The new face of American terror: white males worried about minorities taking over “their” country.
Even as mass shootings in America have become almost a banality, last week’s massacre in Charleston, South Carolina manages to stand out. White supremacist Dylann Roof brought a concealed handgun into an African-American church, issued a series of terrifying proclamations about a race war, and murdered nine people. He intentionally left witnesses so they could repeat his words. Later research uncovered a trove of racism, including a detailed manifesto and pictures of the shooter wearing patches of racist African regimes on his jacket.
Any sane person could acknowledge that our gun culture, combined with venomous and widely proliferated rhetoric about black “takers” and “thugs,” were the ingredients for this act of terror. Yet in the tragedy’s immediate aftermath, conservatives threw their hands up in the air, offered meaningless condolences and said, essentially, “Who knows what went wrong or what we can do about it?” Continue reading
This famous photograph shows senior officials waiting for an update on the bin Laden raid, an event Hersh alleges was all but scripted.
Four years ago, President Obama announced that U.S. forces pulled off a targeted killing of the new millennium’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. Media and celebrities poured praise on Obama and expressed closure on behalf of the entire nation at the death of a man believed to be responsible for killing 3,000 Americans.
Now, Seymour Hersh, a veteran investigative journalist whose previous exposés uncovered military atrocities at My Lai and Abu Ghraib, has challenged the official account. Continue reading
Left: Noam Chomsky, right: Sam Harris.
Sam Harris, the prominent secularist and neuroscientist, recently exchanged a series of heated emails with Noam Chomsky, a linguist and leading social and foreign policy critic since the 1960s. Their discussion was buzzworthy because both men are well-known public commentators with occasionally overlapping subject matter who have never shared a forum before. Unfortunately for Harris, who reached out to Chomsky initially, the conversation didn’t go as well for him as he seemed to hope it would when he embarked on it. Continue reading
Hundreds of thousands marched at unity rallies in and around Paris to show support for free expression in the wake of the murders at Charlie Hebdo.
It’s hard to find much room for cynicism in the outpourings of solidarity, sympathy and defense of free expression that have emerged following the slaughter of 12 innocent people at the offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The crime committed there in the name of religious extremism is one of the most heinous and intolerable anyone can imagine. Nonetheless, there’s an important element to the story that’s missing from most of the discussion, and it has to do with the power dynamic of cultures and the messaging of satire. Continue reading
Say what you will about America, there’s one thing that’s undeniably true: people don’t like you to say what you will about America. Despite being the most powerful economic and military force on the globe for the last 100 years, our culture is quick to take offense at even the mildest of criticisms. Self-reflection has never been our greatest strength, making a list like this controversial.
Nonetheless, we face several crises together. Most commentators don’t consider 2014 to have been a “good news” year. Whether we realize it or want to admit it, this country’s business and political classes have committed inhuman crimes in our name, and they will continue to do so for as long as we let them. If, instead, Americans pledged to confront these issues openly and honestly, we could pave the way to a much brighter future. These are the issues activists, organizers, and opinion leaders should be hammering home in 2015. Continue reading
Shortly after World War II, the well-known psychologist Carl Jung ascribed a collective guilt to Germans for the crimes of the Nazi Party, Kollektivschuld. Whether Germans realized it or not, the horrors carried out in their borders, by their leaders, and with their tacit blessing would come to bear on their national psyche. To reinforce this feeling of Kollektivschuld, the U.S. and the UK hit Germany with propaganda posters following the war, depicting images of the Holocaust and sternly reminding the German people, “These atrocities: you are to blame!”
A series of photographs reveal torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib.
So at what point must we, the people of the U.S., acknowledge our own Kollektivschuld for the crimes of our leaders? Few crimes in world history, let alone U.S. history, compare to the Holocaust, but there is still plenty to reckon with that we have yet to maturely confront: the genocide of American Indians, the enslavement of Africans, a system of racism and violence against blacks that continues to the present, the use of napalm in Vietnam, the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan, support of brutal dictators and the overthrow of democratically elected governments, the war and sanctions in Iraq that killed perhaps a million or more people – and that’s just what springs to mind off the cuff. Continue reading