The crime of making Americans aware of their own history

by by William Blum

The Anti-Empire Report

October 4th, 2011

Is history getting too close for comfort for the fragile little American heart and mind? Their schools and their favorite media have done an excellent job of keeping them ignorant of what their favorite country has done to the rest of the world, but lately some discomforting points of view have managed to find their way into this well-defended American consciousness.

First, Congressman Ron Paul during a presidential debate last month expressed the belief that those who carried out the September 11 attack were retaliating for the many abuses perpetrated against Arab countries by the United States over the years. The audience booed him, loudly.

Then, popular-song icon Tony Bennett, in a radio interview, said the United States caused the 9/11 attacks because of its actions in the Persian Gulf, adding that President George W. Bush had told him in 2005 that the Iraq war was a mistake. Bennett of course came under some nasty fire. FOX News (September 24), carefully choosing its comments charmingly as usual, used words like "insane", "twisted mind", and "absurdities". Bennett felt obliged to post a statement on Facebook saying that his experience in World War II had taught him that "war is the lowest form of human behavior." He said there's no excuse for terrorism, and he added, "I'm sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of love for my country." (NBC September 21)
Then came the Islamic cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, who for some time had been blaming US foreign policy in the Middle East as the cause of anti-American hatred and terrorist acts. So we killed him. Ron Paul and Tony Bennett can count themselves lucky.

What, then, is the basis of all this? What has the United States actually been doing in the Middle East in the recent past?
It can't be repeated or emphasized enough. The biggest lie of the "war on terrorism", although weakening, is that the targets of America's attacks have an irrational hatred of the United States and its way of life, based on religious and cultural misunderstandings and envy. The large body of evidence to the contrary includes a 2004 report from the Defense Science Board, "a Federal advisory committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense." The report states:
"Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."
The report concludes: "No public relations campaign can save America from flawed policies." (Christian Science Monitor, November 29, 2004)

The Pentagon released the study after the New York Times ran a story about it on November 24, 2004. The Times reported that although the board's report does not constitute official government policy, it captures "the essential themes of a debate that is now roiling not just the Defense Department but the entire United States government."
"Homeland security is a rightwing concept fostered following 9/11 as the answer to the effects of 50 years of bad foreign policies in the middle east. The amount of homeland security we actually need is inversely related to how good our foreign policy is." – Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review<

The lies that will not die

In his September 22 address at the United Nations, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad mentioned the Nazi Holocaust just twice:
"Some European countries still use the Holocaust, after six decades, as the excuse to pay fines or ransom to the Zionists."
"They threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and the September 11 event with sanctions and military action."
That was it.

By the term "questions the Holocaust" the Iranian president has made clear repeatedly over the years what he's referring to. He has commented about the peculiarity and injustice of a tragedy which took place in Europe resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he asks. And he has questioned the figure of six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany, as have many historians and others of all political stripes who think the total was probably less. This has nothing to do with the Holocaust not taking place.
But, as usual, the Western media pretends that it doesn't understand.

The New York Post (September 22) referred to the Iranian president as "the world's foremost Holocaust denier, the would-be genocidist Ahmadinejad".

Agence France Presse (September 22) stated: "The Iranian leader repeated comments casting doubt on the origins of the Holocaust."

The Washington Post wrote of "Ahmadinejad's speech suggesting larger conspiracies were behind the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks caused delegates to walk out." (September 23)

And Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (September 23) included this amongst the radio program's news headlines: "For the third straight year, Ahmadinejad sent delegates to the exits after questioning the Nazi Holocaust."

Without further explanation of that incendiary term — and none was given — what can "questioning ng the Nazi Holocaust" mean or imply to most listeners other than that Ahmadinejad was questioning whether the Holocaust had actually taken place?

Once again I must point out that I have yet to read of Ahmadinejad ever saying simply, clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally that he thinks that what we know as the Holocaust never happened. For the record, in a speech at Columbia University on September 24, 2007, in reply to a question about the Holocaust, the Iranian president declared: "I'm not saying that it didn't happen at all. This is not the judgment that I'm passing here."

Indeed, I do not know if any of the so-called "Holocaust-deniers" actually, ever, umm, y'know ... deny the Holocaust. They question certain aspects of the Holocaust history that's been handed down to us, but they don't explicitly say that what we know as the Holocaust never took place. (Yes, I'm sure you can find at least one nut-case somewhere.)

Another enduring lie about Ahmadinejad is that he has called for violence against Israel: His 2005 remark re "wiping Israel off the map", besides being a very questionable translation, has been seriously misinterpreted, as evidenced by the fact that the following year he declared: "The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom." (Associated Press, December 12, 2006) Obviously, the man was not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place peacefully.

Carl Oglesby

The president of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), 1965-66, died September 13, age 76. I remember him best for a speech of his I heard during the March on Washington, November 27, 1965, a speech passionately received by the tens of thousands crowding the National Mall:
The original commitment in Vietnam was made by President Truman, a mainstream liberal. It was seconded by President Eisenhower, a moderate liberal. It was intensified by the late President Kennedy, a flaming liberal. Think of the men who now engineer that war — those whoo study the maps, give the commands, push the buttons, and tally the dead: Bundy, McNamara, Rusk, Lodge, Goldberg, the President [Johnson] himself. They are not moral monsters. They are all honorable men. They are all liberals.
He insisted that America's founding fathers would have been on his side. "Our dead revolutionaries would soon wonder why their country was fighting against what appeared to be a revolution." He challenged those who called him anti-American: "I say, don't blame me for that! Blame those who mouthed my liberal values and broke my American heart."
We are dealing now with a colossus that does not want to be changed. It will not change itself. It will not cooperate with those who want to change it. Those allies of ours in the government — are they really our allies? If they are, then they ddon't need advice, they need constituencies; they don't need study groups, they need a movement. And if they are not [our allies], then all the more reason for building that movement with the most relentless conviction.
It saddens me to think that virtually nothing has changed for the better in US foreign policy since Carl Oglesby spoke on the Mall that day. America's wars are ongoing, perpetual, eternal. And the current war monger in the White House is regarded by many as a liberal, for whatever that's worth.
"We took space back quickly, expensively, with total panic and close to maximum brutality," war correspondent Michael Herr recalled about the US military in Vietnam. "Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop."

Items of interest from a journal I've kept for 40 years, part V

William Blum is the authoor of:
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org
Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.
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