Archive for December, 2012

“Zero Dark Thirty: CIA hagiography, pernicious propaganda” by Glenn Greenwald [Guardian]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Anti-Islam hysteria, CIA, Islamophobia, Torture, US imperialism, USA on December 31, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Director Bigelow and screenwriter Boal are utterly overrated; “The Hurt Locker” was Oscar-anointed Iraq War propaganda that sucked hard. Bigelow’s looking like the neo-con/neo-liberal Leni Reifenstahl. If you’re making a film about bin Laden, you are warping reality to start with 9/11 and ignore the fact that he was a key asset/ally in the US’ CIA-enabled proxy army fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the ’80s – Zuo Shou

14 December 2012

* As it turns out, the film as a political statement is worse than even its harshest early critics warned *

…”Zero Dark Thirty and the utility and glory of torture”…

…This film presents torture as its CIA proponents and administrators see it: as a dirty, ugly business that is necessary to protect America. There is zero doubt, as so many reviewers have said, that the standard viewer will get the message loud and clear: we found and killed bin Laden because we tortured The Terrorists. No matter how you slice it, no matter how upset it makes progressive commentators to watch people being waterboarded, that – whether intended or not – is the film’s glorification of torture…

…”CIA propaganda beyond torture”…

As it turns out, the most pernicious propagandistic aspect of this film is not its pro-torture message. It is its overarching, suffocating jingoism. This film has only one perspective of the world – the CIA’s – and it uncritically presents it for its entire 2 1/2 hour duration.

All agents of the US government – especially in its intelligence and military agencies – are heroic, noble, self-sacrificing crusaders devoted to stopping The Terrorists; their only sin is all-consuming, sometimes excessive devotion to this task. Almost every Muslim and Arab in the film is a villainous, one-dimensional cartoon figure: dark, seedy, violent, shadowy, menacing, and part of a Terrorist network (the sole exception being a high-level Muslim CIA official, who takes a break from praying to authorize the use of funds to bribe a Kuwaiti official for information; the only good Muslim is found at the CIA).

Other than the last scene in which the bin Laden house is raided, all of the hard-core, bloody violence is carried out by Muslims, with Americans as the victims. The CIA heroine dines at the Islamabad Marriott when it is suddenly blown up; she is shot at outside of a US embassy in Pakistan; she sits on the floor, devastated, after hearing that seven CIA agents, including one of her friends, a “mother of three”, has been killed by an Al Qaeda double-agent suicide-bomber at a CIA base in Afghanistan.

News footage is gratuitously shown that reports on the arrest of the attempted Times Square bomber, followed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pronouncement that “there are some people around the world who find our freedom so threatening that they are willing to kill themselves and others to prevent us from enjoying them.” One CIA official dramatically reminds us: “They attacked us on land in ’98, by sea in 2000, and by air in 2001. They murdered 3000 of our citizens in cold blood.” Nobody is ever heard talking about the civilian-destroying violence brought to the world by the US.

The CIA and the US government are the Good Guys, the innocent targets of terrorist violence, the courageous warriors seeking justice for the 9/11 victims. Muslims and Arabs are the dastardly villains, attacking and killing without motive (other than the one provided by Bloomberg) and without scruples. Almost all Hollywood action films end with the good guys vanquishing the big, bad villain – so that the audience can leave feeling good about the world and themselves – and this is exactly the script to which this film adheres.

None of this is surprising. The controversy preceding the film arose from the deep access and secret information given to the filmmakers by the CIA. As is usually the case, this special access was richly rewarded.

In the Atlantic this morning, Peter Maass makes this point perfectly in his piece entitled “Don’t Trust ‘Zero Dark Thirty'”. That, he writes, is because “it represents a troubling new frontier of government-embedded filmmaking.” He continues: “An already problematic practice – giving special access to vetted journalists – is now deployed for the larger goal of creating cinematic myths that are favorable to the sponsoring entity (in the case of Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA).”

Indeed, from start to finish, this is the CIA’s film: its perspective, its morality, its side of the story, The Agency as the supreme heroes. (That there is ample evidence to suspect that the film’s CIA heroine is, at least in composite part, based on the same female CIA agent responsible for the kidnapping, drugging and torture of Khalid El-Masri in 2003, an innocent man just awarded compensation this week by the European Court of Human Rights, just symbolizes the odious aspects of uncritically venerating the CIA in this manner).

It is a true sign of the times that Liberal Hollywood has produced the ultimate hagiography of the most secretive arm of America’s National Security State, while liberal film critics lead the parade of praise and line up to bestow it with every imaginable accolade. Like the bin Laden killing itself, this is a film that tells Americans to feel good about themselves, to feel gratitude for the violence done in their name, to perceive the War-on-Terror-era CIA not as lawless criminals but as honorable heroes.

Nothing inspires loyalty and gratitude more than making people feel good about themselves. Few films accomplish that as effectively and powerfully as this one does. That’s why critics of the film inspire anger almost as much as critics of the bin Laden killing itself: what is being maligned is a holy chapter in the Gospel of America’s Goodness…

…The issue here is falsity. The problem isn’t that they showed torture working. The problem, as Adam Serwer and Andrew Sullivan amply document, is that the claims it makes are false. Given the likely consequences of this fabrication – making even more Americans more supportive of torture, perhaps even making the use of torture more likely in the future – that this is a so-called “work of art” does not excuse it (notably, Bigelow is not defending the film on the ground that she showed torture as valuable because it was; she’s disingenuously denying that the film shows torture as having value)…

…Whatever else is true about it, Zero Dark Thirty is an aggressively political film with a very dubious political message that it embraces and instills in every way it can. David Edelstein, the New York Magazine critic, had it exactly right when he wrote that it “borders on the politically and morally reprehensible”, though I think it crosses that border. It’s thus not only legitimate, but necessary, to engage it as what it is: a political argument that advances – whether by design or effect – the interests of powerful political factions.

Full article link:

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

See also “The truth about Zero Dark Thirty: this torture fantasy degrades us all” by Michael Wolff [Guardian] Article link:

Excerpts: “…Without the pretense or, in some ultimate post-modern sense, the fiction that this is true, what you would have here, with all the lovely staged scenes of cinematic torture, is something as bent and campy and revisionist as Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ…”

“…Bigelow, more a special-effects cinematographer than a movie director, and Boal, a run-of-the-mill scriptwriter, have, like many in Hollywood, only average or sub-par dramatic skills. They are helped and elevated by “real events”. Truth is a dramatic crutch.

In some further moral inversion, it is probably not the case that they actually believe their movie to be true. Rather this is, for them, a convenient construct, a rhetorical rouse, a vulgar and opportunistic lie, which the entire apparatus of making and selling this film is happy to join: truth, or the appearance of it, sells…”

“…The bald claim, or the meta construct, or the wink wink about this being a serious and important version of a big issue is really just so we can get to the total sexiness of physical abuse. You need a higher purpose to get out-and-out pervy stuff like this into a big-budget movie. History is the justification.

Kathryn Bigelow is a fetishist and a sadist, which, in a literary sense, certainly has a fine tradition [that’s irony, I suspect – ZS]. But without some acknowledgement that this is her lonely journey and not a shared one – not our collective reality, not a set of accepted assumptions but, for better or worse, her own particular, problematic kink – all you have is a nasty piece of pulp and propaganda.”


Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmasters” Final Trailer – film set for early January 2013 release in China [ / Sweet & Sour Cinema]

Posted in Kung Fu, Martial Arts, Sweet & Sour Cinema, Yuen Wo Ping 袁和平, Zhang Ziyi 张子怡 on December 29, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“The Grandmasters” 《一代宗师》 final trailer:

Slated for January 8, 2013 release in PR China

“The Grandmasters” is this blog’s most anticipated film yet, since the work of Wong Kar-wai [Wang Jiawei] is much admired here. While this writer has been in China several years, this is the first of auteur Wang’s films to be released in that time. It’s kind of astounding when you think about it, but that’s Wong Kar-wai’s dilatory film-making for you… Not a fan of male lead “Little” Tony Leung [Tony Leung Chui-Wai / Liang Chaowei], whose career has been serially disappointing for quite some time. Hope he doesn’t screw this one up (cough “Red Cliff” cough). — Zuo Shou

Rights for permanent foreign residents set out [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Expats in China on December 28, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

(China Daily)

December 12, 2012

Foreigners who obtain permanent residency will have the same pension, employment and property rights as Chinese citizens, under new regulations announced on Tuesday.

Access to schools for their children will also be on par with Chinese citizens the rules endorsed by central government departments in September state.

The only rights not afforded to “green card” holders are political rights.

Foreigners with permanent residency can participate in all aspects of social insurance and avail of the benefits.

There are five types of social insurance: endowment, medical, unemployment, work-related injury and maternity.

Green card holders are exempt from a restriction that does not allow foreigners who have worked or studied less than a year in China to buy property. They can also work in China without a work permit.

Their children, of a compulsory education age, can attend a school that is near their place of residence, and they will not be charged any fees except a statutory sum.

Foreigners who have permanent residency can enjoy simplified investment and registration procedures if they want to invest in or set up a business…

Full article link:

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

“The Illusion Of Democracy” – Liberal Journalism, Wikileaks… [Media Lens]

Posted in BBC bias, distortions and lies, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Corporate Media Critique, Iraq, U.K., Wikileaks on December 28, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by David Cromwell

December 18, 2012

In an era of permanent war, [and] economic meltdown…, we need all the champions of truth and justice that we can find. But where are they? What happened to trade unions, the green movement, human rights groups, campaigning newspapers, peace activists, strong-minded academics, progressive voices? We are awash in state and corporate propaganda, with the ‘liberal’ media a key cog in the apparatus. We are hemmed in by the powerful forces of greed, profit and control. We are struggling to get by, never mind flourish as human beings. W e are subject to increasingly insecure, poorly-paid and unfulfilling employment, the slashing of the welfare system, the privatisation of the National Health Service, the erosion of civil rights, and even the criminalisation of protest and dissent.

The pillars of a genuinely liberal society have been so weakened, if not destroyed, that we are essentially living under a system of corporate totalitarianism. In his 2010 book, Death of the Liberal Class, the former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges notes that:

‘The anemic liberal class continues to assert, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that human freedom and equality can be achieved through the charade of electoral politics and constitutional reform. It refuses to acknowledge the corporate domination of traditional democratic channels for ensuring broad participatory power.’ (p. 8)

Worse, the liberal class has: ‘lent its voice to hollow acts of political theater, and the pretense that democratic debate and choice continue to exist.’ (pp. 9-10)

This pretense afflicts all the major western ‘democracies’, including the UK, and it is a virus that permeates corporate news reporting, not least the BBC. For example, the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson has a new book out with the cruelly apt title, ‘Live From Downing Street’. Why apt? Because Downing Street is indeed the centre of the political editor’s worldview. As he explains in the book’s foreword:

‘My job is to report on what those in power are thinking and doing and on those who attempt to hold them to account in Parliament.’ (Added emphasis).

Several observations spring to mind:

1. How does Nick Robinson know what powerful politicians are thinking?

2. Does he believe that any discrepancy between what they really think and what they tell him and his media colleagues is inconsequential?

3. Why does the BBC’s political editor focus so heavily on what happens in Parliament? What about the wider spectrum of opinion outside Parliament, so often improperly represented by MPs, if at all? What about attempts in the wider society to hold power to account, away from Westminster corridors and the feeble, Whip-constrained platitudes of party careerists? No wonder Robinson might have regrets over Iraq, as he later concedes when he says:

‘The build-up to the invasion of Iraq is the point in my career when I have most regretted not pushing harder and not asking more questions.’ (p. 332).

4. Thus, right from the start of his book Robinson concedes unwittingly that his journalism cannot, by definition, be ‘balanced’.

But, of course, corporate media professionals have long propped up the illusion that the public is offered an ‘impartial’ selection of facts, opinions and perspectives from which any individual can derive a well-informed world view. Simply put, ‘impartiality’ is what the establishment says is impartial.

The journalist and broadcaster Brian Walden once said: ‘The demand for impartiality is too jealously promoted by the political parties themselves. They count balance in seconds and monitor it with stopwatches.’ (Quoted, Tim Luckhurst, ‘Time to take sides’, Independent, July 1, 2003). This nonsense suggests that media ‘impartiality’ means that one major political party receives identical, or at least similar, coverage to another. But when all the major political parties have almost identical views on all the important issues, barring small tactical differences, how can this possibly be deemed to constitute genuine impartiality?

The major political parties offer no real choice. They all represent essentially the same interests crushing any moves towards meaningful public participation in the shaping of policy; or towards genuine concern for all members of society, particularly the weak and the vulnerable.

The essential truth was explained by political scientist Thomas Ferguson in his book Golden Rule (University of Chicago Press, 1995). When major backers of political parties and elections agree on an issue ­– such as international ‘free trade’ agreements, [or] maintaining a massive ‘defence’ budget… – then the parties will not compete on that issue, even though the public might desire a real alternative.

US media analyst Robert McChesney observes:

‘In many respects we now live in a society that is only formally democratic, as the great mass of citizens have minimal say on the major public issues of the day, and such issues are scarcely debated at all in any meaningful sense in the electoral arena.’ (McChesney, Rich Media, Poor Democracy, The New Press, 2000, p. 260).

As the Washington Post once noted, inadvertently echoing Ferguson’s Golden Rule, modern democracy works best when the political ‘parties essentially agree on most of the major issues’. The Financial Times put it more bluntly: capitalist democracy can best succeed when it focuses on ‘the process of depoliticizing the economy.’ (Cited by McChesney, ibid., p. 112).

The public recognises much of this for what it is. Opinion polls indicate the distrust they feel for politicians and business leaders, as well as the journalists who all too frequently channel uncritical reporting on politics and business. A 2009 survey by the polling company Ipsos MORI found that only 13 per cent of the British public trust politicians to tell the truth: the lowest rating in 25 years. Business leaders were trusted by just 25 per cent of the public, while journalists languished at 22 per cent.

And yet recall that when Lord Justice Leveson published his long-awaited report into ‘the culture, practices and ethics of the British press’ on November 29, he made the ludicrous assertion that ‘the British press – I repeat, all of it – serves the country very well for the vast majority of the time.’

That tells us much about the nature and value of his government-appointed inquiry…

Full article link:

Edited / excerpted by Zuo Shou

Daughter of former South Korean dictator wins presidency [World Socialist Website]

Posted in China, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Fascism, Japan, Obama, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on December 20, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Thank you so bloody much for choosing the fascist’s daughter, ‘older Koreans’. I’m waiting to see DPR Korea’s take on the south Korean bourgeois’ electoral outcome — Zuo Shou

By Ben McGrath
20 December 2012

Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party emerged as the next South Korean president last night. She edged out her opponent Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party (DUP) by 51.6 percent to 48 percent. The voter turnout, at 75.8 percent, while higher than in previous recent elections, reflected widespread alienation, especially among young people, toward the entire political establishment, including the Democrats.

Park’s election represents a turn to authoritarian forms of rule by the South Korean corporate elite in preparation for confrontation with the working class. She is the eldest daughter of the late military dictator, Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea for most of the 1960s and 1970s. Her father ruthlessly suppressed democratic rights, and all strikes and protests by workers, laying the basis for the rapid growth of the country’s conglomerates, the chaebol.

When her mother was killed in 1974 by North [sic] Korean agents, Park served as her father’s first lady. He was assassinated in 1979 by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, Kim Jae-gyu, amid a bitter dispute over killing protesters during a wave of labour and student unrest. In 1998, she became a member of the National Assembly.

Park appealed particularly to older Koreans on the basis of misplaced nostalgia about her father, who often is credited by the media and right-wing politicians for turning impoverished Korea into the fourth largest economy in Asia. Speaking to supporters following her victory, Park said it was a victory for “the people’s hope” for economic recovery.

In order to appeal to voters, both Park and Moon rhetorically talked about “economic democratisation” to curb the power of the chaebol. The dominant sections of big business threw their weight behind Park. She used her father’s slogan “Let’s Live Better” which demands sacrifice from the working class, supposedly for a better life in the future.

Korean Federation of Industries vice-chairman Jung Byung-chul warned in a letter last month that the Korean people must prepare “for a major belt-tightening endeavor.” He criticised politicians for “pursuing populist policies to win votes ahead of the presidential election, rather than devoting themselves to overcoming the economic crisis.”

Big business judged that Park, who in the past has spoken glowingly about her father “saving the nation” through his 1961 military coup, would not hesitate to unleash police-state repression against the working class to enforce an austerity agenda.

Park appealed to voters to make an historic “change” for “gender equality” by electing Korea’s “first woman president.” In reality, she represents a new wave of free market restructuring that will widen the gulf between the rich and poor. She has presented herself as the Korean version of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

For the working class, social conditions will continue to worsen. As the South Korean economy slows to an estimated 2.4 percent growth this year, more companies, including GM Korea and telecom giant KT, are slashing jobs. Students are graduating from universities with massive debts, yet one fifth of them are unable to find a job.

The failure of the Democrats to win the presidency reflects a deep crisis in the South Korea’s so-called “liberal” camp. Even Moon’s mild calls for regulation of the chaebol were deemed unacceptable by the corporate elite. At the same time, Moon was unable to win support among young people, because of widespread disaffection from the DUP.

The DUP and its allies campaigned on a platform critical of outgoing president Lee Myung-bak, whose approval rating hovered in the 20 percent range. Despite this, they failed again—as they did in April’s national assembly elections—to capitalise on this public hostility, as a result of their own anti-working class policies when in office during the 1990s and early 2000s.

President Kim Dae-jung in particular played a major role in undermining the social position of the working class. He pushed through the demands of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, ending the life-long employment system in the major corporations and opening the door for low-paid casual labor. Roh Moo-hyun, Kim’s successor, continued these policies, allowing Lee to capitalise on widespread public disgust to come to power in 2007.

Moon’s loss also exposes the bankrupt politics of the DUP’s “left” backers, notably the United Progressive Party (UPP) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Both pushed for Moon’s election, trying to present him as a “progressive” alternative to the Park. The UPP’s presidential candidate, Lee Jung-hee, briefly made headlines with her condemnations of Park, before bowing out of the race in favor of Moon. The KCTU, which has collaborated with the Lee administration in suppressing strikes, sought to dupe workers into believing that Moon would be more susceptible than Park to working class pressure.

While the election focused primarily on domestic economic policy, looming international issues are sure to play a significant role in Park’s presidency. Both Park and Moon adopted a conciliatory tone toward North Korea, in order to distance themselves from President Lee’s unpopular policy of confrontation. Park, however, maintained a more hard-line stance, compared to Moon, who advocated returning to the “Sunshine Policy” implemented by previous Democrat administrations to seek to open up investment opportunities in the North.

Park’s victory is sure to be welcomed by the Obama administration. It counts South Korea as a key ally in its “pivot” toward Asia to strategically encircle China. However, the South Korean ruling establishment is caught between its military alliance with the US and its massive economic relationship with China. As the business elite developed closer ties with China—already South Korea’s largest trading partner—politicians like Moon hoped to cultivate that relationship by taking a softer tone toward North Korea, also in the hope of exploiting the North as a cheap labor platform.

The tense situation in North East Asia has been exacerbated by last Sunday’s Japanese election, which returned Shinzo Abe’s right-wing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to office. The LDP campaigned on a nationalist platform that will bring Japan increasingly into conflict with China. With the Korean election out of the way, Park’s new government is free to pursue a foreign policy that is more openly aligned with that of the US.

Park’s election is another indicator that a period of sharp political turmoil within the region, and intensified class battles inside South Korea, has opened up.

Article link:

“What if Children Mattered No Matter Where They Lived – and Died?” – Comparing Newtown school massacre with US massacres abroad [Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting / FAIR]

Posted in Afghanistan, Genocide, Obama, Pakistan, Pentagon, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on December 18, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Peter Hart

Dec. 17, 2012

We do not live in a world that treats all life equally. Not even close. Human beings inevitably feel certain tragedies more deeply, based on proximity to the victims, national identity, the circumstances of death and so on.

It is not surprising that there has been so much media attention paid to the horrible massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The thought of small children being gunned down in a classroom is shocking and tragic. And the usual suggestions to avoid “politicizing” a tragedy by talking about public policy decisions that might prevent future tragedies seem to have less resonance this time around.

When we draw comparisons between a particular event and other similar tragedies, it is not to say that they all matter equally, but to remind ourselves that we’re conditioned to feel that some matter quite a bit more than others.

When I heard the news about Newtown, I thought of previous mass shootings in this country. That is perhaps a natural reaction.

But then I also thought about the case of Sgt. Robert Bales. He is accused of massacring 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year, nine of them children. It is not the only atrocity of the Afghan War, but the accounts of the attack are particularly horrifying. Bales allegedly left his base and entered the villages of Balandi and Alkozai, near Kandahar. He proceeded to kill the victims as they slept, and then burned some of their bodies.

It is not that U.S. media failed to cover the atrocity. But the tone of the coverage placed considerable weight on the damage these deaths would do to the war effort (FAIR Media Advisory, 3/12/12). Questions were posed like, “Could this reignite a new anti-American backlash in the unstable region?” One headline stated, “Killings Threaten Afghan Mission.” USA Today actually had on its front page, “Patriot Now Stands Accused in Massacre.”

Seeing the atrocity this way prioritizes issues like national security–and obscures the fact that children were killed in their sleep, and that the person alleged to have killed them was a member of our military. This particular incident is, in some ways, just a more horrifying version of many other U.S. attacks that killed children in Afghanistan, or the drone attacks that have killed hundreds in Pakistan.

It is understandable, on some level, that these deaths will not affect most Americans the same way as the deaths in Newtown. They are deaths in a poor…country most of us will never see.

But that should not prevent us from asking ourselves–and our media–why that is, and wondering what our politics and our culture might look like if media decision-makers felt that that stories like this deserved more attention.

One has to imagine that our world would be different if we treated every tragic death as if it mattered. U.S. media shy away from imagery that could be considered too explicit or graphic–especially when it calls attention to suffering caused or endured by U.S. forces. As journalist Amy Goodman has said on countless occasions, if our media showed the brutal consequences of U.S. warmaking, those policies would change.

Sometimes these discussions can be quite explicit. Time’s Joe Klein’s comment that four-year-olds in Pakistan might have to die from drone attacks so that four-year-old Americans do not die in terrorist attacks was a reminder that, for some people, some lives are practically expendable.

So what would a healthier media look like? It wouldn’t tell us not to grieve over Newtown. It would tell us that violence against children is deplorable no matter where it happens, or who inflicts it–and that there are things we can do to stop it, both close to home and many miles away.

Article link:

School shooting in Connecticut leaves 27 dead, including 20 children [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Assassination, Obama, Psychological warfare, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on December 17, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Disgusting and disgusted in every way with this sick, sick hyper-violent and genocidal society of the US that creates so much global misery. Shame on a mass-murdering war criminal president, government and amoral ruling class and their lick-spittle “senseless” media which spread death and horror from Afghanistan to Libya to Syria and beyond, turning the entire world into a killing field and playground for CIA sadists for sheer dominating power and profit motive — then sheds crocodile tears about how “inexplicable” these home-grown massacres are. FU, USA — Zuo Shou

By Kate Randall
15 December 2012

A gunman walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday morning and opened fire, killing 26, including 20 young children. The shooter was also found dead inside the school of a self-inflicted gunshot.

The horrific event took place at Sandy Hook Elementary, a K-4 school for five- to ten-year-old students. The massacre was the worst in the US since the 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech University, which left 33 dead. The killings follow by less than five months the shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 were killed and 58 injured…

…However, virtually nothing in the way of explanation has been offered in the nonstop media coverage of the shootings, or in the various comments of police and government officials, who uniformly term the deadly chain of events as “inexplicable” and “senseless”.

President Barack Obama made a brief statement from the White House Friday afternoon. “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” he said. “And each time I learn the news I react not as a president, but as anybody else would—as a parent.” He made no effort to account for the events, which his own comment acknowledged were a persistent feature of American life.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s comments proceeded along similar lines: “School shootings are always incomprehensible and horrific tragedies,” he said. “But words fail to describe today’s heartbreaking and savage attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

What intellectual bankruptcy! No US government official or media personality has the mental capacity or courage to ask why these horrible tragedies occur in America with such heartbreaking predictability. The public has barely adjusted itself to one horror when the next one takes place. Even as the media reports Friday’s incident, everyone knows that it is only a matter of time before the next atrocity.

Details of the tragic events in Connecticut are still emerging. In particular, little is known about what could have driven the shooter to plan and carry out such an atrocity. But statements to the effect that such tragedies are always incomprehensible block any examination of the processes that make possible such an antisocial explosion.

Whatever the immediate personal circumstances of each perpetrator, and such circumstances—psychological alienation, mental illness—of course play a role, the regularity of these mass killings expresses the profound sickness of American society, afflicted by social tensions that can find no progressive outlet.

The same figures that speak of “inexplicable tragedies” preside over extreme levels of violence both at home and abroad. Obama is the first US president to openly claim the right to select and order assassinations, including of US citizens. The ruling elite prosecutes an unending series of wars and military invasions, with hundreds of billions of dollars going to the giant killing machine. How could any expression of violence in America today be entirely “incomprehensible”?

At home, the American population is subjected to a culture of violence, not only in the form of police shootings and brutality, but an assault on democratic rights. While the financial elite continues to amass record profits, growing numbers of working families are plunged into poverty.

On the surface, such social tensions do not seem to be part of the reality of a town like Newtown, Connecticut, but they found terrible expression there Friday…

Full article link: