Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ron Paul and 9/11, etc

Apparently Ron Paul was on Face the Nation on Sunday. I didn't watch it, but CNN's Kevin Liptak discusses it here,

"Ron Paul reissues claims on American policy and 9/11"[1]


Presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul reiterated his controversial stance Sunday that some policies of the United States contributed to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Paul said American intervention in foreign nations was a trigger to potential terrorists, who he said were sending the message: “We don’t like American bombs to be falling on our country.”

He cited withdrawing a military base from Saudi Arabia immediately after 9/11 as an indication that U.S. military policy was partly responsible for the actions of terrorists.Paul has previously said that the military presence in Saudi Arabia was a motivator for terrorists, who were angered by American troops in the Islamic country.

The Texas congressman made clear he did not think America’s form of government and economy were to blame, but rather the specific foreign policies pursued by the United States.

“To deny this I think is very dangerous, but to argue the case that they want to do us harm because we're free and prosperous I think is a very, very dangerous notion because it's not true,” Paul said.

He continued, “You're supposed to be able to criticize your own government without saying you're un-American.”

This video below, intercutting footage from a GOP debate with an RT story was uploaded 12 September 2011.[link]

In a more rational world Ron Paul's "surprising claim" would not be remotely controversial, as Liptak deems it. I've observed before that the big media's job is to encourage viewers to be unreflective and stupid, and our job in turn is to comply, in hopes of approval and cheeseburgers and sundry pleasant diversions on the TV. The other day Duncan Mitchel wrote

...I have long believed that elites consider literacy dangerous. They'd love to limit it -- ideally, by direct intervention into the brain so that readers could only look for, read, or understand, approved texts. That's because elites need the rabble to have minimal functional literacy in order to serve elite ends; but once you teach someone to read, it's hard to predict or control what she'll read next. This is why schools teach reading and writing so badly, in order to get a few fluent readers and writers, and many who just stumble along, regarding text as something vaguely unpleasant.

I'm not saying that someone sat down and consciously decided to do it that way; but our current, traditional approach works well enough for official purposes, to produce enough literates to do the necessary work while leaving the rest only half-taught. The ongoing drive by corporate and government elites to censor the Internet might just give a boost to physical print, though: the forbidden, as Butler pointed out in connection with slaves' great desire to learn to read and write, automatically becomes attractive.

(He's referring to Octavia Butler, per a discussion she had at MIT with Samuel R. Delany in 1998, which Duncan references in "Literally Literate")

Shifting gears a bit, a recent Slate article also touches upon this:

Christopher Hitchens, "In God They Trust: How the conservative belief in American exceptionalism has become a matter of faith"

Hitchens calls it a conservative belief, not a republican belief, but at the Slate web page there's a still photo from another recent GOP debate, which seems like the layout is meant to imply that American Exceptionalism is a conspicuously Republican Party idea. (If only that were so, then it might be easier to eradicate. Then again, if only we had a viable opposition party, as opposed to the democrats, who weren't a viable opposition party even in 2009-2010, when they controlled all three branches of government, and the president was denounced for his supposed socialism. To paraphrase JFK and put words in his dead mouth he never would have said, we are all republicans now, even if Ike was a lefty by our new standards...)


I remember Bernard-Henri Levy saying, in the early stages of the Iraq war that he opposed, that America had been essentially in the right about combating fascism and Nazism, and essentially right about opposing and outlasting the various forms of Communism, and that all else was pretty much commentary or, as one might say, merde de taureau. Something of the sort seems to apply in the present case, both in recent developments in Burma and Vietnam as well as in Libya and Syria. The crowds have a tendency to be glad that there is an American superpower, if only to balance the cynical powers of Moscow and Beijing. Perhaps if it were not for President Obama being in the White House, our right wing would be quicker to see and appreciate this point.

Does Hitchens really believe the crowds in Libya and Syria "have a tendency to be glad there is an American superpower"? I guess he might; mostly he seems to believe that the West is the best, so he may decide to also believe that Libyans and Syrians, et al, look at things the way he does, because it helps reinforce his belief.[2]

How do you separate American Exceptionalism from "they hate us for our freedoms"? I don't see how you can. The former functions as a set of blinders, which prevents one from seeing the latter with anything like objectivity. If we're awesome and everybody knows we're awesome, a truth universally acknowledged and so forth, what other reason could there be? The politicians know they have to say it, even if they don't have to believe it, and the network reporters also have to say it, and who the hell knows what they believe? Presumably they believe in adapting and surviving and having an up-to-date demo reel.

Maybe the problem arises if our awesomeness is so self-evident, then we just have to assert it and it is so. This frees us of having to actually be awesome, or even just decent and well-behaved, which a lot of the world would happily settle for. We create our own reality, or at least our elites do, as a commenter recently reminded me.

Laurie Fendrich, Chronicle of Higher Education: "America Is Exceptional, but Keep It to Yourself" November 20, 2011. I may discuss this article and the related Pew poll a little more in a few days.

Two from the Christian Science Monitor:
Ron Paul's strength in Iowa shows it's too soon to write him off[3]

Did Ron Paul win GOP's national security debate?

[1]on's front page this story was linked as "Ron Paul's Surprising 9/11 Claim" I've mentioned this trend on news web sites before, to give their stories more than one title, depending on where you find it on the site. Slate and the Christian Science monitor both do it quite a bit too. I don't know what to make of it, apart from possibly being a SEO (search engine optimization) tactic to increase traffic, to increase the number of key words that might lead to the url.

[2]I've had the idea for some time of a post discussing Hitchens and Tom Friedman plus possibly a couple of other figures who strike me as pretty overrated, "Wrong except when they're right."

It would be about persons who often spew nonsense but occasionally offer more useful observations, seemingly because while they function as gatekeepers of conventional wisdom, they also need to say something that's not so merde de taureau-ey once in a while, whether to protect their reputations or as a tacit wink to knowledgeable cynics who may be listening. Of course the occasional non-wackjob sensible comment also helps create verisimilitude, so the officially agreed-upon crazy is easier to accept.

[3]I find it hard to believe Paul has a shot, even if all the candidates still in the GOP race still have a mathematical shot, even Rick Santorum. But part of the establishment media being the establishment is demonstrating they aren't marginalizing anybody, so what the hey.

Labels: , ,


At November 24, 2011 5:42 AM, Blogger Jim Wetzel said...

" ... our job in turn is to comply, in hopes of approval and cheeseburgers and sundry pleasant diversions on the TV ... "

Ah, yes, the finer things in life! Thank you, sir, for a felicitous quote. I'm sure I'll steal it at some point.

To your closing point, I absolutely don't believe Paul has any shot at all of becoming president, nor of becoming nominated for such by any party north of the libertarians. I take it for granted that the corporate oligarchy that actually runs this dark empire isn't about to permit anyone who credibly threatens change of any sort within miles of its spokespersons' seats, including the one in the Oval Orifice.

At November 24, 2011 3:26 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Jim, what's going on? Happy thanksgiving!

As you may know, Ron Paul was the Libertarian candidate for prez at one point in the 1980s. I was going to post a video of an interview he did with Wm. F. Buckley from that year, but decided not to because the post was already a bit long.

I sometimes wish Paul's anti-imperialism wasn't complicated by his Grover Norquistish hostility to progressive taxation and social security, but I suppose it's neither here nor there because as you pointed out he has no chance of ever being president, and arguably his presence in the GOP is tolerated because it suggests ideological diversity and makes them look good.

I recall that IOZ and Jack Crow discussed this dynamic a while back, so maybe I need to go back and look for those links and add them to the post here.


Post a Comment

<< Home