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By Alfredo Lopez
Toward the end of Roman Polanski's masterpiece "Chinatown" an exchange takes place between "hero" Jake Gittes and the super-rich Noah Cross when Gittes finally realizes that Cross has seized control of Los Angeles' water supply.
"I just wanna know what you're worth," Gittes explains. "More than 10 million?
By Norman Solomon
Darwin observed that conscience is what most distinguishes humans from other animals. If so, grief isn’t far behind. Realms of anguish are deeply personal -- yet prone to expropriation for public use, especially in this era of media hyper-spin. Narratives often thresh personal sorrow into political hay. More than ever, with grief marketed as a civic commodity, the personal is the politicized.
The politicizing of grief exploded in the wake of 9/11. When so much pain, rage and fear set the U.S. cauldron to boil, national leaders promised their alchemy would bring unalloyed security. The fool’s gold standard included degrading civil liberties and pursuing a global war effort that promised to be ceaseless. From the political outset, some of the dead and bereaved were vastly important, others insignificant. Such routine assumptions have remained implicit and intact.
Media Responses to Obama's Speech
by Stephen Lendman
They didn't surprise. Media scoundrels support his worst policies. His neoliberal harshness is endorsed. His alliance with monied interests gets no coverage.
His crimes of war, against humanity and genocide go unmentioned.
LOOK BACK- Read previous issues of COLDTYPE Magazine and THE READER
With the revelation that the Department of Justice secretly obtained two months of The Associated Press’ telephone records and used security badge access records to track James Rosen’s visits to the State Department, along with a warrant to search Rosen’s personal emails, there has been a rush in the mainstream media to declare the DOJ’s actions to be part of what they claim to be President Obama’s aggressive pursuit of those who would leak secret information to the press.
For example, The Washington Post describes the DOJ’s investigation of AP as “part of a pattern in which the Obama administration has pursued current and former government officials suspected of releasing secret material. Six officials have been prosecuted, more than under all previous administrations combined.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times states that the investigation “comes against a backdrop of an aggressive policy by the Obama administration to rein in leaks. Under President Obama, six current and former government officials have been indicted in leak-related cases so far, twice the number brought under all previous administrations combined.”
The New York Times and The Washington Post are propagating a false narrative, one that depicts Obama as some sort of crusader hell bent on plugging all leaks. The reality is the Obama administration has either authorized or acquiesced to the leak of information that is deemed politically beneficial, while relentlessly investigating and prosecuting those who reveal information that reflects poorly on his administration and the U.S. government.
It is ironic that The Washington Post and The New York Times claim that the Obama administration has aggressively pursued leakers seeing that both media sources have happily provided Obama administration officials with anonymity so they can leak classified information favorable to the President without consequence.
Somehow, The Washington Posts’ June 1, 2012, report on the Obama administration’s use of cyber warfare must have slipped through the cracks at the White House and the DOJ. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. and Israel were behind Stuxnet, the cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Prior to this report, there had been speculation that the U.S. and Israel were behind the attack, but no official confirmation. Confirmation was provided to The Washington Post by an official “speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the classified effort code-named Olympic Games.”
These cracks must be enormous to have let the three dozen current and former Obama administration officials who contributed to The New York Time’s expose on drones slip through them. On May 29, 2012, The New York Times revealed that Obama maintains a ‘Kill List’ and that he counts all military-age males killed in drone strikes as combatants unless proven innocent posthumously. Regarding the president’s indiscriminate counting method, one official “requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has charged six whistle-blowers, a term apparently not in The New York Times’s or The Washington Post’s editorial vocabulary, under the Espionage Act. These six individuals have revealed government waste, fraud, and abuse, acts of aggression, torture and war crimes. Yet, it is those who have revealed the criminal activity that have suffered prosecution by the Obama administration while those who actually committed the crimes have gone unpunished.
On Feb. 22, 2012, in response to Obama’s deserved glowing praise of journalists in Syria, Jake Tapper asked White House press secretary Jay Carney, “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”
The Obama administration has sent a clear message. Government officials and journalists who wish to work together to create news stories through the leak of classified information that portray the president and his administration in a positive light should have no fear. And to the journalists and whistle-blowers thinking about publishing that other kind of classified information, be prepared to have your emails read, your phones tapped without your knowledge and your life and career turned upside down.
Bachman is a professorial lecturer in Human Rights at the School of International Service at American University.
By Dave Lindorff
(This article was originally written forWhoWhatWhy News)
After years of mismanagement, the Tribune Company newspapers -- including the Chicago Tribune and L.A. Times -- are up for sale. And one of the potential buyers? The Koch brothers. And wow are people outraged!
Yes, it's those Koch brothers:the billionaire businessmen who run Koch Industries, a sprawling multinational corporation involved in everything from oil to fertilizer to paper towels. But you probably know the Koch brothers for how they spend their considerable wealth: bankrolling right-wing political causes like the Tea Party movement, and funneling millions of dollars to front groups and politicians devoted to their anti-regulatory, anti-labor, and pro-corporate ideology. The Kochs have spent millions propping up climate-change deniers, and have been instrumental in funding ALEC, the powerful business lobby that pushes corporate-friendly policies at the state level.
What would the Kochs do with a few major newspapers? They would push public opinion and public despair further to the right and further into the depths. This is why taxing billionaires is not a policy driven by greed or jealousy or even the desire to put vast sums of riches to good use. Taxing billionaires is necessary if we are going to have representative government. We talk about "freedom of the press." Never mind government surveillance of reporters' phone records. Never mind the prosecutions of whistleblowers and journalists. If billionaires can dominate our communications system with what to them amounts to pocket change, while we blog dissent to people who believe nothing that doesn't appear on Tee-Vee or in a corporate paper, whose freedom of the press is it?
Some recent reports indicate that many L.A. Times staffers would consider leaving the paper if it were purchased by the Kochs -- which is probably music to their cost-cutting ears. Better than staff promising to quit is subscribers promising to unsubscribe:
"I will cancel my subscription and so will family members. We have no need for propaganda dictated by far right-wing spoiled billionaires with an anti-citizenry, pro 1% agenda. This will be the death of your struggling paper in a town that once had a proud history of journalism. It's a disgrace."
That comment was posted with a signature on this petition. Here are some more:
"If you want to increase the circulation of the New York TIMES in Los Angeles, let the Koch brothers buy the Los Angeles TIMES."
"No Koch news!!!"
"If the Koch brothers get their hands on your paper, it will only be useful as tp."
"Don't give up the integrity of your company for a measley few bucks."
"I refuse to continue my newspaper subscription if the Koch Brothers buy the Tribune. I boycott their other products so I will do the same if they buy the Tribune."
"If you sell to the Koch brothers, you can remove us from your subscription list!!"
"Don't let your long tradition of fair reporting be purchased away."
"Koch purchase is a bad deal for our nation!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Keep the corporate greed off of our free press!"
"Selling out to the Koch's will pretty much put the kabosh on the 4th Estate's duty to afflict the comfortable."
"If the Koch Brothers take over, you'll lose this loyal reader of the Chicago Tribune forever."
"What an ignoble end to two fine papers known for excellence it would be if the Koch Bros. became the new owner. Forget about fairness and accuracy; the papers would simply become the latest bullhorn from which Charles and David would spew their propaganda. Has it come to this? Please don't sell."
"I am producer/director of Tell the Truth and Run: George Seldes and the American Press. Seldes worked 10 years for the Chi Tribune as a foreign correspondent when their foreign press corps was one of the best in the world! Remember with pride that high-quality journalism of the early Twentieth Century and don't sell out!"
"This country is going in the wrong direction, don't help it."
"As a Chicago Tribune subscriber, I can say we will no longer subscribe to either the print or online version of the Trib if this sale goes through. The reputation and standing of the Tribune organization is on the line, and it will suffer irreparable harm if the sale occurs."
"I have subscribed for 36 years and will cancel."
"As the son of a former Editor on the Chicago Tribune I urge you to remember the Colonel and stand for something. Don't turn the Trib over to men that care only for this country for what they can dredge out of it for their own personal wealth."
"I am an LA Times reader, my parents are Chicago Tribune readers. We will do everything we can to make sure everyone we know never reads another edition of these papers if sold to the Kochs."
Add your own comments for the Tribune Company to read.
By John Grant
It was the summer of 1981. I was working on an ambulance in Philadelphia, transporting a cancer patient to a hospital for radiation treatments. The man was in his sixties, and I felt he knew his days were numbered.
In my conversations with the man, it came up that I was a Vietnam veteran. He told me he was in the CIA in Saigon in the early 1970s.
“What did you do?” I asked.
By Alfredo Lopez
This Summer, a team at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has undertaken a remarkable project: to recreate the first web site and the computer on which it was first seen.
BBC's Longstanding Pro-Israeli Bias
by Stephen Lendman
Since 1922, BBC's first general manager, John Reith, explained his mandate. UK officials "know they can trust us not be be really impartial," he said.
It's a reliable business/government partner. Earlier it was called the "British Falsehood Corporation." More recently it's been known as the "British Bombing (or Bombast) Club."
By Dan DeWalt
Has the "land of the free and home of the brave" decided to roll over in fear and concede defeat to terrorism?
Craft International Services hired guns at the Boston Marathon: Why Such Secrecy about Private Military Contractor’s Men Working
By Dave Lindorff
Speaking as an investigative reporter with almost 40 years’s experience, I can say that when government officials won’t talk, they’re generally hiding something embarrassing or worse.
By Alfredo Lopez
One thing is clear amidst the shower of confusion and contradiction that bathes the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: the legal and technological structure of a police state is in place and can be quickly activated. As if on cue, while the hunt for the bombers was ongoing, the House of Representatives obligingly enhanced that police state capability by passing the draconian Cyber Intelligence and Protection Act (CIPA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the President, it will greatly expand the government's intrusion into all our lives.
By Dave LIndorff
I have written a lengthy piece about all the bizarre aspects of the Tsarnaev brothers’ alleged bombing of the Boston Marathon, including questions about where the elder Tsarnaev brother, Tarmelan, who was delivering pizzas, and whose wife was slaving away at a low-paid home health aid job, got the money to buy his fancy clothes and Mercedes Benz, why the Marathon finish line area was crawling with black-jacketed mercenaries from the Craft International Security rent-a-soldier agency, and how the police and federal agencies and National Guard managed to lock down a city of a million in a few hours’ time without any advance planning.
Now a clever guy has found video showing the younger, surviving brother, Dzhokhar, rushing from the scene of the bombing which clearly shows him still wearing his black backpack!
Furthermore, the same video shows images, already widely circulated, of the exploded backpack, with a unique whie square on its top -- a design that is clearly visible on the top of a black backpack being worn by one of two Craft mercs.
Then the real shocker: An image, also widely circulated, that shows the same Craft mercenary character, running from the bomb explosion without his backpack!
As I wrote in the headline of my story in ThisCantBeHappening!: There’s a rush to execute the captured Dzhokhan for this horrible crime, but “Something’s Rotten in Boston.”
DAVE LINDORFF is the founding editor of ThisCantBeHappening!
George W. Bush should be given an indictment, not a library. An online email action is letting the Department of Justice know the facts about the former president. And the People's Response to the George W. Bush Library and Policy Institute is filling the streets of Dallas with protesters this week as five current or former presidents join in a celebration of Dubya's national service. I'll certainly be there.
I wish I were kidding about the following. The Dallas Morning News is refusing to take good money to publish the ad below because it suggests former president Bush lied about Iraq.
Of course it would be shocking to suggest that Bush might have lied. Who ever heard of such a thing?
Campaign promises don't count, of course. Bush discarded those by the dozen, but who doesn't? And when he said he'd fire whoever leaked Valerie Plame's name and then didn't, that's more of a technicality than a lie. And when he claimed in his 2007 State of the Union to have prevented four terrorist plots and none of them were real, that was more of a poetic license than a lie. Also when he said he hadn't been warned about Hurricane Katrina and then we saw that video of him being warned, there was no proof he actually understood what was being said to him. Oh, and when he promised never to spy without a warrant and then got caught, that was sort of a willful falsehood for our own good, not a lie at all. And when he said he didn't torture and then confessed to torturing, that was the fault of pesky journalists; Bush himself never intended to admit to torturing if he hadn't been pestered about it!
But if we can remember all of these near-lies these several years later, it does seem possible that Bush had a little trouble with the truth. Let's look at Iraq, just to be sure.
On January 31, 2003, Bush met with Tony Blair in the White House and proposed all sorts of harebrained schemes to try to start a war in Iraq. They understood that Iraq was no threat. Bush promised an all-out effort to get U.N. approval for an attack. Then the two of them walked right out to the White House Press Corpse (sic) and proclaimed their intention to avoid war if at all possible, warned of the threat from Iraq, and claimed to already have U.N. approval for war if needed. I'll grant you that looks like a lie, but if none of the reporters there that day are bothered by it (not a one of them has ever complained), why should we be? Maybe Bush meant that he'd try to avoid war for 60 more seconds. That could have been true. Later that day when he had the NSA start spying on other nations' U.N. delegations, maybe he was trying to determine the best Christmas presents to send them. Hey, it's possible.
In 1999 Bush told his biographer Mickey Herskowitz that he wanted to start a war with Iraq. But that could have been just a random fleeting whimsy. Maybe you had to be there to catch the humor. Also in 1999 at a primary debate in New Hampshire, Bush said he'd "take out" Saddam Hussein. "I'm surprised he's still there," he said. But Bush did get the nomination, so we're probably misunderstanding him somehow.
When Bush moved to the White House he must have learned what was what. In 1995 Saddam Hussein's son-in-law had informed the U.S. and the British that all biological, chemical, missile, and nuclear weapons had been destroyed under his direct supervision. After U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, the lead inspector said they'd come to the same conclusion. In 2002 the Defense Intelligence Agency agreed. Also in 2002 CIA Director George Tenet told Bush that Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri -- a CIA informer -- agreed with the U.N. and the D.I.A., as did Iraq's intelligence chief. So, still in 2002, the CIA sent 30 Iraqi-Americans to visit Iraqi weapons scientists, but the mission was a failure: they came back with the same definitive conclusion as the U.N., the D.I.A., and Sabri.
In 2001, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and others in the Bush Administration were telling the media that Saddam Hussein had no weapons. The closest connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden was that they had both worked with the United States. Everything changed in 2002, and not because of any evidence. In October 2002, the CIA told Bush that Hussein was unlikely to attack unless attacked first. The CIA had told Bush this four times in morning briefings since that spring. Bush immediately gave a speech in Cincinnati warning of a dire threat from Iraq. Bush's subordinates took an October 1st National Intelligence Estimate that said Hussein was unlikely to attack unless attacked and "summarized" it to say nearly the opposite in a "white paper" released to the public.
By the time Bush and Blair stood before the White House Press Corpse, they had decided on war and begun it. Troops were being deployed. Escalated bombing missions were preparing the ground. Assorted attempts to initiate all-out war had already failed or been abandoned. That Bush was interested in provoking Iraq is confirmed by extensive covert operations called DB/Anabasis reported by Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book Hubris:
"Over an intense forty-five day period beginning in late 2001, [two CIA operatives] cooked up an audacious plan. . . . It called for installing a small army of paramilitary CIA officers on the ground inside Iraq; for elaborate schemes to penetrate Saddam's regime; recruiting disgruntled military officers with buckets of cash; for feeding the regime disinformation . . . for disrupting the regime’s finances . . . for sabotage that included blowing up railroad lines. . . . It also envisioned staging a phony incident that could be used to start a war. A small group of Iraqi exiles would be flown into Iraq by helicopter to seize an isolated military base near the Saudi border. They then would take to the airwaves and announce a coup was under way. If Saddam responded by flying troops south, his aircraft would be shot down by US fighter planes patrolling the no-fly zones established by U.N. edict after the first Persian Gulf War. A clash of this sort could be used to initiate a full-scale war. On February 16, 2002, President Bush signed covert findings authorizing the various elements of Anabasis. The leaders of the congressional intelligence committees -- including Porter Goss, a Republican, and Senator Bob Graham, a Democrat -- were briefed. 'The idea was to create an incident in which Saddam lashes out' [said CIA operative John McGuire]. If all went as planned, 'you'd have a premise for war: we've been invited in.'"
A White House staffer was instructed in 2003 to forge a letter that could be used to tie Hussein to al Qaeda as well as to forge letters smearing vocal opponents of invasion. Other information tying Hussein to al Qaeda consisted largely of claims fed to a torture victim. Evidence of biological weapons came from a German informant identified as a heavy drinker with mental breakdowns, not psychologically stable, "crazy," and "probably a fabricator." Evidence for nuclear weapons rested heavily on a forged letter, rejected as a forged letter by the CIA. There was also a claim re aluminum tubes that was rejected by the Energy Department and the State Department and even by the military until it contracted out to a couple of hacks in Central Virginia who were willing to say what was needed.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller concluded that "In making the case for war, the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even nonexistent."
Clearly Rockefeller is jumping to a conclusion, and the more responsible people over at the Dallas Morning News know better.
Still, if you think there might be something to all of this, I recommend reading The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush.
Laws clearly violated by George W. Bush include, among many others: The U.S. Constitution Article I, Sections 8, 9, Article II, Sections 1, 3, Article VI, and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, the prohibition on covert propaganda, Title 2 U.S. Code Section 194, Title 18 U.S. Code Sections 4, 371, 1341, 1346, 1385, 2340A, 2441, The War Powers Act, the United Nations Charter Chapter 1 Article 2 Section 3, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Hague Convention of 1899, Joint Resolution 114 Section 3, Additional Protocol I to Geneva Conventions, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2008 Section 1222, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Third Geneva Convention, the International Covenant on Human Rights Articles 7, 10, the Convention Against Torture, the Optional Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention on Rights of the Child, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Stored Communications Act.
But who's counting?
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Was it simply a “cold business decision” or a callous act of censorship?
This is the question swirling around legendary pro-basketball player Shaquille O’Neal who put a power move on Stephen Vittoria blocking this respected filmmaker’s showing of his latest documentary at the movie complex O’Neal co-owns in downtown Newark, NJ, the city where both of these men were born.
By Dave Lindorff
The Boston Marathon bombing has already demonstrated the best and the worst of America for all the world to see.
Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has a new book that should be required reading for Congress members, journalists, war supporters, war opponents, Americans, non-Americans -- really, pretty much everybody. The new book is called Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.
Of course, Scahill is not suggesting that the world should be a battlefield. He's reporting on how the Bush and Obama White Houses have defined and treated it as such.
The phrase "dirty wars" is a little less clear in meaning. Scahill is a reporter whose chronological narrative is gripping and revealing but virtually commentary-free. Any observations on the facts related tend to come in the form of quotations from experts and those involved. So, there isn't anywhere in the book that explicitly explains what a dirty war is.
The focus of the book is on operations that were once more secretive than they are today: kidnapping, rendition, secret-imprisonment, torture, and assassination. "This is a story," reads the first sentence of the book, "about how the United States came to embrace assassination as a central part of its national security policy." It's a story about special, elite, and mercenary forces operating under even less Congressional or public oversight than the rest of the U.S. military, a story about the Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA, and not about the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad or the activities of tens of thousands of soldiers occupying Iraq or Afghanistan.
The type of war recounted is variously identified in the book as dirty, dark, black, dark-side, small, covert, black-ops, asymmetric, secret, twilight, and -- in quotation marks -- "smart." At one point, Scahill describes the White House, along with General Stanley McChrystal, as beginning to "apply its emerging global kill list doctrine inside Afghanistan, buried within the larger, public war involving conventional U.S. forces." But part of Scahill's story is how, in recent years, something that had been considered special, secretive, and relatively unimportant has come to occupy the focus of the U.S. military. In the process, it has lost some of its stigma as well as its secretiveness. Scahill refers to some operations as "not so covert." It's hard to hide a drone war that is killing people by the thousands. Secret death squad night raids that are bragged about in front of the White House Press Corps are not so secret.
By Norman Solomon
After the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country’s politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion -- and reflexive “doublethink,” which George Orwell described as willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”
In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say.” The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, “rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast.”
Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of “combined effects munitions” when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting.
Manning's Co-Defendant is the Internet Itself Bradley Manning Update: How to Commit Espionage Without Trying!
By Dave Lindorff
If it wasn't clear up to now, it was made crystal clear last week. The co-defendent in the Bradley Manning trial is the Internet itself.
Venezuela: Post-Election Sour Grapes
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout his tenure, America's scoundrel media vilified Chavez relentlessly. They did so straightaway.
After his December 1998 election, New York Times Latin American correspondent Larry Roher, called him a "populist demagogue, an authoritarian….caudillo (strongman)." He lied saying so.
New York Times v. North Korea
by Stephen Lendman
The Times is America's unofficial ministry of information and propaganda. Daily managed news misinformation is featured.
Articles, commentaries and editorials are brazenly one-sided. Readers are systematically lied to. Fiction substitutes for facts. Information is carefully filtered. Dissent is marginalized.
By Dave Lindorff
What’s wrong with the Obama administration’s proposal to change the way Social Security checks are adjusted for inflation from using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to instead using something called a “chained” CPI?
Let’s start with the fundamental problem: Social Security is not a cause of the federal budget deficit, and will not be for years, even if nothing is done to raise more revenue for the program.
NO CUTS! NO TAX INCREASES ON ORDINARY PEOPLE! Chase Down Mega-Rich Tax Cheats and Recover the Offshore Trillion$
By Dave Lindorff
I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all.
By John Grant
“The elite always has a Plan B, while people have no escape.”
- Ahmad Saadawi
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The HISTORY channel is catching righteous hell for crafting the character of Satan in its miniseries “The Bible” to bear an uncanny likeness to U.S. President Barak Obama.
Is it just coincidence that the dark-skinned Satan in this HISTORY channel miniseries looks hauntingly similar to the first black man to occupy the Oval Office seat in America’s White House?
Just a US Citizen, No Big Deal: Obama Doesn’t Demand Israeli Apology for Killing of an American Youth
By Dave Lindorff
The American media is full of praise for President Obama for “brokering” a detente between Israel and Turkey, two former allies who have been at loggerheads since May 31, 2010 when heavily armed Israeli Defense Force fighters boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza with non-military supplies, and killed nine unarmed peace flotilla activists.
The National Museum of American History, and a billionaire who has funded a new exhibit there, would like you to know that we're going to need more wars if we want to have freedom. Never mind that we seem to lose so many freedoms whenever we have wars. Never mind that so many nations have created more freedoms than we enjoy and done so without wars. In our case, war is the price of freedom. Hence the new exhibit: "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War."
The exhibit opens with these words: "Americans have gone to war to win their independence, expand their national boundaries, define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe." Those foolish, foolish Canadians: why, oh, why did they win their independence without a war? Think of all the people they might have killed! The exhibit is surprisingly, if minimally, honest about imperialism, at least in the early wars. The aim of conquering Canada is included, along with bogus excuses, as one of the motivations for the War of 1812.
The most outrageous part of the opening lines of the exhibition, however, may be the second half: ". . . define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe." The exhibition, to the extent that I've surveyed it online, provides absolutely no indication of what in the world can be meant by a war being launched in order to "define our freedoms." And, needless to say, it is the U.S. government, not "Americans," that imagines it has "interests around the globe" that can and should be "defended" by launching wars.
The exhibit is an extravaganza of lies and deceptions. The U.S. Civil War is presented as "America's bloodiest conflict." Really? Because Filipinos don't bleed? Vietnamese don't bleed? Iraqis don't bleed? We should not imagine that our children don't learn exactly that lesson. The Spanish American War is presented as an effort to "free Cuba," and so forth. But overwhelmingly the lying is done in this exhibit by omission. Bad past excuses for wars are ignored, the death and destruction is ignored or falsely reduced. Wars that are too recent for many of us to swallow too much B.S. about are quickly passed over.
The exhibit helpfully provides a teacher's manual (PDF), and its entire coverage of the past 12 years of warmaking (which has involved the killing of some 1.4 million people in Iraq alone) consists of the events of 9/11/2001, beginning with this:
"September 11 was a modern-day tragedy of immense proportions. The devastating attacks by al Qaeda terrorists inside the United States killed some 3,000 people and sparked an American-led war on terrorism. The repercussions of that day will impact domestic and international political decisions for many years to come. At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, a passenger jet flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Fire and rescue crews rushed to the scene. As live TV coverage began, horrified viewers watched as a second plane slammed into the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Thirty-five minutes later a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon. Another jet bound for Washington, D.C., crashed in Pennsylvania after its passengers challenged the hijackers. The nation reeled. But Americans resolved to fight back, inspired by the words of a passenger who helped foil the last attack: 'Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.'"
If you talk to non-sociopathic teachers, you discover that the sort of "teaching" engaged in by our museums has a horrible impact on students' understanding. A new book called Teaching About the Wars is a great place to start. It's written by teachers who try to present their students with a more complete and honest understanding of war than what's expected by common text books, many of which are far worse than the museum exhibit described above. These teachers / authors argue that when a teacher pretends to have no point of view, he or she teaches their students moral apathy. Pretending not to care about the world teaches children not to care about the world. Teachers should have a point of view but teach more than one, teach critical thinking and analysis, teach skepticism, and teach respect for the opinions of others.
Students should not be taught, these teachers suggest, to reject all public claims as falsehoods and the truth as absolutely unknowable. Rather, they should be taught to critically evaluate claims and develop informed opinions. Jessica Klonsky writes:
"One of the most successful media-related lessons involved an exercise comparing two media viewpoints. First I showed the first 20 minutes of Control Room, a documentary about Al Jazeera, the international Arabic-language television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Students were shocked by the dead bodies and destruction shown on Al Jazeera. For many it was the first time they realized that it wasn't just soldiers who died in war."
U.S. soldiers were 0.3% of the dead in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq. These students had been unaware of the other 99.7% of the dead. Learning what war really looks like is perhaps the most important lesson missing from our usual education system.
Another important lesson is who engages in war and why. Bill Bigelow presents a model lesson through which teachers can present students with true situations, but with the names of the nations changed. They can discuss what the nations ought to have done, before learning that one of the nations was their own, and before learning what it actually did. Then they can discuss that reality. Bigelow also begins his teaching about the "war on terrorism" by asking students to work on defining "terrorism" (and not by attacking each other, which is presumably how the National Museum of American History would recommend "defining" such a term).
One teacher ends such a lesson by asking "What difference do you think it would make if students all over the country were having the discussion we're having today?" Clearly, that question moves students toward becoming potential teachers wanting to share their knowledge to a far greater extent than, say, teaching them the dates of battles and suggesting they try to impress others with their memorization.
Can good teaching compete with the Lockheed Martin-sponsored Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Army's video games, Argo, Zero Dark 30, the slick lies of the recruiters, the Vietnam Commemoration Project, the flag waving of the television networks, the fascistic pledges of allegiance every morning, and the lack of good alternative life prospects? Sometime, yes. And more often the more it spreads and the better it is done.
One chapter in Teaching About the Wars describes a project that connects students in the United States with students in Western Asia via live video discussions. That experience should be required in any young person's education. I guarantee you that our government employs drone "pilots" to connect with foreign countries via live video in a more destructive manner who never spoke with foreign children when they were growing up.