Norman Solomon


American Journalist, Antiwar Activist, Media Critic and Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives

Author Quotes

Her reality was, so to speak, a crowbar to open the lid on what had been sealed, which is the human dimension. The media and politics don't engage with death very well. And Bush has been effective until this summer at keeping US victims of this war in a hazy middle distance, close enough to exploit as a photo-op prop but not up close and personal enough to begin to deal with the grief of war.

Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to ?defend the Fourth Amendment.? That?s really what his amendment ? requiring that surveillance be warranted ? was all about. No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud. To quote those words was to take a clear side: ?The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.? Edward Snowden?s heroic revelations have made it possible for some House members from both parties to blow away the fog that shrouds so much tap dancing on Capitol Hill. When the Amash amendment went to the floor, there was no place left to hide.

What matters for those of us who watch T.V. and listen to the radio and read printed, uh, outlets is the content. And there you have a very different matter. If you subject what's on the airwaves and in major print outlets to a content analysis, it's very, very different. Now the media industry is structured, I think very similar to other industries. People at the top have a lot more to say about the constraints that the workers work under than people at the bottom.

Huge corporations are now running roughshod over the Internet. At the illusion-shattering core of Digital Disconnect are a pair of chapters on what corporate power has already done to the Internet -- the relentless commercialism that stalks every human online, gathering massive amounts of information to target people with ads; the decimation of privacy; the data mining and surveillance; the direct cooperation of Internet service providers, search engine companies, telecomm firms and other money-driven behemoths with the U.S. military and "national security" state; the ruthless insatiable drive, led by Apple, Google, Microsoft and other digital giants, to maximize profits.

That's a very different approach to what the CAW has done in the past.

When people decry civilian deaths caused by the U.S government, they're aiding propaganda efforts. In sharp contrast, when civilian deaths are caused by bombers who hate America, the perpetrators are evil and those deaths are tragedies. When they put bombs in cars and kill people, they're uncivilized killers. When we put bombs on missiles and kill people, we're upholding civilized values. When they kill, they're terrorists. When we kill, we're striking against terror.

I think because of the more than 100,000 people who signed the petition and because it speaks to deeply felt, growing concern and anger, it all resonates. People are fed up with war being labeled peace.

The belief in the bodily resurrection has no religious foundation, and the doctrine of immortality refers to the after-existence of the soul only.

While the House has grown somewhat restive, the Senate has remained notably pliant for the surveillance state.

I think it was President Eisenhower who said, in one of his more lucid moments, that the people of the world want peace so badly that one day the governments are going to have to get out of the way and let them have it. And I felt from so many people I met in Norway, a hunger to break out of the old paradigm. So many countries are under intimidating duress from the United States government. Those of us who live in the USA, it?s a particular challenge and responsibility to insist that human decency prevail over the mendacity and cruelty that is so implicit in the US government?s priorities. It?s really not that different for people in different parts of the world. We want some candor. We want some honesty. We want a process that can elevate government actions so that they respond to what?s best in human beings instead of what?s worst.

The Bush rhetoric about democracy has little to do with Washington's actual policy goals in the Middle East.

I think, a disquiet that exists in Norway as in many other parts of the world, but perhaps most acutely in Norway, that there?s concern the Nobel Peace Prize has lost its way and that the organization with the formal name Norwegian Nobel Committee is without a moral compass.

The espionage law is about 95 years old. It?s absurd to use it against a whistle-blower, and it conveys a government attitude that the ?enemy? is first and foremost the people of the United States. That is a tacit approach that embraces secrecy as a way of continuing to perpetrate policies that can?t stand the light of day. So they?re kept hidden in the dark. A basic precept of democracy is consent of the governed, and it?s only meaningful if you have informed consent of the governed. And when you see what Bradley Manning has said not only in the courtroom, but also in his online chats, when he never had any thought they would go public, he had an acute sense that the public needs to know what is being done, that that?s an absolute prerequisite for a meaningful democratic process. Most people don?t want war, and so the manipulation of information and filtration of it and the twisting of it, all that is a prerequisite for a warfare state. Bradley Manning was aiding the enemy only if the enemy is truth. Bradley Manning was committing espionage only if the beneficiaries of the alleged espionage are understood to be the citizens of United States, and for that matter people of the world, who are so much at risk from aggressive military action.

If certain members of Congress resent being pushed by progressives to challenge the White House, they lack an appreciation for the crucial potential of grassroots social movements. On the other hand, those in Congress who ?get? progressive social change will appreciate our efforts to push them and their colleagues to stand progressive ground. When we?re mere supplicants to members of Congress, the doors that open on Capitol Hill won?t lead very much of anywhere. Superficial ?access? has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power. We need to show that we?ll back up members of Congress who are intrepid for our values -- and we can defeat others, including self-described ?progressives,? who aren?t. Building electoral muscle should be part of building a progressive movement. We?re in this for the long haul, but we?re not willing to mimic the verbiage or echo the silences from members of Congress who fail to challenge egregious realities of this administration?s policies. As Howard Zinn said, our role is to challenge, not fall in line.

The huge imbalance of digital power now afflicting the Internet is a crucial subset of what afflicts the entirety of economic relations and political power in the United States. We have a profound, far-reaching fight on our hands, at a crossroads leading toward democracy or corporate monopoly. The future of humanity is at stake.

In contrast, the letter from the 14 members of the House (eight Democrats, six Republicans) lays down a clear line of opposition to the rationales for stepping up the warfare. "If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive," the letter says. And it warns that "any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States." More than 400 members of the House declined to sign the letter. In effect, they failed to join in a historic challenge to a prevailing assumption ? that the U.S. government must use massive violence for many more years to try to work Washington's will on Afghanistan. An old red-white-and-blue bumper sticker says: "These colors don't run." A newer one says: "These colors don't run? the world." Now, it's time for another twist: "These colors won't run? Afghanistan." But denial and evasion are in the political air.

The official storyline is that the U.S. went from humiliation, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik 50 years ago, to triumph, man on the moon in ?69, technological superlatives ever since. But there?s a shadowy side, a terribly damaging and destructive shadowy side, which many people in the United States and around the world have been subjected to, and that is the hijacking and the channeling of technological expertise and scientific research in billions of dollars for purposes of what Dwight Eisenhower called in ?61 the "military-industrial complex" and, in a less well-known phrase in his farewell address in ?61, a "scientific technological elite." That elite is sending 2,000-pound bombs into urban areas of Iraq. It is not only paying off outfits like Blackwater to, out of sight and often out of mind, slaughter Iraqi people in our names and with our tax dollars, but also pursuing missions that are very far from the official storyline. And so, you could say, just as Sputnik was said to have launched a trajectory of U.S. technological expertise, Silicon Valley and all the rest of it, we have the underside of what we could call a political culture of hoax that has counterpointed all of the rhetoric about democracy and scientific progress with what Martin Luther King called in 1967 a dynamic of "guided missiles and misguided men," of using our talents of our country, our resources, our scientific brilliance, for purposes of enriching a few and building a warfare state, which is part of us every moment.

Independent journalism is the antidote to the warfare state.

The spinning is a repetition compulsion disorder. It?s part of the corporate media. If we?re going to counteract it, we need to support this program and many others around the country, websites, publications, radio outlets, all the different efforts that are necessary, because if we leave it to the punditocracy, they will go back to square one as they?re doing with Iran, this danger of an attack on Iran boilerplate with what we saw five years ago. We have to stop it.

International law is suddenly very popular in Washington. President Obama responded to Russian military intervention in the Crimea by accusing Russia of a ?breach of international law.? Secretary of State John Kerry followed up by declaring that Russia is ?in direct, overt violation of international law.? Unfortunately, during the last five years, no world leader has done more to undermine international law than Barack Obama. He treats it with rhetorical adulation and behavioral contempt, helping to further normalize a might-makes-right approach to global affairs that is the antithesis of international law.

The warfare state doesn?t come and go. It can?t be defeated on Election Day? and it has infiltrated our very being.

It?s a truly odious and destructive mix ? a government bent on perpetual war and a digital tech industry dominated by a few huge firms with an insatiable drive to maximize profits. Those companies have a lot to offer the government, and vice versa.

They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home - helping people in the communities they know best - not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away.

A free and independent press is crucial for confronting such dire trends. But structural factors of corporate power continue to undermine the potential of journalism. The Washington Post is a grim case in point. Six months ago, Jeff Bezos ? the CEO and main stakeholder of Amazon ? bought the Post. But the newspaper?s ongoing CIA-related coverage does not inform readers that the CIA?s big contract with Amazon is adding to the personal wealth of the Post?s sole owner. This refusal to make such conflict-of-interest disclosures is much more than journalistic evasion for the sake of appearances. It?s a marker for more consolidation of corporate mega-media power with government power. The leverage from such convergence is becoming ever-less acknowledged or conspicuous as it becomes ever-more routine and dominant.

It?s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac.

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American Journalist, Antiwar Activist, Media Critic and Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives