Category Archives: Language

No thanks, Thanksgiving . . . National Day of Sorrow . . . Mourning

Yep, a broken record, or to update that, another one of a million cries in the dark digital dungeon to relearn history, and unlearn the rotten past. I have been looking at the Reclaiming the Sacred since I met Winona LaDuke decades ago. That’s a whole other story.

But it doesn’t matter, especially in a time of Branch Covidians and the Trump-Biden-Obama-Clinton-Bush-Carter-Nixon-Ford-LBJ Days of Wine and Roses. Full of military industrial complex disease, and forget about American Indian Movement or Joan Baez or Leonard Peltier or even that guy, Marlon Brando.

Forget about the PhDs and MDs and leaders and elders alive today from the many diverse tribes of Turtle Island.

Retail, and weepy, “Oh, cherish the time, the Thanksgiving, with family, oh cherish these holiday days with family gathered around the consumer kitchen and the fine eye for a deal tables. A day of pulling out all the paper and digital flyers to see where old Saint Nick will be going FRIDAY.”

Even lowly Time Magazine, tries to grapple with something tied to the 1863 start of Thanksgiving: “What Thanksgiving Means Today to the Native American Tribe That Fed the Pilgrims.”

I personally think that it’s just another reminder of all the horrible things that this nation has done to not only us, but all native people,” the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, 29 year-old Brian Weeden tells TIME of that “first” Thanksgiving, adding that he and his tribe feel largely forgotten. Courtesy of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

That is 2021, November, in Time Magazine, the lede, as they say. We’ll see what the Matt Taibbi sorts, or Carlson types, or Trump lovers, or even all those on the Blue side of racism have to say, do, and how to act on Thanksgiving. Because, alas, as the Catholic Church is begrudgingly paying out for abuse in places like France, the rest of the white organized criminal-religious enterprises will be wringing their hands, but not righting the wrongs. Disappeared Indigenous here, everywhere. That Church, in Canada, and those graves. What a tip to the genocide iceberg.

Note what Brian Weeden says in the next citation:

For this nation to right a lot of their wrongs, they’re gonna have to own up to their racism, which they don’t want to do.

Oh, the theater is set — presidential pardon for a Tom Turkey, and the homilies by Biden and Jill, the perennial kindergarten teacher who is a college faculty member (so many of them, democrats, and white women like Jill Biden are in the end, wannabe Special Ed teachers, but in the classrooms of college students!). Yeah, Kyle Rittenhouse is with Donald LLC Trump, not putting on the Black Face this time, but in the skin of their old favorite team, The Washington Redskins. White psychopath kid is being wined and dined by white psychopath geriatric. The irony, well, there is none. Kyle will get a cherished Washington pro team war bonnet. Manufactured and assembled in, well, of course, China.

See the source image

The optics are amazing, and right on line for 2024, for sure. This kid (above) has a job in the Trump LLC Republican Party juggernaut. To-Be-Sure!! And, they are having a great good white ugly boy-man time. Imagine the potential for an SUV, with Trump 2024 stickers on the bumpers and Stars and Bars noose flags on the double antennae, going for a group of protestors like these:

See the source image

Yet, we still have those Nazi types, pulling from their book of sayings — this in response to my op-ed in the local conservative rag acknowledging National Native American Heritage Month — at DV, “Another Genocide Month: Plying the Ignorance of K12, USA Lower/Higher Ed.” I’ll quote this Lincoln County fellow, here:

By all means, let’s teach history in its fullness of truth, as we ourselves learn and free ourselves from bias. The basic fact is, Stone Age tribes were crushed by more advanced and more powerful tribes, and we’re all still dealing with the outcome of the shattering of those societies.

The fact is, genocide was sporadic and not generally practiced or effective. Displacement and an often cruel paternalism was the rule. The pre-Columbus Americas were not a rustic paradise.

These were societies with their own particular pluses and minuses. When we teach the revised histories now, may it be said that among Northwest tribes, at potlatch gatherings, a rich chief might kill one or two slaves, just to demonstrate his immense wealth? (Something like the modern cliché of a rich businessman lighting his cigar with a $50 bill.) May we say that in the Four Corners area of the Southwest, villages raided other villages, killing and sometimes cannibalizing their victims? That the Aztec gods demanded bloody sacrifice of thousands of captives each year, and that the victims were cannibalized? That scalping existed in southwest and eastern North America before the entry of white settlers?”

That is the old canard, the old Mel Gibson fun in his Maya-land Holly-Dirt lies. Oh, just teach the youth ALL of each and every detail, no? Thank goodness we have this response to my article in the Newport News Times:

I appreciated Paul Haeder’s commentary (“Native American Heritage Month”) in the News-Times’ Nov. 12 “Viewpoint” on the Opinion page. I agree, our education system has not provided a very accurate view of Native American history in this country. In the early ’70s, I read Vine Deloria’s Custer Died For Your Sins. This book gave me a new historical perspective of Native American history, written by a Native American.

The Oregon public school system would benefit from exposing its teachers to the history of the Siletz Tribe of Western Oregon. It is available in the book The People Are Dancing Again, by Charles Wilkinson. I suggest that reading parts of this history should be required reading for Oregon high school students. As Oregonians, we should have at least a basic understanding of the history of what the Native Americans experienced when westward expansion crossed the Cascade Mountains.

As a resident of Lincoln County, I often read of how the Siletz Tribe gives back to this community, donating hundreds of thousand of dollars to coastal social programs. The Siletz and other tribes are writing their own history. They are alive and well, going forward, and we should celebrate that.

The writer is referencing the staid short piece I did for the News Times — “Native American Heritage Month.” This is the caliber of the responses on both sides of the historical line. Talking about the sacred sites is important, and recovering the sacred, is the only way to bring these sites into the mindset of youth after youth. Vine:

Standing on Sacred Ground: The four-part film.

A Lakota Sioux, Vine Deloria, Jr. is one of the most outspoken figures in Native American affairs. His works promote Native American cultural nationalism and a greater understanding of Native American history and philosophy. In his work, Deloria fights prejudice against American Indians while addressing current issues, such as political and treaty rights. He is also concerned with the struggle between a religious view of life and the secularization that science and industry promote. He warns that people need to re-evaluate their stance to planet earth or humans may be one of the few species that has permanently ruined their habitat.

“In a time of global turmoil, our planet needs the wisdom of people who remain one with their land. The Sacred Land Film Project gives voice to guardians of sacred sites around the world, offering hope for a new path forward.”

    —Peter Matthiessen

He talks about how the Indian names are tied to bears — bears all over the plains, mountains, valleys. Bears are part of healing and prophecy. So are buffalo. Listen to him in the latter part of the talk above.

So, this Biden, yaks about “I stand with Mashpee” during his failed campaign for his failed presidency in 2020. It’s all political theater, which is a nice term for bold faced lies, and there are plenty of lies tied to Native Americans, at contact, and during those crazy fictional writings called Thanksgiving.

This May 16, Weeden became the youngest person elected chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag, a tribe of 2,600 enrolled citizens. This tribal center is in Mashpee, Massachusetts. He and his tribe believe the biggest issue any tribe faces today— is land, holding onto it, getting it back.

I think that a lot of politicians say whatever they want to say to get elected. When they get there, it’s a whole different story. I was [part of the] White House Tribal Nations summit, and there really weren’t a lot of opportunities for leadership to address the administration. To add insult to injury, he’s going to be in Wampanoag territory on [Thanksgiving]—the supposed holiday that we don’t celebrate.

Oh Biden, part of that Inquisition:

President Joe Biden said Pope Francis told him he should 'keep receiving communion' - masslive.com

Or, some days, he’s Jewish:

Biden condemns Israel over homes plan | Israel | The Guardian

Or, is he that Redskin guy?

On Monday night, CNN aired Fight for the White House: Joe Biden’s Long Journey, a special program on the Democratic nominee’s career that included a popular photograph of Biden and one of his sons at what looks like a sports stadium (it’s not clear whether the son pictured is Hunter or Beau, who died in 2015). In the original photograph, which Biden himself posted on social media earlier this year, the kid pictured is wearing a maroon hat with the logo of the Washington football team which, until recently, used the Native American slur “Redskins” for its name. In the image that CNN includes in its documentary, the team logo has been entirely removed.

Photograph via Joe Biden on Facebook.
Screenshot via CNN.

That is it in a nutshell, no? America whitewashing everything, even their own white washing.

Here, ending with the Time Magazine article:

Time: What’s the biggest issue the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is currently facing?

29 year-old Brian Weeden: The biggest issues facing the Mashpee tribe right now are with our land, the health and general welfare of our tribal citizens, and climate change and environmental impacts. We were fine living off the land; we were smart people to the point where we knew how to navigate this world. Had people listened to us, I don’t think we’d be in the situation that we are in with global warming and everything else. But I think the biggest [singular] struggle right now for our tribe is our struggle with the federal government, which has been a battle for over 400 years.

The post No thanks, Thanksgiving . . . National Day of Sorrow . . . Mourning first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Collusion: The End of Nature, Brought to us by Zoom

The only way to break through a totalitarian (lite) thinking is to continue using blunt force, or airy force, to expose this massive experiment in turning Americans into screen dwellers. The new ghetto is the screen.

The lockdown might be lifted, physically, for the Covdians, but in the minds of these people, the world is now shifting to the high tech, fiber optic, 5G/6G satellite-directed world.

Imagine this event, on the ecosystems of my area, now, a virtual event. It is embarrassing that science-minded people want public and community participation over zoom. No depth to why it has to be “virtual,” and no apologies for being so dense.

Or, are they dense? Are they loving this hybrid, virtual, remote work mentality? You know, I was just interviewed by the State of Oregon for a state job. The thing was on Zoom, and there were three there and me here. One question was around “how would you make virtual meetings and intakes more engaging . . . . ?” This is the new normal, alas, and this huge shift of bricks and mortar life, into the AI void, and with these huge (massive) transfers of trillions to a very few felons of the elite class, these scientists who have grants and faculty positions and tenure, they will not lead the way anywhere.

And their world is all fancy web-based crap, like cool photos, imaginary graphics, all compressed and collected to make people say, “Oh, isn’t it wonderful how wonderful the scientists working in the wonderful natural world are!!’

 

In this Greta-and-Company-Can-Fly-to-GLasgow-to-Protest-Their-Governments’-Fossil-Fuel-Lunacy, many people I know are so happy now that Zoom is a fixture in their lives, and that they do not have to brave the Highway 101, or the weather, or the climate warnings. These people who might be interested in ecology and marine preserves and environmental policy are usually on the left trough of the manure pile of politics called Democrats. They are, of course, the new Brown Shirts, but call them Green Shirts, or Zoom Shirts. Their world, and the one they are ushering in since youth, have no say in how things SHOULD be run. It is not a real world, but one that is full of maps and podcasts and TED Talks and faux interactive chats and Zooms:

We are talking about 14 square miles designated as a marine reserve. Then some overflow for seabird protection area. This is, again, embarrassing. There is an interpretive center at Cape Perpetua, one that I have been at for in-person events. There are parking spaces. There are so many ways these great thinkers and planners could have organized an in-person event, even with their defective masks and asinine social distancing. That, my friends, will not happen. More and more youth are getting more and more skills with the mouse, the CAD programs, with Publisher and Photoshop. Their world is a world where billionaires own everything, and living in a van with full bed, TV, running water, hell, that is what youth are going to be having to accept as more and more dictatorial thinkers run the world, run events, run programs and educational frameworks.

Between Florence and Yachats lies the Cape Perpetua area, a biodiverse recreation mecca home to lush coastal rainforests and deep cultural history. But past the coastline also lies the largest Oregon marine reserve. The Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve is dedicated to the research and conservation of ocean ecosystem, where take of wildlife and human development is restricted. Cape Perpetua area also contains two Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and a seabird protection area. Unlike the reserve, these protected areas allow limited take in their boundaries.

Within the reserve, creatures large and small live in various habitats from sand, gravel, to some of the most biologically diverse rocky intertidal habitats anywhere on the Pacific Northwest. These creatures live in a unique ecosystem shaped by the ever-changing weather and tides. Some days, strong winds will pull cold, oxygen-rich water and plankton up to the surface in a process called upwelling, while on other, more stagnant days, the water loses its oxygen and becomes hypoxic.

Because of its dynamic environment, the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve is home to a plethora of wildlife such as whales, sea lions, seals, pelicans, cormorants, rockfish, and intertidal invertebrates that fuel a complex food web between the land and sea. (source)

It’s a fear pogrom that is both sophisticated beyond Big Brother, and yet, right to the primary brain center of reptilian stupidity and violence.

Here, Edward Curtain over at Dissident Voice, covers this fear, this divide, etc. Source.

Edward Curtin returns to discuss deep politics and what links the assassination of JFK, 9/11, and Covid-19. No president since Kennedy has dared to buck the Military-Industrial-Complex, including Trump, who is part of the same system that produced both Obama and Biden. He discusses the 1967 CIA memo which told mainstream media to use the disparaging term “conspiracy theory” to quell all deviation from the official narrative, and how this propaganda technique has continued to function from JFK to 9/11 to Covid-19. Many of the same actors involved in the MIC and 9/11 continue to be involved with the drug companies, CDC, WEF, WHO, Gates Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. It’s very obvious, but the story is so frightening people don’t want to do any homework. Too many people think there is this war going on between the right and the left, in the larger frame of reference there is no difference, it’s the warfare state against the regular people, the rich versus the poor. The 4IR is an effort for total political and economic control of peoples all over the world. He believes the purpose of the vaccine mandate is for political control. Ultimately, we are in a spiritual war. The Geopolitics & Empire Podcast conducts interviews with high-profile guests on geopolitics and international affairs seeking to gain insight from experts on both the left and the right as to the true nature of current events. Read other articles by Geopolitics & Empire, or visit Geopolitics & Empire’s website.

The tricksters are at it and have been for decades. The worker — that is teachers and faculty, too, especially — is the enemy. The students are the enemy. So many billions pumped into studying the brain, psychology, neurosciences, behavioral psychiatry, etc. I saw this in 1983 when I was a graduate student, teaching college English. Some of these long in the tooth folk, who want their Vermont or Hawaii lives, but still be the teacher of record for our campus, UT-El Paso. That’s Texas, and already in the 1980s these folk wanted hybrid classes, on-line. Imagine that, critical thinking and debating writing classes, on line! Before ZOOM.

Oh, big companies would “give” laptops to workers — Ford, IBM, HP — not as gifts, but to extract MORE work out of the 40 hour week, and that is now 50 or 60 hours. That is, well, the beginning of technology destroying every aspect of our real selves.

Now, community colleges are up shit creek, pre-planned-demic, but now, too. Imagine, more and more pieces of the state budget pie reduced for Podunk community colleges — vital places of not just learning, but community events, incubators of thinking, and connections to much more than just academia. So, more and more raised tuitions, more and more part-time faculty hired, more and more hybrid classes, and now, the Zoom Doom. Imagine, one teacher on Zoom running a class of 80, 90? This is the new normal — kill the person.

The online option seems to work for all kinds of students. When the financial-aid team returned to campus in August, Bohanon opened up her schedule for in-person appointments. For the first week, no one registered to see her. She told her supervisor she wanted to add online appointments again, and reserved 8 a.m. to noon for online and the rest of the day for in-person walk-ins. “In the morning when I come in — full,” she says. Afternoon? Nothing.” Now her schedule is full every day, but all her appointments are virtual.

The push-and-pull between in-person and online courses continues for students at Southwest, but it may be starting to shift toward the latter. One of the pieces of conventional wisdom about community colleges during the pandemic is that students often dislike or fear online learning — a refrain repeated often at Southwest. But more than a year and a half after colleges transitioned to large-scale distance learning, many of the students at Southwest who persisted have begun to favor online sections over the nearly 40 percent of courses being taught in person.

Rebuild? Time for a revolution inside K12 and higher education. Regroup? Revolt neoliberalism and illiberalism and the constant attack on education. Or, attack on schooling. Constant attack on learning! These so-called leaders have collapsed, and they have crawled under their retirement accounts, and they are seeing-hearing-speaking no evil. This is the Chronicle of Higher Education, a very retrograde, conservative, cover-their-asses-rag!

The new normal is being accepted by the masses, but the mealy mouthed academics and those on the peripheral of academia are coming out like flies on shit:

Southwest and other community colleges may just have to wait out Covid. Even if the virus doesn’t completely go away, the risks may get lower and people may become more accustomed to living with it. “I really think that’s going to be the biggest thing, is time,” Brown says, “and people feeling it’s safe to completely return to, we won’t call it normal, but like the new normal.”

If there’s one thing community colleges should not do, says Eddy, of William & Mary, it’s go back to normal. “It would be a mistake to think, I just need to wait this out to come to a time where we’re going to have more openness,” she says. After a decade of gradually declining enrollments, the pandemic has brought community colleges to an inflection point where they have a chance to — may even be impelled to — make some changes, many perhaps overdue.

Read the article, and look between the lines. These people are stating that the planned pandemic made virtual learning more onerous because students didn’t have laptops and Wi-Fi, and didn’t know what a JPEG or PDF were. Oh, you get it, don’t you? Get those students free (US taxpayer paid for) computers and free (US taxpayer paid for) Wi-Fi. Bootcamps for Microsoft Office 10.0 Adobe workshops. Get those students to be on-line warriors. Take it, and you can’t leave it or you will be cancelled from society.

And this all goes back to the Zoom event, about Cape Perpetua, about 12 miles from where I live, via Highway 101. You think there will be regard for people who want trails for hiking, trails for biking, rivers for kayaking? You think that the overlords want to have us out in nature, out along highways and by-ways? These overlords want to own the world, the land, the forests, the farms, all of it, and they want security, and they want no trespassing, and they want no by-standers and witnesses.

The scientists just take it, because that’s what mechanistic folk do — strip away the A from STEAM — Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math.

This is the motherfucker, the mentality, the demented thought process, and the messed up media, all the brainwashed fuckers of the world, in a nutshell:

“I Don’t Think We Should Ever Shake Hands Again.” Dr. Fauci Says Coronavirus Should Change Some Behaviors for Good

These are madmen:

Madman and madwoman —

Joe Biden CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Takes Over Institution in Crisis - Bloomberg

Terrorists and war criminals —

World Economic Forum: a history and analysis | Transnational Institute

Billionaires ‘R Us —

Davos 2020: What is the World Economic Forum and is it elitist? - BBC News

This is it, man, the last frontier — education! Covid car, online programs, internet-access solutions. If you read this site, The Chronicle of Higher Education, there is not pushback, no discussion of the 4IR, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Oh, the senseless stupidity of it all, the Covid Van.

MahoneyCar-1109.jpg
The post Collusion: The End of Nature, Brought to us by Zoom first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Masquerade

They didn’t act like people and they didn’t act like actors. It’s hard to explain.

—  J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1951

There’s a reason that Catcher in the Rye, published 70 years ago, has become such an iconic book, praised and condemned in equal measure. It is because it is about lying, phoniness, acting, Hollywood, theater, plagiarism, and at its core, a society of liars. Actors in a masquerade willing to don masks and face other faces with the veiled glances of the defeated. It is about the massive social confusion that entered American life in an intense way following World War II, a world of propaganda and performance.  Although the book seems to be directed at adolescents, it is for adults, and while annoying many of them with its adolescent lingo, it cuts to the heart of our current life-the-movie society. Adults have become kids, and Holden Caulfield knew that they would. Or were. Maybe he wanted it. We now live in a society of costumed children, asking to be tricked.

“If you want to know the truth,” Holden keeps repeating, knowing that most people don’t, since they prefer the Show.

It is also a fall book with echoes of falling leaves in a dying land.  Football and war, Halloween and all souls drifting down in the crepuscular light of late October and the coming November remembrance of Veteran’s Day, once called Armistice Day, when the mad slow action film of WW I, the war to end all wars with millions dead in rat infested trenches, is commemorated, as if anything has changed and such memories are not secret celebrations of the heroic sacrifices the gullible make for their masters.  War is a racket; the ultimate racket.

Liam Clancy reminds us of this truth regarding the “Great” War and all the others that have followed. Millions of deaths brought on by lying government bastards.  Actors in the mass masquerade.

But it goes deeper than lying leaders. For lying is the leading cause of living death in the USA, and the pharmaceutical companies have no prescription for it. If they did, and if they cared, which they don’t, they would have manufactured such a drug long ago. It would have killed them of course, but since their business is profits not suicide, they don their masks of solicitude and bank the spoils, while producing poison to shoot people with.

The great English writer, D.H. Lawrence, warned us long ago to not let the living-dead eat us up. Yet we are still being devoured by a refusal that knows no name since it is not just them but us – victims and executioners, both in a mutual deadly game.

Death is a big hit, as everyone knows. It fascinates far more than does life. One glance at the mass media will confirm that.  Fear, death, and disaster are the daily menu, interspersed with kitsch uplift. Propaganda feeds on it. Up down all around spin that wheel and rattle your brains.

But the ghosts of fall remind us to beware of this necrophilia.  The dead return and wander among us, masked children wandering through the streets looking for handouts. Adults laughing those tight grim laughs. How cute!

Nietzsche said that “all things are entangled, ensnared, and enamored.” I find this especially true during the autumnal season, especially the Halloween weekend of ghosts, death, and masks. It is enchanting and disturbing if you give it thought. Its symbolism explains the Covid propaganda and panic more than a thousand factual articles. It explains the warfare state and adults’ refusal to defiantly oppose it. It explains the nihilistic underpinning of society and children’s fears and wishes to use a magic wand to change the world to one that celebrates life not death. That is the true treat that their unconscious playacting requests. But the candy the adults give them conceals the poison the adults can’t face.  The poison that they have ingested.

I think of how all persons are, by definition, masked, the word person being derived from the Latin, persona, meaning mask. Another Latin word, larva, occurs to me, it too meaning mask, ghost, or evil spirit. The living masks light up for me as I think of ghosts, the dead, all the souls and spirits circulating through our days, swirling like dead leaves in the wind.

While etymology might seem arcane, I think it offers us a portal into our lives, not just personally, but politically and culturally as well. Word usage is at the heart of linguistic mind control, and we are in a world where the minders of the public’s mind have become adept at fashioning language to their devious ends. Orwell predicted this in Nineteen Eighty-Four with his explanation of Newsspeak:

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought – that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc – should be literally unthinkable, at least as far as thought is dependent on words.

A quick check of the latest dictionary updates will corroborate Orwell’s point about the future dictionary when Newspeak has been fully established, the meaning of words will be so changed that anything can mean anything, even its opposite.

Shakespeare, the ultimate wordsmith, was right, of course, to tell us that “all the world’s a stage,” though I would disagree with the bard that we are “merely” players. It does often seem that way, but seeming is the essence of the actor’s show and tell. But who are we behind the masks?  Who is it uttering those words coming through the masks’ mouth holes (the per-sona: Latin, to sound through)?

Halloween. The children play at scaring and being scared. Death walks among them and they scream with glee. The play is on. The grim reaper walks up and down the street. Treats greet them. The costumes are ingenious; the masks, wild. It’s all great fun, the candy sweet. So what’s the trick?  When does the performance end?

As Halloween ends, the saints come marching in followed by all the souls. The Days of the Dead. Spirits. Ghosts walk the streets.  Dead leaves fall. The dead are everywhere, swirling through the air, drifting. We are surrounded by them. We are them. Until.

Until when? Perhaps not until we dead awaken and see through the charade of social life and realize the masked performers are not just the deadly politicians and celebrities, not only the professional actors and the corporate media performers, but us.

And while these days of the dead and children’s games can bring us to wonder whether we act like people or actors – “even if it’s hard to explain” – whether behind the double masks we realize we can be genuine actors if we go deep enough, the celebration of Veterans/Armistice/Remembrance Day a few days later should  emphatically remind us of the Masters of War and the need to see through their masks, as Bob Dylan tells us. The evil performers who “play with my world like it’s your little toy” with their endless lies.

Norman O. Brown so well describes our stage set:

Ancestral voices prophesying war; ancestral spirits in the danse macabre or war dance; Valhalla, ghostly warriors who kill each other and are reborn to fight again. All warfare is ghostly, every army an exercitus feralis (army of ghosts), every soldier a living corpse.

It seems to me that Albert Camus was right, and that we should aspire to be neither victims nor executioners. To do so will take a serious reevaluation of the roles we play in the ongoing national tragedy of lie piled upon lie in aggressive wars around the world and in election farces that perpetuate them. The leading actors we elect are our responsibility. We produce and maintain them. They are our mirror images; we are theirs. It is the danse macabre, a last tango in the land of bad actors, our two-faced show. This masquerade ball that passes for political reality is infiltrated by the ghosts of all those victims we have murdered around the wide world. We may choose not to see them, but they are lurking in the shadowy corners. And they will haunt us until we make amends.

“Do you not know there comes a midnight hour when everyone has to throw off his mask?” warned Kierkegaard: “Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? Do you think you can slip away a little before midnight in order to avoid this? Or are you not terrified by it?”1

“Whenever I take up a newspaper,” Ibsen added: “I seem to see ghosts sliding between the lines. There must be ghosts all the  country over, as thick as the sands of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light.

Yet the children and the eloquent voices of the genuine actors I have so liberally quoted here remind us of what is possible if we chase the light and stop the masquerade. That would be cause for a real holiday celebration.

  1. Soren Kieerkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life,  University bookshop Reitzel, Copenhagen, February 20, 1843.
The post The Masquerade first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Banners of the King of Hell Advance

Vexilla regis prodeunt Inferni

— Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: The Inferno

Try to look ahead and see if you can see what’s been coming for decades.  Try to climb higher and see the beautiful things that Heaven bears, where we came forth, and once more see the stars and raise a banner of resistance to the King of Hell and all his henchmen. For they are here, and working hard as usual, and indifference will only strengthen their resolve.  Don’t be deceived by these digital demons.  They want to make you think they don’t exist.  They wish to get you to suspend your disbelief and get lost in the endless looping movie they have created to conceal their real machinations.

For we are living in a world of endless propaganda and simulacra where vast numbers of people are hypnotized and can’t determine the difference between the real world of nature, the body, etc. and digital imagery.  Reality has disappeared into screens. Simulation has swallowed the distinction between the real world and its representations.  Meaning has migrated to the margins of consciousness. This process is not yet complete but getting there.

This may at first seem hyperbolic, but it is not.  I wish to explain this as simply as I can, which is not easy, but I will try.  I will attempt to be rational, while knowing rationality and the logic of facts can barely penetrate the logic of digital simulacra within which we presently exist to such a large extent.  Welcome to the New World Order and artificial intelligence which, if we do not soon wake up to their encroaching calamitous consequences, will result in a world where “we will never know” because our brains will have been reduced to mashed potatoes and nothing will make sense. The British documentary filmmaker, Adam Philips, has said in his recent film, Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World, that it’s already “pointless to try to understand the meaning of why things happen” and we will never know, but this is a nihilistic claim that leads to resigned hopelessness.  We must get such sentiments “out of our heads.”

We do not, of course, live in the middle ages like Dante.  Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to be beyond our ken.  Our imaginations have withered together with our grasp on reality.  Up/down, good/evil, war/peace – opposites have melded into symbiotic marriages.  Most people are ashamed, as the poet Czeslaw Milosz has said, to ask themselves certain questions that the seething infinity of modern relativity has bequeathed us.  Space and time have lost all dimensions; the experience of the collapse of hierarchical space and time is widespread.  For those who still call themselves religious believers like Dante, “when they fold their hands and lift up their eyes, ‘up’ no longer exists,” Milosz rightly says.  The map and the territory are one as all metaphysics are almost lost.  And with its loss go our ability to see the advancing banner of the king of hell, to grasp the nature of the battle for the soul of the world that is now underway.  Or if you prefer, the struggle for political control.

One thing is certain: This war for control must be fought on both the spiritual and political levels. The centuries’ long rise of technology and capitalism has resulted in the degradation of the human spirit and its lived sense of the sacred.  This must be reversed, as it has fundamentally led to the mechanistic embrace of determinism and the disbelief in freedom. Logical thought is necessary, but not mechanistic thought with the deification of reason.  Scientific insight is essential, but within its limitation.  The spiritual and artistic imagination that transcends materialist, machine thinking is needed now more than ever.  We emphatically need to realize that the subject precedes the object and consciousness the scientific method.  Only by realizing this will we be able to break free from the trap that is propaganda and digital simulacra, whose modi operandi are to dissolve the differences between truth and falsity, the imaginary and the real, facts and fiction, good and evil.   To play satanic circle games, create double-binds, whose intent and result is to imprison and confuse.

It is akin to asking what is the antonym to the word contronym, which is a word having two meanings that contradict each other, such as “cleave,” which means to cut in half or to stick together.  There are many such words.

“What is the opposite of a contronym?”  I asked my thirteen-year-old granddaughter, a great reader and writer raised far away from the madding crowd of flickering and looping electronic images.  To which, after thinking a few minutes, she correctly replied, “The antonym to a contronym is itself, because it has two opposite meanings. It contradicts itself.”

Or as Tweedledee told Alice: “Contrariwise, if it were so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t.  That’s logic.”

And that’s the logic used to trap a sleeping public in a collective  hallucination of media and machines.  A grand movie in which all “opposites” are integrated to tranquilize all anxieties and amuse all boredom so that the audience doesn’t realize there is a world outside the Wonderland theater.

A Place to Start

Let me begin with a little history, some fortieth anniversaries that are occurring this year.  In themselves, and even in their temporal juxtapositions, they mean little, but they give us a place to anchor our reflections.  A sense of time and the progression of developments that have led to widespread digital cognitive warfare and twisted simulations.  Widespread unreality rooted in materialist brain research financed by intelligence agencies.  Spectacles of spectacles.  As Guy Debord puts it in The Society of the Spectacle:

Where the real world changes into simple images, the simple images become real beings and effective motivations of hypnotic behavior.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the U.S. President.  He was a bad actor, of course, which meant he was a good actor (or the reverse of the reverse of the reverse…) in a society that was becoming increasingly theatrical, image based, and dominated by what Daniel Boorstin in his classic book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, had earlier termed “pseudo-events.”  Reagan was the personification of a pseudo-event, a walking illusion, a “benign” Orwellian persona presented to the public to conceal an evil agenda.  He was a masked man, one created by Deep-State forces to convince the public it was “morning in America again,” even as the banner of an avuncular good guy concealed, right from the start with the treacherous “October Surprise” involving the Iranian hostage crisis, an evil opening act to start the charade.  Reagan received overwhelming popular support and served two terms as the acting president.  The audience was enthralled. In crucial ways, his election marked the beginning of our descent into hell.

Halfway through his two terms, Gary Wills, In Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home, introduced Reagan as follows:

The geriatric ‘juvenile lead’ even as President, Ronald Reagan is old and young – an actor, but with only one role. Because he acts himself, we know he is authentic. A professional, he is always the amateur. He is the great American synecdoche, not only a part of our past but a large part of our multiple pasts. This is what makes many of the questions asked about him so pointless. Is he bright, shallow, complex, simple, instinctively shrewd, plain dumb? He is all these things and more. Synecdoche, just the Greek word for ‘sampling,’ and we all take a rich store of associations that have accumulated around the Reagan career and persona. He is just as simple, and just as mysterious, as our collective dreams and memories.

A few weeks after Reagan was sworn in, his newly named CIA Director William Casey (see Robert Parry’s book, Trick or Treason: The 1980 October Surprise Mystery), made a revealing comment at a meeting of the new cabinet appointees. Casey said, as overheard and recorded by Barbara Honegger who was present, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

Thirdly, in August of 1981, the French sociologist Jean Baudrillard published his seminal book, Simulacra and Simulation, in which he set out his theory of simulation where he claimed that a “hyperreal” simulated world was replacing the real world that once could be represented but not replaced.  He argued that this simulated world was generated by models of a real world that never existed and so people were living in “hyperreality,” or a totally fabricated reality.  This was a radical notion, and his claim at the time that this was already total was no doubt an exaggeration.  But that was then, not now.  Forty years have allowed his nightmarish theory to take on reality.  I will return to this subject later.

Technology and the Trap of the Machine Mass Mind

In his classic work, Propaganda, Jacques Ellul writes that “An analysis of propaganda therefore shows that it succeeds primarily because it corresponds exactly to a need of the masses…just two aspects of this: the need for explanation and the need for values, which both spring largely, but not entirely, from the promulgation of news.”  He wrote that in 1962 when news and world events were rapidly speeding up but were nowhere near as technologically frenzied as they are today.  Then there were radio, many newspapers, and a handful of television stations.  And yet, even in those days, as the sociologist C. Wright Mills said, the general public was confused and disoriented, liable to panic, and that information overwhelmed their capacity to assimilate it.  In The Sociological Imagination he wrote:

The very shaping of history now outpaces the ability of people to orient themselves in accordance with cherished values. And which values? Even when they do not panic, people often sense that older ways of feeling and thinking have collapsed and that newer beginnings are ambiguous to the point of moral stasis. Is it any wonder that   ordinary people feel they cannot cope with the larger worlds with which they are so suddenly confronted? That they cannot understand the meaning of their epoch for their own lives? That – in defense of selfhood – they become morally insensible, trying to remain altogether private individuals? Is it any wonder that they come to be possessed by a sense of the trap?

This trap has been progressively closing ever since.  To say this is false nostalgia for the good old days is intellectual claptrap. The evidence is overwhelming, and honest minds can see it clearly and a bit of self-reflection would reveal the inner wounds this development has caused.  There are various reasons for this: many intentional, others not: political machinations by the power elites, technological, cultural, religious developments, etc., all rooted in a similar way of thinking.  Whereas the wealthy elites have always controlled society, over the recent decades the growth in technological propaganda has increased exponentially. But the machines have been built upon a technical way of thinking that Ellul describes as ‘the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency in every field of human activity.” This way of thinking is the opposite of the organic, the human.  It is all about means without ends, self-generating means whose sole goal is efficiency.  Everything is now subordinated to technique, especially people.  He says:

From another point of view, however, the machine is deeply symptomatic: it represents the ideal toward which techniques strives.The machine is solely, exclusively technique; it is pure technique, one might say. For, wherever a technical factor exists, it results, almost inevitably, in mechanization: technique transforms everything it touches into a machine.

If only cell phones shocked the hands that touched them!

I think it is beyond dispute that this sense of entrapment and confusion with its concomitant widespread depression has increased dramatically over the decades and we have come to a dark, dark place.  Lost in a dark wood would be an understatement.  In the inferno would perhaps be more appropriate.

Who will be our Virgil to guide us through this hell we are creating and to show us where it is leading?

The massive use of psychotropic drugs for living problems is well known.  The sense of meaninglessness is widespread.  The shredding of social bonds with the journey into a vast digital dementia has resulted in panic and anxiety on a vast scale.  The fear of death and disease permeates the air as religious faith wanes.  People have been turned against each other as an hallucinatory cloak of propaganda has replaced reality with the black magic of digital incantations.

I remember how, in 1975, when I was teaching at a Massachusetts university and, sensing a vast unmet need in my students, I proposed a course called “The Sociology of Life, Death, and Meaning.”  My colleagues balked at the idea and I had to convince them it was worthwhile.  I sensed that the fear of death and a growing loss of meaning was increasing among young people (and the population at large) and it was my responsibility to try to address it.  My colleagues considered the subject not scientific enough, having been seduced by the positivist movement in sociology. When the enrollment for the course reached 220 plus, my point was made. The need was great.  But it was a small window of opportunity for such deep reflections, for by 1980 the Cowboy in the white hat had ridden into Washington and a rock star was enthroned in the Vatican and all was once again well with the world.  Delusory orthodoxy reigned again.  Until….

For the last forty-one years there has been a progressive dissolution of reality into a theatrical electronic spectacle, beginning with the push for computer generated globalization and continuing up to the latest cell phones.  Science, neuroscience, and technology have been deified.  Cognitive warfare has been waged against the public mind.  The intelligence agencies, war departments, and their accomplices throughout the corporations, media, Hollywood, medicine, and the universities have united to effect this end.  Neuroscience and medicine have been weaponized.  The objective being to convince the public that they are machines, their brains are computers, and that their only hope is embrace that “reality.”

After the actor Reagan rode off into the sunset, his Vice-President and former Director of the CIA (therefore a supreme actor), George H. W. Bush, took the reins and declared the decade of the 1990s the decade of brain research, to be heavily financed by the federal government. In 1992, boy wonder William Clinton, straight out of the fetid fields of Arkansas politics, was elected to carry on this work, not just the brain research but the continuous bombing of Iraq and the slaughters around the world, but also the work of dismantling welfare and repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, reuniting commercial and investment banking and opening the door for the rich to get super rich and normal people to get screwed.  So Clinton fulfilled the duties of the good Republican President that he was, and the right-wing played the game of ripping him for being a leftist.  It’s funny except that so many believed this game in which all the players operated within the same frame (and of course still do), the play within the play whose real authors are always invisible to the fixated audience.

What is the antonym to a contronym?

When George W. Bush took over, he  continued the brain research project with massive federal monies by declaring 2000-10 as the Decade of the Behavior Project.

Then under Obama, whose role model was the actor Reagan, and under Trump, whose role model was the guy he played on reality television and whose official role was playing the bad guy to Obama’s good guy, the money for the mapping of the brain and artificial intelligence continued flowing from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Science and Technology Project (OSTP).

Three decades of joint military, intelligence, and neuroscience work on how to understand brains so as to control them through mind control and computer technology might suggest something untoward was afoot, wouldn’t you say?

Create the Problem and Then the “Solution”

If you are still on this twisted path with me, you may feel an increased level of anxiety.  Not that it is new, for you have probably felt it for a long time. We both know that free-floating anxiety, like depression and fear, has been a stable of life in the good old USA for decades. We didn’t create it, and, as C. Wright Mills has said, “Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both.”  For our biographies, including anxiety and meaninglessness, take place within social history and social structures, and so we must ask what are the connections.  And are there solutions?

There are drugs, of course, and the caring folks at the pharmaceutical companies who want to see us with Smiley Faces, perky in mind and body, are always glad to provide them for an exorbitant price, one often well hidden in the ledgers of their insurance company partners-in-crime.  But still, there is so much to fear: terrorists, viruses, bad weather, bad breath, my bad, your bad, bad death, etc.

Is there a place upon which to pin this anxiety that floats?

Professor Mattias Desmet, a clinical psychology professor at the University of Ghent in Belgium, has some interesting thoughts about it, but they don’t necessarily lead to happy conclusions.  I think he is correct in saying that for decades there has been a situation brewing that is the perfect soil for mass formation with a hypnotized public embracing a new totalitarianism, one that has now been made real through COVID 19 with the lockdowns and loss of liberties as we descend with Dante to the lowest depths of the Inferno.

These background developments are the breakdown of social bonds, the loss of meaning making, its accompanying free-floating anxiety, and the absence of ways to relieve that anxiety short of aggression.  You can listen to him here.

These conditions didn’t just “happen” but were created by multiple power elite actors with long range plans.  If that sounds conspiratorial, that’s because it is.  That’s what the powerful do.  They conspire to achieve their goals.  The average person, without the awareness, will, inclination, or ability to do investigative sociological research, often falls prey to their designs, and through today’s electronic digital media is mesmerized into feeling that the media offer solutions to their anxieties.  They provide answers, even when they are propaganda.

As Ellul says, “Propaganda is the true remedy for loneliness.”  It draws all lost souls to its benevolent siren song.  CNN’s smiling Sanjay Gupta sedates many a mind and The New York Times and CBS soothe untold numbers of Mr. and Mrs. Lonelyhearts with sweet nothings straight from the messaging centers of the World Economic Forum and Langley, Virginia. They draw on the need to obey and believe, and provide fables that give people a sense of value and belonging to the group, even though the group is unreal.  These media can quite easily, but usually subtly, turn their audiences’ frenetic, agitated passivity into active aggression towards dissidents, especially when those dissidents have been blamed for endangering the lives of the “good” people.

As has occurred, censorship of dissent is necessary, and this must be done for the common good, even when it is carried out in allegedly democratic societies.  In the name of freedom, freedom must be denied.  Thus Biden’s declaration of war against domestic dissent.

Mattias Desmet it right; we are far down the road to totalitarianism.

Simulation and Simulacra

When I was a boy, I did certain boy things that were popular in my generation.  For a short period I constructed model ships and planes from kits.  It was something to do when I was constrained to the house because of bad weather.  These kits were replicas of famous battle ships or planes and came with decals you could paste on them when you were done. The decals identified these historical vehicles, which were very real or had been.  I knew I was making a miniature double of real objects, just as I knew a map of New York City streets corresponded to the real Bronx streets I roamed.  The map and my models were simulacra, but not the real thing.  The real things were outside somewhere.  And I knew not to walk on the map for my wanderings.

When Baudrillard wrote Simulacra and Simulation, he  was telling us that something fundamental had changed and would change far more in the future. He wrote:

Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of the territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – that engenders the territory….

Translated into plain English (French intellectuals can be difficult to understand), he is saying that in much of modern life, reality has disappeared into its signs or models.  And within these signs, these self-enclosed systems, distinctions can’t be made because these simulacra contain, like contronyms, both their positive and negative poles, so they cancel each other out while holding the believer imprisoned in amber.  Once you are in them, you are trapped because there are no outside references, the simulated system of thought or machine is your universe, the only reality.  There is no dialectical tension because the system has swallowed it.  There is no critical negativity, no place to stand outside to rebel because the simulacrum encompasses the positive and negative in a circulatory process that makes everything equivalent but the “positivity” of the simulacrum itself.  You are inside the whale: “The virtual space of the global is the space of the screen and the network, of immanence and the digital, of a dimensionless space-time.”

So if that plain English (Ha!) doesn’t do it for you, here’s Baudrillard again:

It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real, that is to say of an operation of deterring every real process via its operational double, a programmatic, metastable, perfectly descriptive machine that offers all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes. Never again will the real have a chance to produce itself – such is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection, that no longer gives the event of death a chance. [my emphases]

In the case of my model airplanes, there were real planes that my replicas were based on.  I knew that.  Baudrillard was announcing that the world was changing and children in the future would have a difficult time distinguishing between the real and its simulacra.  Not just children but all of us have arrived at that point, thanks to digital technology, where to distinguish between the real and the imaginary is very hard. Thus the purpose of video games: To scramble brains.  Thus the purpose of all the brain research funded by the Pentagon: To control brains via the interface of people with machines. This is a fundamental reason why the ruling elites, under the cover of Covid-19, have been pushing for an online digitized world through which they can amass even greater control over people’s sense of reality.  Are we watching a video of the real world or a video of a model of the real world?  How to tell the difference?

The weather report says that there is a 31% chance of rain tomorrow at 2 P.M., and people take that seriously, even though only a genuine blockhead would not realize that this is not based on reality but on a computer model of reality and a reality that is unreal a second degree over since it has yet to occur.  Yet that everyday example is normal today.  It’s a form of hypnosis.  The map precedes the territory.

But it gets even weirder as a regular perusal of the news confirms.  A very strange warped sense of reality unconnected to digital technology is widespread.  There recently was a news report about the sale of a Mohammed Ali drawing that sold for $425,000.  The drawing could have been done by a child with a marker.  It depicts a stick figure Ali in a boxing ring standing with arms raised in victory over a fallen opponent.  From the fallen boxer’s head a speech bubble rises with these words: “Ref, he did float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”  It is factually true that Ali knocked many opponents on their asses and raised his arms in victory.  So when he drew his stick drawing he was probably remembering that.  Therefore his drawing, a representation of his memory of reality and imagination, is two degrees removed from the real.  For no opponent uttered those words from his back on a canvas.  They are Ali’s signature words, how he liked to present himself on the world’s stage, part of his act, for he was a quintessential performer, albeit an unusual one with courage and a social conscience.  Obviously his drawing is not art but a crude little sketch.  Whoever spent nearly half a million dollars for it, did so either for an investment (which raises one question concerning reality and illusion) or as a form of magical appropriation, similar to getting a famous person’s signature to “capture” a bit of their immortality (the second question).  Either way it’s more than weird, even though not uncommon.  It is its commonness that makes it emblematic of this present era of copies and simulacra, the mumbo jumbo magic that disappears the real into simulated images.

Take the recent case of the TV actor William Shatner, who played a space ship captain named Captain Kirk on a very popular television series, Star Trek, a show filled with kitsch wisdom loved by hordes of desperadoes. All unreal but taken close to the fanatics’ hearts.  He’s been in the news recently for taking a ride into earth’s sub orbit on a spacecraft owned and operated by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.  Bezos gave the ninety-year-old actor a comp ride up and away supposedly because he was a big Star Trek fan.  In keeping with the pseudo-spiritual theme of this business venture and PR stunt, the spacecraft was called the New Shepard, presumably to distinguish it from the Old Shepard, whom we must assume is dead as Nietzsche said a few years ago. Sometimes these billionaires are so busy making money that they forget to tune in to the latest news. Bezos was announcing his new religion, a blending of P. T. Barnum and  technology. Anyway, pearls of “spiritual” wisdom, like those uttered on the old TV series, greeted the public following Shatner’s trip.  Ten minutes up and down isn’t three days and nights, but he was up to the task.  A guy playing an actor playing a space ship pilot playing a TV personage on a public relations business stunt flight.  “Unbelievable,” as he said.  Who is copying whom?  Tune in.

Baudrillard offers the example of The Iconoclasts from centuries past :

…whose millennial quarrel is still with us today. This is precisely because they predicted the omnipotence of simulacra, the faculty the simulacra have of effacing God from the conscience of man, and the destructive annihilating truth that they allow to appear – that deep down God never existed, even that God himself was never anything but his own simulacrum – from this came their urge to destroy the images.

We are now awash in epiphanies of representation, as Daniel Boorstin noted in The Image in the 1960s and which everyone can notice as those little rectangular boxes are constantly raised everywhere to capture what their operators might unconsciously think of as a world they no longer think is real, so they better capture it before it fully evaporates.  Such acquisitive image taking bespeaks an unspoken nihilism, secret simulations that signify the death sentence of their referents.

So let’s just say simulacra are traps wherein the real is no longer real but a hyperreal that seems realer than real, while concealing its unreality.

This goes much further than the use of digital technology.  It involves the entire spectrum of techniques of mind control and propaganda.  It includes politics, medicine, economics, Covid-19, the lockdowns and vaccines, etc. Everything.

Let me end with one small example.  A trifle, you’ll agree.  I began by noting the election of the actor Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Then the quote from the CIA Director Casey: “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

Then came the CIA actor George H. W. Bush, the two-faced Bill Clinton, George W. Bush the son of the CIA man, Obama, Trump, and Biden.  Rather shady characters all, depending usually on your political affiliations.  Suppose, however, that these seven men are an acting troupe in the same play, which is a highly sophisticated simulacrum that plays in loops, and that the object of its architects is to keep the audience engaged in the show and rooting for their favorite character.  Suppose this self-generating spectacle has a name: The Contronym.  And suppose that at the very heart of its ongoing run, one of the lead characters, who had been reared from birth to play a revolutionary role, one that demanded many masks and contradictory faces that could be used to reconcile the personae of the other six actors and perhaps reconcile the Rashomon-like story, suppose that character was Barack Obama, and suppose he was reared in a CIA family and later just “happened” to become President where he became known as “the intelligence president” because of his intimate relationship with the CIA.  And suppose he gave the CIA everything it wanted.

Would you think you were living in a simulacrum?

Or would you say Jeremy Kuzmarov’s report, “A Company Family: The Untold History of Obama and the CIA” was a simulation of the most scurrilous kind?

Or would you feel lost in the wood in the middle of your life with Dante?  Heading down to hell?

“’I was thinking,’ said Alice very politely, ‘which is the best way out of this wood.  It’s getting so dark.  Would you tell me, please?’

But the fat little men [Tweedledee and Tweedledum] only looked at each other and grinned.”

Yet it is no laughing matter.  If we want to get through this hell we are traversing, we had better clearly recognize those who are carrying the Banner of the King of Hell.  Identify them and stop their advance.  It is a real spiritual war we are engaged in, and we either fight for God or the devil.

The post The Banners of the King of Hell Advance first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Who is an Anti-vaxxer?

Governments in certain countries, with the support of Big Pharma and the media, are mandating that citizens must vaccinate or be denied the right to enjoy public amenities in society, such as restaurants, cinemas, night clubs, museums, sporting events, etc. Those who wish to travel may be barred by not having documentation of being fully vaccinated. Probably worst of all, people are being fired from their jobs for refusing vaccination. These people who are fearful of the vaccines, in particular the mRNA vaccine, are being denigrated by calling them anti-vaxxers.

First, is the mRNA vaccine even a vaccine? The World Health Organization (WHO) says,

Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease. However, because vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.

The mRNA vaccines do not contain “only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria.” Even worse, reports of adverse reactions to the mRNA purported vaccines are on the increase, even causing death. So if the mRNA “vaccine” is not by definition a vaccine, then people opposed to being injected with the experimental mRNA “vaccine” can not truthfully be labeled anti-vaxxers.

Second, even if mRNA “vaccines” were accepted to be vaccines, is it still proper to call vaccine skeptics anti-vaxxers? Is the ad hominem truthful? Assuredly many, if not most, of the people opposed to being jabbed with the mRNA “vaccines” and other experimental vaccines have been willingly vaccinated previously to protect against other infections, among them whooping cough, chicken pox, measles, smallpox, rubella, tetanus, mumps, and perhaps others. Having received so many vaccinations, and having agreed to their children being vaccinated, then how accurate is it to demean these people as anti-vaxxers?

Third, are the vaccine skeptics opposed to others who of their own volition receive vaccines? Vaccine skeptics take action to protect their bodily sovereignty; they do not force others to receive or refuse vaccination. So they are not anti-vaxxers.

Fourth, the vaccines are experimental. On 29 September, Globaldata Healthdcare reported, “Currently, there are over 2,000 COVID-19 clinical trials recruiting patients, with 16% being for vaccines and 84% for therapeutics.” One cannot ethically be mandated to take part in an experiment. Informed consent is required.

Are some people opposed to being vaccinated by any vaccine for COVID-19? Sure, some are. Others are just opposed to having an experimental mRNA “vaccine” injected into their body. They have heard that these mRNA “vaccines” are not genuine vaccines; many would, however, accept a traditional vaccine that has been demonstrated experimentally to be safe and effective. These vaccines tend to be most prominent in China, and their usage in the West would cut into the mega-bucks that western pharmaceutical companies are currently reaping. Yet China has declared its COVID-19 vaccines a global public good and has donated its vaccines to various developing countries.

There are many reasons to doubt the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. Many vaccine skeptics are aware of several physicians and scientists cautioning against taking the vaccines.

Dr Gérard Delépine, an oncologist, orthopedic surgeon, and statistician at the Raymond Poincaré Hospital in Paris analyzed the pre- and post-vaccine trends for 14 countries and found overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 vaccines are correlated with new infections and mortality. In other words, the vaccines appear to be killing people who are getting vaccinated, sadly ironic since people became vaccinated so they wouldn’t suffer or die.

There are reports of vaccinations being associated with blood clots causing death, Bells palsy, central nervous system disorders, eye disorders, menstrual irregularities, etc. There are the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports of tens of thousands having died after receiving being vaccinated.

Some people think the dangers of COVID-19 are overhyped. For example, when examining the data for winter-burden all-cause mortality prior to and since the appearance of COVID-19, there has been no significant difference in deaths from previous years.

People are leery of the information surrounding vaccinations. Is there a cover up? For instance, reporting deaths or injury to VAERS after vaccination can get you fired. Corporate/state media have been criticized for censoring medical experts who question the vaccine safety, saying “the COVID jabs are causing the proliferation of toxic spike proteins throughout the vascular systems of injection recipients.”

Given all this, is it any wonder that some people are fearful of the COVID-19 vaccines? And the fear is not limited to the mRNA “vaccines” because vaccine trials are still ongoing, although emergency use authorization had sped up the roll out of vaccines. The vector vaccine Oxford-AstraZeneca usage was stopped in several countries, especially in Europe; in Canada the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended provinces stop using AstraZeneca. The vector vaccine Janssen/Johnson & Johnson also received emergency use authorization and it has had its problems. In particular, a pause in its use occurred to “investigate whether the vaccine triggers a rare but serious side effect — the development of diffuse blood clots, even though the few individuals who developed the condition had low platelet levels.”

Are the Establishment’s vaccine experts speaking ex cathedra or are they presenting the scientific evidence to support their stance? Since many of us non-experts are barraged by contradictory information surrounding COVID-19, it is incumbent upon people to do their own research to ascertain the verisimilitude of the reports. Apply open-minded skepticism. Scrutinize the credentials and expertise of the person(s) reporting, but more so the factually accuracy of their pronouncements along with the morality and logic applied thereto. Are the reports in peer-review science journals or tabloid newspapers? More important than the source, however, is the actual information. Ask is the evidence solid, are the facts accurate, is the logic coherent, and are the conclusions proffered credible? And always ask cui bono? Should anyone be profiting exorbitantly from the ill health of other people?

The venerable professor Noam Chomsky spurns the pejorative use of the term anti. Chomsky promotes vaccination, but doesn’t call people resistant to vaccination anti-vaxxers. Nonetheless, he does depict them as people who are “willing to be a danger to the community.”

Another means of demeaning a group is to accuse them of being deniers.

There is a contingent of people who are skeptical that Earth is succumbing to global warming. They are disparaged as climate deniers rather than stating that they are climate skeptics. Some people have provided a serious scientific rationale for their skepticism; others are not so well versed in science but have listened to or read accounts of why people need not fret an imminent and catastrophic climate change.1

And there is the hot-button issue of abortion. Both sides seek to describe themselves as pro-. On the one hand, those who support the woman’s right to choose whether or not to undergo a procedure to terminate the fetus will label themselves as pro-choice (they will steer clear of describing themselves as pro-abortion). The pro-choice people will argue that it is the woman’s body, and she has sovereignty over her body. On the other hand, those who are against terminating a fetus will label themselves as pro-life (they will not describe themselves as anti-abortion). They seek to protect a nascent life form.

If one applies the rationale of the pro-choice crowd, then they should support the right of vaccine skeptics to enjoy dominion over their body and, if the vaccine skeptics so choose, accept their unwillingness to being jabbed.

The vaccine skeptics, however, are in the minority it seems. This is unsurprising given the government, corporate media nexus that pushes for vaccination. Nonetheless, being in the minority is sometimes the best place to be. In the 1960s, the psychologist Stanley Milgram carried out a study into obedience. The subjects were assigned the role of a teacher. They were introduced to a confederate, the learner, who they met outfitted with attached electrodes. During the experiment, the learner would be on the other side of a partition, out of sight of the teacher. The teacher’s job was to give the learner an electric shock each time a mistake was made. The shocks were increased for each mistake, eventually reaching a zone marked danger and finishing in a 450-volt zone marked XXX. An experimenter in a lab coat would prod the teachers to continue administering shocks until the end of the test despite learner hesitancy to shock the obviously distressed learner who was heard moaning, and this prodding continued even after the learner failed to respond. Roughly two-thirds of teachers obeyed the experimenter right through 450 volts. Such is the nature of human obedience — at least, for two-thirds of humans.2

Today, people are not only being encouraged to be vaccinated, but those that resist are being coerced. Nowadays, Milgram’s experiments would encounter difficulty receiving permission from a human research ethics committee; regardless, the audacious and draconian force the Establishment employs against the unvaccinated minority poses a grave ethical scenario.

The state actors say the science supports them, but the data they present is scarce. If the science is that strong, then there is no need to silence doctors, scientists, professors, and intellectuals who have reached different conclusions. Bring the two camps together and present the science, data, and evidence in an open and fair debate that allows people to reach an informed and fact-based conclusion. Otherwise, people who resist vaccination have a reasoned right to their skepticism, and are undeserving of ad hominem directed against them. An information war shouldn’t be mired by invective.

Image credit: Photograph: Jordan Sigler/Alamy

  1. To be clear, this writer has noted a definite uptick in heat waves year after year, an increased incidence of storms, reports of glaciers melting, flooding and such events that point to a global warming trend.
  2. See Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (New York: Harper & Row, 1974).
The post Who is an Anti-vaxxer? 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.”

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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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The post Banning Books is just One Form of Closed Mindedness, Close Democracy first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Local Man Overcomes Illiteracy One Tutor at a Time

September 8 makes 54 Years of celebrating International Literacy Day

Benjamin Spock, M.D., Author of Baby & Child Care — An eloquent plea that Americans recognize the appalling frequency of illiteracy…a tragedy which handicaps–occupationally, politically, and emotionally–a third of the citizens of our rich, ‘advanced’ country. referencing, Illiterate America, Jonathan Kozol

Note: This is a pretty mellow piece below (parts 1 & 2), for the local, Newport News Times, where I have published. Here, an archive, of sorts, of some of my articles and op-eds.

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In elementary school he was put in special ed because of learning and reading delays. The label followed him all the way through high school. He graduated from Toledo High School with an IEP Diploma.

He worked as a landscaper and janitor; he struggled to live on his own because he could not read.

However, he’s a survivor. For years, he’s been working at a mill operating a large Caterpillar. He’s wanted to learn how to read for more than two decades. At age 36 the proverbial light bulb went off on August 3, 2021.

Reading tutors who worked through Mid-Valley Literacy Center rendezvoused to assist this man’s reading. One of the tutors is my friend, and she reports her “student learner” is reading sometimes fluidly. She’s been at this since March, meeting him in Toledo once a week.

My friend hails from Chile, and has been a teacher locally, as well as a substitute in Lincoln County. She’s fluent in Spanish and English, and works as a professional translator. Maria, a library tech, and another tutor have been working with this young man for six months.

More than 43 million adults in the US cannot read, write or do basic math above a third grade level. That’s one stat, and professionals I work with – I’ve been an English and writing teacher for more than three and a half decades, in El Paso, Juarez, Mexico, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, other places – say the actual figure is much higher, around the 60  to 80 million mark.

In one diverse study, 80 percent of people trying to properly install an infant car seat failed one or more steps because of “an inability to follow directions written at a 6th grade level.”

Other stats point out if the US was to increase average reading grade levels to the 6th grade, an additional $2.2 million a year would be added the economy.

Maria’s student is looking to move into an area of the mill where reading instructions and understanding safety manuals are a must. Getting out of the seat of a bouncing, loud log loader will also help him strengthen his longevity at the job.

I have worked with this student. He lives on his own, does amazing engine work on his truck, and he eventually wants to get certification and open up his own car repair shop.

He tells me that he was picked on beginning in second grade, for his inability to sound out words and lack of skills to do “read alongs.”  This stigma is common in Lincoln County. Poverty, one-parent family dynamics, and other adverse childhood events (ACES) impact youth’s ability to learn at grade level.

Others are born with some form of developmental disability. We are seeing as a society more youth entering our primary schools with learning/intellectual disability – a phrase that stigmatizes people.

I’ve worked with adults as a supported employment professional in Seattle, Portland, Gladstone, Beaverton and Lincoln County; and assisted adults in advocating for themselves in order to land jobs and keep those jobs. Reading, writing and math sometimes are impediments, either individually, or collectively.

However, all those services Oregon has set up around supported employment and housing do give people a hand up. Maria’s student has had dozens of folk come into his life, informally, who started reading sessions, but all quickly moved on. Maria, 78, is dedicated to this gentleman.

She reports to me that “he is finally reading, sometimes pretty complex sentences. He has a big smile on his face now when we meet.”

Maria’s student is one of millions worldwide who should be valorized for succeeding. All our hats should be off for this local man: September 8 is International Literacy Day.  “Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.”

+–The End–+

This is what guiding and assisting look like:

Linda Perez (L) and her guide Alvaro Herrera (R), Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 31, 2021.

[Linda Perez (L) and her guide Alvaro Herrera (R), Tokyo, Japan, August 31, 2021. | Photo: EFE]

My first story on this fellow, from illiterate in March to reading in August:

Literacy is a matter of life and death, happiness or penury

I used to get my elbows up into many literacy projects as an English and writing faculty member at community colleges, universities, prison school programs and writing/journalism workshops for people who are exploited because of their status as low income or as former felons, and those homeless citizens as well as adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Events like “Banned Books Month” (October) or National Poetry Month (April) I worked hard to promote/support. Big journalism organizations like Project Censored and groups like Reporters without Borders are still in my blood.

I am now working again in a small rural community dotted with small towns. I am not only supporting folks with job development and on-the-job training and coaching, but I am helping two Lincoln County citizens with reading literacy.

In my situation with Shangri-La, these two are adult men in their 30s who are seeking reading literacy programs.

It may come as a surprise to citizens, lawmakers and politicians alike, but Lincoln County does not have a literacy center. There is no one-stop place for people who need literacy tutoring, whether they are functionally illiterate in their English skills as a U.S.-born citizen, or those who are English as a second/third language learners.

I’m working with a Salem group, Mid-Valley Literacy Center (founded in 2009). Vivian Ang is my contact who is helping train Newport and Toledo-based citizens to help tutor my two clients. This is not an easy task, and Vivian, with more than 20 years of tutoring including at Chemeketa Community College, says it’s hit or miss.

“I do not have any experience with assisting an adult with a learning disability (developmental disability) to learn how to read,” she has repeated to me several times.

An adult who drives a car, works at a factory, runs a large piece of construction equipment, lives on his own and presents as a “regular sort of guy” can be in one of the most dire of circumstances — functional and complete illiteracy.

Wanting to learn how to read when you are in your 30s takes guts. There are stigmas for someone who can’t read an insurance form or simple job application.

The need is high in Lincoln County for adults like this client of mine — born in Newport and educated in Newport’s K-12 system, including special education classes — to learn how to read. But we have many from Mexico, Guatemala and other countries in our communities where learning how to read and speak English is more than just a step toward better pay.

Vivian tells me a story about an Oregon woman, from Mexico, illiterate in English, who had a sick daughter who needed medication to improve. The prescription stated, “Take this medication once a day.” In Spanish, once is the word for the number 11, so, tragically, the mother followed the prescription contextualized in her Spanish reading abilities. At 11 times a day, after a few days, the medication killed her two-year-old daughter.

Navigating housing, employment, the legal system, utility companies, landlords, cultural activities, and representative politics are basically off limits to a person who can’t read or write. The amount of exploitation, fines, fees, garnishments, late payments and other penalties is a regular occurrence for people who can’t read and write.

According to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy (founded 1991), low literacy in the USA costs us as a society $2.2 trillion a year. According to U.S. Department of Education, more than half of U.S. adults aged 16 to 74 years old (54 percent or 130 million people) lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.

For my many clients across the board, lack of reading, low reading levels and functional illiteracy can be linked to poorer health, low levels of civic engagement and low earnings in the labor market. On average, more than 70 percent of people following the seventh grade reading level for instructions on how to install an infant car seat fail to follow the proper steps.

I am enlisting tutors for my two clients. I have a librarian and a library technician on board. Three retired women living in Toledo and Newport, too. One of my client’s workplaces is stepping up and paying the nonprofit Vivian runs for the materials and training. That general manager is also providing a private space with internet access to his worker (I’ll call him Samuel) who is illiterate.

He tells me, “I wish I had 22 Samuel’s working for me. He’s an incredible worker, reliable, goes the extra mile.”

+–END--+

So, as an endpoint, I have to express the complete dissatisfaction with K12 and college and university settings, whereby the stuff (sic) taught is broken, stuffed and starved lies, with some of the most fearful or disruptive professors, principals, administrators and school boards ruining our youth, and our young adults’ minds. Lest we forget great workers for real education, fighting colonialism in Latin America and Africa. Oh, we need anti-capitalists, anti-imperialists, anti-billionaire workers to bring real education to our people, intergenerational, on the land, away from dark hallways, 30 desks and chairs to a room, away from the atomization and disparity of capitalist miseducation:

Freire’s work and practice have inspired what has become a worldwide critical pedagogy movement. Cabral is a centrally important, yet mostly unacknowledged, influence of this movement. In the last prepared book before his death, subtitled Letters to Those who Dare Teach, Cabral’s influence on Freire seems to have remained central, as he insisted that “it is important to fight against the colonial traditions we bring with us.”


The Portuguese colonization of Guinea-Bissau was backed by Spain, South Africa, the United States, and NATO. Summarizing the pooled imperialist power wielded by Portugal in a report on the status of their struggle Cabral (1968a) elaborates:  In the basic fields of economics, finance and arms, which determine and condition the real political and moral behavior of states, the Portuguese government is able to count more than ever on the effective aid of the NATO allies and others. Anyone familiar with the relations between Portugal and its allies, namely the USA, Federal Germany and other Western powers, can see that this assistance (economic, financial and in war material) is constantly increasing, in the most diverse forms, overt and covert. By skillfully playing on the contingencies of the cold war, in particular on the strategic importance of its own geographical position and that of the Azores islands, by granting military bases to the USA and Federal Germany, by flying high the false banner of the defense of Western and Christian civilization in Africa, and by further subjecting the natural resources of the colonies and the Portuguese economy itself to the big financial monopolies, the Portuguese government has managed to guarantee for as long as necessary the assistance which it receives from the Western powers and from its racist allies in Southern Africa. (Source)

Read the piece,

“How Amílcar Cabral shaped Paulo Freire’s pedagogy: Frantz Fanon’s influence on Paulo Freire’s thought is well known, but the Brazilian educator also drew considerably from Amílcar Cabral, the revolutionary intellectual from Guinea-Bissau”

The post Local Man Overcomes Illiteracy One Tutor at a Time first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism

I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

— Mike Pompeo, former US secretary of state on how the United States conducts its business

One of the filters in the Propaganda Model propounded by professors Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky is stoking a fear of communism.1 The establishment’s anti-communism has never abated in the United States. The elitists require a populace fearful of communism to protect their own misbegotten wealth accumulation. Thus,the bugaboo of communism must be opposed wherever it arises. At its worst, the US would wage war against communist countries such as North Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia. When not militarily attacked, communist governments will be demonized by a relentless campaign of disinformation designed to bring about the fall of the government and its replacement by a government amenable to the US establishment, as happened in the Soviet Union. That is the nature of imperialism and predatory capitalism.

The establishment’s anti-communism is alive and kicking in The Diplomat, a current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region. This one can readily glean from its article titled “How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests.”2

The in-one’s-face bias of the article’s heading and the subheading (“Chinese companies have played a key part in building Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure, a system the regime uses to control its people, just as the CCP does within its own borders.”) immediately gives pause to the discerning reader. First, regime is a tendentious term meant to delegitimize a government. Second, the subheading asserts Chinese governmental control. While it points at the means, it does not provide any evidence that the assertion holds true.

The leaning of the writers is apparent from their bios: Leland Lazarus is a speechwriter to US Southern Command’s admiral Craig Faller, and Dr Evan Ellis is a research professor of Latin American Studies at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. They write, “July 11, thousands of people across Cuba took to the streets, fed up with the lack of food, basic products, medicine, and vaccines to combat COVID-19.”

This flash-in-the-pan, minor protest was allegedly orchestrated by the NED and US AID. Furthermore, the monopoly media narrative has been undermined by its use of fake and doctored images.3

The writers complain, “Protesters used social media to broadcast to the world what was happening, but the communist regime shut off the internet and telephone services, pulling the plug on their connection outside the island.”

A question: If your government is targeted by a barrage of disinformation from outside actors, would you allow for the disinformation to continue? Disinformation is hailed by many to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. And the disinformation campaigns of the US are myriad. Among them are the phantom missile attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, the non-existent WMDs in Iraq, the Viagra-fueled rapes in Libya, the Syrian government chemical-weapon attacks, and the current allegation of a genocide in Xinjiang, China. Millions of people died as a result of such disinformation.

It is clear that Lazarus and Ellis would like to knock down two communist governments that US capitalism finds antithetical, with one article. What is the crime of Cuba? The State Department Policy Planning Staff pointed to the “primary danger” the US faces, “The simple fact is that [former Cuban leader Fidel] Castro represents a successful defiance of the US…,”4 a slap in the face to the imperialist Monroe doctrine.

The writers turned to the old-school Cuba policy advocacy of US senator Marco Rubio who tweeted: “Expect the regime in #Cuba to block internet & cell phone service soon to prevent videos about what is happening to get out to the world… By the way, they use a system made, sold & installed by #China to control and block access to the internet in #Cuba.’”

Again, monopoly media undermines itself and senator Rubio: “… Fox News, however, included a small detail that went largely unnoticed. As he [Rubio] was speaking about ‘brutal oppression’ by the Cuban government and hailing the protesters, the footage shown by the cable station depicted a rally by Cuban government supporters. Fox News apparently knew exactly what it was airing, since it was careful to blur the slogans that some of the activists were carrying.”

Lazarus and Ellis see a sinister hand: “China’s role in helping the regime cut off communications during the protests has exposed one of the many ways Beijing helps keep the Cuban communist regime afloat.”

Meanwhile the capitalist5 government in the US is trying its damnedest to sink the communist government in Cuba. The US has long had an adversarial relationship with Cuba, starting with launching the Spanish-American War based on a lie concocted by US media. After the successful Cuban Revolution, the US has kept in place an economic blockade of the island. And seldom discussed is the fact that the US continues to occupy Guantánamo Bay, which Cuba has often demanded be returned to its sovereignty.

Since the article never mentions otherwise, it is assumed to be predicated upon the US and its Occidental allies not engaging in monitoring telecommunications and digital surveillance, which Edward Snowden has revealed to be patently false. This is not whataboutism because there is no evidence of a Chinese backdoor to Huawei and the company has pledged to not insert spying devices in its products; to do otherwise would be a bad business decision.

China’s Interests in Cuba

Lazarus and Ellis envision nefarious Chinese stratagems underlying their trade with Cuba:

China recognizes Cuba’s geostrategic importance. Due to its position in the Caribbean, Cuba can exert influence over the southeastern maritime approach to the United States, which contains vital sea lanes leading to ports in Miami, New Orleans, and Houston. Author George Friedman has argued that, with an increased presence in Cuba, China could potentially “block American ports without actually blocking them,” just like U.S. naval bases and installations pose a similar challenge to China around the first island chain and Straits of Malacca. Cuba’s influence in the Caribbean also makes it a useful proxy through which Beijing can pressure the four countries in the region (out of the 15 total globally) that recognize Taiwan to switch recognition.

The entire article is speculative. It is littered with words like “possible,” “can,” and “could.” The writers do not elaborate on how China might pressure the Caribbean countries. Usually countries switch allegiance to China from Taiwan based on financial inducements and not from hegemonic pressure.

Economic Support versus Economic Sanctions

The Diplomat writers argue that “China helps sustain the [Cuban] regime through economic engagement.”

What exactly do the writers intend to imply by economic engagement sustaining a regime? The logical corollary is that economic sanctions are aimed at “regime change.” Stemming from this logic, the US uses economic measures to sustain the theocratic criminality and corruption in Saudi Arabia and economic sanctions to try and change socialistic governments in, among others, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Nonetheless, trade is what countries do to build their economies.

Regarding the US favored method of applying pressure, American academics John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote: “economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”

The academics further noted,

It is interesting that this loss of human life has failed to make a great impression in the United States….

Some of the inattention may derive from a lack of concern about foreign lives. Although Americans are extremely sensitive to American casualties, they – like others – often seem quite insensitive to casualties suffered by those on the opposing side, whether military or civilian.

The world views economic sanctions in a different light from the US. This was illuminated by the UN General Assembly vote demanding an end to the US economic blockade on Cuba for the 29th year in a row. Aside from two negative votes cast by the US and its Israeli ally, 184 countries voted in favor of the resolution.

Perplexingly, the writers pointed out that “China has not, however, sold Cuba any significant weapons systems, as it has done with other states in the region such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.”

To the extent that selling armaments is a legitimate business, then why shouldn’t China sell armaments? Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia are not warring with other countries. Regarding the morality of selling weapons, consider that the US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country committing genocide against Yemen and to Israel, a country that serially aggresses and economically strangulates Palestine. Are the writers not aware that the US pokes China in the eye by selling armaments to its renegade province, Taiwan, in contravention of the One-China policy to which the US shook hands?

“Digital Authoritarianism”

The writers complain about “China exporting ‘digital authoritarianism’ to illiberal regimes across the region. In Venezuela, Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE helped the Maduro regime establish the ‘fatherland ID card’ system, which it used to control not only voting, but the distribution of scarce food packages.”

As for the ID cards, the link provided by the writers notes that the “system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuela’s government.” Besides, which country does not require ID in order to cast a vote?

Why are the food packages scarce? What would one expect when the US has sanctions against Venezuela? It is quite disingenuous to criticize a government for food packages being scarce when that scarcity is caused by the writers’ own government. Moreover, the writers continue to use the word control pejoratively. Are the voting systems and economic distribution networks not a function of government implementation everywhere? If the writers want to insist that voting and the results are manipulated, then provide the evidence. Contrariwise, US observers endorsed the legitimacy of Venezuela’s May 2020 election; also, international observers were “unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly.” The link supplied by the writers is now dead, but the title reads: “For poor Venezuelans, a box of food may sway vote for Maduro.” While in Venezuela, a group of us visited the mercals — where food was being made affordable for the masses — where we were informed: “The Chavez administration does not want Venezuela’s food needs to be dependent on outside sources, so a concerted effort has been made to produce all foods locally.” Obviously that food independence is still a work in progress. Such progress is not made easier by being targeted by economic sanctions.

The writers make clear their anti-leftist and their anti-democracy views:

Leftist authoritarian regimes are consolidating control in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The populist left has returned to power in Bolivia in the form of the MAS party, in Argentina with the Peronists, and in Mexico with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Morena movement. In Peru, the recent election of Pedro Castillo, a teacher from Cajamarca with a radical left agenda, similarly raises alarm bells. Upcoming elections in the region raise the prospects for an even broader spread of the populist left, including the prospect of victory by Xiomara Castro in November 2021 elections in Honduras, a President Petro emerging from Colombia’s 2022 elections, or the return of Lula da Silva and his Workers’ Party in Brazil’s October 2022 elections.

Yikes! Democracy can be such a pain in the butt. As the anarchist professor Noam Chomsky wrote, “In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm.”6 For American elitists, “the United States supports democracy if, and only if, the outcomes accord with its strategic and economic objectives.”7 That the US did and would seek “regime change” in Latin America is borne out by its Operation Condor.

Lazarus and Ellis attempt to justify the US’ machinations against Cuba and China:

China’s continued efforts to prop up the Cuban regime matters to U.S. national security. For both good and bad, Cuba is connected to the United States through geographic proximity, historical connections, and family ties. The U.S. government has long focused on violations of the freedoms and human rights of the Cuban people.

The language of Lazarus and Ellis is oleaginous. Having a focus on human rights violations is qualitatively different from opposing human rights violations and quantitatively different from supporting human rights violations, as the US did when it supported the Fulgencio Batista “regime” (to use the parlance of Lazarus and Ellis) in Cuba, which served American corporate and military interests while massacring his own people. How does the occupation of Guantánamo Bay, where prisoners of war languish in what Amnesty International called the “gulag of our time”; the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Operation Northwoods; and economic sanctions speak for American fidelity to human rights?

The writers with ties to the US military accuse China of a “malign intent against the U.S. in cyberspace.” They reason that “Cuba could also be an area from which China could gather intelligence and conduct cyberattacks against the United States.”

The writers speculate about a malign Chinese intent. Malign intent is evidenced by the Stuxnet virus that the USA and Israel inserted into the Iranian nuclear program. The authors write as if the US is not guilty of the malignity they assert that China is guilty of.

How the United States Can Respond

Lazarus and Ellis argue that the US “should concentrate on helping partners in the region to engage with China in the most healthy, productive ways. For example, an emphasis on transparency inhibits the ability to engage in corrupt backroom deals with the Chinese that benefit the elites signing the deals rather than the country as a whole.”

Helping partners and advocating for transparency is great. Is this what the US does? It would be foolish to deny that the US does not engage with corrupt rulers, rulers who siphon off the loans meant for the people of the country who are then held responsible for the odious debt to the financial lenders?8

Lazarus and Ellis write, “With respect to cybersecurity, the United States should similarly look to increase support to partners in protecting their citizens’ privacy and security from malign actors like China.”

Let’s leave aside the unsupported allegation that China might be a malign actor. Instead, let’s ask what kind of actor is the US? Is it a benevolent actor? This is the actor that just recently ended a two-decade war in impoverished Afghanistan — a country where the US engaged in a cycle of war crimes. Ask yourself: is it a benevolent actor who engages in disinformation campaigns against countries like China that have eradicated absolute poverty (while in the US a 2019 measure of poverty showed a rate of 10.5%) and accuse it of the scurrilous and easily debunked allegation of committing genocide in Xinjiang? Is it an upstanding country that pursues the locking away of Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere?

The writers suggest part of the solution for escaping Chinese spying is cybersecurity training by the US.

Is that a good idea — trusting Uncle Sam? If you get trained by the US and use US technology, then you might end up being surveilled by the US. Ask German chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders.

Lazarus and Ellis persist:

While recent events in Cuba show China’s growing influence in the region, the CCP’s emphatic support of the Cuban regime’s repressive acts also highlights that it is on the wrong side of history. The U.S. must deepen partnerships with Latin American countries and Caribbean friends.

Was the US on the right side of history in Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, historical Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Chile, Grenada, etc? How should countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and the other Latin American countries targeted by Operation Condor feel about a deepened partnership? And how would the peoples of Caribbean countries — e.g., Haiti, Grenada, Puerto Rico, etc — feel about a deepened partnership with the US?

Lazarus and Ellis proffer the haggard imperialist platitudes of partnership based on shared values, security, prosperity, and freedom. Which populations would they like to tempt with such an offer? To the people who experienced US-supported coups in Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Bolivia, Brazil, or the masses in Venezuela subjected to unceasing American-government intrigues against their country? There is a reason why Latin Americans and Caribbean countries are leftists or turning leftward.

  1. See Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon Books, 2002 edition).
  2. Throughout the article all emphases within quotations have been added by this writer.
  3. See here, here, and here.
  4. Cited in Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World? Metropolitan Books, 2014: 100.
  5. Since the writers deem it important to identify the governments in China and Cuba as communist, it would seem appropriate and balanced to identify other governments by their ideology.
  6. Chomsky, 45.
  7. Chomsky, 74.
  8. See Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (Seven Stories Press, 1999). Chomsky describes how neoliberalism and financial institutions like the IMF and its structural adjustments have plunged the masses in developing countries into despair.
The post Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Targeting Cuba and China: Disinformation against Communism

I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

— Mike Pompeo, former US secretary of state on how the United States conducts its business

One of the filters in the Propaganda Model propounded by professors Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky is stoking a fear of communism.1 The establishment’s anti-communism has never abated in the United States. The elitists require a populace fearful of communism to protect their own misbegotten wealth accumulation. Thus,the bugaboo of communism must be opposed wherever it arises. At its worst, the US would wage war against communist countries such as North Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia. When not militarily attacked, communist governments will be demonized by a relentless campaign of disinformation designed to bring about the fall of the government and its replacement by a government amenable to the US establishment, as happened in the Soviet Union. That is the nature of imperialism and predatory capitalism.

The establishment’s anti-communism is alive and kicking in The Diplomat, a current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region. This one can readily glean from its article titled “How China Helps the Cuban Regime Stay Afloat and Shut Down Protests.”2

The in-one’s-face bias of the article’s heading and the subheading (“Chinese companies have played a key part in building Cuba’s telecommunications infrastructure, a system the regime uses to control its people, just as the CCP does within its own borders.”) immediately gives pause to the discerning reader. First, regime is a tendentious term meant to delegitimize a government. Second, the subheading asserts Chinese governmental control. While it points at the means, it does not provide any evidence that the assertion holds true.

The leaning of the writers is apparent from their bios: Leland Lazarus is a speechwriter to US Southern Command’s admiral Craig Faller, and Dr Evan Ellis is a research professor of Latin American Studies at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. They write, “July 11, thousands of people across Cuba took to the streets, fed up with the lack of food, basic products, medicine, and vaccines to combat COVID-19.”

This flash-in-the-pan, minor protest was allegedly orchestrated by the NED and US AID. Furthermore, the monopoly media narrative has been undermined by its use of fake and doctored images.3

The writers complain, “Protesters used social media to broadcast to the world what was happening, but the communist regime shut off the internet and telephone services, pulling the plug on their connection outside the island.”

A question: If your government is targeted by a barrage of disinformation from outside actors, would you allow for the disinformation to continue? Disinformation is hailed by many to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace. And the disinformation campaigns of the US are myriad. Among them are the phantom missile attack in the Gulf of Tonkin, the non-existent WMDs in Iraq, the Viagra-fueled rapes in Libya, the Syrian government chemical-weapon attacks, and the current allegation of a genocide in Xinjiang, China. Millions of people died as a result of such disinformation.

It is clear that Lazarus and Ellis would like to knock down two communist governments that US capitalism finds antithetical, with one article. What is the crime of Cuba? The State Department Policy Planning Staff pointed to the “primary danger” the US faces, “The simple fact is that [former Cuban leader Fidel] Castro represents a successful defiance of the US…,”4 a slap in the face to the imperialist Monroe doctrine.

The writers turned to the old-school Cuba policy advocacy of US senator Marco Rubio who tweeted: “Expect the regime in #Cuba to block internet & cell phone service soon to prevent videos about what is happening to get out to the world… By the way, they use a system made, sold & installed by #China to control and block access to the internet in #Cuba.’”

Again, monopoly media undermines itself and senator Rubio: “… Fox News, however, included a small detail that went largely unnoticed. As he [Rubio] was speaking about ‘brutal oppression’ by the Cuban government and hailing the protesters, the footage shown by the cable station depicted a rally by Cuban government supporters. Fox News apparently knew exactly what it was airing, since it was careful to blur the slogans that some of the activists were carrying.”

Lazarus and Ellis see a sinister hand: “China’s role in helping the regime cut off communications during the protests has exposed one of the many ways Beijing helps keep the Cuban communist regime afloat.”

Meanwhile the capitalist5 government in the US is trying its damnedest to sink the communist government in Cuba. The US has long had an adversarial relationship with Cuba, starting with launching the Spanish-American War based on a lie concocted by US media. After the successful Cuban Revolution, the US has kept in place an economic blockade of the island. And seldom discussed is the fact that the US continues to occupy Guantánamo Bay, which Cuba has often demanded be returned to its sovereignty.

Since the article never mentions otherwise, it is assumed to be predicated upon the US and its Occidental allies not engaging in monitoring telecommunications and digital surveillance, which Edward Snowden has revealed to be patently false. This is not whataboutism because there is no evidence of a Chinese backdoor to Huawei and the company has pledged to not insert spying devices in its products; to do otherwise would be a bad business decision.

China’s Interests in Cuba

Lazarus and Ellis envision nefarious Chinese stratagems underlying their trade with Cuba:

China recognizes Cuba’s geostrategic importance. Due to its position in the Caribbean, Cuba can exert influence over the southeastern maritime approach to the United States, which contains vital sea lanes leading to ports in Miami, New Orleans, and Houston. Author George Friedman has argued that, with an increased presence in Cuba, China could potentially “block American ports without actually blocking them,” just like U.S. naval bases and installations pose a similar challenge to China around the first island chain and Straits of Malacca. Cuba’s influence in the Caribbean also makes it a useful proxy through which Beijing can pressure the four countries in the region (out of the 15 total globally) that recognize Taiwan to switch recognition.

The entire article is speculative. It is littered with words like “possible,” “can,” and “could.” The writers do not elaborate on how China might pressure the Caribbean countries. Usually countries switch allegiance to China from Taiwan based on financial inducements and not from hegemonic pressure.

Economic Support versus Economic Sanctions

The Diplomat writers argue that “China helps sustain the [Cuban] regime through economic engagement.”

What exactly do the writers intend to imply by economic engagement sustaining a regime? The logical corollary is that economic sanctions are aimed at “regime change.” Stemming from this logic, the US uses economic measures to sustain the theocratic criminality and corruption in Saudi Arabia and economic sanctions to try and change socialistic governments in, among others, Venezuela, Cuba, and China. Nonetheless, trade is what countries do to build their economies.

Regarding the US favored method of applying pressure, American academics John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote: “economic sanctions … may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.”

The academics further noted,

It is interesting that this loss of human life has failed to make a great impression in the United States….

Some of the inattention may derive from a lack of concern about foreign lives. Although Americans are extremely sensitive to American casualties, they – like others – often seem quite insensitive to casualties suffered by those on the opposing side, whether military or civilian.

The world views economic sanctions in a different light from the US. This was illuminated by the UN General Assembly vote demanding an end to the US economic blockade on Cuba for the 29th year in a row. Aside from two negative votes cast by the US and its Israeli ally, 184 countries voted in favor of the resolution.

Perplexingly, the writers pointed out that “China has not, however, sold Cuba any significant weapons systems, as it has done with other states in the region such as Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.”

To the extent that selling armaments is a legitimate business, then why shouldn’t China sell armaments? Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia are not warring with other countries. Regarding the morality of selling weapons, consider that the US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country committing genocide against Yemen and to Israel, a country that serially aggresses and economically strangulates Palestine. Are the writers not aware that the US pokes China in the eye by selling armaments to its renegade province, Taiwan, in contravention of the One-China policy to which the US shook hands?

“Digital Authoritarianism”

The writers complain about “China exporting ‘digital authoritarianism’ to illiberal regimes across the region. In Venezuela, Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE helped the Maduro regime establish the ‘fatherland ID card’ system, which it used to control not only voting, but the distribution of scarce food packages.”

As for the ID cards, the link provided by the writers notes that the “system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuela’s government.” Besides, which country does not require ID in order to cast a vote?

Why are the food packages scarce? What would one expect when the US has sanctions against Venezuela? It is quite disingenuous to criticize a government for food packages being scarce when that scarcity is caused by the writers’ own government. Moreover, the writers continue to use the word control pejoratively. Are the voting systems and economic distribution networks not a function of government implementation everywhere? If the writers want to insist that voting and the results are manipulated, then provide the evidence. Contrariwise, US observers endorsed the legitimacy of Venezuela’s May 2020 election; also, international observers were “unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly.” The link supplied by the writers is now dead, but the title reads: “For poor Venezuelans, a box of food may sway vote for Maduro.” While in Venezuela, a group of us visited the mercals — where food was being made affordable for the masses — where we were informed: “The Chavez administration does not want Venezuela’s food needs to be dependent on outside sources, so a concerted effort has been made to produce all foods locally.” Obviously that food independence is still a work in progress. Such progress is not made easier by being targeted by economic sanctions.

The writers make clear their anti-leftist and their anti-democracy views:

Leftist authoritarian regimes are consolidating control in Venezuela and Nicaragua. The populist left has returned to power in Bolivia in the form of the MAS party, in Argentina with the Peronists, and in Mexico with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Morena movement. In Peru, the recent election of Pedro Castillo, a teacher from Cajamarca with a radical left agenda, similarly raises alarm bells. Upcoming elections in the region raise the prospects for an even broader spread of the populist left, including the prospect of victory by Xiomara Castro in November 2021 elections in Honduras, a President Petro emerging from Colombia’s 2022 elections, or the return of Lula da Silva and his Workers’ Party in Brazil’s October 2022 elections.

Yikes! Democracy can be such a pain in the butt. As the anarchist professor Noam Chomsky wrote, “In the real world, elite dislike of democracy is the norm.”6 For American elitists, “the United States supports democracy if, and only if, the outcomes accord with its strategic and economic objectives.”7 That the US did and would seek “regime change” in Latin America is borne out by its Operation Condor.

Lazarus and Ellis attempt to justify the US’ machinations against Cuba and China:

China’s continued efforts to prop up the Cuban regime matters to U.S. national security. For both good and bad, Cuba is connected to the United States through geographic proximity, historical connections, and family ties. The U.S. government has long focused on violations of the freedoms and human rights of the Cuban people.

The language of Lazarus and Ellis is oleaginous. Having a focus on human rights violations is qualitatively different from opposing human rights violations and quantitatively different from supporting human rights violations, as the US did when it supported the Fulgencio Batista “regime” (to use the parlance of Lazarus and Ellis) in Cuba, which served American corporate and military interests while massacring his own people. How does the occupation of Guantánamo Bay, where prisoners of war languish in what Amnesty International called the “gulag of our time”; the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Operation Northwoods; and economic sanctions speak for American fidelity to human rights?

The writers with ties to the US military accuse China of a “malign intent against the U.S. in cyberspace.” They reason that “Cuba could also be an area from which China could gather intelligence and conduct cyberattacks against the United States.”

The writers speculate about a malign Chinese intent. Malign intent is evidenced by the Stuxnet virus that the USA and Israel inserted into the Iranian nuclear program. The authors write as if the US is not guilty of the malignity they assert that China is guilty of.

How the United States Can Respond

Lazarus and Ellis argue that the US “should concentrate on helping partners in the region to engage with China in the most healthy, productive ways. For example, an emphasis on transparency inhibits the ability to engage in corrupt backroom deals with the Chinese that benefit the elites signing the deals rather than the country as a whole.”

Helping partners and advocating for transparency is great. Is this what the US does? It would be foolish to deny that the US does not engage with corrupt rulers, rulers who siphon off the loans meant for the people of the country who are then held responsible for the odious debt to the financial lenders?8

Lazarus and Ellis write, “With respect to cybersecurity, the United States should similarly look to increase support to partners in protecting their citizens’ privacy and security from malign actors like China.”

Let’s leave aside the unsupported allegation that China might be a malign actor. Instead, let’s ask what kind of actor is the US? Is it a benevolent actor? This is the actor that just recently ended a two-decade war in impoverished Afghanistan — a country where the US engaged in a cycle of war crimes. Ask yourself: is it a benevolent actor who engages in disinformation campaigns against countries like China that have eradicated absolute poverty (while in the US a 2019 measure of poverty showed a rate of 10.5%) and accuse it of the scurrilous and easily debunked allegation of committing genocide in Xinjiang? Is it an upstanding country that pursues the locking away of Julian Assange for exposing US war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere?

The writers suggest part of the solution for escaping Chinese spying is cybersecurity training by the US.

Is that a good idea — trusting Uncle Sam? If you get trained by the US and use US technology, then you might end up being surveilled by the US. Ask German chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders.

Lazarus and Ellis persist:

While recent events in Cuba show China’s growing influence in the region, the CCP’s emphatic support of the Cuban regime’s repressive acts also highlights that it is on the wrong side of history. The U.S. must deepen partnerships with Latin American countries and Caribbean friends.

Was the US on the right side of history in Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, historical Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, Chile, Grenada, etc? How should countries like Guatemala, Honduras, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and the other Latin American countries targeted by Operation Condor feel about a deepened partnership? And how would the peoples of Caribbean countries — e.g., Haiti, Grenada, Puerto Rico, etc — feel about a deepened partnership with the US?

Lazarus and Ellis proffer the haggard imperialist platitudes of partnership based on shared values, security, prosperity, and freedom. Which populations would they like to tempt with such an offer? To the people who experienced US-supported coups in Nicaragua, Honduras, Haiti, Bolivia, Brazil, or the masses in Venezuela subjected to unceasing American-government intrigues against their country? There is a reason why Latin Americans and Caribbean countries are leftists or turning leftward.

  1. See Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon Books, 2002 edition).
  2. Throughout the article all emphases within quotations have been added by this writer.
  3. See here, here, and here.
  4. Cited in Noam Chomsky, Who Rules the World? Metropolitan Books, 2014: 100.
  5. Since the writers deem it important to identify the governments in China and Cuba as communist, it would seem appropriate and balanced to identify other governments by their ideology.
  6. Chomsky, 45.
  7. Chomsky, 74.
  8. See Noam Chomsky, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order (Seven Stories Press, 1999). Chomsky describes how neoliberalism and financial institutions like the IMF and its structural adjustments have plunged the masses in developing countries into despair.
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