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Health Care & Environment
02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]
02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]
02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]
02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]
02.11 'People Shouldn't Be Going Bankrupt and Dying': Nationwide Week of Action Aims to Build Mass Movement Behind Medicare for All [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.09 The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging [Non-recyclable products should be illegal]
News Media Matters
02.16 We Shouldn't Stick Our Heads In The Sand, But We Do It Anyway [26:46 audio; Fear like Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]
02.15 Samantha Bee: Fox News 'soiling themselves over the Green New Deal' [video clips from Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert]
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
02.16 ‘A Parkland every five days’: project tells stories of the children lost to gun violence [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]
02.16 Rambling Trump calls an emergency in speech that goes on and on and on [1:42 video; an incoherent president just paraphrases lies and distortion from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh...]
02.16 Calling Emergency Declaration a 'Patently Illegal Power Grab,' ACLU Sues Trump [Empathy and fairness are scarce when your President is a psychopath]
02.15 Jayapal Says Medicare for All Bill Coming in Two Weeks as Expert Calls Plan 'Astonishingly Strong' [Corporate control of government and media must be limited to allow efficient programs for the public good]
02.14 Pentagon Fears Climate Crisis, w/ Billions in Damage to US Bases & Societal Upheaval [In maniacally twisted capitalist countries inconvenient truths are ignored or harshly ridiculed, and Trump's stupid Wall obsession dominates the news instead.]
Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism
02.13 The Green New Deal offers radical environmental and economic change [For the survival of life on earth, capitalism must be effectively regulated or banned]
02.12 Climate and economic risks 'threaten 2008-style systemic collapse' [Willfull ignorance of Trump, Republicans, corporate-media and corporate-Democrats is steadfast, if not worsening]
02.11 Trump offers socialism for the rich, capitalism for everyone else [and the poor will die out like the insects]
International & Futurism
02.15 Who Is Really A Socialist? [Who is really a Republican, etc.?]
02.14 House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen [Congress does something good again!]
02.14 Millions Flowed From Venezuelan Oil Firm to Small Bulgarian Bank [Transactions like Manafort performed for Trump. Which Venezuelan political leader is likely behind this—Maduro or Trump-supported Guaidó?]
The Real Menace is 'Thinkers' Like Claire BerlinskiMenace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too
by Claire Berlinski
New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006, 2007.
ISBN 978-1400097685 (Hardcover), ISBN 978-1400097708 (Paperback)
Berlinski’s explanation for her frustration and anger with Old Europe is a grab bag of café cultural criticism and sociological analysis.A better example of the essential emptiness of neo-conservatism than Claire Berlinski’s Menace in Europe would be difficult to find. Sometimes descending to the level of invective heard on right-wing talk radio in the United States, Berlinski’s explanation for her frustration and anger with Old Europe is a grab bag of café cultural criticism and sociological analysis. She condemns Western Europeans as morally bankrupt, weakened by the entitlements granted by their social welfare states, and unwilling to defend their societies or Western Civilization from threat. The Dutch in particular are derided for responding to home-grown Islamist terror with what she describes as the same sort of “bargaining with depravity” she claims they exhibited during the Nazi Occupation. Beyond the ugly vituperation expressed in sweeping generalizations, the most salient problem with her book is in failing to make methodologically defensible comparisons.
Berlinski cherry-picks her evidence.Second, Berlinski cherry-picks her evidence. For example, to support the claim that Muslim minorities in Europe pose a national security threat, she points to findings from a December 2002 ICM Research poll that 44% of British Muslim respondents agreed with the statement that al Qaeda’s attacks (of September 11, 2001) were justified as a response to American aggression. The exact wording of that survey item was as follows: “Some people have said that the attacks by Al Qaeda and associated organizations are ‘a reaction undertaken by sons of Islam who are zealous in the defence of their religion and in response to the order of their God and prophet’.” It would have been fairer of Berlinski to note that the wording of the survey item fairly begs respondents to endorse the more extreme statement and that it is therefore surprising 48% of respondents disagreed.
Berlinski might also have looked at subsequent ICM Research polls of British Muslims. In a March 2004 ICM Research poll, British Muslims were asked the following question: “Would you regard further attacks by Al Qaeda, or similar organizations on the USA, as justified or unjustified?” While 13% of the respondents said further attacks would be justified, 74% said that they would not be justified. In a February 2006 ICM Research poll only 7% of British Muslim respondents agreed with the following statement: “Western society is decadent and immoral and Muslims should seek to bring it to an end, if necessary by violent means.” Instead, 80% agreed with the following alternative statement: “Western society may not be perfect but Muslims should live within it and not seek to bring it to an end.” The better portrayal these findings offer is of a British Muslim community with a rather smaller minority of the profoundly alienated.
Berlinski's Leo Straussian approach is eerily similar to the intellectual technique of fascist intellectuals who made mid-Twentieth century Europe a chamber of horrors.Third, Berlinski gets her facts wrong. After stating that French agrarian populist José Bové was born in Bordeaux, 29 pages later Berlinksi writes that it was “no accident” that Bové “was being born in Cathar country.” The Cathars, or Albigensians, were a heretical Christian sect in 12th century southeastern France. Bordeaux is in southwestern France. For a part-time resident of France, Berkinski’s grasp of its geography is poor. She also makes the mistake of describing the crusade against the Cathars as “genocide,” when that description is no longer accepted by historians of the period.
Fourth, Berlinski writes about ‘national character’ as if it was real. After “analyzing” the lyrics and stage performance of the German band Rammstein, Berlinski concludes that fanaticism is “a German quality.” Elsewhere in the book she describes adultery as the “traditional French pastime.” In what is surely the most atavistic comment in the book, Berlinski describes hybrid relationships as “genetically” diluting culture.
Expressing contempt for objective truth—truth claims derived from the application of ordinary logic applied to empirical fact—is common among neoconservatives.What at first appears to be intellectual sloppiness in reality may be intellectual technique. Expressing contempt for objective truth—truth claims derived from the application of ordinary logic applied to empirical fact—is common among neoconservatives. So too is agonizing about the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of society, which is then used to endorse traditional religion not as truth but as a crucial instrument of social control. These are both elements of the critique of modernity of University of Chicago political philosopher Leo Strauss. The problem for Berlinski is that Straussian technique is eerily similar to the intellectual technique of fascist intellectuals who made mid-Twentieth century Europe a chamber of horrors. They also sought to protect Western Civilization by articulating a vital anti-modernism against a range of often exaggerated internal and external threats. The inability to identify such an obvious contradiction reveals the hollow core of intellectual neo-conservatism.
John Hickman is associate professor of comparative politics at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. His published work on electoral politics, media, and international affairs has appeared in Asian Perspective, American Politics Research, Comparative State Politics, Contemporary South Asia, Contemporary Strategy, Current Politics and Economics of Asia, East European Quarterly, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans, Jouvert, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Science, Review of Religious Research, Women & Politics, and Yamanashigakuin Law Review. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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This story was published on March 20, 2007.