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Total number of comments: 4 (since 2013-11-28 16:45:03)

Jim Harrison

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  • Indiana: "How do we get rid of" Zinn's 'A People's History of the United States?'
    • Zinn wrote his book to counter existing American histories that are just as rhetorical but which devote their special pleading to defending the status quo. Of course denunciations of the texts he wrote against are notably absent from op-eds and standards of scholarship become notably more stringent when they are useful in discrediting ideas that aren't agreeable to powerful interests. By turning the issue into an argument about the accuracy of footnotes, academics get to avoid taking a stand.

      Works like Zinn's are needful in proportion to the prevalence of the propaganda of the other side. Not to get too postmodern about it, his book becomes truer and truer as political attempts to suppress demonstrate that its author really did have a point to make about the authoritarian character of the system

  • How Torture Misled the US into an Illegal War: What Zero Dark Thirty Really Leaves Out
    • I think you're taking the wrong tack on this issue. You can claim that the movie is aesthetically unsatisfying, but the audience in the theater where I watched it were spell bound; and, for what it's worth, I myself thought it was an outstanding piece of film making.

      The problem isn't that the movie is somehow a bad movie, but the ancient problem about the moral responsibility of the artist. Creativity is sometimes immoral.

      In the case of this particular film, however, I think the issue is more complicated. As I saw the movie, the director seemed to be determined to leave the issue of torture ambiguous. Now it may be that a reasonable person should have expected that normal audiences would not find it ambiguous but see it as a defense of torture in the same way that Hollywood revenge flicks are received as defenses of vigilantism. If so, the question becomes is Begelow responsible for the reception of her work as well as for its intention?

  • Our News and their News
    • I agree with much in your post, but I'm unhappy with the expression "late capitalism" in your first sentence because neither you nor I know whether the system in place is on its last legs or will continue for decades or centuries. Human institutional arrangements are always pretty dubious so that it wouldn't be particularly difficult to find evidence of terminal decadence in any society at any time. Thing is, the only thing that lends the locution "late capitalism" its force is appeal to an ideological narrative. Otherwise, it's like the old joke about the guy on the bus who asks another passenger about the exit for the zoo. "That's easy," he replies, "Wait till I get off the bus and get off at the previous stop."

  • Abbas: Israeli Colonization Impedes Start of Direct Talks
    • Nothing very complicated about this story. The Israeli government is simply operating in bad faith as they have been operating for generations now, at times in opposition to the will of a majority of Israelis, though I think the population has gradually fallen into line with the cynicism of its leaders. The Israelis take us for fools; and, on the evidence, they are quite right to do so.

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