Ideological Hacks


“You know, the men who came to Washington in the 1980s to lead the Republican conservative revolution wound up running a racket. And Abramoff was their outside man, outside the White House, outside the infrastructure, but he was very welcome inside the government. He had very good ties with Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. It was all part of an apparatus that was designed to launder money.”

Bill Moyers, Democracy Now, October 2, 2006

I wouldn’t exactly call Bill Moyers a radical or even a leftist. By any reasonable standard, he has always been firmly in the center of the spectrum of U.S. politics. Yet more and more he sounds like a muckraker ringing the alarm about political corruption. I think he is right on the money, so to speak. He’s been out promoting three new TV sized documentaries, the first (showing this week) is called Capital Crimes, and explores the ramifications of the Abramof scandal. I thought Tom DeLay was the victim of an “over zealous Texas prosecutor”!

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Broken English

The term “haji” is not simply an ethnic slur, like “gook,” “jap,” “jerry” or “nigger.” All ethnic slurs entail hostile stereotypes, but “haji” is a specifically religious stereotype based on hostility toward Muslims. In our 2003 book, Weapons of Mass Deception [15], John Stauber and I described the efforts that the Bush administration has undertaken to rebrand America in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on projects including Radio Sawa [16], Al Hurra [17], a “Shared Values [18]” campaign, and the Council of American Muslims for Understanding [19]. Through glossy brochures, TV advertisements and websites, the United States has sought to depict America as a nation of religious tolerance that respects and appreciates Islam. These words, however, are constantly being undermined by the actual deeds and attitudes of the Bush administration’s most ardent supporters, including soldiers in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the White House has tried to frame the war in Iraq as a “war on terror,” its own supporters keep reframing it as a war against Islam. This is a serious, if not fatal error. Rather than fighting a few thousand actual terrorists, the United States is positioning itself in opposition to one of the world’s major religions, with more than a billion adherents worldwide.

–Sheldon Rampton, from “Hadji Girl”

This is an excerpt from Rampton’s response to a controversy that begin last summer when a group called The Council on American Islamic Relations complained about a video in which U.S. soldiers were “cheering a song that glorifies the killing of Iraqi citizens.” The video was posted online last March. The council reminds us that “A “Hajji” is a person who has made the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but the term has often been used as a pejorative by U.S. troops in Iraq.” Perhaps fortunately, the video has been removed from it original spot on YouTube. Continue Reading →

You Can’t Just Say No

I am always hearing someone or the other say that this is the age of irony, that there are no more heroes, etc. Somehow being smart has gotten all mixed up with being cynical or negative. Here are two people that I think are heroic, both recently interviewed on Democracy Now.

First is Augustin Aguayo, a U.S. solider who decided to become a conscientious objector instead of fighting in Iraq. Aguayo will likely go to jail. You can read about him here:

His interview on Democracy Now is available on his site (look up at the top-right corner of the page).

No less heroic is Army Specialist Suzanne Swift who also refused to serve in the U.S. military in Iraq. Swift alleges that she was was sexually harassed both here and abroad. Her Democracy Now interview is here:

These are courageous people we should all admire and support.