Ray Pensador wrote an excellent diary with some good information about these nefarious elites who are seeking to control the discourse in this country. Yet it left me, and I suspect others, with many unanswered questions. Who are these nefarious liberal elite enablers who are in conjunction with the corporate military industrial complex? What are we supposed to look for to know whether we are dealing with a wolf in sheep's clothing?
I asked Ray in the comments about specifics, to back his arguments up with actual examples. He did not answer the question, but he did direct me to this piece by Chris Hedges. In a Truthdig piece called "The Treason of the Intellectuals," he wrote:
The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among “Bush’s useful idiots” argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false. The war boosters, especially the “liberal hawks”—who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as Bill Keller, Michael Ignatieff, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Walzer, Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, George Packer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kanan Makiya and the late Christopher Hitchens—did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it.It shed some more light on the discussion. But from this, I would say that we have an obligation to know what to look for in deciding who to believe. It would help if Pensador would take an actual piece, break it down, and go from the general to the specific. Who, exactly, is using the "language of PR firms talking points, which seem to originate from a shadow lobbying complex," in his words?
These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed “the political cesspool.” Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” He called the typical anti-war protester a “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.” The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war—shutting down public debate. Those of us who spoke out against the war, faced with the onslaught of right-wing “patriots” and their liberal apologists, became pariahs. In my case it did not matter that I was an Arabic speaker. It did not matter that I had spent seven years in the Middle East, including months in Iraq, as a foreign correspondent. It did not matter that I knew the instrument of war. The critique that I and other opponents of war delivered, no matter how well grounded in fact and experience, turned us into objects of scorn by a liberal elite that cravenly wanted to demonstrate its own “patriotism” and “realism” about national security. The liberal class fueled a rabid, irrational hatred of all war critics. Many of us received death threats and lost our jobs, for me one at The New York Times. These liberal warmongers, 10 years later, remain both clueless about their moral bankruptcy and cloyingly sanctimonious. They have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on their hands.
One thing we could look for is this:
Seriously, I just don't care.Nothing wrong with what Greenwald and Snowden are doing, but the point that Markos was making is that to act like what the NSA is doing is the worst thing in the world when we have had slavery, Jim Crow, the Trail of Tears, the killing of millions in Iraq, deportations, harassment of Muslims, and many other things I could name is drama.
NSA spying is bad! So is stop and frisk. So is splitting up families by deporting children to countries they've never been to and don't speak the language. So is harassing American muslims.
Government overreach is bad. But to act like having the government track who you call is the height of government abuse is a very white privileged view of the privacy issue.
But as for Greenwald and Snowden? Seriously, I don't give two shits.
There is nothing wrong with Greenwald choosing to specialize in NSA. It is one of the most important revelations of the new century, with major implications for US relations with allies. But if someone turns their cause into a purity contest, be skeptical.
Far be it from me to be the equivalent of Chris Hedges. But here are a few recommendations of what to look for.
If someone says that they're against the police state, but then turn around and say that they favor laws banning abortion, anti-gay legislation, or mass deportation, be skeptical.
If someone says they're for any kind of war with the exception of self-defense or in accordance with international law, be skeptical.
If someone treats the poor, the homeless, the marginalized, or bullying or rape victims like they don't matter, be skeptical.
If someone believes that the world is about to come to an end, be skeptical. After all, why should we work to stop climate change or care for our planet if the world is going to end anyway?
If someone makes it about you instead of the subject matter, have as little to do with them as possible.
If someone uses the oppression of one group of people by another as an excuse to engage in racism, anti-semitism, homophobia, or other intimidating actions or bigotry, be skeptical.
History will indeed judge us by what we write, say, and do. But one of the first signs that a movement is in trouble is if everything becomes a purity contest and not an effort to build coalitions. Throughout our history, the best way to win elections is to build coalitions of like-minded voters around a common goal.