Friday, December 2, 2016

The Corporate Government War On Life Itself: Mni Woconi (Water Is Life)

Collage by James Fangboner
A new Facebook friend, Danica Niketic, shared this gem yesterday with the comment "Think about where you can apply this definition..."
Anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes has observed that Genocide is a continuum that runs for years, decades or centuries. It begins with marginalization and dehumanization of an identifiable minority, the theft of their lands and property, their slaughter and decimation, and the gradual squeezing of remnant populations. The central organizing principle of the continuum is a narrative that turns "others into non-persons or monsters," that normalizes atrocities and rationalizes the "every day practice of violence."
Who could read this without thinking of Standing Rock? The extreme violence against Native water protectors and their supporters has normalized atrocities reminiscent of Nazi atrocities against Jews, especially spraying them with sustained blasts of water at freezing temperatures. The irony of turning water into a weapon against water protectors is apparent.

Of course Israel has long been guilty of using water as a weapon against its indigenous population, the Palestinian people it attempted to displace very much as European settlers attempted to displace North America's Native peoples. In an arid agricultural region withholding water from farmers is one way of driving people out, while spraying them with sewer water is a tactic for attacking those who aren't working the land. 


"Turning others into non-persons or monsters" is the weak link in the genocidal chain. 

In the case of Standing Rock, despite the corporate media's virtual news blackout, respect for Native leadership in protecting the watershed for millions is enormous.
"Police turn water cannons on Dakota Access Pipeline protesters." from Workers.org
Thousands of veterans are traveling to North Dakota to form a human shield between the Native water protector front lines and the heavily militarized police and National Guard troops attacking them. 
Millions have donated supplies, showed up ready to help, and shared the news of Standing Rock atrocities acting as citizen journalists. The whole world is watching to see what will happen on December 5 when state agents have announced the final eviction of the camp now surrounded by pipeline construction equipment. 
Veterans For Peace chapter 001 presenting a check to Chief Francis of the Penobscot Indian Nation
to support the DAPL resistance. Photo courtesy of Richard Clement, VFP.
The long international campaign to turn Muslims into monsters has been far more effective, thanks to the collusion of propaganda outlets and the regular, suspiciously convenient "terror" events alleged to have been orchestrated by Muslim extremists. The chief crime of Muslim people in the eyes of corporate government is that their faith predominates among the indigenous population in parts of Asia and Africa where fossil fuel reserves are found and/or transported. 

The war on Muslims has been underway since the Ottoman Empire began shedding colonies in the run up to WWI, as the history of Afghanistan's occupation by one super power after another demonstrates. (Not much oil there, but it is a key transport region due to geographical location.)

The attempted genocide against the Native people of the Americas has been going on even longer, essentially since 1492. Here in the 21st century, corporate greed for control of fossil fuels and control of water have crossed paths in the many pipeline projects being actively resisted in North America. Just yesterday the Prime Minister of Canada announced with a winsome smile that he had approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline over the objections of First Nations people. 

Corporate government has two faces which it alternates: the pretty ones like Trudeau and Obama who lull liberals to sleep while stealing the commons, and the baldly ugly ones like Trump who wake liberals up to demand narrowly defined civil rights for certain identity groups.

But it doesn't matter to the groups targeted for genocide whether the faces under the riot gear helmets are attractive or not. Black Lives Matter activists have repeatedly said that having a Black man in the White House has done nothing to stem the tide of state-sanctioned violence and prison enslavement of Black citizens. What it mostly appears to have done is piss off millions of racist voters whose economic prospects are dim and whose grasp of the reality behind the facade is even dimmer. 

The lumpen proletariat vote against their own interests because propaganda confuses them into thinking a billionaire kleptocracy will protect them and others with white privilege; it will do nothing of the kind. Instead it will continue using genocidal tactics to steal the commons upon which all life depends. For profit.

Our best defense is to refuse to marginalize or dehumanize any groups, and to always follow the money.

The handful of people still confused by why the U.S.-led coalition attacked and occupied (and continues to attack and occupy) Iraq may want to listen in to the ongoing Iraq War Tribunal as it examines the lies told about the monsters sitting on those oil fields. Of course today there is a new lie: ISIS makes them do it. Or in other words, the presence of ISIS "rationalizes the everyday practice of violence." But who made ISIS? Few in the U.S. care to pursue that question.

Just as few noticed that Obama spent his final few days in office this week adding Al Shabab in Somalia to the list of targets authorized for attack after 9/11, even though Al Shabab did not exist in 2001. And also authorized deployment of U.S. Special Forces anywhere on the planet to conduct secret assassinations outside of recognized war zones.

Under Trump even liberals are likely to wake up and realize what indigenous people have known for a long time: the whole planet is a war zone. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where To Get Some News -- While You Still Can


I realized I have the perfect excuse for doing what I've wanted to do all along: lay in bed and read like a glutton eating a whole box of chocolates at once. My excuse? All indications point to an eventual shut down of information streams that don't exalt the demagogue with bad hair. It's hard to believe that such a person is about to come to the power to finish the job started by the infotainment glut drowning out truthful reporting and thoughtful analysis since the mid 20th century. In fact, it's disinformation -- propaganda, if you prefer -- that brought him to power


I think we had best read all we can now before the Internet goes dark.

We also need to make sure that our youngest humans learn to read and think, and to associate these activities with love they will never get from a screen.

We can also continue collecting books and paper copies of manuscripts worth reading. Samizdat anyone?

It's with these thoughts in mind that I respond to a family member's suggestion that I compile a list of useful sources for real information that exist online today. I'm sure I'll miss many, and I encourage readers to contact me with suggestions I've overlooked. 


What got me started on this reverie was not the corporate campaign against so-called "fake news" but rather reading two timely essays by Masha Gessen in the New York Review of Books Daily.


"Autocracy: Rules For Survival," which has been widely circulated since it was published on Nov. 10 and "Trump: The Choice We Face" on Nov. 27. 

NYRB Daily is not a publication I read regularly, but the first essay was all over Facebook and the second was shared on Twitter by a literary acquaintance who reads more widely than I typically do. 

It's my social networks filtering the glut of information that I will really miss when the lines of communication go down. When there's too much to read, I pick and choose largely guided by the recommendations of informed activists I respect. So, for what it's worth, here's my list of useful sites. None are without bias. The myth of "unbiased" news reporting is part of the sands upon which our foolish edifice has been built.


Popular Resistance
The Intercept
Mondoweiss
In These Times
BlackGirlinMaine
Vox
Socialist Worker
Consortium News
Op-Ed News
Common Dreams
Organizing Notes
Yes! Magazine
Vice
Democracy Now!
Indian Country Today Media Network
Intercontinental Cry
Black Agenda Report
World Socialist News
Global Research
Peace In Our Times
Truthdig
The Electronic Intifada
Rising Up
Mint Press News
Counterpunch

Commercial news websites that have a lot of corporate content but still provide information I don't see elsewhere:
TeleSUR English
Al Jazeera
The Guardian US

Comments are moderated (so there will be a slight delay) but I welcome your critique of my list, and any additions you care to suggest.