Sunday, September 12, 2004

lefty movies and other stuff

The other night, I saw a film called "Hijacking Catastrophe." Here's a link to amazon's info on the book that the film
was based on.

The movie was good, It was inspiring despite the excessive "talking head" visuals and lack of new really concrete information or fascinating footage. What really worked well was the analysis, the framing, the very eloquent comments from the people who talked: Chomsky, Norman Mailer, Norman Solomon, Vandana Shiva, etc.
The central themes: the history of PNAC, the rise of this particular wing of the Republican party of neocon uber-imperialists, the sadism of the media coverage and the actual program for the "shock and awe" methods of bombing, the marketing of Bush as the masculine leader non-pareil. It really makes you feel that these people are fascists who will stop at nothing. Honest to God, the film put me into a near panic.
It would work well in a classroom setting, as it is only 1 hour and 22 minutes long. Sut Jhally, who directed and produced it, is a very well-known media critic, who wrote major television criticism books that I recall well from grad school: "the ideological octopus," and "Enlightened Racism," an audience analysis of the Cosby show in Apartheid South Africa.
Since then: lots has gone on for me. I went to see an exhibition related to a book about Puerto Rican in-line skaters in Williamsburg, in the midst of the now-deeply gentrified Bedford ave., Today,I got a copy of a somewhat new book on the Triangle Fire, which I'm teaching in a coupla weeks. I went to my friend's fortieth birthday, a milestone celebrated by a group of truly cool people, most of whom work in the health and education professions. Many of them are seriously worried or even depressed, believing fully that Bush will win the election. I know that I too should seriously be considering that this is possible, but I have trouble believing that it will really happen. More likely to me is that somehow they will steal the election or even suspend it, after having cooked up some fear of terrorism to the 'nth degree. Why do I still believe that the American people are too smart to elect this asshole, or to buy the bullshit that is shoveled their way day in and day out? There's so much evidence to the contrary.
This brings me to the last thing I wanted to mention. The bizarre turn of Benny Morris. It's about people's need to believe in their own rightness and nothting else. Morris has collected more information on Israeli war crimes, and is noted for this by almost every serious scholar of Palestine/Israel in his book, "The Origin of the Palestinian Refugee Problem":

Instead of denying that this happened, however, Morris now argues that it was necessary. Early this year, he came out explicitly in support of "transfer," "ethnic cleansing," or, to put it bluntly, "genocide" when he was interviewed in Ha'aretz and The Guardian. There are two good commentaries on him on "the electronic intifada" web page.

This is depressing, but I find it easier to believe that people are actually working their way around information than I find it easy to believe that they are simply ignorant. To suggest that people are ignorant, seems to me almost patronizing. They are probably not ignorant, nor are they evil. They just don't want to believe the truth that suggests that they must act. If they are ignorant, they are willfully so, like the Poles who lived next to the trains that ran to Auschwitz. How can they not know that when the bombs drop on populated areas that they are killing people?

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