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Subscription June 2018

Vijay Prashad - Truth is the First Casualty of War

The adage that truth is the first casualty of war is ascribed to Aeschylus in ancient Greece and/or U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson in the 20th century. Regardless of who coined it, truth is murdered by the powerful to advance their own class interests, especially during war.

Lofty rhetoric mask realities. “We want peace in the Middle East” the president and his appointees loudly proclaim. Like moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in defiance of international law. Or selling weapons to Saudi Arabia which then turns around and destroys Yemen. Or propping up the Sisi dictatorship in Egypt. Or pulling out of the Iran deal. Or spending more on arms than the next seven countries in the world combined. The United States of America, the permanent warfare state uses propaganda to cover its intentions. The lies are directed primarily at its domestic population. As the global body count mounts from the ravages of Washington’s militarized foreign policy, truth is the first casualty.

Noam Chomsky - There are Plenty of Opportunities

In the immortal words of Howard Beale, the TV anchor played by Peter Finch, in the classic film Network,  “Things are bad, they’re worse than bad. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore. Things have got to change.” If you are feeling that way you’re not alone. In facing adversity some choose to do nothing and sit on their hands, others rise to the moment and resist. A long-time activist advises: “Get off of Facebook and into the faces of the powerful.” Social media is good for getting people out to demonstrations but it is no substitute for solidarity and movement organizing. There are plenty of opportunities. Perhaps we can take inspiration from poor and tiny Armenia. It just toppled its corrupt government in a massive display of non-violent citizen power.

Arun Gupta - Policing, Property & Evangelism

Large numbers of evangelical Christians in the United States are ardent nationalists and fervent believers in capitalism. They are an influential part of what is called the president’s base. Eighty-one percent of evangelicals who voted in the 2016 presidential election cast their ballot for him. How could so many evangelical Christians have voted for a thrice-married casino mogul, who has a penchant for mendacity and cavorts with porn stars and playboy bunnies? According to Molly Worthen, professor at UNC-Chapel Hill writing in The Atlantic, the president’s “dictator-lite charisma is essential to his appeal. His authoritarian machismo is right in step with a long evangelical tradition of pastor-overlords who anoint themselves with the power to make their own rules—and, in the event of their own occasional moral lapses, assure their followers that God always forgives.”

Norman Solomon – Can the Democracy Party Live Ip to its Name?

Humorist Will Rogers used to quip: "I'm not a member of any organized political party. I'm a Democrat." We can all have a good chuckle at that. But the deep problems with politics in the U.S. are too serious to laugh at. The Democratic Party has in recent decades abandoned to a great extent its New Deal social welfare roots. The party of Roosevelt and Truman has embraced Wall Street bankers, hedge fund managers and financiers. The interests of corporations and the business class have immiserated the working class. Instead of resisting the doctrine of neoliberalism which has contributed to massive income inequality and the decline of unions, the party went along with it. Can the Democratic Party live up to its name and democratize its candidate selection process? Can it get back to its professed principles?

Noam Chomsky & Daniel Ellsberg – U.S. Nuclear War Policy

How many times have we come close to destroying the world? You don’t want to know. In this discussion, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg review the disturbing historical record. They talk about the phony bomber and missile gaps that were used to justify more military spending. Today dangers are increasing. So much so that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its doomsday clock to two minutes before midnight. In response to the question of, What can we do? Chomsky says, “We can do a lot, if people understand that in every single one of these crisis situations there are feasible, peaceful solutions. North Korea, Iran, Russian border, new START Treaty, cutting back nuclear weapons. In every one of these cases there are very clear diplomatic options. With enough citizen dedication, activism, and pressure, I think governments can be compelled to pursue those options.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortíz – Facing the Truth about Native America

It is difficult to overstate the ferocity of the attack on the indigenous people of North America by the settler colonizers. The genocidal campaign had its roots in New England. In the 1600s the first seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony showed a naked Native American with a bush covering his groin. A scroll came out his mouth with the words "Come over and help us.” The jihad was sanctified from the pulpit. The Reverend Cotton Mather called Indians “ravenous howling wolves” and he urged his followers to “pursue them vigorously.” Another man of the cloth, Solomon Stoddard told the colonists “to hunt Indians as they do bears.” And that they did in barbaric style. John Winthrop, a major political figure in Massachusetts, said the white settlers were "instruments of Providence, divinely appointed to claim the New World from its 'godless' peoples."

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