Western mass media continues to be atomized in its coverage. It thrives on soundbites. Sensationalism. Cacophony. A malnutrition of context with roots in the Nazi propaganda construct of Joseph Goebbels.
All six children were dressed in pristine, finely pressed white clothes. Their hair was combed and styled. Aged between four and twelve, they had been assembled below by house aides. The stage was now set. Pedigree, ideological sacred cows, convictions as indefensible as the Oder River had set it. With or without cause, all final preparations were complete.
Pleas by women and staff to usher the young ones free from harm’s way were ignored. Time was running thin. No such ideas, however, would be entertained by their much sought after father, Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. With allied forces lagging behind on the western front, the Red Army invasion, stocked to the brim with Katyushas, Ilyushin II fighter jets, tanks, and hardened infantry bulldozed their way into the heart of Berlin from the east. Childhood nor innocence would escape the treacherous affairs that had unwittingly led Helga Susanne, Hildegard Traudel, Helmut Christian, Holdine Kathrin, Hedwig Johanna, and Heidrun Elisabeth to the Reich Chancellery bunker in April 1945. Above ground, the ill-prepared Volkssturm, boys and seniors anywhere between 16 and 60, give or take a few years, were fulfilling duties mandated by the Führer. Fuming amid fresh heaps of rubble, Berlin, as ordered by high-ranking officials now engaged in orgies and sordid acts inside the Chancellery, was to be defended against all odds and at all costs. Just then, Rochus Misch, the bunker’s telephonist, recalled that the six beautiful children simply “went away.”
How that cocktail of morphine and cyanide was fed to Goebbels’ kids remains shrouded in speculation. Bruises were found on 12-years-old Helga’s face. Braveheart was she, daddy’s girl resisting to swallow the ampule’s content before it was forcibly smashed between her teeth? Still, whether it was shortly before or after the kids went away, Goebbels took to the Chancellery garden and did likewise. Prior to the final act, he ordered his guards to show patience, wait until he lay lifeless and, for added posterity, hit his body with a volley of rounds and incinerate the remains. As good S.S. soldiers do, they complied. So did the bulk of French, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Flemish and other Wehrmacht foreigners who upheld their oath to the Nazi state to the end. Like a house of cards, their creationist myth of racial superiority and exceptionalism was now crumbling before their eyes and drenching in their Aryan blood.
The Soviet advance was as relentless as it was implacable. “It took a brave man to be a coward in the Red Army,” Joseph Stalin was quoted. Indeed. If the siege of Leningrad was not enough to keep soldiers on the battlefield, then deserters were met by the firing squad. With victory waiting in the wing, credit would also be paid to the hundreds of Soviet female snipers who had fought on the frontline. Awarded the Medal of Courage in 1944, Roza Shanina disposed of 59 Nazi combatants before she, at just 20 years of age, was killed in battle. Partisans across Europe also risked life and limb while engaging in sabotage and assassinations deep behind enemy lines. In Denmark, 23-year-old Bent Faurschou Hviid (codename Flammen) and concierge and music stage manager Jørgen Haagen Schmith (codename Citronen) formed an assassination duo, eliminating Nazi officials and collaborators, one by one, across Copenhagen. Killed, yet undefeated, the Danes honored the freedom fighters when their coffins stood in unison inside the historic Holmen Church.
Circumstances compounded abroad and now in the German heartland, Brandenburg Gates nor the Reichstag could no longer hold its own. Berlin lay in ruins. The Volkssturm and Wehrmacht scoured civilian neighborhoods as they retreated. German civilians with white flags hoisted out front were frowned upon if lucky. Homes of the unlucky were invaded and its occupants executed. Chickens had come home to roost. World War II was nearing its fanatic conclusion, and with it, an end to Nazi Germany’s propaganda mastermind, his wife and children. Goebbels himself couldn’t have summarized the moment better when he stated years back: “Faith moves mountains, but only knowledge moves them to the right place.”
Whether that knowledge is acquired, scrambled and obscured, or hidden altogether depends, in large part, on that crème de la crème communication service—the media.
The fifth estate pendulum
What is the media? What purpose does it, and other means of mass communication, serve?
Is it a deluge of hip entertainment news outlets and its offspring of color following suit as they curry favor among viewers with bright lights and pizzazz, sensationalism with a pinch of headlines, and nonstop celebrity opinions? Is it fact or fiction, or a warped combination of the two? Who determines what is and isn’t suitable content and commentary?
With the communication trans-nationalists of our time broadcasting on-air and streaming online every second of the day, each day of the week, it can’t be, in the words of Goebbels, “a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners.” To be clear, he was referring to propaganda, not the media per se.
Global perspectives and staying informed, however, need not be relegated to the communication trans-nationalists of our time, their soundbites or cacophony of pundits and experts. One glance at the corporate interests behind media moguls and the demographic makeup of their editorial boards is a constant reminder that the maw of this 24-hour news cycle is feverishly biased. Sizable no doubt, western mass media continues to be atomized by a malnutrition of context.
While technological advancements have leveled the playing field in terms of accessing the tools to produce and disseminate media across the globe, how have journalists reacted or had to adjust to the online world of algorithms, click-baiting, SEO, keywords, ad revenue, bots, and social media? “Data shows (Pew Research – 2019) that 55 percent of adults in the United States get their news from social media either often or sometimes. Now that’s scary,” says a media web-team director to his writers and editorial staff. A bedrock for any people, community, or nation, how are we to distinguish between informative news coverage, propaganda and biased noise without falling prey to cynicism regarding media producers across the board? Moreover, to what degree can the recent past inform us about the present?
Mountain climbing requires skills. Any skilled mountain climber knows that uninterrupted ascents are virtually impossible, especially when facing a dangerous path. At this juncture, one must descend before resuming an upward trajectory at a safer locale. So let us too take a few steps back. Back some eighty years to the Führer. Dare the imagination, or empirical mind-, conjure the memory of Joseph Goebbels in seeking some of the answers to questions about media in the year the demands clearer vision, 2020.
Goebbels 2020 homecoming
While that we will always, and I repeat always, respect everyone’s first amendment rights, those rights stop when a molotov cocktail is thrown into an open business. Those rights stop at the point that you loot the liquor store in the neighborhood. Those rights stop when you loot the gas station, the little mom and pop gas station in the neighborhood.” — John Harrington, head of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, speaking at a press conference in the wake of George Floyd’s public lynching by Minnesota policemen
Abhorrence to Nazi crimes has stood the test of time. “Never forget,” say holocaust survivors and their descendants. Credit mainstream media for doing a remarkable job in making sure that doesn’t happen. What has been forgotten, however, is that the Nazi party did not emerge from vacuity. Forever were they indebted in their perversions by white settler colonialism in the so-called New World. “Hitler’s American Model,” written by James Q. Whitman, draws chilling parallels between the evolution of the Nazi party and how their wackadoo concepts on race biology, their political agenda that prompted genocide, their sordid contraptions of human experimentation and death, their very raison d’être were nothing more than a prerecorded rerun. In this regard, mainstream media has done an exceptionally poor job and public disservice in not detailing the ideological pendulum as it swinging between Washington and Berlin before, during, and after WWII.
“I have studied with interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock-,” Hitler was quoted as saying. His words were not a far echo from sentiments expressed by U.S. General George Patton who chided Jewish supporters who “believe that the Displaced person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals.”
Named Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in 1933, it was Joseph Goebbels’ responsibility to convey all messaging associated with Nazi Germany via radio, TV, film, posters, books, newspapers, and other means of mass communication. His skills in public relations and marketing were exacting, so much so that many WWII researchers insist that German society as a whole—discounting a failed assassination attempt to take out Hitler by Germans officials Claus von Stauffenberg, Werner von Haeften, Albrecht, Mertz von Quirnheim, and Friedrich Olbricht—had been hoodwinked. Be this a fair assumption or convenient oversight, one thing is certain: More than seven decades have elapsed since the capitulation of the Nazi state. Still, a cursory glance at succinct propaganda ideas espoused by Goebbels compared and contrasted to soundbites relayed time and again by western media and recurring themes in their coverage, begs a simple question: Do ideas, unlike flesh and bones, live on? Is there an unbroken thread of basic concepts extending from the Third Reich’s media genius and western media trans-nationalists of our time? As the song goes: “Who the cap fit?”
The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.” — Joseph Goebbels
Propaganda works best when those who are being manipulated are confident they are acting on their own free will.” — Joseph Goebbels
Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” — Joseph Goebbels
In a recent DemocracyNow interview addressing U.S. immigrant jails and the separation of children from their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, reporter Jacob Soboroff, said “this is the first time since — this is the first time ever that children have been separated on a systematic basis — look at those photos right there — from their parents. And that is because of the Trump administration.“ Whether by conscious omission or otherwise, at no point did Soboroff discuss the systematic separation of African or Indigenous children from their parents not too long ago when chattel slavery and colonialism swept through what would become the United States, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, or other parts of the modern-day western hemisphere. This talking point, in fact, has become a mainstay on progressive and left-wing news outlets, that the current practice of separating Latino and Hispanic children from their parents by U.S. state agencies is an unprecedented phenomenon initiated by the Trump administration.
The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” — Joseph Goebbels
Subtle or overt, the media is a weapon for better or worse and it’s no secret that western corporate news outlets churn and refry their coverage 24-hours a day, 7-days per week. Dismissing, ignoring or underestimating its role in upholding New World creationist myths, its political and corporate legacy borne through settler terrorism, appropriation of land, labor, and human beings without blinking an eye would be a grave folly. Goebbels reminds us:
Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.”
The war creeps back – neutralize communications
By 1940, France, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Belgium were all draped under the red, white and black swastika. Europe’s most recent dark days were not exclusively consummated through the barrel of guns. Conspirators, collaborators, and appeasers at the highest level of government, such as British and French prime ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, signees to Hitler’s Munich Pact in 1938, and business leaders, such as Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, a British MP and head of the British Union of Fascists, all lent their support, thus paving the way for annexation. Mosley’s connection to Nazi leaders ran so deep that he married his mistress, Diana Guinness, at Goebbels’ home in 1936. His guest of honor was none other than Adolf Hitler, a man with whom he was able to negotiate a private radio station that broadcast German programs in Sark. Expanding westward, the Nazi military high command now made plans, as Napoleon had done over a century ago, to take Britain. Having gobbled Western Europe, Hitler surely must’ve deduced that the land of her majesty would be an easy pick. It was, after all, the empire where the sun never sets, burning the midnight oil far and thin to prolong its colonial rule.
The invasion strategy was divided into three phases. If executed properly, the offensive would culminate in the seizure of the Union Jack. To illustrate the importance of media and effective communication, phase one included surprise air-bombings, pulverizing Britain’s Royal Air-force and their bases, as well as all communication services and transport lines. The campaign, however, lasted for a year without ever getting past phase one. Extending from Britain’s eastern shoreline all the way to the heart of London, more than 40,000 people lost their lives during the air raids. It was thanks to the tally-ho of Royal Air-force pilots at the helms of those sturdy spitfire planes, 24 of which were purchased and donated to Britain by the generosity of the Basotho people of Lesotho, that Hitler never set one boot on British soil.
Communications remained alive and well, despite Nazi planes dropping a million pounds of bombs on London just on the night of November 14th, 1940. News radio broadcasts continued informing people of air raids, which underground tube stations to seek shelter, victories compiled by the spitfire pilots thus keeping morale high, and other vital details concerning the attempted invasion and ways of providing solidarity during a time of crisis.
Almost four years later, after Britain’s resounding halt to the Nazi advance, it would be Goebbels turn to resort to radio broadcast. “We would rather work until our hands are bloody and fight until our last breath before we let the enemy occupy German territory and impose his will on us.”
Goebbels again took to the airwaves on April 21s1t, 1945. With Red Army mortars exploding in the garden above the Chancellery compound, the Third Reich’s propaganda expert addressed his listeners one last time. Staff member, Wilfred von Oven, recalled that Goebbels, in one instance, had to wipe away pane and glass as exploding bombs shattered all of the bunker windows. Still, he didn’t fray during his speech. “Berlin is now on the frontline. At the walls of our city, the Mongolian hordes will and must be stopped. Agitators or insurgent foreigners are to be arrested or, better still, neutralized. Naturally, I shall stay on in Berlin with my staff. My wife and my children are also here and will stay here.”
Do not fear the enemy for they can take only your life. Fear the media far more, for they will destroy your honor.” — Vo Nguyen Giap – General of Vietnam’s People Army
On the western front, European-American soldiers afforded Nazi prisoners greater respect than classified negro soldiers fighting under the red, white, and blue. Again, and not that taking on Nazi Germany was inconsiderable, the latter group had succumbed to what Robert Williams would later call a “honky trick.”
To the east, Red Army soldiers took no qualms in pummeling Berlin to smithereens. For Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union, Houdini was not a rank-and-file member within the Third Reich nor had he ordered the siege of Leningrad. With that established, the Soviet general would speak the only language spoken by the Nazis. Neither by political function, birth, or tradition would Jewish people be integrated into Nazi Germany and, in the struggle against Hitler’s own version of Manifest Destiny, more than 26 million Soviet men, women, and children lost their lives. Preferring the British and European-Americans enter Berlin before the Red Army, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler put their own communication skills to the test, secretly negotiating an unconditional surrender with the allied forces’ western camp. Their efforts proved futile. Both would resort to their cyanide ampules by war’s end.
Media – A weapon for better or worse during times of crisis
As World War II and its antecedents prove, media and other forms of mass communication are critical during times of conflict and uncertainty. For example, in March 1789, Abdel Kader Kane, leader of the Futa Toro region in northern Senegal, sent an official letter to French authorities in which he stated: “We are warning you that all those who will come to our land to trade in slaves will be killed and massacred if you do not send our children back.” In an apparent response to Kader Kane’s warning, Jean-Baptiste Durand of the Compaigne du Sénégal attested that Europeans required armed protection “from the Negroes living in the country.”
In an attempt to stall communications during Indonesia’s struggle for independence, the Dutch East Indies naval blockade cut mail service between the republican forces based in Java and Sumatra in 1947. Meanwhile, an official visit to Vietnam by Robert and Mabel Williams in the late 1960s, Ho Chi Minh told the exiled freedom fighters that leaders of the People’s Army were inspired to launch the Tet Offensive after reading reports of the 1967 Detroit Riots in their Crusader newsletter. In her memoir, “Re-living the Second Chimurenga,” Fay Chung recalled that in the 1970s, Rhodesia’s white minority government “made a great effort to woo spirit mediums (vana sekuru) to support their rule, on one occasion even showering pamphlets (over guerrilla held territories) purporting to come from the ancestors from aeroplanes.”
More recently, between May 2007 and December 2011, Bell Pottinger, a British-based public relations firm, received $540 million dollars to produce and disseminate fake terrorist videos with the aim of portraying insurgent groups negatively. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that the PR firm cooperated with top U.S. military officials based at Camp Victory in Baghdad and viewers of the videos could be tracked by U.S. forces. It was an ignoble reminder of the Lincoln Group. This Washington-based PR firm wrote news articles denouncing insurgent groups while praising U.S.-led efforts in Iraq. The reports were subsequently published in Iraqi newspapers.
The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. — Malcolm X
In 1994, Tutsi leaders of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) pleaded with top U.S. officials of the Bill Clinton administration to cut Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines (One Thousand Hills Free Radio) broadcasts. This privately-run radio station, which began airing in April 1993, not only incite hatred and killings against the Tutsis, but also stressed the political imperative of seizing control of the narrative. When French military forces intervened in Rwanda under Operation Turquoise following the airplane downing and death of former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, they established a control zone where Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines was allowed to continue operating. A broadcast from Gisenyi encouraged all “Hutu girls to wash yourselves and put on a good dress to welcome our French allies. The Tutsi girls are all dead, so you have your chance.”
Explaining why French forces had seemingly recused themselves from detaining government officials they knew were involved in coordinating massacres against the Tutsis, the French foreign ministry argued that the UN mandate provided no authorization to detain war criminals. Meanwhile, requests to jam Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines signal were repeatedly met by cold explanations that such a measure would be in violation of the U.S. commitment to freedom of speech, as well as international broadcasting agreements. When Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Prudence Bushnell raised the issue of radio jamming for a second time at the Pentagon, one official responded, “Pru, radios don’t kill people. People kill people!” It was, however, an incomplete sentence by any measure for the same people who kill others are also the makers of radios to incite and order the killings.
Ultimately, but not before almost a million people were slaughtered over a span of just three months would the RPF singlehandedly defeat the interim government forces, thus bringing an end to the genocide. “Kwibuka” the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide, means “remember” in Kinyarwanda. It’s also a time to recall past events that stoked divisiveness and hatred, review ongoing efforts at reconciliation, trauma counseling, and nation-building. However, the shadow and scars of 1994 are never too far away. Félicien Kabuga, a chief financier of the Radio Télevision Libre des Milles Collines, was arrested in France in May of this year. Having remained on the lam for 23 years, his previous indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1997 marked the first time a media executive was tried for crimes of genocide since the Nuremberg tribunal.
Having produced translations and subtitles on issues related to the Rwandan genocide and the social and economic progress made since, someone sent me a message stating that when they return to the country and resume power they will “cut down them trees,” in reference to Tutsi government leaders.
That propaganda is good which leads to success, and that is bad which fails to achieve the desired result. It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success.” — Joseph Goebbels
Officialdom voices, right to left
Mass media, regardless of its political persuasion, doesn’t live in a vacuum. An extension of public education, that which is presented as the news doesn’t operate at the base of the social pyramid. Up a few stones, but never too far away, it propels creationists myths, as did the Nazis, such as the notion of a master race (i.e. exceptionalism) that thrusts legacies and the status quo into the future. Generation after generation the baton is passed. The mainstream media’s relationship to this process goes, for the most part, unnoticed. This is where Joseph Goebbels’s body of work as head of the Third Reich’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda is so crucial. It’s 2020 and western media continues to pride itself on maxims that mirror his ruminations on matters related to the media, propaganda, and western psychology.
As in times of conflict, media remains an essential public service, especially during the current COVID-19 global pandemic. This is true despite the wave of layoffs and furloughs in the industry. The fifth estate is not any less important during times of peace. An extension of pedagogic work, this vehicle is meant to keep a well-informed global citizenry, educate, as well as provide culturally-inspired entertainment.
The media of tomorrow remains in gestation. While it now has the tools to produce and disseminate news coverage across the globe, their resources and reach are infinitely less than the corporate media conglomerates dominating the field. At times, essential tools of the trade such as paid writers, editors and other staff members; researchers; on-the-ground and investigative reporting; and travel accommodation are hard to come by. Still, alternative media is by no means a novelty. This torpid concept, however, persists precisely because of resource disparities and reach. And here I’m not referring to catching up in speed to the 24/7 news wire where quantity trumps quality. Nor am I referring to the bulk of mainstream or independent left-wing or progressive media outlets that, in their editorial boards and staff, replicate levels of exclusion practiced by right-wing conservatives. According to How Diverse Are U.S. Newsrooms (American Society of News Editors – 2019), just seven percent of The Intercept’s total journalistic team is comprised of Black people. Another seven percent are Hispanic. ProPublica, a media outlet that prides itself on being an independent, nonprofit newsroom that exposes abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism to spur reform, has a staff comprised of six percent Black people. Another six percent are Hispanic. The New York Times’ very own 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report shows that nine percent of its staff are Black or African-American and seven percent are Hispanic or Latino. Even more surprising is its <1%, which I presume to mean negative one percent, Indigenous people, Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders on its overall staff. Another <1% of Indigenous people hold leadership roles.
What these numbers say without uttering a single word, is that non-whites lack the wherewithal to report on the affairs of a world in which they are the majority. Honest brokers or not, qualified or otherwise, the window in which we view the world is minimized to the narrative of a self-entitled few.
Over half a century ago the U.S. federal government, lagging far behind Robert and Mabel William’s Crusader newsletter, assigned a committee to outline the causes of the 1967 Detroit Riots and make recommendations to avoid future outbreaks. Published in 1968 and popularly known as the Kerner Commission (Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders) the 426-page report dedicated an entire chapter to the media. It stated, in part, that: “Important segments of the media failed to report adequately on the causes and consequences of civil disorders and on the underlying problems of race relations. They have not communicated to the majority of their audience–which is white—a sense of the degradation, misery, and hopelessness of life in the ghetto.” In an effort to correct these “failings” the report suggested that “improvement must come from within the industry.” Remedies included:
- Expand coverage of the Negro community and of race problems through permanent assignment of reporters familiar with urban and racial affairs, and through establishment of more and better links with the Negro community.
- Integrate Negroes and Negro activities into all aspects of coverage and content, including newspaper articles and television programming. The news media must publish newspapers and produce programs that recognize the existence and activities of Negroes as a group within the community and as a part of the larger community.
- Recruit more Negroes into journalism and broadcasting and promote those who are qualified to positions of significant responsibility. Recruitment should begin in high schools and continue through college; where necessary, aid for training should be provided.
- Improve coordination with police in reporting riot news through advance planning, and cooperate with the police in the designation of police information officers, establishment of information centers, and development of mutually acceptable guidelines for riot reporting and the conduct of media personnel.
Recommendations and remedies put forth by the Kerner Commission have remained “decades behind” writes Paul Delaney.
Integration, moreover, speaks to the problem of blackness in a despicable way. As a goal, it has been based on complete acceptance of the fact that in order to have a decent house or education, blacks must move into a white neighborhood or send their children to a white school. This reinforces, among both black and white, the idea that “white” is automatically better and “black” is by definition inferior. This is why integration is a subterfuge for the maintenance of white supremacy. — Kwame Ture
Links untold: WWII – Israel – Occupied Palestine – George Floyd
I was struck by the recent media uproar over what is and what isn’t antisemitism. I reiterate—what is and what isn’t antisemitism—for western media’s portrayal of those who make such remarks lies the suggestion that vast populations of Semitic people are nonexistent in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, or anywhere else except Israel and among the Ashkenazi Jewish diaspora. Like the majority of global issues with deep historical roots, media coverage of this matter barely scratched the surface, if at all and as quickly as it had appeared, suddenly vanished beneath breaking stories. However, in these times of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s public lynching by Minnesota policemen and other filmed or unregistered police killings of Black people in western metropolises from Louisville, USA to Lausanne, Switzerland, coupled with the link between the end of WWII and the emergence of Israel in 1947, it’s worth noting that recent debates on antisemitism were discussed without the slightest mention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Few, if any, spoke of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Apart from a few alternative news outlets, nobody recalled the hundreds of officers from U.S. police departments in California, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, and other states who had flown to Israeli for training over the past two decades.
In 2012, no less than 100 Minnesota police officers attended a conference hosted by the Israeli consulate in Chicago and FBI, which showcased some of the methods employed by Israeli forces in occupied Palestine. Shahr Aieli, Israel’s deputy consul, said that the counter-terrorism training session was intended to share information and techniques employed by “top-notch professionals from the Israeli police.”
“When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006,” said Neta Golan, co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She added that “They (Israeli security forces) started twisting and breaking fingers in a particular way around the same time. It was clear they had undergone training for this. They continue to use these tactics — two of my friends have had their necks broken but luckily survived — and it is clear that they share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the U.S. and other countries including Sudan and Brazil.”
Europe’s killing fields of the 1940s not only culminated in the demise of Nazi Germany, but it also gave birth to Israel. Though the Palestinians have no responsibility in the rise of Nazism, they continue to suffer the consequences of those cataclysmic events seven decades later. With the full backing of U.S. foreign policy and the biases of western corporate media, their land, like that of the Gullah-Geechee of the eastern U.S. seaboard, Black farmers throughout Uncle Sam, or the Garifuna of Honduras, has been consistently confiscated by settler colonialism.
Recently, four Garifuna land-defenders—Snider Centeno, Milton Martínez, Suany Álvarez, and a fourth unidentified— were abducted from their homes by heavily armed men in Honduras’ northern coastal town of Triunfo de la Cruz. Community leaders referred to the kidnapping as the latest attack against their indigenous and African-Indigenous homeland as they continue to struggle against Canadian tourist speculators as well as mining and other extractive industries.
Communication Beyond Borders
Mainstream and, increasingly, not so mainstream western media is a blunt enterprise. It tells us, point-blank, what happens on a day-to-day basis. Rarely does it delve into the context, historical or otherwise, as to why things happen. Surface story in hand, journalists, spin doctors, experts and people with little to no knowledge of the events can weave whatever narrative they so please. In this regard, public education cannot be left out of this equation. However, with the basis of its focus on upholding creationist myths and forcing students to prepare for standardized tests, the western education system lags behind by design in this marriage between what is taught at school and how adults interact or respond to the news. Disconnected from one another, the follies of the past play out like a rat running on a toy wheel. Games aside, today’s western media portrayal of the South China Seas or Iran as representing a terrorist threat may very well be yesterday’s Gulf of Tonkin.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Joseph Goebbels pondered openly and without fear. “We shall go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or as the greatest criminals.” It’s a menacing dichotomy that possibly mass media and other forms of communication are only capable of producing. But despite the perils, communication, verbal, physical or otherwise, remains a quintessential tool of the ages. It’s the means by which we develop mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and interpersonally. It’s how the king of the jungle coordinates with others to prepare her next meal and how a herd of gazelles escape from becoming that next meal. Elephants employ a series of sophisticated non-verbal communication techniques to exchange present and past information, as well as detect vibrations in the earth, unfamiliar noises, and odors. Communication is how dolphins and whales navigate the high seas, a rattlesnake warns us off from encroaching on its homeland, and ants build their intricate kingdoms.
A single, microscopic spermatozoon thrust among untold numbers finds an egg via communication. From this point of inception, the world as we know it goes round. A few years later, hegemonic gang leaders order the bombing and invasion of a country far away. Faith then moves mountains, resistance abounds, and a sparrow sings its song of a new tomorrow.
Feature photo | President Donald Trump arrives and speaks with Fox News Channel Anchor Bill Hemmer, as Vice President Mike Pence looks on, during a Fox News Channel virtual town hall, at the White House, March 24, 2020, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP
Additional photos | Unless otherwise noted, all photos featured in this article are in the public domain.
Julian Cola is a translator (Brazilian-Portuguese to English). A former staff writer at the pan-Latin American news outlet, teleSUR, his articles and essays also appear in Africa is a Country, Black Agenda Report, Truthout, Counterpunch and elsewhere.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.