Earlier today I wrote about how the media often distorts what Americans should really be concerned about. This is especially true when dealing with thetas that face the American people. The above article gives a list of what Americans are afraid of. In this country we are incredibly concerned about terrorism, which comes in at number three on the list, but not climate change, which comes in at last as things listed on this list. What’s so absurd about this is that Americans had about one in 20 million chance of being killed by a terrorist in a study done in 2010. Meanwhile everyone is going to be affected by climate change in some way.
President Obama recently stated that the news media overstates the threat of terrorism compared to climate change. Despite some initial waffling by his press secretary, who also eventually answered the question in agreement, this statement seems like a no brainer. Here is an article on islands that are threatened because of sea level rise related to climate change:
Or check out the the predicted future for one of our country’s biggest cities:
My point is not to scare you about climate change, though I wish more people would get motivated to make the smart changes that we absolutely need to make, only to give some examples of arising problems related to climate change, as it is a serious issue. Overall, the threats we face from terrorism pale in comparison.
However, this is just another example of a mainstream media that entertains more than it informs and a human brain that is good at identifying localized or regional threats, but not large systematic ones.
The above link is an interesting article about the rise of nationalism in Europe. There is no doubt that the murders in France, and other acts of violence by Muslims, have helped give nationalism a footing. However, it also goes into detail about how certain conservative economic policies, that are hurting the working class and poor, are also helping to bring about this change.
This morning I started reading the news about the large demonstration in Paris in mourning and defiance of the recent acts of terrorism that have taken place there. It was a peaceful demonstration that posed large security risks due to its size. I found myself more moved than I thought I would be, or than I probably have any right to be.
The picture above is famous French cartoon Asterix. I remember it from when I was a kid, but I haven’t thought of it in ages. Apparently the 87 year old cartoonist Albert Uderzo, who created the character, came out of retirement to draw the above image and one other to pay tribute to those killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Here is another good piece on the attack in France that a friend sent my way. This piece is in the New Yorker.
One of the reasons I find this kind of attack so troublesome is that it is a direct attack on the culture of freedom of thought. This isn’t an attack with a political motivation at its core, as if these were people carrying out an attack in response to a particular war. I’m not saying that global politics don’t play any role, only that they are not the specific reason behind these kind of attacks. Whether it is the Koch brothers trying to destroy critical thinking in education, or fanatic Muslims trying to censor people through scaring them with violence, I am against any acts that try to prevent thinking. (And I am not equating the two. As much as I dislike what the Koch brothers are trying to do to public education, it is nowhere near as perverse as violence carried out against people in the name of religion.) Having the freedom to think through things, to have an open debate, even if it occasionally leads to places people don’t want to go, is crucial to creating a future worth living in.
This is a really great piece by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone about the shameful response of media outlets in the wake of the French attack. A sample:
The implication is that, yes, we have a right to be offensive, but let’s not be offensive this time, maybe just this once, because — and this is the part that’s usually not said out loud — this particular group of satire targets is more than unusually violent and nuts and struggles more even than the average fundamentalist on the sense of humor front.
That point of view is a gross and shameful capitulation. I’m against easing back on the offensive cartoons “just this once” for the same reason I don’t believe in fighting al-Qaeda by “temporarily” tossing out habeas corpus and committing acts of torture: you lose in advance when you give up your culture.
In LAX waiting to fly to Australia. I realized today that there was no way I could blow up a plane, aside from any moral misgivings I might have. Under no circumstances could I ever choose to have an airport be the last place I see. How depressing is that shit?!!! Not only do you have to blow yourself up, but you have to agree to an airport being the last place your feet touch the ground.
Kevin Russell once said that an airport was, “a mall, a jail, and a bus stop”, all added together. But like one of those great bands where the sum is infinitely bigger than the sound of the members, an airport might be worse. I’ve spent a night in jail. It made me want to kill someone, but not myself.
At what point did Americans become such a pussified fear ridden country? One dude has explosives in his shoes that don’t even go off, and we take our shoes off when entering an airport for the rest of eternity.
And when did we start having stores in airports which have items that cost more than the GDP of some third world countries? Why do they hate us? Because when Muhammed is the first from his village to study abroad, the first thing he sees is a purse that costs more than every hut in his village combined.
And does fear of flying turn everyone on a plane into rambling idiots? I have never heard one conversation on a plane that didn’t sound like the adults in Charlie Brown. Do you know what the sound of crushed souls combined with the failure of the test driven American education system is like? And let’s not even talk about the babies.
Oh, don’t go getting your panties in a bunch, I am just having fun.