TWICE CENSORED: Catching the NYT in a fib and defending Israel at HuffingtonPost

The New York Times has been a staple of my daily news consumption for well over a decade.  During this period, the “Gray Lady” has printed a very high percentage of the comments I’ve submitted, however they have consistently censored my comments addressing the organization’s journalistic failures.

The following is the latest example of this tendency of the Times, regarding a comment I submitted observing that a recent NYT article — whatever distinctions it correctly drew between the two leading presidential candidates’ positions on waterboarding — mostly obscured their common positions on rendition and torture (while falsely denying the continued use of such tactics).

My NYT-censored comment:

The article is premised on a falsehood: “Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.” (Here, Mr. Savage exemplifies that tendency in the MSM to forego journalistic rigor and emptily parrot official propaganda.)  As has been reported by Jeremy Scahill, Allan Nairn, Amy Goodman, Alfred McCoy, and others, OBAMA HAS CONTINUED THE TORTURE, albeit with some minor adjustments: www.democracynow.org/2012/9/21/as_italy_sentences_23_cia_agents

The new rules: NO torturing by military personnel in war zones (PERMITTED, however, in places America is NOT at war — have at it, special ops!); “NO more rendition”… (EXCEPT when necessary to transport prisoners to the CIA’s torturing partners, with CIA feeding questions and directing the torture from the next room). There’s also been a steady stream of reports of torture at the U.S.-operated prison in Bagram (documented by the ICRC and Afghan human rights organizations) — which is why our Canadian and European allies refuse to bring prisoners there.

In short, America has wholeheartedly embraced torture in the post-9/11 era, and none of our institutions seem willing to do anything about it, from the DOJ to Congress to the NYT. Meanwhile we continue to fuel the flames of rage (backing al Qaeda in Syria, targeting medics and funerals with our drones, funding terrorism in Iran…) — dramatically reducing our national security.

There you have it, the first comment I’ve submitted to the NYT in months and they refused to post it!

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And now for part two of this sorry saga… I’ve also been comment-blocked this week by The HuffingtonPost. (Maybe I am the problem, after all.  You be the judge.)  I was feeling appalled at several HuffPo members’ comments responding to an article about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s (by all accounts subdued) speech at the United Nations this week.  The anti-Islamic, anti-Arab bigotry and neocon-propagated falsehoods were flying fast and furious on that comments board, so I decided to put out a little corrective pertinent to the discussion, as follows:

I’ve just read several pages of hate-filled and stunningly ignorant comments here, very few with any connection whatsoever to reality (yet more evidence that America has collapsed, morally and intellectually, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks).

Here are some FACTS:

1) In 1953, the CIA executed a violent coup in Iran, replacing an internationally celebrated democrat with a torturing, secret police-employing, resource-stealing puppet for the next quarter century;

2) In 1979, after the student-led Iranian Revolution, the West elevated Saddam in Iraq in order to use him as a proxy (he invaded Iran within months and one million people died as a result);

3) Iranians are not “Arab” but Persian (and they haven’t been militarily aggressive for centuries);

4) While Iran supports Hamas and Hezbollah, the vast majority of the world understands these organizations to be legitimate resistance groups, defying illegal occupation and a recidivist war criminal regime; even official Europe and Canada recognized these groups as freedom fighters prior to 9/11);

5) Neither the IAEA nor America’s 16 intelligence agencies have found ANY evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program since the abandoned effort in 2003;

6) The U.S. has been terrorizing Iran (mostly through proxies, like Saddam and the MEK) for decades — Iran has mostly responded with angry WORDS; and

7) Iran’s leaders have NEVER threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” (that is a deliberate mistranslation of a Khomeini speech once quoted by Ahmadinejad).

Now this comment (above) was posted on that comment board — not censored/lost/blocked — hooray!  And after its posting, the comment generated a small wave of fiery criticism, with some critics suggesting that I had been “brainwashed” and others suggesting that I am hostile to Israel (on what grounds, they didn’t say).  In responding to these attacks, I tried to add nuance to my position and clarify my feelings about Mr. Ahmadinejad:

While Iran’s leadership is highly flawed, you should know that you’re regurgitating some of the more common falsehoods about Iran (neocon propaganda, actually). The truth: Ahmadinejad is a pipsqueak populist, rarely aligned with the mullahs. His political opponents are mostly folks like Rafsanjani in the corrupt old business-political-religious establishment. That said, however much of a popular following he has — which is considerable; he’s not a “dictator” by any accepted definition — he’s WAY too prone to making ignorant comments (questioning the Holocaust and so forth) to be an effective leader. Iran can surely do better than this provincial, red meat-chumming math professor.

That said, here’s the vital corrective: No Iranian leader has EVER called for the “destruction of Israel” or anything like that. The original comment (Khomeini’s, quoted once by Ahmadinejad) expressed a hope that the REGIME in Israel would one day fade — just as the REGIME of the Shah eventually faded away (that was the specific context): www.fair.org/blog/2012/04/19/now-they-tell-us-iran-didnt-actually-threaten-to-wipe-israel-off-the-map/

America has been terrorizing Iran for over half a century now, leaving hundreds of thousands dead since the 1953 CIA coup. It’s no defense of Ahmadinejad to note the West’s history of terrorizing the region or that Iran has been the subject of a great deal of propaganda designed to build popular support in America for war.

So there I was, being reasonable and polite as peach pie in responding to those critical of my initial comment, when HuffPo apparently decided to shut me down.  When asked to present some facts demonstrating my sympathy with the Israeli people, I tried repeatedly to post the following two-part comment, both installments of which have been blocked, blocked, and blocked (with HuffPo’s support staff also refusing to respond to my request for an explanation) — just BLOCKED:

FACTS from the Israeli position:

After centuries of persecution at the hands of pharaohs, tsars, and Europeans — culminating in the Nazi Holocaust that killed at least 11 million people (a predominately Jewish holocaust, whatever Ahmadinejad thinks in his ignorance) — Zionists realized their dream of a Jewish homeland in 1948, courtesy of a U.N. resolution backed by strong Western support.

HOWEVER, thanks to Washington’s imperialist ambitions, the rightful founding of the state of Israel was achieved with unnecessary brutality and next to no consultation with Arabs (who had officially accepted the proposition of a Jewish state).

What followed was the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Arabs (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) ensuring an environment of perpetual hostility to the state of Israel — one that has been assiduously nurtured by the Military Industrial Complex and Washington in the decades since. The abandoned British garrison had been successfully replaced with another armed, extraordinarily militarist polity, effectively providing a Middle Eastern toehold for Western colonialism (initially under the guise of fighting the Cold War — most of which consisted of thwarting democrats and elevating the thugs and terrorists who created the most favorable conditions for American corporations: in Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa…).

Israeli Jews have suffered from decades of foreign manipulation and corrupt, inept, frequently terrorist leaders (much like their Palestinian counterparts on ALL counts) who do not remotely represent the majority of the state.

Israel can take pride in many institutions that function in a reasonably democratic way (including a Supreme Court that was willing to fault Sharon for the civilian massacres he unleashed and a Winograd Commission that honestly depicted the incompetence of Olmert’s botched, civilian-slaughtering war on Lebanon).

In sum, Israel has from the start suffered Western manipulation, hostility from their neighbors (including wars and chronic terrorist attacks), and corruption from within — but especially from the external forces that are in the BUSINESS of perpetual conflict.

Sadly, anti-Semitism is alive and well (particularly on the American right, where Jews are seen as the cannon fodder in their fundamentalist Christian war on Islam and also as the necessary precondition for their Rapture). Jews are STILL blamed for all kinds of things by bigots everywhere (from American right-wingers to the Arab dictators they support — and deranged lefties and nutters, too, some of whom think Israel had something to do with 9/11…).

European Jews and their descendants deserved better than to have their homeland conceived from the start as a Western military base. But with more good journalism (Haaretz) and more good leaders (like Rabin) possible in the future, maybe the Israeli warmongers (Netanyahu, Lieberman, and the racist settlers) can finally be restrained by the Israeli people — and a PEACE worthy of Israel and Palestine can finally be forged!

Now, whether or not you agree with my arguments, please ask yourself: have I been abusive?  Off-topic?  Did I engage in threats or hate speech?  I would say that the answer to those questions is a resounding “none of the above.”  In fact, I can’t figure out how I’ve violated the comment policies of either the New York Times or HuffingtonPost… and that’s why this feels like censorship to me.

But again, you be the judge.

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