Skip to comments.Ignorance, hypocrisy, obedience: symptoms of a sick America (French Harvard Grad updates diagnosis)
Posted on 05/25/2004 9:01:34 AM PDT by dead
French-born American Julian Ninio is the author of The Empire of Ignorance, Hypocrisy and Obedience, and is in Australia for the Sydney Writers Festival. This piece first appeared in The Age, and is republished with the author's permission.
The American people didn't know its troops abused prisoners in Iraqi jails. Ignorance. Officials who knew pretend they didn't know. Hypocrisy. To excuse the perpetrators, parents of soldiers say their kids were forced to follow orders. Obedience.
Torture is the problem-du-jour. Two weeks ago, the problem-du-jour was the deceptive case for war. The American people believed the administrations lies. Ignorance. The President says he relied on the flawed intelligence he was fed. Hypocrisy. Instead of rebelling, Colin Powell stuck with his team. Obedience.
America's problems are structural. Even if Kerry replaces Bush in January 2005, America will still have one child in six living in poverty; America will still have two million people in jail; America will still have military installations in 50 countries. It's time we looked at the structure behind America's problems.
By studying Americas self-image, we can collect symptoms of the disease that ails American society. Is America truly the beacon of justice? Not when it tortures prisoners. Is America truly the cradle of democracy? Not when its president is elected by a minority, not when government for corporations displaces by the people for the people.
Is America the land of the free? Not when powerful corporations can silence dissidents like Michael Moore. Is America the land of plenty? Not when one household in thirteen lives in a trailer.
Does the US have the best way of life? In a BBC poll, 96 per cent of Americans say that foreigners want to live in America. In the same poll, one Australian in 100 says she would prefer to live in America. Its not hard to guess why: Australians like paid vacations, Medicare, the fair go, even if it doesnt always work perfectly.
By studying America's self-image, we can collect symptoms of the 'disease' that ails American society. By Americas own standard, the standard of its self-image, the US is a sick society. Behind torture and all the other symptoms, you can find the same driving principles. America is the best. Might means right. Corporations have a right to maximise profit. Government should serve the economy. People must look after themselves. Status comes from wealth. Winning justifies anything.
Behind it all, you can find a powerful blend of ignorance, hypocrisy, and obedience. Its a kind of disease, something I call the IHO Syndrome: I for ignorance, H for hypocrisy, O for Obedience. Under its influence, lies become truth, wrong becomes right. Peace becomes war, justice becomes torture.
Of course, every American is not always ignorant, hypocritical and obedient. Of course, the US does not have a monopoly on ignorance, hypocrisy and obedience. But when we interpret American society through these lenses, current events make a lot more sense. And that suggests ways to fix that society.
We must produce awareness to replace ignorance. Dissenters must spear hypocrisy with truth. Instead of obeying, American people must resist.
On paper, that sounds simple. But in America as around the world, many people feel powerless to change things.
In Australia, suppose you try to solve just one problem: the logging of old-growth forests. You will butt against government. You will butt against corporations. The press will help your fight, but only up to a point. And you will feel that modern societys values work against you.
Take two friends and try to discuss how people can solve a problem you care about - Australias presence in Iraq, refugee detention centres, anything. You will soon find yourself entangled in the same web: government priorities, corporate power, media focus, modern values. Some call that the system. We feel discouraged because we see that to fix one problem, we would have to fix the entire system.
Most people would love to fix the system. This means that citizens must have the power to decide policies. Two-thirds of Americans think Congress should pass stricter gun control laws, such as keeping track of who buys guns. Survey after survey confirms this, but the surveys also show that Americans expect Congress not to pass these laws. Government does not obey people.
People cannot shape policies, much less institutions, unless they reach a critical mass. To reach a critical mass, we need to take a stand, and we need to awaken our neighbours, our parents, our friends.
It works. Thats the way change happens every time, from Alabama blacks right to ride in the front of the bus to Torres Strait islanders right to own their land. And its enjoyable. Most people I know prefer to work with others for a distant goal than to sit isolated in their living rooms. Apathy is an illusion. We are isolated, so we assume that no one else has any interest in changing the world, and we join the official game - work harder, buy more. When we break the isolation, when we talk to strangers, we realise that most people share the same interests.
Many people are waking up. Michael Moores popularity is a sign of dissent. Many will try to change society if they see a way.
There's no secret. To change the 'system', we need to take a stand and wake up people around us: parents, friends, workmates. At some point it becomes acceptable to disagree - it becomes the norm to disagree. It doesnt work overnight, but its the only sure way to produce change.
But theyre running his new one like its important.
He has exactly one off-key note in his symphony, yet hes found an audience in the fringes. You can see why he idolizes Michael Moore.
Fifty years from now, when France is an Islamic country, that might actually be an improvement--one of the few cases.
This guy is an expert on ignorance and hypocrisy.
President elected by a minority? Electoral College. It's there to stop tyrants like Al Clinton from staying in power and to give us in the American Outback a VOICE in our government.
Michael Moore's a dissident? Darned near lost a keyboard over that one.
Ignore the Aussie ignoramous. He knows nothing about American culture or self image, and less than nothing about the Articles of our Constitution.
I think this moron ought to go back to France, one society that is not in a position to lecture anyone about ignorance, hypocrisy and obedience (their disgusting history of Nazi collaboration, in particular)
So the German soldiers can march in the shade.
He screams that America is ignorant and hypocritical while stating this. UNBELIEVABLE.
The only problem is there was no torture in evidence.
A prisoner gets cocky and whips down his pants and masturbates in front of a female soldier prison guard, so she makes him do it naked with a leash around his neck.
A prisoner throws a rock at a female soldier prison guard so she throws a rock back at him. OH HORRORS!!! TORTURE!! CBSABCNBCCNN says so!
This whole brouhaha is just an open door for our glorious subversive socialist media to pile on the hatred for America.
Where were the hands being cut off? Where were the tongues cut out? Where were the beheadings?
There's a world of difference between torture and humiliting discipline to keep these paragons of virtue in line.
Just so I am clear on something, this guy despises America and yet he lives here? If he lives here, doesn't that fact defeat his entire belief system?
I nominate this visionary for a Palm D'Merde.
Remember one advantage we have, and it is key: the Left lives in its own echo chamber. They actually believe that Michael Moore is popular. Michael Moore is a con man and a liar, but that is beside the point. What I am getting to is that Michael Moore's works reach a very small audience of committed liberals. Most of America doesn't give a rat's ass what he thinks, and won't care after Bush is reelected anyway. But because Julian lives in this international Eurotrash Echo Chamber, he believes that his assertions are as fact. And why?
Because everyone that Julian knows in the smart set agrees with Julian!
This is a key for us domestically. Liberals really believed that Air America would take off like gangbusters. Instead, it has tanked in less than three months, despite a big media sendoff. They thought that everyone in America with common sense agreed with them; they could not conceive of the possibility that they could be wrong!
That is our decisive advantage as we go forward as conservatives. Our opponents are intellectually arrogant enough to fail to question their own first principles. We, as conservatives, must never fail to remember that and do two things:
1. Rigorously argue our own first principles so they stand up to scrutiny.
2. Remember that conservatives are a minority. we live in a 40-40-20 nation. NEVER assume that "most Americans" think as Freepers do. They don't. We must constantly argue our positions, and never assume, as the liberals due, that our positions are the "default" positions.
Be Seeing You,
Chris, that was well stated.
I have an associate (calling her a friend would be really pushing it) that sends me liberal emails, alerts etc all the time.
When I asked her to stop, she was surprised and responded with "I thought we all wanted the same things-- truth and justice."
I responded with "Your version or mine?"
Let's take a look at the lies this French idiot is promulgating:
"America's problems are structural...America will still have one child in six living in poverty;"
Poor families tend to have a lot of kids. Having a lot of kids makes it hard to save and/or earn more. Most families in the US are well off. The average per capita income of our poorest state is still higher than per capita income of Sweden (part of the alleged socialist EU paradise).
"America will still have two million people in jail;"
So f'ing what? Are we suppose to let criminals roam the streets? I know France allows their Muslims free reign and consider gang rapes of girls just another culture, but we have actual moral standards in America. Per capita crime rates in the US is actually lower than in Canada, Britain, France or Germany. If you're so keen on letting criminals go free, tell me your address in France and I'll pay you a visit. You sound like you have some money and are amenable to getting the crap beat out of you.
"America will still have military installations in 50 countries."
And yet not a single one of those countries have asked the US to leave. In fact, when the US even mention redeployment in S Korea, they threw a hissy fit.
"By studying America's self-image, we can collect symptoms of the disease; that ails American society. Is America truly the beacon of justice? Not when it tortures prisoners."
The US hasn't even come close to the horrors France committed in Algeria and Vietnam. One of my distant relatives was beheaded by the French in 1954.
"Is America truly the cradle of democracy? Not when its president is elected by a minority, not when government for corporations displaces by the people for the people."
We have those laws to prevent a tyrany of the majority and to make sure that everyone, in all states is heard. And how good is France's system when a Nazi sympathiser like Le Penn gets nearly 1/5 of the vote for president?
"Is America the land of the free? Not when powerful corporations can silence dissidents like Michael Moore."
Funny, one corporation doesn't think they can make money distributing Moore's tripe and this idiot cries conspiracy because he doesn't know how a free-market economy works. Here's an important fact that you missed Frenchie - the audience is also free to ignore that idiot. Moore not only was able to get his movie funded and made but small distributors are going to him because the audience for that shite is small. I guess he didn't learn anything about economics at Harvard.
"Is America the land of plenty? Not when one household in thirteen lives in a trailer."
Un-f'ing believable. Where the hell did this stat come from? In the US, over 90% of people over the age of 40 own the home they live in. That's a rate unprecedent in all of human history.
"Does the US have the best way of life? In a BBC poll, 96 per cent of Americans say that foreigners want to live in America. In the same poll, one Australian in 100 says she would prefer to live in America."
In America, you live the life you want for the most part. There really is no best way of life, but we know life with air conditioing is better than letting thousands of our grandparents die while everyone else goes on vacation. But just because one set of foreigners doesn't want to give up their already comfortable lives to move across the world doesn't mean that there aren't other foreigners that do. Maybe that's why the US has more immigrants than the rest of the world combined. That's not even counting all those illegal immigrants that flock to the US.
"It's not hard to guess why: Australians like paid vacations, Medicare, the fair go, even if it doesn't always work perfectly."
I have paid vacations and company paid health insurance that is better than Medicare or Medicaid. My family came here with nothing, but now my four siblings and I have 5 college degrees and 4 graduate degrees, work for Fortune 500 companies. That sounds like a fair go.
'America is the best.'
We win the most Nobel Prizes; get awarded the most patents; award the most graduate degrees; publish the most scientific papers and literature; our arts and media is the most popular and critically aclaimmed; we produce 32% of the world's economy despite being less than 5% of the world's population; our military power is unparalleled; etc... So I would say the US has as good a claim to being the best as anyone.
'Corporations have a right to maximise profit.'
It's not the only thing corporations do, but not many people start a business to lose money.
'Government should serve the economy.'
Well it's a lot better than having the economy serve the government (see the former USSR).
'People must look after themselves.'
Can I move into your home and mooch off you for the rest of my life Julian?
'Status comes from wealth.'
That's true in every society, culture and country since the beginning of man. Good try at pinning avarice on the US though.
'Winning justifies anything.'
You're right. Freeing France wasn't worth all those civilian German deaths.
All in all, he's hypocritically promulgating ignorance by obfuscating a sliver of fact with the lies of the left because he's obedient to their group think. He's just out to make a buck and maximize his profits by playing to the audience he knows he can manipulate because of their ignorance.
Seems like a lot of typing to shoot down his obviously idiotic assertions, but I'm glad you did it.
In a few months, when he retypes his only theme for Australian publication, I'll save you the trouble and repost your response! 8-)
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