Posts tagged news
The meaning behind the name of the industrial/ebm band VNV Nation seemed fitting for today.
“Victory Not Vengeance”
The concept that we should achieve victory, but not for the sake of revenge. Justice, not a thirst for blood. Justice, of course, is not a damnable thing when it is carried out responsibly. When crimes are committed repercussions are natural and necessary to achieve a honorable society.
For a decade we’ve been chasing the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, desperately pouring money and lives into a search — presumably for justice. Yesterday, justice was served and Osama Bin Laden was killed at the hands of a US military team. The death of Osama is a symbolic statement more than anything else. A symbol for justice, for the intolerance of hatred and senseless violence.
Of course, that is what it should have meant.
The news has sparked a wave of jingoistic flag-waving unlike any other. People have literally taken to the streets, celebrating the death of another human being. While I understand why this is happening, I can’t feel comfortable with it. Almost as immediately as the news hit the masses, a sense of justice was morphed into a sense of vengeance. It was surreal to watch Phillies fans jump into chants of “U-S-A” at Citizen’s Bank Park. Seeing clips of it, I can’t help but feel as if I don’t recognize these people. Yes, Osama’s death is ultimately a positive — but to embrace it with pure celebration as if the death of a man is equal to winning the World Series? Does that not continue the hatred? This was not a sense of relief — that an enemy had fallen and a symbol of hatred had been buried. It was a zealous, cheerful exuberance.
As a country we have always tried to claim that we are “better than that.” That we are above the enemy. We are a land of justice, a land of freedom and prosperity, not savagery. When videos circulated around the media after 9/11 of people cheering, we judged them as lesser. This, of course, wasn’t because of the hate directed at us (or so we claimed) — it was because of the lack of respect shown to the dead. It was because it was zealotry and intolerance. It was a celebration of the death, something that has no place in a civilized society.
The difference here, is that we see one group as innocent and one group as the enemy. While there is no doubt truth to that statement, the hatred it has the potential to breed is dangerous — if not precisely the goal of Osama in the first place.
A quote from Salon’s David Sirota sums it up best:
This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory: He has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.
We shouldn’t roll over — and the fight against hatred (and terrorism) is a just one. However, we shouldn’t be consumed by it. We shouldn’t forget that we are fighting to end hatred, not to perpetuate it. The death of Osama should signal images of 9/11 in our minds. We should remember that this man was responsible for killing thousands, yet we should also remember that his death does not bring them back, nor does his death signal the end of terrorism.
In the end, the cycle continues. One man was not terrorism. One man was not an ideal.
I’ll add more to this later. Just wanted to scribble some thoughts down before class.
The media has been buzzing lately with talk of WikiLeaks and it’s founder, Julian Assange. While the website has been mentioned by the media before with previous releases, it hasn’t been until the recent “Cablegate” leak that they’ve really seen any major attention. With this current leak, they’ve published roughly 500 US diplomatic cables so far, although they have plans to publish many more.
The media jumped on the story immediately — not reported what was actually in the cables, of course, but instead choosing to focus on a very different question: Is Julian Assange a terrorist?
Sound bites have been played on most of the major networks from various personalities. Some quotes focus around Assange being captured, assassinated or otherwise killed.
Yet very few seem to be focusing on the wires themselves. What do they contain? For starters:
…and this is just from me quickly browsing them (basically, surfing their facebook page — not even going to the direct site and sifting through them myself, one by one). Considering an extremely limited amount has been shared with us so far, I’d say that this is pretty significant news, especially to US citizens. Yet most of the “sources” I find regarding the leaks are outside of the border.
Shouldn’t things like an air strike that killed civilians be major news? Shouldn’t the way our diplomats over seas do their job be news?
Instead, we are being “asked” if WikiLeaks is a terrorist organization.
I wonder of the people that say “yes” would’ve said the same about the New York Times? Or if they would’ve considered Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo criminals?
It’s impossible not to draw a comparison between the Pentagon Papers and this leak. While the situations are different, both seemed to highlight government secrets, especially ones that were damning to those with something to lose. The Pentagon Papers pointed out civilian tragedies that were unknown to the American people, along with government dealings that were previously unknown. Cablegate does the same thing — though most of the papers do not directly contain information related to the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.
As anyone who has taken a class in journalism knows, the Supreme Court stood up for Ellsberg, stating that the freedom of the press trumps the secrecy of information when it is relevant. Does the information leaked here not have the same relevance? How about information leaked by WikiLeaks in the past, such as the infamous “collateral murder” video?
We need WikiLeaks because the government sometimes needs a watchdog. I understand the need for secrecy within the military and the government. Lives can be put at risk by some information. In WikiLeaks’ case, though, the information is not threatening lives. I honestly question if it is harming our diplomatic standing in the world. I doubt any other governments thought Americans looked up to them, and I certainly don’t think they expected any of it to be secret.
As citizens, we need to be informed of what is going on within our country. The sort of discourse that has sprung up from these documents certainly makes me wonder. I can’t honestly say that we would have gone to Iraq if an organization like WikiLeaks let loose that the CIA thought Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction.
The fact is, quite simply, that information has the ability to make us more informed about the world around us. I would much rather live in a world of free data than one that is suffocated and censored. WikiLeaks is simply a publisher. A tool for the world to better understand itself.
Note: I just sort of wanted to get my opinion out there. I’ll probably add to this soon.
I don’t know, you find out!
But seriously, this was an editorial in my local paper: http://www.phillyburbs.com/opinions/opinion_details/article/365/2010/october/12/its-time-for-the-government-to-make-some-difficult-decisions.html
This may or may have not been my reply:
I was absolutely mystified by Christine Powell’s letter entitled “It’s time for the government to make some difficult decisions.” In this article she suggested that as a country we are falling short because we are not considering sterilizing citizens with mental and physical disabilities. She mentions that during the era of Ellis Island we turned away immigrants with disabilities so that our nation would continue to thrive as it wouldn’t be burdened to take care of these second-class human beings. I couldn’t agree more! My only problem with this modest proposal is it simply doesn’t go far enough.
You see, it seems Christine is only willing to sterilize Americans who have collected welfare or disability all of their life. This is a good start, but as a well-educated citizen I understand that the people who drain our system the most are those who only temporarily collect government assistance. You see, when someone breaks their leg or develops a disease such as cancer they can no longer work and often fall under many government programs. During the time they are disabled they are sucking our pockets dry, taking full advantage of the system. Why couldn’t these people pay for treatment themselves? In 2004 I received a very serious splinter that pulled me from my work for an entire hour! The grievous injury sent me to the ER where the doctors treated my possibly life threatening wound. When I received the bill in the mail I paid for everything out of pocket. I didn’t accept government help despite how life-altering my situation was, so why should I be expected to pay out of pocket for these lazy, selfish leeches? Is it too much to ask for Americans to put aside a “rainy day” fund?
Unfortunately, the burden on our pockets will only get worse. Not only is the treatment cost for cancer and other illnesses going up, but so are the survival rates. In the past these people would just fade away but now that they are surviving they are passing their deformed, poison genetics down to their children. So not only do we have to pay for the first generation, but the second generation as well! How selfish do these people have to be? Don’t they consider the financial impact on our collective wallets? Don’t they realize what their diseased love is costing society? Currently, there are no laws in this country preventing this and that must change. If we only knew the cost of second generation cancer patients in this country then I guarantee we would have already introduced a sterilization program for all genetically inherited diseases. Imagine how much money would be suddenly freed if our cowardly politicians decided to stick up for the hard-working middle class and instituted strict sterilization laws that prevented cancer patients from reproducing?
It’s time someone in this country grew a backbone and decided to stand up for what they believed in! We can’t let these selfish people hold our country hostage any longer.
– John Quick
(Serious non-satire update coming today or tomorrow, depending on how far I push this paper.)
I enjoy being able to comment on local (or relatively local) stories that get national talk. I don’t, however, enjoy talking about stories like this.
Last week a student at Rutgers named Tyler Clementi killed himself after being recorded (streamed, technically) having sex with another man by his roommate. This story has been covered pretty much everywhere by now and many different points of view have been shown. It is a tragedy that the only option this guy thought he had after being outed was to kill himself.
I’ve read many articles looking at the situation and I keep noticing that few people are mentioning the atmosphere of the society we live in. While everyone is very much in a state of shock and question now, they certainly weren’t a day before.
You see, I think the real tragedy here is that our society tolerates hate more than it does anyone who is “different” in any way. If you don’t fit into the majority, you are often seen as an alien — as someone strange, regardless of what your personal “difference” really is. Despite being in a country that is considered a “melting pot” we are damned slow to accept anyone new into our mix — and it’s always been like that. It doesn’t matter if it is religion or race or sexuality — if you aren’t the majority, you are often nothing.
On the other hand, if you are a group who speaks out against another group of human beings, we tolerate you just fine. We give you airtime on television, even. Just don’t be trying to stick up for those being attacked — if you point out that Muslims are unfairly being grouped in with terrorists, you’re un-American and ridiculous. If you feel uncomfortable when someone makes a racial generalization you are called “sensitive.” Oh, and of course — if you stand up for anyone with a sexuality that isn’t “straight” you are somehow politicized as an “extreme liberal” — because sexuality is such a political issue, right?
And yet, when a tragedy happens we all turn our heads and act like today is the day when everything will change. On this very day, people will begin to act civil with one another, we will hold vigils and protests. We will hold hands and sing, hold concerts and benefits and act like tomorrow the world will be a better place. Then when the emotional high runs out and the initial shock dies… we tolerate hate once again.
I’m not jaded enough (yet, at least) to generalize that “we” as everyone in this country. There are good people out there who don’t tolerate this sort of thing — and never have. People exist that understand hate destroys us and that ultimately, people deserve to be treated equally no matter who they are. Those people exist. I know they do.
But they are an unfortunate minority in today’s society.
You see, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei — the pair that recorded Tyler — thought that what they were doing was okay. Nothing seems to paint the pair as malicious or vindictive. They weren’t trying to get this kid they barely knew to kill himself, they were just having fun. A prank. They never saw it as wrong. They never considered it as big of an offense as it was. At least that is what their tweets tell us.
And that is the exact reason why it is so disturbing.
The image that was imprinted on these teens by our society was that this was perfectly fine and acceptable behavior. Once Ravi found out his roommate was gay, he thought it was great entertainment. Now he had a reason to keep streaming, to keep embarrassing this poor kid. He never considered if the kid had come out before, or if his parents knew, or his friends — or anyone, for that matter. He never thought about how tough it is for any sort of kid with sexuality or gender issues in society. He never considered any of that. He was never taught any of that.
And so a tragedy happened, ultimately because someone was different and someone else just couldn’t understand.
Sure, right now we are pissed, furious over how something like this could happen — but we will continue to tolerate the root of the problem.
We’ll tolerate hate.
We will tolerate (and give plenty of airtime!) to those who preach hate…
We will tolerate blatant religious hate and try to call it everything but what it is…
And then we will act surprised when some kid does something like this. We will all gasp and shake our heads, wondering how such a thing could happen in -this- country.
But it isn’t very hard to understand.
…and it absolutely enrages me. Time to settle this whole mosque “issue” right here.
First of all, the entire argument has been instigated by a media obsessed with non-issues in a time of great struggle in America. Soldiers are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economy is still looking poor and the job market is below abysmal. Let’s not forget the sorry state of education in our area of America and our country at large.
Yet what is on the television? What dominates our media?
This. This issue. It is backed up by apparently 61% of people in this nation. Good to know 61% of the people living in America are either ignorant of the facts or Islamophobic. Think that is harsh or intolerant? Feel free, you are entitled to your own opinion — however I refuse to tolerate hate or ignorance and this entire “controversy” stinks of both.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way:
There is no legal case against the “ground zero mosque” whatsoever. Nada. Zilch. The right to own and develop property is a constitutional right. In addition, the government shall make no law supporting or opposing any religion according to the First Amendment. Simply put, any action taken against the mosque (past support for the proprietor’s constitutional rights) would be unconstitutional.
So then, it is an issue of taste. Of morality.
Or, let’s call it what it is: Political pandering bullshit designed to create an “us versus them” atmosphere. An issue manufactured to feed on the ignorant emotional feelings of people who do not understand those who are different from them. It is a new era of such tension in America, a tactic that has been used since our countries very founding. Blacks, Catholics, Irish and Italians have all felt this alienation in the past and arguably some of those groups still do. Worse yet? Some of those same groups have joined in in welcoming whoever the “new guy” is in a truly American way, handing them an unlit torch and pushing them out into the darkened neighborhood of America. Good luck, maybe we will abstain from spitting on you for a few weeks.
I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt though. Maybe you really think it is about taste. If that is the case then the belief you subscribe to is that a mosque built near ground zero is somehow offensive.
So I ask you this.
What is offensive about it? The immediate answer seems to be because the attackers on 9/11 were all Muslim, or at least they claimed to be. What we must remember however is that Islam has over a billion followers. The actions of a minority should not damn a majority. Not only that but we must not forget that many Muslims died on 9/11 — and many of their lives were changed because of it. Not to mention those that were attacked due to hate crimes following the terrorist attacks.
That isn’t it, you say. The reason has to do with prominent Muslim leaders not damning extremists — not only that, but they tolerate hate for the US! You growl and sneer… and ignore that the man in charge of the whole project has been trying to mend relations between faiths and nations all the while damning extremists.
You shake your head and roll your eyes, “Muslim’s expect us to be tolerant and yet look at how much they hate us! How much they hate everyone else!”
While I won’t get into the socio-political elements of this debate that might just say that they have a good reason to not like us, I will say that this is possibly the silliest argument of them all. The golden image of America has always been the melting pot. The land of opportunity, where a guy with green skin can come and make a fortune selling beans. The land where all cultures mix and mesh together, the best parts of all of them becoming part of our national pride.
We are a country that is supposed to set the tone for the rest of the world when it comes to tolerance. We are a place that people come to in order to escape hate, not to bathe in it.
The logic of “Well, they don’t tolerate X so we shouldn’t Y!” is absolutely absurd as is the logic of NIMBY when applied to the issue.
On top of all of this? It isn’t even a mosque. It is a community center. While it is offensive to me that “being a mosque” makes it horrible in the first place, the fact is it isn’t one. It might have a place for prayer, but so did the World Trade Center. Hell, even the Pentagon has a place for non-denominational worship. Why is this such a bad thing? Do we only allow followers of religions we like to pray?
At the heart of it, that is exactly the issue. Americans are afraid of Islam. After all, they’ve been told over the years that anyone wearing (or associated with) a funny hat is bad!
You know, this was made such a big issue right before 9/11′s anniversary and that makes me absolutely disgusted. The idea that the memories of the dead are being used in a crusade for hate is sickening. I cried yesterday watching video someone had taken of the towers falling. It isn’t enough that thousands had to lose their lives, but now they are being used to spread misinformation and hate. It makes me physically ill. The link that spawned this whole article (this one) made me fume. Fox News, you are beyond scum to me.
I think I’ve covered all of the “issues” here. If there are any other ones please tell me so I can debunk them, I’d like to link everyone to this article that I can so this hate can be snuffed out.
Also I apologize if this article seems to be filled with an exceptional amount of bile, but after a month of this I am fairly irate.