Who is expendable?

I just read something that gave me pause. 
 
In response to President Obama inviting Ahmed Mohamed to the White House, certain opposition voices criticized the president over his priorities.
 
Why didn’t he invite the family of the woman in California who was shot by the illegal immigrant to meet with him? Why didn’t he invite the families of those killed in South Carolina?
 
As questions of this nature continued, I kept feeling a greater sense of disquiet. The tragedies which occurred in these examples were perpetuated by criminals, people who through either direct intent, or through a lack of responsibility and adherence to the law brought about a terrible result, someone’s death. These were criminal acts committed by criminals.
 
However in Ahmed’s situation he was the victim, not of a criminal act, but a victim of the government. He was treated by those in authority as if he was a criminal for doing the very thing we hope our youth today will do – get excited about learning.
 
While we may debate how the authorities should handle the serious task of protecting our youth, let’s not lose sight of whom we are protecting. If in trying to protect our youth we trample on their rights, have we not taught them a terrible lesson? If in trying to protect the whole we damage the one, have we not already lost the battle?

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Saith Me… Fear as an Excuse

If we let fear become a legitimate excuse for the violation of law then we have lost the war – terror wins.

 

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History: To Study or Not To Study

The more I study history the harder it becomes to ignore the ignorant who have been fed propaganda and generalizations rather than actual history with all its good, bad, and complicated parts.

The notion that one must tear apart mythology in order to seek fact does not appeal to me, nor does the idea that all facts must be conclusively proven in order to be held as true. Yet on the other hand, I find the the idea that mythology and popular lore should be the only history consumed by a patriotic citizenry just as unappealing.

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Saith Me… Fake News

Sometimes you really wish the fake news was the real news because it makes you laugh rather than makes you want to cry.

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Bias in the Media

Media bias comes in two forms, the suppression of news coverage and the coverage of news in a manner that constitutes propaganda. Propaganda, or what we are being told and sold, makes up half the problem of biased reporting, the other half of the problem lies in the suppression of news.

In an article I was reading this morning, published by POLITICO, there was a great quote by Sharyl Attkisson, “The images that the public sees every day, in many forms, are influenced and manipulated by political, corporate and other special interests through orchestrated and well-financed campaigns.”

I had great hopes, for a brief moment, that for once the media would discuss the presence of and issues caused by corporate or special interest bias in the media. Sadly, rather than branching out past the standard issue of political bias in the media, the article only focused on the well discussed presence of political bias.

Political bias/propaganda is fairly easy for most people to identify, and the educated can maneuver through it with little difficulty. Although frustrating, political bias is not the real danger because it is relatively obvious. It is the corporate and special interest bias/propaganda that hold the real danger for the public, because of the difficulty identifying the motivation. We could say, “It is all about money,” but this oversimplification obscures the difficulties we face in identifying what money is purchasing. Certainly, a corporation would want to increase its earnings and thereby wish to wage a campaign against anything that threatens earning potential, but unlike with pure political bias, the public is more often then not unaware the campaign is being waged. Special interest bias/propaganda is even more difficult to identify, because unlike in a political campaign where the special interest group is identified at the end, news coverage does not include a “paid for by” statement at the end of each news story. Nor will you hear a “this story which we did not cover was suppressed by” statement during the news coverage.

While many can learn to read between the lines of propaganda and glean an understanding of bias, one cannot read between the lines when there are no lines due to suppression.

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Here’s My Cape – Does Anyone Want It?

This morning’s breakfast conversation centered on the international events headlining the news, and my ongoing attempt to write a thesis on the diplomatic history of the twentieth century. The central theme of the discussion revolved around the notion that great powers prefer a world were there are many large nations rather than many small nations. The conversation also turned to the problems created by superpowers.

When the Cold War ended, many in the United States naively celebrated the idea of being the only superpower. Many believed that being a superpower was better than being one of the great powers, and the opportunity to shed the role of superpower was waived.  Now, after a quarter century of being the sole superpower whether in reality or in myth, a greater comprehension  of the responsibilities and the dangers of being a superpower has developed.

The problem, however, is that when the United States now asks, “Here’s my cape, does anyone want it?” no one steps up to take it.

When Edna Mode, of The Incredibles, said “no capes,” is this what she was really warning us about? Are superpower capes just too dangerous? Should the capes simply be retired and replaced with the plain clothes of diplomacy?

It is with this question on my mind that I return to the realm of history and try for a few hours to shut out the political realities of the day.

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Saith Me… Post-Traumatic Cold War Disorder

I have reached a point when my thesis and the events of the day have brought me to a strange observation. Those of us born before 1980 seem to be suffering from  Post-traumatic Cold War Disorder.

Traumatized by the endless Cold War propaganda and rhetoric of our youth, we can no longer view the world through any lens other than a Cold War lens. Even the slightest hint of turbulence or discord between the USA and Russia sends us hunting for our bomb shelters or our protest signs. We see the world as us or them and begin to verbally attack anyone who does not sound like us as we split the world in two. We even view neutrality as an enemy.

Sadly, this disorder makes us paranoid that the actions of the other side are indicative of their determination to eradicate us from the earth rather than simply a manifestation of their desire to protect their own self-interests. In our race to divide the world, we neglect to see how the other side is acting just as we act. We see only differences and never similarities.

I love studying the Cold War, but I would like to see it remain in the realm of history rather than reignited by those throughout the world with questionable motives. I would love for the Post-traumatic Cold War Disorder to be a thing of fiction and not of reality.

 

 

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Reporting the News: a Psychic Creation

I  wish journalists would study more than historical talking-points before tackling foreign policy issues, particularly the effectiveness of intervention wars.

If the history of foreign policy is not their strong suit, bringing in an ‘expert’ would be fine. Bringing in two opposing ‘experts’ would be better, especially if the ‘experts’ were really ‘experts’ and not just the talking heads of the day.

When did reporting the news become nothing more than selling the news? Maybe it has always been that way but there are simply more annoying ways to sell it today.

Propaganda has always had a role in war, and even without governmental encouragement media has spread war stimulating propaganda. It all seems to revolve around having a good story to tell. Sadly, the good story, which spreads like wildfire in the blink of an eye or the click of a share button, can and does affect the public and the officials who in the end create the events that make the news. Reporting the news, therefore, takes on the nature of predicting the future, but a future the psychic has helped create.

It has been fascinating to discover how often propaganda has been shared by the media without the urging of a government. As we swim through the dangerous waters of governmental oversight, we should worry about the other dangerous creature in the water. Drowning may not be what kills us, but rather the sharks feeding off our fear of the water. 

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Saith Me… Choosing to be Miserable

Interpersonal connections through various modes and methods, specifically during this past two months, have reminded me of the old saying,

“You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

There is one category starkly missing, some people can never be pleased because they are determined to be miserable.

Regardless of the justifications of misery – temporary or chronic – there is a stark difference between experiencing misery and being miserable.

Wretched, distressful events occur, but it is a choice one makes to become wretchedly distressed by the events. The key factor separating the experience of misery and being miserable is Choice.

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Saith Me… Opinionated and Uninformed

It is amazing how many uniformed people have such strong opinions, and such strong desires to share those opinions.

Under-informed and curious, good combination. Uninformed and angry, not such a good combination.

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