Liberals Should Thank the Tea Party – Racism, Ideology and the Meaning of ‘Justice”

As citizens of the United States, our very political consciousness is in large part structured by notions and experience of racism, black and white. We are the descendants of a brutal legacy of white supremacy and colonial violence, usually thought about through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the conquest of the Americas and genocidal liquidation of the Native population. This legacy of racism and white supremacy functions as ever-present spirit, filling the air with its noxious bile, poisoning interpretations of contemporary events, structuring perceptions of ourselves and one another, and deeply influencing the very policies and actions we as a collective decide, through democratic praxis, are just and reconciliatory. Racism and ‘dealing with it’ are part and parcel what it means to be ‘American.’

Racism is not just a historical residue, a legacy that we have for better or worse been ‘dealing with (Voting rights act, Civil Rights Act, Affirmative Action, etc).’ Notions of racism are ever-present in contemporary political discourse and mainstream media representation: most often thrown out as charges of racism against the tea partier or ‘conservative,’ and sometimes back at the ‘liberal.’

Of the two, the liberal sees her/him-self as perhaps the most sensitive to issues of race: multicultural, supporter of ‘equality,’ and tolerant. This is not without some justification based in the history of civil rights legislation and activism.

Despite this demonstrable ‘better than them’ political identity, the ‘liberal’ citizen, and their political representatives and media, are as racist as any tea partier or ‘conservative.

This is a contradiction of ‘liberal’ common sense. Common sense is often based on unquestioned assumptions, foundations that when investigated prove to be erroneous. The unquestioned assumption, in this case, is not rooted in the intention of the ‘liberal.’ It is that the ‘liberal’ even knows what racism is. Mainstream liberal ideology does not.

That is, despite ‘racism’s’ presence, our absolute submersion within the concept and its lived actuality, upon close examination one realizes something rather shocking. Despite our collective obsession with racism, we (as a culture, and in mainstream media representation) have no idea what the word ‘racism’ means.

This fundamental ignorance can best be demonstrated by asking the following 3 question(s):

  1. What is the difference between racism, racial prejudice, and bigotry?
  2. Are the terms synonymous? If not, what is their differentiation?
  3. Does dominant discussion in liberal media mark the distinction?

DEFINING TERMS – THE INDIVIDUAL ATTITUDE VERSUS INSTITUTIONAL OPERATION

A visit to the dictionary may provide some insight into question 1 and 2:

Racism:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Ok. How about prejudice?

1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

And bigotry?

stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.

All three definitions mention particular attitudes, ideas, beliefs, feeling, or opinions of the individual. In fact, prejudice and bigotry are limited exclusively to individual attributes. In the former, we speak of opinion and feeling: unfavorable, preconceived, and unreasonable. Forming opinion and having feeling, though others can share them, is an individual act.  In the latter, we speak of intolerance for the beliefs and creeds of another that differs from one’s own. To have a belief requires a single individual to be the ‘believer.’

The definition of race also speaks of individual intolerance. It is in part 2 of the definition that the term ‘racism’ does something else besides, something that neither the definitions of prejudice and bigotry do. It talks of the institutionalization of discrimination. Not simply an individual attitude or belief like bigotry and prejudice, Racism is structural. That’s why it’s an ‘ism.’

To define terms most succinctly then, the main difference is that Racism is rooted in the structures and institutions of society: it is codified law, the institutional practice of privileging one racial group over another. Bigotry and prejudice refer to the attitudes of individuals within such a racialized society.

The real question to be asked then, in a critique of the ideology of liberalism, is how can these two things exist side by side? How can we make ‘progress’ culturally with regards to the elimination of individual prejudice, yet still maintain brutally racist systems, without antagonizing ‘liberal’ consciousness? How much of liberal ideology is geared towards this function of disappearing the analysis of the United States as fundamentally racist in institutional operation?

THE EFFECT OF COLLAPSED TERMS WITHIN LIBERAL IDEOLOGY

Here’s where it starts to get gnarly (gnarly defined as ugly, brutal, racist, internally colonizing). The terms are used synonymously in ‘liberal’ discourse, but only in a very particular way. When issues of racism are discussed, only the individual attitudes, accomplishments, beliefs, and feelings of individuals are addressed. Racism is spoken of as if it were only an attitude. The hard institutional operation of racist systems of power is largely ignored, allowing them to function unimpeded by criticism.

This muddled and collapsed definition of racism is then applied in our assessment of ‘how far we have come’ on the path towards racial parity and reconciliation. Multiculturalism, individual tolerance, the work of being empathic to one another and evidence based on tokenism comes to stand in for notions of racial justice in its entirety, thus disappearing the actual codification of racist law and institutional operation which function to privilege one racial group, whites, over another(s).

It is not that multiculturalism, tolerance, and empathy are bad things, but they can be put to deceptive and nasty ideological uses. If these notions come to be the limit of what we can conceive of as the work me must do to achieve racial justice in this society (elect a black president, and have by extension, have a ‘non-prejudiced’ liberal voting base to elect him), then they effectively disappear the terror at the heart of institutional racism. Through collapsing notions of racism to individual prejudicial attitudes, liberal ideology constructs a shadow of racism without ever attenuating the substance: racist policy and institutions.

‘Liberal’ common sense recognizes in itself a lack of bigotry and prejudice, thus thinks itself not racist. The terms have collapsed, become synonymous. You may not be prejudiced or a bigot, but that does not mean you are not a racist.

If you are white, in a society built upon the subjugation of people of color, you benefit from that system. It is inescapable. Without the dismantling of that system, you are a racist. In the same way that an Afrikaner in Apartheid South Africa, even if he felt black folks should be equal, still benefitted from Apartheid structure, whites benefit in the United States from the war on drugs and mass incarceration. There is difference in degree, though perhaps not as much as ‘common-sense-liberalism’ asserts

Racism is not a matter of empathy and tolerance, lack of bigotry and prejudice, held by individuals. Bigotry and prejudice are belief systems that emerge after the fact so as to justify the existence of the racist system, itself. The system is bigger than citizens and citizens are embedded within it, rewarded part and partial based on the color of one’s skin.

When ‘liberal’ media critiques tea-party racism, it speaks in terms of prejudical utterances, disgusting signs, bigoted caricatures, etc. Through these very critiques is constructed a notion of racism that doesn’t include its institutional or structural elements, only its prejudicial aspect. Liberal ideology doesn’t critique the tea party, for example, for their support of the prison industrial complex, the closing and/or privatization of public schools, the exporting of the manufacturing base, etc. They support and have largely themselves written many of these racist practices and institutions into law. Thus, they operate together, the tea partier and the liberal critic, bad cop/good cop, to develop an absolutely limited notion of racism, one that more accurately should be called prejudice. This need not be conscious, but just the natural expression of the internalized definition of racism in the culture itself. Liberal ‘ideology’ can’t even imagine what ‘justice’ would look like, a radical reformulation of societal structures that have grown out of a historical legacy of racism, without any substantive overhaul.

If we want to get rid of prejudice and bigotry, we must get rid of racist institutions; they flow from it. To try to deal with prejudice and bigotry, while citizens are embedded within racist structures is to grasp at whisps of smoke, and fundamentally irrelevant to people’s lives.

It’s lucky for the ‘liberal’ ideology that the tea party is so outright prejudiced. It allows ‘liberals’ to not look in the metaphorical mirror, and to recognize one’s own participation and benefit from a racist society. Many racist policies are supported by ‘liberal’ and ‘tea-party’ ideology. There is a fundamental consensus on much of the racism (once again, defined as institutional practice and either support for it in the case of the tea party, or allowing it to function through disappearing it, in the case of the liberal establishment) prevalent in the United States.

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, THE ‘KID PRESIDENT’ AND FALSE LIBERAL SENTIMENTALITY

An example of the liberal ideology of racism was demonstrated on Thursday April 4th, 2013. On ‘Last Call,’ Lawrence O’Donnell aired a segment on the ‘Kid President.’ Kid president is a character, real name Robby Novak and a third grader from Tennessee. He is an African-American child. The Kid president video is an Internet set of videos/themes that were made famous through Rain Wilson’s website, ‘soul pancake.’ Kid President  In a white house PR campaign, ‘Kid President’ was invited to visit the white house, and Lawrence’s segment was coverage and commentary on this visit, and the soul pancake video which documented it, to be seen here.

O’Donnell uses the kid president oval office visit to tell the story of U.S. ‘progress’ on issues of race. ‘Look at this,’ it effectively asserts. “A black president and a black child in the oval office. Anything is possible.’  At once sentimental and touching, the piece attempts to describe the work that we have done as a nation with regards to race, through the narrative of ‘we have a black president.’ He begins with Obama speaking in 2004, first introduced to the nation at John Kerr’s nominating:

“PRES. OBAMA: Now, even as we speak, there are those who are preparing 
to divide us. The spin masters, the negative ad peddlers, who embrace the 
politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them, tonight there is not a 
liberal America, and a conservative America. There is the United States of 
America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino 
America and Asian America. There is the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Before we saw Barack Obama give that speech, we could all 
imagine that one day in the distant future there would be an African- 
American president. When we saw that speech, that night, we could finally 
put a face on who that African-American president would be. We could put 
a timetable on his ascension to the presidency. An African-American 
president was no longer a dream (my emphasis). It was an ever-expanding political 
reality, as soon as Barack Obama completed that convention keynote address.

And, now the White House that was built by slaves is home to descendants of slaves. The American myth has always been that anyone can grow up to be president. That was our mythology back when slavery was 
still legal….

…There are too many traps in modern American poverty, and too 
many complexities to the socioeconomic dynamics that produce our 
presidents to allow us to say, without reservation, that this really is the 
country where anyone can grow up to be president.

But throughout our history, we`ve been moving ever closer to that 
ideal (my emphasis). Anyone can grow up to be president. We took a giant step closer to 
that ideal with our election of the first African-American president. We 
knew then that one of the nongovernmental benefits of his election was that 
black children and other children would be able to see new possibilities in 
their lives more clearly….

The video you`re about to see of Robby Novak`s quality time with 
Barack Obama was posted today at soulpancake.com. It`s funny, it`s cute, 
it`s truly awesome. And not just because Robby says it`s awesome. Some people in our office today cried when they watched it, and couldn`t say 
exactly why. And, I think it`s because this man, and this little boy, 
together, tell us a story that is deeply profound, without ever trying to 
be pro found. They just meet and chat and laugh. But they do it in the 
oval office.

And their meeting in that room can`t help but evoke our painful past 
and our always hopeful future. This meeting in the oval office is empty of 
politics and full of love and hope and grace. You can see in it more hope 
for this country`s ideal than any speech could ever deliver. The ideal 
that any child in this country can grow up to be president.” full transcript here

In ‘liberal’ discourse exists the notion that because we have a black president, we have done tremendous work with regards to racism within the United States. By extension, issues of race can be de-prioritized; equality is a foregone conclusion. It is only a matter of time. This radically disappears an alternative analysis, one evidenced in the work of people like Michelle Alexander, who asserts that through mass incarceration, there is actually a continuity with the Jim Crow system, a new Jim Crow, which maintains a permanently racialized underclass; those excluded from ‘the dream’, and brutalized in a political/policing and economic system which views these particular black and brown bodies as utterly expendable.

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While O’Donnell waxes eloquently about the progress made on race in this country, and his staff sheds tears (though they don’t now why), what he excludes from his analysis is the following:

“While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned. The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.”

“According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Individuals of color have a disproportionate number of encounters with law enforcement, indicating that racial profiling continues to be a problem. A report by the Department of Justice found that blacks and Hispanics were approximately three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white motorists. African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.”

Unknown

The whole tone and tenor of the O’Donnell’s coverage is to praise ‘our’ progress, and to describe a liberal type of empathy and non-prejudice of the ‘liberal’ (the staff crying out of joy for how far we have come and in recognition of our flawed and brutal history – as opposed to our present). Yet this sentimentality can only flow as if racism was over, or damn near so. It is not. To assert this narrative of ‘dream achievement’ disappears racist institutions like the New Jim Crow of Mass incarceration, racialized poverty rates, lack of education, health and housing based on race that destroys people’s lived experiences. It is really to either not understand how powerful and grotesque are our operative racist institutions are, or to ignore them. It is effectively silencing black and brown voices, victims of massive structures of oppression that are absolutely terrifying, as brutal as any conceived in the 20th century, and to delegate the victims of these institutions to the dust bin of history. All for the sake of a false narrative of achieved equality.

To put it succinctly, O’Donnell’s Kid segment is ideologically dangerous. In themselves, the sentiments he expresses are not bad. But within a ‘liberal’ ideological nexus which is limited, not raising the existence of racist institutions like the PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, O’Donnell’s view gets espoused as ‘common-sense,’ the ultimate horizon of what the so-called empathic liberal can imagine, see or analyze with regards to race relations in the United States. The pre-determining structures of capital determine what is allowed to be said, construct liberal opinion, and O’Donnell operates firmly within their confines, with no recognition of such. Yet to truly deal with issues of race, requires an analysis which moves outside these bounds, that can see the economic drivers behind the PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX and the war on drugs – those systems which cannot accommodate millions of black and brown people into systems of production, so must disappear, immobilize, and in worst circumstance, liquidate them. While O’Donnell praises how far we have come, what has been emerging since the 1970’s is a proto-fascist disciplining and punishing state, that due to liberal ‘representation’ of issues of race, is largely invisible to those most likely to do something about it, the ‘crying’ sentimental liberal, the multicultural, the humanist.

Notice the language of ‘dream.’ This language of ‘dream’ in relation to the African-American condition is a reference to the Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech. Through using the language of ‘dream,’ O’Donnell is explicitly announcing his alignment, his support for King’s vision of equality. ‘See? I am on your team. I share the dream.’

But pay attention to what he describes as King’s dream, as the dream of African Americans: the ascension of the black man to the presidency. Was this King’s dream? No, this is a castrated dream, one severely constrained espousing no challenge to contemporary arrangement of power. King’s dream was about the political economic and social equality of all African-American people. O’Donnell’s liberalism makes an equivalence between an African-American becoming president and the work that needs to be done to achieve true equity, work that was as much economic as it was social., and much more difficult to achieve.  For in the contemporary situation, what we have upon closer examination, is an African – American president, but a president of a country that still employs vast institutions of racism- social, political, economic – that brutally defend the existing order, rooted in white privilege.  It uses the ‘black presidency’ in order to deflect criticism of its racist institutions. It is a defense of existing economic arrangements. King’s dream could not be achieved without a challenge and restructuring of those who effectively own the economy.

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There is something reprehensible about having a white, ‘liberal’ establishment media pundit praise how far we’ve come with regards to racism while millions of black and brown people, all across this country, have their lives destroyed and communities shredded by poverty, the war on drugs, mass incarceration and limited access to resources for survival. One envisions a detached, elitist master sitting atop a mountain of mangled and mutilated racialized bodies and tormented minds, voices that are silenced, all the while praising the magnificence of such a system. Whereas the white liberal sees themselves as beyond race, the victim of all this, the person of color engaged with such systems of brutality must feel they have fallen down a rabbit hole of Orwellian insanity. The racism is obvious, on the surface.

Since the enlightenment, we in the west have held notions of progress, perhaps best exemplified by King’s “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’. The liberal attitude shoot be rooted, fundamentally, in a ‘critical’ attitude, because this very notion of progress (as in where the term ‘progressive’ comes from) implies a constant striving towards justice, equality is never reached. For if it were reached, then one would, by definition, wish to ‘conserve’ it.

That is, through self-congratulatory rhetoric, the so-called ‘progressive’ O’Donnell gets off the arc of justice, examining the social arrangement. He is no longer ‘progressive,’ in the sense of holding a fundamentally critical disposition, asking where we can ‘improve,’ but instead operating as a conservative, praising the fundamental justness of the system, American exceptionalism, the ‘dream.’ In this particular manifestation of ‘progressivism,’ the term has lost all substantive meaning, and is simply a political label representing a set of status quo interests. How does one pat oneself and his ideological allies on the back with regards to race when we have a fundamentally Jim crow-esque system of racial privilege operative in the country, if not apologizing for those very institutions?

Where are these voices of the victims of this system? Where are the critics that actually recognize its function, the reality of institutional racism in the United States: Angela Davis, Dylan Rodriguez, Ruth Wilson Gilmore? What foundational and sub-conscious filters determine who has the right to speak on issues of racism and reconciliation, within mainstream ‘liberal’ media ? Why O’Donnell and not them? Why Obama and ‘kid president and not Angela Davis and an incarcerated teen?

You can’t talk about ‘dream’ achievement, justice, literally ‘cry’ over progress on racism, when we have an exclusionary, terroristic, proto-genocidal ‘justice’ system unless you don’t now or are running the system yourself.

CONCLUSION

“Liberal’ ideology tends to hold up the election of the first black president as some type of overcoming of history, a fundamental restructuring of race relations; we have entered a post-racial age. Self-congratulatory pats on the back are, to say the least, premature. No matter the color of the president, the systems of society itself are still racist. You can’t vote for changes to these systems, they are off the table. Globalization, notions of the market and ‘individual choice,’ are the fundamental, unquestioned assumptions, the ordering principle of American-capitalist ‘democracy’ itself. And without their overhaul, policy and actions will continue to oppress people of color, a permanent underclass with token-movement at the margins, despite who stewards the helm. Liberal ideology allows one to operate in such a position of power, managing racist systems, and escape cognitive dissonance.  That is its function.

O’Donnell, and by extension ‘liberalism’ in mainstream discourse, may have eliminated prejudice and bigotry from their doctrines. They may hold positive feeling and sentiment towards people of color. The democrat/liberal may vote for a black president, and said president may hold PR events inviting black kids to the oval office; This all functions to make the liberal feel good about oneself and to eviscerate white guilt over  historically racist legacy of the United States. But it does absolutely nothing to challenge and confront the still-exiting racist institutions of our society. It does nothing to develop the consciousness, amongst people potentially sympathetic to the understanding, that in the U.S. the racist war on drugs and system of mass incarceration are absolutely vita and necessary to the functioning of our ‘free-market’ capitalist system. These institutions are the regulators, the ‘allowers’ of U.S. neo-liberal capitalism to exist. They are the obscene underside of the system, a system in which based on the color of your skin, you are more likely to reap the benefits from. Before anyone can comment on the ‘progress’ we have made, they must have, at bare minimum, come to understand these institutional realities and integrated them within the overarching narrative of the ‘arc of moral progress.’

 

“Ah-tem lo la-vad” (you are not alone): How does one say that in Arabic, Mr.President?

On March 21st, 2013, President Obama gave a speech to Israeli youth in Jerusalem that was met with near universal praise by the mainstream liberal press. The speech has been described as bold and courageous, a reframing of the conflict, even perhaps brilliant statesmanship. Here is some reaction from the folks over at MSNBC, including quotes from Obama and Maddow’s reaction:

BARACK OBAMA: Make no mistake, those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel`s right to exist, they might as well reject the Earth beneath them or sky above because Israel`s not going anywhere.

MADDOW: It makes sense that these young Israelis would be so appreciative of America`s president making such strong statements in support of their state. …

MADDOW: But the moment in the speech that really stood out not just because of what the president said but because of how the crowd reacted to what he said, the moment that really stood out I think will most be remembered was this one. Watch this.

OBAMA: I`m going off script her for a second, but before I — before I came here, I met with a group of young Palestinians from the age of 15 to 22. And talking to them, they weren`t that different from my daughters. They weren`t that different from your daughters, or sons.

I honestly believe that if — if any Israel parent sat down with those
kids, they`d say, I want these kids to succeed. I want them to prosper. I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do. I believe that`s what Israeli parents would want for these kids if they had chance to listen to them and talk to them. I believe that.

Maddow: President Obama asking Israelis to put themselves in Palestinians` shoes, look at the world through their eyes. That is not an easy ask for either side of the conflict, right? Those were the words he 
used. He said it was not fair on point today that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of his or her own….

And the Israeli audience cheered and applauded throughout those remarks and gave him a giant sustained standing ovation at the end. 

And on Lawrence O’Donnell:

But President Obama got rousing applause in Israel, from the actual Israeli people from pointing out those injustices that are visited upon Palestinians every day. What kind of politician gives a speech like that? Having no guarantee ahead of time what the audience`s reaction would be? A politician who is willing to take risks, big risks.

President Obama was willing to take the risk of being booed for saying those things today, and instead, he was cheered and those cheers showed the world a face of Israel that the American news media virtually never presents, and that the Netanyahu government does not want you to see.

complete transcript to Last Word here, really worth the read, too long to quote it all

Just for intellectual self-defense, whenever a member of the so-called fourth estate speaks with such baited breath of a president in relation to issues of war and peace, one should sit up and pay attention because someone is trying to pull one over on you. But nevertheless, lets get down to specifics.

Within the ideological nexus of liberalism, there exist core assumptions, things that aren’t mentioned, a fundamental and essential platform of shared belief from which any conversation/analysis/debate of the so-called ‘Israeli-palestinian conflict’ can be discussed.

If we share those ‘liberal’ assumptions, then the speech was undoubtedly brilliant. I found myself emotionally moved at times; it was warm, full of empathy, utterly ‘humanistic’ and humanizing.

But those assumptions; they change everything. In fact, there are core beliefs which are unspoken, unchallenged and unrecognized that are so powerful, determining the conflict on the ground so deeply, that if left unchallenged absolutely undermine any hopes for peace in the region and ensure a vicous cycle of brutal occupation and terroristic resistance.

This unspoken and taken for granted ideological constellation, this political ‘unconscious,’  is so deeply rooted that Obama and  pundits like O’donnell and Maddow may speak with authentic feeling, hope  and intent,  yet be guaranteed failure in their desire to have peace.

Because of either their ignorance or their willing cowardice and submission to authority, the liberal establishment is part and parcel aligned with the most reactionary fundamentalists on both sides, ensuring unceasing destruction.

Unless these assumptions are spoken aloud, and allowed to restructure discussion and policy related to the conflict, we are doomed.

What are these assumptions, ignored but necessary for integrity, for truth, and for peace?

  1. This is not an ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’ It is not a dyad, but a triad. It is the U.S. and Israel vs. the Palestinian conflict. The United States government in not an objective observer and has no business as peace broker, but is firmly positioned as effective mafia don (through funding, diplomatic support and military assistance) in the region, with Israeli serving in a deputized role to ensure control over the oil-producing region.
  2. Within this imperial framework, the United States and Israel have functioned as ‘rejectionists,’ blocking proposal after proposal since the early 1970’s on a viable two state solution along the lines of United States resolution 242.
  3. And the third assumption, made by Obama (perhaps cynically), and evident in duplicitous MSNBC fawning over Obama’s speech: This conflict does not exist because of a lack of moral concern or empathy on either  ‘side’ of the conflict. It is not a question of individual care, concern, attitude, but of hard-structural insitutional operation, and cannot be alleviated by fostering empathy without radically reorientating of US policy and institutions.

MSNBC will never mention any of the three points. Therefore, they guarantee the continuation of the cycle of violence, as does Obama, despite his humanistic rhetoric.

I’m not particularly interested in going through the entire diplomatic and historical record in the rest of this essay, because such work has been done by others. Links to verify points one and two for yourself. What I am interested in is examining how the president, and the media pundits who have praised his speech, are either unaware of, or willfully omitting (perhaps some combination of both), these realities which deeply control and determine events on the ground, no matter the humanistic rhetoric and ‘hopes’ they espouse. We can get to the matter most efficiently by examining a couple of core points around which Obama’s speech revolved: namely, Israel’s ‘right to exist,’ its status as a democratic state, his focus on Israeli and Palestinian ‘attitudes’ and several rhetorical devices Obama used (talk of right to live in peace and free from ‘terror) in an attempt to get in rapport with the Israeli youth and by extension, ‘non-violent’ Palestinians.

Israel’s Right to Exist

Obama: But make no mistake — those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel’s right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because Israel is not going anywhere. And today, I want to tell you — particularly the young people — so that there’s no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of America — Atem lo levad. You are not alone.

The fundamental assumption is that this ‘right to exist’ has some kind of bearing in international law. There is no ‘right to exist’ amongst states. (‘right to exist’) STATES may recognize the existence of one another (hamas, the former PLO, Hezbollah are not states), but none recognize this abstract ‘right to exist,’ and to do so is to lay a standard for willingness to negotiate which has no precedent, nor codification in international law. There is recognition of a state’s existence. As long as the existence of Israel was not recognized by Palestinians, then colonization and occupation could be justifed. In the 1970’s, hardline factions of the PLO recognized the existence of Israel, thus removing an ideological justification for Israeli occupation and usurpation of Palestinian territories.

“To my knowledge, the concept ‘right to exist’ was invented by US-Israeli propaganda in the 1970s, when the Arab states (with the support of the PLO) formally recognized Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognized borders (citing the wording of UN 242). It was therefore necessary to raise the bars to prevent the negotiations that the US and Israel alone (among significant actors) were blocking, as they still are. They understood, of course, that there is no reason why Palestinians should recognize the legitimacy of their dispossession — and the point generalizes…”

Noam Chomsky

This is not your granfather’s propaganda. This is way more subtle, nuanced, operating firmly within the ideological coordinates of neo-liberalism. The entire spectrum of MSNBC Liberal to Fox conservative commentators (and presidents) in the United States accept the notion of Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to exist as  being a barrier to negotiation. The concept is uttelry vacuous. Palestinians have been offering peace within an international consensus along the lines of UN 242 for 40 years. To keep the conflict going, U.S. and Israeli planners have had to create a new standard beyond the scope of a reasonalble soultion to keep hostilities operative, justifying continued expansion.

Notice how, in Obama’s statement, this refusal to grant Israel’s right to exist is equivalent to an existential threat to the very survival of Israel, itself….

Make no mistake, those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting Israel`s right to exist, they might as well reject the Earth beneath them or sky above because Israel`s not going anywhere.” – Obama

Not accepting the non-principle of ‘The right to exist’ as an act equivalent to threatening the Israeli state with dissapearanceThis is a velvet glove on an iron fist; an extension of a hope and change PR campaign masking drone strikes. It is propaganda presenting a non-issue as a threat to Israels survival, justifying an armed and pre-emptive military intervention.

So is Obama aware of this? Is Maddow? I mean, she played that very segment for her audience, and here was her reponse:

It makes sense that these young Israelis would be so appreciative of America`s president making such strong statements in support of their state. 

No problem. No mention.

At another part of the president’s speech:

Obama: “Those ties began only 11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. As President Truman said in explaining his decision to recognize Israel, he said, “I believe it has a glorious future before it not just as another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.” 

Notice anything about the language? “…11 minutes after Israeli independence, when the United States was the first to recognize the state of Israel…”

Recognize the state; it’s existence, not its ‘right to exist.’ Here we have a demonstration, in the president’s own utterances of the gap between an actually existing principal of international law, and and an  ideological construction, used to mask the fundamental reality of U.S.-Israeli rejectionism. Did Obama not notice the difference between recognition of existence, and his demand for recognition by Palestinians of a right to exist? It matters, because regardless of the answer, it means he is fundamentally operating within an ideological structure which excludes potential peace. Despite the flowery rhetoric, he is sticking to an ideological principle which creates room for continued U.S. -Israeli rejectionism and continued aggression. As long as they (palestinians) don’t accept our right to exist, we (the Israeli state) can continue settlement, continue the occupation, continue embargo and siege. The implication is that for negotiations to begin, Palestinians must accept a standard, entirely new in international relations, which justifies their dispossession in excess of UN 242. Its peace on the terms established by the great powers, where the victor grants nothing, and gains everything. Palestinians won’t, and shouldn’t, accept this.

A functioning media would call this out. In mainstream discourse, there is no alternative outside of an imperial/colonizing policy; liberal or conservative.

“Now, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction.” By dedicated to destruction, he means an unacceptance of the non-existent in international law ‘right to exist,’ and he is speaking of parties that have actually proposed settlements along the lines of an international consensus for peace. Pure propaganda.

Israeli Democracy

The political unconscious is also deeply at work in Obama’s discussion of Israeli democracy. On the one hand, he praises the Israeli state as a “vibrant democracy.” Yet on the other, he warns in the words of Ariel Sharon:

Obama: “I’m quoting him — ‘It is impossible to have a Jewish democratic state, at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.’”

So which is it? I don’t mean in the future, in the ‘dream, in ‘hope’ and aspiration. What is the state of Israel now? For it is in control, through occcupation, of the entirety of Eretz Israel. Under these conditions, by his own logic and statements, it is impossible that Israel be a democracy. That is, unless you don’t count Palestinians as people. You have a democracy only if the voice of Palestinians are not allowed to speak, are invisible, so deeply marginalized in your formulation that one can effectively ignore the profoundly undemocratic indignities of their day to day lives. This is the ‘democracy’ of the South African apartheid state. The unquestioned assumption undergirding praise of ‘Israeli democracy’ is that Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as Israeli’s. How will Obama and his administration broker peace from such a brutally ideological and deceptive position? They won’t. The possibility is excluded.

Here is the reality for Palestinians living with Obama’s supposedly ‘democratic’ example:

“The State of Israel has increasingly shirked its responsibility to ensure its citizens the most fundamental rights:”

– to health,

– education,

– housing, and

– to live in dignity.

Quite the opposite:

– inequality is growing,

– socioeconomic gaps are widening,

– free expression and privacy are threatened,

– racist trends are more common,

– so are ones that limit basic freedoms and endanger human and civil rights; legislation for them has been tabled in the Knesset,

– judicial equity is eroding,

– so is democracy,

– civil society organizations and activists are threatened,

– institutionalized discrimination exists,

– Arab Israelis are disadvantaged, persecuted, endangered, and live under third-world conditions, especially in “unrecognized villages” in the Negev and Galilee;

– the gap between Arabs and Jews has widened, and

– all of the above is in Israel.

Further, ‘The Right(s) to Equality’

” have no ‘constitutional anchoring.’ No institutions are empowered to apply them, and Arab Israelis and Palestinians are fundamentally denied them in all respects… In addition, Israeli laws and policies reflect institutionalized discrimination favoring Jews alone – no others, including Christians.”

Source: Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)

By Obama on the one hand praising Israeli democracy, yet on the other, mentioning the potential demographic ‘problem’ in the future (which translates as, if Israel wants to control all of historic Palestine, there are too many damn Palestinians that will ‘vote away’ Israeli control), he eviscerated, disappears the present. The present is a situation where Palestinians are controlled by brute force and violence in order to prevent that very ‘demographic problem’ (meaning, an actual democracy) from emerging. This is the reality of the Israeli democratic state, not seen because Obama is busy dreaming about the potential ‘problem’ arising in the future, instead of waking up and taking a look at what’s in front of him.

No mention or critique of Israeli democracy from any liberal commentator was made in mainstream publications.

Individual Citizen Attitude versus Policy Shift

MSNBC commentary was most gushing with regards to the following part of Obama’s speech:

I`m going off script her for a second, but before I — before I came here, I met with a group of young Palestinians from the age of 15 to 22. And talking to them, they weren`t that different from my daughters. They weren`t that different from your daughters, or sons.

I honestly believe that if — if any Israel parent sat down with those
kids, they`d say, I want these kids to succeed. I want them to prosper. I want them to have opportunities just like my kids do. I believe that`s what Israeli parents would want for these kids if they had chance to listen to them and talk to them. I believe that.”

And Maddow’s response:

Maddow: President Obama asking Israelis to put themselves in Palestinians` shoes, look at the world through their eyes. That is not an easy ask for either side of the conflict, right? Those were the words he 
used. He said it was not fair… that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of his or her own….

And the Israeli audience cheered and applauded throughout those remarks and gave him a giant sustained standing ovation at the end. 

There’s another explanation for the applause and acceptance of Obama’s speech by Israeli youth. Because they weren’t asked to sacrifice anything. One may look to the reaction of Palestinians, and see not cheers, but protest. If the speech was neutral, and objective, a genuine ‘search for a solution, why the applause? There are two possibilities – 1) the Israeli’s are a rational and people, but the Palestininans are irrational and unjust. Or 2) Obama’s speech doesn’t even approach a discussion of what will be necessary to achieving peace in the region, an actual challenge and rolling back support of the state policy of rejectionism, occupation and ethnic privelege.

The former is a deeply unsatisfying, racist conception. It also relies on the attitudes of individual citizens to ‘change the world,’ without addressing the U.S. and Israeli state’s role in creating a vicious situation. This is its purpose – construct an image of the irrational palestinian terrorist/savage, versus the noble Israeli diplomat or defensive soldier, all the while disappearing the role of the states.

The second explanation for the difference between Israeli and Palestinian reaction to Obama’s speech and ‘Mid-East’ (middle eastern in relation to what? Western Europe. The globe is not flat) visit actually takes into account the history of the region and the unconscious principles that liberalism cannot espouse, the political unconscious that deeply determines continued strife and a guaranteed failure of any  peace ‘negotiation.’

The Voices of Palestine

Individual Israeli and Palestinian citizens need not be asked to ‘see the world through the other’s eyes,’ but states need roll back policy: in particular the United States funding of a brutal occupation in violation of international law – this as the fundamental, primordial step to removing the traumatic kernel of violence from which reactionary and responsive terrorism grows.To ask people to ‘see from other’s perspective’ without addressing brutal, imperial policy which created and sustains hatred, violence, enmity is beyond patronizing, there isn’t even a word for it. Functionally, it is insidious propaganda shifting the locus of responsiblity from the perpetrators of international criminality, to the victims of such violence, the Israeli and Palestinian people. Its all a problem of attitude and empathy, not what WE do (as states). The idea that this is political ‘courage,’ that this is some ‘big, big risk’ to quote Lawrence O’donnell; that we can’t mention even the most elementary truth on a so-called liberal outlet when critiquing a ‘liberal’ president,’ shows just how far our notions of courage have collapsed; become inverted in an Orwellian fashion.

Obama has asked the Palestinians to not hold the principle of freezing, and rolling back settlements as a precondition for negotiation. The settlements are a violation of international law. You ask Israeli’s to be ‘more understanding,’ yet grant the Israeli state and settlers a free pass to criminally usurp palestinian territory. Where’s the ‘risk’ in that? Where’s the risk of challenging the ‘dominant power in the region,’ by your own concession?

Of course Palestinian and Israeli mothers would want children to be happy and succeed. They are all fucking human beings. WHat Obama and the liberal media establishment don’t get, is that precisely those people can exist and be human, but without structural policy change, the brutality will continue, and their will be ideological justifications and disappearances to justify it.

Why didn’t MSNBC address the criminality of expansive settlement, but label his speech as ‘something that can’t be accomplished in traditional American and Israeli discourse? Even Bush talked about settlement freeze. (Bush calls for end to humiliation of Palestinian people)

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The proper response may well have been boos from the Israeli youth and condemnation from the ‘liberal’ pundits. That, it seems to me, would be the real courageous act, the ‘big, big risk’ given the realities of the conflict. Obama’s speech was either intentionally, or unintentionally, an act of cowardice, defined as either an inbality to speak the truth of the situation, or a willingness to lie on behalf of entrenched systems of power.

Conclusion

Liberals to conservatives may say, but what about terrorism? And by this they mean Palestinian. Terrorist acts are monstrous, and should be condemned. But a couple of dissapeared-in-liberal-ideology points need to be raised. First, terrorism is a weapon of the weak. It is a violent tactic employed by those whose arms are not strong enough to face a traditional armed force.

What is not recognized is that an armed force colonizing and brutalizing a captive population, denying them essentials such as food and medicine, imprisoning and torturing at random are also examples of terrorism. If a Palestinian launched a rocket from Gaza in response to an IDF soldier shooting at civilians, BOTH are acts of terrorism. A suicide bomber detonating in an Israeli market, or a U.S. manufactured and paid for f-16 bombing a refugee camp are both acts of terror.

The unconscious assumption, not mentioned by Obama in his condemnation of Palestinian terror is the the largest terrorist operation is run out of Washington DC, and Israel is a terrorist state.

This is not to say that it justifies Palestinian terror. This is to say that terrorism on both sides need be condemned, including the essential terror of occupation, the primordial kernel of conflict. To only address Palestinian terror is to recognize our own as legitimate. In such ideological circumstance, peace is impossible.

Israel’s have a right to live in peace and security. Obama said as much. BUT SO DO PALESTINIANS. Israeli’s have fundamental rights under international law. SO DO PALESTINIANS. And Obama’s foreign policy apparatus, like president’s before him, not only don’t mention the terrorism against and lack of rights for Palestinians, they undermine them by force. This is the unconscious reality structuring the conflict, as well as liberal re-presentation of it.

“Ah-tem lo la-vad.” You are not alone.

How does one say that in Arabic, Mr. President? Because until i hear that, your ‘hope’ is lost, lost, lost.

Palestinian woman protests President Obama's visit

Palestinian woman protests President Obama’s visit

 

Bill Maher, Iraq and Imperial Hubris

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On this weeks “Real Time,” Bill Maher stated the following in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war:

We have ten years now, a little perspective…. I gotta admit, it’s a country that’s standing. I thought it wouldn’t be; it’s actually doing better than I thought it would be. Is it a great country? No, a lot of problems, yes, but there is a country there, called Iraq. It’s never gonna be worth what the cost was, but is there some value in having created a country, Iraq….”

Rachel Maddow challenged the narrative, accurately, that the ‘state’ called Iraq left standing, strategically is an ally of Iran; thus the mission failed. True enough. But Maher needs to be challenged on more than just a functional/or tactical level. It needs a moral/ethical challenge. The problem is much deeper, more insidious than a debate over whether the constructed state is ‘effective’ or not in meeting our strategic ambitions. Perhaps Maddow would have gotten to this, but due to normalized patriarchy, she was cut short by the men who had to respond to her assertions.

Regardless, Maher’s statement is revealing of neo-liberal ideology; it’s capacity to create room for historical revision, as well as ensuring that the perpetrators of war crimes (as the Iraq war undoubtedly was/is) will never be held to account. It is also a demonstration of an utterly detached from people’s lived experiences, liberal-imperial hubris. Maher often talks of the ‘conservative bubble,’ but he himself seems to be embedded in one of his own, a bubble on high in which the voices of the people of Iraq (who should be passing judgement on the success of Iraq and the invasion) neither register with, nor influence Maher’s analysis/pronouncements.

On Democracy Now!Amy Goodman interviewed Dahr Jamail, an investigative journalist who has covered Iraq from Iraq since the beginning of the war, and has just returned from the country. Here is his assessment of the state of the country that Maher thinks is ‘better than I thought it would be:’

the situation in Iraq today, 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion and occupation began, it’s just utter devastation. It’s a situation where, overall, we can say that Iraq is a failed state. The economy is in a state of crisis, perpetual crisis, that began far back with the … civil government set up to run Iraq during the first year of the occupation. And it’s been in crisis ever since.

The average Iraqi is just barely getting by. And how can they get by when there’s virtually no security across much large swaths of country to this day, where, you know, as we see in the headlines recently (65 dead day before 10 year anniversary), even when there’s not these dramatic, spectacular days of dozens of people being killed by bombs across Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, on any given day there’s assassinations, there’s detentions, there’s abductions and people being disappeared and kidnapped? One of the demands, for example, of the ongoing Sunni protests in Fallujah and across much of Al Anbar province is to ban silencer weapons, as they describe them, because there are so many hidden executions happening. Iraq has basically become a lawless state (my emphasis) where the government is laughingly referred to oftentimes as the “sidewalks government,” because one of the only things visible that they’ve actually accomplished is to install some new sidewalks across parts of Baghdad.

But it’s really hard to describe the amount of devastation. I mean, we’re having to talk about a country where, since 2003 began, we can cite the Lancet study that was published in the peer-reviewed Lancet medical journal in 2006, which way back in that time, seven years ago—excuse me, seven years ago now, found 655,000 excess deaths in Iraq. And that’s now a grossly outdated study, particularly given the level of violence we saw in 2006, 2007, and the low-level chronic violence that perpetuates to this day.”

Dahr Jamail, Investigative reporter, Iraq

Dahr Jamail, Investigative reporter, Iraq

We now know that the Iraq war has cost the lives of somewhere around a million people; 130,000 civilians in conservative estimates. The war created 4 million refugees, a million of which are internally displaced, still inside Iraq. “…from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II.” (Jamal) Depleted Uranium munitions being the suspected, though unconfirmed cause.

From what perspective, what ‘liberal bubble,’ can Maher pronounce ‘its doing better than I thought,’ unless he is either ignorant of the realities of the ground, or willfully deceptive? For who? Policy planners and pundits in Washington whose only standard of ‘success’ has collapsed into ‘at least there’s a country standing there?’ Bill Maher, basically arguing for the perhaps success of the Iraq mission because its not Somalia, un-governed, there is a puppet state in place financed by the U.S. tax payer?

Maher, through ignoring the realities on the ground in Iraq, constructs a ‘liberal’ narrative that says ‘maybe it wasn’t all that bad,’ ignoring the statistics, the personal experiences of Iraqi’s, and the overarching imperial framework and objectives of the war itself. Such an ideological retelling passes on a way for liberals to think about what the Iraq war means, one sanitized of blood and human misery, eviscerating the historical reality of brutal invasion and occupation. It also serves to cool hunger for revenge, for apology, for accountability. Raed Jarrar, Iraqi-American blogger and analyst can perhaps offer an alternative vision, one that those who are supposedly ‘left-liberal’ should become familiar with, especially those with the loudest megaphones like Maher, to influence and construct liberal opinion:

“I don’t think we should be asking President Bush if he should apologize or if what happened was criminal and immoral. I think there should be an independent investigation in the United States to hold those who took the U.S. to war accountable, including President Bush and other politicians in his administration. The crimes that were committed and the fraud and the money that was spent and the lives that were destroyed deserve an apology and a compensation, and they deserve everyone who was behind these attacks to be held accountable.

I think the vast majority of Iraqis expects to get an apology. They expect to get compensation for what happened to their country in the last two decades. The country has been destroyed (my emphasis). And the people who were killed in Iraq were compensated by $2,500, believe it or not. The U.S. government has a policy of compensating Iraqis by giving them $2,500 for any family member who was killed and $2,500, the same amount, for any property that is damaged. I mean, just see how humiliating it is to come to a family that lost their car and two of their kids, and give them $7,500 because this is our policy. We give them $2,500 apiece, whether that piece is a human being or a car. I mean, imagine the level of humiliation, the level of disregard to human life in Iraq. All of these things have to be—have to change. I mean, it’s true that the U.S. has ended its military occupation to Iraq, but the U.S. moral and legal obligations to the country are not over yet. Raed Jarrar, DemocracyNow!”

Raed Jarrar, Iraqi-American blogger and analysr

Raed Jarrar, Iraqi-American blogger and analyst

We didn’t ‘create’ a country, Bill Maher. It was there before we invaded it. We destroyed one. Utterly. There’s nothing standing there but a western fort, an imperial facade. And millions of people paid a price horrible for it, almost beyond comprehension. One ignored and dismissed by your assertion that it is better than you thought. Well, who are you? It is the citizens of Iraq, and those who were/are on the ground there, that should frame our understandings, who should discuss operation ‘iraq freedom’s’ ‘value.’

The Religion of Christ or About him? Manning versus the Supreme Derp

Here come’s round the clock media representation of the new authoritarian ruler of the catholic organization. While the world waits with baited breath for the pope to speak, another voice has spoken from deep within the dungeons of Rome: faint, persecuted, full of truth, committed to justice. Coincidence arranges a dichotomty, the religion of Jesus through performing acts, or the religion about Jesus, of worship and ‘faith.’ “Is your religion real when it costs you nothing and carries no risk? Is your religion real when you fatten upon it? Is your religion real when you commit atrocities in its name? Whence comes your downward degeneration from the original revelation?”

https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/blog/2013/03/help-spread-bradley-mannings-words-across-internet

While liberal media continue to ignore Manning and glorify (through their fake objectivity this ‘newsworthy’ story, as opposed to the manning trial, inherently ‘un’-newsworthy because it actually challenges power) this stagnant and dead formal procedure of behind-cloded-doors, patriarchal, homophobic criminal, elitist reproduction, they themselves reproduce systems of injustice….

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Madeline Albright, War Criminal, treated with deference on Andrea Mitchell in Revolting display of Historical Amnesia. Good Morning.

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So, on Andrea Mitchell this morning, Madleine Albright was interviewed, waxing philosophical on matters from her experience as secretary of state under Clinton, to the selection of the new pope, and the role of god and faith in foreign policy decisions (though she says she believes in the separation of church and state. Beats me.)

This is the same Madeline Albright who oversaw the sanctions regime in Iraq, after the first gulf war. In a spectatular case of historical amnesia, mainstream discourse refuses to remember that under the sanctions regime, 1.2 million Iraqi’s were killed through starvation and lack of medicine for treatment of preventable disease. 500,000 of which were children. The scale of the atrocity boggles the imagination. It causes such cognitive dissonannce, and runs so counter to american normative rhetoric, that it easily dismissed as not fitting within liberal understanding of American foreign policy. When confronted with the numbers, the atrocity, here’s how Albright, war criminal, responded.

Remember, this was under the liberal-democrat administration of Clinton:

Why is this person a guest on a ‘liberal’ morning news show, and not in a prison? What does she think terrorism is? The death of 500,ooo innocent children is worth it? Yet we had to go in and invade 9 years later?

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https://liberalalltooliberal.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/65/

“Olympus has Fallen,” propaganda piece, thrust forward on Hardball

Unknown

In a rather strange intervention during a relatively monotonous news cycle, Hardball with Chris Mathews has aired a segment on the soon to be released film, “Olympus Has Fallen.”

Although not a novelty for Hardball to air segments on a film, or discuss them in relation to current events, it is relatively rare. Thus, one may ask, “why this film? Why Now?”

During Mathews interview of the film’s stars – Gerard Butler, Angela Basset and Aaron Eckhart – the plot of the film is revealed. North Koreans have taken over the White House, and a disgraced Secret Service agent (Butler), due to his intimate knowledge of the White House, is tasked with evacuating the President (Eckhart) from the White house under the nose of North Korean terrorists.

We have seen, over the last week or so, numerous stories about Nuclear tests and threats coming from North Korea. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/11/us-warning-north-korea-truce-nuclear Perhaps Mathews and company felt it was newsworthy to discuss a film, with hyper-fantastic and vacuous themes, at this very moment.

The obvious: North Korea is an official enemy, thus it is in film necessary to ‘pick enemies that its ok to pound on,’ to quote Mathews.

The question, by conflating real-world North Korean bellicosity in the news, with a Hollywood shallowly represented terrorist/caricature, how are perceptions of North Korea constructed in the minds of viewers of Hardball?

‘Hollywood’ seems to play a particular role within the propaganda nexus; namely, the covering over of a lack of real threats. In the movies, and on television series like Homeland, there is always a terribly powerful, dangerous enemy; in fact, the very enemy we need that would actually justify existing institutional arrangements and expenditures. 

‘Terrorist’ in official U.S. discourse is a relatively empty category. Al Qaeda is functionally decimated; most ‘insurgents’ are formed in reaction to ongoing U.S. occupations; the solution to their elimination simply being a rolling back of our ongoing occupations. The North Koreans have no capacity to come close to striking the United States with a weapon; they lack the delivery system. Yet we have 700-plus military bases globally, massive departments like Homeland Security and counter-terrorism, and spend around a trillion dollars a year on our military (more than the rest of the world combined (http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2013/01/28/130128crat_atlarge_lepore)

If North Koreans were terrorists and could actually capture the White House though….. (throughout the segment, Mathews and cast repeatedly referenced the ‘realism’ of the film, despite its utter ridiculous premise)

The reason we spend so much on the military is not for defense. It is to ensure a subsidy for high tech industry, and to fund researrch and development which is then handed over to private companies. It is, in effect, a welfare system for the rich.

Ideologically, though, we need to construct an image of a voracious and threatening enemy, in the case of their relative absence. Hence, films like “Olympus has Fallen.” The film is probably terrible, but that’s not the point. The point is to create a common-sense conception/image of the North Korean threat. We are the ones embattled,beleaguered, at-risk from an external threat.

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By Chris Mathews’ non-engagement with these issues, through covering the movie uncritically in his segment, he plays a role part and parcel within the ideological and institutional necessities of a status quo rooted in global dominance, wealth extraction from the tax payer (through subsidies to high tech industry), and war-mongering. The film constructs an image of North Korea that doesn’t exist in the real world, but is necessary to justify our war making, surveillance, policing  and technological apparati. It should be the job of journalism to investigate such constructions rather than to act as a platform for their dissemination. And the movie looks shitty, too.