A vital and independent press is essential to the functioning of democracy. In recent years, media concentration has accelerated. This has resulted in the closing down of many domestic and foreign bureaus and a sharp reduction in the number of working reporters. In pursuit of a juicy tidbit, too many journalists today cozy up to power. They take pride in being called on by their first name at presidential news conferences. They play golf and tennis with high administration officials and are invited to all the important dinner parties. We need a press that will hold the feet of the mighty to the fire and not drink cabernet sauvignon with them. Citizens are ill-served by lapdogs with laptops.
In the wake of the Holocaust in the 1940s and earlier in the century the genocidal attacks against the Armenians by Turkey and the German slaughter of the Herero and Namaqua peoples in SW Africa, the Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide. In 1948 the UN adopted the Genocide Convention. On December 29, 2023, South Africa filed a case with the UN’s International Court of Justice in The Hague accusing Israel of the crime of genocide in its ongoing assault on Gaza. The Convention defines genocide as “the intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Israel has dismissed the South African charge calling it “meritless.”
The “Oppenheimer” movie and the Ukraine war have brought much-needed attention to the possibility of terminal war. The arms race will end the human race. To call nukes weapons of mass destruction comes nowhere near describing the level of devastation that their use would result in. To be clear, these are weapons of annihilation that would make Hiroshima and Nagasaki look trivial. And how are our great leaders addressing this existential threat? Instead of advocating universal nuclear disarmament countries led by the U.S. are spending billions to upgrade them. That’s a good definition of insanity. It’s nothing short of a miracle that nuclear war, the ending of the planet, has not happened. Can our luck last forever? The odds and logic say no. If we don’t reverse the insane arms race, we will be committing suicide.
Gideon Levy, the noted Israeli journalist, says “Gaza is a cage, the biggest prison in the world.” 2.3 million Palestinians are locked in a small area. For years they have been under siege by Israel and now relentless bombing resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and massive destruction. If you’re trapped in a cage you’ll try to break out. Millions of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been under the boot of Israel, enduring decades of occupation, killings, oppression, imprisonment of thousands, evictions, land seizures, roadblocks, checkpoints, walls, and fences. That explains what happened on October 7. It doesn’t excuse it. As the great poet W.H. Auden wrote, “I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.”
Program #ORTR007. Recorded in Burnaby, BC on October 27, 2015.
Genocide is the most heinous of crimes and it connects to settler colonialism. Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz says, “Settler colonialism requires genocidal violence to attain its goal” of acquiring land. In North America and elsewhere this meant the Indigenous population was targeted for mass murder. North America’s huge landmass and resources drove the policy. In Germany, there was the Nazi desire for lebensraum, living space, in Eastern Europe. It’s interesting to see the parallels. The U.S. General William Sherman said in 1873, “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children.” Seventy years later in 1943, Heinrich Himmler, the notorious SS commander, said, “I want to mention a very difficult subject with complete candor. I am talking about the extermination of the Jewish people.”
Recorded at Simon Fraser University.
SpeakerRoxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. A distinguished scholar, she has been active in the international Indigenous movement for many years and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. She is the recipient of the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first UN conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans and Not a Nation of Immigrants.
“Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is a one-woman wrecking ball against the tower of lies erected by ‘official’ historians.”- Ishmael Reed
Program #HEDC021. Recorded in Troy, NY on December 6, 2023.
The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza will soon surpass 20,000 with many more wounded. The UN says Gaza is “a graveyard for children.” The history of the Israeli-Palestinian war did not begin on October 7. While the atrocities of that day cannot and should not be excused, they have to be located in the context of decades of Israeli annexation, occupation, sieges, blockades and extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians are in Israeli prisons being held without trial or charges. Illegal Israeli settlements continue to grow and expand. Meanwhile, while all attention, understandably is on Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen several hundred Palestinians killed by the Israeli army and by rampaging settlers since October 7. The Jewish Voice for Peace organization denounces U.S. complicity with Israel’s never-ending occupation saying, “The unchecked military-funding and diplomatic cover enables and empowers Israel’s apartheid regime. Those who continue calling for ‘ironclad’ U.S. support for the Israeli military are only paving the path to more violence.”
Recorded at the Sanctuary for Independent Media.
SpeakerChris Hedges is an award-winning journalist who has reported from war zones around the world. Cornel West calls him, “The greatest radical writer and journalist of our generation.” He writes a weekly column for scheerpost.com. He is the host of The Chris Hedges Report. He is the author of many books including War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, Empire of Illusion, Death of the Liberal Class, Wages of Rebellion, Our Class, and The Greatest Evil is War.
Program #SOLN008. Recorded in Amherst, MA on November 15, 2023.
Listen on this week’s podcast Many are familiar with Eisenhower’s 1961 warning of “the military industrial complex.” Veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern has expanded on Ike’s phrase. He coined the term MICIMATT, the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Inteligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank complex. How does it work? The notorious revolving door syndrome links the Pentagon to the arms manufacturers to Congress. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is a perfect example. Before being appointed by Biden he was on the board of Raytheon, a giant weapons corporation. Corporations bankroll politicians of both parties who then OK arms purchases. There’s tons of money to be made in cost overruns and repairing defective equipment. Just look at Zumwalt destroyers or the F-35. What boondoggles! Military madness continues apace.
SpeakerNorman Solomon is a political commentator and media critic. The National Council of Teachers of English honored him with the George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language. He is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org, an online activist group. He is the author of many books including Target Iraq, War Made Easy, Made Love, Got War and his latest is, War Made Invisible.
Program #CHON275. Recorded in Oro Valley, AZ on March 22, 2023.
The future of humankind and the planet are in danger from the twin existential threats of terminal nuclear war and climate catastrophe. The response? The Biden administration is following through on Pentagon plans to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal. Instead of eliminating these weapons of mass destruction, we are upgrading them. And the clock is ticking louder and louder on the climate emergency. The response? A massive new oil drilling project in Alaska. Seem illogical? Not really. These are the kinds of outcomes you can expect when lunatics run the asylum.
Interview by David Barsamian.
SpeakerNoam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. His contributions to modern linguistics are legendary. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” The New Statesman calls him “the conscience of the American people.” He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 95, he continues to inform and inspire people all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, his latest are Consequences of Capitalism, Chronicles of Dissent and Notes on Resistance.
Program #STIJ006. Recorded in Florence, Italy on September 28, 2023.
Neoliberal economics has exposed the dark side of the American dream. It took off with Reagan and Thatcher. For most workers incomes have stagnated except for the very rich, whose incomes have more than quadrupled. Biden correctly points out that millions of people have gotten new jobs. But despite that, the typical family is actually getting paid less taking inflation into account. According to data from the Federal Reserve, real median household income has been falling during the Biden presidency. Last year the poverty rate more than doubled, and the number of people who are hungry jumped to 44 million. The ruling class, the owners of the economy and architects of policy advance and protect their interests, no matter how grievous the effect on others. Can we imagine an equitable economic system?
SpeakerJoseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University, is the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was chair of the Council on Economic Advisors under Clinton. He also served as senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. His efforts to move the bank in a more progressive direction got him fired. He is the author of Globalization and Its Discontents, The Price of Inequality and People, Power, and Profits.
Program #MEAR004. Recorded in Boulder, CO on October 11, 1993.
For years the indigenous peoples of the U.S., after having been dispersed and decimated and relegated to reservations, were reduced to caricatures. We all knew Indians and their culture. There was the familiar medicine man, the trading post, Geronimo and Crazy Horse, papooses and squaws, tepees and tomahawks, war dances and war parties. Tonto was the epitome of faithfulness and subservience. The formation and rise of the American Indian Movement, AIM, in the late 1960s and early 1970s did much to break down conventional stereotypes. AIM, through its actions at Wounded Knee, Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, demonstrated that Native Americans could and would fight back against racism and oppression.
Recorded at the Boulder Public Library.
SpeakerRussell Means was a renowned activist for Indian Rights. An Oglala Lakota, he was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He was a founding member of the American Indian Movement and its first national director. His autobiography is Where White Men Fear to Tread. He passed away in 2012.