The Question of David Icke

The New Age writer David Icke has been used to condemn Alice Walker, one of America’s most important and courageous authors. The organizers of the Bay Area Book Festival disinvited Walker, who won the Pulitzer prize for fiction for The Color Purple, after receiving complaints charging that Walker embraced the anti-Semitic writing of the New Age author David Icke, who she has praised for being “brave.” The festival organizers also attacked her poem “It is our (Frightful) Duty to Study the Talmud” for being anti-Semitic, blaming it on Icke’s influence. I wrote a column denouncing the smearing of Walker, her disinvitation and called for the public and presenters to boycott the festival over her blacklisting.

Icke was accused of being anti-Semitic and allegedly promoting the forged and rabidly anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a December 17, 2018 article in The Tablet,which describes itself as an “online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture.” The article by Yair Rosenberg was titled “The New York Times Just Published an Unqualified Recommendation for an Insanely Anti-Semitic Book.” The charges made by The Tablet appear to have been accepted uncritically by numerous critics of Walker, few of whom appear to have read Icke’s book.

I don’t allow my students at Princeton, Columbia, Rutgers, or any other college I teach at, to engage in class discussions about the assignment unless they have done the reading.

— source | Chris Hedges | Apr 30, 2022

Nullius in verba

America’s Intellectual No-Fly Zone

Immediate shrieking outrage of course ensued (why doesn’t Twitter have a special “torch” emoji for denunciatory mobs?). Chomsky was judged a genocide-enabling, America-hating Kremlin stooge. A tiny sample:

I reached out to Chomsky about the brouhaha. The good professor was charmingly unaware he’d set off a social media meltdown, but commented in a general way.

“It’s normal for the doctrinal managers to bitterly condemn people who (1) don’t keep rigidly to the Party Line, so can’t be admitted into their circles and (2) have some outreach to the rabble,” he said. “Makes sense, quite normal. Have to make sure that the ‘herd of independent minds’ doesn’t stray.”

Chomsky has often mentioned a proposed introduction to Animal Farm that was undiscovered until 1971. In it, George Orwell said free societies suppress thought almost as effectively as the totalitarian Soviets he ridiculed in his famous farmhouse allegory. He wrote, for instance, that critiquing Stalin was simply not done in the English liberal society of that time:

The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular – however foolish, even — entitled to a hearing? Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say “Yes.” But give it a concrete shape, and ask, “How about an attack on Stalin? Is that entitled to a hearing?” and the answer more often than not will be “No.”

Chomsky brought up this Orwell passage again with regard to the Ukraine controversy, citing the example of a former U.S. diplomat named Chas Freeman.

— source | Matt Taibbi | Apr 20, 2022

Nullius in verba

American Commissars

The ruling class, made up of the traditional elites that run the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, is employing draconian forms of censorship on its right-wing and left-wing critics in a desperate effort to cling to power. The traditional elites were discredited for pushing through a series of corporate assaults on workers, from deindustrialization to trade deals. They were unable to stem rising inflation, the looming economic crisis and the ecological emergency. They were incapable of carrying out significant social and political reform to ameliorate widespread suffering and refused to accept responsibility for two decades of military fiascos in the Middle East. And now they have launched a new and sophisticated McCarthyism. Character assassination. Algorithms. Shadow banning. De-platforming.

Censorship is the last resort of desperate and unpopular regimes. It magically appears to make a crisis go away. It comforts the powerful with the narrative they want to hear, one fed back to them by courtiers in the media, government agencies, think tanks and academia. The problem of Donald Trump is solved by censoring Donald Trump. The problem of

— source | Chris Hedges | Apr 18, 2022

Nullius in verba

How Trump’s Lies Became GOP Dogma

A federal judge ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump and his lawyer “likely” committed multiple felonies in their bid to block certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory in 2020. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter ordered Trump legal adviser John Eastman to turn over hundreds of emails to the House committee investigating the January 6th attack, after determining Trump and Eastman launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, calling it a, quote, “coup in search of a legal theory,” unquote.

Also Monday, the House January 6th committee voted unanimously to recommend criminal contempt of Congress charges against former White House aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, after they became the latest former Trump administration officials to refuse to cooperate with congressional subpoenas.

Meanwhile, as we just reported, the January 6th committee may seek to interview Ginni Thomas, the Republican activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, about her efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.

— source | Mar 29, 2022

Nullius in verba

Democracy, lockdowns, climate change and nuclear war

A: Well, there are basically two fundamental things that are species properties of humans, common to the species, no analogue elsewhere. One of them is what we’re now using, language. It’s essentially the core of our being. It sets us totally apart from the animal world. Another species property is, simply, thought. As far as we know, there’s no thinking in the world, or maybe in the universe, in anything comparable to what we have. And the two are closely linked — language is the instrument of thought and the means for formulating thought in our mind, sometimes externalizing at others. These two capacities seem to have emerged together probably about the same time as Homo sapiens. They’re common to all humans, apart from severe pathology. And there are no analogues in the animal world. In fact, there may not be any anywhere, as far as we know.

A: One of the striking things about language, which greatly impressed the founders of the Scientific Revolution — Galileo and his contemporaries — is what is sometimes called the creative aspect of human thought. We are somehow capable of constructing in our minds an unbounded array of meaningful expressions. Mostly, it happens beyond consciousness. Sometimes, it emerges to consciousness. We can use these in a way which is appropriate to situations and constantly in new ways, often which are new in the history of the language in our own history. This creative character through the centuries has been connected speculatively, but not absurdly, to a fundamental instinct for freedom, which is

— source | Jan 23, 2022

Nullius in verba