Thursday, January 22, 2009

Strange Nation

Americans are a weird bunch, no doubt about it. Half of them spend half their time living in a past that never really existed except in their fevered brains. The other half never thinks about it, the key being never thinks. What passes for thinking seems to consist mostly of violent emotions related to whatever Through the Looking Glass world they inhabit, mostly places I would never want to go.

The apologists for Israel and the peace party Demolition-crats just seem to get shriller by the hour. Even after the astonishingly brutal attack on Gaza by Israel the apologists cling to their fantasy world blaming the Palestinians for their own fate of being stomped into the dirt by Israel. As the Israeli munch their ground Palestinian burgers, blood spattering on their shirts like ketchup, the apologists continue to live in their Salvador Dali landscapes replete with the grotesque and fantastic.

The sad truth of it is that though some people will and have come around to the awful reality of what Israel is others simply won’t and no amount of argument or fact pointing will make the slightest dent in their armor. I guess people just aren’t wired the same way. I make no claims for owning the monopoly on truth so all I can do is call it as I see it. Every time I get suckered into an argument with an apologist I just want to kick myself for being such a dumb-ass for it is generally a waste of time. Better to just write my little screeds which I find has a therapeutic effect to counter the insanity I am immersed in having the good or bad luck of being born an American and surrounded by them with their buzz cuts, large trucks, and arrogant demeanor. This is nothing new, it’s not like Americans just became what they are. Indeed, Mark Twain often wrote about it in his short stories and books especially when he was in his darker moods.

Part of the American “we are the good guys” fantasy was our role in the so-called good war, WWII where America supposedly saved the world. I question that WWII was good. It was actually the worst war. The entire world went mad where the destruction of human life reached unheard of levels. Out of this madness many Americans have woven a false history where we saved the Jews from the Nazis. Saving the Jews from the Nazis had absolutely nothing to do with why we entered WWII it was merely an unintentional byproduct. In fact America would have been just as happy to sit by as the holocaust occurred as indeed which is what most of the world did just as they have done as Israel murders Palestinians this last attack being merely the latest atrocity by Israel. Most of the time the crucial role of Russia in defeating Nazi Germany is ignored completely and it is as if the U.S. single handedly won the war. But so goes the national narrative.

The other fantasy that Americans cling to is that we are “reasonable” people. I am quickly reaching the point where “reasonable” people are driving me nuts. It’s always reasonable to support the Democrats because they are more reasonable than the Republicans. It’s always “reasonable” to blindly support Israel because they are like us in so many ways while the Arabs are, well you know, those crazy religious fanatics who are so unreasonable. It is so American to view the Arab world as a monolithic block who through some mysterious way all share the same beliefs and world views unlike us “free thinking” gringos. The basic theory for most Americans is that Arabs are these cruel crazies while we are the kindly enlightened westerners. Never mind that a good chunk of the American public believes in UFOs, the devil, heaven, angels and other such drivel. Never mind that some Americans go to churches where during the service they begin to tremble, shake, and roll on the floor and speak in tongues. We aren’t crazy though. Yeah, right.

It is so god damned reasonable to prattle on about how great we are to have finally elected a black man as president while people are being blown into body fragments their brains, guts, and blood splattering the ground. It’s so “reasonable” to congratulate ourselves for doing things that ought to have been done over one hundred years ago, indeed things other nations have already been doing. It’s so bloody reasonable to blather about how the Obamas will rearrange the White House during their “historic” stay there even as IDF soldiers put bullets into the skulls of young Palestinian children murdering them execution style. If this is being reasonable then I don’t want to have anything to do with it. You can keep it.

There are actually a few reasonable Americans who for some reason were able to shake off American culture to see the world in a more realistic fashion and one of these is Noam Chomsky. The first time I became aware of Chomsky was on the TV program Frontline who was doing a story on how the main stream news media was influenced by corporate America. Chomsky was defending the right of an author who claimed that the holocaust never happened to publish his book. All the “reasonable” people couldn’t understand a very simple idea which was that though the author was a ding-bat he had every right to publish his book. It is part and parcel with freedom of speech that “reasonable” people love to babble about. They accused Chomsky of being all manner of vile and evil things with their eyes bugging out and their double chins quivering. It really opened my eyes to the hypocrisy and fantasy of American culture. Sickening really. But that is how powerful the national narrative is in regards to our relationship with Israel and how much we identify with it. For to question Israel is to question the goodness of America and perhaps at the root of this lies the unavoidable correlation of the holocaust with the very American holocaust against the Native Americans. Oh God, I know, every time I bring that topic up I can hear the same voices – but that was so long ago, that’s in the past, it’s got nothing to do with us today, what should we do, give it back to the Indians? Actually that might not be a bad idea but the main point is that Americans don’t want to be bothered with such thoughts, it after all isn’t really reasonable.

It has taken years for me to really understand what Chomsky is all about and where he is coming from and even then I needed a little help along the way. That, of course, is the power of culture which is a power that truly needs to be reckoned with in order to understand the force of its impact on our views. Culture is the ultimate dictator that tells us how we should act, dress, what to eat, how to interact, indeed it defines our entire world view and is not easily shrugged off but it is always a worthwhile effort to make though all too few ever do.

At any rate Noam Chomsky has recently written about Israel and Gaza and is well worth reading. Here is the link and an excerpt.


On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended.
That surely includes the timing of the assault: shortly before noon, when children were returning from school and crowds were milling in the streets of densely populated Gaza City. It took only a few minutes to kill over 225 people and wound 700, an auspicious opening to the mass slaughter of defenseless civilians trapped in a tiny cage with nowhere to flee.

In his retrospective "Parsing Gains of Gaza War," New York Times correspondent Ethan Bronner cited this achievement as one of the most significant of the gains. Israel calculated that it would be advantageous to appear to "go crazy," causing vastly disproportionate terror, a doctrine that traces back to the 1950s. "The Palestinians in Gaza got the message on the first day," Bronner wrote, "when Israeli warplanes struck numerous targets simultaneously in the middle of a Saturday morning. Some 200 were killed instantly, shocking Hamas and indeed all of Gaza." The tactic of "going crazy" appears to have been successful, Bronner concluded: there are "limited indications that the people of Gaza felt such pain from this war that they will seek to rein in Hamas," the elected government. That is another long-standing doctrine of state terror. I don't, incidentally, recall the Times retrospective "Parsing Gains of Chechnya War," though the gains were great.

The meticulous planning also presumably included the termination of the assault, carefully timed to be just before the inauguration, so as to minimize the (remote) threat that Obama might have to say some words critical of these vicious US-supported crimes.

Two weeks after the Sabbath opening of the assault, with much of Gaza already pounded to rubble and the death toll approaching 1000, the UN Agency UNRWA, on which most Gazans depend for survival, announced that the Israeli military refused to allow aid shipments to Gaza, saying that the crossings were closed for the Sabbath. To honor the holy day, Palestinians at the edge of survival must be denied food and medicine, while hundreds can be slaughtered by US jet bombers and helicopters.

The rigorous observance of the Sabbath in this dual fashion attracted little if any notice. That makes sense. In the annals of US-Israeli criminality, such cruelty and cynicism scarcely merit more than a footnote. They are too familiar. To cite one relevant parallel, in June 1982 the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon opened with the bombing of the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, later to become famous as the site of terrible massacres supervised by the IDF (Israeli "Defense" Forces). The bombing hit the local hospital -- the Gaza hospital -- and killed over 200 people, according to the eyewitness account of an American Middle East academic specialist. The massacre was the opening act in an invasion that slaughtered some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of southern Lebanon and Beirut, proceeding with crucial US military and diplomatic support. That included vetoes of Security Council resolutions seeking to halt the criminal aggression that was undertaken, as scarcely concealed, to defend Israel from the threat of peaceful political settlement, contrary to many convenient fabrications about Israelis suffering under intense rocketing, a fantasy of apologists.


At January 23, 2009 2:41 PM, Blogger Mimi said...

The newspaper I get, "The Press of Atlantic City" ran a cartoon showing a figure representing Hamas dressed as--I guess--a Roman warrior, and holding up a shield. On the shield was the body of a child. This is how the Palestinians are represented: as hiding behind chldren and causing the carnage themselves. Disgusting, horrible, and hateful "war" that slaughters the innocent.

At January 23, 2009 3:33 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Hi Mimi,

That’s a perfect example of how it works. Even though it is the IDF that has been using civilians as a shield as was pointed out by Chris Floyd the news media and our government keep repeating over and over the false claim that Hamas uses civilians as shields and how it is their fault for the invasion. It’s rather like a TV commercial where they repeat the name of the product they are selling as many times as possible so it will stick in the viewer’s mind and pretty soon everyone accepts it as factual without really thinking about the entire picture. Not nice.


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