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Sep 25

Mmm, mmm, mm … Barack Hussein Obama!

Written by Allen on Friday, September 25th, 2009 at 6:34 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, aside, culture, General, News, politics | Tags:, , , , ,
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Here is something interesting I found on Youtube.  For all the talk about China spreading propaganda and indoctrinating their children – you know teaching children about the greatness of their nation, their leader, their history … about the importance of social harmony …  instilling hope for a better future – does the U.S. really look that different?

This was filmed at the B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, NJ and uploaded on June 19, 2009.

Lyrics
========
Song 1:
Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Yes!
Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama

Song 2:
Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say “hooray!”

Hooray, Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country’s economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we’re really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue —- Mr. President we know you’ll do the trick
So here’s a hearty hip-hooray —-

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

If you’ve been around and butted heads with me, you’d know that I personally think a lot of popular beliefs about democracy, liberty, rule of law, etc. are mere propaganda – if not myths.

But even if you don’t go that far, do you think the above propaganda or education?  Don’t all statements of ideals (by definition, ideals do not yet happen consistently in reality) constitute propaganda?

What’s wrong with propaganda if they can set a vision, focus a nation’s energy and lead to long-term good?

Should education and propaganda mix?

Mmm, mmm, mm … Uncle Wen Jiabao!


There are currently 1 comments highlighted: 49382.

53 Responses to “Mmm, mmm, mm … Barack Hussein Obama!”

  1. Steve Says:

    Here’s some more information. I took this from a Fox News article, the only major network or publication I could find with the story. A few excerpts:

    The commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Education ordered a review on Friday following the posting of a YouTube video depicting school children singing the praises of President Obama.

    In a statement to FOXNews.com, Education Department spokeswoman Beth Auerswald said the commissioner has directed the school’s superintendent to review the matter. Auerswald said the commissioner wants to ensure that students can celebrate Black History Month without “inappropriate partisan politics in the classroom.”

    “In addition, it is our understanding the teacher in question retired at the end of the last school year,” the statement continued.

    Auerswald declined to indicate exactly what the review would entail or possible ramifications.

    One song that the children were taught quotes directly from the spiritual “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” though Jesus’ name is replaced with Obama’s: “He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight. Barack Hussein Obama.”

    “I felt this was reminiscent of 1930s Germany, and the indoctrination of children to worship their leader,” said Robert Bowen, father of two children at Bernice Young Elementary.”

    Parents said the songs were performed in Elvira James’ second grade class. James, who refused to comment to FOXNews.com, retired at the end of the previous school year on a full pension in New Jersey.

    “This video is disturbing,” said a grandparent named Sandy, who spoke on the condition that her last name not be included. “We don’t teach politics in pre-school — or kindergarten or first grade.”

  2. yo Says:

    I totally dig the ending :-)

    But is this appropriate….probably not (and I voted for Obama!!!!!).

    I know a lot of people would get pissed off if we had a song about Bush preaching self-responsibility, hard work, defending the country, etc etc.

    As for propaganda in general, it exists everywhere, we call it SPIN, or an “Aggressive Marketing Campaign” :-) which makes it ok. The difference between the two is kind of like Hurricanes and Typhoons.

  3. justkeeper Says:

    This is nasty and disgusting. Even in China we don’t produce eulogies for a single leader today, let alone getting school kids to sing them!

  4. Allen Says:

    @Steve #1,

    Interesting article.

    The thing I don’t understand is why is this considered “partisan politics.” I don’t see anything wrong with saluting the president of a nation – Republican or Democrat. The song does not invoke controversial topics – like universal health care, or Iraq, or Afghanistian, or terrorism, or tax for the rich. It evokes images of equality, hope, compassion, unity, strong nation…

    I can understand why someone might think this looks eerily like what Hitler did – but is that a real objection or just a reflexive objection? However bad Hitler turned out to be, not everything he did was bad. Some of the good he did do included rebuilding German’s economy and in the process improving people’s lives (at least before Germany went to war). But that doesn’t mean rebuilding a country’s economy or improving people’s life are bad…

  5. Charles Liu Says:

    Anyone notice the music is “battle hymn of the republic”?

    Allen, I agree. Sometimes things are not that different, only people’s percepton. Another example is the recent Chinese film “Foundind Of A Republic”, both NPR and USA Today labeled it “propaganda”:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-09-25-chinaanniversary_N.htm

    But the truth is this movie is no different than Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” or any other American Revolution movies we make ourselves.

  6. Will Says:

    Praise the all mighty Lord… I mean George W. Bush

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2c7_1173547096

  7. Allen Says:

    @Charles Liu #5,

    To further follow up on this thought, note that I had tagged this post with the following words: “education, history, hope, ideals, ideology, propaganda”

    How can we distinguish each of the concepts separate and free of “propaganda”?

    Can education be truly objective? Can history be truly objective?

    When does hope turn to ideals? Ideals into ideology? And ideology into propaganda?

    Is propaganda like beauty – a concept that exists only in the eye of the beholder?

  8. Charles Liu Says:

    Well, would it be any different if it was state-sponsored?

  9. Allen Says:

    @Charles Liu #8,

    I guess state-sponsored would be relevant. Whether alternative perspectives are tolerated would also be relevant.

    But on the first issue of whether something is state-sponsored, that seems more form over substance. Whether propaganda is driven by the gov’t or comes about as some type of self-reinforcing market force (as I believe happens partly in “Western media”) – propaganda is still propaganda, who cares how they arise?

    On the second issue, we are now talking about freedom of speech. Perhaps people in the West only think they have a visceral objection against propaganda when they are really only against a lack of freedom of speech?

    Or is it the fact that propaganda is associated with communism and they are against communism?

    One thing is clear – propaganda is definitely not associated with advanced, market-oriented, democratic societies here in the West…

    However I think people living in “free” societies can be just as deluded about what “truth” is (since there is freedom of speech) when he can be as one in any other society.

  10. Steve Says:

    @ Allen & Charles: I think you’re confusing the meaning of the word “propaganda” and thinking it only has a negative connotation. Propaganda is simply when a government creates a media piece that reinforces the goals of the government. Propaganda might or might not be truthful, but always tells the story from the government’s point of view. Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will was magnificent and relatively accurate in its one-sided presentation of Hitler and the Nazi party. The Americans countered with the Why We Fight series, directed by Frank Capra, who was asked to do a “Triumph” style film from the American point of view but he realized he could never top Leni Riefenstahl so he went the opposite direction and contrasted scenes of youth camps and military might from “Triumph” with scenes of American kids playing baseball, families going on picnics, etc. It was extremely effective, but it was also propaganda.

    So is Founding of a Republic propaganda? Sure, since it was created by the government to promulgate their story but that doesn’t mean it’s full of lies or something not worth watching. Personally, I’d like to see it.

    The Patriot, while goofy, wasn’t propaganda. It didn’t depict real events (though it is based on a selection of real events) but it’s primary purpose was to make money. Propaganda’s primary purpose is to influence people. There’s a big difference.

  11. Ted Says:

    Point taken about all the hammering China gets for propaganda and brainwashing but unless this school was directed by the federal government to write and sing the song then this doesn’t fit the definition of propaganda. If someone decides to write a song about the president or the country it isn’t propaganda, it is an individual act. If it turns out pre-schools across America were directed by the Board of Education to write a song about Obama then I’ll happily cede the argument. Until then, I think you should remove the propaganda tag from the page.

    I was taken aback by all the attention Obama received about his speech to the schools but it sounds like his team was overzealous both in their preparations for the speech and on the recent NEA telephone call. I’ll bet these kids were cannon fodder for O’Rieley.

    P.S. The Patriot was an awful piece of cinema, I’m from South Carolina and if anyone wants to tear the movie apart a feel-good piece of revisionist tripe, I’ll happily agree.

  12. Otto Kerner Says:

    Allen,

    Praising Barack Obama is partisan politics because he is a partisan politician, like all of the past presidents of the U.S. since George Washington. Obama will be running for reëlection in the near future, and his party will presumably still be contesting elections when these kids are old enough to vote. The lyrics are not neutral expressions of hope: “equal pay for equal work” legislation is controversial. The second song says that he has “great accomplishments” and has “great plans”, which many people would disagree with. I have no idea what “He said that all must lend a hand” and “make sure everyone gets a chance” mean in terms of specifics, but I have no doubt that some politicians would use those phrases to mean things that I disagree with strongly. “All are equal in his sight” is controversial for a different reason, which is that, as the story Steve links to mentions, it is lifted from a religious hymn, except with Barack Obama’s name substituted for that of Jesus Christ.

    Also, “we all doth say” is ungrammatical. “Doth” is the third person singular. Obviously, kids don’t need to study archaic English grammar in school at all, but I can’t countenance them being taught to do it wrong.

    Charles and Allen,

    I agree that the term “propaganda” is conveniently set aside in favor of more favorable-sounding terms when it comes to self-promotion by Western-style governments. The differences between The Patriot could be seen as minor, depending on how you look at it. The main difference is simply that The Patriot was not funded by the government. Also, The Patriot concerns events further back in the past and is not about the life of an actual major political leader, which makes it less directly relevant to modern politics. That said, there is certainly a propagandistic view of American history being given to children in schools. I think it’s basically impossible to prevent the state from inserting some propaganda about its own history and legitimacy into the curriculum if the state is to provide education to children.

  13. Allen Says:

    @Otto Kerner #12, Steve #10, Ted #11,

    It seems a defining character of propaganda is that it is sourced from the gov’t.

    Maybe that is the “technical” definition of propaganda – but I am trying to get at something else that I can’t quite get my hand at.

    Otto Kerner – remember we were discussing minorities wearing traditional cloting and there were accusations that that was propaganda?

    Steve – remember you were telling me that when you were in China that you thought gov’t T.V. was junk because it was full of propaganda?

    Why is there such a negative visceral antagonism toward messages the Chinese gov’t want to send out – or even toward “myth” that Chinese people might believe in?

    When I turn on American T.V. – I hear about how America stands for liberty, freedom, justice – and while I have nothing against those ideals, I also know that a lot of it is just to make people feel good. The founders of the U.S. had a lot of high sounding words about liberty, justice, freedom – even though they tolerated – even benefited from slavery. Ideals make people feel good. In general, I don’t have a visceral antagonism against other people’s “belief,” but I don’t see that the case for Chinese “beliefs.”

    Free Tibet movement perpetuate as much “propaganda” as the Chinese gov’t, but few people in the West have any visceral antagnism toward them.

  14. Allen Says:

    @Otto Kerner #12,

    About partisan politics, I guess you could consider equal work equal wages controversial. Obama recently signed an Equal Wages Bill. A similar bill was not passed during Bush years because opponents contended it would encourage lawsuits. I guess the lyrics can be interpreted as an endorsement of the bill – not the ideal of equality (the way I interpreted it)…

    But to see any acts that might increase Obama’s chance of getting elected next term can be considered an act of partisan politics seems to go too far.

    As an American citizen, I’d like Obama to do well – for the sake of the country. But I am not supporting Obama the Democrat per se. I’d be supporting him as the U.S. president. To express the hope that Obama will achieve great things is not an expression of partisan politics, it’s an expression of hope for this country.

    If expressing solidarity for the president or wishing the president the best for the sake of the country is partisan politics, perhaps the transaction cost of democracy is indeed too high for effective governance! ;-)

  15. Raj Says:

    Allen, as I think you admit, this isn’t government/State policy. It’s probably some teachers’ idea of fun, even if it might not be appropriate. It will also be intermittent. That means any effect will be minimal. Chinese education propaganda is mandatory and regular, so it will have far greater effect. So what’s the point of posting on these songs, other than to confirm that the Chinese propaganda system is far more invasive/significant?

    When I turn on American T.V. – I hear about how America stands for liberty, freedom, justice – and while I have nothing against those ideals, I also know that a lot of it is just to make people feel good.

    How many TV stations in any country say the opposite, that their country is evil, bad and generally sucks? The difference is that in the American media you can criticise government policy, government, politicians, etc. You can’t do that in China.

  16. A-gu Says:

    Allen,

    As I’m sure you are aware, this incident has been universally denounced as completely inappropriate and unacceptable. Unfortunately, such things are bound to occur occasionally, just as religious instruction can creep into public schools from time to time. But such practices are to be punished, not encouraged.

    Frankly, there is no question about this. Partisan politics and propaganda do not belong in education. Everyone agrees on that. (Of course, to some degree, certain forms of nationalist propaganda are so deeply ingrained into the education system that it’s not even considered propaganda anymore.)

  17. Ted Says:

    “Maybe that is the “technical” definition of propaganda – but I am trying to get at something else that I can’t quite get my hand at.”

    It’s simple perception, your average foreigner assumes that anything done in support of the Chinese government is done at the direction of the Chinese government. If you are curious why people react so negatively to this sort of thing from China perhaps it’s because the leadership is so quick to support anyone who sings its praises while shuttering anyone who doesn’t. Can anyone out there tell me the best way to get a A in a Chinese Politics class? Most of my friends said it basically amounted to writing nice things about the country, those who criticized, or disagreed with the direction of the material were held after class or their parents were spoken to. That’s propaganda.

    I don’t think what your looking for is that difficult to understand. There is no robust internal voice of dissent in China, therefore outsiders assume that those who speak in favor of the government are either told to do so or are somehow involved in the organization. Given my familiarity with the country I know this assumption to be false but the very nature of the Chinese system makes it difficult for the average outsider reach such understanding.

  18. Allen Says:

    @Raj #15,

    You wrote:

    Allen, as I think you admit, this isn’t government/State policy. It’s probably some teachers’ idea of fun, even if it might not be appropriate. It will also be intermittent. That means any effect will be minimal. Chinese education propaganda is mandatory and regular, so it will have far greater effect. So what’s the point of posting on these songs, other than to confirm that the Chinese propaganda system is far more invasive/significant?

    I think people are taking this post too narrowly (I’ll take the blame).

    This video has been denounced as “partisan politics” by some. But the essence of what I am trying to get at is not.

    A-gu in #16 wrote:

    Frankly, there is no question about this. Partisan politics and propaganda do not belong in education. Everyone agrees on that. (Of course, to some degree, certain forms of nationalist propaganda are so deeply ingrained into the education system that it’s not even considered propaganda anymore.)

    I’m not so sure. Ever since grade school, people in this country are indoctrinated with the idea of the U.S. standing for liberty and justice and good.

    The pledge of allegiance of the U.S. reads:

    I pledge allegiance to the Flag
    of the United States of America,
    and to the Republic for which it stands:
    one Nation under God, indivisible,
    With Liberty and Justice for all.

    Obama’s inauguration speech has the following, and I’m just quoting a couple of passages (imagine you are a true world citizen, not just an American or Western citizen; read each section cynically, as if you were reading some announcement from the Chinese gov’t):

    Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

    Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

    And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

    ….

    To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

    We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

    To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

    To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

    For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

    It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

    It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

    Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old.

    This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

    This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

    You can see here a set of myths that are repeated over and over again. You can feel the permeation of a blinding faith in the Western system of governance and place in the world.

    Propaganda is propaganda. As I conceded in #9, perhaps Chinese “myth” is considered “propaganda” because of a lack of freedom of speech in China. But I personally see pervasive propaganda in both societies. I disagree with the statement that “any effect [of propaganda here in the West is] minimal.”

  19. Ted Says:

    “I think people are taking this post too narrowly (I’ll take the blame).” I think your interpretation is simply too broad and now your stretching the initial post to include something entirely different. The Pledge of Allegiance and specifically the line “one nation under God” came about during the cold war I think, that would fit the definition of propaganda.

    By your definition there is nothing a president or any member of society can say about their country which is not considered propaganda. Perhaps you can go back through the Obama speech and state which excerpts you consider to be “myths”. The first two excerpts I can understand your pulling out although I would like to believe that’s what my nation stands for, for me they would be ideals. As for the others he is simply citing by example. Would you suggest that China coming together after the Sichuan Earthquake was a “myth”?

  20. Raj Says:

    Propaganda is propaganda.

    Individuals’ actions do not compare to mandatory, national government policy. Democracies cannot ban people from saying anything positive about their countries even if they wanted to. But at the same time they don’t force people in officialdom and the media to spew mindless praise/propaganda day after day on people.

    Allen, where’s your perspective?

  21. Charles liu Says:

    Does propaganda really come from government only? Before Bush regime’s Iraq invasion pro-war news reports were 300 to 1.

    So once again, would it be any different if our media was state-sponsored?

  22. dewang Says:

    Excellent point, Charles, #21.

  23. A-gu Says:

    Allen,

    The pledge you mention is, of course, nationalist propaganda, and the “national myths” of American greatness are indeed taught in school, but as I mentioned, these particular things are so deeply ingrained that people don’t even consider them propaganda now. Of course, it is, but unfortunately people just don’t think so. So it’s very hard to fight. But for the record I am a staunch opponent of the pledge in schools — children should not be making loyalty oaths.

    And I agree that if you expand the discussion to that level, sure you get some disagreement on whether or not it is appropriate. But if we stick to your initial example, of school children being trained to praise a (sitting!) President, it is universally denounced and far from State policy.

  24. Uln Says:

    @Allen – I agree there is propaganda in Western countries. The governments employ all the means in their hands promote their party they belong to. There is also national patriotic propaganda in the way that most countries teach the glory of their history from primary school.

    A typical example: look at children schoolbook in the US telling about the battle of El Alamo and the inclusion of the states originally part of Mexico. Then look at the same story told in a Mexican school book. I haven’t looked myself but I am ready to bet there are significant differences. Patriotic education exists in all countries.

    The big difference between China and the West is not whether there is propaganda or not, but rather in the degree and control of this propaganda. The CPC monopolises the propaganda in China, and it pushes it through official channels to a degree of intensity well beyond any Western country. More importantly, this is coupled with systematic censoring of all opposed opinion, which makes the propaganda much more dangerous than Western equivalents, because for most of the Chinese people there is just no different point of view available.

    The Western media can have also similar effects at some moments, like Charles notes, but this is 1- An unusual occurrence 2- Even in the worst moments of blindness, there are still influential people and media that stand opposed to the mainstream (see for example P. Krugman’s stance before the Irak war) and they are not imprisoned for that.

  25. Otto Kerner Says:

    @Allen #13,

    I don’t see any evidence that there is a “negative visceral antagonism” toward Chinese myths in general. For instance, there’s a popular idea in China that China has 5,000 years of history (which is strange because 2009 minus -1500 is about 3,500, not 5,000), and I don’t think that evokes visceral hostility in very many people. Likewise, the popular idea that the Tang Dynasty was a golden age that produced a lot of great culture — that doesn’t really bother anybody. Even for modern political ideas, there is the popular sense and propaganda to the effect that the Communist government that has promoted gender equality in China much more so than previous governments — this may be met with skepticism, but not typically antagonism from outside observers. The public conception of the Kàngrì (Second Sino-Japanese) War as a valiant and justified struggle for self-determination against an invading army — rather than a barbarous attempt to undermine pan-Asian unity and prop up a corrupt and violent Chinese regime and/or establish a Soviet client state — is not at all controversial, even in Japan (although, that, of course, would different had they not lost the war). I thought Purple Sunset (紫日) was a pretty bad movie, but my reaction was certainly not visceral antagonism toward its message.

    On the other hand, there are several political issues regarding China which do tend to evoke visceral antagonism from parts of the rest of the world. The current Chinese regime itself is quite unpopular in many quarters. I think it is the issues themselves, and the generally low reputation of the government, rather than the fact that there is propaganda about them, that causes the visceral reaction. This is exacerbated by the fact that a lot of Chinese propaganda efforts in the past have been quite ham-fisted.

  26. Bruce Says:

    All this intellectual sounding fair-minded talk about whether school children singing the praises of their president is propaganda or not, is nonsense. The standard for propaganda is whether children are being taught what to think, as opposed to how to think. Does that clarify the issue? Sadly, the latter case doesn’t take place much more in government schools.

  27. heiheianan Says:

    I am a teacher, and I was a strong (now very tepid) supporter of Mr. Obama during the election. He got his start in my hometown, and I even attended one of his gospel-esque campaign rallies. Nevertheless I would not have supported that, and I find it kind of embarrassing.

    However, I think that looking at it from the perspective of Black History Month must be considered. BHM is a weird institution. Beyond a month of soundbite introductions to inventors and athletes, we barely exist from the end of slavery to the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement. This is nothing new however, and it was this vacuum that gave birth to Black History Month, a clumsy (and growing clumsier) attempt at a remedy.

    Out of this “remedy” grow silly things like this, some seemingly well-intentioned but ultimately kind of creepy. One thing I thought upon reading about it: had this been a class singing the praises of groundbreakers like Justice Sotomayor or Congressman Barney Frank, you can bet a lot more people would have been up in arms, perhaps literally.

    However, it is ultimately an isolated incident, and it has been roundly condemned by the relevant “authorities”. More disturbing to me is that it is, yet again, giving way to comparisons of Obama to Hitler, or more specifically to all things in Obama’s “orbit” to Nazi ideology. Words like “indoctrination”, or “brainwashing” are out of place here. I don’t see anything in the values espoused by those songs that would lead me to make such a noxious comparison. However, being very familiar with China and how China is viewed in this country, I am familiar with the knee-jerk escalation to terms like “brainwashing”. If only we here in the U.S. scrutinized everything the way we scrutinize what scares us… but that’s a topic for another thread.

    Which leads me to ask the Chinese contributors to this board: is there anything similar in Chinese primary education? I studied at a university in China for a semester, and I remember my classmates having to take overtly politicized classes. Perhaps songs or recited poems about groundbreaking men (probably not women) in Chinese history? I know that in much of South America, I would not be surprised at all to hear such songs sung about Simon Bolivar.

    Finally, I must say that this entire thread is misleading. The title “Mmm, mmm, mm … Barack Hussein Obama” is misleading. I only clicked on this because I thought that perhaps there had been talk of him being eaten. “This is it” I thought. “It’s come to this, has it? The tea-baggers have completely lost their minds”. :-)

    P.S. To the poster that said he is firmly against loyalty oaths, I want to say that I think that they have no effect at all. It becomes a passionless school ritual, like lining up for recess. I recently talked with some parents from Kazakhstan and the Ukraine who were surprised and bemused that we have a pledge, and it made me think (again) about American nationalism. Interesting.

  28. Michael Says:

    The more intelligent Chinese members of the blogosphere appear to becoming acutely uncomfortable with the rising tide of their own nationalism. Now they are surfing the net looking for examples of western nationalism so they can say – “Look, you’re just as bad!”
    Last week Roland Soong posted some video clips of Britains’s “Last Night of the Proms” and inferred that the Brits were just as prone to mindless jingoism as the Chinese. As any Brit will tell you, the Proms is a once a year gathering for a small coterie of cringeworthy middle-class Empire nostalgics and wet Tories. Now we have a video of an American classroom in which a teacher has got her kids to sing a paean to their president. This shows that the US is just as bad as China in propaganda and indoctrination, even though it is the work of one overenthusiastic teacher in one class rather than national policy.
    What next – a clip of Rolf Harris singing ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down’ to illustrate the harrowing cultural genocide inflicted on Australia’s minority people?

  29. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #18: Bringing up this particular example to illustrate one teacher’s misplaced over-exuberance for the current president is fine, but using it as an example of American propaganda is a Hasty Generalization and an illogical fallacy.

    Yes, every culture has its own myths. Myths are not propaganda, they’re myths. Comparing a system where only one viewpoint is allowed and media is strictly controlled to another system where the airing of opposing viewpoints is the norm and media is open is no comparison at all. As an obvious example, is this blog censored anywhere besides China? Is it censored in China? It’s a relatively pro-Chinese blog, yet it’s censored in the country that you’d think would welcome its viewpoint.

    Sometimes I read comments from people on this blog that have never lived in China whose viewpoint is vastly different from the ones who are living there now or have lived there recently. I’ve wondered, why the discrepancy? This joke might help to explain it:

    A guy dies and finds himself at the gates of St. Peter.

    St Peter looks him up and says, “I’m impressed. You’ve lived a good life and you’re going to heaven. Congratulations!”

    The man replies, “I’m very happy to hear that but I’d like to make a request. I’ve always wondered if hell is really like they say it is in church, so would it be possible to visit hell for just a short time to satisfy my curiosity?”

    “Well, no one has ever requested that before, but I don’t see the harm in it.” St. Peter summons Satan, who instantly appears. “Lucifer, this gentleman, though accepted into heaven, would like to visit hell first. Is that OK?”

    “Sure, I can arrange that. Follow me!”

    So this guy shoots down to hell with Satan. What does he see? Certainly not what he expected! There’s a fantastic beach, lots of beautiful bikini clad girls, incredible parties, drinking, laughing, sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. The guy can’t believe it! He stays down there for a couple of hours and is just having a great time. Finally, he calls Satan and asks to go back to the Pearly Gates.

    Once there, he tells St. Peter, “Look, I appreciate getting into heaven but on further reflection, I think I’d prefer to go to hell. Can that be arranged?”

    St. Peter said, “Well, no one has ever requested it before, but I can’t deny it if you really want to go. Are you positive about this?”

    “Yes, I’ve thought about it and I’m absolutely positive.”

    So once again, St. Peter summons Satan and the guy goes back down to hell. What does he see? Flames, misery, screaming and moaning, anguish and damnation… why, it’s pure hell!!!

    He turns to Satan and says, “Where are the girls, the parties, the beach, the good times that I saw earlier???”

    Satan gives him a wicked smile and replies, “You were a tourist then.”

    Spending a few weeks on holiday in China is great fun and a very rewarding experience, but it doesn’t give much understanding of the actual China that its residents encounter on a day to day basis. I’m not saying the day to day life in China is bad; it’s actually much, much better than before. What I’m saying is that it’s different than a lot of what is portrayed in many comments in the blog. If you listen to propaganda or myth on a regular basis while living a life that doesn’t fit with the propaganda or myth, you realize it is just a myth or propaganda. But if you live far from the actual conditions, you are more willing to believe what you read or hear, since you have nothing to compare it to and therefore lack perspective. This occurs with all expats, no matter where they are from. They want to believe the myth, they have no reason not to believe the myth, so they believe the myth.

    So let’s not get too carried away with one isolated example. Believe me, if this happens anywhere in the States, it’s going to get reported and condemned. Politics uses the same antagonistic system that lawyers use. However, in this case even Democrats, liberals and Obama supporters are condemning what took place.

  30. Allen Says:

    Lots of good comments… Unfortunately since I am packing for my 2 week trip to China (6 days in Beijing, 10 days in Tibet), I’ll respond to them as I get time…

    @Ted #19,

    No – I was not referring to “one nation under God” but the “With Liberty and Justice for all” phrase. I buy into the ideal that this nation ought to stand for liberty and justice. I do not buy the notion that this nation has in the past or now has its top priority to safeguard liberty and justice – whether for the people of the world or even for American citizens. That notion is just – um – “propaganda.”

    Also the allegiance uses the word “indivisible” to describe the nature of the Republic. That’s somehow a noble concept when applied to the U.S. But when China invokes a similar concept, we get smirks … even complaints that China is being imperialistic…

  31. Otto Kerner Says:

    Allen,

    The U.S. is obviously not actually indivisible. Most notably, the Philippines used to be U.S. territory, and it no longer is. The Pledge of Allegiance was written within living memory of the U.S. Civil War for obvious propaganda / political education purposes.

  32. Allen Says:

    @Otto Kerner #31,

    I believe the indivisibility applies to States not territories. Territories have to apply to become States. Only then does it become of the “exclusive club” that is the United States to which indivisibility applies! ;-)

    The closet part of the Constitution that deal with the indivisibility of the Union is Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which states:

    New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

    This passage states once you join the Union, decisions regarding changes made affecting the Union need to be made collectively by the Union, not unilaterally by the individual States.

    The Constitution is technically silent on whether states can secede once they joined the Union. However, the Civil War seems to set the precedent that the answer is no. And most legal scholars seem believe the answer is no (the question has never formally reached the U.S. Supreme Court, although the Court did hold in Texas v. White that no state had the power to unilaterally secede). See this interesting article on the legal issues surrounding state secession for the U.S.

    As to your broader point, I concur. It is “propaganda.”

  33. Ted Says:

    @ Allen #30: “I buy into the ideal that this nation ought to stand for liberty and justice. I do not buy the notion that this nation has in the past or now has its top priority to safeguard liberty and justice – whether for the people of the world or even for American citizens. That notion is just – um – “propaganda.””

    It’s disingenuous to argue that the arc of the American legal system hasn’t been toward its stated ideal. That being the case, it isn’t just propaganda. I wouldn’t levy such a criticism against the Chinese system. It seems that you are as cynically critical of what you see as American propaganda as those who are critical of Chinese propaganda. If that’s the case then what’s the big deal? You guys can disagree all day long and we enter a “our system is better than yours” conversation. Nobody’s going to change their mind. I’m comfortable differentiating between my country’s ideals and its propaganda and I am increasingly comfortable doing so in China. I think going tit-for-tat isn’t going to solve anything. Rather we should be educating each other on how to interpret our respective systems.

  34. colin Says:

    Propaganda by any other name…

    Perhaps not propaganda technically -being dictated by the government, but something that is very similar that has its roots in the media. The “liberal” media has its agenda flavor of the day, and currently its about promoting african americans, from movies to politicians to bureaucrats to businessmen. This incident is not a spontaneous and isolated event, but a result of the incessant overt and hidden whisperings and images and instructions from the media on how to behave and think.

    The same media that constantly whispers that china is evil and bad.

  35. colin Says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Obama (except for his handling of the financial crisis) – just pointing out the hypocrisy of the media that isn’t true or fair or unbiased as it claims.

  36. Steve Says:

    @ Colin: I agree with you that most media is slanted in its coverage, but you also said “This incident is not a spontaneous and isolated event, but a result of the incessant overt and hidden whisperings and images and instructions from the media on how to behave and think.”

    That’s a pretty strong charge. Can you please back it up with something more concrete? Or is it just your opinion?

    You wrote, “The same media that constantly whispers that china is evil and bad.”

    I’d point you towards James Fallows at The Atlantic. You might be surprised how complimentary he is towards China and the Chinese people.

  37. richard Says:

    Where to begin with this thread? So much. Okay, first, let’s go to Michael’ comment above.

    The more intelligent Chinese members of the blogosphere appear to becoming acutely uncomfortable with the rising tide of their own nationalism. Now they are surfing the net looking for examples of western nationalism so they can say – “Look, you’re just as bad!” Last week Roland Soong posted some video clips of Britains’s “Last Night of the Proms” and inferred that the Brits were just as prone to mindless jingoism as the Chinese.

    Um, no. Not at all. In fact, Roland said just the opposite. His words, precisely, were:

    For me, this [the Proms] was relevant in a private discussion about aggressive versus benign patriotism. Examples of aggressive patriotism might be American patriotism (directed against “Islamofascists”) or Chinese patriotism (directed against ‘Little Japan’). The “Last Night of the Proms” might be considered an example of benign patriotism that is nevertheless rousing and passionate.

    Did you get that, Michael? It is the mirror opposite of what you said. He is saying often Chinese and US nationalism appear aggressive, while the UK’s is emotional and moving – “benign,” as Roland says. So from there, your theory goes straight to the crapper.

    I bring this up because the entire thread, starting with the post itself, is founded – with all due respect – on false premises, sloppy research and half-baked thinking, with a healthy splash of ignorance added for good luck. And I am being as kind as I can.

    This was a Black History Month project at one school and was never intended for public viewing. It goes overboard in praise of Obama, but that’s not so unusual during Black History Month. But let’s say that indeed it is totally tasteless and foolish. Fine – and that’s about all you can say about it. Because this isn’t government sponsored and government distributed like true propaganda. America recoiled in revulsion when it was leaked out in a conscious attempt to smear Obama, who had virtually nothing to do with this and who has never advocated any kind of personality cult (can he help it if some people adore him, or detest him?). It’s not like a huge portrait of Obama looms over the Capitol or statues of him adorn US universities.

    The very first comment shows just how totally some of you have fallen into the right-wing propaganda trap:

    Here’s some more information. I took this from a Fox News article, the only major network or publication I could find with the story

    Of course you could only find this on Fox. Because it’s not news. It is manufactured political BS, pure Republican propaganda. I can show you ads for Bush dolls for children, with him wearing a flight suit. Do we say Bush is trying to take over our children because he’s idolized with a doll? Of course not. Some dumb toy maker made a doll to sell. Some dumb school teacher went too far in a song that should probably never have been sung and certainly should never have been distributed. This only became new when ignorant people who think only with their emotions got all excited about it without applying any research or thought.

    Let’s look at the poster’s first point:

    For all the talk about China spreading propaganda and indoctrinating their children – you know teaching children about the greatness of their nation, their leader, their history … about the importance of social harmony … instilling hope for a better future – does the U.S. really look that different?

    The entire premise behind this statement is false. Period. You cannot watch this video and then make sweeping proclamations about how China’s educational system compares to America’s. Well, you can, but you’ll look mighty dumb. This video is not indicative of US education. The only reason you’ve ever seen it is because it created an uproar, it is SO not like American education. It’s been ripped out of context by the neo/theocons and you’ve followed their talking points hook, line and sinker. “Look, they indoctrinate! Look, Obama is building a cult! Look, they’re pushing for harmony!” And all the other hot buttons Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck are trying to push to get the public to turn on Obama so health care for all is defeated and American insurance lobbyists can go on enjoying their porterhouse steak dinners and condos in Bermuda. That’s why you saw this video. And you are furthering their cause.

    A repeat of the cardinal sin carried out here: You have equated US education with this video. You point to it as some sort of proof that the US education is X and Y. This is the sort of simplistic, thought-free reasoning that has caused me to visit here less and less frequently (though I do enjoy the site, I respect what it’s trying to do and link to it on my own site). And kudos to the intelligent commenters above who called BS on this non-story.

    The Free Tibet movement, as mentioned in a comment up above, puts out lots of BS propaganda. You have to put on your thinking cap, do your research and learn to recognize it as such. Same with all other propaganda – you have to recognize when it is being used to seduce you. And you, Allen, have been seduced by Fox News and the vast right-wing conspiracy, to which you’ve happily sacrificed your critical thinking and ability to separate truth from patent nonsense – and you did it because in so doing you had your stereotyped beliefs about America confirmed. The video made you feel good because it let you say, “Look, America does propaganda! How can they criticize China?” Nothing is as reassuring as having our belief systems stroked and confirmed. It makes us feel so warm and tingly.

    America (like all nations) does do propaganda, but this is not an example of it. This is pure Republican slander put out to scare mom and dad into thinking the communist Muslim Nigro is about to kidnap their loved ones. Congratulations on helping them spread the word.

  38. Otto Kerner Says:

    richard,

    “Because this isn’t government sponsored and government distributed like true propaganda.”

    The fact that it wasn’t intended for distribution shows that it wasn’t intended to propagandise the general public. I thought the accusation all along was that it was intended to propagandise the children. Perhaps “propaganda” is the wrong word for that intended meaning.

  39. richard Says:

    One teacher teaching a dumb song to one group of students in one school does not constitute “propagandizing children,” which sounds like a general program. It constitutes a single teacher with a dumb idea that quickly was determined to be contrary to the way we teach children in America. No one stood up for it as a role model for teaching. It is an aberration that ignoramuses are pointing to as the norm. It is nothing. It’s a virtual non-story, emblematic only of the prejudices and ill will of those who point to it, desperate to find some deeper, darker meaning to it,

  40. Jason Says:

    I agree with richard. The video has been politicized by the Republicans as a way of revenge of Democrats finding a teacher that teaches George Bush as their savior.

  41. hzzz Says:

    Obama = Black Jesus = 21 Century Messiah.

    What’s wrong with a little worshiping?? :)

    But to be fair I think the American right wingnuts treat Ronnie Raygun a lot more like a god than the American left is treating Obama as one.

  42. Jerry Says:

    I have little use for politicians, including Obama. That said, this video, the children, the message, etc. are benign. The teabaggers and birthers look at this as some wacko, delusional proof of some plot to take over the US by “Barack Bin Hitler”. These people (?) are insane, pure and simple. Some Chinese view this similar to Chinese propaganda. I say hogwash.

    I have been fed similar pap and I survived. Catholic nuns told me that my Jewish father was a Christ-killer. It said so in the Baltimore catechism, which must make it true. Hogwash, I did not believe it for a minute.

    With Columbus Day coming soon on Oct 12, I remember learning this in grade school.

    IN 1492

    In fourteen hundred ninety-two
    Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

    He had three ships and left from Spain;
    He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

    He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
    He used the stars to find his way.

    A compass also helped him know
    How to find the way to go.

    Ninety sailors were on board;
    Some men worked while others snored.

    Then the workers went to sleep;
    And others watched the ocean deep.

    Day after day they looked for land;
    They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

    October 12 their dream came true,
    You never saw a happier crew!

    “Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
    His heart was filled with joyful pride.

    But “India” the land was not;
    It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

    The Arakawa natives were very nice;
    They gave the sailors food and spice.

    Columbus sailed on to find some gold
    To bring back home, as he’d been told.

    He made the trip again and again,
    Trading gold to bring to Spain.

    The first American? No, not quite.
    But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

    Right! Sure! Hogwash! I later learned that Columbus was a murderous bastard and bellicose bully. And he never discovered America. Thank you Howard Zinn.

    No matter what teabaggers and birthers say, their rhetoric and diatribes are just emotionally-loaded venom. Unfortunately, it just obscures the real issues, which are very serious.

    Here is some information from the Center for Responsive Politics’ report titled Banking on Becoming President.Obama’s campaign collected $745,000,000 in the 2008 election; McCain collected $368,000,000. Here are a few sectors which contributed to OB.

    The Lawyers and Lobbyist sector contributed $74.1 million

    The Financial sector contributed $71.0 million

    The Communications/Electronics sector contributed $35.9 million

    The Health sector contributed $27.9 million

    The Construction sector contributed $9.3 million

    If Obama’s administration has not been bought and paid for, well, some people made a large down payment.

    I was reading an article by Sam Smith in the Progressive Review. Sam is a very intelligent, grounded, down-to-earth progressive writer. His article is entitled “WHY LIBERALS MISREAD OBAMA “. Here are some excerpts:

    Sam Smith, Progressive Review – During the campaign the Review pointed out a number of uncomfortable facts about Barack Obama, including that he:

    Aggressively opposed impeachment action against Bush

    Had argued that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy social welfare, (my note, he listed 36 more uncomfortable facts, which I am not including) …

    That’s 38 reasons for starters why liberals might have been uncomfortable with Obama. Instead they treated him as if he had descended from heaven and heavily chastised those who failed to join their crusade.

    Some of this was to be expected; for example, history and ethnic solidarity made black support unsurprising.

    But even with Bill Clinton white liberal arguments on his behalf still had the tone of slightly embarrassed justification. With Obama there was nothing but idolatry.

    Now, with a rapidity that surprised even this cynic, liberals are feeling uncomfortable with, and some even mad at, their instant hero. What went wrong?

    Here are a few hypotheses:

    – With the Clinton election, liberalism shifted from being an ideology to being more a combination of faith and socio-economic demographic that sought identity through favored icons rather than by preferred policies.

    – The dominant white portion of the demographic found in Obama a black with whom they could identify – a handsome, well-spoken Harvard Law School graduate with none of the anger or aggressiveness of someone like Jesse Jackson. Obama was the black they had been waiting for: safe, suave, and soft spoken. They didn’t notice that ethnically Obama was actually only half black and in politics he was all white. …

    Now these are real issues, not some youtube eye candy. Or Fox News cannon fodder.

  43. Jerry Says:

    The above excerpt from Sam Smith (#42) does not have the emotional impact of the entire 38 “uncomfortable facts about Barack Obama”. So below is the full article.

    These are real issues. The video is not a real issue.

    Sorry, Barack, you are not the messiah.

    WHY LIBERALS MISREAD OBAMA

    Sam Smith, Progressive Review – During the campaign the Review pointed out a number of uncomfortable facts about Barack Obama, including that he:

    Aggressively opposed impeachment action against Bush

    Had argued that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy social welfare,

    Supported making it harder to file class action suits in state courts

    Voted for a business-friendly “tort reform” bill

    Voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards

    Had the most number of foreign lobbyist contributors in the primaries

    Was even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain

    Was the most popular of the candidates with K Street lobbyists

    Was named in 2003 by the rightwing Democratic Leadership Council named Obama as one of its “100 to Watch.” After he was criticized in the black media, Obama disassociated himself with the DLC. But his major economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, was still the chief economist of the conservative organization. Wrote Doug Henwood, “Goolsbee has written gushingly about Milton Friedman and denounced the idea of a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures.”

    Supported the war on drugs

    Supported the crack-cocaine sentence disparity

    Supported Real ID

    Supported the PATRIOT Act

    Supported the death penalty

    Opposed lowering the drinking age to 18

    Went to Connecticut to support Joe Lieberman in the primary against Ned Lamont

    Lent his support, as Paul Street of Z Mag noted, ” to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and other Wall Street Democrats to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party. . . Obama was recently hailed as a Hamiltonian believer in limited government and free trade by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks.”

    Endorsed US involvement in the failed drug war in Colombia.

    Voted for a nuclear energy bill that included money for bunker buster bombs and full funding for Yucca Mountain.

    Came in at 48th in the ranking of senators by the League of Conservation Voters

    Supported federally funded ethanol and was unusually close to the ethanol industry.

    Promised to double funding for private charter schools, part of a national effort to undermine public education.

    Supported the No Child Left Behind Act

    Favored expanding the war in Afghanistan

    Supported Israeli aggression and apartheid.

    Favored turning over Jerusalem to Israel

    Wouldn’t rule out first strike nuclear attack on Iran

    Called Pakistan “the right battlefield … in the war on terrorism.” Threatened to invade Pakistan

    Opposed gay marriage

    Opposed single payer healthcare

    Supported restricting damage awards in medical malpractice suits

    Favored healthcare individual mandates that would help insurance companies and banks but not citizens

    Wanted to expand the size of the military.

    Wouldn’t have photo taken with San Francisco mayor because he was afraid it would seem that he supported gay marriage

    Dissed Ralph Nader for daring to run for president again

    Called the late Paul Wellstone “something of a gadfly”

    Was ranked 24th in the Senate by Progressive Punch

    Said “everything is on the table” with Social Security.

    That’s 38 reasons for starters why liberals might have been uncomfortable with Obama. Instead they treated him as if he had descended from heaven and heavily chastised those who failed to join their crusade.

    Some of this was to be expected; for example, history and ethnic solidarity made black support unsurprising.

    But even with Bill Clinton white liberal arguments on his behalf still had the tone of slightly embarrassed justification. With Obama there was nothing but idolatry.

    Now, with a rapidity that surprised even this cynic, liberals are feeling uncomfortable with, and some even mad at, their instant hero. What went wrong?

    Here are a few hypotheses:

    – With the Clinton election, liberalism shifted from being an ideology to being more a combination of faith and socio-economic demographic that sought identity through favored icons rather than by preferred policies.

    – The dominant white portion of the demographic found in Obama a black with whom they could identify – a handsome, well-spoken Harvard Law School graduate with none of the anger or aggressiveness of someone like Jesse Jackson. Obama was the black they had been waiting for: safe, suave, and soft spoken. They didn’t notice that ethnically Obama was actually only half black and in politics he was all white.

    – Many of the traditional liberal causes were now considered radical and lacking in support. Economic issues have nearly disappeared from liberalism, while supporting civil rights or opposing wars are considered just part of history. Constitutional rights are left to a small subset or to libertarians.

    – With the media’s help, liberals have learned to regard politics as a game rather than a cause. Pursuing a policy was the work of the naive; power is the goal, and it is assumed that once it is attained, the policies will take care of themselves.

    The irony is that liberals didn’t even learn anything from their successful opponents. The right had reduced politics to a few issues, which though logically were of minor importance, had become powerful- if false – symbols of righteousness. On not one issue over the past two decades, have liberals even come close to raising serious hell.

    So now some liberals are beginning to notice that they have been conned again. But not much will likely occur as a result, So if anyone feels like starting a new movement – one that centers on doing the most for the most – it wouldn’t be a bad time. Aside from a bunch of griping conservatives and grumpy liberals not much else is happening.

  44. Steve Says:

    @ Jerry #43: I collapsed your comment because it didn’t have a direct bearing on the post topic. It’d be better for you to post a link to the article with excerpts and your own comments so readers can reference it on their own. Thanks!

  45. Jerry Says:

    @Steve #44

    Steve, I profoundly disagree. The visual impact of seeing all 38 of the “uncomfortable facts about Barack Obama” is necessary here, IMHO. Especially when compared to some ludicrous video emanating out of the “Get Barack Bin Hitler” movement in the US. I wanted people to see what a progressive, Sam Smith, had to say about Barack, in toto. Sam brought up real concerns. The video is a non-issue, a non-starter, a red herring, if you will.

    You wrote, “I collapsed your comment because it didn’t have a direct bearing on the post topic.” I strongly disagree. I understand your collapsing of the Johnny Neihu piece. I don’t understand your collapsing of Sam Smith’s piece. It speaks to many issues I have with Obama. Real issues. Thanks.

  46. Steve Says:

    Hi Jerry, the topic wasn’t about Obama but about some kids being taught a song about him at school, so more in the “propaganda” line than regarding policy. Your article was collapsed so it can still be accessed by one click. It was about Obama’s record both before and after becoming president, not about the original propaganda topic. When articles are only somewhat related to the topic, a brief summary and link don’t take up as much space yet can still make the points you felt necessary. Long articles make it difficult for readers to scroll through while looking for directly related comments.

  47. Hongkonger Says:

    “……in my grief, I’ve considered giving up.
    But then, I wiped the tears from my eyes long enough to remember communities of people that I’ve been blessed enough to get to know, from Toronto, Canada to Cape Town, South Africa; from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Valdosta, Georgia, there are people struggling through their own pain, their own deep personal disappointments to reach a better place—not just for themselves, but for the global community of man.” Cynthia McKinney

    Cynthia McKinney, former house rep in the US Congress’ response to Obama’s Nobel prize award.

    One friend and former Congressional Staffer of mine puts it this way: we need a democratic military instead of a militarized democracy.

    The United States, with the help of its European and Asian allies maintains over 700 bases around the world. The number is increasing under President Obama.

    More and more people are experiencing cognitive dissonance and rightly so. Our leaders and respected organizations are lying to us!
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    If we want Policy instead of Speeches
    Vers La Verité Speech in Paris

    By Cynthia McKinney

    October 11, 2009

    President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was not the only news yesterday. And in my opinion, it’s not even the biggest news. It’s not even the saddest news. But it does provide us with some critical information as we move forward. The three-part question for us, tonight however, is “What are we moving forward TO; is that the place we want to go; and if not, what do we do about it?
    In other words, “What is our vision for the future and how do we define success?”
    I have been and am still in deep pain over the institutional homicide of my aunt and in my grief, I’ve considered giving up.
    But then, I wiped the tears from my eyes long enough to remember communities of people that I’ve been blessed enough to get to know, from Toronto, Canada to Cape Town, South Africa; from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Valdosta, Georgia, there are people struggling through their own pain, their own deep personal disappointments to reach a better place—not just for themselves, but for the global community of man. And I know deep in my own heart, as broken as it is, that I cannot give up. My brain tells me that the struggle for truth, justice, peace, and dignity is too important to lose because of heartbreak.
    The one thing that probably best defines everyone in this room are our search for and activities on behalf of principles that are bigger than ourselves. We want our governments to tell us the truth; we want them to deliver justice; we want our global community to live in peace; and we want respect for the dignity of all humankind.
    So if these are the ingredients of our vision, what tools do we need to produce the desired result?
    Well, first of all, the desired result has to have definition.
    I mentioned in one of my messages to a dear friend in response to the Nobel award to President Barack Obama that we needed to keep our eyes on the prize and then I erased it because I don’t think we’ve sufficiently defined what the prize is.
    So there must be a small, cohesive, international group of rock-solid people feverishly working to redefine for all who want to be active, and a part of our vision, just what the prize is. And this “prize,” our vision, must be repeated and explained often so people can differentiate our vision, from their reality.
    Here is where language becomes important. If we want policy instead of speeches, then this must be repeated early and often because what I’m alarmed by is that in the absence of us providing real definition, and there are reasons for that, people are beginning to think that a speech IS policy.
    But, as I said earlier, there was a lot of news yesterday. Some of it even more important than the Nobel Peace Prize Award, but the award certainly overshadowed all other stories.
    And I’m always searching for context. Because, as the U.S. military puts it, “perception management” is important. And we must understand the context of what happens and when it happens, in order to understand why.
    I always say that we must see the invisible, hear the unspoken, and read the unwritten. That’s what some of the organizers of Vers La Verité were professionally trained to do, before they became whistleblowers, and now our leaders.
    Now, what were some of those other interesting news items?
    Well, at a Native American Lodge located next to Senator John McCain’s ranch, two people died and several others were hospitalized following a hazardous materials situation at the Sweat Lodge, which is like a spiritual retreat led by Native Americans. I’ve even been invited to participate in one upon my return to the U.S.
    Now, I find this interesting and a story that should be followed up on and I will be doing that because I want to make sure there’s no bigger story hidden in an important cultural ritual of the Native Americans who are victims of a genocide in North America that continues to this day.
    On the day that the Nobel Prize was announced, we also learned that the U.S. bunker buster bomb will be ready in a few more months.
    This is the bomb that holds over 5,000 pounds of explosives and is designed to penetrate hardened facilities, including those underground. Some brilliant people in the U.S. even want to put nuclear tips on bunker buster bombs. However, in announcing the near deployment of the project that pays McDonnell Douglas to adapt the B-2 bomber so it can deliver the Boeing-made bomb to its intended target, the Pentagon press secretary said, “The reality is that the world we live in is one in which there are people who seek to build weapons of mass destruction and they seek to do so in a clandestine fashion.” The article noted that the Obama Administration had not ruled out military action against Iran.
    Another story noted that hours after winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama met with his military advisors about troop levels in Afghanistan. The troop increase requested by the U.S. Commander ranged, it is reported, from 10,000 to 60,000—although the top number isn’t listed in that news report. One has to go to another news item to see the true top number. At any rate, it seems that the choices confronting U.S. and European leaders is whether to increase the current 68,000 U.S. boots on the ground in Afghanistan or to merely increase the number of drone attacks. Decreasing death and destruction and bringing our young men and women home is not on the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s agenda for discussion.
    The last article of note is about a restaurant in west Georgia that is using the “N-word” on its marquee to describe President Obama. It reminds me of the Atlanta area restaurant that put on its marquee that I was Buckwheat with Boobs. Now, those of you who are from the U.S. will know what that means and the depth of insult that was intended. The article notes that I’ve made this restaurant’s marquee, too. Both restaurant owners claim to not be racists and to be protected by free speech.
    My point in including this particular news item is that we still have so far to go just in terms of our human relations. It is imperative that we do what we can to spread our message and our vision and reach those who can be reached.
    Which brings me to who can be reached.
    Those with enough discernment to know that what is being pronounced from on high is not their reality. And rather than accept or discount the contradictions, we want them to join us and struggle for a better reality for everybody.
    I am saddened beyond belief that on the day of the Peace Prize award, a struggling democracy in Honduras was besieged with U.S. supplied weapons and U.S.-trained paramilitaries and snipers in support of coup leaders over the democratically-elected people’s leaders. In fact, the latest dispatch from Honduras is that many of the snipers and paramilitaries—now descending on Honduras from all over Latin America—were trained in my home state of Georgia.
    More and more people are experiencing cognitive dissonance and rightly so. Our leaders and respected organizations are lying to us! One friend and former Congressional Staffer of mine puts it this way: we need a democratic military instead of a militarized democracy.
    The United States, with the help of its European and Asian allies maintains over 700 bases around the world. The number is increasing under President Obama.
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that we must combat racism, poverty, and militarism. Our movement cannot struggle against militarism and fail to address racism. We must be comprehensive and to racism, militarism, and poverty, we must now add gaining control of a media that will allow us to communicate to a broader community and not just within our small spheres, and regaining control of education so that people are not so dumbed down that they actually believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength, and lies are truth.
    And if we are right, then others will join us. They will share with us their dreams and their passions and we will help to empower them.
    Global resistance combined with local action, organization, vision, commitment, and resources will allow us to have significant victories in the future.
    Vers La Verité understands that the foundation of all of this action, attainment of the prize, can only happen with truth as our foundation.
    It’s already a brave new world, let’s get busy and make it ours!!!

  48. Allen Says:

    @Hongkonger #47,

    Thanks for the comment – and excerpt. I tend to agree that the Nobel Prize is another manifestation of Western propaganda.

    Yes – Obama’s rhetoric is “nicer sounding” that Bush’s, but little of his policy of U.S. imperialism – of watching out for its interest only rather than sharing some of its prosperity with much of the developing world – has been changed. If Obama stands for Nobel’s model of peace, then the future of humanity will be bleak in deed.

    Anyways – I’m still traveling in China and don’t have time to engage with people further. But I do want to put in my little take on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize in light of Hongkonger’s comment and our previous discussion on the pervasiveness of propaganda in the West.

  49. HKger Says:

    Bravo to Jerry’s recent Columbus/Christ-killer et al ‘hogwash’ comments. I totally agree with Jerry’s statement posted under the Obama post: “I have no use for politicians, and that includes Obama.”

    I know FM is about China and its relations to the world – a world being currently pushed to the brink of another global holocaust that China wants nor has an active part in stirring – so excuse me for not bashing the least of the world’s authoritarians.

    As a result of China’s rising economy, I am given the choice to kickback and enjoy the benefits of an alternative lifestyle in a relatively safe and easy living in this country. But there is a hugh living thorn, a cancer, in the side of this great planet. A cancer that has for millenia poisoned and diminished the multifaceted cultural heritages of the global human community. As it did in the days under Pope Innocent III of the Inquisition or as those under Pope Paul IV the Jew-killer, it continues to ravish mankind even more efficiently today. Just as it metathesized and crossed the Pacific, and nearly exterminated the entire Native American nations, this same disease today thrives among mercenaries financed by warmongering profiteers – crossing jungles and wildernesses, oil rich plains and deserts, oceans and space, ever conspiring to take away from us our health and our right to live.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15686

    An Imperial Strategy for a New World Order: The Origins of World War III

    By Andrew Gavin Marshall

  50. Hongkonger Says:

    Crime of our time

    http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Article/059659-2009-10-14-reviewing-danny-schechters-the-crime-of-our-time.htm

  51. Raph Luthe Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFgLXQJeJu8&videos=bu8y940icGU

    heres a new one pretty good

  52. Wukailong Says:

    American kids can’t behave. They lack the necessary discipline and toughness of the great Chinese people.

    But seriously, whatever this is supposed to prove, it’s nothing compared to the Italians:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXf-YbsSh0Y

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