Friday, July 10, 2015

Right Wing Limits

I've been following Sam Harris' work for a few months.  I'm interested in his criticisms of religion and his dedication to absolute honesty in dealing with people.  He recently posted his "discussion" with Noam Chomsky that he believes made them both look bad, but I thought Chomsky looked reasonable.

Chomsky displayed moral outrage and implied that Harris is an apologist for the American war machine.  This was self-evident when Harris kept trying to establish a moral hierarchy for American-created "accidental-casualties" vs. terrorist's purposefully-created casualties.  I can swallow a moral negation or easement or justice in some very limited cases, but not a "superiority" in "intention" in any case.  Chomsky is right that "intention" soon gets warped into whatever abstract (often religious) justification humans need to wrought evil on other humans.  He tries to use the example of a "perfect" weapon to clarify that intention matters...days before it became news that the Saudis would be using American cluster bombs (banned by every other Western country in the world because they instill terror and are considered torture) to kill people in Yemen--a most imperfect bomb, manufactured in the U.S.

I myself try to avoid establishing moral hierarchies precisely because America would SUCK in such a count, and so does Israel, and both of our countries are equally trying to balance the moral weight of violence with humanitarian works.  Sadly, the balance is way off, unless you start saying that our lives are worth more than our enemies, which is probably true for most people if you grind down. In fact, this is such a common place assumption, that most people would have no qualms about killing a house intruder.  How crude is our lack of sensitivity?  Why is killing the default defense instead of something more humane?  Why don't we buy tranquilizer guns instead of gun powder for home protection?  This crudeness, this lack of sensitivity, extends to our enemies.  If the sane and orderly are so easily cruel, then the criminal will be even more so.

I'm sure Noam Chomsky points this out incessantly in his books, which is one reason why I have until this date avoided reading them.  I have not really wanted to spend my time trying to change the dirty laundry this country has shat.  Most people don't.  And a hell of a lot of people, particularly in the military, are more than happy to dance among the dirty laundry.  American Sniper is certainly one example of the present day war dance.

Friday, May 01, 2015

I want a cult of life

I think the over 400 assassinations carried out by the CIA during Obama's Presidency is unaccountable, irresponsible, and dangerous to our country.  What have we gained from this?  How does assassinating tribal leaders, who are undoubtedly despicable, help keep us safe at home?  I am not heartless, and I would disarm these crude, hateful people in a heartbeat.  Let's invent a giant magnet that will carry all the stupid lethal weapons out of the middle east, Pakistan, Afghanistan and North Korea.  Then the people will have a chance.

Hillary Clinton argued to arm the Syrian rebels.  She voted for the Iraq war.  She seems reticent to start a war with Iran, but I've seen her turn her back on war protestors.  She's a hawk.

Bernie Sanders is running now, he's a force of truth and after hearing him speak today I have confidence that he would be an excellent Commander in Chief.  I would like to hear how he would deal with ISIL.  

One thing I know we should do about ISIL, is to make kids realize life in the Western world is actually better than in a freaking violent theocracy.  

We need to excite teenagers about the possibility of a future that they will fit into; whether it's work, or creativity, or sports, or growing a family.  We need to understand the challenges youth face and participate in our communities to help them learn the value of work and community.

Fantasies about ISIL can become exciting to lonely young people because they think ISIL has a black and white plan, and system of rules that suggests there is a place for everyone: fighter and wife. Nevermind constant death and widowhood, too, because ISIL sells death as a "win," too.  They promote the fantasy of eternal life as a replacement for civilization on earth, which makes it a cult of death.

We need to create a cult of life, hope and attainable dreams.

Instead, Shields and Brooks and the PBS News Hour below suggest that ISIL is successfully using our faceless, unaccountable war drones as a recruiting tool.  Stop weaponized drones, ban them, worldwide. Stop assassinations.  Start using Court Rooms to create a system of justice again.

American Nightmare

Born poor and without a sober mother, the boy's father worked three jobs as his mother slowly withdrew and disappeared from their life. He always loved to read, and his dad would give him a dollar a week for comic books.

Ethan was a bright child who went to an overcrowded school where most kids were reading at a 4th grade level in high school.  He had developed lupus and Medicaid helped him.  Last week his father suddenly died of an undiagnosed heart attack; his father had never had affordable healthcare. The young man, having no where to go, tried the Church of The Afterlife that offered him a bed and breakfast.  Sadly, the lonely minister climbed into his bed shortly before sun up, so Ethan collected his things and left her, before breakfast.

Homeless and hungry, he steals some bread from a 7-11.  As he runs to hide, a cop mistakes his plastic knife for a real one, draws his gun, and aims for the boys heart.  The boy jumps at the sound of the shot, so the bullet enters a lung, he fell limp and bleeding.  The cop handcuffs him as the ambulance arrives.  

After a life-saving emergency, and a few days of recovery, the boy is sent to jail to await trial.  The sheriff pays a visit and says, "You criminals don't deserve hot meals, here's your baloney sandwich."  The boy threw up his sandwich as a guard punched him and screamed, "You disgusting runt!" The boy was sent back to the hospital for bleeding.

The nurse attending the young man heard him say that he missed his father, and worried that he’d die in jail.  The nurse told him not to worry, that he was young and that he had his whole life to figure out how to make things work.  This was America, after all.

UrbanPink2008 c.2015