Posted by: quiscus | September 5, 2010

September 5, 2010

1.  “The Triumph of Evil

Modern societies have justified their adoption of criminal activities by claiming that such techniques are necessary to combat evil. But the war against evil by the good cannot be won using evil tactics. Evil never yields goodness, and by using these evil practices, the amount of evil in the world increases both in amount and extent. Attempting to save the nation by becoming what you are trying to save the nation from is suicidal. Unless benign techniques such as those developed by primitive societies are put to use, evil will prevail. Then, paraphrasing J. Robert Oppenheimer’s comment after the first atomic bomb was successfully tested, We will have become evil, the destroyer of goodness.

Some decades ago, while having dinner with a newly elected Attorney General of the State of North Carolina and the Chief Justice of that state’s Supreme Court, the jurist told me that everyone involved in the legal system and enforcement had to think like criminals to catch them. He believed the statement to be straight forward and evident until I pointed out that the line between thinking like a criminal and acting like one is very fine and is easily and frequently crossed, which results in increasing the amount of evil in society rather than reducing it. Few apparently notice this consequence and the criminal-like behavior of those charged with enforcing and adjudicating the law has increased so substantially that it has become common practice.

YouTube is replete with videos of police brutality. Police have been videoed beating subdued prisoners, tasering people (even little old ladies) indiscriminately, shooting mentally challenged people they have been called upon to help, and killing people caught committing non-capital crimes who try to escape (sometimes by shooting them in the back). Investigations to determine whether those officers should be held accountable rarely result in any punishment.

People providing forensic information in trials have been shown to have falsified evidence in ways that facilitate convictions.

All that is required to win the battle against evil is to find ways to make the lives of the miscreants miserable. No laws, not violence, not even punishment is needed. Annoy them, shame them, shun them, ostracize them, turn them into social outcasts, personae non gratae. Even if the good in society constitute only a minority, if the minority is large enough, it can succeed using such benign but annoying techniques.

The situation described above is only one of many possibilities. Imaginative people can conceive of others which can be equally effective. Think of ways of using the telephone, twitter, posters, and anything else in similar ways. The governing maxim needed is just make the miscreant’s life miserable.”

2.  “”The Militarization of Hollywood”: Unlocking “The Hurt Locker”

War Propaganda wins the Academy Award

Why did “The Hurt Locker,” a well-acted, tension-filled but otherwise undistinguished Hollywood war movie focusing on a military bomb-disposal team in Iraq, win the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture?

After viewing the film recently, it appears to us that the main reason the U.S. movie industry bestowed the honor is that Kathryn Bigelow, who also received the Best Director prize, concealed the real nature of the American war in two distinct ways.

1. The film did not even hint that the three-man Army elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad operating in Baghdad a year after in the U.S. invasion was engaged in an unjust, illegal war, and thus were participants in what international law defines as a war crime.

According to the film website, the task of the GIs in question was “to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike.”

Unmentioned is the fact that the war destroyed perhaps a million Iraqi lives, and created over four million refugees.

2. Director Bigelow and the film’s big money backers mischaracterized their efforts as “nonpolitical,” as did virtually all the American reviewers.

As one reviewer wrote, it was “remarkably nonpartisan and nonpolitical.” Another wrote: “It’s a nonpolitical film about Iraq. Many films about the Iraq war have fallen into a trap of appearing preachy or at least having a strong point of view.” The New Yorker’s David Denby said the film “wasn’t political except by implication — a mutual distrust between American occupiers and Iraqi citizens is there in every scene,” but the real meaning is that it “narrows the war to the existential confrontation of man and deadly threat.”

If “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means,” as von Clausewitz famously and correctly surmised, a “nonpolitical” film about what is virtually universally recognized as an unjust war is a conscious misrepresentation of reality. “The Hurt Locker” is an extremely political film, largely because of what it chose to omit, masquerading as apolitical in order to disarm the viewer.

Bomb disposal teams exist in all modern wars, but they do not exist in a moral or political vacuum. One side often represents the oppressor, and the other the oppressed, and it is morally dishonest to conceal the distinction.

You’d probably think this film, which won six Academy Awards while the war was still going on, was enemy propaganda.

Well, propaganda is propaganda no matter who’s the perpetrator. Most Americans, it seems to us, are unable to distinguish self-serving war propaganda from reality when it is delivered from the U.S. government, the corporate mass media, or the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

We can’t read director Bigelow’s mind, but objectively “Hurt Locker” seeks to justify the Bush-Obama wars. It does so by suppressing the political context of the wars, and by individualizing and conflating the scope of the conflict to resemble, as reviewer Denby suggests, an “existential confrontation [between] man and deadly threat.”


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