"What says the law? You will not kill. How does it say it? By killing!"
—Victor Hugo (1802-1885)"A lie told often enough becomes the truth.""All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."
—Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924)
—Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
(Swans - September 26, 2011) ABHORRENT CULTURE: The state of Georgia put to death Troy Davis. Myriad personalities and organizations called for clemency or for granting Davis a new trial. The list was long: Former President Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Al Sharpton, 51 US representatives, former FBI Director William Sessions, former congressman and presidential candidate Bob Barr, the Council of Europe, the NAACP, Amnesty International... Petitions were sent from all over the world to the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Parole. To no effect. They murdered him out of revenge -- what they call "justice."
WHETHER DAVIS was guilty of the 1989 murder of a police officer has been much debated and doubted for the past 22 years and when there is doubt, as the much-heralded Jewish philosopher Maimonides said centuries ago: "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death." I have no idea whether Davis was guilty -- he claimed his innocence to his very last breath -- but it's of no import. Capital punishment, this barbaric state-legalized practice of revenge killing, ought to be put on trial, at least in the minds and hearts of all people who consider themselves decent, civilized, democratic human beings. Americans in their majority keep good company, the likes of China, Iran, North Korea, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria...all regimes with immaculate decent and democratic credentials. Please excuse the sarcasm. The 2000 Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union proclaims that "human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected" (Article 1). "Everyone has the right to life" and "no one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed" (Article 2). But hey, Europeans are sissies. Here in America, killing is a favorite pastime -- check Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc., and our films, TV shows, and video games. The death penalty is nothing but another string of the musical instrument that plays the love of death around the clock. A vile and debauched culture, indeed...
LET ME TEMPER the comments above: I stated that a majority of the American people is indeed contemptible. However, there is also a large minority to which I belong (though I do not consider myself an American, or a French for that matter; just a human being): Fair-minded, decent, well-educated, loving, careful thinkers and givers populate the land BUT they -- we -- are in the minority, and the majority is destroying our humanness one person at a time.
PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD? There are plenty of pros and cons regarding that issue, hence a lot of uncertainties, which I shall not engage here. It won't happen anyway since the U.S. is going to work frantically so that a majority vote (9 countries) does not materialize in the Security Council, but if it does, then the U.S. will exercise its veto. Still, certainties do exist, the first one being that the entire world is becoming increasingly aware of the US ill-fated hypocrisy and pro-Israel policies due to domestic and erroneous strategic considerations. The hasbara and Washington PR can no longer counter the power of the Internet. The world knows that Israel, ensconced in so many internal contradictions, faces a bleak future and an existence that depends on blackmailing (the unleashing of a modern nuclear Armageddon) the entire world, and the support of a fast-disappearing hegemon. Everybody knows it, but for the American elites.
MY SENTIMENTS AND ANALYSES are well known to long-time readers. Suffice it to read my March 2002 piece, "Israeli-Palestinian And American Sad Minuet" or my May 2002 "Blackmailing Palestinians: Plucked, Cooked, Baked And Packaged" to get a grasp of where I stand. Both pieces were written with a mix of humor and utter dejection (this latter piece was, however, written with full dismissal in mind). Readers may also peruse our archives on the Israel-Palestine issue. And for the hating imbeciles that keep tagging me with anti-Semitism, I'd suggest they read my two-part book review of the 2004 "The Politics of Anti-Semitism." Enough said.
PRESIDENT OBAMA does not appear to understand that the world is tired of having him bow down to amoral domestic politics -- or any other US president for that matter. Tired we are. How come a year ago Mr. Obama delivered an impassioned speech to the UN calling for Palestinian statehood within a year -- "the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own," he forcefully declared -- and one year later he reverses his position? How can he state that the Palestinians must negotiate peace with Israel before asking for statehood? Did the UN ask the Jews in 1948 to negotiate peace with the Palestinians before declaring statehood on a land that was not theirs, or ask the people of Albanian background to negotiate with the Serbs before declaring their independence? Did the UN arbitrate the grievances of the Palestinians at that historically tragic time? How can "we encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other and to understand each other's hopes and fears," Mr. Obama? Two pictures, courtesy of Steve Amsel, the author of the always-invaluable DesertPeace Web site, will illustrate the actuality:
Sister and Brother
Vanishing Palestinian Land
THIS CONFLICT will remain intractable as long as Israel keeps colonizing the land and appropriating its resources (e.g., water), makes demands that the Palestinians cannot meet (Jerusalem, legal recognition of the "Jewish" state rather than the state of Israel without any cultural/religious denomination, absolutely no right of return...), and disdainfully ignores the wishes of the entire world (with a few well-known, yet still very powerful exceptions). Or maybe Israel will finish the job that began 63 years ago and forcefully expel the entire Palestinian population that resides in the West Bank to Jordan, which would be a logical conclusion to this human tragedy. We are not living in an era in which rationality and reason prevail -- if we ever have. Power, force, and violence remain the modus operandi of human non-relationships. Domination over and exclusion of the other thwart solidarity at the very same time the natural world is going to hell in a handbasket. Disheartening days ahead, I am afraid.
BACK TO THE US ECONOMY, here is a suggestion you may want to send to Warren Buffett and George Soros, both famous, extremely wealthy capitalist liberals (an oxymoron?). Why don't they use their uber wealth to set up a non-for-profit organization with a, say, $4 billion endowment that would be charged to counter the torrent of all deceptive and utterly false advertising TV viewers are being hammered with day in and day out? After all, in the age of Twitter, people cannot read more than 140 characters and they get their make-believe news from TV, and as Ralph Nader advocates, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! (Seven Stories Press, 2009, ISBN 1583229035). That organization, call it The Institute for Real Facts, would have a simple laser-like mission: To counteract each and every BS that is spewed out on TV, through 30-second spots that would simply call the shots as they are. The first 10 seconds would let the viewers know about the false claim and then the next 20 seconds would be spent debunking the claim with clear facts. Maybe if Buffett and Soros could bring in a few more billionaires to the project, the ad time could be increased to a full minute instead of 30 seconds -- time and again, time and again, time and again.
HERE ARE BUT THREE EXAMPLES the Institute for Real Facts could address: 1) Food demand around the world, resources scarcity, and commodities speculation. 2) Hunger in the U.S. 3) US corporations taxes (cf., "In 1945, US corporate income taxes added up to 35 percent of all federal government revenue. This year, corporate income taxes will make up just 9 percent of federal receipts. In 1952, the year Republican President Dwight Eisenhower was elected, the effective income tax rate for corporations was 52.8 percent. Last year it was just 10.5 percent.")
OF COURSE, there are many other facts that would need to be emphasized by that new organization -- taxes and inequities (the U.S. has the lowest rate of taxation and the highest inequity within the OECD -- in the company of Israel and Mexico), water scarcity, the death of fisheries, global warming, etc., etc., etc., but the three examples will suffice for today. Look, I've contacted both Buffett and Soros several times. Neither has had the politeness or decency to even acknowledge my correspondence. (I have also contacted the honorable Michelle Obama, first lady of the U.S., regarding our local health clinic going bankrupt, without receiving any feedback either). So you contact them, witness the response if any, and I'll be more than glad to work on an exhaustive list of issues that ought to be addressed and facts correctly assessed.
. . . . .
C'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can. Supporting the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.
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Gilles d'Aymery on Swans -- with bio. He is Swans publisher and co-editor. (back)