threat to the profits of Gilead, the manufacturer of Remdesivir:

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, dozens of new studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine and its first cousin, Chloroquine, against Covid. These studies occurred in China, France, Saudi Arabia, Italy, India, New York and Michigan. However, such proof of Hydroxychloroquine’s benefit to patients with Covid has posed an existential threat to Gilead sales throughout the Covid outbreak.

Remdesivir costs over $3,000 per treatment and has been linked to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. Nevertheless, if a drug is profitable safety, necessity, and efficacy are disregarded. It becomes “the standard of care.”

Having had their fill of demonizing Hydroxychloroquine, the presstitutes and pharmaceutical sock puppets turned their vitriol on another unpatentable drug, Ivermectin. Described as “a multifaceted drug of Nobel prize-honoured distinction” by the journal New Microbes and New Infections, Ivermectin has played a critical role in combating onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. Writing for The Lancet, Michel Boussinesq, MD, PhD, points out that “Ivermectin has been widely used for 30 years to combat onchocerciasis and is rightly considered a wonder drug.” In African countries where Ivermectin is regularly taken as an anti-parasitic Covid deaths have been negligible. Elaborating on this point, Kenyan doctors Stephen Karanga and Wahome Ngare pointed out in a Klartext podcast that due to Ivermectin’s effectiveness in treating Covid they weren’t worried about SARS-CoV-2; their real concerns lay with car accidents, HIV, and malaria.

Meanwhile, the FDA refuses to even acknowledge that Ivermectin can be used in humans, tweeting “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” (Yes, those are some of the smartest people in the world). This villainy is not without precedent, as millions of Americans were prescribed highly addictive opioids as opposed to safer and more inexpensive over-the-counter pain medications. The sacking of Canadian emergency physician Dr. Daniel Nagase, who was found guilty of saving the lives of his Covid patients with Ivermectin, underscores the fact that the elites will stop at nothing to prolong the pandemic.

In addition to fomenting the cult-like notion that a vaccine is a magical elixir for which no risk-benefit analysis is needed, the media has played a critical role in deceiving hundreds of millions of people around the world into believing that Covid is equally dangerous to all patients irregardless of age and preexisting conditions. This, in turn, has led to Black Death levels of hysteria, as evidenced by unvaccinated locals in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh being forced to wear placards displaying the skull and crossbones.

Physicians who attempt to treat Covid early using Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) and Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) protocols are being vilified as quacks and snake oil salesmen, while doctors who are killing staggering numbers of people through a combination of nontreatment and dangerous experimental drugs are hailed as heroes. In many ways, this is the essence of biofascism: care patients desperately need is denied them, while dangerous care is imposed through coercion – both monstrous violations of the oath to do no harm.

It is not uncommon for physicians to prescribe FDA-approved drugs to treat conditions that are different from what the drug was initially intended for. This is referred to as “off-label use” or “off-label prescribing.” How will a high-risk patient who contracts Covid benefit from masks, social distancing, lockdowns and vaccines (even if they were safe and effective)? They need something that will ward off the inflammatory phase of the disease and keep the ventilator at bay. This suppression of early treatment options has failed to escape the attention of the Indian Bar Association, which has sought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for making fallacious claims about Ivermectin to protect the Church of Vaccinology.

A passage from the Rome Declaration, established at the Rome Covid Summit, and signed by over 10,000 doctors and scientists, states the following:

WHEREAS, thousands of physicians are being prevented from providing treatment to their patients, as a result of barriers put up by pharmacies, hospitals, and public health agencies, rendering the vast majority of healthcare providers helpless to protect their patients in the face of disease. Physicians are now advising their patients to simply go home (allowing the virus to replicate) and return when their disease worsens, resulting in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary patient deaths, due to failure-to-treat;

WHEREAS, this is not medicine. This is not care. These policies may actually constitute crimes against humanity.

In the Age of Faucism, everyone who arrives at an American emergency room is being given a PCR test, and if it indicates that they have the virus (not unlikely considering the prevalence of false positives), their loved ones are summarily kicked out of the hospital, they are put into isolation, given drugs of dubious safety and efficacy, and even intubated. Dr. Jane Ruby has referred to these Covid obsessed hospitals as “the new ovens.” Furthermore, physicians are being threatened with revocation of their licenses should they be found guilty of “spreading misinformation” – a practice also commonly referred to as informed consent.

Hitler’s physicians were fond of euthanizing the mentally ill, and it would appear that their heirs are equally enamored with the practice, as the mentally handicapped have been vaccinated by force and with armed police present in Los Angeles. Children in Toronto have been given the experimental jab, without parental permission, and in exchange for free ice cream, while irate parents were prevented from entering the grounds. Not to be outdone, whistleblowers from Aegis Living, an assisted living facility for the aged, have reported that residents have been “chemically restrained” and injected with the investigational mRNA biologicals without their knowledge. As Dr. Lee Merritt said in a talk with Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, “We have a whole society doing what we tried the Nazi doctors for.”

As evidenced by the CDC vaccine schedule (a growing list of mandates coupled with liability protection for the manufacturer), and the fact that parents can be charged with “medical neglect” should they object to their children being placed on psychotropic drugs, the American public school system has long been in the grip of late-stage biofascism. To add insult to injury, toddlers are now being forced to wear masks and the mRNA biologicals are being injected into minors. Children’s Health Defense has reported that “Pfizer’s Covid vaccine could be rolled out to babies as young as 6 months in the U.S. this winter — under plans being drawn up by the pharmaceutical giant.”

Australia offers another window into our future should we fail to save humanity from the hordes of Faucism. Indeed, this has become a country where farmers’ markets are shut down by riot police, senior health officials tell their countrymen not to talk to one another so as to prevent transmission of a virus, pregnant women are arrested in their pajamas for attempting to organize anti-lockdown rallies on the Internet, women are violently choked by sadistic goons for leaving their homes unmasked, young children are pepper sprayed and brutalized for committing the aforementioned sin, citizens are committed (or “sectioned” as they say in Britain) for questioning the official Covid narrative, rubber bullets are fired into crowds of informed consenters, and extreme forms of violence are unleashed against elderly protesters – acts of barbarity that have enraged the citizenry. Melbourne in particular has lost all semblance of checks and balances, with storm troopers being unleashed on the population, in harrowing scenes reminiscent of the Wehrmacht’s storming of Prague. (Granted, without the live rounds).

Convinced that anyone who questions the veracity of the liberal media and the public health agencies is a “conspiracy theorist” (really a euphemism for “mentally ill”), neoliberals have already crossed the Rubicon and taken up the truncheon of authoritarianism. Undoubtedly, the official Covid narrative is deranged. Yet is it any more inane than “Trump’s white supremacist insurrection,” “Russia invaded Ukraine,” “the Russians hacked the election,” “Trump is Putin’s puppet,” and NATO was compelled to bomb Libya to smithereens “to save Benghazi?”

Trapped in a vortex of amnesia and unreason, the neoliberal has been hoodwinked into believing that whatever the medical mullahs say is “the science;” and whatever the liberal media says is incontrovertible, irrefutable, and infallible; i.e., “reality.” Fauci’s contradictory statements, particularly with regard to the virulence of COVID-19 and his stance on masks, fail to diminish their fervor as they cannot even remember what they had for breakfast, let alone the tens of thousands of Americans killed by Vioxx or the over 400,000 Americans that lost their lives to the opioid epidemic.

The liberals of the 1960s, who genuinely believed in the Nuremberg Code, would have regarded the Branch Covidians with contempt. What a pity that the ranks of these medical brownshirts are dominated largely by those who once idolized the likes of Bobby Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, yet now wallow in a pitiable state of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. It is true that conservative publications, such as The Washington Post, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal are parroting similar propaganda with regard to Covid. However, as evidenced by Tucker Carlson’s show, the conservative media no longer speaks with one voice. Moreover, millions of conservatives no longer believe in the infallibility of the conservative media as liberals continue to believe in the infallibility of the liberal media.

Ultimately, the Branch Covidians are the offspring of a union between a corporatized health care system that has grown increasingly hostile to informed consent, and a liberal class that stopped thinking when Bill Clinton was inaugurated and has come to regard senior officials in the liberal media and the public health agencies as gods. The mass psychosis of the Branch Covidians is inextricably linked with the mass psychosis of neoliberalism. Without the latter the former would have about as much societal impact as the Hare Krishnas.

The Nazis divided humanity into the subhumans (Jews, Roma, political prisoners, and Slavs); the humans (allied European fascists and the Japanese); and the supermen (the Germans, or Aryans). For quite some time now, the American health care system has been mired in a multi-tier system which divides patients up into similar categories. In light of this boorishness, teaching hospitals have long been instructing trainees that care is to be doled out depending on what kind of insurance plan patients have. Privileged patients are granted the right to choose their own doctor while the less fortunate are confined to narrow networks. Humans are permitted to meet with an attending physician while the Untermenschen are sent to resident clinics. Unbeknownst to Nazi doctors, both past and present, there is no bioethics on-off switch. In what was foundational to the Blitzkrieg but could also explain their increasingly deranged decision making, much of the German military during World War II was regularly taking Pervitin, the predecessor to crystal meth, and doing so with the support of their own doctors.

As the forces of darkness become increasingly desperate, liberals drown in an ocean of madness and sociopathy. Hypnotized by an oligarchy they have deified, while believing that they are still marching with Martin Luther King singing “Kumbaya My Lord” and “We Shall Overcome,” this faux-left movement bears a closer resemblance to the Democratic Party of the 1860s than the Democratic Party of the 1960s. Indeed, if the Branch Covidians succeed in destroying the citadel of informed consent, only one form of government will reign in the United States: slavery.

The post The Branch Covidians are Waging War on Humanity first appeared on Dissident Voice.

After success against Corbyn, Israel lobby ousts UK scholar

Britain’s pro-Israel lobby gained another important scalp last week after a prolonged campaign of intimidation finally pushed a major UK university into firing one of its lecturers.

Bristol University dismissed David Miller, a political sociology professor, even though an official investigation had concluded that accusations of antisemitism against him were unfounded.

Research by Miller, a leading scholar on propaganda, had charted networks of influence in the UK in relation to Islamophobia that included the very pro-Israel lobby groups that worked to get him fired.

The decision is likely to prove a severe blow to academic freedoms in the UK that are already under growing threat from efforts to silence criticism of Israel in the wake of reports from Israeli and international human rights describing it as an apartheid state.

Bristol faced a similar campaign four years ago against another professor, Rebecca Gould, years after she wrote an article on how Israel used the memory of the Holocaust to “whitewash its crimes” against Palestinians. Despite demands that she be sacked, Gould survived, possibly in part because she is Jewish.

Lobby emboldened

But since that attack, an emboldened pro-Israel lobby has been increasingly successful in conflating criticism of Israel – and the activities of groups that seek to shield Israel from scrutiny – with antisemitism.

The lobby smelled blood with the success of its years-long campaign to vilify the previous leader of Britain’s opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, an outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights. They argued that he had presided over a plague of antisemitism in Labour. Corbyn stepped down as leader last year.

The evidence-free claims of an “antisemitism crisis” under Corbyn were amplified by the billionaire-owned media and Labour’s own right-wing bureaucracy, both of which wanted the socialist Corbyn gone.

In a sign of the lobby’s continuing hold on political discourse in the UK about Israel and antisemitism, Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, has been purging the party of Corbyn’s supporters, including Jews, smearing them as antisemites.

At Labour’s party conference last month, however, Starmer faced a backlash. Delegates voted in favor of a motion declaring Israel an apartheid state. The motion also demanded sanctions against Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land and an end to UK arms sale to Israel.

Islamophobia fomented

With Bristol’s sacking of Miller, the key battleground appears to be shifting to academia, where it is feared that the idea of Israel as an apartheid state may gain a foothold. The lobby has been noisily celebrating the professor’s dismissal, presumably in the hope that a clear message is sent to other academics to rein in their public criticisms of Israel.

The campaign against Miller started more than two years ago, after the professor published research on “five pillars of Islamophobia” in British society. One diagram illustrated the organizational ties between pro-Israel lobby groups in the UK and a set of what Israel terms “national institutions” in fomenting Islamophobia.

Miller was bringing to light the influence of this network of transnational institutions that in Israel’s view represent a global “Jewish nation” whose homeland is Israel.

(Paradoxically, the Zionist belief that Jews form a single people who need to organize globally through a complex network of transnational and local institutions to ward off antisemitism neatly mirrors antisemitic ideas of Jews being part of a global conspiracy.)

So-called “national institutions” such as the Jewish National Fund, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency all enjoy quasi-state authority in Israel while establishing affiliated local organizations in most major western countries.

For example, the JNF oversees racist land allocation policies that privilege Jews over Palestinians on behalf of the Israeli state while also having active branches in Europe and North America. And the WZO, which has a dozen or so affiliated organizations operating around the world, runs arm’s length operations for the Israeli state settling Jews on Palestinian land in the occupied territory.

Miller’s work showed how these agencies, effectively acting as arms of the Israeli state, have deep institutional and funding ties to UK Zionist groups – the same groups that have pushed for the redefinition of antisemitism in ways designed to silence criticism of Israel and that led the campaign against Corbyn.

His research suggested that the lobby’s promotion of Islamophobia had played a part of those campaigns.

‘Civilisational divide’

Fear of Muslims and Islam has long bolstered a self-serving narrative that Israel stands with the Judeo-Christian west against a supposed Islamic barbarism and terrorism. Palestinians, despite the fact a significant proportion are Christian, have been presented as on the wrong side of that supposed civilizational divide.

Backed by establishment media, the Union of Jewish Students originally alleged that a lecture by Miller on Islamophobia had made two unnamed Bristol students “uncomfortable and intimidated”.

But far from representing all Jewish students, the UJS is an avowedly Zionist body, one affiliated through the World Union of Jewish Students to the World Zionist Organization, the “national institution” whose role includes directing Israel’s building of illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

The UJS has also played a critical role in pushing for the adoption of a new definition of antisemitism at universities that, far from protecting Jewish students from hatred, is – as we shall see – designed to shield Israel from scrutiny.

Antisemitism redefined

Miller was cleared of the lobby’s initial allegations, but that served only to intensify the campaign against him. He was subjected to a follow-up investigation by Bristol University earlier this year.

In response, some 200 scholars, including prominent figures such as Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler, both of them Jewish, petitioned the university. Their letter noted the “unrelenting and concerted efforts to publicly vilify” Miller.

The professor, they added, was “known internationally for exposing the role that powerful actors and well-resourced, coordinated networks play in manipulating and stage-managing public debates, including on racism.”

Miller’s sacking follows the lobby’s success in pressuring major institutions, including Bristol university, into adopting a controversial new definition of antisemitism promoted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Of a set of 11 supposed examples of antisemitism posited by the IHRA, seven refer to Israel.

Even the lead author of the definition, a Jewish lawyer, Kenneth Stern, has urged public institutions against adopting it, warning that it has been “weaponized” to stop speech about Israel. His warnings have fallen on deaf ears.

The ruling Conservative party has joined the pressure campaign, celebrating last month the fact that the number of British universities adopting the IHRA definition had rocketed by 160 percent over the past year – from 30 to 80.

That may in part be explained by the fact that the government has threatened the funding of any universities that refuse to comply.

Paradoxically, at the same as Boris Johnson’s government has been seeking to silence criticism of Israel, it has also been demanding an end to what it calls “cancel culture” at universities – chiefly attempts by students to deny a platform to racist and transphobic speakers.

The campaign against Miller has won the backing of large numbers of politicians from all parties, even the sole Green legislator, Caroline Lucas. More than 100 members of parliament wrote to Bristol university in March, echoing the lobby groups’ claims that the professor was “inciting hatred against Jewish students”.

Cleared of antisemitism, fired anyway

Strangely, when Bristol launched its second investigation back in March, a government minister announced: “It is the responsibility of the University of Bristol to determine whether or not Prof Miller’s remarks constitute lawful free speech.”

In a statement on Miller’s dismissal last week, the university conceded that the senior lawyer it appointed had not found anything “unlawful” in Miller’s comments.

In fact, Miller told Mondoweiss, the university’s statement was itself misleading. Their lawyer’s report had, he said, “found that my comments were not antisemitic and that they did not in any way violate the Equality Act”.

Despite the lawyer finding in Miller’s favor, the university nonetheless sacked him. It said it had “a duty of care to all students and the wider University community” and that Miller had failed to “meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff”.

This appeared to be the university’s mealy-mouthed equivalent of “bringing the party into disrepute” – the UK Labour party’s justification for suspending and expelling members when it proved impossible to actually find evidence against them to support claims of antisemitism.

Miller has said he will appeal, either using the university’s own internal procedures or referring the case to an employment tribunal.

Bristol may have problems defending its actions. Its statement poses more questions than it answers.

Does the university not also have a duty of care to Miller himself, if nothing he did was found to be unlawful or antisemitic?

And as the university admits that “members of our community hold very different views from one another” on the issues at the heart of the investigation, does it not also have a duty of care to Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and left-wing students?

The university has sent a clear message to them that their concerns about Islamophobia, and how it is being promoted in the UK, are a very low priority – and that even academics who speak in solidarity with them risk losing their job.

And how is it possible to square the university’s claim that it is committed to preserving “the essential principles of academic freedom” when it has so flagrantly caved in to an unsubstantiated campaign of intimidation?

Miller’s sacking makes it all but impossible for any other academic to consider either research into Islamophobia or an examination of the role of an important UK lobby, leaving these fields effectively off-limits.

Causing offense

Miller’s research has proved to have predictive value – one of the yardsticks for measuring the plausibility of its thesis.

The very networks of influence he identified as seeking to silence criticism of Israel quickly got to work trumpeting their victory against Miller on social media, making sure that other academics would get the message.

ACT.IL, which if it were operating on behalf of Russia rather than Israel would be described as a troll factory, rallied its followers to denounce Miller online for “spouting antisemitism”.

The case has been similarly misrepresented in the British media, which has been leading the campaign against Miller, as it did against Corbyn.

A report in the supposedly liberal Guardian described Miller’s case as splitting “the campus between staff and students who accused him of spouting antisemitic tropes in lectures and online, and those who worried that sanctions would stifle sensitive research”.

The assumption in the Guardian and elsewhere was that Miller had indeed “spouted antisemitic tropes”, and that the only question was whether sacking him was too high a price – given the danger it might stifle research.

It never occurred to the Guardian or other media outlets that some staff and students – as well as the Queen’s Counsel investigating the case – did not actually believe Miller had “spouted antisemitic tropes”.

In truth, Miller’s research and his statements on the lobby and Islamophobia only appeared antisemitic in a new, highly politicized sense of the term – cultivated by the Israel lobby – that criticizing Israel and its lobbyists causes offense.

But that is inevitable when research challenges popular assumptions or questions systems of power. Universities either support academic research and where it leads, or they do not.

Miller noted that the lobby’s success would encourage it to “redouble it efforts” to campaign for other academics to be dismissed.

Despite its weasel statement, Bristol has shown it has absolutely no commitment to academic freedom. The danger now is that few other British universities will stand up for that principle either.

• First published in Mondoweiss

The post After success against Corbyn, Israel lobby ousts UK scholar first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Banning Books is just One Form of Closed Mindedness, Close Democracy

Note: I try and keep the plates spinning in Newport-Lincoln County, where I live, write and work. So, this piece came out in the rag, The Newport News Times, a Wednesday and Friday newspaper sucking wind for sure, but still, a newspaper. This is what the community standards can take, so after this piece, I’ll comment, take out the machetes, and blaze through what it really means, Banning Books (ideas/curricula/discussion/debate/protest/public displays/thinking) . 

Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us. American Library Association. ala.org/bbooks

Banning Books – An American Tradition that Should be Stopped

site-logo I cut my teeth in El Paso as a graduate TA teaching English – writing, composition, remedial reading, literature – in the early 1980s. That’s when librarians were robust, gutsy and on the front lines of free speech. They helped develop library materials and organize talks around Banned Books Week (September 26 – October 2).

I also peddled stories and books as a fiction writer, and I was the Sunday book reviewer for the El Paso Times. My raison d’être was to make sure my writing and everyone else’s was made available to me, my students and my colleagues.

Throughout the next forty years, I’ve headed up talks and readings celebrating diverse voices and works from people outside the Eurocentric dominant force in our traditional K12 and higher education arenas. Books by Caribbean, Mexican, South American, Central American, Native American, Iranian or Ethiopian writers were not just curiosities. For many of my students, reading Sandra Cisneros, Edwidge Danticat, Sherman Alexie or Zora Neal Hurston created a deep and long-lasting interest in their own cultures, in education, in lifelong reading and in bringing into focus the power of their own identifies reflected in others’ writing.

This year’s banned book week is tantamount to motivating as many people as possible to understand active and passive censorship.

There are entire lists of books removed from high school libraries. There are all kinds of books that are targets of school boards, parents groups, religious groups and political advocacy committees. As a writer, I know my published words are not always appreciated by a variety of readers. I write with many hats on, and in that capacity, I am able to cross the Rubicon many times: from poetry, to fiction, to essays, to polemics, to blogs, to traditional journalism, and more.

I’ve faced down bigotry and hate for books I have put on my syllabi. I have had people walk out of my readings and those of more important people like Winona LaDuke or Tim O’Brien. Walking out is one’s right, and so are bigoted diatribes.

However, stopping the publication of books and demanding books be  removed is not a right. I was teaching at a state community college in Washington when I faced a student who demanded I give her an alternative text for – The Fight Club. Ironically, we looked at various themes in that book, and the writer, Chuck Palahniuk, was coming to town and opening himself up to talking with my students.

That English class included other books that got under the skin of other students and/or their parents (mind you, this was a college class, not a religious school). Bringing writers to campus and having students read their books is part and parcel what educators must do to open minds and create critical thinking.

College deans, department heads, provosts and even presidents must protect that right of freedom to read.

Yes, students in high school have a right to have a history teacher assign Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States. Or a film teacher has a right to assign her under-18-year-old students, I Am Not Your Negro and Exterminate All the Brutes to delve into filmmaker Raoul Peck’s work.

Reading Fahrenheit 451 and then comparing Raymond Bradbury’s work to François Truffaut’s 1966 version or the 2018 adaptation directed by Ramin Bahrani is vital to learning. Today, cancel culture rests in identarian politics.

Misinformation campaigns around the 1619 Project or what “critical race theory” are ongoing.  This muddies the water of opening up critical thinking skills for both educators and students.

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman posits the future would look similar to the one depicted in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, Brave New World. Postman explains that the only way to avoid this fate is to see and question what we’re seeing rather than blindly trusting the media.

Others predict a world unfolding closer to 1984, the George Orwell’s classic. Others might choose to riff with and analyze Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale. All those books have been put on some school district’s banned book list: driven by a fervor seated in xenophobia, lack of understanding of what literature is, and deeply held conservative beliefs.

Cancelling out books is akin to burning them. We all know where that led the world. This year’s theme — “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”

+–+

All right, then, end of the Op-Ed for the newspaper that is in a pretty typically odd community, though Newport does have that “dichotomy”: lots of professors and researchers at the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Sciences center, and the NOAA team posted here, and, those people from Oregon who have a few college degrees who ended up with summer homes here, now turned into full-time homes AND then the service economy, the logging industry, the fishing industry. You have to look at that, too, which is the divide in America, partially self-directed, and certainly directed by the elites, the billionaire class, the military-media-propaganda overlords.

When you see red vs blue, when you see cultural wars and the religious zealotry of the Christians, and when you have K12 so flagged and flogged, so vapid of real learning, real community- based learning, real critical thinking, then we get these divides. And, while the beautiful people, the managerial class, those in the upper income brackets far away from us, in the 80 Percent, well, they may have some Buddhist retreat or outward bound or special science camp to send their young ones, the reality is they especially, and those of us in the 80 percent, have adults and then youth and then each new brood epigenetically forced into sheeplehood and ignorance of who the enemy is, as Ralph Nader put down here:

 

If you think elementary, middle, and high school students know too little history, geography, and government, try asking them about the corporations that command so many hours of their day, their attention, what they consume, and their personal horizons.

 

Howard Zinn published A Young People’s History of the United States (2009), to go with his best-selling pioneering work, A People’s History of the United States (1980), but he didn’t do justice to all the modern corporate controls of just about every facet of American life, including educational institutions.

 

Today, school children are engulfed by corporate apps and software, textbooks biased toward the corporate definitions of an economy, and myths about “free markets.” For years free school materials and videos produced or sponsored by business groups, including the coal and nuclear industries, have flooded elementary classes. Our report: Hucksters in the Classroom: A Review of Industry Propaganda in Schools by Sheila Harty (1979), documented this mercantile assault on education. Students even take tests designed by corporate institutions. (DV– “Teach Youngsters about Corporatism’s Harms”)

 

Yes, this lack of disclosure and exposure around how curricula and school junk and colleges and university endowments are predicated on what the rich, the powerful, the gigantic, the corporations, the MIC want included and not included in teaching, books, materials, etc., it might even been worse than that.

To the left of this piece is a list of DV-recommended books. I’ve read many, and I’ve written two of them. Few people I know, however, read books, and those they do, are insipidly bad, soap opera porn, feel good and how to do/be/see/eat/cook/make money books.

Fiction, and hardcore deeply researched and lived books on China, on Mexico, on all those countries that are shit-holes in the eyes of Biden/Trump/Lesser Evils, they aren’t read by the so-called managers of democracy, the administration, the honchos-as appointed to all those governmental positions. The books aren’t read by the generals or the CEOs.

The books on really the core of the problems globally and locally are not read by the people who need to be taken to the woodshed for a real tutelage of the mind by the people who live in, say, North Korea, and know the language and have books with 80 pages works cited and endnotes.

The Zuckerberg, the USA Today, the ticker-tape of Fox-UnNews and CNN (Clinton/CIA UnNews Network) and then all the followers in media looking for less gray, fewer second and third page jumps, they are part of the problem of killing knowledge, curiosity, deep thinking and robust public arena smart dialogue.

Echo chambers, sure, the have always been there, especially if you end up in groups like the Chamber of Commerce or any group that pushes a group-think and allegiance to a narrow (usually pro Capitalist/pro Business/pro USA/ pro Empire mentality.

It only gets worse, this banned books concept. The reality is that the Newport News Times would NEVER run a piece, a long one, on people (let’s give them degrees and long titles and decent worldviews) who might be looking into lockdowns, the legality of lockdwons/lockups, the origin of DARPA jabs, the history of USA bio-poison-toxin weaponry research). NEVER.

Putting my byline on that too, as a journalist, would subject me to threats, death threats, deplatforming, and probably termination. I’d not get gigs teaching (there are not many) at the local community college. Even if I wrote the piece as traditional long-form journalism, pulling in too-man-to-count experts on virology, on vaccines, on medical procedures, on the history and politics of medicine and bioweaponry research and the illegal doings of the Big Pharma. Nope.

So, that is a form of banned books, vis-a-vis the gatekeepers, those community standards, all those aspects of Edward Bernays and Josef Goebbels concocted 9 Forms of propaganda, the one that marketers really utilize, BandWagon. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-11.png

I’ll list more of those techniques below. But, again, it is what isn’t taught, what isn’t allowed, what isn’t debated, what isn’t filmed/acted/written about that is what signifies as a ban. Think of all the books that were written, and alas, those are now gone, gone, gone.

The person who controls the spigot, the information channels, the medium for the messages, controls the narrative. Having Americans unlearn all the bad things, all the insipidly racist, retrograde, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-people of color shit that comes across the desks of teachers, educational planners, curriculum designers and then into the folders and Google Chromebooks, that is a huge task.

Bad habits die hard, or long.

We need a 12-step program for re-centering this generation so they can breed the next and they the next of real thinkers. And I am not just come fly on the wall, or Pollyanna. I have fought hard in the colleges and universities and newsrooms and social work domains for a real sense of social justice, but also deep knowledge based thinking, and what I have come across is the dumb-downing of everything.

Sure, we can listen to Henry Giroux and Chris Hedges, but again, they’re two elites in their fields (millionaires with a small “m”). They never interview or have on their shows lesser known or unknown people on who might set the record straight.

While Hedges goes after/attacks the celebrity culture, he is still colonized by it in some form, always going to the person with laurels and with titles and books.

Yes, this a good interview, but I guarantee few like me will watch is, and the elites will never watch it:

Then, sure, Giroux and Hedges get to some facts, but again, they go for the Republican Party and the Conservatives and Rightwing Racists as their whipping posts.

They are far from knowledgeable around how poorly placed those Democrats are, those mandate fuckers, all those incredibly bad nightmarish Democratic Governors are.

 

CH: Welcome to On Contact.  Today, we discuss the age of manufactured ignorance with the scholar, Henry Giroux.

HG: Power, when it’s invisible, becomes all the more powerful, to use that term.  But I think there are two issues here for me about neoliberalism in relation to your question, that are really central.  One is it operates off the assumption that there’s no such thing as social problems, that there are only individual problems.  And this notion that we’re ultimately and individually responsible for everything that happens to us literally depoliticizes people because it makes incapable of translating private issues into larger, systemic considerations.  So there’s this question of this really putrid notion of market-based individuals, and this inability to translate and bring together, and connect issues that would give people a full understanding of the world in which they live in, what they may be able to do about it.  Particularly as it affects their everyday lives.

 

Show:

Yes, so much more could be written about what isn’t in the curriculum, how British Petroleum (BP, the new marketing tool after the blowout of millions of gallons of crude in the Gulf of Mexico — Deep Horizon, anyone?) designed the geology and other sciences curriculum in California. Monsanto gives money to Washington State University, so you think those departments are going to have an easy time of challenge Round-up and GMOs?

Come on — I was in Spokane, wrote about this stupidity, and alas, this is a form of censorship that takes place and never makes the news like Michael Pollan did:

A book chosen by a Washington State University committee as appropriate food for thought for all incoming freshmen will not be distributed at summer orientation after a member of the board of regents raised concerns about the work’s focus on problems associated with agribusiness.

WSU’s president said the decision to halt the “common reading” program was related to the university’s financial crisis.

In “Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals,” author Michael Pollan discusses the social, political, moral and environmental implications of the food people eat.

A selection committee picked the book for this year’s WSU common reading program, which provides freshmen with a work that crosses academic disciplines and can be incorporated into study throughout the year. (source

UPDATE: Washington State University reinstates freshman reading of ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’

Imagine, all those books taken off the shelves of public libraries. This is not just a ban To Kill a Mockingbird moment. 

This is not silly, either, and Banned Books week does what it does, for sure, but, again, would Ward Churchill be invited to campus to read from one of his books, or the essay that got him un-tenured? 

…what I think we’re witnessing fifty years on is consolidation of precisely the kind of entity extolled by then-U/Cal Berkeley president Clark Kerr in his 1963 book, The Uses of the University. For those unfamiliar with the tract, Kerr likened what he preferred to call “multiversities” to governmentally/corporately-owned factories—albeit, “knowledge factories”—wherein managers such as himself employed to oversee a worker force—the faculty—whose job it was to convert raw material—that is, students—into the finished product or products desired by the owners, all with maximal efficiency. Sound familiar?  (Churchill

Conservative professor: Ward Churchill firing a travesty – Colorado Daily

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019
View the Censorship by the Numbers infographic for 2019

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Of the 566 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

George by Alex Gino

Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller

Reasons: challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth

Reasons: challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis

Reasons: challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

Reasons: challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Reasons: banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Reasons: banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole

Reason: challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content

And so it goes. Imagine all the ideas stopped and flailed and all the books never written but should have been written. Imagine all the ignorance peddled by marketers, publishers, media, government, corporations. Imagine all the harm done with these lies. Wars and genocide, started and perpetrated because of knowledge and thinking bans. You think Turkey wants the Armenian Genocide in their k12 history books. Israel and the Nakba in their books? The Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanjing in those Japanese books? Right!

Planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence used to be taught by yours truly around the consumer/retail war, the Story of Stuff. Planned and perceived obsolescence is now really agnotology, and the erasing of people, the caste systems being set loose and the Fourth Industrial Digital Gulag Revolution. No little newspaper like the one in my county will deal with these topics. Why should it when the reality is giant schools like WSU try a ban, or the papers of record, the big ones, throughout the land, to include the NYT and WaPo are in so many ways rotten to the core, in the service of the Military Congressional Industrial Complex and the billionaires and giant corporations. 

Onward, to the propaganda, those Mad Men/Mad Women and the USA and EU and Capitalists Murder Incorporated!

 

 

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