Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D
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Classical Guitar:
"The Other Profession
"

 

 

 

THE GADFLY'S BLOG

2005

 

Gadfly Blogs for 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004
 

We offer below, random musings, reflections, correspondence, scraps of work-in-progress, and other such miscellany, perchance worth sharing but not ready for the prime time of formal publication.  
 


February 1, 2005


ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS!
 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew, 5:9)

So, shouldn’t faithful Christians be reluctant to endorse and be involved in a warfare?

Not at all, says Rev. Jerry Falwell. In fact,
“God is Pro-War.”

The good Reverend instructs us:

Christians have struggled with the issue of war for centuries. Before Jesus arrived on he scene, all good people wrestled with war and the existence of evil. Thankfully, the Bible is not silent on the subject...

Many present-day pacifists hold Jesus as their example for unvarying peace. But they ignore the full revelation concerning Jesus pictured in the book of Revelation 19, where He is depicted bearing a “sharp sword” and smiting nations, ruling them with “a rod of iron.”

Moreover, the Song of Victory in Exodus15 hails God as a God of war: “... The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.” And, as the verses [in Ecclesiastes] that open this column indicate, there is indeed a time for war.

God actually strengthened individuals for war, including Moses, Joshua and many of the Old Testament judges who demonstrated great faith in battle. And God destroyed many armies challenging the Israelites. I Chronicles 14:15 describes God striking down the Philistines.

Read the column  and you will find that in support of the “warrior God,” Falwell cites the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. There is no citation from the Gospels, or from the Epistles that follow. Small wonder. I doubt that there is a recorded word from the mouth of Jesus that sanctions war. (In Matthew 10:34, Jesus says “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” But this is a prophecy of hard times ahead – not a call for his followers to lift up their swords). Quite the contrary, Jesus instructs us to “love our enemies,” (Matthew 5:44), to “turn the other cheek” and to “resist not evil.” (Matthew 5:39).

The Old Testament is quite another story, for it is soaked with the blood of the unfortunate tribes -- the citizens of Jericho, the Philistines and the Midianites -- that stood in the way of the conquering “armies of The Lord.” As for the book of Revelations – the ravings of the madman of Patmos – Falwell and his Rapturite brethren interpret that book as a prophecy that The Lord, in his infinite love and mercy, will soon cast into eternal damnation and torment, every human soul who ever lived, except those very few who happen to share Jerry Falwell’s religious convictions.

To Falwell and his literalist ilk, there is One God, of one mind, who wrote (through various prophets) every inerrant word of the Bible. So if we have trouble reconciling a God who sanctions the parental execution of disobedient children (Deut. 21:18), the stoning non-virginal brides (Deut. 22:13), or those who work on the Sabbath (Ex. 35:2) – a God who also commands the genocidal slaughter of whole cities and tribes – with the loving and forgiving God described in the Gospels, well that merely proves, as St. Paul counsels, that “the wisdom of God” appears as foolishness to us mere mortals. (I Cor. 1:21).

There is another view of The Bible, shared by most historians and biblical scholars (all of whom are, of course, condemned to be thrown into the fiery pit of Hell). According to this perspective, The Bible is not, strictly speaking “a book” – it is an anthology of books written over the span of about 800 years, by unknown or little-known authors, and distorted by numerous translations and editings. Instead of giving us a unified code of morality, these books portray a maturation of morality, through historical ages, from a savage tribalism and constraining legalism of the Old Testament, evolving, among the minor prophets late in the Old Testament and into the New Testament, into an ethic of pacifism, humility, compassion and universal inclusiveness. Jesus of Nazareth spoke of this moral maturation when, as in The Sermon on the Mount, he repeatedly said: “It hath been said...., but I say unto you....” (See for yourself: its in Matthew, Ch. 5).

That moral evolution as depicted through the books of The Bible is itself an inspiring moral lesson, though not of the sort that the fundamentalists recognize and endorse. But because these books contain a wide spectrum of moral messages, those who regard each verse as equally infallible, while unperturbed by flat-out inconsistency, can find therein “scriptural justification” for all sorts of abominable beliefs – for example, the belief that “God is pro-war.”

Though I am confident that Rev. Falwell would have no inclination to follow the advice of this sinner and agnostic, I would still urge him, and those persuaded by his worship of a "warrior God," to contemplate two passages of scripture, one from the Old Testament, and the other from the New Testament.

He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.

For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”

Micah, 4:3-5

Note above: “... every one in the name of his god,” and the implied message of religious toleration.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and yet took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.

I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matthew, 25:34-46

If, as the fundamentalists believe (and I do not), each soul in the hereafter must appeal for its salvation before the throne of the Almighty, I’d venture that the Reverends Falwell, Robertson, Sheldon, and their kind will be quite amazed and horrified when they are directed to “the left hand” and reminded: “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”


PostScript: Quoth the Reverend Falwell:

Some reading this column will surely ask, “Doesn’t the sixth commandment say, ‘Thou shalt not kill?’”

Actually, no; it says: “Thou shalt not commit murder.”

Sorry, Rev., but my Bible says “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13). (Same with the King James and the Revised Standard translations). Falwell reputedly preaches that every word in the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. Is he “improving upon” God’s “inerrant word” here?


Still more about "I came not to bring peace, but the sword."
 



Are Cut-Throat Competitors, Cutting Their Own Throats?
 

Those of you who have seen the “Buy Blue” lists, (e.g., at “Donkey Rising”) may have noticed that a disproportionate number of gasoline companies, consumer electronics chains, hotels and restaurants contribute heavily to the Republicans.

What are they thinking?  Don’t they realize that by supporting Bush and his policies, they’ve booked passage on the Titanic?

Here’s why. As we well know, Bushenomics is “reverse Robin-Hoodism:” it takes from the poor (and the middle class) and gives to the rich.  For example, over the past four years, the median family income has dropped by some $1500, as the costs of medical care, insurance, gasoline, and other basic necessities have risen. At the same time, consumer debt has also risen.

This can’t go on. Sooner or later, and most likely sooner, consumer debt will “max out,” and as disposable cash moves out of the pockets of the masses and into the portfolios and offshore accounts of the super-rich, the economy must slow down – and quite possible cascade down into a depression.

As payments for necessities – food, shelter, clothing, heating, health care – must be met, luxuries will be foregone. Families will “wait one more year” before buying another car, and that car may have to be purchased from a used-car lot. Vacations will be cancelled or downgraded. There will be fewer “nights out” and fewer purchases of electronic gadgets. (See my “Flunking Economics 101").

The problem is compounded by the falling value of the dollar, brought on by Bush’s massive federal deficits. As the dollar drops, the cost of imported goods (which means most electronic and computer components) rises.

And so, the first industries to be effected by an economic slowdown, will be those aforementioned gasoline, consumer electronic, hotel, entertainment and restaurant industries.

Somehow, in their short-sighted greed for still more tax breaks for the wealthy or their craving for de-regulation (or whatever else may have motivated their contributions to the Republicans), these GOP fat-cats seem to have forgotten a simple but inescapable economic law: there can be no sales without buyers. And a public with increasing debt and decreasing disposable income is less able to purchase "dispensable" good and services.

Is all that too complicated for these business geniuses to understand?

If all this theory will not persuade, history repeatedly teaches us that short sighted class warfare of the rich against the masses works to the disadvantage of all. Under Clinton, stock prices tripled, as the federal budget eventually produced surpluses and the dollar held its value. Under Bush stock prices have been stagnant, federal deficits have soared, and the dollar is falling.

More generally, Arthur Blaustein asks, "are Republicans better economic managers than Democrats?" The answer:

Guess which president since World War II did best on these eight most generally accepted measures of good management of the nation's economy. You can choose among six Republicans — Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bushes 41 and 43 — and five Democrats — Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter and Clinton. Which president produced:

1. The highest growth in the gross domestic product?
2. The highest growth in jobs?
3. The biggest increase in personal disposable income after taxes?
4. The highest growth in industrial production?
5. The highest growth in hourly wages?
6. The lowest misery index (inflation plus unemployment)?
7. The lowest inflation?
8. The largest reduction in the deficit?

The answers are:

1-Truman; 2-Clinton; 3-Johnson; 4-Kennedy; 5-Johnson; 6-Truman; 7-Truman; 8-Clinton. In other words, Democratic presidents trounced Republicans eight out of eight. If this isn't enough to destroy the perception that the economy has performed better under Republicans, then let's include stock market performance under Democrats. The Dow Jones Industrial Average during the 20th century rose an average of 7.3% a year under Republican presidents. Under Democrats, it jumped 10.3%, a whopping 41% gain for investors. During George W. Bush's first three years as president, the stock market declined 4%."

Michael Kinsley concurs:

"It turns out that Democratic presidents have a much better [economic] record than Republicans. They win a head-to-head comparison in almost every category. Real growth averaged 4.09 percent in Democratic years, 2.75 percent in Republican years. Unemployment was 6.44 percent on average under Republican presidents and 5.33 percent under Democrats. The federal government spent more under Republicans than Democrats (20.87 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 19.58 percent), and that remains true even if you exclude defense (13.76 for the Democrats; 14.97 for the Republicans). What else? Inflation was lower under Democratic presidents (3.81 percent on average, compared with 4.85 percent). And annual deficits took more than twice as much of GDP under Republicans as under Democrats (2.74 percent versus 1.21 percent)." (See also Mark Hulbert: Pop quiz on the markets: Which is better, GOP or Democrats?,  CBS.MarketWatch.com, November 13, 2002).

Why is this? Put simply, it appears that the Democrats’ policy is to feed the golden goose. The Republicans, on the other hand, prefer to cook it. In other words, the Democrats, by looking after the needs and interest of the producers of wealth – workers, educators, researchers -- nourish the economy. Republicans starve the economy by exploiting it.

Even if, as the progressives complain, the Republicans and The Right are deaf to appeals to compassion and economic justice, one would suppose that they might be moved by appeals to their self interest, and that they would support the party which, as history confirms, best serves that self-interest.

Apparently not.

But then, the Bush team no longer claims to be “reality based.”

 


A postscript to my reprised essay, “Creationism and the Devolution of the Intellect.”

The persistent fundamentalist opposition to the Theory of Evolution, despite overwhelming evidence and the universal acceptance by all life scientists, reminds me of similar dogmatic resistance to Galileo’s scientific advances.

In his monumental History of Western Philosophy, W. T. Jones describes Galileo’s encounter with his colleagues at the University of Padua.

Jones writes:

When invited by Galileo to look through the newly invented telescope and see for themselves the satellites of Jupiter, they refused. They knew that Jupiter could not have satellites; hence what Galileo reported that we saw could only be witchcraft or sleight of hand. After all, the whole universe demonstrated again and again the importance that God has assigned the number seven. It was therefore sacrilegious and against all reason to suppose that there could be more than seven heavenly bodies.

The Paduan Philosophers’ thus argued:

There are seven windows given to animals in the domicile of the head.... From this and many other similarities in nature, such as the seven metals, etc., which it were tedious to enumerate, we gather that the number of planets is necessarily seven. Moreover, these [alleged] satellites of Jupiter are invisible to the naked eye, and therefore can exercise no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and therefore do not exist. Besides, [from the earliest times, men] have adopted the division of the week into seven days, and have named them after the seven planets. Now, if we increase the number of the planets, this whole and beautiful system falls to the ground.

Plus ça change, plus la même chose!


(W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, Second Edition, Vol. 3, Harcourt Brace and World, 1969, p. 101).


Some Enduring Wisdom from Will Pitt. (No, not that Will Pitt).
 

In November 18, 1777, William Pitt wrote the following letter to the House of Lords. It was titled, “An English Plea For Peace With The American Colonies.”

My Lords, this ruinous and ignominious situation, where we cannot act with success, nor suffer with honour, calls upon us to remonstrate in the strongest and loudest language of truth, to rescue the ear of Majesty from the delusions which surround it. You cannot, I venture to say, you CANNOT conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst; but we know that in three campaigns we have done nothing and suffered much. You may swell every expense, and strain every effort, still more extravagantly; accumulate every assistance you can beg or borrow; traffic and barter with every pitiful German Prince, that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign country: your efforts are forever vain and impotent-doubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates to an incurable resentment the minds of your enemies, to overrun them with the sordid sons of rapine and of plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty!

If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms! Never! Never! Never!

Are the Iraqi “insurgents” all that different from our patriot forebears?

(Thanks to Allen L. Roland for bringing this quotation to our attention).


February 17, 2005

A Warning from Easter Island

UCLA Geographer, Jared Diamond, is the author of the best selling book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.  In a lecture last month at the San Diego Natural History Museum, Dr. Diamond explained how the Polynesian society on Easter Island collapsed when all the trees on that once-heavily forested island were cut down.

Diamond then asked: "what do you think the Easter Islander ...  said as he was chopping down that last tree? ... I wonder if he said, 'never fear, technology will solve our problems, we'll find a substitute for wood.' Or perhaps he said, 'your environmental models are untested, we need more research. Action would be premature. You are fear mongers.' Or perhaps he said, 'this is my tree and this is my land, and I'll do with it as I please I'm here to maximize a profit. Get the big government of the chiefs off my back'

"Maybe it was one of those three things [that caused] the collapse of Easter Island society."

Petroleum is the primary energy source upon which industrialized society depends. It now appears nearly certain that sometime in the next decade, world oil production will "peak," after which the price of oil, and hence almost all other commodities, will rise sharply. When the energy required to extract the oil approaches the amount of energy contained in the oil, industrial civilization will collapse, resulting in the death of billions of human beings. (See my "The Oil Trap").

Unless the industrialized nations embark immediately upon a massive and sustained effort to reduce oil consumption and to develop the "next" source of energy.

This is not the policy of those Texas "oil-men," Bush and Cheney. Instead, their "solution" is to invade foreign countries and to seize their oil.  If successful, it can only postpone the inevitable catastrophe.  And there is every indication that the Bush-Cheney "solution" will not succeed.

And why won't they face the hard facts and respond appropriately to the catastrophic threat immediately before us?

Listen closely, and you may find that they are sounding very much like Prof. Diamond's Easter Islander, hacking away at that last tree.
 


February 26, 2005
 

The Darkening “Gray Lady”

The editors of The New York Times complain that bloggers, lacking the experience, traditions and professional integrity of legitimate journalists, should refrain from “muddying the waters” and leave the reporting and interpreting to the pros.

My reply to the New York Times can be stated in a very few words:

Whitewater
Wen Ho Lee
Headline: “Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices
         Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote” (November 12, 2001)
Jason Blair
Judith Miller, Ahmed Chalabi, Aluminum Tubes, and the WMDs

Phoney-baloney, in each and every case.

Even more significant, perhaps, is the “Legitimate Press” as the watchdog that didn’t bark.

For example, what has The New York Times told us about:

Bush’s AWOL from the Texan Air National Guard
Bush’s insider- trading of Harken stocks,
Bush’s business dealings with the Bin Laden family?
Bush’s drug use, and the Texas court’s judgment of “community service”?
The falsehood of the smears against Al Gore (“Inventing the internet,” etc.).
The lies of Colin Powell before the UN Security Council, February, 2002
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
The listening device worn by Bush during the 2004 debates.
Gannon/Geckert

All this from “the flagship of American Journalism.”

Even so, “Truth crushed to earth, will rise again.”

As it did in the “Committees of Correspondence” during the American Revolution, and in the Soviet Union in “Samizdat.”

And so today, finding no other outlet, Truth must apparently “rise” out of the internet – amidst, admittedly and regretfully, tons of trash.


Defend Liberalism, not “Liberalism.”

As anticipated, some visitors to The Smirking Chimp took exception to my proposal that progressives “shed the soiled garment” of the word “liberalism,” while steadfastly defending the political program heretofore referred to by that label.

Two typical complaints:

I don't think that liberals should apologize for being liberals. I also don't think that it would be very difficult to redeem the term if liberals made any effort to do so.

Hey, I totally do my part to reclaim the word ''liberal''.  When someone calls me one, I say, ''Yes, that's right. I'm an admirer of FDR and Harry Truman and JFK and George McGovern, and I don't have to hang my head when I say it.''

With due respect to my critics, it appears that they have fallen victim to “word-magic” – as have we all, more or less. One of the primary objectives of critical thinking is to minimize that victimization as much as possible. In the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein, to “battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”

We begin by understanding that the association of words  with their referents is arbitrary. Quoting Juliet once again, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Accordingly, on the one hand there is the word “liberal,” and on the other there is a body of political convictions, liberalism, that has heretofore been referred to by that word “liberal.”

But now, due to a relentless campaign by The Right, the word “liberalism” has been unjustly stained with connotations of “bleeding heart,” “elitism,” and even “treason.” And every time someone proudly announces to the world, “I am a liberal and proud of it!” those connotations accompany the label.

Perhaps this is why Bernie Sanders, the admirable Independent Congressman, recently told his Vermont constituent Thom Hartmann, “I am not a liberal, I am a progressive.” If so, it was a wise decision.

Face it: to the average citizen today, “Liberalism” no longer means what it once meant. Yet the body of beliefs and policies once referred to when FDR, Adlai Stevenson, JFK, and others called themselves “liberals” – these beliefs and policies are as valid and urgently relevant as ever. So lets protect them by awarding them a new name: “progressivism.” Be assured that if we do so, “liberalism” (in the original sense) will “smell as sweet.”

And so, to reply to my critic, I too don't think that liberals should apologize for being liberals. But they should discard a label that causes them much more harm than benefit.

“Words,” as Thomas Hobbes noted, “are wise mens’ counters; they are the money of fools.”


March 8, 2005
 

The Indispensable "Big Gummint"

Right-wing regressives who demand endlessly that we “get government off our backs,” too easily forget how much they cling to the back of government – how much, that is to say, they benefit from the assistance of government services.

In a recent article, “Dearth of a Nation,” Benjamin Wallace-Wells makes the point supremely well:

The pharmaceutical, financial, and airline industries blossomed thanks to the creation of the FDA, SEC, and FAA, which gave customers some assurance of safety when they popped pills, traded stocks, or boarded flights. The G.I. Bill provided a generation of veterans with the college educations they needed to build the post-war middle class. The creation of the federally-guaranteed 30-year mortgage proved the decisive tool in the growth of the post-war American suburb.

These investments and regulatory changes aren't merely tools of the past; it is impossible to imagine the '90s boom emerging without them. Early investment from the Pentagon helped nurture the internet. The algorithm that powered Google was developed when co-founder Larry Page, then a Stanford graduate student, won a federal grant to write a more efficient sorting and search engine for libraries. The innovative new medicines that have driven the expansion of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries arose from university research largely financed by the National Institutes of Health.


Of course, private initiative and enterprise are essential to a thriving industrial economy.

As the fall of Soviet communism proves, government can’t do it all. Neither the computer with which I am writing this blog nor the internet through which you are reading it would ever have been developed entirely through government bureaucracies. Government is simply too risk-averse and too intolerant of maverick geniuses.

But that’s just half of the story. The regressive-right chooses to ignore the other half – the contribution of government agencies and investment to industrial innovation.

While it is true that the transistor was invented by Bardeen, Brittain and Shockley in1947 at the corporate Bell Laboratories, the development of microcircuitry was funded by NASA when the reduction of payload weight became a critical concern in the space program. And the internet had its origin in the government network, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

Our competitors in Europe, Japan, and Korea are well aware of the necessity of cooperation between government and private industry in the advancement of technology. The scientific and technological leadership of the United States in the second half of the twentieth century proves the necessity of this symbiosis.

However, that lesson apparently has not been learned by the Bush administration, which has cut funding for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. If the Bush budget cut is approved, NSF will be awarding 1,000 fewer research grants.

Private enterprise, they are convinced, can do it all. No need for help from the government – apart from tax relief, of course.

Once again, dogma triumphs over experience.

 


 

March 24, 2005


"Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961) Demands a Judgment Today.
 

A couple of weeks ago, while laboring past midnight into the early morning hours, I quite accidentally noticed a listing on the satellite TV of the 1961 movie, "Judgment at Nuremberg," a film that I had not seen in over forty years. Intrigued, I popped a cassette into the VCR for later viewing, and went back to my work.

When I sat down to watch the movie the next day, I was stunned. The screenplay spoke to us today with an impact that producer/director Stanley Kramer, and writer Abby Mann, could not have imagined. The fictional trial takes place in 1948, as the cold war is emerging. The movie was released during the first year of John Kennedy's presidency and a year before the Cuban missile crisis. The disarming and deflation of Senator Joe McCarthy at the hands of Joseph Welch and Edward R. Murrow had occurred a mere six years earlier. (See the PostScript below). So "Judgment at Nuremberg" was timely when released. But unfortunately for all of us, it is much more relevant today.

The first of two dramatic "peaks" of the movie takes place when one of the defendants, the indicted judge Ernst Janning (Burt Lancaster) asks to be heard by the court. The second is the verdict, delivered by the tribunal judge, Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy).

Here is a transcription that I made from the DVD of the movie. Read it and ask yourself: are the two judges -- the guilt-stricken German defendant, and the presiding American -- warning us today? If so, who is listening?


Ernst Janning addresses the tribunal:


There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger.

We had a democracy, yes. But it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear; fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves.

Only when you understand that, can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: "Lift your heads. Be proud to be Germans. There are devils among us: Communists, liberals, Jews, Gypsies. Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed."

It was the old old story of the sacrificial lamb.

What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies, and worse than lies?

Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country.

What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. "Forward" is the great password.

And history tells how well we succeeded, your Honor. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world.

We found ourselves with sudden, powerful allies. Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now.

The world said, "Go ahead, take it."

Take it! Take the Sudetenland, take the Rhineland, remilitarize it. Take all of Austria. Take it.!

And then one day, we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual that began in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase, had become the way of life.

Your Honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name. Until I realized, that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again. You have seen him do it. He has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of the people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country...

Once more, it is being done, for love of country.

It is not easy to tell the truth. But if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it. Whatever the pain and humiliation...

My counsel would have you believe we were not aware of the concentration camps.

Not aware! Where were we?

Where were we when Hitler began shrieking his hate in the Reichstag?

Where were we when our neighbors were being dragged out in the middle of the night to Dachau?

Where were we when every village in Germany has a railroad terminal where cattle cars were filled with children being carried of to their extermination? Where were we when they cried out in the night to us? Were we deaf? Dumb? Blind? ...

My counsel says we were not aware of the extermination of the millions. He would give you the excuse, we were only aware of the extermination of the hundreds. Does that make us any the less guilty?

Maybe we didn't know the details. But if we didn't know, it was because we didn't want to know.


Judge Haywood delivers the verdict.

The real complaining party at the bar in this courtroom is civilization...*

The principle of criminal law in every civilized society has this in common: any person who sways another to commit murder, any person who furnishes the lethal weapon for the purpose of the crime any, person who is an accessory to the crime, is guilty...

[The Defense Counsel asserts that] the defendant Janning was an extraordinary jurist and acted in what he thought was the best interest of his country.... Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and the death of millions by the government of which he was a part.

Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and all of the other defendants had been degraded perverts, if all the leaders of the Third Reich had been sadistic monsters and maniacs, then these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or any other natural catastrophe.

But this trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary, even able and extraordinary men, can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination. No one who has sat through the trial can ever forget them. Men sterilized because of political belief. A mockery made of friendship and faith. The murder of children. How easily it can happen.

There are those in our own country, too who today speak of the protection of country, of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way.

The answer to that is: survival as what?

A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult.

Before the people of the world, let it now be noted, that here in our decision, this is what we stand for: justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.


Where are our political leaders willing to take a stand today against our country's descent into despotism? Very few come to mind: Russ Feingold, the only Senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act, Barbara Boxer, the only Senator to protest the Ohio election fiasco, Congressional Black Caucus members, John Conyers, Sheila Jackson Lee, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones.

As for the rest, the intimidated and silent Democrats, the moderate Republicans whose party has been stolen from them, the "journalists" who are reduced to service as stenographers to Karl Rove's "Ministry of Truth" -- are they all willing to be passive accomplices to the theft of our democracy?

Don't they know what is happening to our Republic? Or is it simply the case, as Ernst Janning warned, that they don't know because they don't want to know?

They know!

They simply have to know. For the compelling facts are inescapably before them and before us all:

  • American citizens are incarcerated indefinitely, without charge, without access to counsel, with no prospect of trial, all this in direct violation of five of the ten articles of the Bill of Rights.
     

  • Most of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo are probably innocent, yet they are still held, some at Guantánamo for over three years, with no prospect of appeal or release.
     

  • The Geneva conventions against torture are violated, and the Bush regime unilaterally withdraws the US from the International Court of Justice provisions on consular relations, so that US death sentences against foreign nationals can not be appealed.
     

  • The original justifications for the Iraq War have all proven to be false.
     

  • Over 1500 US soldiers have died in the Iraq war, and reportedly over 100,000 Iraqis, including women and children.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing ." (Attr. to Edmund Burke).


This is a movie that you must see. The DVD of Judgment at Nuremberg is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other online vendors for a mere ten dollars. Buy it. Show it. Lend it and urge others to buy it.


*This is a direct quote from Justice Robert Jackson's opening statement at the Nuremberg Tribunals, November, 1945.

PostScript: Edward R. Murrow's closing remarks from his CBS "See it Now" program on Senator Joseph McCarthy, March, 1954:

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

 


May 19, 2005

Another letter to a Christian/Republican Friend. This one is for real.

Last August I wrote and circulated A Letter to a Republican Friend.  It was a faux letter to an imaginary friend (albeit a composite of many actual acquaintances). As it happens, a real-live Christian/Republican friend, who I have known since we were both in high school, sent me a thoughtful letter which, after an inexcusable delay, I answered at length. As my reply will reveal, my old friend had some strange, but alas typical, ideas about "what liberals think."

But rather than get into all that, let's go directly to the letter, most of which appears below.

You will be surprised to learn that we disagree much less, politically, than you might imagine. Philosophically there is much distance between us, but much more in the area of theology than ethics.

A lot of opportunistic politicians have attempted to divide individuals of our respective views and, sadly, they have been successful -- as I hope to explain shortly....

Let's begin with religion. I have much love and respect for authentic Christians, and much distain for what I call "professional Christians." Among the former, I include Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, and Martin Luther King. Among the latter I include Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and George Bush. My complaint against the latter group is that these "Christians" are insufficiently Christian. It surpasses my understanding how anyone who has read and claims to adhere to the Beatitudes can launch or support a war against an unthreatening nation resulting in the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children, or can enact policies of "reverse Robin-Hoodism" that take from the poor and give to the rich, dismantle the public schools, and raid the Social Security fund . (Today, the average Fortune 500 CEO earns in half a day, what his median worker earns in a year. Twenty years ago, it took the CEO a week to earn his worker's annual salary). "Blessed are the poor?" Not to these folks!

Jesus' greatest rebuke was to the hypocrites. I find very little inclination among the "professional Christians" to "go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." (Matt. 19:21) I suspect that they would have great difficulty passing through that eye of the needle. (Matt. 19:23) These, I contend, are the Pharisees and Sadducees of our day, who would be the first in line to nail Jesus to the cross. (Dosteyevsky had it right in "The Grand Inquisitor") .

Yes, I read the Bible. Most recently, the gospels two years ago. You can read the result at my essay, "What Would Jesus Do?"

While I admit that I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God (except in the sense that we are all children of God), I believe that the surviving record of his life conveys a supreme ethic. It is an ethic that is shared by the noblest of men and women of all ages and all creeds: Moslem, Hindu, Confucian, Taoist, Shinto and even atheists. Thus I am repelled by the dogma of salvation through faith, not works. Am I to believe that the scoundrel's deathbed confession of faith will give him a ticket to paradise, while the entire life of an honest, compassionate, just and courageous unbeliever will not spare him damnation? If heaven is to be populated by the likes of Falwell and Robertson, and hell by non-believers such as Socrates, Jefferson, Gandhi, Rousseau, Mandella and Sakharov, then quite frankly I am content to go to Hell. I would much prefer the company. But of course, I can't conceive how one who truly believes in a just God, can believe that He would condemn billions to eternal damnation, and "save" ("rapture") a few hundred thousand believers. I think that the prophet Micah had it right: "what more doth the lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8).

On to politics. I too endorse free enterprise. Which is why I also endorse government regulation. History shows that unregulated free enterprise is self-defeating, and leads to monopolies -- the death of free enterprise. Hence the anti-trust laws (enforced, gasp!, by government). Just because some criminals go free, and some destructive fires destroy property, it doesn't follow that we must abolish the police and the fire departments. Instead, we should improve them. So too with government. The remedy for bad government is better government, not no government. The founders of our republic tried that with the Articles of Confederation, and soon repented and drew the Constitution with a strong central government (Read the Preamble).

We share an abiding concern for the condition of the environment. Libertarians believe that the environment can best be preserved by privatization of all environmental resources, unconstrained by government. In a published essay, I have crafted a careful refutation of that claim. You want to protect the environment? Then if you think it through, you must also endorse government protection.

Government is good, or government is despotic and evil. It depends on the government, and the people who sustain it or, in worst cases, tolerate it. But government, in the civilized condition, is indispensable. If you disagree, then you disagree, not just with me, but with Jefferson and the Founders: "... to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

We both deplore pornography and smut, and I would add to that the depiction of violence in the media. But please note that this is the result of unregulated "free-enterprise" in action. The Government doesn't promote these evils. Quite the contrary. Thus I note, with some amusement, the current Congressional response to Janet Jackson and "boob-gate." "Bring on the regulation!" And the so-called "conservatives" are leading the charge.

I must tell you that this 2nd Amendment business really ruffles my (Partridge) feathers! Again, not because we disagree, but because we agree -- and some scoundrels have taken great political and financial advantage over a concocted but essentially bogus issue.

You say, "private ownership of fire arms is viewed as politically incorrect."

By whom, pray tell? I have known hundreds of "liberals," and not one of them believes in the confiscation of private firearms. Sure, there are fringe nut-cases who advocate total abolition of guns. But they are universally so regarded -- as kooks. But the opposite fringe, I maintain, holds that there should be absolutely no restriction or regulation of weapons -- be they bazookas, TOW missiles, cop-killer bullets, assault weapons. Even the NRA endorses regulation and restriction of gun ownership by felons. Somewhere in the middle between these extremes, honorable citizens of good will can disagree, and should debate their differences calmly and rationally. For myself, I see little harm and much benefit in the registration of deadly weapons -- all guns should be identified by serial number and ballistic "fingerprints." This, for the advantage of law enforcement. We register vehicles, so why not firearms? Beats me. But if anyone wishes to offer a calm, well reasoned rebuttal, I will respectfully listen and deliberate.

So we agree: private citizens have a constitutional right to own firearms. And I suspect that some 98% of the population (liberals included) also agree. Those who contend that "the liberals are out to take away your guns" are up to political mischief.

Liberal press? Consider: Paul Begala did a Nexus-Lexus search of news stories during the 2000 campaign, and came up with this:

There were exactly 704 stories in the campaign about this flap of Gore inventing the Internet. There were only 13 stories about Bush failing to show up for his National Guard duty for a year. There were well over 1,000 stories -- Nexus stopped at 1,000 -- about Gore and the Buddhist temple. Only 12 about Bush being accused of insider trading at Harken Energy. There were 347 about Al Gore wearing earth tones, but only 10 about the fact that Dick Cheney did business with Iran and Iraq and Libya."

And of course, Gore, in fact never claimed to have "invented the internet," and the Buddhist temple event was entirely innocent.

I rest my case. And if you are still unconvinced, read Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media?"

To sum up, I confess that I am thoroughly confounded by political rhetoric today. Most self-described "conservatives" aren't conservative at all -- they are radical anarchists, out to tear up our Constitution and undo the social progress of the past century. Witness the "Patriot Act," "First Amendment zones," and the Bush budget. Progressives ("liberals" if you prefer) such as myself, are struggling to preserve our liberties, our received rule of law, and the Founders' checks and balances -- in short, we are the authentic "conservatives."

No need to go on, since I've written and published about all this at length. But if you can stand a further dose of my political rantings, see my "Conscience of a Conservative" (that's me!) ...

I close as I began: we agree much more than may have suspected. And our agreements, as friends and as citizens, are far more important than our differences. I think you may agree that our differences are best dealt with in the context of a well-ordered and civil political arena, based upon "conservative" principles of justice and tolerance, envisioned by the Founders of our republic, and of late banished in the corrosive political diatribe of the present day. I trust that we are united in our desire to restore the civility in the body politic that we knew and respected in our youth.

Your enduring friend,

Ernie


"Habemus Papem" -- and perhaps a rough road ahead for us heathens.

When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI, William Cole of the Associated Press reported the following:

On Monday, Ratzinger, who was the powerful dean of the College of Cardinals, used his homily at the Mass dedicated to electing the next pope to warn the faithful about tendencies that he considered dangers to the faith: sects, ideologies like Marxism, liberalism, atheism, agnosticism and relativism - the ideology that there are no absolute truths.

"Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism," he said, speaking in Italian. "Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."

If "liberalism" is now anathema to faithful Catholics, may we now expect a mass excommunication of Catholic liberals? A tiny Baptist Church in South Carolina appears to be leading the way. I had heard that Popes John XXIII and John-Paul II were "liberals." Will they now be declared "Anti-Popes"? (Better put a hold on that fast-track beatification of JP-2).

To be fair, the new Pope delivered that homily in Italian, and perhaps there is some nuance to the word that was translated as "liberalism." So we'll await some clarification.

The Pope's condemnation of "relativism" has struck a responsive note amongst the (largely protestant) religious right in the US. However, "relativism" has numerous interpretations, not explicated by the Pope in that homily. I'm working on an essay that will spell these out, which I will share with you when it is done. The working title, "In Praise of Relativism" may suggest where I stand.

Finally, Max Blumenthal has excavated this remarkable quotation by (then) Cardinal Ratzinger in 1990:

At the time of Galileo the Church remained much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself. The process against Galileo was reasonable and just.

No doubt, this gives great comfort to the embattled "Intelligent Design" crowd in Kansas and elsewhere.
 



Modus Operandi of Right Wing Talk Radio.

For a glance at how right-wing operates, go to this transcript of Bill O'Reilly's broadcast of 12/1/03. The guests are Katrina Vanden Heuval, Editor of the progressive The Nation, and Tammy Bruce, FOX "contributor" and "fake democrat." (Note: Be warned of false labeling -- Bob Novak also claims to be a Democrat).

Here's a "snippet:"

KVH: The tax cut that George Bush rammed...

OR: No, no, no...

KVH: ...down this country's throat.

OR: ...look, they do a poll, Ms. Van Heuvel...

KVH: Not what Americans wanted. If they wanted health care, they wanted education for their kids.

OR: Look, okay, speeches are fine.

KVH: Let us hope President Bush...

OR: You're a journalist. You deal in facts.

KVH: ...is unseated in 2004 because America will be a better place for it.

OR: Okay, good. Yes.

KVH: But more important...

OR: I'm going to stop you...

KVH: ...as someone who believes in democracy...

OR: ...Ms. Vanden Heuvel, I'm going to stop you now because your speech is lost on this audience. They know you're an ideologue. We don't care that you have a speech prepared.

KVH: You don't like to hear from anyone who disagrees with you.

OR: No, I don't disagree with you at all.

KVH: Mr. O'Reilly, don't you believe in the marketplace of ideas?

OR: You won't answer the question.

KVH: This country is better and more democratic.

OR: Ms. Vanden Heuvel...

Don't even bother to read the whole transcript. Just notice this: Vanden Heuvel is rarely able to complete a sentence without interruption. Bruce completes whole paragraphs without interruption. If this appears to be "cherry picking" of an extreme example, just tape and examine other "cross-fire" between a liberal and a regressive on (e.g.) Rush Limbaugh's, Sean Hannity's or other such programs.

Advice to progressives invited to appear on FOX. Don't accept without a firm agreement that you will be allowed to complete your sentences. Cite that agreement at the beginning of the interview. If no agreement, don't accept. If FOX agrees, then breaks the pledge on the air, get up and leave.


Some Mind-Benders, quoted without comment:

"There is no greater power than the power to define. If you can determine how people use language, you really are able to determine how they think. If you can fill the word "liberal" with the meaning that you want it to have, which nowadays is weak, feminine, cowardly, so much so that even liberal want to run away from it, the you've won an enormous battle for control." Steven J. Ducat, Buzzflash Interview.


"There is actually more long term profit for business in a society based on justice, fairness, equality, mercy, learning, tolerance, openness and the active, meaningful participation of engaged citizens in ordering the life of the nation. There's more stability in such a society, more security, more freedom for innovation and invigoration in every aspect of life. But our ruling cliques -- epitomized by the Bushists -- are afflicted with third-rate minds, stunted imaginations, lizard-brain yearnings for immediate gratification, the short-term money. They will ultimately destroy the community that sustains them. They will end up devouring their own entrails -- after they've despoiled the nation, and the world, with their blind, brute greed." Chris Floyd


"God had been drafted into national politics before, but Hitler's success infusing racial dogma with Germanic Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized he moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudo-religious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."

Fritz Stern, "Lessons from German History"
Foreign Affairs (May-June, 2005)

 


June 28, 2005

 

Who Are You Going to Believe, Prof. Griffin or Your Own Lyin' Eyes?


Prof. David Ray Griffin, Author of  The New Pearl Harbor, would have us believe that the World Trade Center was brought down by planted demolition charges. (See also these reviews of The New Pearl Harbor in “Interlink”  and Amazon.com).

The accusation has recently been seconded by Morgan Reynolds, a former economist in the administration of Bush the Elder.

As with Prof. Griffin’s accusation that the Pentagon was hit by a missile on 9/11 (see my blog of May, 2004), this hypothesis is too much for me to swallow.

If, in fact, the professor is right, then the WTC caper was an amazing feat of timing and coordination. I dare say an unbelievable feat.

Consider:

1. No one doubts that the towers were hit by commercial airliners. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses, and the impacts were recorded on tape, which we all have seen many times.

2. It is also certain that the planes were taken over by “Arab-looking” and Arabic-speaking hijackers. This was observed and reported by the flight crew and passengers on the doomed airliners.

3. As we have all seen many times, the collapse of both towers began at the points of impact. The south  tower, you may recall, tilted at that point as it began to fall -- as you can see here. 

Given all this, this must be the scenario that Prof. Griffin would have us believe.

1. The caper involved ultra-right conspirators (The CIA? Neo-Cons? Busheviks? Who knows?) allied with a bunch of Arabs who were somehow persuaded to sacrifice their lives for some unidentified (and scarcely imaginable) purpose in concert with the domestic conspirators.

2. The demolition charges were set to go off at the moment of impact, which means that the conspiracy involved the convergence of two separate chains of events.

3. Those who set the charges had the uncanny knowledge beforehand of exactly where the planes would hit the towers, and placed the explosives at those locations. (Otherwise, the towers would not have begun to collapse at the points of impact). Furthermore, the charges would have to survive the impacts and the conflagration of jet fuel before they were set off.

Furthermore, Prof. must explain these troubling anomalies:

4.  If, as claimed by "eyewitnesses," demolition charges were set at the basement and/or ground floor, they were duds.  As we have all seen on TV, planned demolitions with charges set at the ground floor, collapse from the ground up.  Not so with the WTC.  All photographic evidence shows the towers collapsing from the points of impact, down.  (Show me authentic footage of the towers collapsing at the ground, and I will reconsider).

5. There is no photographic evidence whatever of explosions other than the fuel fireballs seen at the moments of impact.

Sorry, but it’s just too much. This time "the official version" makes complete sense.  The supporting structure of the WTC towers was along the outside walls, not, as usual with skyscrapers, at the center.  Thus, when the side was taken out by the impact, and the remaining sides were weakened by the intense heat, the collapse of the buildings due to the overhead weight was inevitable.

Equally implausible is Griffin's theory that the Pentagon was hit by a missile, notwithstanding photographic and eyewitness evidence that an airliner was involved, possessions of  the victims and airliner parts found among the rubble, and a failure to explain where Flight 77 Might have gone if the missile theory were correct. (But that’s another story. About which, see my April, 2004 blog).

Maybe I’m missing something, and to be honest, I haven’t read Griffin’s book – deterred by the prima facie implausibility of his claims. And quite frankly, I would hate to be proven wrong should this case ever be “broken.”

So I’ll hear him out and read further, but I will do so mindful that he has a huge burden of common sense objections to overcome.

To repeat my concluding comments about Griffin’s Pentagon/Missile hypothesis:

The case against the Bush administration is overwhelming: election fraud in Florida [and in Ohio], demonstrably false grounds for initiating a war, the "purchase" of federal offices and public legislation by campaign contributors, and on and on. All this cries for removal of the Busheviks from office at least, and more appropriately for criminal prosecution.

This case must be proclaimed persistently and vehemently. But the case is not served by wild and demonstrably false fantasies. The Bushistas, and their media camp-followers, are desperately looking for means to divert public attention from the crimes of this administration. Wild accusations such as those put forward by Griffin, by inviting a smear of the opposition with the tar of "kookery," can only give aid and comfort to "the enemy."

Seems to me that this is, if anything, more true today than it was when I wrote it more than a year ago.


A Postscript -- July 26, 2005.

The Crisis Papers received numerous letters critical of this analysis, which is unusual for a blog.  The following is my reply to many of those letters posted in the July 5 CP update (no longer available, due to our "Three Week Rule"):

Those who have read my work will know that I have no particular motivation to defend Bush and his cohorts and no inclination to accept uncritically  an "official version" of anything issuing from Bush's Administration. 

My reflections on the Pentagon and WTC attacks are based on nothing more than what appears to be abundant evidence and common sense.

Because I can't respond to these replies point by point, instead I will recapitulate what strikes me as the most compelling reasons to disbelieve (a) the missile attack on the Pentagon, and (b) the controlled demolition of the WTC.

1. The eyewitness problem. Google "pentagon september-11 eyewitnesses" and you will get 17,200 hits. Here and here  you will find eyewitness accounts by dozens of named individuals, testifying that they saw a plane hit the Pentagon. Many more accounts if you surf the Google list. Still more physical evidence, including photos of airplane parts at the scene, can be found here.  Finally, read the debunking from the indispensable "Snopes" site.

Now am I asked to believe that hundreds of eyewitnesses, many of them commuters on the freeways, were either hallucinating or all part of a gigantic cover-up plot? Were the conspirators so thorough that they arrived on the scene and scattered thousands of airplane parts, along with personal effects and body parts of the passengers of Flight 77 just to cover-up the missile attack? Gimme a break!

2. The missing airliner and passengers. Prof. Griffin shrugs off this little anomaly with the remark, "I have no idea what happened to Flight 77." It's a bit like a defense attorney saying at trial, "I have no explanation as to why my client was found at the scene of the crime with a smoking gun in his hand, but never mind all that." So we are asked to believe that, simultaneously with the Pentagon attack, a commercial airliner disappeared "somewhere," along with the crew and passengers, and no trace has yet been found of the aircraft or any of its passengers. No missile theory can be credible without some explanation offered as to the (allegedly alternative) fate of Flight 77.  I have read no such explanation.

3. The collapsing at point of impact at the WTC. Once again, the collapse of both towers began at the points of impact. Its on video tape and film, and we've all seen it time and again. And if that's not good enough,
see it again here.   The "controlled demolition theory" requires that the collapses begin where the charges were set. How remarkable that those who set the charges and those who aimed the planes all knew beforehand at just what floor in each tower, the planes would hit. As for the other alleged demolition charges, show me the photographic evidence. And falling debris does not cut it.

As for the demands that I read Griffin's book, I reply with a emphatic "maybe." I will also continue to read still more essay-sized accounts of the conspiracy theories. Life is short, and I have a website to run and a book to write. Because some hard choices must be made, not all "leads" can be followed, and not all suspicions have an equal claim on my time and attention.

Several years ago, I happened to notice at the grocery check-out stand, a tabloid headline that shouted: "Twelve US Senators are Space Aliens." Somehow, in that case I felt no obligation to "read further."

But, as Dennis Miller says, "that's just my opinion, and I may be wrong."  But if so, kindly show me the evidence and explain the anomalies.

 


October 26, 2005

AN OMINOUS ALERT FROM THE AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL ASSOCIATION

Philosophers on a number of public and private university campuses have become targets of a nationally funded and well-organized campaign to achieve what is seen as political balance and the reduction of liberal bias. Supporters propose the establishment of government oversight of curricula, teaching, hiring, and promotion, through Academic Bill of Rights legislation introduced in several states and the U.S. Congress. The APA Committee for the Defense of Professional Rights of Philosophers is also concerned about recent incidents that have employed harassment and defamation of character to express opposition to the alleged political views of professors of philosophy and other professors. Such incidents include students' disrupting instruction (e.g., by posting unauthorized "class cancelled" signs) and publicly labeling faculty members "communists" or "terrorist sympathizers." Because such actions have a chilling effect on academic freedom, they have been reported to the committee, which urges all APA members to inform themselves about such egregious actions. It also urges them to study the implications of the "Academic Bill of Rights" campaign for the exercise of academic freedom.

APA Committee for the Defense of Professional Rights of Philosophers.

 

 


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .