‘America’s Stolen Narrative’

From Journalist Robert Parry: When my new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, returns from the printers in the next few days, I am setting aside the first 250 copies as part of a critical fundraiser to keep Consortiumnews.com afloat.

If you donate $100 or more now (or if you have in the recent past), I will send you an autographed, numbered copy as a thank-you gift for your tax-deductible donation.

(To donate by Visa/Mastercard, click here. To donate by check, make it out to Consortium for Independent Journalism [CIJ]; 2200 Wilson Blvd.; Suite 102-231; Arlington, VA 22201. To use PayPal, our account is named after our e-mail address: “consortnew @ aol.com”)

After your donation, just send me an e-mail at consortnew@aol.com telling me where to ship the book and prescribing any special inscription that you might like.

America’s Stolen Narrative is subtitled “From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama.” The book’s opening chapter challenges the Tea Party misinformation about what the Framers were doing when they scrapped the states’-rights-oriented Articles of Confederation in favor of the Constitution.

The book also reveals new historical evidence showing how Richard Nixon’s “win-at-all-cost” political tactics became the playbook for the modern Republican Party and why Democrats have shied away from the hard work of accountability when faced with GOP crimes.

America’s Stolen Narrative rewrites the history of the latter years of the Vietnam War and explains why Nixon started his infamous “plumbers” unit, which later got caught at Watergate. The book then traces how Nixon’s playbook of dirty tricks was passed down through the years of Ronald Reagan, the Bushes and now the Tea Party.

The survival of Consortiumnews.com is also important to the book because it refers readers to original documents that exist at our Web site and, in many cases, no place else.

So please help us make sure that Consortiumnews.com, which began 17 years ago in the early days of the modern Internet, continues to uncover and explain important facts that shape American history.

As always, thanks for your support.

Robert Parry

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He founded Consortiumnews.com in 1995 as the Internet’s first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media




Who’s the Real ‘Savage’?

Islamophobes, including some involved in the ugly protests over an Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, are now taking their case against the “savage” to billboards, urging greater U.S. support for Israel. But this message is designed to justify ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, says Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

On Aug. 1, I posted a piece entitled History on a Billboard,  reporting on the placement, in the northern suburbs of New York City, of informational billboards with  maps of Palestine showing the steady growth of Israeli confiscated territory and the corresponding shrinkage of territory available to the indigenous Palestinians.

It also told the observer that “4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the UN as Refugees.” Although Zionists labeled the billboard as “anti-Semitic,” it was nothing of the kind. It was wholly informational, and completely accurate.

As it turns out that informational effort is now part of a growing number of ads, signs and messages which collectively make up what I call the “billboard wars.” From San Francisco to Washington D.C. and New York City, both Zionists and pro-Palestinian groups have launched competing billboard efforts. This is going on mostly in publicly owned spaces because Zionist pressure often results in private billboard companies refusing to display pro-Palestinian messages.

Now, depending on how you want to read the message of the latest Zionist effort, this billboard-wars battleground has widened beyond the issue of Palestine to encompass a worldwide clash between the “civilized” and the “savage.” It is to be noted that this was the sort of language used by imperial colonizers, including the U.S. in its conquest of the American Indians, to favorably compare the colonizers to the indigenous populations they oppressed.

There is a Zionist group calling itself “American Freedom Defense Initiative” (AFDI) led by the infamous American Islamophobe Pamela Geller. This organization has produced a sign that reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Geller and AFDI aimed at placing this message on buses, subways and in other public venues but initially had difficulty because most transportation agencies saw it as discriminatory and provocative.  However, AFDI went to court and a federal judge found that their sign was an act of “free speech” protected by the First Amendment.

Therefore, in late September, those people of New York City who ride the buses and subways found Pamela Gelller’s message in their faces. Most, of course, will pay it little mind. Yet, we should not ignore it. It is part of a propaganda effort with potentially damaging consequences.

Analyzing the Message

First, the AFDI and Geller juxtapose Israel on the one side and Jihadists on the other. My experience with over a thousand college students since 9/11 is that, for Americans, the term Jihadists means Al-Qaeda operatives. Most Americans do not associate this term with Palestinians.

And, believe it or not, while those associated with Al Qaeda have badmouthed Israel, they have yet to make war on that country. So, what are these Zionists talking about? Well, they are probably trying to broaden out the definition of a Jihadist to include not only Palestinians, but the entire Muslim world. That would be consistent with their Islamaphobe worldview.

In addition, they are saying that Israel represents “the civilized man” who has declared war on the same enemy that has made war on the United States. By asking Americans to “support Israel,” they are reinforcing the notion that the U.S. and Israel are allies.

Second, is the AFDI correct in telling us that Israel is the “civilized man?” Only in their own ahistorical fantasy. If you care to live in a world driven by the facts then Israel is rendered “the savage.” There is a lot of evidence for this.

On Oct. 10, the Harvard researcher Sara Roy gave a devastating critique of what Israel, backed up by the United States, has done in the Gaza Strip. Gaza, with its population approaching two million Palestinians, is now the most densely populated place on earth.  It is also the world’s most crowded open-air prison.

The Israeli blockade, illegal under international law, has slowly but surely destroyed the water supply, the sewage systems, the economic structure as a whole. The Israelis will tell you that Hamas, which governs Gaza, wants to destroy Israel. But that is only wishful thinking on the part of Hamas for they haven’t the ability to destroy anything.

Israel, on the other hand, wishes to destroy the Palestinian people and they do have that capacity. In Gaza, as well as the West Bank, they are slowly doing so. This is genocide in slow motion.

Sara Roy is an extremely knowledgeable American Jewish academic, but there are plenty of other sources, some of them Israeli, that will back up and expand on her critique. Here are a few of them:

— B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights

— Rabbis For Human Rights

— Palestine Center for Human Rights

— Jewish Voices for Peace

Looking at the websites of these organizations reveals a litany of  ongoing  barbaric policies and actions perpetrated upon mostly unarmed Palestinians who have nothing at all to do with Jihadists. Indeed, to act as Israel does in this regard is to qualify a good number of its citizens (though not all) as savages. So to be true to the facts AFDI’s sign should really read as follows,

“In any war between savage one (Israel) and savage two (Al Qaeda), AFDI urges Americans to support savage number one. This is so even though Israel is not fighting Jihadists but rather genocidally destroying Palestinians.” That would be historically accurate, although it would put the situation in a distinctly different light than does Ms Geller’s propaganda.

The end of the billboard wars is not yet in sight. AFDI’s message is aimed at an American audience and thus can also be read as an attempt to promote Islamophobia just before a presidential election.

To counter the racist aspect of this message, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has placed 16-foot signs in the metro stations of Washington D.C. that are designed to “promote mutual understanding and challenge hate.” Their signs quote from the Quran: “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.”

The unfortunate thing is that, in these sorts of confrontations, Geller and her ilk have the odds on their side. This is because all the peace seekers are ultimately at the mercy of the violent and hateful extremists on both sides. However, in the U.S. the media will only tell you about the Jihadists.

Therefore, all it takes is one Al-Qaeda attack on an American target to send the CAIR message into oblivion. On the other hand, the Israeli government and its settler allies can act out the Zionist version of ethnic cleansing daily and the American public will rarely, if ever, hear about it.

The truth is there are fewer civilized men and women than we like to believe. The ones in power, regardless of the nation-state, only rarely behave in civilized ways. The bulk of the citizens either give support to or are indifferent toward their leader’s actions. The small remainder, who are indeed candidates for the category of civilized people, are left to struggle against a strong and consistent counter-current.  This is nowhere more true than in the state of Israel.

Such then, for all of us, is the heart of darkness. 

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.




Ellsberg Warns of a Romney Victory

Many American progressives are angry with President Obama for his actions, including expanding the Afghan War and his drone assassinations. Some vow to not vote or to vote for a minor-party candidate. But Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg warns of the far greater danger from a Romney-Ryan administration.

By Daniel Ellsberg

It is urgently important to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013. The election is now just weeks away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally in line with mine — progressives, especially activists — to make this goal one of your priorities during this period.

An activist colleague recently said to me: “I hear you’re supporting Obama.”

I was startled, and took offense.  “Supporting Obama?  Me?!”

“I lose no opportunity publicly,” I told him angrily, to identify Obama as a tool of Wall Street, a man who’s decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who’s launched an unconstitutional war, supports kidnapping and indefinite detention without trial, and has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. “Would you call that support?

My friend said, “But on Democracy Now you urged people in swing states to vote for him! How could you say that? I don’t live in a swing state, but I will not and could not vote for Obama under any circumstances.”

My answer was: a Romney/Ryan administration would be no better — no different — on any of the serious offenses I just mentioned or anything else, and it would be much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of other important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment.

I told him: “I don’t ‘support Obama.’ I oppose the current Republican Party. This is not a contest between Barack Obama and a progressive candidate. The voters in a handful or a dozen close-fought swing states are going to determine whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to wield great political power for four, maybe eight years, or not.

As Noam Chomsky said recently, “The Republican organization today is extremely dangerous, not just to this country, but to the world. It’s worth expending some effort to prevent their rise to power, without sowing illusions about the Democratic alternatives.”

Following that logic, he’s said to an interviewer what my friend heard me say to Amy Goodman: “If I were a person in a swing state, I’d vote against Romney/Ryan, which means voting for Obama because there is no other choice.”

The election is at this moment a toss-up. That means this is one of the uncommon occasions when we progressives — a small minority of the electorate — could actually have a significant influence on the outcome of a national election, swinging it one way or the other.

The only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama: not stay home, or vote for someone else.

And that has to include, in those states, progressives and disillusioned liberals who are at this moment inclined not to vote at all or to vote for a third-party candidate (because like me they’ve been not just disappointed but disgusted and enraged by much of what Obama has done in the last four years and will probably keep doing).

They have to be persuaded to vote, and to vote in a battleground state for Obama not anyone else, despite the terrible flaws of the less-bad candidate, the incumbent. That’s not easy. As I see it, that’s precisely the “effort” Noam is referring to as worth expending right now to prevent the Republicans’ rise to power. And it will take progressives — some of you reading this, I hope — to make that effort of persuasion effectively.

It will take someone these disheartened progressives and liberals will listen to. Someone manifestly without illusions about the Democrats, someone who sees what they see when they look at the President these days: but who can also see through candidates Romney or Ryan on the split-screen, and keep their real, disastrous policies in focus.

It’s true that the differences between the major parties are not nearly as large as they and their candidates claim, let alone what we would want. It’s even fair to use Gore Vidal’s metaphor that they form two wings (“two right wings” as some have put it) of a single party, the Property or Plutocracy Party, or as Justin Raimondo says, the War Party.

Still, the political reality is that there are two distinguishable wings, and one is reliably even worse than the other, currently much worse overallTo be in denial or to act in neglect of that reality serves only the possibly imminent, yet presently avoidable, victory of the worse.

The traditional third-party mantra, “There’s no significant difference between the major parties” amounts to saying: The Republicans are no worse, overall.” And that’s absurd. It constitutes shameless apologetics for the Republicans, however unintended. It’s crazily divorced from present reality.

And it’s not at all harmless to be propagating that absurd falsehood. It has the effect of encouraging progressives even in battleground states to refrain from voting or to vote in a close election for someone other than Obama, and more importantly, to influence others to act likewise. That’s an effect that serves no one but the Republicans, and ultimately the 1 percent.

It’s not merely understandable, it’s entirely appropriate to be enraged at Barack Obama. As I am. He has often acted outrageously, not merely timidly or “disappointingly.” If impeachment were politically imaginable on constitutional grounds, he’s earned it (like George W. Bush, and many of his predecessors!)

It is entirely human to want to punish him, not to “reward” him with another term or a vote that might be taken to express trust, hope or approval. But rage is not generally conducive to clear thinking. And it often gets worked out against innocent victims, as would be the case here domestically, if refusals to vote for him resulted in Romney’s taking key battleground states that decide the outcome of this election.

To punish Obama in this particular way, on Election Day — by depriving him of votes in swing states and hence of office in favor of Romney and Ryan — would punish most of all the poor and marginal in society, and workers and middle class as well: not only in the U.S. but worldwide in terms of the economy (I believe the Republicans could still convert this recession to a Great Depression), the environment, and climate change.

It could well lead to war with Iran (which Obama has been creditably resisting, against pressure from within his own party). And it would spell, via Supreme Court appointments, the end of Roe v. Wade and of the occasional five to four decisions in favor of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The reelection of Barack Obama, in itself, is not going to bring serious progressive change, end militarism and empire, or restore the Constitution and the rule of law. That’s for us and the rest of the people to bring about after this election and in the rest of our lives — through organizing, building movements and agitating.

In the eight to 12 close-fought states — especially Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, but also Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — for any progressive to encourage fellow progressives and others in those states to vote for a third-party candidate is, I would say, to be complicit in facilitating the election of Romney and Ryan, with all its consequences.

To think of that as urging people in swing states to “vote their conscience” is, I believe, dangerously misleading advice. I would say to a progressive that if your conscience tells you on Election Day to vote for someone other than Obama in a battleground state, you need a second opinion. Your conscience is giving you bad counsel.

I often quote a line by Thoreau that had great impact for me: “Cast your whole vote: not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.” He was referring, in that essay, to civil disobedience, or as he titled it himself, “Resistance to Civil Authority.”

It still means that to me. But this is a year when for people who think like me — and who, unlike me, live in battleground states — casting a strip of paper is also important. Using your whole influence this month to get others to do that, to best effect, is even more important.

That means for progressives in the next couple of weeks — in addition to the rallies, demonstrations, petitions, lobbying (largely against policies or prospective policies of President Obama, including austerity budgeting next month), movement-building and civil disobedience that are needed all year round and every year — using one’s voice and one’s e-mails and op-eds and social media to encourage citizens in swing states to vote against a Romney victory by voting for the only real alternative, Barack Obama.

Daniel Ellsberg is a former State and Defense Department official who has been arrested for acts of non-violent civil disobedience over eighty times, initially for copying and releasing the top secret Pentagon Papers, for which he faced 115 years in prison. Living in a non-swing state, he does not intend to vote for President Obama. [This essay originally appeared at Rootsaction.org.]