Culture

A Fearful Society

White Flag Over BrooklynSomeone raised two bleached American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge. Apparently the cameras and Orwellian police surveillance signs did not stop them. Nor did it, yet, allow the New York Police Department to catch who did it. If the juxtaposition of this sign and the flags — perhaps a protest, the symbolism is your guess — didn’t illustrate a problem this statement made by Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President might:

“If flying a white flag atop the Brooklyn Bridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. The public safety of our city is of paramount importance, particularly our landmarks and bridges that are already known to be high-risk targets. We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time. Political and social expression, whatever its message may be, has a place in our society, but not at the expense of others’ security. I am confident in the NYPD’s ability to investigate this matter.”

“We will not surrender our public safety to anyone, at any time.” Speak for yourself, Eric. Many individuals prefer dangerous freedom to living in a secure police state. And your statement reads like the political equivalent of an old man telling children to get off of his lawn. Except the old man is confused and it is not even his lawn to begin with.

 

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Literally Hitler

US Military & CIA Interventions

It has become passé to invoke the ghost of Hitler, National Socialism or the Third Reich. Godwin’s law is an adage that says: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” It is inevitable that if Hitler or National Socialism is mentioned an individual will eventually speak up and chirp out, “Godwin!” This means that we have discovered a second so-called law: In any online discussion where Nazis are Hitler are mentioned the probability of someone gleefully shouting, “Godwin!” approaches 1.

This is often accompanied by the phrase “as bad.” As in “this politician is not as bad” or “the state is not as bad.” And for the most part this is true. Most modern politicians are not literally as bad as Adolf Eichmann, nor are the atrocities committed by many states as bad as the Holocaust. The statement is literally true. Yet this statement, along with Godwin’s law, is also used to shut people up and limit discourse.

The literal truth of “not as bad” is also the literal truth in comparing any two states. All regimes, ideologies, and politicians have been distinct and incomparable. Especially many of the world’s most brutal. Yet, the point of history is to compare these events. More importantly it is to learn from past events. If we have developed a level of discourse where no comparison at all can be made to the Nazi regime we effectively wall it off and seal it out; we can draw no parallels, no conclusions and thus can not learn anything from it.

And if we take that approach, if we reject our ability to draw comparisons from the past, how do we ensure that we are not doomed to repeat it?

Johnny Cash – Man In Black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times.

 

They Looked The Other Way

This is set just after the 1923 robbery of the Bank of Spain in Gijón, Asturias by Buenaventura Durruti and Los Solidarios.

Gijon Calle Del Institutio 25

Gijón, September 1, 10:30 PM.

Bastián, Cloyo, and Alfonso sat around a table in El Ciego eating old boroña.

“I saw them all,” Cloyo said. “Everyone in Gijón knows me. I sit by the Bank and I ask for alms. A car stopped right next to me. I saw five men get out with pistols. I watched them go inside. Then I heard shots, the men came out and they drove away. The police came and talked to me.”

“I saw you today, Cloyo,” said Bastián. “I saw them too. The weather was nice and I was teaching my class on the terrace. The police know I live by the Bank and asked me if I saw anything. The children were facing me. Their backs were toward the bank. But I saw it all. I even recognized one of the men.”

Alfonso nodded. “I was driving to the barracks and saw them behind me. They were shooting into the air trying to make people move out of the way. I had four men in my truck. We had our rifles, but I pulled over and let them pass.”

“You could have stopped them,” said Bastián.

“We could have stopped them. We survived the Guerra del Rif. That is why I let them pass. I will kill no more for the State. And you could have identified them. What did you tell the police when they spoke to you, Bastián?”

“I told them I was busy teaching and that I saw nothing. I remember Ferrer. And I will not have any role in creating more prisoners.”

“What about you, Cloyo?” asked Alfonso, “You saw them best. And we know the police distrust you, a beggar. They must have pressed you hard.”

“I, too, distrust the police. And the police did press me hard,” affirmed Cloyo. “They took me in and they hit me. This is why I did all that I could to frustrate them. The car was black, but I told them it was white. The car went west, but I told them it went east.”

“We let them escape,” said Alfonso.

“No, we helped them escape,” replied Cloyo. “What do you think they will do with the money?”

“And who did you see?” asked Alfonso.

Bastián volunteered, “I don’t know what they will do with the money. But I recognized the man from a paper in Oviedo. It said that his name was Durruti and that he is the most vile of gangsters. Nonetheless, let us wish him the best.”

gijon-wanted-poster

Aesop – The Wolf and the Lamb

ONCE upon a time a Wolf was lapping at a spring on a hillside when, looking up, what should he see but a Lamb just beginning to drink a little lower down. “There’s my supper,” thought he, “if only I can find some excuse to seize it.” Then he called out to the Lamb, “How dare you muddle the water from which I am drinking?”

“Nay, master, nay,” said Lambikin; “if the water be muddy up there, I cannot be the cause of it, for it runs down from you to me.”

“Well, then,” said the Wolf, “why did you call me bad names this time last year?”

“That cannot be,” said the Lamb; “I am only six months old.”

“I don’t care,” snarled the Wolf; “if it was not you it was your father;” and with that he rushed upon the poor little Lamb and ate her all up. But before she died she gasped out:

“ANY EXCUSE WILL SERVE A TYRANT.”

Wolf And The Lamb

Æsop’s fables, retold by Joseph Jacobs.