Archive for June, 2012

An idiotic petition is circulating, so far luckily with only 99 signatories. But read it and see how it is a textbook example of muddling issues.

“War is not the answer. Not in Iran. Not in Syria.

Intervention in Syria only makes matters worse. All sides are committing war crimes, and providing arms only results in more killing.

The US and all foreign governments should stay out of Syria and let the Syrian people resolve their own political matters in their own way. Our government must keep its arms, funding and troops out of Syria.”

Mixing issues (such as the “war” against Iran that has been announced as being around the corner for 9 years now, just confounds people and keeps reality hidden. But more sinister are the assumptions made.

1) No one does want war who is a normal person. Apparently, neither did any protesters who took to the streets as is a right of assembly free people hold dear, and the reactionary regime either forced them into death or capitulation. The more death there was, the less the people remained silent and capitulation became impossible. This is how revolutions at times begin, when a resistance occurs in the face of lack of reforms and when oppression is the answer to dissent.

2) Who says it makes matters “worse”. Apparently, someone living in California does not seem to think it is bad enough that civilians are massacred, tortured, arrested, infants are slaughtered, towns are shelled to the ground, unconventional weapons are unleashed, water is poisoned and medicine is withheld from the wounded? Refugees are not fleeing their homes and losing their possessions and loved ones? Does he or she ignore the destruction the regime carries out so that it maintains itself in power?

3) The author puts on equal footing the “war crimes”…. Is this a joke? How can the acts of the deserting soldiers ever be compared to the regular army and the Shabihha? Do they have prisons, tanks, helicopters?

4) The USA isn’t getting involved, never planned on it, unless finger-wagging and tongue-wagging is involvement. On the other hand, Russia, Iran, Lebanon and China provide material and political support including weapons and mercenaries.

5) The ultimate smack in the face against people in Syria (though this petition never claimed it cared about them) is that it believes it is possible and preferable to “let the Syrian people resolve their own political matters in their own way.” The naiveté of a statement of the sort is alarming, as if this is a political dispute that does not involve crimes against humanity and genocide. Yes, “let them” sort it out, while we put our blindfolds on, or sign some idiotic petition because peace is nice, rainbows and flowers are better than guns and severed throats of infants.

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Not only on FB, but FB makes it easy to avoid facts and hype rhetorical good and bad deeds

Here we go again, just when one thinks that the insanity of the personalisation of the PALESTINIAN CAUSE is finally running its course, long, long overdue, I add… I find that a blog called Shoah.org that purports to be very popular and pro-Palestinian, though featuring almost no Palestinians at all among those it publishes, has decided that acceptable content is bizarre personal vendettas becoming “our business and thus THEIR business”. The blog looks actually scarily similar to the National Inquirer. I have not had much opportunity to see the site in the past, but having seen the recent “popular” post I do worry about the state of activism and mostly, for what concerns this site, wonder if it is competing in the stakes of activism tabloids.

Happily being able to ignore the big flame wars between activists has been a wonderful luxury. I feel that most of these activists and campaigners are strictly relevant to themselves and basically just bringing grist to their own publicity mills, since they turn out to be little more than a few men glorifying their egos and repeating ad nauseam in public articles and posts their own self-worth and assuming the baton will be carried by others repeating the mantra that “if you are not with this (or that) “known” activist, you are a Zionist! You are a proven AGENT!”  But it’s easy and desirable to disengage with this lot, since when asked over and over to prove the claims made against those who dare criticise them, they never do provide any proof of it besides comical ones that they invent themselves. Agents certainly DO exist, but to call anyone an agent is dangerous and no intelligent person will accept that without evidence. It certainly does speak volumes that this claim is made so very often and at the flip of a hat, but rarely is there anything to support it, thus it is empty of meaning. It is quite clear by now that it’s more productive to ignore this lot, because it serves no purpose to engage in time-wasting battles that no one but the men involved and their “followers” (yes, their own way of referring to those who engage in battles on behalf of them or even anyone who they are “friends” with) care about.

Yet, again, I find my name brought up in one of these smear campaigns, and despite my reticence to waste more time on issues that do not interest me because they are so far removed from Palestine, this time I will respond, because the level of smearing (not only of me, but of a plethora of people, in fact ANYONE who points out a criticism of the “author” of a piece vying for the most insane bit of using the Palestinian cause to settle a personal vendetta to date) simply calls for it being exposed for what it is. The rhetoric used in these endless smear campaigns waged by a specific faction most definitely falls into what has been defined by as “Extremist Traits” by an analyst of the rhetoric and propaganda of several hundred militant “fringe” political and social groups across the political spectrum. Militant and “fringe” are not derogatory terms, they present the positioning of a cause as to how it fits into the mainstream or dominant framework of political or social opinion.  As such, I will address the issue and in those very terms. Extremist, however, is the style of the behaviour, and it certainly can be considered as being derogatory as it depends upon manipulation.

Following even a bad example is the way that social pressure groups work when thinking for oneself is not encouraged

I am being referred to in comments on the “popular” post, which is very little else but a character assassination based on the personal feud someone has with the subject, I have seen probably the worst displays by “activists” available, even vying with some of the most absurd smear posts on Facebook, attempting to create a sort of mobbing and consensus as to the character of a person who shares one thing in common with me, and that is that she does not think Ken O’Keefe is such hot shit as he claims, but who actually has a big difference with me in that she once actually supported him and then changed her mind, without any solicitation from me, but independently and of her own freewill (and this shared view regarding Ken O’Keefe creates in the minds of the Ken O’Keefe Fans the automatism that this person and I are affiliated.) Besides the point being that this entire thing is nonsensical, especially as Siraj Davis (the author of the piece) is a legend in his mind alone, having claimed that I was posting things to him, totally debunked and with MY screenshots to demonstrate it, the issue of Ken O’Keefe being the pillar of activism is entirely outdated and misleading. (At the bottom of this post, 4 screenshots concerning Siraj Davis, his unsolicited harassment of me and my response to it, as well as evidence of some bizarre stalking-like behaviour in my regards and his own uncontrollable addiction to pornography, which he also has used the Shoah org blog to promote these screenshots he himself made showing his “particular tastes in that regard).

It is clear and acceptable that there are many, particularly from the ranks of O’Keefe’s former “most dedicated followers” who no longer see him as relevant enough to form the dividing line between supporters of the struggle and its opponents. Indeed, the moment they so much as voice a criticism of him, they are accused of being paid agents or somesuch. His former “spokesperson” who had publicly stated that he had hijacked a vessel, despite having claimed the opposite a few months earlier, also quite publicly, was accused by him of being an MI6 agent, and those who had most vocally defended him (by attacking those who criticise him) have been dragged over the coals, one by one and there are dozens of such examples, should anyone care to look.

For a site to facilitate this and allow the use of a space ostensibly for the Palestinian struggle to attack someone to settle a personal issue he has with someone – and without a real argument or substantial proof to boot – is the blog’s own business, but it has damaged any reputation the blog might have had as being about the Palestinian issue. Again the Palestinians are caught in the middle of some activists who are NOT Palestinian to settle their own disputes. They are used as an excuse to create a consensus surrounding someone that is not natural. Actually, Palestinians stay out of the discourse for the most part, seeing it as a distraction and an abuse of their cause. But then again, what a blog puts up is its own business. I really don’t care that much what these blogs and sites say when they are either hagiography or smears. They truly cease to hold any interest for me, and I would not be surprised if I were not alone in this assessment. Yet, again I am dragged into the smear campaigns because I have not bent to the mobbing. It would not be appropriate for me to feed this campaign, and yet, since I will be accused of not being able to support my point of view, I for the last time will refer those interested to the factual events, and they can be their own best judge of the righteousness of certain persons and of the wrongfulness of the smear campaigns, especially when they are jumping the back of the Palestinian cause to justify their wrongdoing.

I am addressing something I would prefer to ignore given my lack of interest in the persons involved, as it is clear that I do not really care about the lies and the capacity to engage in such character assassination and abuse of the cause by these subjects whose ethics and integrity (as well as mere accountability) are filled with quite a large number of gaping holes. It is generally preferable to allow those engaging in these attacks to their own devices, since it will become clear over time that they are lacking in accountability and that they invent things as they see fitting, avoiding truthfulness when they feel it suits their ends. It is evident that I have taken my position based on facts and evidence, and it is likewise evident that people are free to judge as they see fit based on the available facts. I have not attempted to influence or win over anyone. Like all I have written, it stands on its own and people are free to judge with their own minds. I do not live on internet as many of the other activists seem to do, and I do not need to convince anyone at all of the logic of my argument. If people are convinced, they have reached this awareness not by my insistence, but upon their own judgement.

As I have written, The Truth Sunk during the Road to Hope Fiasco (https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/06/14/truth-justice-and-peace-nearly-sunk-as-rth-convoy-facts-emerge-and-as-usual-gazans-get-the-worst-part-of-the-deal/), and caused a big mess in the meantime. No one was obligated to “follow me” as I have no followers, nor do I want them. If people are going to take a position, however, they are advised to be informed of the facts, as objectively as possible, this is itself a bare essential for TRUTH.  As Ken had refused to even be interviewed once it was clear that the article was not going to become his personal Tazibao, but all parties were going to be interviewed and all of their statements both in a public domain and those they had made in interactions with me (as declared openly and correctly that I was going to examine the evidence and write up an assessment of it) and all documents were going to be taken into consideration, not only his personal testimony and the information given by those who got it from him. Upon learning that other parties, including those who both at the time and subsequently, would be listened to and that he would not be given a list of the questions prior to the agreement to be interviewed (a condition no other parties had placed before me, all of them willing to subject themselves to “the investigation” without demanding any particular benefits or any right to view the material during its assembly and prior to publication). Ken demanded special treatment, and he wanted to control an independent observer. If he was unable to control her, he changed his tactic that she was an enemy to the cause since he believes he alone represents the cause! When the outcome did not please him, he conveniently forgot that he had the same exact opportunity to reply to questions and to express himself as all the other involved parties. Instead, he decided that it was in his best interests to “ignore” what was written, advising his “followers” to not read the (admittedly) long article complete with photos, documents, communications between the authorities and others, direct quotes taken from press releases and from communications in the public domain. His “followers” were advised to engage instead in smear campaigns against me and to use almost all of the techniques that have been pointed out so well by Laird Wilcox in his seminal study of “Extremist Traits” https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2012/06/25/laird-wilcox-on-extremist-traits/ reprinted here with definitions that come painfully close to the entire modus operandi of this faction. Most glaring was the tendency to engage in Inadequate Proof For Assertions. I was labelled as a CIA or Mossad Agent, as being a paid infiltrate, as being an Israeli and much more besides with some at times hilarious “proof” by the Ken O’Keefe minions.

However, the one thing lacking was even ONE serious attempt to provide evidence to confute the thesis of the failed Road To Hope convoy, that it was managed in a bizarre way at least from the “leadership change” and the outcome of this were false claims of being kidnapped in order to attempt to create confusion, consensus and mostly to elicit donations and support from those who were already fully determined to support Palestine – allowing the cause to morph into Supporting Ken O’Keefe.

None of them were able to confute, and Ken in primis, the lack of a contract, which was the crucial circumstance upon which all else depends in that most bizarre of events! In fact, what is most clear throughout the entire debacle is that Ken was indeed somehow convinced of the veracity of a fact that was patently false, so convinced that he himself sent me what he labelled as “The Contract”, when it was clear as the light of day that this was not a contract at all, and it was merely a pre-Contract negotiation, which by its very nature is non-binding until the stipulation of what instead IS a contract! When I pointed out that I was aware it was not a contract, it dawned upon him that he had to turn me into the adversary since his entire story had no backbone to sustain it.

That a contract was broken and the counter-party scooted off with the loot to his Israeli masters is the first of the bizarre stretching of truth, this accessory big fish story of the captain being really on the Mossad payroll and jumping off his own ship with the wad of money itself was quite hilarious and indeed worrying when spread as if it were fact the same way old gossips do, when the facts are brought to the fore instead of just one extremely false claim. I was already watching the playing out of the events, called as I was by other concerned activists to ensure the safe passage of the chartered convoy when trouble first started, in an ad hoc group I was invited to, and kicked out of when I asked that we seek confirmation of any claim being made prior to disseminating what could later be demonstrated as dangerous false rumours and nothing more.

It was when I was invited by persons whose loved ones were on the convoy and who found them stranded in Libya without any more resources that I began collecting evidence in earnest from all parties involved, deciding to not further participate in the public debate, but to merely collect the evidence. Why did these people ask me? Because for a long time I have been involved in the activism for Palestine camp and it was and still is clear that my only loyalties are to Palestinians. I am not, nor have I ever been beholden to anyone. I have been and remain thoroughly independent and am influenced merely by facts. It was this objectivity that was considered as being the best guarantee of a faithful assessment of the reality, as there was all of a sudden a complete shift from the convoy being about the entire convoy and instead being about Ken O’Keefe and those who were most loyal to him. It was indeed logical that others who had different priorities, and for this reason did they agree to sacrifice their own time, money and effort in order to participate in a long and trouble-ridden land convoy, would seek to know the truth and would be asking that a third party that had nothing but a solid record of support of the Palestinian cause to attempt to clarify all the hazy and contradictory points.

Ken O’Keefe making “distress calls” to the NATO for a kidnapping that never was, but you weren’t supposed to challenge that or wonder what good that does the Palestinians

It was the research that convinced me of the correctness of the thesis that things were NOT as they were being presented to the activists, and that the conflicting reports coming from Libya were proof enough that there was indeed a serious conflict between “factions”. Why did Ken O’Keefe claim there was going to be a “confrontation on the Egyptian border” when there had not been any arrangements for a land transit anyway and this would be detrimental in the extremely precarious situation of those in Libya without the proper paperwork and without adequate economic support? Why would he claim that he and 9 others were being kidnapped and some people spread this without it being verified? Why would it be taken as fact that this vessel had taken people against their will off the coast of Libya? Why would Ken O’Keefe engage in actions with the intent of involving NATO and the Libyan armed forces as well? Would this not endanger any future convoys to Palestine and would it not cast a very dark shadow over the efforts made to break the siege which did not resort to such reckless measures? Would not the abuse of trust that ensued be disastrous for further (more well planned and feasible) interventions? Since I presented the evidence that Ken O’Keefe did not get “kidnapped” off the Libyan coast and instead had unlawfully boarded a vessel he had no right to board and analysing as well the knee-jerk response to his “appeals” that were not backed up by facts and were instead abusing the trust of many sincerely caring individuals who were involved both in the convoy itself and those following it at a distance, I became the target of a huge smear campaign.

But I was the first of many. It seems that instead of presenting a stitch of evidence to dispute the claims, the issue has become that I am an “irrational Ken Hater, fuelled by my jealousy of him”. I could not even bother to engage with this level of discourse, though the great number of comments on this blog (https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/08/05/the-171-comments-to-the-ken-okeefe-rth-fiasco-reprinted-from-ptt/) attest to the fact that there was indeed some discussion of the facts, but never by the minions of the “Ken Followers”. It was instead just one smear campaign after another waged by them, and at a certain point, valuing my time more than needlessly “debating” people who do not know how to debate and would not be interested in it anyway, I simply began ignoring whatever it is they do or say, and focussing on the Arab and Palestinian freedom causes, which has always been my priority. I find the whole “cult” quite comical and at some level am certain that sooner or later they will self-destruct because their major enemies are those who had turned on Ken after having felt that they had been taken advantage of by him and who have opinions of him that do not match the “godlike” one that he and his cult have built around him.

It is very interesting that the way to address any human being who dares to have decided that Ken is not worth their support and they will not only not “follow” him, but they will avoid him, are subject to a more or less organised smear campaign. It is quite alarming that this has got to do with the issue of Palestine, because each and every one of these “tendencies” have been utilised in the “war” Ken has with anyone who does not think he is so “godlike”
1. CHARACTER ASSASSINATION.

Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant, but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.

Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!

2. NAME-CALLING AND LABELING.

3. IRRESPONSIBLE SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS.

4. INADEQUATE PROOF FOR ASSERTIONS.

5. ADVOCACY OF DOUBLE STANDARDS.

6. TENDENCY TO VIEW THEIR OPPONENTS AND CRITICS AS ESSENTIALLY EVIL.

7. MANICHAEAN WORLDVIEW.

8. ADVOCACY OF SOME DEGREE OF CENSORSHIP OR REPRESSION OF THEIR OPPONENTS AND/OR CRITICS.

9. TEND TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES IN TERMS OF WHO THEIR ENEMIES ARE: WHOM THEY

HATE AND WHO HATES THEM.

10. TENDENCY TOWARD ARGUMENT BY INTIMIDATION.

11. USE OF SLOGANS, BUZZWORDS, AND THOUGHT-STOPPING CLICHES.

12. ASSUMPTION OF MORAL OR OTHER SUPERIORITY OVER OTHERS.

13. DOOMSDAY THINKING.

14. BELIEF THAT IT’S OKAY TO DO BAD THINGS IN THE SERVICE OF A “GOOD” CAUSE.

15. EMPHASIS ON EMOTIONAL RESPONSES AND, CORRESPONDINGLY, LESS IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO REASONING AND LOGICAL ANALYSIS.

16. HYPERSENSITIVITY AND VIGILANCE.

17. USE OF SUPERNATURAL RATIONALE FOR BELIEFS AND ACTIONS.

18. PROBLEMS TOLERATING AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY.

19. INCLINATION TOWARD “GROUPTHINK.”

20. TENDENCY TO PERSONALIZE HOSTILITY.

21. EXTREMISTS OFTEN FEEL THAT THE SYSTEM IS NO GOOD UNLESS THEY WIN.

Since my name has been brought up countless times by a specific group of persons who do very little else but engage in their facebook wars and online smearfests, rather than debate and discuss pertinent issues, I feel it is simply par for the course to consider the “source” of this new and most ridiculous round of the eternal war of Ken Supporters against the world as being a tabloid.

I do not feel I need to be “bullied” into participating in this juvenile “debate”, as it is clear that the editor of said site uses zero responsibility in allowing the same author to participate using at least a dozen screen names in order to be abusive to any commenter that bothered to criticise both the form and the content of said article and further commentary by Siraj Davis, and while doing it is unable to even remotely respond to the major questions about the ethical qualities of the author, as evidenced in his own screenshots which are a catalogue of his weird porno fetishes in addition to being simply too ridiculous to take into consideration by any serious person that this issue of his private war with two persons (extended to include others not even related to them, myself included). I certainly do not need to “debate” about Ken O’Keefe, as all are free to read whatever is available for reading and make up their own minds regarding the issue.

I consider my time too valuable to engage further with a group of persons I, in a moment of generosity, consider to be nothing more than clowns and self-deluded extremists.

my first contact with Siraj Davis pt 1

part 2 Siraj Davis

siraj 3

Note well the name in the search, the tab including a Tony Greenstein smear piece on me and mostly, the many open tabs of pornography, which he published far and wide on his FB page and a public site for maximum dissemination.

They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.

Activists are bound to be involved (both because they wish to be or because they are dragged into it) in what are most commonly known as “flame wars” between persons who claim to be advocates of the same cause. The flame war is generally within the same “movement” and unfortunately, it sucks up huge amounts of energy from the causes itself. Yet, choosing to participate in these flame wars or choosing to characterise them instead as mechanisms of “Extremist Traits” used in militant political or social groups is essential in order to be able to devote the proper time and energy to what matters, the cause. Here is an outstanding summary by Laird Wilcox that describes the Extremist Traits so that they be identified as what they are and that those who seek truth and justice are never diverted from that course by what instead is the enemy of both of those things.

Robert F. Kennedy wrote:

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

In analyzing the rhetoric and propaganda of several hundred militant “fringe” political and social groups across the political spectrum, I have identified a number of specific traits or behaviors that tend to represent the extremist “style”…

1. CHARACTER ASSASSINATION.

Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant , but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.

Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!

2. NAME-CALLING AND LABELING.

Extremists are quick to resort to epithets (racist, subversive, pervert, hate monger, nut, crackpot, degenerate, un-American, anti-semite, red, commie, nazi, kook, fink, liar, bigot, and so on) to label and condemn opponents in order to divert attention from their arguments and to discourage others from hearing them out. These epithets don’t have to be proved to be effective; the mere fact that they have been said is often enough.

3. IRRESPONSIBLE SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS.

Extremists tend to make sweeping claims or judgments on little or no evidence, and they have a tendency to confuse similarity with sameness. That is, they assume that because two (or more) things, events, or persons are alike in some respects, they must be alike in most respects. The sloppy use of analogy is a treacherous form of logic and has a high potential for false conclusions.

4. INADEQUATE PROOF FOR ASSERTIONS.

Extremists tend to be very fuzzy about what constitutes proof, and they also tend to get caught up in logical fallacies, such as post hoc ergo propter hoc  (assuming that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence simply because of their before and after relationship). They tend to project wished-for conclusions and to exaggerate the significance of information that confirms their beliefs while derogating or ignoring information that contradicts them. They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.

5. ADVOCACY OF DOUBLE STANDARDS.

Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view very generously, and others by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours. They tend to engage in special pleading on behalf of themselves or their interests, usually because of some alleged special status, past circumstances, or present disadvantage.

6. TENDENCY TO VIEW THEIR OPPONENTS AND CRITICS AS ESSENTIALLY EVIL.

To the extremist, opponents hold opposing positions because they are bad people, immoral, dishonest, unscrupulous, mean-spirited, hateful, cruel, or whatever, not merely because they simply disagree, see the matter differently, have competing interests, or are perhaps even mistaken.

7. MANICHAEAN WORLDVIEW.

Extremists have a tendency to see the world in terms of absolutes of good and evil, for them or against them, with no middle ground or intermediate positions. All issues are ultimately moral issues of right and wrong, with the “right” position coinciding with their interests. Their slogan is often “those who are not with me are against me.”

8. ADVOCACY OF SOME DEGREE OF CENSORSHIP OR REPRESSION OF THEIR OPPONENTS AND/OR CRITICS.

This may include a very active campaign to keep opponents from media access and a public hearing, as in the case of blacklisting, banning or “quarantining” dissident spokespersons. They may actually lobby for legislation against speaking, writing, teaching, or instructing “subversive” or forbidden information or opinions. They may even attempt to keep offending books out of stores or off of library shelves, discourage advertising with threats of reprisals, and keep spokespersons for “offensive” views off the airwaves or certain columnists out of newspapers. In each case the goal is some kind of information control. Extremists would prefer that you listen only to them. They feel threatened when someone talks back or challenges their views.

9. TEND TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES IN TERMS OF WHO THEIR ENEMIES ARE: WHOM THEY HATE AND WHO HATES THEM.

Accordingly, extremists may become emotionally bound to their opponents, who are often competing extremists themselves. Because they tend to view their enemies as evil and powerful, they tend, perhaps subconsciously, to emulate them, adopting the same tactics to a certain degree. For example, anti-Communist and anti-Nazi groups often behave surprisingly like their opponents. Anti-Klan rallies often take on much of the character of the stereotype of Klan rallies themselves, including the orgy of emotion, bullying, screaming epithets, and even acts of violence. To behave the opposite of someone is to actually surrender your will to them, and “opposites” are often more like mirror images that, although they have “left” and “right” reversed, look and behave amazingly alike.

10. TENDENCY TOWARD ARGUMENT BY INTIMIDATION.

Extremists tend to frame their arguments in such a way as to intimidate others into accepting their premises and conclusions. To disagree with them is to “ally oneself with the devil,” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy. They use a lot of moralizing and pontificating, and tend to be very judgmental. This shrill, harsh rhetorical style allows them to keep their opponents and critics on the defensive, cuts off troublesome lines of argument, and allows them to define the perimeters of debate.

11. USE OF SLOGANS, BUZZWORDS, AND THOUGHT-STOPPING CLICHES.

For many extremists shortcuts in thinking and in reasoning matters out seem to be necessary in order to avoid or evade awareness of troublesome facts and compelling counter-arguments. Extremists generally behave in ways that reinforce their prejudices and alter their own consciousness in a manner that bolsters their false confidence and sense of self-righteousness.

12. ASSUMPTION OF MORAL OR OTHER SUPERIORITY OVER OTHERS.

Most obvious would be claims of general racial or ethnic superiority–a master race, for example. Less obvious are claims of ennoblement because of alleged victimhood, a special relationship with God, membership in a special “elite” or “class,” and a kind of aloof “highminded” snobbishness that accrues because of the weightiness of their preoccupations, their altruism, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others) to their cause. After all, who can bear to deal with common people when one is trying to save the world! Extremists can show great indignation when one is “insensitive” enough to challenge these claims.

13. DOOMSDAY THINKING.

Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences from a situation or from failure to follow a specific course, and they tend to exhibit a kind of “crisis-mindedness.” It can be a Communist takeover, a Nazi revival, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods, or the wrath of God. Whatever it is, it’s just around the corner unless we follow their program and listen to the special insight and wisdom, to which only the truly enlightened have access. For extremists, any setback or defeat is the “beginning of the end!”

14. BELIEF THAT IT’S OKAY TO DO BAD THINGS IN THE SERVICE OF A “GOOD” CAUSE.

Extremists may deliberately lie, distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their opponents and/or critics, engage in censorship or repression , or undertake violence in “special cases.” This is done with little or no remorse as long as it’s in the service of defeating the Communists or Fascists or whomever. Defeating an “enemy” becomes an all-encompassing goal to which other values are subordinate. With extremists, the end justifies the means.

15. EMPHASIS ON EMOTIONAL RESPONSES AND, CORRESPONDINGLY, LESS IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO REASONING AND LOGICAL ANALYSIS.

Extremists have an unspoken reverence for propaganda, which they may call “education” or “consciousness-raising.” Symbolism plays an exaggerated role in their thinking, and they tend to think imprecisely and metamorphically. Harold D. Lasswell, in his book, *Psychopathology and Politics*, says, “The essential mark of the agitator is the high value he places on the emotional response of the public.” Effective extremists tend to be effective propagandists. Propaganda differs from education in that the former teaches one what to think, and the latter teaches one how to think.

16. HYPERSENSITIVITY AND VIGILANCE.

Extremists perceive hostile innuendo in even casual comments; imagine rejection and antagonism concealed in honest disagreement and dissent; see “latent” subversion, anti-semitism, perversion, racism, disloyalty, and so on in innocent gestures and ambiguous behaviors. Although few extremists are clinically paranoid, many of them adopt a paranoid style with its attendant hostility and distrust.

17. USE OF SUPERNATURAL RATIONALE FOR BELIEFS AND ACTIONS.

Some extremists, particularly those involved in “cults” or extreme religious movements, such as fundamentalist Christians, militant Zionist extremists, and members of mystical and metaphysical organizations, claim some kind of supernatural rationale for their beliefs and actions, and that their movement or cause is ordained by God. In this case, stark extremism may become reframed in a “religious” context, which can have a legitimizing effect for some people. It’s surprising how many people are reluctant to challenge religiously motivated extremism because it represents “religious belief” or because of the sacred-cow status of some religions in our culture.

18. PROBLEMS TOLERATING AMBIGUITY AND UNCERTAINTY.

Indeed, the ideologies and belief systems to which extremists tend to attach themselves often represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world, or an attempt to achieve absolute security in an environment that is naturally unpredictable or perhaps populated by people with interests opposed to their own. Extremists exhibit a kind of risk-aversiveness that compels them to engage in controlling and manipulative behavior, both on a personal level and in a political context, to protect themselves from the unforeseen and unknown. The more laws or “rules” there are that regulate the behavior of others–particular their “enemies”–the more secure extremists feel.

19. INCLINATION TOWARD “GROUPTHINK.”

Extremists, their organizations , and their subcultures are prone to a kind of inward-looking group cohesiveness that leads to what Irving Janis discussed in his excellent book Victims of Groupthink. “Groupthink” involves a tendency to conform to group norms and to preserve solidarity and concurrence at the expense of distorting members’ observations of facts, conflicting evidence, and disquieting observations that would call into question the shared assumptions and beliefs of the group.

Right-wingers (or left-wingers), for example, talk only with one another, read material that reflects their own views, and can be almost phobic about the “propaganda” of the “other side.” The result is a deterioration of reality-testing, rationality, and moral judgment. With groupthink, shared illusions of righteousness, superior morality, persecution, and so on remain intact, and those who challenge them are viewed with skepticism and hostility.

20. TENDENCY TO PERSONALIZE HOSTILITY.

Extremists often wish for the personal bad fortune of their “enemies,” and celebrate when it occurs. When a critic or an adversary dies or has a serious illness, a bad accident, or personal legal problems, extremists often rejoice and chortle about how they “deserved” it. I recall seeing right-wing extremists celebrate the assassination of Martin Luther King and leftists agonizing because George Wallace survived an assassination attempt. In each instance their hatred was not only directed against ideas, but also against individual human beings.

21. EXTREMISTS OFTEN FEEL THAT THE SYSTEM IS NO GOOD UNLESS THEY WIN.

For example, if they lose an election, then it was “rigged.” If public opinion turns against them, it was because of “brainwashing.” If their followers become disillusioned, it’s because of “sabotage.” The test of the rightness or wrongness of the system is how it impacts upon them…

[The Hoaxer Project Report, pp. 39-41]http://www.lairdwilcox.com/news/hoaxerproject.html

Syrian Red Crescent Volunteers, arrested, tortured, killed. And this is only part of the horror of what is going on in Homs under siege

To eliminate doctors and dissident reporters seems to be the prime objective of the Syrian army. There has been no further news on the whereabouts of Jihad Hakmi, volunteer of the Red Crescent in Homs, which since Saturday has been under heavy shelling as well as the helicopters of Damascus resuming their bombing of the city. The activists, in contact with the Italian Syrian community, have asked for the urgent intervention of organisations for human rights and have expressed the fear that the man is being held in conditions of extreme duress and may be subject to torture.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, in the meantime, has decided to suspend its activities in various parts of the country, affirming that it has not received protection from the Syrian government which instead is obligated to allow it to carry out all of its interventions in safety. The regime, which considers the organisation “not trustworthy” and “not neutral” has already killed, according to the activists, some of its volunteers, Alhakam Darq Sbaie and Abd-al-Razzaq Jbeiro, Mohammed Khadra, Murad Khoury and Adnan Wahbe, and is holding another volunteer doctor, Mohamad Nour Audi prisoner in an unknown place. The volunteer Ahmed Atfeh, who was imprisoned, has been freed.

The artillery of Bashar Assad continues to kill also in the world of information. The latest victim on the front of citizen journalism, referred by the Syrian community in Italy, is Khaled Ibrahim Albakr, known on the web as “Abu Suleiman”.  Ibrahim Alkbar, who the spokesman for the Homs dissidents Hadi Alabdallah has informed us, was killed yesterday at Al Qusair under the shelling “while he was recording the battle to liberate the place of death, that hated checkpoint from where day and night the snipers shoot at unarmed civilians and the regime troops have been bombing the city.”

Abu Suleiman, as affirmed by sources of the opposition, was one of the founders of the independent information network of Baba Amr, from where Ali Othman, who has been held prisoner for more than three months in the prisons of Bashar Assad, from when he helped the photojournalist Paul Conroy leave a Homs under siege after having watched Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, other journalists, die before his very eyes. Nothing is known of the whereabouts of Ali Othman, for whom London has asked for his immediate release, since the interview-interrogation that aired in early May.

UN “HELICOPTERS ARE SHOOTING OVER HOMS” A MISSILE EACH MINUTE

Helicopters of Syrian aviation forces are bombing the Homs area. A spokesman of the UN Observers in Syria had made known. “We report of violent battles in Rastan and Talbiseh, north of Homs, which see the heavy use of artillery and bombardment from helicopters”, said Sausan Ghosheh. It is the first time that the UN confirms what has already been reported by the Syrian rebels, that is, the use of aviation by the regime’s armed forces.

The director of the BBC’s Middle East Desk, Paul Danahar, who this morning visited the city together with a team of UN Observers, affirmed that the armed forces of the Syrian government are utilising drones to individuate the objectives they will bomb. According to the British network, falling over the city is a bomb each minute. The situation in Homs has been dramatic since Saturday, the dissidents affirm. Yesterday the spokesman Hadi Alabdallah reported, in contact with the Italian Syrian community, that “the bombing of the city is incessant. The inhabitants speak of a continuous shower of missiles and shells that fall over them. There are no shelters, women, children and the elderly are holed up in their own homes, hoping only that the missiles do not strike their houses or at least do not hit the room where there are huddled in. We have witnesses of persons who declare that at least ten missiles have fallen around their house and one entered into the next room, destroying it almost upon impact. It was a miracle that they had been at that moment in the next room. Right now, one only can count on miracles happening.”

Translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo

Original http://affaritaliani.libero.it/esteri/siria-110612.html

So, what’s the situation in Libya today?

Posted: 06/05/2012 by editormary in Libya, Middle East

We hear a lot of talk about what goes on in Libya, mostly about “thousands of NATO deaths”, when actually, seeking the numbers, we realise that this is another one of those innacuracies and fallacies that wish to dupe people who are not paying attention. We hear about NATO boots on the ground. Another fallacy. However, unless you are involved closely with Libyans, after the war that took place on their land and the ousting of the Gaddafi regime, there has been a sort of silence, which leaves room for those who aren’t closely involved with Libya or who actually never even thought of it before the revolution to dominate the discourse.

In a Facebook group, the question was asked regarding the truthfulness of the things being said by the Westerners who ar nostalgic of the Gaddafi regime. This was one of the replies:

Zuran Zolowski

In Libya today, some dissatisfied militia occupied the airport and interrupted flight traffic. After negotiations they seem to have left in peace, or so Twitter said this evening. There is no foreign military presence in Libya that amounts to anything; oil companies are not protected by the Libyan troops at the moment. Generally, the mood seems to be OK; there were not many problems with the election preparations that could not be fixed, and the people protest vigorously and freely when something is not to their mind. Tens of thousands of Berbers came to Tripoli to protest for increased cultural rights some months ago, perhaps the first time this has ever been possible. There have been some armed clashes, but generally they are resolved by negotiation. Two more serious incidents had a tribal, not political background though.

Tolerance for incompetent politicians is low to nonexisting. Open militia presence on the streets is not commonplace anymore at least in the major cities. After some problems around March 1, connectivity and Web traffic has fully resumed its pre-revolution pattern. Public services are generally working, except in Sirte, where reconstruction is progressing but much is still damaged. The number of political prisoners is still too high and prison conditions are bad, but 80-85% of the political prisoners have been released since the fall of the regime. There are cultural and educational festivals and meetings on things like womens’ rights, sustainable development, digital democracy, human rights etc.

There is much discussion about increased regional autonomy, but I have yet to come across any marked sentiment of factionalism or tribal independence. The Berbers are outspoken, but even there outright separatism is muted. There are still problems with getting the embezzled Gaddafi funds. The legal system is a mess. A working noncorrupt social-security system is urgently needed.

There may be future problems with foreign mercenaries – presently the oil companies only use bodyguards for the specialist technicians and engineers (Gaddafi was not an anticolonialist – he merely elevated exploitation of the natives to a higher level: Libya has not nearly sufficient trained personnel for the high-tech jobs in oil/gas drilling. Libyan people were good enough to do the ork work for foreign oil companies – the well-paid jobs were WASPs and are still WASPs.)

Altogether more Libyans than not seem to think that NATO did a good or at least not a bad job. There is much discussion and criticism on Twitter, but very very little pro-Gaddafi sentiment. I have yet to see as much as 1 Libyan in 10 on Twitter who cries for him. Russian and English and German tweets OTOH… you wouldn’t believe they are talking about the same country. According to the info we get in Western “underground sources”, Libya has been flattened and depopulated by NATO but the Green Army marches victorious. Really makes you wonder what these guys smoke.

All in all I’d give Libya 7.5 points out of 10 for its revolution. It is still too much in the balance to ask “was it worth the killed? – as if it ever really were, but the “check what Bush did in Iraq and do the exact opposite” rule seems to work. But considering what *might* have happened, the state of affairs in Libya is surprisingly good. The news often seem harsh to Western ears – like with the guys at the airport today -, but Libyans were always more Beduin than anyone else, and are somewhat blunt and have a rough and ready “cowboy” mentality. The caveat is that we will see more tribal and even cross-border violence. But it might not amount to much all in all if it’s played cool. Borders are porous down there, and tribal feuds have always been around. Under Gaddafi, the military made short work of any tribals who raised hell; this is not gonna happen anymore anytime soon.