I just can’t believe what’s happening before our eyes. I’m talking about Ukraine.
My disbelief is not related to Vladimir Putin’s relatively restrained assault on his beleaguered neighbor. Yes . . .“relatively restrained.”
(I see no need here to obscure my point by joining the chorus of Putin haters – just as there was none to join haters of Castro, Milosevic, Noriega, Chavez, Ortega, Maduro, Gaddafi, or the other innumerable “Emmanuel Goldsteins” identified as objects deserving of our de rigueur, periodic two minutes of hate.)
No, my disbelief is more about the fact that after being fooled in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere, so many Americans have been roped into somehow thinking anyone in this country has the moral authority to criticize any “war crimes” or perceived violations of “democracy” — as directed by the CIA!
In fact, by despicable U.S. standards, Putin is absolutely justified in his assault on Ukraine. By those criminal canons, Russia deserves its own Monroe Doctrine, its own buffer zone against a hostile and Russia-phobic NATO, its own sphere of influence. And unless we’re out in the street denouncing what “our” government routinely does and is currently doing in the world, we have no right to utter a syllable of protest about Mr. Putin. Not a single syllable!
War crimes? Are you kidding me? Think about those our current government is committing and supporting in Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, Somalia, and who knows where else. Think about its use of the cluster bombs it now decries. Think about its shooting contaminating nuclear waste at enemies du jour. Think about its use of agent orange and white phosphorous – both chemical weapons. Think about its rejection of World Court jurisdiction when there’s all those questions about U.S. war crimes.
All of that makes Putin’s gambit in Ukraine look absolutely statesman like. That’s compared (to take just one example) to U.S.routine “shock and awe” devastations. Putin’s crimes are nothing like the levelling of Iraq’s Fallujah.” Civilian casualties in Ukraine don’t even approach the million Muslims the U.S. military has slaughtered in Iraq alone – not to mention the million children who will die this year because of U.S. sanctions now operative in Afghanistan.]
Face it: our troops and government are out-and-out butchers compared with Putin’s.
That can’t be said too strongly.
And as for democracy, Putin’s system is no less democratic than ours. Are you aware of our new Jim Crow laws (supported by a criminally cooperative Supreme Court)? Think about how the system rigs elections to disenfranchise the poorest among us.
And you’re telling me that given the corruption legendarily involved in American electoral politics (with its interminable campaigns, demonstrably mendacious ads, gerrymandering, voter suppression, hackable voting machines, dark money, bribes in the form of “campaign contributions,” and the absolutely silly “politicians” that emerge to represent their donors – you’re telling me that we want Russia or China to follow suit?)
Our ignorance is not only blind, but arrogant!
Of course, Putin, like other heads of state in the capitalist world (the only one we’ve got), represents the rich elite. For that reason, as I’ve tried to show elsewhere (here, here, here, here, and here) his authority is no more legitimate than Joe Biden’s. Yes, that’s the hard truth: if Putin’s authority is somehow de-legitimized, so is Biden’s.
Neither of them nor U.S. clients in Europe and throughout what is laughably called the “free world” cares a wit about people like you and me – much less about those with darker skins and emptier wallets.
With all of this in mind, think again about our collective stupidity. . ..
When was the last time you believed someone who told you that he makes a living by telling lies? You think you’re too smart for that, I’m sure.
But that’s what’s happening relative to Ukraine.
You know that, right?
I’m referring to the words of former CIA head, Mike Pompeo. Remember how he joked and bragged about that. He actually said, “We lied, we cheated, we stole all the time. We take entire courses about. . .. Ha, ha, ha!”
Well, the joke’s on us if we believe a single word coming out of Langley. In view of Pompeo’s words and reams of evidence supporting their truth, why would we ever think otherwise? Why would we ever not draw the conclusion, “If the CIA (or our government!) says ‘black,’ it’s definitely got to be ‘white.’”
Who wouldn’t draw the conclusion, “If the CIA’s involved on Ukraine’s side, Putin can’t be all that bad?”
That’s a serious question, because, of course, the CIA is deeply involved with the Ukrainian situation.
What I’m saying is that we’ve got to wake up. Sadly, this is the way the world works. “Great powers” – including Russia, China, and (in spades) the United States always act just the way Putin does — just the way U.S. presidents always have. If we accept borders and sovereign states, great powers, lesser powers, imperialism, and client states, this is what we have. Great powers (especially the United States) only selectively respect international law.
That’s the system that needs identification, rejection, and overthrow.
So, what’s called for is not rending our garments over the crimes of Vladimir Putin, but over those of our own government – of the entire capitalist system for that matter. Those are the ones we can do something about.
So, it’s time to shut up about Ukraine. Correlatively, it’s well past time to get out into the streets over our own war crimes and assaults on democracy not in a single country, but throughout the world and especially here at home.
It’s easy for any of us to lose our way in “the fog of war.” I’m sure you agree. After all, most of us aren’t experts in matters Ukrainian. What do we know?
One way of dealing with such mystification is to remember some elementary principles and truisms that apply to all cases of international conflict including Ukraine and far beyond.
Let me review 20 of them. See if these help:
The United States (not Russia, China, or ISIS) is the world’s “greatest purveyor of violence.” Martin Luther King made that identification. By all measures (including weapons sales, “defense” budgets and involvement in ongoing wars), it remains true today. This realization might be enough to raise suspicions about “our” government’s position on Ukraine.
Might does not make right. A military force powerful enough to impose its will on weaker opponents is no indication of who’s right. This, of course applies to the United States as well as to Russia.
International laws should never be disobeyed. This principle the United States applies to its enemies (such as Russia in the Ukraine) but rarely to itself.
Wars are illegal unless they follow UN protocols. Please note that nearly every (if not all) of the myriad “American” wars since the end of the Second Inter-capitalist war have been illegal according to this standard.
Everyone is equal before the law. Obviously,, legal double standards are morally repugnant. For instance, the United States can’t deny the authority of the World Court when it’s invoked against itself and then turn around and invoke its authority against an “enemy” like Putin.
It is not logically permitted to lecture others to “Do as I say, not as I do.” In other words, law breakers lose moral authority to lecture others about the virtue of law abidingness. Every child can grasp this rule.
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The U.S. cannot condemn Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine, when it’s doing and has done worse things in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the United States can invoke its “Monroe Doctrine” to protect its Latin American “backyard,” a similar right must be extended to Russia and its perceived need for a buffer zone around its borders.
The one who delivers the first punch can’t prevent a counterpunch by claiming “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” I’ve even heard State Department officials adopt this defense when U.S. crimes are compared to those of designated enemies. [“Well, are you telling me that two wrongs make a right?” (Please don’t hit me back!)]
“Whataboutism” should be cultivated. It’s simply the informed art of making connections. That’s what I’m trying to do with this piece.
Without making connections, the world cannot be understood. We lurch from one crisis to another with no ability to understand.
Borders, nationality, and race are creations of the elite to control the rest of us. Imperialists have used these fictions throughout the history of colonialism. All three, borders, superstitions about national allegiance and the illusion of race have been used to divide, conquer, and rule — to know whom to bomb, to collect taxes, and create captive workforces forbidden to cross imaginary lines to better their lives. (To illustrate, imagine if there were no enforceable border line between Russia and Ukraine. How would Putin know whom to attack? Would there even be a Putin?}
Cultivate a long memory. This is another way of expressing the truism that those who forget history are bound to repeat its errors as we’re seeing with the coalescing dangers of yet another European war.
Follow the money. Because NATO requires its members to increase their “defense” expenditures, the military-industrial complex benefits from each additional affiliate. Could that be a factor in the campaign to increase NATO’s membership — including in Ukraine?
Follow the oil. Decommissioning the Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Europe means new markets for U.S. liquified natural gas. Hmm. . ..
The CIA, the U.S. government, and the media which unquestioningly report their claims cannot be trusted. After all, CIA boss, Mike Pompeo admitted “We lie, we cheat, we steal all the time. In fact, we take entire courses. . ..” (See below, point # 20.)
If the U.S. favors a national leader, he’s probably a puppet or subservient client. This applies to U.S. creations such as Venezuela’s Juan Guaido and (on this principle) like Volodymyr Zelenskyy
If the U.S. opposes a national leader, he’s usually doing something right.The leader in question is probably somehow interfering with U.S. claims to world hegemony. Certainly Putin is doing that.
Non-white lives matter too – just as much as Europeans’ or Americans’. Again, it’s amazing how we’re led to clutch our pearls at the sight of thousands of Europeans (“who look and live like us”) as victims of war and as refugees while ignoring the far higher number of refugees and war casualties “we” produce every day among black and brown people.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Another Great Man (remember him?) tried to say that but failed. I wonder why he didn’t seem to understand. Do we?
Can you think of other applicable principles? If so, please share them.
Black Lives Matter may represent the largest social movement in American history. So, it has a lot of powerful very scared.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had a couple of discouraging encounters with “liberal” opponents of Black Lives Matter. They had vague issues with the organization’s “funding,” “corruption,” “hypocrisy,” and “policy” such as defunding the police.
In one case, circumstances forced me to listen to a podcast of the type just mentioned. It was extremely critical of BLM – all in the name of independent thinking, balance, fairness, neutrality, and self-criticism. However, the liberals in question had no alternative to BLM. And so, in effect, they had joined forces with the right wing and status quo which gladly embrace such “fair-minded” liberals to keep blacks and browns in their place.
The syndrome is familiar. Any successful progressive organization or leader will be subject to such denigrations, personal attacks, “revelations,” and throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They did it to King; they did it to Gandhi; they did it to Jesus. It’s all an ancient right-wing strategy defending the putrid way things are.
Progressives have got to decide which side we’re on. Are we on the side of the victims of white supremacy or not? (And yes, contrary to the official story, there are victims in this world — victims of “our” policy!)
The truth is that if we’re not with BLM, we are against it. Why give and comfort to the fascists and make the perfect the enemy of the good?
What on earth are Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema thinking by resisting the voting reforms of HR1 and the Pro Act? They’re allowing Republicans to fix all future elections. Face it: Manchin and Sinema are really Republicans. Contrary to post-election happy talk, the Democrats really don’t have control of the Senate. Manchin and Sinema should be primaried.
What we studied as U.S. history in school was in reality Confederate history – no true account of slavery, labor movements, women’s struggle for the vote, or indigenous slaughter.
And those Confederate statues? Imagine what we’d think if Germany celebrated Nazism like that — statues of Hitler, Goering, Himmler, Eichmann. . . You won’t find monuments like those in Germany, but you will find their equivalents all over this great country of ours.
And what’s with all this anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda? Everything nefarious that happens especially in the fields of “cyber-attacks,” Covid-19, and election improprieties is “potentially” linked to China or Russia (and “reportedly” to their governments). Where’s the evidence? Don’t be fooled. It’s all CIA B.S.
Never forget what CIA head, Mike Pompeo, said about the CIA. He admitted that they lie, cheat, and steal all they time. The CIA offers its spooks entire courses on the topics. The CIA and its agents are not our friends. Never were.
Neither is the U.S. military. We shouldn’t be proud of it. Never forget what MLK said about our country. “It’s the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Should we be proud that our children are part of such a gang? Yes, it’s a huge gang.
At last count, “we’re” now fighting seven wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Niger, Yemen, Somalia – and who knows where else?). Do any of us care? The people under our bombing attacks do.
Tell me: is it better to deal with terrorism by killing alleged terrorists in those countries just mentioned (along with their children) or with re-education camps like the ones our “leaders” are so outraged about in Northwest China? (Actually, we know nothing about those camps.) Think about that.
“We” maintain 800 military bases throughout the world. Do you know how many extra-territorial bases China has? One! One!!
We drop bombs on Muslims every day. China hasn’t dropped a bomb on another country in more than 40 years.
Why was apartheid in South Africa despicable, but not in Israel-Palestine?
The U.S. of A is exactly in the position that Hitler aspired to gain in the 1930s. We control the world by military might.
And long before Hitler, we had already sponsored our own Holocaust (slaughtering more than 100 million indigenous here). It started centuries before Hitler’s atrocious but small by comparison carnage.
Sad to say: it seems the world would be better off in so many ways without the U.S.of A.
Does the evidence show that the Sandinistas may well have been right in identifying us Yankees as the “enemy of mankind?”
Readings for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jonah 3: 1-5, 10; Psalm 25: 4-9, I Corinthians 7: 29-31; Mark 1: 14-20.
The liturgical readings for this Sunday are about designated enemies often being readier to recognize and respond to divine wisdom than are believers who consider themselves God’s People.
Accordingly, the selections present the mind-blowing discovery of the reluctant chauvinist prophet Jonah (he of belly-of-the-whale fame) alongside the habitual people-centered attitude of the courageous universalist prophet Yeshua the Christ. Together, the readings’ call is to open ourselves to the wisdom and goodness of despised foreigners and the non-elite.
That theme (explained below) reminds me of China and its bipartisan vilification by U.S. politicians and mainstream media. Like the Ninevites in today’s first reading, China has gradually and unquestionably become the enemy du jour as described not only by outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo but by his incoming counterpart, Antony Blinken.
The Case of China
Like Jonah’s assessment of Nineveh, neither can say a good word about China, even though (according to western polls) its government enjoys something like 90% approval by the Chinese people. (Furthermore, according to Dorinda Elliot of the China Institute, rather than diminishing its popularity, the government’s success in dealing with Covid-19 has made it more popular than ever.)
Still, on his way out the State Department door, Mr. Pompeo denounced China not only for stealing western intellectual property, but for its policies on Muslims and ethnic minorities in its western Xinjiang region. According to Pompeo, those policies constitute “crimes against humanity” and “genocide.”
In his testimony before the U.S. Senate, Antony Blinken fully agreed with Pompeo’s assessment. Both painted China as an enemy rather than a hugely successful competitor with whom our country might well cooperate and from whom we might learn. Relative to crimes against humanity, both Pompeo and Blinken ignore the facts that their own country’s policies:
Continue to kill Muslims every day in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia
Imprison and torture them in Guantanamo and other black sites
Have done so for nearly 20 years
While maintaining concentration camps and baby jails for immigrants and asylum seekers on its southern border.
Despite all of that, Mr. Blinken had the temerity to criticize China’s use of reeducation camps as its particular method of dealing with Muslim terrorist threats rather than “our” method of endless wars, bombings and drone strikes. (In Iraq’s illegal war, such have taken the lives of more than 1 million people — with no official mention of genocide or crimes against humanity.)
Moreover, Pompeo’s and Blinken’s denunciations ignore the facts that China’s system of political economy has (in Jonah’s terms) “repented.” It has self-consciously departed from the inefficient and destructive ways of capitalism-as-we-know-it. Yes, China’s way involves a large free-market sector. But a huge part of its economy is under direct government control. The results of that combination have been astoundingly successful.
Moreover, according to economist Richard Wolff, accusations against China’s alleged stealing of intellectual property are nonsensical. According to Wolff, the transfer of intellectual property was part and parcel of the bargain long since struck between U.S. companies and the Chinese government when those companies were given access to Chinese labor and the country’s markets. On China’s part, the understanding was: we give you access to our market and cheap labor; you share profits with us and give us the right to reverse engineer your technology. It was an at least implied quid pro quo agreement that everyone understood.
The result was the Chinese Way that enjoys huge success not only internationally, but domestically. According to Bloomberg News, the Chinese economy is set to grow by 2.5 percent this fiscal year, despite the ravages of Covid-19.
In other words, Chinese “repentance,” its unprecedentedly rapid response (in just over 40 years) to the needs of its people, has saved it from the destruction our version of capitalism has arguably made inevitable for us. Like the prophet, Jonah, our politicians and business elite don’t want to hear any of that.
As I’ve been saying here, all of this is closely connected with today’s readings. In the first selection, the Spirit of Life sends Jonah to learn from Nineveh, Israel’s archenemy. He’s completely surprised to discover that the Ninevites, like China, are more responsive to the way of Yahweh than Jonah’s own people.
Similarly, in today’s Gospel selection, Jesus departs entirely from conventional wisdom. He selects illiterate workmen (rather than temple priests or members of his country’s elite) as recruiters for his Kingdom of God Movement bent on creating a world governed by divine principle rather than Caesar’s brute force.
Here’s the way I translate today’s readings about the superior ways of those (like China) whom we routinely despise as foreign and inferior. You can find their original forms here to see if I’ve got them right.
Jonah 3: 1-5, 10
The reluctant prophet Jonah
Hostile urban jungle
To announce Yahweh’s
For Israel’s Great Enemy
To change its entire
To the patriotic prophet’s
The enemy listened
Its destructive way
In just 40 days!
Psalm 25: 4-9
So, Great Mother-Father
Teach us the way
Of the Ninevites.
For the enemy’s
Path of justice
Truth and compassion
Is your way too.
I Corinthians 7: 29-31
Our time for such willing
Is quickly running out.
Is more important
Our little trials
Our Great Father-Mother’s
Drastically New World
Mark 1: 14-20
After conservative forces
Arrested his mentor,
The Great prophet,
John the Baptist.
With simple names like
James and John
Saw it too.
So, they left everything:
Work and companions
Father and mother,
Wives and lovers
To join Yeshua’s
Working class movement
For the sake of
To laborers like themselves
About the Great Mother-Father’s
In-breaking New Order.
Like Yahweh in the days of Jonah and Jesus centuries later, the Spirit of Life today is calling us in so many ways to repent and imitate the equivalents of Jonah’s Ninevites. Like Paul in Corinth, the Great Mother-Father tells us that the time is short. Climate chaos itself underlines that urgent message. Our task is more important than anything our culture presents as essential.
China’s example of repentance, its departure from capitalism-as-we-know-it, its construction of an economy based above all on meeting the needs of its huge population represents a path forward – if not for imitation, for inspiration and instruction.
It tells us that we must reorient away from profits and wealth for the few towards the creation of a society with room for everyone and abundance for all – just what the working man, Yeshua, demonstrated in his choice of working-class people to introduce the Kingdom’s new heaven and new earth.
We’re called today to listen to the prophets of such unconventional wisdom rather than to Pompeo and Blinken’s misdirection.
This is a follow up to my recent posting entitled “Beware: Conspiracy Theorists May Be Prophetically Correct.” There, in the context of my weekly Sunday Homily, I cautioned against “cancelling” OpEdNews authors who espouse so-called conspiracy theories and who use editorially objectionable terms like “Deep State.”
In this present submission, I want to reiterate (in more detail than previously) why I think conspiracy theories with their references to Deep State are not only valuable and necessary. They correct officially disseminated misinformation by agencies such as the CIA whose programs have the expressed intention of deceiving the American public and shaping world opinion accordingly.
After all, it was CIA director, William Casey, who said infamously, “We will know that our disinformation program has been successful, when everything (emphasis added) the American people believe is false.” More recently, another former head of the CIA, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, bragged that the Agency “lies, cheats, and steals” all the time. In fact, he said, the CIA educates its personnel with entire academic courses on how to do so effectively.
Given those official admissions of deceptive intent, is it any wonder that so many of us espouse alternative explanations for events such as the Kennedy and King assassinations, 9/11, the alleged suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, or the real reasons for world-wide shut down in the face of COVID-19? Should we be surprised that many speculate about the true power of the CIA and other actors who together might well constitute a shadow government often referenced as the Deep State?
With Mike Lofgren and others, I argue here that the evidence for such hidden power is staring us in the face. It has given many of us exceptionally good reason to reject mainstream media (MSM) sources of information in favor of those I’ll list at the end of this piece.
Conspiracy Theories Defined
So, let me begin with full disclosure: I myself believe in conspiracies. (There, I’ve said it.) I do so because I’m a rational person who endorses the rule of law. And that’s my starting point – the often-ignored fact that conspiracy theory constitutes a legal category.
Juridically, the term refers to criminal activity planned by more than one person. In that sense, conspiracies happen all the time. People go to jail for them. Most often, they’re locked up based, not on some “smoking gun,” but on circumstantial evidence. The latter relies on inference [such as a fingerprint or eyewitness testimony (e.g. of a suspect fleeing the scene of a crime)] to connect it to a conclusion of fact. Classically, convictions rely on considerations of motive, opportunity and means to commit a crime. Again, most guilty verdicts are founded on such indications, rather than on confessions or video recordings.
With those factors often ignored, the popular understanding of “conspiracy theory” has come to refer to unfounded explanations of events that depart from those promulgated by sources such as government officials who by their own admission (see above) are committed to comprehensive deception.
This dismissive meaning has taken center stage, all but consigning the legal meaning to irrelevance. Unlike that counterpart, the popular notion of conspiracy typically requires irrefutable smoking gun evidence before it may be (even reluctantly) entertained without derision.
As a result of such double standards, conspiracy theorists are often comically portrayed as reclusive nerds frantically typing their wild insights into their basement computers while wearing hats made of tinfoil to protect their brains from government surveillance and from extraterrestrial mind control.
Deep State Centrality
In this popular sense, conspiracy theories centralize allegations of hidden “behind the throne” powers – sometimes called the “Deep State” – secretly controlling events. While such allegations tend to be dismissed without serious examination, I find them to be basically credible.
By deep state, I’m not referring primarily to “the bureaucracy” – i.e. to career diplomats who remain behind no matter who’s in the White House or Congress. While such bureaucrats play their role in government continuity, they’re not really in control. Neither are they routinely trying to deceive the public. In fact, the vast majority of bureaucrats fit the description of good public servants mostly (naively, I would say) committed to the good of their country.
Instead, my list of those who are really calling the shots has to include the military industrial complex (MNC) as well as big oil, big pharma, private prison corporations, and the mainstream media (MSM) which the latter own and employ. These are the entities that truly have the ear of our politicians who (against the clearly expressed will of their citizen “constituents”) routinely vote against the latter’s interests and programs such as Medicare for all, environmental protection and a Green New Deal, free higher education, debt jubilee (especially for indebted college students) and reallocation of police and military funding to social programs, community policing and infrastructure development.
Ignoring the overwhelmingly popular will on such issues, the powers-that-be pay politicians to vote instead for increased military spending, tax cuts for the already rich, and for the deregulation of industry and finance. They discredit a Bernie Sanders and advance milk toast candidates like Joe Biden who brazenly ignore the interests of their would-be constituents. None of that is even debatable.
However, in global terms, at least according to insider analysts such as ex-CIA official, Robert David Steele and others, the Deep State is much more profound and hidden than already indicated. It embraces, they say:
A small number of families (like the Rothschilds and Rockefellers) in Europe, the U.S., and increasingly in Asia
The Free Masons, Knights of Malta, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberger Group
The City of London Corporation
Catholic Church societies such as Opus Dei
Every Central Bank in the World
A semi-unified world intelligence agency that includes the CIA, Israel’s Mossad, and Great Britain’s MI 5 and MI 6 – and probably Russia’s KGB. All of them are more or less on the same side.
These organizations are involved in the real business of the world that (again, according to Steele) centralizes trade in gold, guns, cash, drugs, and in the trafficking of children. In other words, the real sources of international control are deeply criminal.
Official Indications of Deep State Control
There are many reasons for believing that some combination of the above entities control world events and our information about them. Modern motivations begin with Major General Smedley Butler’s War Is a Racket and the warnings and testimony of Dwight Eisenhower regarding the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). Referring to “the very structure of our society,” Eisenhower soberly cautioned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”
Is there anyone in the country who actually believes that Eisenhower’s warning has not come true? Again, he was talking about the controlling influence of an overwhelming war machine on social and governmental structures. That sounds governmental to me. As such, the MIC persuades Americans to support and fight wars which in our era have become absolutely interminable.
And then we have those officials like Casey and Pompeo who tell us they’re lying. Why on earth would such admissions not deprive their sources of all prima facie credibility? Why wouldn’t anyone take their confessions at face value and conclude that they have no more credibility than a trial witness exposed as an inveterate liar?
Moreover, insiders such as former CIA operatives support those confessions. One CIA tell-all book after another includes details of “unofficial” interference in foreign elections, of secret assassination programs, cooperation with various mafias, support for terrorists, Agency drug dealing, and systematic vilification of social reformers up to and including Civil Rights icons such as Martin Luther King. (On the latter see, for instance, the government’s own COINTELPRO Report, and the findings of the Church Committee.)
Finally, evidence supporting the integration of corporate power and information sources is there for all to see. Mainstream media are unquestionably owned by the rich and powerful. Their analysts are all millionaires. They rarely, if ever, seek out for honest interview representatives of official enemies such as Venezuela, North Korea, or ISIS. Almost never do they allow victims of police brutality or their relatives to speak for themselves. Instead, the MSM’s usual suspects appear again and again: former military generals, police commissioners, corporate executives, and even disgraced politicians such as Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, and Elliott Abrams.
Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman exposed the syndrome years ago. In Manufacturing Consent and elsewhere they described a fake news system supported by fake history and fake education long before Donald Trump was a significant public figure.
In summary then, you can see why I’ve decided to accept the existence of a Deep State as explained above and to give guarded and critical credence to “conspiracy theories” about the 1963 and 1968 assassinations, 9/11, Jeffrey Epstein, and to entertain doubts concerning official explanations of the current pandemic.
Part of it is explained by autobiographical considerations. Crucially (and for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere) they include and transcend long years of formation as a Roman Catholic priest, extensive travel and extended sojourns in Europe, Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Cuba, Mexico, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and India. They include study, related reading, and conversations with activists and scholars in all of those places.
Such experience has led me to follow the advice of Daniel Berrigan. Years ago, when he taught at Berea College, he spoke often of reading “outside the culture” – i.e. from sources distant from U.S. propaganda. With that in mind, my trusted sources of political analysis have come to include Third World activists and scholars, particularly in the field of liberation theology with its reliance on analysts like Franz Fanon, Andre Gunder Frank, and yes, Karl Marx. Closer to home, I’ve come to trust Noam Chomsky, Glen Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Amy Goodman, Richard Wolff, Krystal Ball, Cenk Uygur, Medea Benjamin, Naomi Klein, Marianne Williamson, Bill McKibben, and Pope Francis among others. I take seriously what organizations like Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement say.
Does that mean that I’ve blindly confined myself to some left-wing echo chamber no different from those who depend on Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, or Fox News to help them understand the world? I think not. And I’ll tell you why.
In contrast to the right-wing crowd, all of those listed as my sources of information and analysis:
Share my overriding values and aspirations to world community, compassion, and unvarnished truth.
Take science and climate change seriously. (The failure of their opponents to do so ipso facto disqualifies them from serious consideration.)
Are unwilling to entertain the possibility of a suicidal nuclear war.
Have a critical understanding of U.S. and world history; they are not knee-jerk apologists for “America” and American exceptionalism.
Are comprehensively “pro-life” in a sense that goes far beyond (as Pope Francis puts it) exclusive obsession with abortion to embrace opposition to war, poverty, world hunger, capital punishment, houselessness, racism, sexism, and class conflict.
Please tell me if that does or doesn’t make sense and why.
Readingsfor the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jeremiah 20: 7-9; Psalm 63: 2-9; Romans 12: 1-2; Matthew 16:21-27
This Sunday’s readings are about truth, the world’s rejection of the same, and about the truth-teller’s willingness to take the consequences – even if they entail loss of one’s life.
The readings are extremely relevant to our moment in history. There, the current occupant of the White House has from day one (and before) challenged conventional ideas about truth itself. His administration popularized the phrases “fake news” and “alternative facts.” The Washington Postalleges that in less than one year, the chief executive told more than 2000 lies.
In the meantime, sources like QAnon have spread right-wing conspiracy theories that have many scratching their heads about what to believe. For instance, are Q’s assertions true that:
Antifa is a sworn enemy of Black Lives Matter (BLM)?
BLM itself is funded and controlled by George Soros and left-wing think tanks?
President Obama is really a Muslim?
Kamala Harris is ineligible to be POTUS?
Sandy Hook was a false flag event staged to justify disarming U.S. citizens?
Prominent Democrats have run a child-trafficking ring out of a D.C. pizzeria (“Pizzagate”)?
The entire world is run by a Satan-worshipping child sex-trafficking organization?
In the context of COVID-19, beliefs are widespread that:
COVID-19 is a fake “pLandemic” orchestrated by a “deep state” to eliminate democracy and reset the economy even more in favor of the rich.
Dr. Anthony Fauci is a key player in starting the pLandemic – to make billions for himself.
But the ultimate goal is to set up a New World Order under a single government.
Face masks and social distancing are means to deprive unsuspecting citizens of their civil liberties.
Debate Among OpEd Editors
With all of that in mind, a lively debate has erupted for the past couple of weeks among OpEdNews senior editors. It was sparked by an editorial penned by the website’s editor-in-chief (EIC), Rob Kall. Rob has taken a courageously firm editorial stance against articles that reflect the right-wing talking points of view just listed. According to Rob, they’re all “bad guy” theories. Moreover, the uncritical use of right-wing talking points and language (e.g. “deep state,” “pLandemic,” and “New World Order”) only serve to boost and promote right wing messaging. The EIC wrote, “When you use the language of the enemy, you help the enemy . . . So, stop using their language.”
For me, Rob’s stance makes a lot of sense. But I can also see how others (excluding the senior editors) might label it just another example of “cancel culture?” Are we to cancel well-written and well-documented articles because of their conspiratorial language?
More importantly (at least in the context of this Sunday homily) can we get away with classifying those we disagree with as “bad guys” or as “the enemy?”
[Believe me, I ask that question with some trepidation. I’m uncomfortable with the theories listed above. Many of them (not all – see below) seem outrageous. Most often, I think of Donald Trump and his cohorts as “the enemy” – as “bad guys.”]
However, such reflections bring me back to this Sunday’s readings and their faith underpinnings. All of the readings underwrite truth alternatives severely in conflict with unquestioned cultural convictions. They point to the embrace of those who hold “unacceptable” opinions.
And it’s not just the Judeo-Christian tradition I’m talking about. Instead, I’m referencing all the non-dual spiritualities that find home in all the world’s Great Religions. In their mystical forms, they all agree that there’s no distinction between us and those we’re tempted to “other” as bad guys and enemies. Despite our understandable antipathies, none of them is cancelable any more than we would like to be.
Even more familiarly, Jesus the Christ recommended loving “your neighbor as yourself” (i.e. because she or he is yourself). That’s because (as Marianne Williamson puts it) “There is really only one of us here.” Ken Wilber comes close to saying the same thing when he observes (uncomfortably for me!) that given their level of consciousness, everyone is right — at least partially. And then there’s Deepak Chopra who says everyone’s doing the best they can.
Again, with all of that in mind imagine, for instance, how Donald Trump or QAnon partisans would relate to today’s readings. Please check out the originals for yourself here to see what I mean. My “translations” run as follows:
Jeremiah 20: 7-9: Life is deceptive. When I explain how, everyone laughs and makes fun of me. Yet, despite my resolutions to stop talking, I cannot remain silent about the violence and outrages that no one else seems to see. My compulsion to tell the truth is like an out-of-control fire burning inside me.
Psalm 63: 2-9: In fact, truth-seeking is synonymous with my thirst for Life Itself. It’s like rain falling on parched soil. It involves an encounter with the Force that some call “God.” That meeting is what life itself is about. Hence despite rejection by the world, speaking truth is more satisfying than a rich banquet. It’s like water for my scorched soul.
Romans 12: 1-2: So, sisters and brothers, be willing to endure rejection for your stubborn non-conformity – for your commitment to the true, the good, and the beautiful – for your enlightenment. No other way of life is worth living.
Matthew 16:21-27: Commitment to truth always brings some type of martyrdom. Jesus saw that clearly. However, he refused to be dissuaded from following his prophetic script – even by his closest friend. “STFU,” he told Peter in no uncertain terms. “You too,” he said, “and anyone wishing to follow me must be willing to endure even capital punishment. Yes, opposing the lies of church and state is more important than life itself.”
The Unresolved OpEd Debate
So, if life is so mysterious and even deceptive, if our faith demands nonconformity and taking the heat for unpopular opposition to church and state, if transcendent truth really lies 180 degrees opposite of routinely accepted cultural bromides, what are we to do about “bad guys,” “enemies,” and their apparently wild conspiracy theories?
First of all, we must recognize that bad guys indeed exist. There are criminals in the world and the worst of them reside not behind bars, but behind desks in D.C., in state capitals, and on Wall Street. It may even be that CIA or NSA operatives are behind the more outlandish conspiracy theories in question. Clearly, many of these perps belong in jail. And most of us look forward to the day of their incarceration.
Secondly, however, we must recognize that the bad guys are emphatically not the people writing for OpEdNews. In Ken Wilber’s terms, those persuaded by the earlier-referenced theories might simply be coming from mindsets Wilber calls “egocentric” or “ethnocentric.” These are not negative terms; all of us, even if we’ve transitioned to “world-centric” or even “cosmic-centric” levels, have passed through those stages (no one can avoid them). In other words, following the thread I’m trying to develop here, and given their stage of evolutionary development, these people are right and are doing the best they can.
Thirdly (and most uncomfortably for me), it may be that the so-called “conspiracy theorists” are objectively correct or at least partially so. Here I’m thinking specifically about a video interview of Sasha Stone I posted on OEN a few weeks ago. There Stone (who sometimes appears angry and even unhinged) does endorse that claim that the world is run by a cabal of pedophiles and Satan worshippers. More importantly however, he’s endorsed in that position by Robert David Steele, an ex-CIA officer, who seems perfectly sane, objective, and entirely rational. Steele claims that 22,000 children are kidnapped and “disappear” every year into an underworld of pedophilia and Satan worship. That conclusion is supported by an entire panel of sober scholars and jurists belonging to Stone’s International Tribunal for Natural Justice.
What is one to think about all that – especially given what’s been revealed in the Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell saga? Is that merely the tip of an iceberg?
Given the thrust of today’s readings (and even discounting them if you prefer) it could very well be possible that the conspiracy theorists now under threat of cancellation from OEN pages might be right – or at least partially so. With the readings’ recommendations of nonconformity and prophetic resistance ringing in my ears, here’s where I see that they might well be on the right path:
By his outrageous lies, Donald Trump has clearly pulled the curtain back from our culture’s ethnocentric prevarications. As the very incarnation of egocentrism, he has rendered untenable all claims to American exceptionalism. In that sense, he himself is a great (though completely unconscious) prophet.
Secretary of State and former CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has been even more explicit in his admissions about our government’s systemic lies. Pompeo’s predecessor under President Reagan, William Casey was more honest still. He said, “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” (Think about that! How can we trust anything our government says?)
Trump, Pompeo, Casey and the revision of American history stimulated by their policies have shown that all of us have been duped about our country’s foundations and “noble traditions.” Most of it is fake.
Consequently, everyone should presume without contrary smoking gun evidence that our politicians (and mass media, church leaders, scientists and educators) are lying, though often unconsciously.
NOTHING is immune from such well-founded skepticism – including COVID-19, mask wearing, and social distancing.
Moreover, the Epstein/Maxwell saga coupled with the worldwide pedophilia scandal within the Roman Catholic Church and the massive profits gained from child pornography have all revealed the centrality of child sexual abuse that few previously suspected. (As Robert David Steele puts it: the five pillars of U.S. policy are guns, gold, cash, drugs, and child trafficking.)
Those same revelations have demonstrated that our country’s ruling class (and the world’s!) are corrupt to the bone. NOTHING – no crime, no degeneracy – is beyond them. The swamp is deep and fetid.
Joe Biden and the Democrats will be no better than Mr. Trump in draining that swamp. They have no interest in doing so.
Of course, I could go on with my list. However, the point is that there is more overlap than one might think between the convictions of those on the right and progressive readers and contributors to OEN. As uncomfortable as it might be, leftists must not cancel, but rather dialog with “the enemy” and seriously investigate their claims.
Last Sunday (July 19th), the far-right Christian Post published an article by John Wesley Reid entitled “5 Reasons why Christians should feel comfortable voting for Trump in 2020.” Two days later, the same publication reported an international survey implicitly lamenting the fact that “most Americans don’t believe they need God to be good.”
In this time of Black Lives Matter (BLM) uprisings across the country and across the world, the two articles take on particular importance. Together, they not only highlight stark differences between right and left-wing understandings of Christianity. They also point up differences between the faiths of white evangelicals and their black counterparts in the street.
Additionally, both articles’ identification of Christianity exclusively with far right Caucasian politics goes a long way towards explaining the disconnect between morality and belief in a God. The explanation is found in the Christian right’s severely limited understanding of God, of goodness, and of the connection between morality and politics in this polarizing era of Donald Trump.
In tandem, the two articles also invite readers to be more thoughtful about their faith (or lack of same) and the ballot they’ll cast come November 3rd.
God & Goodness
Begin with the survey. According to Pew Researchers, 54% of Americans hold that you don’t need God to be good. Meanwhile 44% (a large majority of them on the ideological right) hold the opposite opinion. Only 24% on the ideological left believe God and morality are necessarily connected. (Left respondents in the survey typically had more years of formal education.)
The Reid article shed light both on the identity of the sidelined God and on survey respondents’ likely understanding of “goodness” closely connected with that supposed deity. As will become clear below, Reid’s God is primarily concerned with specifically Christian welfare and with unborn life. Goodness is overwhelmingly connected with what the author referenced as “non-carnality.” Consequently, Christian political concern focuses on matters of specifically Christian liberty, on sexuality and reproduction – especially on abortion (which btw is not even mentioned in the Bible as a moral concern).
Such limited understanding reflects the huge gap between white evangelicals and their black counterparts – for instance, the ones demonstrating against police brutality in our city streets. Their actions, of course, cannot be adequately explained without reference to the religiously based history of the Civil Rights Movement.
In the light of that history, BLM demonstrators have inherited an understanding of God biblically founded on God’s very first revelation, viz. in the liberation of slaves from captivity in Egypt. It is linked besides to concern for widows, orphans and resident immigrants and refugees frequently reiterated in both the Jewish and Christian Testaments. In other words, goodness for black evangelicals is inseparably connected with social justice. Meanwhile, Reid’s article suggests ignorance of, and even hostility towards such linkage.
Morality & Voting for Trump
Setting all of that aside, Reid admits that he had doubts about Trump in 2016. But now, he says, those reservations have completely disappeared. Instead, he recommends that all Christians should confidently vote for 45’s reelection in November. He advances 5 reasons for doing so:
You’re not voting for Donald Trump; you’re voting for the Trump Administration.
You’re not voting simply for a person; you’re voting for an agenda.
Policy outweighs character because policy outlasts character.
If for no other reason than abortion, vote for Donald Trump.
Voting for Trump is a tangible way of keeping Biden out.
Closely read, those reasons indicate that the author is still holding his nose. They all end up distancing themselves from a morally challenged candidate while cozying up to supposed paragons of Christian virtue such as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to Trump’s agenda favoring “religious liberty,” “life of the unborn,” and resistance to volatile attacks on America (standard dog whistle for African Americans).
More specifically, Reid’s 5 reasons claim that:
Trump may be carnally questionable, but people like Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are “committed non-carnal Christ-followers.”
Doubts about the president’s moral character should be “trumped” by his agenda which the author finds favoring “religious liberty,” “life of the unborn,” and resistance to those explosive attacks on America.
Sure, Trump’s character is highly debatable. However, appointments of “constitutional originalists” to the judiciary are more important. So are “our children’s futures,” religious liberty, the lives of the unborn, and the economic advancement of low-income communities.
Christians can conscientiously identify as single-issue voters, because the abortion issue is powerful enough to overwhelm all other policy considerations.
Joe Biden is no Donald Trump.
Voting against Trump
But what if being Christian is far more complicated and challenging than Reid lets on? What if black evangelicals and others are correct in holding it’s more than avoiding “carnality” even in the sense of Trump’s legendarily deviant sexuality (now involving expressed support for his friend, accused child rapist and sex trafficker, Ghislaine Maxwell)? Such complexity might lead Christians to decline voting for Mr. Trump for at least the following 5 specific reasons roughly mirroring Reid’s own:
The type of Christianity advocated by Mr. Reid is just that – a type of Christianity, viz. the white evangelical sort. However, there are other types of Christians – those black evangelicals, for instance. And then there are Catholics who embrace the official teaching of their Church, viz. the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis. Their pro-life positions go far beyond the single issue of abortion to include radical environmentalism, war resistance, rejection of capital punishment, advocacy of living wages, fair housing, and healthcare as a human right. All of these, they profess, are pro-life matters.
Religious liberty as understood in the Constitution is not limited to Christians of any stripe. It extends to Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists and others whose pro-life concerns prioritize the already born – e.g. at the border, in Trump’s baby jails, under incessant U.S.-supported bombing in places like Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, on death row, and elsewhere.
Donald Trump and virtually every member of the Republican Party are joined at the hip. There is absolutely no separation between policies advocated and implemented by Donald Trump and the rest of his administration – none. As for the morality of Mike Pompeo, he has specifically joked and bragged about endorsing policies of lying, cheating and stealing –all (unlike abortion) specifically prohibited not only in the Bible, but in all religious traditions. In other words, Trump’s inner circle is no more virtuous than he.
Above all, “our children’s futures” which are of such apparent concern to Mr. Reid, are intimately connected with and existentially threatened by climate change which the entire Republican Party proudly denies.
Joe Biden is no Donald Trump.
There are good reasons for Americans and better educated people around the world to consider belief in God as inessential to morality. The God of The Post’s John Reid and his fellow believers, for instance, is so small in moral stature and very limited in his concern compared with the God of the Bible. Reid’s God is not only unbiblical, he is also basically white, ethnocentric and specifically American. That strains the credulity of even moderately educated people whose general knowledge recognizes the goodness found in non-Christians and in so many atheists. No wonder such thinkers reject a god as tiny as Reid’s.
Meanwhile, the biblical God, at least as embodied in Jesus’ prophetic tradition, literally identifies with human beings like those specifically despised by the candidate Reid would have his type of Christians embrace. Remember, Jesus himself was born out of wedlock to a teenage mother; he was an immigrant in Egypt in his early years; he was working class, poor, and a member of a people imperialized by the first century equivalent of the United States.
Besides that, Jesus’ “Good News” was specifically addressed to the poor (LK 4:18). He ended up being a victim of torture and capital punishment at the hands of the Roman Empire. All of that is foreign to Reid’s unbiblical notion of God.
And finally, it seems that the Jewish Jesus of the Christian Testament could well sympathize with those who feel alienated from their religious communities of origin. After all, he was expelled from his hometown synagogue (Luke 4: 14-30) and thought to be possessed by the devil himself (John 10:20).
That Jesus, it seems safe to say, would be appalled by Donald Trump.
Readings for Pentecost Sunday: ACTS 2: 1-11; PSALMS 104: 1, 24, 29-34; I CORINTHIANS 12: 3-7, 12-13; JOHN 20: 19-23
Today is Pentecost Sunday – the originally Jewish harvest festival that comes 50 days after Passover. The day’s readings remind us that from the beginning Jesus’ Jewish followers were working-class internationalists. Despite their lack of what the world calls “sophistication,” they recognized a unified divine order where barriers of language, nationality, and differentiating wealth were erased.
Before I get to that, let me connect that central fact with perhaps the prominent international and class-based concern in our contemporary context. I’m referring to the demonstrations in Hong Kong and an emerging new cold war between the United States and China. Our Pentecostal readings suggest we should be standing with the Chinese government and not with our own.
China and Hong Kong
Last week I shared a summary of an important debate about China between Matt Stoller and Kishore Madhubani. The debate’s question was: Is China merely a competitor of the United States or is it an adversary or even an enemy? Doesn’t China’s suppression of free speech and free press, of religion and of democracy make it an enemy?
My article held that, all things considered, China is a more genuine defender of human rights than the United States. I won’t repeat my argument here, but it turned on the distinction between bourgeois human rights (private property, contract observance, free speech, free press, and freedom of religion) and socialist rights to work, food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education.
Since the publication of my column, its relevance was highlighted by renewed demonstrations in Hong Kong. There despite a COVID-19 lockdown with its social distancing requirements, demonstrators came out in force last Sunday. They were protesting against new legislation in the territory that would allow officers of the law to arrest protestors for speaking out against the local government or authorities in Beijing.
Whom to Support?
So, the question became how should progressives respond? Even granted the distinctions between bourgeois and working-class rights, shouldn’t leftists seeking consistency and coherence, be on the side of the Hong Kong protestors? After all, they’re described as “pro-democracy.”
Despite such description, my answer would be a resounding “No.”
The main reason for my saying that is related to the class concerns reflected in the above distinctions between bourgeois and working-class rights. The fact is, all demonstrations are not the same. Some are organized against oppressive systems such as capitalism and its prioritization of wealth accumulation and contract obligations on the one hand and its marginalization of workers’ needs to eat, be decently clothed and housed, and to have dignified work and a healthy environment on the other. The Yellow Vest Movement in France and the Water Protectors’ demonstrations against the Keystone XL Pipeline in North Dakota offer examples of protests against capitalist exploitation.
In contrast, other demonstrations are reactionary and directed against specifically working-class reforms. Participants typically support colonialism and imperialism. The thousands in the streets of Hong Kong and Venezuela offer prime examples of such protests. Hong Kong protestors’ waving of Union Jacks signals their preference of the status quo ante of British colonialism. Their appeals for U.S. intervention (with U.S. flags unfurled) express support for imperialism.
(Of course, especially under the guidance of foreign interventionist forces such as the CIA and its sister National Endowment for Democracy (NED), other lower-class social forces such as unemployed and underpaid workers (Marx’s lumpen proletariat) can also be organized by their betters to direct their anger at the class enemy of their bourgeois organizers — in this case, the Chinese government in Beijing.)
The bottom line here, however, is that to be consistent, progressives must oppose not only prioritization of wealth accumulation by financiers, but also anything connected with colonialism and imperialism.
To repeat: not all demonstrations, not all clamoring for “human rights” are created equal. Class-consciousness provides an indispensable tool for distinguishing the causes and demonstrations that progressives should support from those we should oppose.
With all of that in mind, let’s turn our attention to the readings for this Pentecost Sunday. Let’s read them with the same class consciousness I’ve just referenced. Here are my “translations.” You can examine them here to see if I got them right.
ACTS 2: 1-11: Fifty days after Jesus’ New Manifestation as one with all the poor, executed and other victims of imperialism, his fearful working-class followers suddenly found themselves filled with the same consciousness Jesus had. They internalized the Master’s conviction that poor people like themselves could embody his vanguard consciousness heralding the completely new world order Jesus called God’s “Kingdom.” Suddenly on fire and filled with courage, these poor, illiterate fishermen electrified huge crowds from “every nation under heaven.” Despite language barriers their impoverished and oppressed audience understood that God was on their side.
PSALMS 104: 1, 24, 29-34: Jesus shared his Spirit with the poor in order to renew the face of the earth – this earth (not heaven above) filled with magnificent creatures of all types. They’ve all been put here to make everyone (not just the wealthy) happy and joyful. We who identify with the poor are entirely grateful.
I CORINTHIANS 12: 3-7, 12-13: It is the Holy Spirit of Jesus that makes us recognize that he, not any oppressive Caesar, is in charge here on earth. The Spirit’s gifts have been given for the Common Good not for private gratification or foreign control. In fact, all of us are one – as if we comprised a single body. Nationalities are irrelevant. Slavery of any kind is completely passé.
SEQUENCE: So, may we too receive Jesus’ Spirit this very day. May we recognize it in the poor, in our hearts, in the light of our new understanding, in the gifts we’ve received, and in just rewards for our labor. Yes, we’ve been wounded, desiccated and made to feel guilty. We rejoice to know that poverty and misery are not the will of some God “up there.” The Holy Spirit’s will is abundance for all. Thank you!
JOHN 20: 19-23: Following his execution, in his New (resurrected) Manifestation, the meaning of Jesus’ execution by empire became apparent. Having internalized his Spirit, his friends recognized his wounds as badges of solidarity with the poor, tortured victims of imperial powers. They threw off guilt and embraced world peace instead.
Think of today’s readings as they relate to Hong Kong. . . Though recorded two generations after the fact, the Jerusalem events portrayed were extraordinarily revealing. They had people of the lowest classes (no doubt, under the watchful eye of Rome’s occupying forces) – probably illiterates – claiming to be spokespersons for God. And this, not even two months after the execution of Jesus the Christ, who had been executed as a terrorist by Roman authorities. What courage on their part!
The readings, then, remind us of whose side the biblical All Parent is on. In contemporary terms, it’s not the side of financiers, bankers, imperialists or colonialists. Rather, it’s the side of those the world’s powerful consider their sworn enemies – the poor, illiterate, unemployed, underpaid, tortured and executed victims of colonialism and empire.
However, those latter categories represent the very classes that socialism (even “with Chinese characteristics”) rescued from their landlord oppressors in 1949 and that have been under western siege there ever since. Under socialism, the impoverished in China are the ones who have seen their wages and standard of living massively improve over the last thirty years.
Improvements of this type under communist leadership are totally unacceptable to the United States and the “allies” it has absorbed into what it proudly describes as its empire. That empire always opposes socialism and will stop at nothing to make it fail.
Such realizations lead to the following observations about Hong Kong in particular:
As shown by the display of Union Jack and American flags and by signs invoking the intervention of President Trump, the demonstrations in Hong Kong are neo-colonialist, neo-imperialist and neoliberal in their understandings of human rights.
They are seeking the bourgeois “democratic rights” that overridingly prioritize private property and the integrity of commercial rights over the socialist rights championed by the Chinese Communist Party—food, shelter, clothing, jobs, health care, and education.
The fact that ex-CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, is leading the charge in Hong Kong should give everyone pause. (This, especially in the light of Pompeo’s boast and endorsement of “lying, cheating, and stealing” as CIA standard operating procedure.)
In fact, and on principle, any Trump administration defense of human rights should probably drive those with social justice concerns to defend the other side.
Or at the very least, Pompeo’s and the Trump administration’s diverse response to demonstrations in Hong Kong on the one hand and to the (working class) Yellow Vests in France and to indigenous Water Protectors in North Dakota on the other, should raise serious questions.
The bottom line here, however, is that all demonstrations and protests are not created equal. The Pentecost gathering in Jerusalem was a poor people’s international meeting of “every nation on the face of the earth.” It celebrated the Spirit of a poor worker who was a victim of torture and capital punishment by imperial Rome. Its claim was that the Divine World Spirit is on the side of the imperialized, colonized, tortured and executed. “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” is far more in line with that tradition than is neoliberal capitalism.
Progressive followers and/or admirers of Jesus the Christ should keep that in mind as they watch events in Hong Kong unfold.
Sunday’s New York Times carried a thought-provoking editorial by opinion writer at large, Charles Warzel. It was entitled, “Epstein Suicide Conspiracies Show How Our Information System Is Poisoned.” The article lamented the power of Twitter and other social media to spread toxic conspiracy theories reflecting our current culture’s worst “choose your own reality” tendencies.
According to Warzel, Twitter and other versions of social
media have actually “outmatched” the power of the mainstream media (MSM). And
this to such an extent that an FBI field office recently identified fringe
conspiracy theories as a domestic terror threat.
Warzel illustrated his point by focusing on Twitter speculation regarding the Clinton’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein “suicide” and on President Trump’s role in advancing the theory. The editorial complained about resulting “dueling hashtags” with their viral accusations of foul play.
The unexpressed message of the whole exercise seemed to be that
conspiracy theories are bad in themselves and that one would do better to
simply accept the more reasonable official story emanating from the CIA, FBI,
and prison officials that Epstein actually did commit suicide as
explained by those official sources. Fevered accusations of foul play are ipso
Others whose opinions have appeared in sources such as OpEdNews have made that point more explicitly. Forget exciting conspiracies, they cautioned, simply accept the boring reality that Epstein killed himself just as we’ve been told.
The point I wish to make here strongly disagrees. I contend
that in cases like Epstein’s mysterious death, conspiracy theories are not only
good; they are inevitable and necessary. Additionally, the overwhelming power
of Twitter and other social media to “outmatch” that of mainstream media
represents the public’s healthy recognition of the fact that the government
officials and the MSM (like The New York Times) are no longer reliable.
Their “official stories” must be presumed false unless otherwise demonstrated
by irrefutable evidence. Such evidence will come to light not by internal
investigations, but by full legal process involving (yes!) conspiracy theories,
discovery and trial.
“Conspiracy” Is A Legal Category
My first point is to recognize the fact that the term “conspiracy”
is not synonymous with fiction or paranoid fantasy. It is a legal term referring
to the crime that occurs when two or more people plan actions forbidden by law.
In other words, criminal conspiracies happen all the time. People go to jail
In fact, “conspiracy theories” are routinely employed by
prosecutors who use them to initiate investigations when such crime is
suspected. Without lawyers’ conspiracy theories, there would never be any criminal
trials involving two or more suspects.
With such theories in mind, prosecutors gather evidence. Some of it is circumstantial or inferential (it’s usually what sparks legal inquiry). Other evidence constitutes direct or “smoking gun verification. Juries and judges evaluate evidence of both kinds. When it is convincing beyond reasonable doubt (based on direct and/or circumstantial evidence), the legal system convicts conspirators and sentences them accordingly.
The bottom line here: It does not discredit a theory to call
Official Stories Are Suspect
My second point is that the public has not merely good, but excellent
reason to discount official theories about, well, EVERYTHING! Think about:
Iraq and Colin Powell’s testimony before the United Nations about the certainty of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction
The New York Times’ endorsement of his testimony as “masterful and compelling”
The literally thousands of obvious lies that our current chief executive has uttered – and how he adds to them each day
Secretary of State (and former CIA chief), Mike Pompeo’s boastful admission that he and the agency he formerly headed lie, cheat, and steal on a routine basis. In fact, he said, the CIA sponsors whole courses for its agents on how to do so effectively. (Imagine a witness at trial admitting on stand that he is an inveterate liar. Would his testimony be taken seriously?)
The testimony of numerous CIA defectors revealing that the CIA has routinely conspired to assassinate heads of state and others considered enemies or persons who know too much
Epstein’s Death Is Welcome
My third point is that there exists reasonable circumstantial and direct motive for suspecting that important people had good cause to want Jeffrey Epstein dead and that he was murdered accordingly. All of them are related in Whitney Webb’s comprehensive historical account of government-sanctioned sex enterprises like Epstein’s. In fact, Webb’s four-part series ends up detailing motives for Epstein’s murder on the part of the powerful including the following:
Epstein was a convicted pedophile who preyed on underage girls. (He even called his private plane “the Lolita Express.”)
Bill Clinton with his checkered sexual history traveled on Epstein’s plane at least two dozen times.
Donald Trump admired Epstein for his taste in younger women.
Trump has been described (e.g. in Webb’s series) as “mentored” by Roy Cohn, another pedophile who used tape recordings and videos for purposes of blackmail.
Alexander Acosta was told to back off prosecution of Epstein because of the latter’s association with “Intelligence.”
It is standard operating procedure for “Intelligence” to film and record sexual deviance for purposes of blackmail and evidence-gathering.
Epstein sponsored frequent parties involving a virtual Who’s Who of world leaders and other celebrities.
The parties were also said to be attended by “call boys” and “call girls.”
Epstein had tapes of sexual deviance, some of them locked in a safe indicating their special content.
Reasons for suspecting that Epstein was killed or purposely allowed
to commit suicide include the following:
Epstein was an extraordinarily important federal prisoner.
After his arrest, he was placed on suicide watch – at least for a time following his apparent suicide attempt last month.
He was sequestered in a highly secure federal prison presumably with special capacities for monitoring inmates on such watch, including video cameras and guards trained for such duties.
Nonetheless, Epstein somehow found himself with a rope, a belt, with sheets or some other material sufficient to hang himself.
He was inexplicably given unmonitored time to accomplish the task.
Where Do We Go from Here?
There is no claim here that the details presented above somehow “prove” foul play regarding the “suicide” of Jeffrey Epstein. However, they do provide basis for reasonable conspiracy theories sufficient (and necessary) to warrant legal indictments – perhaps of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s reputed procurer of unsuspecting girls. The conspiracy theories in question warrant discovery processes, trials, presentation of evidence, deliberation by juries of peers, verdicts, and eventual clarification of the whole Jeffrey Epstein saga.
Only such legal processes will yield truthful conclusions. Internal investigations by proven and admitted liars will not do. Neither will out-of-hand dismissal of “conspiracy theories” as though the phrase exclusively describes fictional fantasies or paranoid imaginings. As presented by Charles Warzel and others such dismissals simply mean that the theories in question are socially, culturally, and politically unacceptable – too threatening to consider. So, rational analysts should back off.
Actually, as shown above, the theories are good and necessary. And so are the vilified social media through which The People thankfully counteract MSM disinformation and its defense of the given order and the official stories undergirding its undeserved legitimacy.
I’m currently reading presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s new bookA Politics of Love. As if I needed the reminder, it’s helping me see how completely off-base American politics is. Even more, it’s making me realize how necessary it is for Marianne to get on that debate stage. She is by no means a political lightweight. And she offers a deep philosophical (and, yes, spiritual) approach to politics beyond the capability of any other candidate. Her voice needs to be heard. It promises to shift the on-stage conversation to unexpectedly profound levels.
At its heart, Williamson’s deep politics identifies the gap between Americans’ professed beliefs in Christianity and democracy, and their de facto allegiance a system contradictorily rooted in fear, greed, dishonesty and violence. (If you doubt that, recall Mike Pompeo’s confession two weeks ago at Texas A&M.)
In any case, the system’s not working, is it? That’s
Williamson’s basic point recommending her infinitely deeper and spiritually
articulate approach to politics. Old style “experienced” politicians can’t address
our nation’s problems at that level, much less repair the damage caused by
their very experience. Or as Einstein put it, “The problems of the world will
not be solved on the level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
Think about those problems as described in the Politics of Love. Our economy actually
produces less and less. It maintains its patina of prosperity only by virtue of
financialization that rewards hedge funders who simply move money from one rich
man’s pocket to another’s. Corporation heads continue the cycle of fake prosperity
by using money gained through lowered taxes to buy back their own stock. That creates
a booming stock market whose artificially inflated stock prices allow those executives
to rake in millions or billions, while workers’ wages stagnate, and our streets
remain littered with homeless poor.
Internationally, vulture funds buy up poor countries’ debts and
force already starving children to pay by having their parents accept austerity
programs. Those who rebel against such policies are called “terrorists.” Automated
international death squads in the form of drones execute them without a second
To maintain such ironic “order,” the country’s military
budget wastes the billions that could otherwise be used to save a planet that’s
disintegrating before our very eyes. Life-expectancy at home shrinks and
children go to bed hungry in what’s supposed to be the richest country in the
world. And while we justify those never-ending wars against enemies we ourselves
have created, we can’t find resources to repair bridges, roads, and water
As for remedying such problems, Ms. Williamson offers the best justification of the Green New Deal (GND) that I’ve come across. Without specifically mentioning it, she succeeds in explaining the GND’s insistence on extending its provisions beyond environmental restoration to higher wages, universal education, college-debt forgiveness, health care for all, and support for the arts and culture. For Williamson, all of these represent engines of prosperity and job creation ignored in standard economic models which identify business as prosperity’s principal fountainhead. The fact is however, that educators are more important to prosperity than entrepreneurs. Teachers therefore deserve subsidies more than businesses, which are completely dependent on schools for preparing workers. Yes, education is an irreplaceable engine of prosperity, but so is health care, art and culture. Sick workers are not productive. Those insensitive to art and culture are far less creative.
Of course, none of this is new for readers of OpEdNews. What is new however, is a
presidential candidate who has the courage to name and address the fundamental spiritual
crisis at the root of the contradictions just listed.
However, when a candidate like Marianne Williamson appears
on the scene, even sympathetic progressives are likely to dismiss her insistence
on love and compassion as “new agey, soft, and unrealistic.” That only proves her
point: our country’s real belief has nothing to do with government of, by and
for the people. Much less is it connected with the politics of Jesus of
Nazareth who maintained that only a New Age (He called it the Kingdom of God)
can save us from our own self-destructiveness. Rolling our eyes at Marianne’s insistence
on love and compassion only proves our lack of faith and a fundamental belief
in death rather than in life. We’ve become authoritarian necrophiles.
But don’t get her wrong. Marianne’s not trying to shove
Christianity, new or old, down anyone’s throat. However, along with the Green
New Deal, Medicare for all, and cabinet-level offices for Peacemaking as well
as for Children and Youth, she’s advocating a change in attitude from national self-centeredness
and greed to international other-centeredness and generosity. Citizens of all
stripes – from Christians to Muslims, to Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and atheists –
should be able to support all of that.
But at this point, I’m not saying that it’s necessary for
any of us to support Ms. Williamson’s candidacy. What is necessary is for her voice
to be heard on the debate stage. As I said, she’s guaranteed to shift the
conversation to where it needs to go – towards discussion of America’s
Currently, Marianne is about 1,485 individual contributions short of the 65,000 required for her to initiate that conversation. Even a contribution of $1.00 here will count. Please contribute now; her deadline is fast approaching. And please read Marianne’s Politics of Love. It might even convince you to support her candidacy in 2020.