...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



brown, skin:

Michelle Obama, who has swiftly taken her place as fashion style-setter, seems to be enamored of sleeveless sheaths.

She wore one to President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. She is pictured with one on the cover of People magazine that hit newsstands today. And she's wearing a black Michael Kors in her official portrait newly posted on the White House website.
Boston Globe 27.feb.09
racism, no:
The US is likely to boycott a UN racism conference, reports say, saying a text drawn up for the event criticises Israel and restricts free of speech.
An unnamed state department official said the draft document for April's forum in Geneva was "unsalvageable".
Canada and Israel have also said they plan to boycott the meeting.
BBC 28.feb.09



"The basic idea is that between the oceans and the land, about half of the fossil-fuel carbon dioxide is being taken up and not going into the air," he said. "We need to understand that better to predict what's going to happen in the future."
The crash yesterday morning of NASA's carbon observatory is going to make getting those answers more difficult, scientists said.
NYTimes 25.feb.09


and to build a pipeline into China:

But private Chinese firms are also taking advantage of the crisis in other sectors: Diesel-engine giant Weichai Power is expected to buy a French plant that US automaker General Motors is selling off in its struggle to survive.
Though the Chinese economy has also been hit by the crisis, cutting growth by almost half, "what sets China apart is that Chinese banks have not been so badly hurt, and the policy banks still seem ready to lend" in support of key government objectives, says Erika Downs, a China energy specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Ford/CSM/Yahoo 23.feb.09


On March 22, 2008, Brian Lewis, 50, scuttled the Jubilee

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg.


A truckload of cut flowers made it out of Gaza today
Whacking Grandma:

Children, it is suggested, are being shortchanged by their grandparents. This line of argument has attracted financial support from some leading foundations usually associated with liberal social concerns--Annie E. Casey, Charles Stewart Mott, William and Flora Hewlett. Peterson has teamed up with the Pew Trust and has also created front groups of "concerned youth."
Trouble is, most young people did not buy this pitch when George W. Bush used it to sell Social Security privatization. Most kids seem to think Grandma is entitled to a decent retirement. In fact, whacking Social Security benefits, not to mention Medicaid, directly harms poor children. More poor children live in families dependent on Social Security checks than on welfare, economist Dean Baker points out. If you cut Grandma's Social Security benefits, you are directly making life worse for the poor kids who live with her.
Greider/Naion 11.feb.09
Guatemala has apologized for allowing the United States to use the country as a platform for the bungled Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961.
targeted, banned:
Doctors say wounded Sri Lankan civilians are dying for want of proper medical treatment as they lie trapped in a makeshift hospital in the last rebel-held pocket in the north-east of the island.
This weekend, hundreds of injured civilians poured in to the improvised medical facility in Putumattalan village, which has been repeatedly targeted by artillery. Earlier in the week 16 patients were killed in shelling.
Both government forces and Tamil Tiger separatists have been accused of war crimes during the conflict, although confirmation is impossible because independent journalists are banned from the conflict zone.
GuardianUK 15.feb.09
AMY GOODMAN:Here in the United States, Reuters, the New York Times, BBC and other publications also have complained to the Israeli prime minister. Why are journalists not allowed in Gaza?
DOV KHENIN: Well, I think that journalists are not allowed into Gaza, in order to not—to not make it possible for people around the world to see whatever is happening in Gaza right now. The situation in Gaza is terrible. You know, the people are doing surgery without, you know, any tools, without anything needed to take care, medically, of people wounded. The situation there is really terrible.
Only the pigs and their journalistic servants use the passive voice now and expect it to work.
People from lower down have long since learned that honesty of intent and clarity of statement are their most reliable weapons. Playing the game of deception from necessity along with the pigs and their journalistic servants means only loss.
Which is why we very seldom read anything directly, in the big-screen news outlets, from those people from lower down - people like the Tamil, or Hamas, or those crazy abajos from the Lacandan jungle.
Journalists "are banned from the conflict zone", and that's all you need to know about that.
By whom? you must not ask too forcefully or you'll be in trouble yourself, though a fairly bright 12 year old could see it's the Sri Lankan military that's decreed and is enforcing the ban.
But that would make them look bad and the journalistic servant who wrote the Guardian article is pretty obviously under orders to not make the Sri Lankan government look bad.
Either "the improvised medical facility in Putumattalan village" or Putumattalan village itself "has been repeatedly targeted by artillery". A medical facility where "Sri Lankan civilians" are dying.
The artillery targets the medical facility, as if those big guns are aiming themselves and firing when no one human's looking - a sad and dangerous by-product of sophisticated military hardware these days.
So if you don't know that one side of the conflict doesn't think of itself as, and would never call itself "Sri Lankan", that what they're fighting for and about is their identity as Tamil, as part of Eelam, fighting for their independence from the US-backed and US-financed Sri Lankan government, well, then you're probably left with the sense, because you don't know, that, as in Gaza, the losers in the fight, in this case the Tamil, are just as responsible as the better-equipped and more numerous, and provably, demonstrably, inarguably more vicious, just as in Gaza - and just as in Gaza these are US-backed government forces, in this case Sri Lankan as opposed to Israeli - for the shelling of hospitals and the killing of innocent civilians.
Even more responsible really, because if they would just give up and stop fighting there would be peace.


Well, yeah, that's why he's there to begin with:

Mad at disgraced investor Bernard Madoff? There's a toy just for you. One of the vendors at this week's Toy Fair is offering the "Smash-Me Bernie," a $99.95 Madoff lookalike doll that wears a devil-red suit and carries a pitchfork. It comes with its own hammer — so you can pulverize it.
AP/YAhoo 16.feb.09


Huffington, Puffington, albeit:

The term "weblog" was coined in 1997 by Jorn Barger, the editor of Robot Wisdom (itself a blog, albeit one with some nasty anti-Semitism bopping around on it, so we don't recommend you humor him by visiting the site)
The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging
Huffington, Puffington, Gaza
Robot, Wisdom, Gaza
Huffington, Puffington, Jews
Robot, Wisdom, Jews


Unexpectedly large amounts of carbon dioxide :

"We are basically looking now at a future climate that's beyond anything we've considered seriously in climate model simulations," Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
Lyderson/WashPo 15.feb.09
What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us
Species have always been on the move. But they've also been held in check by Earth's geographical barriers, like mountains and oceans. Today the rate of invasions has skyrocketed because of our barrier-hopping technology—jets, ships, trains, cars, which transport everything from mammals to microorganisms far beyond their natural ranges. The process is further accelerated by global climate change, that enormous human experiment unwittingly redistricting the natural world.
Good writing on a serious matter, by Julia Whitty in Mother Jones
Possibly related:
Two Brentwood publicists said they dropped octuplets mom Nadya Suleman as a client Saturday because they have received a slew of death threats.
Soon after the births, the couple began representing Suleman for free, and almost immediately started receiving threatening e-mails and phone calls from people enraged over the octuplets saga, she said.
"They hope I die, they hope my business goes under, they want to rip her uterus out," Killeen said. "They say I should be anesthetized and put down like a dog."
Hennessey-Fiske/LATimes 15.feb.09

most savage bushfire:

The Cumberland spa, where she was originally headed, was burnt to the ground. In an instant, Marysville had ceased to exist. Up to 100 people lay dead under its smouldering ruins.

"That fire was evil, it had a purpose," O'Meara says. "It was hungry."
Australian 14.feb.09
No one promised the world would just keep getting better, no one said it would even stay the way it was - the post-war comforts of the 50's and 60's, prosperity, progress, the way new things kept appearing and then becoming now, what the kids would accept as the way things simply are, and go on to build their own world from that - no one promised it, but everyone accepted that was how it was, expected it to go on, believed it would.
There's your evil, beyond anything savage. And, if you look closely, as with fire there's nothing there really. It's all emptiness, within an outline of expectations that were allowed to grow and build on a foundation of nothing but desire, at the bottom of it all, selfish desire, what all organic life brings to the table.
How we got here, wherever this is, whatever we are now, how we lived, was through balancing that desire with and against something higher, beyond and outside the self and its hungers.
The stories within the story of the fires in Australia show this clearly, awful decisions to withdraw, knowing there are lives left behind that will be lost, knowing to stay will be to lose your own, and in the case of many, those dependent on your decisions as well.
Some of the ones who were there in this, seeing the flames and the blackened lives and the dead, were and still are as admirably selfless as it's possible for humans to be, some weren't. With some it shows up suddenly and disappears as quick as it came.
If there's evil in this it's burning at a frequency we still can't quite recognize, destroying things we don't realize we have and so won't miss immediately.
People were tricked into living evil lives, into living wrong, and the accusation comes naturally to them when the symptoms of that wrong living get overwhelmingly clear, but the fires began years ago, in clean cool rooms where deals were made with no regard to outcome, by men whose vision saw only profit and loss.
If there's evil in this it's not in the heat and fuel and spark of the fires themselves, but where it always is, where it always has been - selfishness that puts its own desire above all else, and takes its gratification whatever the cost to those who'll bear it when the price comes due.


"Fucking" is also taboo:

A top UK Foreign Office official has been arrested on suspicion of an anti-Semitic outburst at a gym, the Daily Mail reported Monday.
Rowan Laxton, who is head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office, was watching TV reports of the IDF offensive in Gaza while on an exercise bike at a gym when he was allegedly heard shouting, "F***ing Israelis, f***ing Jews," and saying that IDF soldiers should be wiped off the face of the earth, the British newspaper reported.
JPost 09.feb.09
via xymphora
Not to pile on or anything, but the fact that even at this late date it's impossible for publicly responsible journals and institutions to do anything with the word but the cutesy-wootsy "F***ing" is directly related and originating from the same sick mindset that has people writing online and spelling "G-d", because as you know, or should know, the magic of God is easily turned to angry magic if you spell his/its name in full, without those cutesy-wootsy little blanks to make it safe and acceptable.
And that horseshit mumbo-jumbo is directly connected to "F***ing" and, wait for it kids, male circumcision.
Which for a lot of us gringo male gentiles has no magical religious connections, but is something supposedly medical - though it's as medically defensible as female circumcision - that was done to us when we were too young to know what it was about. Whereas for some religious Jews it's done with heavy ritual and conscious teenaged participation. It's also an extremely bizarre ceremony, which I'm coming to think may explain a lot of Jewish insanity and belligerent immaturity - beginning in the wounded male psyche and spreading outward from there - that's f***ing up, which is to say fucking up, the world right now.
Maybe the passing on of a virus, a conscious parasite, a parasite of consciousness, "as above so below" kind of thing. This could be why that ant/grasshopper brain thingie was so chilling at first, so chilling and so fascinating at the same time.
Because of course.
I haven't done any reading about male circumcision lately, so the discussion may have advanced since the last time, when it was still all about "disease prevention" versus WTF***!
This was known as Metzitzeh. In this step the mohel would suck the blood from the circumcision wound with his mouth. Although initially thought to reduce the infections by sucking out any bacteria, it was actually found to introduce infection such as tuberculosis and venereal diseases. More modern day mohels use a glass tube placed over the infant's penis for suction of the blood
Something that never seems to get mentioned is the wonderful psychological weapon that circumcision of the young provides the older males in a society. Them cutting off the tip of your dick being a pretty decisive expression of their dominance. And getting you to participate in that cut as though it's a good thing is truly astounding, and way, way dominant. Whereas setting things up so it happens when you're a baby is just sort of cold and insectile.


Google Victoria fires map
via peacay at Boynton

Actual quote from actual news article written
and edited by well-paid professional journalists:

Israel headed for political gridlock on Wednesday after its election produced rival winners.
Analysts said the country was as split as the Palestinians...
Hamilton/Reuters 11.Feb.09


noun, adjective and verb:

It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth.
Pilger/NewStatesman 05.Feb.09

David Tiley on the Australian fires


Science, Medicine, Religion, Weather, Etc:

2 Mice Carrying Plague Disappear
The FBI investigated and determined there was no risk to public health or any indication of the terrorist link.
It wasn't the first time plague-infected mice have disappeared from the New Jersey facility...
At last, Blair is free to 'do God' – and America loves it
Caylee's remains won't be at memorial service
China declares drought emergency
An earthquake that killed at least 80,000 people in Sichuan last year may have been triggered by an enormous dam just miles from the epicentre
"It's just going to be, probably by a long way, the worst day ever in the history of the state in terms of temperatures and winds," Victoria Premier John Brumby
Australian Firefighters Prepare For Worst
Absolute devastation
Bill Gates, mosquitoes
Mosquitoes, Bill Gates


Our next meditation will be on time:

To make sense of what I’m suggesting it is necessary to reject the notion of time that began in Europe during the 18th century and is closely linked with the positivism and linear accountability of modern capitalism: the notion that a single time, which is unilinear, regular, abstract and irreversible, carries everything. All other cultures have proposed a coexistence of various times surrounded in some way by the timeless.
John Berger/LeMonde (google cache) Feb.06

Well here why not, I can't move without the jangle and thud of some kind of metaphysical whatever anyway. So here.
The World Trade Center collapses into itself, and eight years later world trade itself collapses.
Amazing continuity, really, when you think about it.
Bad news coming in like that tsunami back when.
Out around the edges of all that disaster from the sea narrative did leak the fact that those jumbo prawns everbody was munching were coming out of leveled and gone mangrove swamps at the edge of the sea there where the tsunami hit, which used to buffer the force of rogue waves, diffuse it, spread it out. But they got cut down so cheap shrimp could get to market cheaper.
Damage control evolving over time, so that things came through, things made it through. Creatures and trees and all, learning how to cope with the periodically predictable unexpected.
Something will come through this, something like a small fish, small fishes, or crabs, or anemones, barnacles, that's the idea. Evolution gnaws and gnarls and grunts and groans and then every once in a while the slate's wiped almost clean and there's so much room it's scary and for a long time no competition but the void and oblivion.
It's not going to be all right. Not for a while, maybe not for a long while, maybe not ever if your imagination can't get past something that has to be enough like you that you could slip into its shoes or inhabit its feet and go on.
Sad, pretty much, and here we were almost right there, scurrying around out on the brink of the verge of just about inventing the techniques and technologies that would have given us the possibility of living so long it might as well have been forever.
Coming into it through the tradesmen's entrance, as it were.
Still possible of course.
The other direction's got nicer views. Would you sacrifice your place on that long train of selfish gratification to get something else lifted up higher? Your grandchildren maybe.
Maybe birds, or little frogs that take off in the absence of birds and become, after a few million years of rough evolution, sentient and then some, and travel - see them with vivid green space suits and deep booming radios and pods full of the cutest little tadpoles you ever saw - travel like we keep telling ourselves we're going to, we were going to, we still might, travel - to the stars, with hope.
Can you get to the ledge where "we" are that? Is your heart that big?
It's hard for most of us - once we start toward it, it seems to recede as we advance, or we have to fall back on the local affinity group, which at the moment is awfully fractious, contentious, so nasty to each other it's to the point the "we" of simply being human is shredding apart - and maybe it's supposed to?
Can you do that one?
Because it may be all we have now.
That something will come through this, and we may affect that, cause it, aid it, care for it - that we may shape it, hold it up, let it go.

$45 Emergency Menu for 4 to 6
Hillbilly Housewife

Everything's connected, but nothing makes sense:

News results for Jimmy Carter, peanut farmer
Jimmy Carter, anti-Semite

Jimmy Carter, Israel apartheid
Possibly tainted peanut butter sent to schools
A 72-year-old milkman who supplied cannabis to customers on his rounds to help ease their aches and pains was today given a suspended sentence.

"He said he sold the cannabis to existing customers because they were old and had aches and pains"
Sam Jones /GuardianUK
Phelps has also been dropped by one of his sponsors, Kellogg, for having been photographed putting his amphibian features into a glass pipe normally used for smoking marijuana, or so people tell me.
George Vecsey/NYTimes
Cereal and snack maker Kellogg Co. said it won't renew its sponsorship contract with Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps because of a photo that showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.
The Battle Creek, Mich.-based company said Thursday that Phelps's behavior — caught on camera and published Sunday in the British tabloid News of the World — is "not consistent with the image of Kellogg."
After all, smoking pot didn't prevent Barack Obama from becoming president. And obviously, recreational marijuana use hasn't harmed Mr. Phelps, whose prodigious performances have garnered 14 gold medals, the most in Olympic history. If he can smoke pot and perform at such a superhuman level, then perhaps we should reconsider the effects of -- and punishments for -- use of the substance.
But, you're probably thinking, very few presidents, Olympic champions and college students are arrested for drug use. My daughter attends a prominent private university in the city, and she tells me many of her peers smoke pot. Yet neither she nor I had ever heard of a single arrest for this crime on campus.

Who are all of these people getting arrested? And what the heck's the matter with them? Don't they know how to get pot delivered 24/7 to their dorm via carriers from whom you order by cellphone?

Well, here's a hint: 83% of those arrested in New York City in the last decade were African-American or Latino. This occurred even though these groups, while underrepresented among college students, don't actually comprise the majority of drug users.
Stanton Peele/WSJ
Drug hypocrisy's easy to dismiss - it's shallow, superficial, lame - but pretty difficult to understand.
Aside from the large bloc of profit-driven franchise-guarding golden goose-protecting antagonism from the legitimate, as in legal, alcohol industry - I mean you can see why anyone with a paycheck coming in from booze could be anti-pot, and arguing mightily against its presence on the shelves of the local bars and liquor stores, though my informal guess would be even there most of the rah-rah anti-weed action is pro forma and insincere, but why the nice, sincere, worried, decent folks?
Some of it, a pretty small part I imagine, is people who've seen relatives slide off into the deep end, and watched them start by getting high on weed, before they advanced into whatever.
Most of it's political though, or religious in a moral/political sense. And it's because these decent sincere worried good-intentioned folks are being told to be anti-pot, not because experience and inspiration are telling them, because their pastors and priests and the nice people on the television are telling them, often between the lines, without actually saying anything directly.
Most of it's political, in the sense that decisions are being made by politicians in the light of their careers and personal fortunes, to keep marijuana illegal.
Okay but why?
Because the illegal marijuana industry's bigger than cars.
Because the amount of money generated by keeping pot illegal, and thus having its price reflect that artificial scarcity in the face of massive and growing demand, is bigger than the money generated, oh especially now, by manufacturing and selling cars.
And money talks.
And bullshit supposedly walks - though in my experience it's generally to be found walking right along behind the money.


I heard the whizz of bullets past my ear

Children the world over:

"Children the world over have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work, and this early developing receptivity continues to anchor our intuitive thinking throughout life," says anthropologist Justin Barrett of the University of Oxford.

So how does the brain conjure up gods? One of the key factors, says Bloom, is the fact that our brains have separate cognitive systems for dealing with living things - things with minds, or at least volition - and inanimate objects.
Born believers: How your brain creates God
New Scientist
Preparatory to something with more bite to it, and substance too, this little bit of meditation. A certain segment of the rational consensus population has taken to ridiculing their less thoughtful brethren as believers in a "sky-god". This is a default kind of rejection, as it points up the dreariness of hope so cartoonishly focused virtually nowhere. Cargo-cult/sky-god believers. Like that.
But is it nowhere? It seems pretty obvious that anything that exists outside of the terrestrial skin we occupy has to be perforce either under the ground, down where the fire at the heart of the earth is burning, or "up" in the sky.
Given that the sky is pretty much everything that isn't either earth or inside the earth. Large territory that.
Most discussion of extra-terrestrial life centers on the anthropomorphic parallels. Planets like ours with beings like us on them.
Science has no problem with that. Because science could potentially kick their asses, or kiss their asses, without having to fundamentally change the basic posture science brings to the whole idea - arrogance, solipsistic delusion, Xenic partiality, blindness just a little more sighted than the common run that confers priestly elevation, etc.
The possibility of some kind of life that would incorporate the entire known universe, and occupy an as yet unknown even larger universe - a little sketchy and a silly waste of time because our instruments show us nothing that would indicate...
That there are likely to be universes inside universes and outside universes, as well as parallel as well as infinitely small as well as, well there you have it.
We're in the middle of something that either stops abruptly just past the ever-expanding horizon of our ability to see things, or it keeps going, forever. It's obviously a kind of rational autism that keeps the idea of a limited universe floating. Limited by human abilities to perceive and to conceive.
But explaining autism to the autistic is a massive undertaking, thankless due to the resistance in this case which is vicious and powerful all by itself, but especially when they're controlling a lot of the informational conduits that would nominally carry that explanation. Oh we're all free to type whatever we want in these little boxes, but the main arena's like Vegas, you got to know somebody, you got to pay your dues, you got to get sponsored, etc.
My complaint is that people who can see the scams and sucking parasitic attachments on virtually everything humans are doing can't seem to get to the idea that in between themselves and whatever sky-god, or meta-universal meta-humanoidal whatever whatever is out there - there may well be some kind of equivalent, spiritual parasites happening. In between, because that's where the easy feed is. So the two polarized camps antagonize and cement each other in their ignorance and nasty rejection of each other and especially - everything in between. Which is where the truth is.
The false polarities that have been so heavily reinforced lately, centered around abortion, centered around Israel, centered around gay rights, centered around evolution, centered around a lot of things that can only be really accurately seen with nuanced and detailed observation, these polarities keep people in the dark. Possibly that's the whole purpose? Not to get to the truth and defend it, but to prevent people getting to the truth?
The dark - also a pet project of mine. That we were all raised to think of the universe as this dark place with these tiny little lights here and there in it, when clearly the universe - our universe anyway, the one we can see with the naked eye etc - is filled with light.
Any starlight that reaches us must also reach everything around us, and everything on the opposite side of that star we see, and by that obviously all around it, and by that everywhere - light.
So there you go.
I'm being eaten alive by parasites while I write this, everything I write or do online now is degraded and brought low by the presence of parasites, attached to it, observing it, gratifying themselves on the security of the power that enables them doing it.
So I'm real reluctant to do any soul-baring, in fact am not, will not. Just a little dance between the fangs and grinding molars of whatever that is, with all these little sucking insects hanging off me.

Sky-god, can you hear me?
I want to leave now, soon please.


and other horrors:

From the New Yorker magazine, or more accurately one of its blogs, a reprint of the "Letter from the Grave", written in case of his assassination by Lasantha Wickramatunga, a Sri Lankan journalist employed by the Sunday Leader, the main Sri Lankan newspaper. These paragraphs introduce the letter, which has been widely reproduced, especially in Asia:
The Leader’s investigative reporting had been fiercely critical of the government and of the conduct of its war against Tamil separatists; Wickramatunga had been attacked before. He knew that he was likely to be murdered and so he wrote an essay with instructions that it be published only after his own death. Some mutual friends in the region sent a copy to me today. Read it in full below. It is like nothing else you will read today, that I promise.

A very brief bit of context: Sri Lanka’s government, drawing support from the island’s Sinhalese ethnic majority, has been at war since the nineteen-eighties with various militant separatist groups representing the country’s Tamil ethnic minority. In recent years, the war has narrowed to a contest between government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and others. The L.T.T.E. purports to speak for the aspirations of Tamil civilians, but it has conducted its campaign with child soldiers, suicide bombers, and other horrors. For its part, the Sri Lankan government has arranged for the disappearance and murder of uncounted numbers of Tamils, just as it “disappeared” and murdered thousands of its own Sinhalese citizens during an earlier period of counterinsurgency.
New Yorker 12.Jan.09
The tacit condemnation of the Tamil Tigers for their use of "child soldiers, suicide bombers, and other horrors" is the language of well brought up pigs. Polite, sensible, selfish, evil. Inasmuch as anything can be called evil, it will have this one common attribute, it is the elevation of the self above all else.
This is what makes it hard to fix as a target, because we all have that as beings, as organisms, except those of us who put all our selves into something larger. And then that larger thing is either selfish in its own turn, or not. And on it goes.
We eat other forms of life, and our selfishness in that seems natural and a part of the world. Why not each other's lives, if we can place the other we digest outside of what we call our selves? And this is how it happens.
The Palestinians are not "us", in just the way the Aztec and the Cherokee were not "us", in just the way the Jews in Germany in 1939, or in Spain in 1492 were not "us". It's simple and biologically exact. Us, deserving of approval and protection and finally, survival - even physical immortality should science come up with the keys for that; and against "us" "them" deserving of nothing but our merciful offering of a chance to beg forgiveness and demonstrate remorse and the possibility of joining "us" as inferior less-deserving participants in our ongoing centrality to life itself, or death.
The author of the New Yorker piece, Steve Coll, sees the dead journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga as one of "us", he is after all another journalist, articulate and well-read no doubt, and he probably spoke English proficiently. Never mind that the reason he was killed was that he shed too much light on the dark forces against which the Tamil Tigers are now waging their last most heroic campaign before what will be, if it happens, a kind of extinction.
By practicing these "other horrors" the Tamil Tigers, regardless of Wickramatunga's sympathy for their cause, and his death because of that sympathy, have placed themselves definitively as "not us", as "them".
At the same time the introduction in the New Yorker - and I have to admit I don't know anything about the sympathies held by Steve Coll, who may sympathize greatly with their cause, may only feel intimidated by the bloody proof of the viciousness of the Sri Lankan government who evidently have the enthusiastic support of Coll's own government, the US - ignores everything that would make a moral distinction between the two sides, and sits comfortably at a safe distance from anything like engagement with anything at all beyond the self-interest of those who speak it.
It is a reverting to a kind of an antique childish etiquette, of decorous silence and subtly conveyed simple emotions. And clinging to the only clear moral artifact available, the obvious moral wrong of these "other horrors".
But these "other horrors" don't seem to involve white phosphorus or cluster bombs or depleted uranium.
And nothing in the article suggests any concern with the choices people must make when their voices are consistently denied, when their suffering is denied, when those who speak for them are punished, killed in this case, and their options limited to defeat or final acts of desperation.
The logic is that when you're outgunned and outnumbered you surrender, and you adapt, you become the slave or servant of your new masters, and the world will then roll contentedly along on its new path.
These same spineless assertions have been made consistently, though mostly invisibly, tacitly, whenever the defiant resistance of the oppressed has been inconvenient to those whose comfort depends on peaceful coexistence with the oppressor.
Accusations of the intolerance and authoritarianism of Cuban society under Fidel and the revolution, and in many other countries - and still even now with all the near-instantaneous information available these accusations are made against popular leaders in South America like Morales and Correa, and especially Chavez in Venezuela, come from those who create both the conditions against which the rebellion has its core being, and the resistance to the success, when it comes, of the rebellion, which in turn creates the rigidity and severity the oppressive force can then complain about, except now in South America they can't, because the Bolivarians are pretty flexible.
Emphatically this charge is now made against Hamas in the Middle East.
And there's never any real acknowledgment of what they faced, all these pariah movements, individually and separately, or in parallel and consistently, that pushed them toward rigidity and severity, and desperate measures. This is a trick, a deception. A rhetorical device.
It's a rhetorical trick of sadists, who will argue complacently, with confidence, until the foundations of their cruelty begin to crack. At which point we can expect consistency from many of these souls who express such horror and disgust at the desperate methods of desperate people. We can expect them to shift as quietly as they can from condemnation to what was all along approval.
They will, as soon as it becomes obvious the wind is shifting, quickly adopt the outer signs of the other side, and become encouraging champions of the oppressed, who now bid fair to win.
The terrorist leader - in the eyes of the English government - George Washington is a national hero, and at least nominally admired by those who condemn terrorism, not because his cause was just and his methods were morally superior, but because he won. Many of those who participated in the establishing of post-Revolutionary early US society would as easily have participated in the extension of English colonial rule, had it looked to go that way. The popular media now is rife with such individuals, whioh gives the impression it's the natural human condition to surrender and compromise when expedient, and to exercise sadistic dominance when it's the most direct means of maintaining power.
Those making the tacit argument now against the adoption of these "other horrors", because they're "horrors" and because morally superior people don't stoop to the use of "horrors", are the decendants of precisely that logical decision, to compromise and surrender in the face of otherwise likely defeat, and of course, once started down that path how much more sensible it is to surrender at the first sign of superiority in your enemies, to anticipate defeat far enough in advance you can give up with your dignity intact. Not very often was that decision the result of a moral refusal to stoop to "horrors" in order to resist a larger more powerful enemy.
But there are still among us the spirits of those who refused compromise with evil, who fought to the end, who chose death above dishonor.
Rosa Luxemberg, herself a martyred hero who refused surrender whatever the cost, pointed back nearly 2000 years to Spartacus, a martyred hero whose name the comfortable have recently turned into a hook for selling Pepsi Cola, because at this time nothing really matters but comfort, and selling things.
Sadists despise their victims, it's in the nature of that relationship, but especially they despise the awakening victim who begins to refuse the chains of dominance, which threatens to undo everything.
To those comfortable under the hierarchies of sadism suicide bombers are always markers of a pathology in the group from which they emerge - to those whose lives depend on submission to the more powerful this makes perfect sense. The pathology is the lack of selfish imperative.
Child soldiers, suicide bombers, these "other horrors", all threaten the delicate sensibilities of the compromised, as much as they outrage the compassionate, those who are appalled at clearly unnecessary suffering of the innocent wherever it happens. It's just that for the practitioners of these "other horrors" the suffering was already there, it is in fact an already existing suffering their desperate acts attempt to redress.
Still, decent people must condemn the use of horror and terror.
Unless the horror and terror are employed by the already powerful, upon whose power the comfortable decent depend, for their comfort and the leisure of their decency, which being threatened then makes any expedient weapon justified.
Blowing up a woman with a 9mm projectile fired from a tank while she cowers in the rubble of her home is a regrettable but sensible and understandable by-product of superior military action against those who threaten the stability of a clearly superior society. No symmetry there between the ghastly last act of the female suicide bomber and the soldier inside the tank.
These "other horrors" are consistently employed when nothing else has worked. What about that? Doesn't honor say anything about that?
Nowhere do we see the assumption of the suicide belt as first choice of weapon in any resistance, it's always the last most desperate thing, erupting from a population driven to the brink of defeat.
We may see child soldiers in the feral armies of some African states and find no justification there, only moral collapse and disintegration - but if we have a strong enough lens we can see 14 year old boys, and younger, with guns in arms fighting professional soldiers deployed in the service of King George, during the American Revolutionary War.
If the cause is just why not whole families engaged? Child soldiers have as much potential for honor as any other soldier who fights for cause and not for mere employment.
Coll's introduction to Wickramatunga's letter from the grave was written, and we need to be very careful that the fact of the New Yorker's printing it, with the tacit claims of journalistic solidarity implied by that, doesn't obscure the fact that it's presented, from within a context that justifies everything Wickramatunga was killed for opposing.
The headlines these past weeks have been bleak for the Tamil Tigers - in the US and Canada sympathizers are being convicted for "conspiring to provide material support" to what the US State Department, now personified by Hillary Clinton and bearing the resolute image of Barack Obama's political will, is calling a "terrorist organization".
70,000 people have died in the campaign for independence for Eelam in Sri Lanka, and once again the official position of the United States government is firmly behind the butchers.

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