Ilargi: The Media – Fake and False and Just Plain Nonsense

Yves here. In keeping with the spirit of this post, an Emerson College study found that the American public trusts Trump more than the media. And if I interpret him correctly, Ilargi’s post has a small off-key note: a tomato is indeed a fruit.

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

Two and a half weeks after the inauguration, and yes it’s only been that long, the media still don’t seem to have learned a single thing. They help the Trump campaign on an almost hourly basis by parroting whatever things, invariably judged as crazy, he says. One day it’s that negative polls are all fake news, the next it’s some list of underreported terror events. All of it gets an avalanche of attention provided by the very people who claim to be against Trump, but greatly help his cause by doing so.

Not a single thing learned. If Trump tweets tomorrow that tomatoes are really fruits and he’s going to have someone draw up a law to make them so, or that Lego should be recognized as an official building material in order to have the Danes, too, pay for the wall, it will be on the front page of every paper and the opening item for every TV news show. The crazier he makes them, the more serious they are taken. The echo chamber is so eager to incessantly repeat to itself and all its inhabitants that he’s a crazy dude, it’s beyond embarrassing.

And it takes us ever further away, and rapidly too, from any serious discussion about serious issues, the one very thing that the Trump empire desperately calls for. The press should simply ignore the crazy stuff and focus on what’s real, but they can’t bring themselves to do so for fear of losing ratings and ad revenues. All Trump needs to do, and that’s not a joke, is to fart or burp into their echo chamber and they’ll all be happy and giddy and all excited and self-satisfied. A spectacle to behold if ever there was one.

British House of Commons Speaker John Bercow can play that game too. He has loudly advertized his refusal to let Trump address UK politicians in the House of Commons and the House of Lords: “An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor..” It’s an honor recently gifted to the likes of China President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait. Fine and upstanding gentlemen in the tradition Britain so likes, nothing like the American President whom he accuses of racism and sexism.

The racism part ostensibly is a reaction to Trump’s Muslim ban, which, nutty though it is, is not a Muslim ban because most Muslims are not affected by it, and besides, ‘Muslim’ is not a race. So maybe Bercow would care to explain the ‘racism’ bit. Has anyone seen the British press pressuring him to do so? Or, alternatively, has anyone seen a thorough analysis of the British role, though its military and its weapons manufacturers, in the premature deaths in the Middle East and North Africa of many thousands of men, women and children belonging to the Muslim ‘race’? Not me.

The ‘sexism’ accusation refers to Trump’s utterances on for instance the Billy Bush tape(s), and by all means let’s get the Donald to comment on that. But this comes from a man who speaks as an official representative of the Queen of a country where child sex abuse is a national sport, from politics to churches to football, where literally thousands of children are trying to speak up and testify, after having been silenced, ignored and ridiculed for years, about the unspeakable experiences in their childhood. Surely someone who because of his job description gets to speak in the name of the Queen can be expected to address the behavior of her own subjects before that of strangers.

Yeah, that Trump guy is a real terrible person. And he should not be allowed to speak to a chamber full of people directly responsible for the death of huge numbers of children in far away sandboxes, for or the abuse of them at home. After all, we’re all good Christians and the good book teaches us about “the beam out of thine own eye”. So we’re good to go.

What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of ‘righteousness’ and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

Child sex abuse has been a staple of British society for a long time, we’re talking at least decades. Only now is it starting, but only starting, to be recognized as the vile problem it is. But still many Britons feel entirely justified in demonizing a man who once talked about touching the genitals of grown women. If that did happen against their will, it’s repulsive. But still, there’s that beam, guys. Read your bible.

The political/media black hole exists in many other countries too; we are truly entering a whole new phase in both domestic and global affairs. That is what allows for the Trumps and Le Pens of the world to appeal to people; there is nobody else left that people can have any faith in. The system(s) are broken beyond repair, and anyone perceived as belonging to them will be cast aside. Not all at the same time, but all of them nonetheless.

Whether you call the menu the people have been fed, fake or false or just plain nonsense, it makes no difference. The British House of Commons Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside, he’s probably just another victim of the falsehoods, denials and deceit spread 24/7. The difference between them and ordinary citizens is that Her Majesty’s representatives in the political field MUST know. They get paid good salaries to represent the Queen’s subjects, and looking the other way as children get assaulted and raped does not fit their job description.

That goes for representatives of the church (i.e. Jesus) just as much of course, and for the execs at the BBC, but about as many of those people are behind bars as there are bankers. For anyone at all at any of these institutions to now speak with great indignation about Trump’s alleged racism and sexism is the very core of all of their problems, the very reason why so many turn their backs on them. It shows that the very core or our societies is rotten, and the rot is spreading.

We are facing a lot of problems, all of us, in many different ways, financially, politically, morally. But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we’ve been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination.

The longer this braindead attitude prevails, the worse things will get, and the more Trumps will surface as leaders of their respective countries. And the longer the attitude prevails, the more anger we will spread in those parts of the world that do not belong to our ‘chosen’ societies. And for that we will have only ourselves to blame. Not Trump.

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  1. Disturbed Voter

    Citizens and politicians are in a social compact, so it is said. Both sides may have defaulted on the agreement, something the Enlightenment didn’t anticipate. In the modern era of triangulation, opposition parties, that used to keep each other relatively honest, no longer do that. In the modern era of media consolidation, opposition newspapers, that used to keep each other relatively honest, no longer do that. Be are being suffocated by de facto bi-partisanship, that is just a shadow play of its former partisanship. The status quo has gone stale.

  2. geoffrey gray

    my favorite dump on trump was the times article about the special ops raid in yemen. the obama team planned it, trump pulled the trigger. now we learn the yemen government is against special ops raid. (yemen has a government?) we also learn from the times that obama wouldn’t have gone through with the raid because too risky! So saint obama is the good killer, trump the bad killer. it makes you sympathetic to trump. but i think alot of us thought trump would calm down some once in office. calling judiciary names, saying they can’t even understand concepts that a “bad high school student” can, is not, what’s the word, adult? and you can’t ignore the sinister intent behind the muslim ban–it’s based on propaganda and fear–it’s provenance is neocon.

    1. RUKidding

      In complete agreement with you about the dump trump article praising saint obama to the skies because obama allegedly “refused” to OK the special ops raid on Yemen, but Trump did. LIke, THIS time obama “refused” to do it? Why? Speculation is futile, but my speculation is that Obama held off in order to have it fall on Trump. Then Obama could skippity do dah off into the sunset with his burnished halo in tact.


      Agree with the second part of your comment, too. I wish Trump would behave differently. The comment about the judiciary was incredibly wrong and also very stupid. His fervent fans may well clap and cheer for that, but Trump is painting himself into some corners by behaving that way. The Judiciary and lawyers – a powerful group in this nation, for better or worse – simply aren’t going to take that laying down. Although I’m sure the judiciary will (mostly) strive for objective impartiality.

      The stupid media would serve themselves, their Oligarch owners, and the nation better if they ignored the bulk of Trump’s dumb tweets and focus more closely on what he and his Admin are doing.

      1. Waking Up

        The Obama administration dropped 26,171 bombs on seven countries (some of the poorest on earth) in one year – 2016. Anyone who wants to put a halo on that needs to check their ethics.

      2. Allegorio

        That is the point isn’t it. Distract and misdirect. Everybody’s attention is on the man/child in the White House, mean while, trillions are being stolen and wasted while millions die. Certainly we are in an age of every man for himself mass insanity.

  3. Josh Stern

    Following Disturbed Voter’s comment above – we can usefully distinguish 3 different levels of dishonesty by how hard they are to detect: Level 1 – the everyday liar/hypocrite whose dishonesty we notice over time by observing that what they do is not consistent with what they say, Level 2- the regular criminal who hides his honesty from public view, to profit from it, but can be caught by effective law enforcement, and Level 3- the State Intelligence agency with extreme levels of funding, novel tech. capabilities, secrecy, & ability to ignore or even control law enforcement and large chunks of the public mass media. It’s the Level 3 category that society has become relatively defenseless against. Alternative media carries report after report on how the Iraq War was phony, how the US created al Qaeda and ISIS, how Cheney planned to invade Iraq and 6 other Middle East nations on Sept. 20, 2001 – not because of any links to US created al Qaeda – and a big chunk of that plan is still being carried out today, 4 Presidential terms later.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      While we don’t know much about what the intelligence agencies do, by design, we do know a few things. That in the conditions of the early Cold War, and given the mandate against all enemies foreign and domestic (the oath the military takes) that narrative control is a vital weapon. We know that journalists, clergy and even rock stars have been actual agents, so the number of fellow travelers must be considerable. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has been necessary, so it was thought by some, to manufacture new enemies on a Vietnam scale. And the exercise and paranoia … against domestic enemies has returned to 1960s levels as well. For the old men nostalgic for the 60s, from the neocon side, these last few decades have been sweet.

    2. Moneta

      Actually it’s the level 1 that leads to level 3.

      Materially, all we really need is to cover and protect our body from the elements and food. Everything else is gravy.

      Psychologically, we need a lot more than what North American society offers most of us today but for some reasons we keep on lying to ourselves thinking that if we had a little more stuff we’d be happier.

      We all have to lie to ourselves thousands of times a day to keep our routines and lifestyles… and all these lies make society.

    3. Persona au gratin

      In actuality, your level 3 level of disinformation described above is largely self-imposed, and I would suggest that the intelligence operatives who first “imposed” it knew that full well. Intelligence activities in general are mostly about “perceptions,” and surprise, surprise; no one knows that better than intelligence operatives themselves. In short: the public’s assessment (and fear) of intelligence activities is overstated by design and for GREAT effect. Yes, intelligence capabilities are greatly enhanced these days, just as they’ve always been. But no, we are still HARDLY defenseless against it.

  4. Jos Oskam

    Hey Yves, the tomato question does seem to have something to it: “Nix v. Hedden (1893) was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that, under U.S. customs regulations, the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit”. From Wikipedia:

    Note to Ilargi: re tomatoes, somebody got there before Trump :-)

  5. Gaylord

    I think a great number of people in the US and in Europe do not trust the MSM any more, even though they may continue to pay attention as a spectator sport (people do enjoy yelling at their TV sets). Activism is another ball game that is still being played, but in the US it has become nearly futile because of the restrictions and police tactics used to squelch them or shut them down. It can also be impossible to distinguish between genuine protesters, paid participants, and shit-disturbers or agents-provocateurs, which dilutes the message (questionable intent by those who want to promote or discredit the demonstration).

    Having read the comments here and on other independent sites for a long time, I’ve noticed the tremendous increase in articulate and aware commenters that can see through the tissues of lies from the MSM and take even a lot of the “serious” stuff with a grain of salt, knowing that some things don’t change much and people tend to overreact based on shock-value news designed to stir resentment and “us vs. them” divisiveness. This is encouraging because it shows people are wising up, thinking more critically about who is really running the show (it is not Trump by-and-large), and not allowing their views to be manipulated.

      1. KurtisMayfield

        I believe it was Iraq. When they named the 2003 invasion Operation Iraqi Liberation, or O.I.L. , all the pretense of it being for any legit reason was gone.

          1. RUKidding

            We citizens were also supposed to get our Iraqi oil dividend back, which allegedly would pay for that many trillion dollar exercise in futility.

            Guess that got syphoned right up into Dick Cheney’s pockets. Ya snooze, ya lose.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Huh? Iraq? Did I miss something?
            I heard about some thingy where we wasted trillions of dollars and killed millions of people. But all of the people who thought THAT was a good idea are gone now, hiding their heads in shame and hoping they don’t get summoned to a war crimes tribunal. Right?

        1. BeliTsair

          I believe it was the Gnadenhutten massacre. The 96 Moravian Lenape, brained with mallets, by Washington’s Virginia Militia were probably too busy clawing through their former frozen fields, looking for corn kernels to feed their children, to pose much of a threat as terrorists?

      2. VietnamVet

        Yes, what got to me was the Western instigated coup in Ukraine. I voted for Barrack Obama twice but could not vote for Hillary Clinton. I rationalized that the Iraq Invasion was an isolated crazy GOP debacle. Denial is powerful defense mechanism. If the media lies, America is a not so innocent killer, and the Cold War 2.0 with Russia has reignited; we are screwed. Austerity, scapegoating Russia and the flood of millions of refugees into Europe are proof that this is the awful truth.

    1. Allegorio

      It is one thing to tell a pollster that you do not trust the media, yet the media narrative pervades all discourse. The media “facts” are parroted where ever you go. With a barren education devoid of history economics culture, your average citizen reflects whatever is beamed at him, indiscriminately. I don’t know the numbers, but what percentage of the American public believes that Russia hacked the recent elections? What percentage of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a member of Al Queda? How many Americans believe that “entitlements” are bankrupting the U.S.? They may not trust the media, but believe every lie it perpetuates hook line and sinker.

  6. running dog lackey

    It’s about ratings people. The president of NBC himself said it during the campaign when someone asked why he was televising everything the Insane Clown was saying. You all need to watch Network again. Nothing’s changed. Which means they brought him up and now they will take him down.

    1. Tom

      Ratings are to broadcast or print media as shareholder value is to corporation — the overriding metric that blots out any reponsibility to the commons.

  7. Chris G

    “The…Speaker may not be such a bad guy inside”. Ah, not so. Check out this Pat Lang post,

    and the long trenchant comment by LondonBob including these paras:

    “The Twitter-cheering for John Bercow, the transformation of him into a Love, Actually-style hero of British middle-class probity against a gruff, migrant-banning Yank, could be the most grotesque political spectacle of the year so far. Not because it’s virtue-signalling, as claimed by the handful of brave critics who’ve raised their heads above the online orgy of brown-nosing to wonder if Bercow is really promoting himself rather than parliamentary decency. No, it’s worse than that. It’s the lowest species of cant, hypocrisy of epic, eye-watering proportions, an effort to erase Bercow’s and Parliament’s own bloody responsibility for the calamities in the Middle East that Trump is now merely responding to, albeit very badly.

    “Bercow, you see, this supposed hero of the refugees and Middle Eastern migrants temporarily banned from the US, voted for the bombing of Iraq. He green-lighted that horror that did so much to propel the Middle East into the pit of sorrow and savagery it currently finds itself. As his profile on the They Work For You website puts it, ‘John Bercow consistently voted for the Iraq War’. On 18 March 2003, he voted against a motion saying the case for war hadn’t been made, even though it hadn’t. On the same day he voted for the government to ‘use all means necessary’ to ensure the destruction of Iraq’s WMD.

    “As everyone knows now, and as many of us knew back then, Iraq’s WMD capacity had been vastly exaggerated by the black propaganda of the New Labour government, by myth and misinformation cynically whipped up to the end of providing Britain’s leaders with the thrill of an overseas moral crusade against evil. Bercow voted in favour of these lies. And he voted for the use of ‘all means necessary’ to tame Saddam’s regime. We know what this involved: Britain joined the bombing campaign and courtesy of an ill-thought-through war by Western allies, Iraq was ripped apart and condemned to more than a decade of bloodshed. And refugee crises. Bercow was one of the authors of this calamity, one of the signatories to the Middle East’s death warrant, and now we’re going to let him posture and preen against Trump’s three-month ban on certain Middle Eastern migrants? What is wrong with us?”

    But kudos to kind-hearted Ilargi for willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to one of these preening monsters!

  8. jackiebass

    Trump loves any kind of publicity. The media is playing right into his hand by printing all of the garbage he generates.I know many Trump voters and supporters. They all complain that the media is picking on Trump. None of them look seriously at what he says or does. There universal reaction is give him a chance and quit picking on him.The media would be better off focusing on his and congreses policy decisions and how that effect the average person. Turning he’s presidency into a big soap opera is actually helping Trump keep his supporters. I have not heard a single Trump voter say they regret voting for Trump.

  9. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Good to see some focus on Britain’s version of the Augean stables. In terms of the so called Westminster paedophile ring – the last I heard on this it was that, Ooops….we appear to have lost a substantial amount of vital evidence. I imagine that MI6 have on record most if not all of the disgusting details, which I also imagine are useful assets that can be used to control certain people.

    In my opinion, this is a good explanation from 2015, of the behaviour of the BBC & the Guardian, from journalist Jonathon Cook.

  10. The Trumpening

    So far Trump has only really accomplished two things: he shut down the TPP and he inspired Lena Dunham to lose some weight. Everything thing else has been more or less noise.

    I’ve always thought this first two years of Trump’s reign will involve him in bringing to heal the establishment GOP (GOPe) Obviously during the confirmation process, Trump has to be on his best behavior. But I don’t like the pattern of Trump issuing useless EO’s, and then the Democrats going ballistic, and then Trump supporters being satiated by all the Dem whining. That’s a recipe for two years of nothing.

    On the Muslim ban, there are two parts to it. The current NeoCon / NeoLib tag-team play is to kill a million Muslims in their nations and then to offer the survivors the weak reach around of letting a million Muslims emigrate to the West. Trump seems to be offering a different deal. The West stops killing Muslims in Muslim nations and in return Muslims stay in Muslim nations and stop coming to the West. We have yet to see if Trump can hold off the temptation to start slaughtering Muslims in their nations like the NeoCons do.

    I get the feeling from Trump’s over-the-top reaction to the courts staying his Muslim ban that he actually doesn’t want it reinstated. I read on a pro-Trump legal blog that the Justice Department lawyers were super weak in their arguments before the 9th Circuit court, in what should be a super easy case to argue. Activist judges halting the ban means when the inevitable next terrorist attack comes, Trump can blame it on the judges and make some sort of move to purge their power.

    On Iran, Trump has zero leverage and so I do not see how this is going to end well. The only thing we can hope for is this is a bit of Kabuki being regulated by Putin. In the end a US-Russian alliance, as Trump is proposing, means a closer relationship between the US and Iran. Israel will not be pleased.

    My theory on Trump’s relationship to Israel is that he is giving them enough rope for them to hang themselves. In Europe particularly the Israeli brand is getting fatally interwoven with the Trump brand. So far the only thing saving Israel is diaspora Jews being able to shame their local populations away from the BDS movement. But the diaspora is 98% anti-Trump. There is currently a huge increase of oxygen being given to the BDS movement, which means it should soon spring back to life.

    Can Trump be allies with Israel and Russia (and Iran)? The only way I can see this happening is a deal where Iran gets to go nuclear and become fully integrated into the global community in exchange for allowing Hezbollah to be wiped out by Israel.

    Trump is at his anti-NeoLiberal best when he is in deep trouble. I was happy when that Access Hollywood tape came out because I knew he would have to double down on Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and go full-on butch economic nationalist. And it won him the election. Hopefully the seas will get very rough soon and we can all enjoy the spectacle of full combat between Team Trump and the GOPe.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      I like the “offer the survivors a weak reacharound”. Reminds me of Vietnam, where we would napalm a village and then fall over ourselves making sure the burn victims all got Band-Aids

    2. Fiver

      The entire Trump military/security team is wildly anti-Muslim, so the thought they are not going to keep on killing Muslims all over the map is just plain silly.

      Bannon is just plain dangerous. Here’s a piece on his favorite books. Not surprisingly, he hates Muslims. Also, he appears to imagine himself a brilliant strategist for the ages who just happens to be the right man for ‘The Fourth Turning’, one of those ideas and books that purports the existence of an historical pattern based on a cycle of generations, each generation of every group of 4 having its own ‘character’, taken together claiming to explain a long cycle of great crises and/or turning points of US history. He believes we are now in such a critical period. It’s one of those notions that has superficial appeal but quickly falls apart when engaged critically:

      Bannon is now running stuff via Briebart’s network that will make your hair stand on end:

      As for Israel, there is not the remotest chance Trump will do something Israel doesn’t like – even if he doesn’t appoint Elliot Abrams to #2 at State.

      Here’s what Ron Paul thought of that idea:

      Abrams would be an absolute disaster.

      TPP? Globalization? I see no evidence whatever that Trump has any intention of rolling back US-dominated corporate globalization, rather, he wants to create trade flows that are even more wildly skewed in favour of US financial/corporate power internationally even while effectively transferring wealth from the periphery to core of Empire to support some minor job creation – of course in the meantime granting outlandish tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy at large.

      I’m sorry, but Trump et al have played millions and millions of well-meaning Americans like a fiddle.

      1. JTFaraday

        “Bannon is now running stuff via Briebart’s network that will make your hair stand on end”

        Exactly. I don’t know why anyone thinks you can make nice with the insane right. Hillary et al were dead right to the extent that Republicans have to leave and come “to us,” (if not necessarily to her).

        Is this really secondary to “the class war”? I’m not so sure.

    3. Allegorio

      Trump aka Henry Kissinger is playing Nixon’s wooing China away from the Soviet Union in reverse. The Russia/China alliance is very worrisome to the US elite, likewise Russia’s support for Iran. The whole Ukraine episode was a bargaining chip to bring Vladimir Putin to heel. The Crimean referendum mitigated that leverage saving the Russian fleet from this blackmail attempt. Hence the rage at being foiled. The hope is that Trump can seduce Putin away from China and Iran. All the rant about Putin controlling Trump is just a smoke screen for the next geo-political chess move.

  11. UnhingedBecauseLucid

    The best description of the “Trump Situation” ever written was penned by ‘Steve from Virginia’ author of the blog Economic Undertow:

    One word that describes our precious country is incompetence. We have gone from being the ‘we-can-do-it’ nation that put a man on the Moon to the ‘hire a Mexican to do it’ nation that cannot find its ass with both hands. The fact of our dysfunction and the country’s reliance on migrant labor are what gives form to the efforts of Donald Trump. Yet he acts against himself: he is the lazy-man of American politics who requires others to do his heavy lifting. This does not mean physical labor but instead the struggle to become clear in the mind, to craft out of disparate- and contradictory elements a policy outline or philosophy of governing. This is never attempted, it is too difficult, instead there is the recycling of old, bankrupt memes. The candidate’s absence of effort leaves a residue of personality: Trump is a blank page upon which others paint in the sketch, an actor who aims to meet (diminished) public expectations and nothing more, sound and fury significant of nothing in particular.

  12. bbrawley

    I’m surprised no one seems to see a serious side to the reporting of Trump’s antics. Is it not important to keep hammering home that the man is unhinged and that this is something pulling at the social frabric, something crying out to be dealt with? I seriously doubt that we’ll be able to address the “real issues” adequately until we find ways come to terms with him not as a buffoon but as a deeply flawed human being.

  13. Donald

    Another false note–“Muslim is not a race.” True, but being Jewish is not a racial characteristic and yet it is obvious that antisemitism is very similar to racism in its irrationality and hatred. Antisemites a hundred years ago would in some cases point to radicals who were Jewish as their excuse, just as Islamophobes would point to Islamic extremism as theirs. Racists I grew around would point to Idi Amin’s Uganda ( yes, I am old) and other African countries with horrible human rights records as proof that American blacks should be grateful to be here.

    This “Islam is not a race” is mainly a tiresome distraction used by bigots and not a prelude to a deeper discussion on the wide varieties of human bigotries. Bigots can use almost any category they wish and concoct pseudo- rational propositions to buttress their hatred. We even have lefties hating blue collar white males as a group for Trump support. We don’t have to join the people who use nitpicking phrases not to analyze, but to justify their hatreds. I don’t think the writer intends to do this, but he is using a standard Muslim blame cannon phrase.

    After all this, I actually liked the rest of this piece, but that part was nails on a chalkboard to me. I am glad the liberal mainstream is siding with Muslims against Trump. There are some liberals ( Maher, Sam Harris etc..) who have been pushing a Muslim bashing agenda. And yes, as usual the mainstream which is so solicitous of Muslim rights cared little when Obama bombed Muslim countries. But I would rather that liberals be right if hypocritical then consistently wrong.

    1. Optimader

      As far as the term Racism, i think oretty well captures contemporary common use.

      You forgot to mention Zionist racism directed toward Palestinians. An equally equivalent contemporary application of the term

      On the subject of Trump i believe his executive order is directed toward travelers from seven countries that the previous Potus identified in an anti-terrorist executive order.
      If I have it correctly, Neither Trump or BHO e orders are directed against muslims or any other religion for thats matter.

      1. Donald

        I agree with you on Zionist racism towards Palestinians.

        On the deep path on the definition of racism, it depends. Given the prevalence of Islamophobia in the US, some of it on the left ( including the kneejerk supporters of Israel), I don’t think it is helpful to use the “Islam is not a race” phrase as some sort of rebuttal. Islamophobia is a form of bigotry– whether one wants to nitpick about exactly what form should depend on the circumstances.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I do not believe in the corruption of language. Confucius said that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names.

          Are you by the same sloppy logic going to cal bias against women and gays “racism”?

          Islamophobia is indeed not racist. Arabs, many American and African blacks, Persians (who are not Arabians) and Indonesians among others are followers of Islam.

          We already have perfectly good works, like “bigotry,” “bias,” and “discrimination”.

          1. Donald

            I probably shouldn’t have said anything, since the original poster clearly isn’t a bigot, but it set me off because in most cases this “Islam is not a race” phrase is used by Islamophibes and they of course do not follow up by pointing out that it is a form of bigotry, like antisemitism. If the poster here only means we should call it bigotry and not racism, I agree.

            But that meme is used a lot and usually by Islamophobes who won’t cop to being bigots either. They aren’t trying to have a deep conversation about different forms of bigotry. They are trying to argue that it is rational to fear Muslims because Islam is, in their view, an inherently evil ideology. But in practice Islamophobes are not rational or necessarily even consistent. That’s why I wrote my comment, pointing out that bigotry in any form is generally not some carefully thought out logical train of thought, but some pseudo- rational set of propositions often garbled together. This is why a Sikh can get beaten up by Islamophobes. It is also why antisemites are often so confused about whether they hate Jews as a religion, as an alleged race, or as some group of scary communist bankers. It’s not like racism itself is usually based on a clear understanding of biology.

            So if we are going to push back on Islamophobia as racism, it should be so people see it as like antisemitism, which is what it most closely resembles.

            I have written enough today, so I am going to stop.

          2. optimader

            Re Confucius, George Orwell had his thoughts along those lines. re: intentional corruption of language.


            The reality is language evolves, often for the worse making clarity of message a casualty, unless a tedious definition of terms is invoked which can easily end up being a form of deflection from the original point.. ..
            File under :Liberal/Conservative/Neoliberal/Progressive. I find all these Identity Labels can be very loosely applied for reasons other than clarity.

            In the case of the word Race, it is, some would correctly contend, archaic terminology while simultaneously being convenient shorthand for “red meat” identity invectives.

          3. Fiver

            And what colours/races are 99% of Muslims? There are a tiny smattering of ‘whites’ and but inside and outside the US Muslims are brown, black and ‘yellow’. Look at cartoons. Go back and read personal accounts by Brits, French, then Americans for the last 200 years. Look at how unbelievably easy it has been for the British, then Americans (and most of the ‘white’ world) to simply murder or arrange the murder of millions of Muslims in their own lands. Look at articles and comments sections on alt-right sites. To even try to claim there isn’t a deeply racist element to so-called ‘Islamophobia’ in the US, Canada, UK, and Western (white) Europe is just not being honest about how pathetically simple it is to whip up hate or fear of the ‘other’ when they have dark skins, dark eyes and dark hair – and what could be more convenient if you are the US, and wish to wage a generational war for oil and Israel in dozens of countries that did nothing to deserve such treatment if they are all wrapped up together with the single word “Islamic”?

            1. Outis Philalithopoulos

              Forms of bigotry tend to become to some extent “physicalized,” i.e. associated with a repugnant physical image of the target group. By virtue of the medium, cartoons tend to accentuate this aspect of prejudice. As one of the other commenters suggests, Jews could be physically very similar to the populations they were living among, but cartoons would still emphasize stereotypical physical differences. I’ve seen comic books with evil Southern racist villains. In such cases, the villains are routinely drawn so as to appeal to stereotypes about inbred rednecks.

              Should we start using the term “racist” for all forms of bigotry that are to some extent physicalized? As far as I know, no one does so consistently, although Pier Paolo Pasolini came close. Pasolini often used razzismo to refer to contempt for slum or rural Italians, in a way that is somewhat shocking to modern sensitivities.

              Modern debates about how to use the word “racism” become extremely charged due to the fact that if the label “racist” can be made to stick, that has been considered sufficient grounds for ostracism, firings, and other institutional punishments. Other forms of bigotry (e.g. towards rural Southerners) are not penalized in the same way. For this reason, it is appropriate to scrutinize uses of the word closely.

              To take your particular example, it is true that it has been easy enough “to whip up hate and fear” toward Arab populations. Judging from Cold War rhetoric and recent media stories, however, it might not be that hard to “whip up hate and fear” toward Russians, either. Or take Shia vs. Sunni in Iraq and elsewhere, or Ireland a few decades ago. It seems to suffice to be able to take the group as culturally alien in some way, and the results can be as appalling as one wishes.

          4. Allegorio

            Racism, as a word is obsolete in that there are no races, a nineteenth century anachronism. Every time the word racism is used, it affirms the concept that there are races. There is only one race, the human race. In the spirit of Confucius, and in the interest of enlightened discourse it time to retire the word racism and use the more accurate words: bigotry, bias and ethnic discrimination.

    2. River

      Muslim isn’t a race. If the ban had been about Arabs not being allowed in you’d have a point. However, a person from Indonesia is allowed in and that country is almost entirely Muslim.

      Plus, complaining about the US exercising boarder control is ridiculous. That is one the jobs of a nation. No one bat an eye when Japan stated we’re not allowing anyone in wrt to any refugee problem. Yet when any Western nation does it, the sky falls and the charges of bigotry come out.

      No one has the right to move to another country.

      1. Donald

        People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here. Yemen, for instance, is bombed by the US and much more heavily by the Saudis with our help and keeping refugees from Yemen out is an extreme form of ugly Americanism. If we don’t want the refugees, then we should stop causing or contributing to the chaos and death in the countries which produce the refugees.

        1. Gorgar Laughed

          >People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here.

          And where are these rights enumerated? I don’t recognize “moral rights” beyond those associated with copyright (and I am not particularly fond of those, either).

          1. Donald

            So the fact that we are bombing civilians and helping the Saudis plunge Yemen into a famine is something you don’t question, just the right of our victims to come here?

            1. Gorgar Laughed

              Not fond of herring, either.

              “Our victims”?

              The legacy of Obama’s incompetence in foreign policy does not obligate American citizens to accept — or to foist upon their posterity — changes in the demographic make-up of our populace.

              I’m still interested in learning where you discovered this moral right to move here…

              1. Donald

                Not fond of herring either?

                In other words, morality is a matter of preference and your number one moral value in this context is keeping out refugees, people who suffer precisely because of our foreign policy. Demographic balance is somewhere near the top of your own personal list of flavors. Anyway, my notion of moral right involves the crazy idea that if you help destroy a country you have moral obligations to the victims.

                And by the way, Trump is likely to escalate our support for the Saudi war on Yemen.

                1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  LOL it certainly was a matter of preference for our recently departed Drone-Bomber-In-Chief, and for all of the people who (thought/think) he was a really moral and upstanding kind of guy. Just like our former Secretary of State, who threatened to cut off Sweden if they didn’t accept Monsanto poison.
                  “You’re black!” said the pot to the kettle

                2. different clue

                  Perhaps the moral obligation to our victims of a country is to help the survivors of the destruction rebuild their country . . . so they don’t have to flee it.

        2. Optimader

          “People who live in countries that are bombed by the US or its close allies have the moral right to come here.”

          The US does have the moral obligation not to bomb countries that have not attacked the US and in that case only in a “just war” context if at all

          1. Donald

            Meaningless. The US frequently bombs innocent people or helps others like the Saudis or the Israelis do so. You say it is wrong, as do I, but apparently there are no consequences allowed in your moral universe which might inconvenience us. We really have no moral obligations at all– we can bomb people and if the survivors wish to come here to escape then we have the right to keep them out according to you. All this boils down to is that we have the strongest military. Your views regarding whether we should bomb someone are nothing more than your own idiosyncratic preference and that is using your own standard. The people who control the military want to use it to bomb other countries, so they do. Might makes Right.

            1. bob

              ” Your views regarding whether we should bomb someone are nothing more than your own idiosyncratic preference and that is using your own standard.”

              “The US does have the moral obligation not to bomb countries that have not attacked the US and in that case only in a “just war” context if at all”

              Can’t read, or don’t want to?

              1. Donald

                I read it. So what? If we go ahead and bomb countries anyway, creating refugees, we have no obligation to help them. It is like saying that it was wrong for some Wall Street guys to steal people’s money, but if they do, they have no obligation to give it back.

                1. bob

                  “I read it. So what? If we go ahead and bomb countries anyway”

                  If we go ahead and assume that the earth is flat, why shouldn’t “we” all relocate another planet?

                  It’s just that simple, and your keyboard strawmanning is making all the difference, for “we”.

                  Ground rules- am I arguing with “Donald” or the Royal We, or a heap of straw that you, pardon We(?), keep producing?

                  1. Donald

                    The US does bomb countries, so your flat earth analogy doesn’t really work here. We aren’t discussing hypotheticals. There are real refugees from real policies and Trump is likely to continue them or make them worse. We are directly responsible for the misery of vast numbers of people and the numbers are likely to grow. Set aside the internet squabble we are having, because you are so wrapped up in it you are losing touch with what we are arguing about.

                    Anyway, as I just wrote upthread, I have written enough.

                    1. bob

                      “Anyway, as I just wrote upthread, I have written enough.”

                      That we’ll agree on. Maybe another day you can elucidate on why you bother writing when you could find an airbase and stand on the runway, to stop the bombing.

      2. Anon

        No one has the right to move to another country.

        Even after their homeland has been bombed, invaded, population tortured, social structure crushed?

        1. River

          No they don’t have that right. It falls under “that’s your problem”.

          Now, as harsh as that is I think from a humanitarian view and basic decency another nation should show some compassion and allow them succor. However, nations and the people of those nations are under no obligation to do so.

          Moral rights are meaningless. And yes, I do agree that another nation shouldn’t create the refugees to begin with. As I find war to be a tool that is to be used as last resort. What has been occurring in the mid-East has been so far from a last resort that I can’t even come up with a decent metaphor or simile.

          But that still doesn’t change the fact that people do not have the right to enter another nation if the nation decides to say “No”.

          1. Donald

            So if we go ahead and bomb Yemen or help the Saudis bomb Yemen, it really doesn’t matter at all. We are responsible for war crimes, but we have zero obligation to help the victims.

            You switch back and forth between talk of morality and the law of the strongest. You say we shouldn’t bomb other countries for no good reason, but that is as much a meaningless platitude as you say moral rights are in general. Basically you find it distasteful that we bomb other countries, but what really exercises you is the possibility that some refugees might come here. That will not stand.

            1. Gorgar Laughed

              Have you ever heard of the Melian Dialogue?

              There is a nice little re-enactment of it over at the Youtubes…

              1. Donald

                Yep. The strong do what they can and the weak do what they must. Nihilistic, but certainly a viewpoint I expect would be popular with the powerful.

                1. Gorgar Laughed

                  You miss the point. Realism is not nihilism.

                  The Athenians had no good reason to suppose that the Gods would not favor them.

                  There was nothing in their laws or beliefs to suggest otherwise.

                  Similarly, there is nothing in our laws that requires us to accept population transfers because this or that President drops bombs in a far away country on people of whom we know nothing.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Anon is correct. We can be obligated to bomb other countries by treaty. For instance, we bombed France to oust the Nazis as a result of treaty obligations. It is also correct to say that the US has been flagrantly ignoring what were considered to be international norms (pretty much no one notices here, but Russia has been making a stink on a regular basis in the UN).

  14. PKMKII

    Any day since 1/20, you could look at the front page of WaPo, NYT, CNN, etc., and see op-eds about how Trump is very very non-professional, sullying the good name of the office of the President. Denigrating the institution and the very very serious role it plays in American society, nay, the world! And yet the same front page will also cover, in-detail, whatever halfbaked Trump tweet or Spicer’s performance-art-as-press-conference has been served up that day. They recognize that it’s become a farce, but like someone who can’t stop poking the tooth that hurts, they present the farce as being very very important news. The establishment press has become too enamored of the pomp and circumstance, the ceremonial of the White House media operation and their visible, although largely pointless, role in the whole thing. They’re too scared of giving that up, lest they lose prominence or, le horror, have to do real reporting. So the Washington press corp prop up their end of the ceremony in the vain hopes of a return to the way things were, in denial of how their function is quickly becoming redundant. If all they’re going to do is talk about Trump’s latest tweet, we might as well just stop reading their sites and just read his tweets ourselves. Social media can just give us the press releases directly, we don’t need the press to act as town criers, screeching out Trump’s decree in the town squares.

  15. flora

    an aside re Yves intro:

    “Emerson College study found that the American public trusts Trump more than the media. ”

    The WaPo’s attempt to turn readers away from great sites like NC with their “fake news” story has backfired spectacularly. Thanks to NC and others furious initial pushback, including well crafted letters from NC’s atty and the recipients responses published on NC, the term “fake news” has become a joke in the court of public opinion. It’s become a subject for comedy skits. This is no small thing. Actually, it’s a pretty big thing. McCarthist witch hunts live and die in the court of public opinion, imo. See: Joseph Welch, “Have you no sense of decency sir?”

    And with that exchange the court of public opinion turned against McCarthy and the witch hunt. Now…where was I going with this…?

    1. different clue

      The Washington Fake News Post.

      The New York Fake News Times

      National Public Fake News Radio.

      Make it a welded-in part of their names. That is one place we could go with this.

  16. Gorgar Laughed

    >After all, we’re all good Christians

    Who’s “We” Paleface? Bercow’s not a Christian.

    And it looks as though we may finally be seeing the worm turn on the kiddie rape: the Rochdale rape gang is now set to be deported to Pakistan.

    Local MP Simon Danczuk: “Foreign-born criminals should not be able to hide behind human rights laws to avoid deportation.”

    I suspect this line of thinking is going to be picked up in other countries on the Continent, and sooner rather than later.

    Once we start seeing child sex investigations target the English ruling class, we will know that we are getting somewhere…

  17. Blurtman

    Hispanic isn’t a race, nor is Latino, but that has not stopped the MSM, bleeding hearts and SJW’s from emoting.

    1. PKMKII

      I was a census worker in 2010, and the forms didn’t include Hispanic/Latino as a race; rather, it was put as a separate identity category with sub-answers for specific country of ancestral origin. However, 9 times out of 10 Hispanic responds would have me put “Hispanic” in the write-in box for the “Other” race option (the other 10% would have me write-in their ancestral country). The smarties with the degrees can say it’s not a race, but if the people say that’s their race, who are we to say otherwise?

      1. Blurtman

        Ask Rachel Dolezal. Or perhaps Elizabeth Warren, an undocumented Native American (i.e., Indian). And yes, Pew Research would agree that folks who consider themselves to be Latino consider Latino to be a race. But most are Native American.

        But not anyone can be recognized as Native American in the USA unless they are on a tribal register, which is odd, as the USG seems to subject Native American citizens to a higher level of proof than Native Americans from south of the border.

  18. Anon y Mouse

    “…. But our problem is not called Donald Trump. And we need to stop pretending that it is. We are the problem. We allow our governments to tell our armies to bomb and drone innocent people while we watch cooking shows. We have believed, as long as we’ve been alive, whatever the media feed us, without any critical thought, which we reserve for choosing our next holiday destination.”….

    Dear Raul,

    Yes, the media creates distortions in our perceptions. Yes, the orange one plays that terrain like a pro. Yes the British MP is hypocritical. I am with you there.

    “We are the problem.” This kind of reasoning may be correct on a cosmic scale but it always seems to run to one of two conclusions. 1) Become a Buddhist and try to improve yourself. 2) Humans are too dumb to survive; wait until nature takes its course and humans kill themselves off playing Russian Roulette.

    I am not sure what your are recommending here. Do we let the orange sacred clown run this imperialist project into the ground? (To be replaced by what?) Or in opposing Trump do we clarify what we do want = i.e. a government that does not torture, a government that does not protect gotcha game mortgage lenders, a government that does not arm the world, a government that does not subsidize old suicidal fossil fuels, a government that is not run by a hysterical 3 AM tweeting 16 year old Marie Antoinette, your issue here….

    I don’t know the answer here. The orange bull in the china shop is useful in so far as he reveals certain truths = ex: waterboarding is torture, congressmen are for sale, America has killed a lot of people, etc. If he stops the NeoCon project of invading other countries he might even be a benefit to world peace. But he’s also likely to get people killed with his impulsive decisions and his ginning up the rubes.

    1. Persona au gratin

      It took quite awhile to construct the current state of affairs, it will likewise take quite awhile to deconstruct it again. As the self-appointed destroyer of all things great and small, the great Orange Haired Orangutan’s ways will apparently rarely make sense to anyone at all, very possibly including him and the members of his inner circle. But call me a naif and a fool, I still trust that there’s a method to his madness, or failing that, simply divine provenance of sorts at work here. And trust me, I’m not one usually taken in by claims of divine provenance.

      But back to the reason for his prevailing in the election in the first place. Radical times bring radical problems, which call for radical solutions, which attract and inspire radical personalities to fulfill them. So it has been written, so it is, and so it shall be. Trump is nothing more than a personification of our current radicalized to the point of schizophrenia zeitgeist brought about by the last 16 years (in particular) of living in complete denial about the damage we’re doing in the world post 9-11. I’m MUCH LESS worried about what HE will do, and MUCH MORE worried about what we Americans will do in response.

      But in the end, there’s not much point in worrying about it either. The proverbial “beast has been unleashed,” for better or worse, and now our only choice is to “ride the storm out” and see where this line of thinking leads us over the course of the next four years, or preemptively try to abort it somehow by either judicial or extra-judicial means and embrace the EVEN GREATER uncertainty that THAT would imply, in the short term at least.

      Personally, I think Americans have MUCH to learn from what a Trump administration has to teach them. Granted, much of it is unflattering in the extreme, but THAT is where the “true growth” occurs, as the self-help gurus are known to say. In short, when I look at Donald Trump I see the perfect reflection of America as a whole in 2016. Fat, arrogant, vain, pompous, self-righteous, opinionated, over-bearing, and overly informed about the things that benefit him personally but completely clueless about almost everything else. Sound like anyone you know personally?

      In short, for those who don’t like Trump, perhaps they’d be advised to get serious about reaching across current political dividing lines of whatever sort and supporting causes and candidates who actually support them, rather than the current bunch who can only be guaranteed to take their money and run (THE major lesson to be learned in the 2016 election cycle!).

      In the mean time, a “stiff upper lip” is probably the best advice for most of us, in the full realization that although we’ve certainly brought this on ourselves collectively, we have nowhere to go but up from here, provided of course we choose a better path going forward. But rest assured, the onus is on US to fulfill that last part, and there’s no guarantee WHATSOEVER that we’ll actually do it.

  19. Waking Up

    What this really tells you is to what extent the political systems in the US and the UK, along with the media that serve them, have turned into a massive void, a vortex, a black hole from which any reflection, criticism or self-awareness can no longer escape. By endlessly and relentlessly pointing to someone, anyone, outside of their own circle of ‘righteousness’ and political correctness, they have all managed to implant one view of reality in their voters and viewers, while at the same time engaging in the very behavior they accuse the people of that they point to. For profit.

    On a recent interview with Donald Trump, Bill O’Reilly stated in regards to Vladimir Putin “But he’s a killer”. Donald Trump responds with a truth rarely heard in the media today, “There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?”

    I may not be a fan of Donald Trumps, but, how can we put down that level of honesty? Imagine if we actually had an honest nationwide discussion on what we are doing in the rest of the world….

    1. Persona au gratin

      And today John “Insane” McCain and Barry “I’m a REAL Patriot and you’re NOT!” McCaffrey were hyperventilating that Trump’s comments were un-American and essentially treasonous, especially for a sitting president. As weather vanes indicating true right and true wrong, these two curmudgeons are about as dependable as it gets, as long as you adjust for the customary 180′ “windage.”

  20. Dave

    Obama was a product made possible by GWB’s shortcomings, Trump is a product of Obamas. This is the worse polarization I have ever been witness to in my 51 years (Viet Nam war type clash of opposing views is closest comparison, but that was before me).

    I do relish the hypocrisy of the media saying they have to renew their dedication to holding the POTUS accountable after 8 years of being on their knees waiting to please BHO. They were by and large sycophants for Obama and the Dems. Even when BHO muzzled them (whistleblower prosecution, FOIA denials and redactions, seizing phone records of AP reporters and hacking emails of others, etc etc) the press still dropped to all fours when he approached.

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