|Every TestingTesting is different. (TT is a webcast done from my living room). One of the fun parts of doing this show is coming across musicians that I haven't head before. That can be bad or it can be good. It usually is good.
Stephanie Patrick was on two shows ago. She is a 16 year old singer/songwriter with an electric guitar. She was good. Last night it was Linda Good and Susan Blanton.
I was familiar with Linda but Susan is new to the Island and I hadn't heard her yet. She has done lots of bluegrass and has a wonderful voice. Plays guitar and fiddle. What was great was that she plays well with others. She could backup Derek and Steve on their numbers. At the end of the show Steve did his traditional Rudolph the Red Nosed Reeindeer as a blues number. Steve had only played a few notes and Susan jumped in with a great blues violin. A TestingTesting moment.
words and symbols
So much of today's problems are allowed to continue because those in power are controlling the use of words and symbols.
Joseph Duemer, at reading & writing, had this to say about words:
One of the perhaps unanticipated results of the War on Terrorism is the proliferation of the rhetoric of anti-terrorism. It begins with the US declaration of a war against "evil" & has been picked up by Ariel Sharon, who is using it as cover for a policy of state-assassination; the Hindu Nationalist Party in India has also chimed in with its own use of the terminology of terrorism & now the Chinese. At this rate it won't be long before the Potsdam Police Department here in rural New York will be referring to drunken college students as "terrorists" & demanding that they be allowed to take appropriate measures. The problem--at least if you care about clarity--is that the same blanket of language gets laid over many disparet situations & we lose our ability to think about them coherently. Language is a sneaky bastard & you have to watch it every second.
A good example is how Israel characterises any Palestinian action. It is always refered to as a terrorist action. A child throws a rock. It is a terrorist action. An Israeli Defense Force soldier kills him. That is called self-defense.
There is a related issue and that is the misuse of symbols. People start confusing the symbol with the thing it stands for. A good example is the flag. It is a symbol of the US and what it stands for. But people would destroy the things the flag stands for, such as the freedom of speech, in order to protect the flag.
abuddhas memes linked to a piece that goes into this in more detail.
How we confuse symbols and things
In my opinion, the greatest single failure of American education is that students come away unable to distinguish between a symbol and the thing the symbol stands for.
One of the things that I have always found puzzling is how Hitler and his henchmen were able to do what they did. After the war many Germans said they didn't know what was going on. I always thought that response was self-serving and rang pretty hollow. Now I'm not so sure.
How could we, in America, with a "free" press and "free" speech not know what is happening in our name? The Germans had a government that was very good at manipulating words and symbols to control them. So, apparently, do we.
WHAT'S NOT IN THE NEWS
Why We Aren't Hearing the Whole Story from Afghanistan
TomPaine.com: What did you find that you had not seen reported in the U.S. press?
Benjamin: Well, I didn't know that massive numbers of people were not getting food aid because the U.S. was blocking an international force from coming in to open up the roads so that aid could get in. And I also had no idea to the extent of innocent victims, who were killed by U.S. bombs, until I realized that everywhere we went, we found people who had stories to tell of loved ones who were killed in the bombing. And then, in terms if women, I realized the issue was not the burqa, but the issue was jobs and education, which meant that their question was, how much money is the international community going to invest in rebuilding Afghanistan, rather than destroying it?
TomPaine.com: I'm sure you saw American reporters there, and I'm sure you got to talk to some of them. Did any tell you about their priorities for coverage, particularly about these issues you just mentioned -- innocent victims, and what kind of aid might actually be there for women.
Benjamin: Well, many of the press people we met on the ground were extremely frustrated, because they wanted to do stories about these issues, like the innocent victims, like their colleagues were doing in Europe and in the Arab and other press, but found that the stories were not wanted back in the U.S. Either they would do them and they'd never make it to the air or in print, or they were just plain out told, we don't want those stories.
TomPaine.com: Upon hearing these kinds of reports from the reporters, what conclusions did you draw? What did it make you think?
Benjamin: Well, it made me think that our press is in lockstep with the government, and that we're not hearing what the rest of the world is hearing, and it makes us so much less able to understand why there are so many people around the world that hate us. If we can't cover the results of the U.S. bombing campaign, if we can't hear that the United States is stopping food aid from getting to people who are starving and cold, then we're not getting the real story and the U.S. people will continue to think that the United States have liberated the people of Afghanistan and they're all overjoyed with us.
thanks to BookNotes
I have a TV. I don't have TV reception and, given the choice of affording DSL or cable TV, I chose DSL. I have been spared what passes for news on TV. I see it occasionally. It's depressing. I get my news from the web. From newspapers and web logs. I see what other other countries are seeing. Most of the people around me don't.
If the American people knew what was being done in their name I am sure that they would put an end to it. Just like they did with Vietnam. But our government isn't going to make that mistake again. The mistake of letting the American public see the atrocities committed in their name.
This does raise the question Do people not want to know? They say ignorance is bliss. Maybe it's an unconcious decision to not be too inquisitive. No sense asking the question if we don't want to hear the answer. The answers provided are more comfortable. No need to think.
I exchanged emails with an Israeli about the issues there. She believes that Israel is at war. It is a war they didn't start. When 5 Palestinian children were killed by an Israeli booby trap she calls it a tragedy but that Israel is being forced to defend itself. She feels that the military is doing everything it can to limit it's response. She feels that the PA, by encouraging and carrying out terrorist attacks, has made killing Jews a strategic policy. She believes that the suicide bombers are given high status, which encourages people to seek out death. She also believes that they are brainwashing their children with endless TV programs to become matyrs. She believes that the Palestinians have made child sacrifice a strategic policy.
This is not a rabid right winger we are talking about. This is an intelligent mother of four trying to raise a family. She is doing her best. I asked her once if she knew any Palestinians. She said that she had pickup up a Palestinian hitchhiker once, mistaking him for an Israeli. It ended well. They ended up meeting each others families and even exchanged presents. I didn't get the sense that her first hand knowledge of Palestinans went beyond that one incident.
The following two articles paint a very different world. They are long pieces. They are worth the time.
A Gaza Diary
Scenes from the Palestinian uprising
Sunday afternoon, June 17, the dunes
I sit in the shade of a palm-roofed hut on the edge of the dunes, momentarily defeated by the heat, the grit, the jostling crowds, the stench of the open sewers and rotting garbage. A friend of Azmi's brings me, on a tray, a cold glass of tart, red carcade juice.
Barefoot boys, clutching kites made out of scraps of paper and ragged soccer balls, squat a few feet away under scrub trees. Men in flowing white or gray galabias—homespun robes—smoke cigarettes in the shade of slim eaves. Two emaciated donkeys, their ribs protruding, are tethered to wooden carts with rubber wheels.
It is still. The camp waits, as if holding its breath. And then, out of the dry furnace air, a disembodied voice crackles over a loudspeaker.
"Come on, dogs," the voice booms in Arabic. "Where are all the dogs of Khan Younis? Come! Come!"
I stand up. I walk outside the hut. The invective continues to spew: "Son of a bitch!" "Son of a whore!" "Your mother's cunt!"
The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.
A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children's slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.
Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.
We approach a Palestinian police post behind a sand hill. The police, in green uniforms, are making tea. They say that they have given up on trying to hold the children back.
"When we tell the boys not to go to the dunes they taunt us as collaborators," Lt. Ayman Ghanm says. "When we approach the fence with our weapons to try and clear the area the Israelis fire on us. We just sit here now and wait for the war."
thanks to BookNotes
A Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Special Report
Testimony gathered by MSF medical and psychological teams working in the Palestinian Territories
More than two months after the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada, the situation of the civilian population has become deeply troubling. The trap in which the Palestinian people are caught, the violence of the confrontation, the emergence of a Palestinian military resistance and the disproportionate measures being employed by the Israeli forces throughout the Palestinian Territories are all taking a heavy toll on the civilians. The military means employed against civilians are those generally used in situations of conventional war.
The economic blockade imposed by Israel on the Palestinian territories is further undermining an already precarious social structure, and underlines the state of dependence in which Palestinian families are forced to live.
The daily living conditions of these families continue to deteriorate. Palestinians live in permanent fear of reprisals by the Israeli army and the Jewish settlers. They are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Palestinian Authority. The income of Palestinian families is dwindling. Palestinians employed in Israel can no longer get to work, and the movement of people and goods is regularly blocked so that families have less and less income on which to live. Palestinian houses located close to Jewish settlements or roads used by settlers have been razed to the ground or requisitioned with full impunity, with the justification that these acts prevent terrorism. Families are forced to flee their homes because their villages regularly come under fire. Intimidation and humiliation are routine occurrences.
There are many obstacles preventing Palestinian access to health care. It has become difficult to move around freely without suffering through long and humiliating controls. This means that for some families, it is becoming impossible to reach Palestinian medical facilities or gain access to a doctor. For some people, the fear of seeing their house requisitioned or destroyed during their absence is so great that they do not dare leave to seek medical attention. People's access to health care is subject to a number of unpredictable factors. At the same time, the violence exercised against Palestinian families and the climate of terror in which they live are causing very severe feelings of stress and fear which require constant care.
thanks to BookNotes
There are crazies on both sides. However, it is the good people in the middle that let these situations continue. Good people that live in their own comfortable world and don't see the nightmare world that is being created to support that comfort. It happened in Germany. It is happening now in America and Israel.