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Three remarkable items in Thursday's Charlottesville Daily Progress. First, a football player explaining that when he proclaimed his superiority to his opponent after a game he was caught up in the game's passion, and that the overblown reaction to his obnoxious comments seems racist. Indeed it does, but it seems to reflect another type of willful ignorance as well.
Spectators at gladiator matches don't want to see too deeply into the minds of the gladiators. We want to watch violent sports without peering inside the helmets. Do they have to tell themselves the other team is dirt? Are they scared? Are they vicious? We don't want to know that stuff. We want them to give the other guy brain damage and then jump up and talk to the microphone like a coach: "They played a great game today, and in my analysis we won by outplaying them at the game of football. That's what it really comes down to."
Football players are the least of it. Their thoughts would be far more acceptable in prime time than the thoughts of some other people on that field. In many ways, football games have become advertisements for wars and militarism. Jets fly over. Soldiers hold flags. Guns are fired. War-based national anthems are sung. Troops are honored. But do those troops chant what they chant in basic training? Do they scream about how blood makes the grass grow? Do they shout their racism and bigotry and insatiable desire to kill? Of course not. Barbara Bush didn't want her beautiful mind disturbed with body counts and why should we?
If Richard Sherman is a thug for saying he's better than an opposing player, what are soldiers, sailors, Marines, and drone "pilots" who have been conditioned to kill on command because they are so far better than the men, women, children, infants, and grandparents they kill, as to consider those lives expendable? Football fans don't want to know. Who wants to see what went into a hotdog? Who wants to know what it means to have panem with your circenses? Who wants to experience what it takes to make the United States -- in a recent poll of 65 nations -- the overwhelming leader as the greatest threat to peace in the world? Who wants to hear that Pat Tillman came to oppose the war he was engaged in and was killed by "friendly fire" with no "enemies" for miles around? It's a good thing the uniformed thugs of halftime don't speak unrehearsed into microphones.
I recall in a recent Super Bowl hearing the announcer thank U.S. troops for watching from 177 countries. That number could go up a little this year. To put it in context, there are 196 countries on earth. What are armed Americans doing in 177 countries? They're making their fellow Americans hated. Look at this week's election in Okinawa, where the victorious mayoral candidate ran on a platform of opposing the U.S. bases. Look at Italy, where the entire nation turned against the massive U.S. base construction at Vicenza. Look at South Korea, where the people of Jeju Island are willing to give their lives to stop the construction of a huge base for U.S. ships. Look at Bahrain, where the people are courageously resisted a vicious monarch, a thug if ever there was a thug, and the United States that stands behind him for the sake of docking its deadly ships in his little boat-dock nation. Look at Yemen, whose corrupt government was forced to admit last week to a major humanitarian crisis of traumatized children -- traumatized by the constant buzzing of U.S. drones. Who wants to know that? I want to see cheerleaders and funny commercials!
Item number two: "Kaine Talks War Powers Bill." This article suggests that Senator Tim Kaine wants to restore warmaking powers to Congress. But read Kaine's press release. This bill would violate the Constitution which gave war powers to Congress, and the War Powers Resolution which retained partial war powers for Congress. Rather than a Congressional authorization, under Kaine's bill, presidents would just have to talk to Congress, after which they could tell Congress to go to hell and proceed with their desired wars (except for endless drone wars, for which Kaine says the requirement to talk to Congress is waived). And why undo the War Powers Resolution? The thinking, as recounted in the article, is that, since presidents keep violating it, repealing it is the way to uphold "the rule of law." So, what will uphold the new law? If presidents don't even talk to Congress -- as Obama went out of his way to avoid doing before bombing Libya -- will the new law have to be repealed to uphold "the rule of law"?
One would think presidents couldn't be impeached and prosecuted.
If only there were someone to ask about that!
Item number three: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to speak at UVA's Miller Center at 3 p.m. Thursday. Public not welcome.
I don't recall the exercise of one's rights under the First Amendment requiring an invitation. Do you?
By Alfredo Lopez
This past week, the Federal government threw a one-two punch that will effectively destroy the Internet as we know it. Demonstrating, once again, his talent for obfuscation and misdirection, President Obama made a speech about reforming the NSA and controlling surveillance that actually officially recognized, sanctioned and even expanded the NSA's domestic spying and cyber-warfare.
By Norman Solomon
American journalism has entered highly dangerous terrain.
A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos -- who’s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder.
The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA.
The situation is unprecedented. But in an email exchange early this month, Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron told me that the newspaper doesn’t need to routinely inform readers of the CIA-Amazon-Bezos ties when reporting on the CIA. He wrote that such in-story acknowledgment would be “far outside the norm of disclosures about potential conflicts of interest at media organizations.”
But there isn’t anything normal about the new situation. As I wrote to Baron, “few journalists could have anticipated ownership of the paper by a multibillionaire whose outside company would be so closely tied to the CIA.”
The Washington Post’s refusal to provide readers with minimal disclosure in coverage of the CIA is important on its own. But it’s also a marker for an ominous pattern -- combining denial with accommodation to raw financial and governmental power -- a synergy of media leverage, corporate digital muscle and secretive agencies implementing policies of mass surveillance, covert action and ongoing warfare.
Digital prowess at collecting global data and keeping secrets is crucial to the missions of Amazon and the CIA. The two institutions have only begun to explore how to work together more effectively.
For the CIA, the emerging newspaper role of Mr. Amazon is value added to any working relationship with him. The CIA’s zeal to increase its leverage over major American media outlets is longstanding.
After creation of the CIA in 1947, it enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations. But the agency faced a major challenge in October 1977, when -- soon after leaving the Washington Post -- famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein provided an extensive expose in Rolling Stone.
Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years “more than 400 American journalists ... have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” He added: “The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception.”
Bernstein’s story tarnished the reputations of many journalists and media institutions, including the Washington Post and New York Times. While the CIA’s mission was widely assumed to involve “obfuscation and deception,” the mission of the nation’s finest newspapers was ostensibly the opposite.
During the last few decades, as far as we know, the extent of extreme media cohabitation with the CIA has declined sharply. At the same time, as the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq attests, many prominent U.S. journalists and media outlets have continued to regurgitate, for public consumption, what’s fed to them by the CIA and other official “national security” sources.
The recent purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos has poured some high-finance concrete for a new structural bridge between the media industry and the surveillance/warfare state. The development puts the CIA in closer institutionalized proximity to the Post, arguably the most important political media outlet in the United States.
At this point, about 30,000 people have signed a petition (launched by RootsAction.org) with a minimal request: “The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon -- and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.” On behalf of the petition’s signers, I’m scheduled to deliver it to the Washington Post headquarters on January 15. The petition is an opening salvo in a long-term battle.
By its own account, Amazon -- which has yielded Jeff Bezos personal wealth of around $25 billion so far -- is eager to widen its services to the CIA beyond the initial $600 million deal. “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA,” a statement from Amazon said two months ago. As Bezos continues to gain even more wealth from Amazon, how likely is that goal to affect his newspaper’s coverage of the CIA?
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
By John Grant
US military history from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan is too often a combination of destructive stumbling around followed by an effort to sustain and project forward the notion of US power and exceptionalism. To forge another narrative is very difficult.
By Alfredo Lopez
On this website, we've speculated that one outcome of the flood of NSA-centered revelations has been to desensitize U.S. citizens and diminish outrage at what is actually revealed. We are becoming conditioned to the horror story that is the National Security Administration.
By Norman Solomon
To: Martin Baron, Executive Editor, and Kevin Merida, Managing Editor, The Washington Post
Dear Mr. Baron and Mr. Merida:
On behalf of more than 25,000 signers of a petition to The Washington Post, I’m writing this letter to request a brief meeting to present the petition at a time that would be convenient for you on Jan. 14 or 15.
Here is the text of the petition, launched by RootsAction.org:
1. Any article listing the top 10 of anything will be widely read.
2. A poll of people in 65 countries, including the United States, finds that the United States is overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to peace in the world. The consensus would have been even stronger had the United States itself not been polled, because the 5 percent of humanity living here is largely convinced that the other 95% of humanity -- that group with experience being threatened or attacked by the United States -- is wrong. After all, our government in the U.S. tells us it's in favor of peace. Even when it bombs cities, it does it for peace. It's hard for people under the bombs to see that. We in the U.S. have a better perspective.
3. Polls in the United States through the 2003-2011 war on Iraq found that a majority in the U.S. believed Iraqis were better off as the result of a war that severely damaged -- even destroyed -- Iraq. A majority of Iraqis, in contrast, believed they were worse off. A majority in the United States believed Iraqis were grateful. This is a disagreement over facts, not ideology. But people often choose which facts to become aware of or to accept. Tenacious believers in tales of Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" tended to believe more, not less, firmly when shown the facts. The facts about Iraq are not pleasant, but they are important. To believe that the people who live where your nation's government has waged a war are better off for it, despite those people's contention that they are worse off, suggests an extreme sort of arrogance -- and a misplaced arrogance because you've just proven that a few slick politicians can make you believe up is down.
4. According to U.S.ians the greatest threat to peace on earth is a nation that hasn't threatened any other, and hasn't attacked any other in centuries, a nation that suffered horrible chemical weapons attacks and refused to use chemical weapons in response, a nation that has refused to develop nuclear weapons but been falsely accused of doing so by the U.S. government for decades. That's right: a bit of laughably bad propaganda, regurgitated in variations for 30 years, and the smart critical thinkers of the Land of the Free declare a nation with a military budget below 1% of their own -- Iran -- the Greatest Threat to Peace. Edward Bernays is cackling wickedly in his grave.
5. Because no cartoon character has ever been named after Edward Bernays, nobody's ever heard of him.
6. In poll after poll after poll, 75% to 85% in the United States say their system of government is broken. Yet, what remains the top piece of advice to agitators for change? That's right: "Work within the system." And what remains the fallback ultimate reliable justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war: That's right: "We need to bring our system of government to others."
7. When U.S. military spending begins to inch below $1 trillion a year, military-friendly journalists declare the weapons lobby dead. When it begins to inch back slightly above $1 trillion a year, slightly less military-friendly journalists declare the weapons profiteers alive but struggling. In both scenarios the level of spending remains roughly $1 trillion and the difference between the high end and the low end, while greater than most other public programs will ever see, is less than the Pentagon "misplaces" in an average 12-month period.
8. On Tuesdays, President Barack Obama goes through a list of men, women, and children, picks which ones to have murdered, and has them murdered. Knowing this would conflict with hating exclusively a particular sub-group of our public sociopaths, so most people simply choose not to know it.
9. If Iraq had really had those weapons, and if Syria had demonstrably really killed a small number of its victims with the wrong type of weapons, and if Iran were really building nuclear weapons, . . . then launching wars on those countries would still be illegal, immoral, and disastrous. We all have opinions about the question the warmakers want asked, but not about the insanity that lies behind the question.
10. People have been dying since before recorded history, and yet only those who pretend to believe nobody dies can be considered serious, honest, upstanding folk. That there's another longer life helps us not worry so much about getting screwed during this one. Perhaps it also helps us in allowing our "representatives" to routinely end the lives of so many foreign, and thus ignorant, people.
1. The last such poll may have been Gallup in August 2010.
2. Zogby, Dec. 20, 2011.
3. The last such poll may have been CBS News in August 2010.
4. Check out Gareth Porter's forthcoming book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.
By John Grant
The issue of economic equity is appearing on the national agenda. We’re suddenly hearing lots of talk about raising the minimum wage and other reforms to break the cycle of social Darwinism and provide working people at least a livable wage for their labor.
One cheer for the Times (three for the Guardian): Nation’s Major Paper Says Snowden’s a Hero, but Won’t Say Obama’s a Criminal
By Dave Lindorff
Let’s start here by conceding that today’s New York Times editorial saying that President Obama should “find a way to end (Edward) Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home” was pretty remarkable.
It shouldn’t be, though.
Robert Parry reports that the New York Times has finally, and quietly, admitted that a key claim pushed in September by the New York Times and Human Rights Watch that nearly took the United States to war in Syria is false. Parry has been the editor of ConsortiumNews.com since 1995. He broke stories on Iran-Contra and the October Surprise for AP and Newsweek and other outlets. His books include America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes to Obama.
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NY Times Admits Pro-War-on-Syria "Evidence" Pushed by Human Rights Watch and New York Times Was Wrong
For months, the “slam-dunk” evidence “proving” Syrian government guilt in the Aug. 21 Sarin attack near Damascus was a “vector analysis” pushed by the New York Times showing where the rockets supposedly were launched. But the Times now grudgingly admits its analysis was flawed, reports Robert Parry.
Looking for clues, not 'sacred' relics: NY Times admits Exhumation Proves Ex-Brazilian President Murdered
By Dave Lindorff
A few weeks ago, WhoWhatWhy ran a piece of mine criticizing a subtly deceptive article in the New York Times that made light of a wave of exhumations of popular leftist figures in Latin America. Quoting unnamed “scholars,” the paper’s Latin American correspondent Simon Romero suggested the forensic digs may be the secularized continuation of customs from the time of early Christianity, when a vibrant trade involved the body parts of saints.
That, in fact, is nonsense. The purportedly “natural”, “accidental”, or “suicide-related” deaths of such important left-leaning figures as Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, Brazil’s President Joao Goulart and Chile’s President Salvador Allende all occurred during the rule of various rightist dictators.
The re-examination of evidence in these cases is based therefore on strong skepticism about the “official” narratives of their deaths. This skepticism, in turn, is based on a well-documented history of thousands of cases of political murder in the region.
Far from looking for relics to sell, investigators are looking for evidence that these deaths were actually assassinations, the work of fearful tyrants anxious to prevent the victims’ return to power. Now one result is in, and it’s explosive.
Truth Commission: Juscelino Kubitschek Assassinated
Investigators from Brazil’s Truth Commission, looking into the 1976 car crash of former leftist Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek and his limo driver, have discovered a bullet fragment lodged in the driver’s skull. This finding, the Commission ruled, along with other evidence, suggests that Kubitschek was murdered—most likely at the behest of the leaders of the CIA-backed military coup that also ousted his successor Joao Goulart.
By Alfredo Lopez
As the people of this country, and much of the world, observe the year-end holidays, we can look back on 2013 as the year when any illusion of genuine democracy was dashed by the remarkable revelations about the police-state surveillance that watches us. Last week, we saw a deeply disturbing stroke added to that incrementally developing picture.
US hypocrisy over diplomatic immunity: US Embassy and Consular Employees Deserve It, Foreign Diplomats Not So Much
By Dave Lindorff
The diplomatic brouhaha between the US and India over a federal arrest and multiple strip-search and cavity search of a high-ranking Indian consular official in New York has exposed the astonishing hypocrisy of the US when it comes to the issue of diplomatic immunity.
Corporate media keeps US citizens in the dark: Pakistan Outs Three US CIA Station Chiefs in Three Years
By Dave Lindorff
For the third time in three years, a CIA station chief has been outed in Pakistan, a country where the CIA is running one of its largest covert operations. It’s a remarkable record of failure by the CIA, since each outing, which has required a replacement of the station chief position, causes a breakdown in the agency’s network of contacts in the country.
By Alfredo Lopez
The web designers will tell you: when it comes to websites, good design can't mask bad ideas.
I've been thinking about that for the last six weeks as I've confronted, with waning trust morphing into enraged frustration, the remarkably complicated corridors of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (popularly known as "Obamacare"). The problems in the roll-out of this ersatz reform are generally known and, depending on who's talking, have led to irritated calls for fixes or have been cited as proof that anything the government does that is socially responsible is a communist-inspired train wreck.
By Dave Lindorff
So Pope Francis, the new pope who has conservative American Catholics, particularly those in politics and the media, freaked out because he is criticizing capitalist greed, knows Marxists who are "good people," and isn't upset to be labeled one of them, even though he says "Marxist ideology is wrong.".
The producer and director of the investigative documentary “TWA Flight 800” responds to Geoffrey Gray’s piece in New York Magazine
It began with an email on October 24, 2013 to Tom Stalcup, Ph.D., Co-Producer and Senior Science Advisor for the new documentary, “TWA Flight 800”. New York Magazine intern Claire McCartney wrote that editor Geoffrey Gray wanted to talk to Stalcup and to “get in contact” with Kristina Borjesson, the film’s Producer/Director.
In his first phone conversation with Stalcup, Gray jokingly identified himself as being with the National Transportation Safety Board. He congratulated Stalcup on his success and suggested he write a book. Stalcup asked if Gray had seen the documentary. Gray hadn’t, but promised to talk again after watching it.
Gray portrayed himself as an honest investigative journalist, saying that investigations like Stalcup’s into TWA 800 are his life and that he has conducted many of them and knows what it’s like. He gave Stalcup the impression that he was working on a serious article for New York Magazine. Stalcup provided Gray with verified, factual information, free of any speculation or theorizing.
By Dave Lindorff
The White House, and most headline writers around the country, are crowing that the November jobless rate of 7.0%, reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the lowest since 2009 when President Obama took office, when it was 7.3% and rising.
But is this number really something worth cheering?
By Dave Lindorff
Talk about a no-brainer!
Killing the First Amendment in Dealey Plaza: JFK Assassination 50th Anniversary and the Eyes of Texas (Pt. II)
By Lori Spencer
“This is content based denial of free speech in a public park and at a designated historic site. Dealey Plaza belongs to history and to the American people, especially on the 50th anniversary.”
-- John Judge, executive director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
By Lori Spencer
I once did know a President
A way down South, in Texas.
And, always, everywhere he went,
He saw the Eyes of Texas.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day.
The Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away.
Do not think you can escape them
At night or early in the morn
The Eyes of Texas are upon you 'til Gabriel blows his horn.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The ever-wise Yogi Berra once quipped "It's like déjà vu all over again," a truism applicable to a recent huge decision handed down by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Shifting from Defense to Offense: Americans Want Improved Social Security and Medicare and less Military Spending
By Dave Lindorff
A tectonic shift is occurring in the US body politic. Ignore the media-driven sideshow about the 2014 contest for control of the House or about the screwed-up Obamacare insurance-market website. The real political battle is over Social Security and Medicare, and there the story is a historic turn from fighting against Washington efforts to cut those programs to demanding that both be expanded.
The real criminal, our government, jails the real hero: The Hero and the Villains: the Jeremy Hammond Sentence
By Alfredo Lopez
This past Friday, Internet activist Jeremy Hammond stood in a federal courtroom and told Judge Loretta A. Preska why he released a trove of emails and other information uncovering the possibly illegal and certainly immoral collaboration of a major surveillance corporation called Stratfor with our government.
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: Good news amidst the bad at CBS: Their drama, “Criminal Minds” had its biggest audience this week. Am I alone in believing that the network, once known for the stellar journalism of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite can at the same time be on the receiving end of at least three attacks, suggesting there is something far from kosher going on in the minds of the people at charge?
First, we have the now infamous 60 Minutes Benghazi report, which when criticized, was defended, as if it was a papal encyclical, by the powers that be, until problems were acknowledged, a luke-warm apology offered by chief correspondent, Lara Logan, that, boo hoo, did not quite silence the doubters who are still besieging CBS Hq. at the Manhattan building known as Black Rock with fresh doubts and unanswered questions.
Back to Benghazi, once known as Al Qaeda’s favorite Libyan port, in a hot second.
Then, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, when yet another tribute is aired to late anchor Walter Cronkite’s sterling coverage that began when he took off his glasses to brush aside a tear and show that he was, despite being a news God, a human being.
By John Grant
Lara Logan is a formidable TV reporter who has covered wars and other stories at significant risk. She’s supremely confident and has a powerful journalistic institution supporting her. But as a would-be ethical journalist, she seems to rely too much on her sexual allure and to be too tight with elite elements of the US military establishment.
What’s more important: Security or freedom?: The Big Question the National Security State isn’t Asking
By Dave Lindorff
So National Security Agency Director Keith B. Alexander, who, along with his boss, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., thinks that “if you can collect it, you should collect it,” now is asking whether it might not be such a good idea in the case of spying on the citizens of US allies like Germany, France, Spain et al.
By Robert C. Koehler
Another crazed, furious loner shocks the world. This time I’m a little too close to the edge of the chaos.
I gape at the TV in disbelief: I’m supposed to fly out of Los Angeles Airport — Terminal 3, no less — that afternoon, but all I see is footage of scrambling police and snarled traffic. If I’d booked an earlier flight, I could have been sitting there when the 23-year-old gunman shot the TSA agent at the foot of the escalator, then wandered through the gate area with his rifle and his grievances.
There are worse things in life than having to reschedule a flight. I postponed my return to Chicago for two days. Now that I’m back, I’m still thinking about last week’s killer-rampage spectacle, which culminated in the wounding and arrest of the suspect, Paul Ciancia. Afterward came the media’s smattering of sound-bite psychology.
“There were few people that kept to themselves, and he was definitely one of them,” a high school classmate told ABC News.
Good enough. As the headline of the story proclaimed: He was a loner. This is the extent of our official understanding. Loner is the new race card, you could almost say — the catch-all bin that separates bad-guys-with-high-powered-
We’re long past the point when such know-nothingism is tolerable. Unfortunately, it remains the foundation of our criminal justice system, which is all about separating the bad guys and losers — the “monsters” — from normal, law-abiding, media-consuming citizens. Socio-political attitudes with labels such as “tough on crime” and “zero tolerance” have not only backfired on us, they’ve intensified our ignorance. The truth is that, no matter how shocking or heinous a given crime, the perpetrator is one of us, and intelligent social policy cannot begin until we acknowledge this.
A few years ago, for instance, I heard Azim Khamisa, a businessman whose college-age son was murdered by a 14-year-old boy during a robbery, describe the long, excruciating journey he was forced to embark on. As he investigated the phenomenon of gang culture, he explained, he came to understand that there were “victims at both ends of the gun.” Eventually he met with the killer, who had been tried as an adult and sentenced to a long prison term.
“I didn’t see the murderer in him,” Khamisa said. “I saw another soul.”
This begins to get at it. I wrote that Khamisa saw, at the pit of his grief, that something positive could come from this unspeakable tragedy — if he forgave the child who killed his son. Eventually he launched a foundation in his son’s name and began a new life, devoted to bringing awareness to young people that violence is a dead-end street.
It’s time to step into a new relationship with our broken world. Our troubles aren’t caused by socially or mentally defective loners. They’re the result of unaddressed reality.
“Our most widespread and tragic mistake has been to imagine the suicidal mass murderer as someone who lives outside of society, the ultimate and perverted individualist,” Peter Alexander Meyers wrote for Huffington Post last December, after the Sandy Hook tragedy. “For, no matter how isolated we make him out to be, even the loneliest loner is a social type. Adam Lanza was not an alien, not a monster, nor a machine. He was one of us. We share with him a social reality that is the common spring of both good and evil.”
The reality we have avoided addressing, in a system that is interested almost exclusively in punishment and refuses to acknowledge the need for and possibility of healing, has both social and deeply personal components.
The primary social flaw that makes mass murder not only possible but inevitable is our war-oriented economic and political systems. Waging war, whether with foot soldiers, drones or nuclear weapons, means sacrificing human life for strategic and ideological reasons. “We divide and slice the human race,” I wrote in the wake of Sandy Hook. “Some people become the enemy, not in a personal but merely an abstract sense — ‘them’ — and we lavish a staggering amount of our wealth and creativity on devising ways to kill them. When we call it war, it’s as familiar and wholesome as apple pie. When we call it mass murder, it’s not so nice.”
The societal practice of inventing enemies and turning people into expendable symbols makes “unthinkable” behavior far too thinkable. At the same time, we offer people few or no outlets for dealing with deep, personal trauma. Sexual and other forms of childhood abuse are widespread, creating a legacy of violence that is passed from generation to generation, almost entirely in secret. A person’s volatile, inner hell often manifests as crime, including the kind that sometimes creates shocking headlines.
And it keeps getting closer.
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press) is now available. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his website at commonwonders.com or listen to him at Voices of Peace radio.
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