Sunday, December 18, 2016

When Everyone Disbelieves Everything



Sixteen years ago, David Irving -- who called himself an historian and who denied that the Holocaust  actually happened -- accused Deborah Lipstadt of libel. She had attacked his version of World War II. He lost the case and was found by the judge to be a "pro-Nazi polemicist." At the time, Jonathan Freedland wrote:

“If we start to doubt corroborated facts, how can we prevent ourselves being swallowed up in doubt, unable to trust anything we see? It might all be a conspiracy, a legend, a hoax. This is the bizarre, never-never world inhabited by David Irving. Now the court has to decide: is this our world too?”

Today, after the election of Donald Trump, Freedland asks the same question:

As Aleppo endured its final agonies, the simple act of circulating any account – a video, a photograph, a news report – would trigger an unnerving response. Someone, somewhere would reply that the photograph was doctored, the source was a stooge, the rescued child was not really a child or not really rescued.

Of course, we’re used to people taking different sides on conflicts far away, arguing bitterly over who is to blame. At its most extreme, it results in a newspaper like the Morning Star sinking so low that it hails the human devastation of Aleppo – where every hospital was bombed and where the slaughter of civilians became routine – not as a crime, but as a “liberation”.

But this is about more than assigning blame for this death or that bombing. This is about refusing to accept that the death or bombing occurred at all. This is about defenders of Bashar al-Assad, and his Russian and Iranian enablers, coming on television to say that what is happening on the ground is not happening, that it is all an illusion. The late US senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” But that distinction seems to have broken down. Now people regard facts as very much like opinions: you can discard the ones you don’t like.

When everyone disbelieves everything, we have entered a brave new world.

Image: Slide Player

28 comments:

Lorne said...

It strikes me as perhaps a tad ironic, Owen, that even though, for the first time in history we have unparalleled access to information, many are still easily swayed by propaganda that passes for fact. I guess nothing will ultimately replace the skill of deep critical thinking, a skill that too few seem to possess these days.

Owen Gray said...

I'm convinced that all of us can think critically, Lorne. But it takes work. And there are plenty of us who find that thinking critically costs too much.

Toby said...

Owen, how often have you asked someone about a fact only to have him/her answer by starting, "I feel . . ." ?

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The propaganda and lies coming out of the MSM and Washington about Eastern Aleppo are from the same people who are absurdly claiming that Russia hacked the Democratic Party and were instrumental in making Trump President, when any thinking person knows that there was a leak, not a hack. If it were a hack the NSA would know who it was in short order.

There is no one from the western media on the ground in Aleppo. The hysterical acussations of the Washington and the MSM that Russia and the Syrian army are slaughtering Syrian citizens is just not true. RT and others from independent media are on the ground. Eastern Aleppo has been liberated. Just ask the Syrian people who have finally been able to leave Eastern Allepo, assisted by the Syrian army and the Russians.


Russia and the Syrian army has been fighting the terrorist, the same people that for five years the US says they have been fighting, but in fact they have been backing.Of course Syrian citizens have been killed by the Russians and the Syrian army. This is a war. I do not condone these deaths, but there is no way that the Russians and Syrian army are committing the slaughter that the west is accussing them of. As in the majority of what Washington accuses Russia and the Syrian army of doing in Syria they show no evidence.They never do.

The Russians and the Syrian army are fighting ISIS and winning. This is a problem for the US. The US's goal right from the beginning has been regime change, Where have we seen that before? Another country they want to control, particularly that countries wealth. Syria is just their latest regime change project. The US has been backing these terrorist groups with the goal in mind of them defeating the Syrian army and ultimately having Assad step down or killed.It's war by proxy. Russia along with the Syrian army has prevented the US from achieving Syria's regime change.

The panicked, bold face lies coming out of Washington, about what's really happening in Syria are the sounds of desperate neocons, having spent billions of dollars in the destruction of another sovereign nation where the US public has gained nothing and their government is left, once again with blood on their hands.

These lies and propaganda coming from Washington and the MSM about the Syrian army and Russia destroying the Syrian people are mainly told for the benefit of the American public,after all they are the ones footing the bill. The Americans who do not accept the Lies, the truth seekers, are the ones that the US neocon war mongers really go after, they're Washington's and the MSM real enemies.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Toby. These days "opinion" and "emotion" are synonyms.

Owen Gray said...

The BBC has been on the ground in Aleppo, Pam. The news is pretty grim. The point is that both sides have massive propaganda machines. Orwell knew exactly how they worked. In the end, it's all about support for Big Brother.

The Mound of Sound said...

Pamela needs to realize that RT is a neatly packaged state information service, not part of any independent media. Part of critical thinking entails discerning the source of the information we're receiving and using. RT is a sophisticated, westernized service without the crassness that used to betray Pravda and TASS. That said, it does support a state agenda and that is an agenda set by Moscow.

As for the hacking, RT probably says it's all a hoax but that's anything but helpful except for those who are looking for some conspiracy.

Pamela might find it helpful to go back to the origins of the Syrian uprising. Who did what to whom? That might disabuse her of this notion that Assad is defending Syria and its people when he, as his father before him, has freely oppressed Syria's Sunni majority for decades. Assad's Syria is an Alawite and Christian Syria.

She might also care to go back to the accounts of Medecins Sans Frontieres for their take on who was attacking their hospitals and their medical staff. Those people were certainly on the ground and more than a few paid for it with their lives. They certainly don't vouchsafe Assad or the Russians.

It's also helpful to remember how this fiasco came about. It's a key part of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 by which the French and Brits carved the region into several administrative units, nominal states, including both Syria and Iraq, which was done without regard for ethnic and sectarian realities in the region. In each case they installed minority rule anticipating that the minority would do everything necessary to keep the majority population under control. In this way Sunnis came to rule Iraq, Baath party, and the Assad gang came to rule Syria. There was always a lot of brutality and suppression involved. It was engineered into these ersatz states.

Owen Gray said...

A lot of people are unaware of how the British and French re-arrangement of the map haunts us today, Mound. It was a re-arrangement which T.E. Lawrence counseled against. But, obviously, he was overruled.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

RT is a public network just like the BBC and the CBC. You can believe that it supports a state agenda dictated by Moscow, but I am afraid that is not True.

I am also aware of the SyKes-Picot Agreement of 1916 in which the french and Brits carved up regions into nominal states including Iraq and Syria.

As to the alledged hacking of the Democractic Party. If that was so the NSA would know in short order who and when the hacking was done. It was a leak, not a hack.

I am also aware that Assad is a tyrant who oppresses, imprisons and even kills his own people. My point is that the US has used the Syrian groups that rose up in opposition to Assad, which they have every right to do and takes great courage. The US has supported financially and given weapons to various groups including ISIL. Their hope is that these groups will unseat Assad and the US will then put in their appointed leader who will then let the US control Syria. The US could care less that the Syrian people have been oppressed and tortured by Assad.Once again they are interfering militarily with a sovereign nation.

There is no evidence that the Russians and Syrian army are slaughtering the Syrian citizens now leaving East Aleppo. None of the propaganda and lies about Russia and the Syrian army coming out of Washington are backed by evidence.

Thanks for the history and current political lesson Mound, but this is one time where I disagree with much of what you have said.

Lulymay said...

Lorne and Owen:

I particularly respect your comments with regards to 'critical thinking' and it reminds me of an exchange between one of my sisters and her husband.

She asked him a simple question and he replied "Shh! can't you see I'm thinking?" and she answered "Oh, does it hurt?" That's the essence a significant problem these days. We do have access to so much information, but we need to separate known and/or logical facts from all the b.s. and its much easier for some to not bother because it takes too much time and others who don't because it brings into serious question some of their firmly held beliefs.

the salamander said...

.. a timely topic to say the least.. and muddying the waters is a tried n true tactic of bullshitters, partisans or the just plain ignorant. I recall reading a guy named Stephen Harper saying he never said missing indigenous were really not on his radar - this notwithstanding its easily found on a CBC interview with Peter Mansbridge.

And so it goes, again and again lying like a trooper is de rigeur.. for politicians & governments. Is Mound right or Pamela or both? I'm sure that within 1 hour of reviewing 'credible' objective sources, I could form an accurate decision, but do I have that hour - or the need? What percentage of interested citizens will take the time to learn.. or care enough about facts to get to the truth. Palestine/Israel - Russia/Ukraine - Left/Right - White/Black/Brown - Gay/Straight - Ford/Chevy and at one point do we just guffaw at the nonsense of conspiracy believers or react in shock to the ones who terrorize the parents of Sandy Hook victims?

Right now, North & South America are about to be tossed into a rancid truth & fact meat grinder called the GOP - with a twisted compulsive liar turning the crank as he sees fit. With complete control of House, Senate & White House plus complicit weakling weeny mainstream media - it won't matter what 'truth' is.. it will be about how they turn up the volume & blur reality & try to bum rush us to some sort of twisted Energy Rapture.. among other fantasies.

No offense Pamela - but you have a ways to go to convince me The Mound is full of it.. or even just plain wrong. He keeps hitting tight groups in the bulls eye of reality .. with in depth, varied, related or unrelated topics of concern. Blended into his comprehensive reports & summaries are reference to what I mentioned above - 'credible - objective' sources that I can then venture off to consider. If I found comfort in hysterical partisan pandering I would be reading Ezra or Brian Lilley.. or Lord Black or Stockwell Day.. which as a speed reader would take me 30 seconds a day - rather than carefully re-reading many many indy blogger's efforts that inform me - challenge me.. exemplars dontacha know

Owen Gray said...

Sometimes "information overload" makes it difficult to think things through, Lulymay. But examining the sources of our information can help us separate the wheat from the chaff.

Owen Gray said...

I truly enjoy the back and forth between intelligent commenters, salamander.

Anonymous said...

@Pamela.re.

There is no one from the western media on the ground in Aleppo

Those that are in Aleppo would agree with your sentiment.

Why is it that those in Western Aleppo roam freely conducting their normal , if strained, lives whilst those in Eastern Aleppo are not allowed to escape the hazards of war?

Yes Assad is a tyrant but he allows religious freedom and even allows women
to vote 'gasp'
Compare that to those who appose him?
FFS; think Saddam Hussein!!
How short memories we have.

TB

Anonymous said...

A sure sign of the changing attitudes towards Syria.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/aleppo-crisis-syrian-war-bashar-al-assad-isis-more-propaganda-than-news-a7479901.html

TB

Owen Gray said...

It's always been difficult in the Middle East to tell the good guys from the bad guys, T.B. Allowing women to vote rings hollow if you're willing to drop barrel or chlorine bombs on some of them. I concede that the other side acts just as barbarically.

I neglected to add the adjective "civil" to my previous comment about commenters. I enjoy the civility of these comments. When everyone disbelieves everything, civility disappears -- and civil society disappears with it. Everywhere these days, civil society is on the ropes.

Anonymous said...

You may find this useful

https://medium.com/opacity/the-syrian-war-condensed-a-more-rigorous-way-to-look-at-the-conflict-f841404c3b1d#.yd7yiflmc

TB

Owen Gray said...

An interesting schematic, TB. I recognize differences between the actors. Barbarism wears many faces. It may talk, act and dress in different ways. But it's still barbarism.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Salamander. Regarding the belief that Russia is hacking the DMC and is responsible for HRC losing the election I would just say that Aristotle invokes a principle that governed his logic of determining the truth. It was "The onus is on he who asserts the positive." In other words if you say something exists, the onus is yours to prove it. The Russians are hacking the DMC. Prove it. Ray McGovern who is an ex CIA analyst says that it was a leak not a hack. If it was a hack the NSA would be able to know technologically who did the hack. They have found no evidence of Russia hacking the DMC .

As to RT being a state run Kremlin controlled network, I would ask if you have watched RT over any period of time. Do you really think that men like Chris hedges, who has a show on RT "On Contact", men like Noam Chompsky, Ralph Nader, or John Pilger who are on RT alot are men who would toe the Kremlin line. All of these men are independent thinkers. There are many others who are on RT, but even putting that aside, I would say the only way to judge for yourself is to watch RT and come to your own conclusions.

I do not find my words to be "hysterical partisan pandering", but I find it interesting that you have a need to see them that way.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

TB, I agree with what you're saying. My main point was, that the US and their ISIL back groups are slaughtering Syrian citizens in order to achieve the US's goal of Syrian regime change.

The MSM in their propaganda and lies against Russia and the Syrian army as being the destroyers of Syrian citizens in Eastern Aleppo, conveniently leave out the harm and destruction that the US and their terrorist groups are doing.

Russia and the Syrian army have in fact liberated Eastern Aleppo. The MSM chooses to call it the fall of Eastern Aleppo.

Your also right about Assad, but he is a tyrant who has oppressed his people, but changing this is up to the Syrian people, not the US. Syria is a sovereign nation and subject to the International laws of a sovereign nation of which US in its military interference has violated.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Pamela, I'm firmly on your side. I was quite astonished to read standard boilerplate MSM non-news from the MoS. Doesn't equate with everything I've read at all, but then I avoid the MSM. I read DissidentVoice and anything by Dr T P Wilkinson, whose explanations make most of the dreary pap from the MSM and the more rabid pro-Russian alternatives in the alternate press seem like a Grade 8 project analysis. I do like Pilger most days, have little time for Vltchek, wonder why Robert Fisk is even drawing a salary these days writing from London. Zuesse and Hedges I'm not overjoyed with and PCR is a convinced conspiracy theorist. Best general commentator is Binoy Kampmark from Australia. Google them, Wilkinson first.

Also, and more to the direct point, Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist who has been on the ground in Syria for years - what she writes and says doesn't square with the CBC reports by Margaret Evans, especially on the White Helmet bozos who make sure the MSF docs repair Isis soldiers first, not those horribly injured kids you see on TV. Evans I noted yesterday gave a big mea culpa on her coverage yesterday on Cross Canada Checkup. Apparently she is always accompanied by minders from whatever side she's covering that day and cannot guarantee she's seen anything but what they want her to see.

Since the money/weapons from the US go to the Saudis who then fund the "moderate" rebels (basically Al Qaeda and ISIS elements), we get CIA writing news rubbish as to what the Russkies are up to, just so's we can hate Putin even more as we are told lies about barrel bombs and chemical attacks by Assad. In a war expect utter bullshite from all sides, but really, Assad refused the Qatar natural gas pipeline crossing Syria in 2010, so the CIA in best banana diplomacy tradition marked him down for elimination. Even better, the Arab Spring meant they could start civil war in Syria and almost nobody noticed at first that a general uprising HAD NOT occurred. Russia wants to sell more of their natural gas to Europe through Turkey, so character assassination and sanctions on Russia started at once. Cain't let them Rooshians beat US companies in the energy supply game! The CIA has no shame whatsoever and is neocon to the core.

Syrian refugees here tell us they had a pretty good middle class life before the war. Sure Assad was a pain in the ass, but life was pretty good. Canadian standards of living haven't awed a single one of them. Of course Canadians imagine that all Arabs live in tents or adobe brick boxes, so are flummoxed when Syrians aren't overly impressed with life here, although they are very grateful for not being bombed of course. Just as we have preconceived notions about other countries, we have preconceived notions about the right and wrong side in war. Most Canadians approve of JT. Knowing people have these cultural biases, propagandists slant news to appeal to our sense of right and wrong, and we get taken every time to further the establishment's agenda.

BM

Anonymous said...

DW; well said

Of course Canadians imagine that all Arabs live in tents or adobe brick boxes,

I think that you, Pamela and I read similar news outlets.
Let's not fool ourselves that Pilger , Hedges and all are not foolproof.
They are good alternative news media; proceed with caution.

When I read the MSM and see an obvious message I quickly refer to these people for balance.


Re,
Syrian refugees here tell us they had a pretty good middle class life before the war.

Where have we heard that before?

Beirut.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beirut.

How soon we forget!

FFS ; are we so stupid not to see that the cradle of civilisation was destroyed by religion just as the modern Western world is by evangelical Christians/financial greedists?

TB




Anonymous said...

@ BM.
Since the money/weapons from the US go to the Saudis who then fund the "moderate" rebels

I doubt there are any moderates in Syria just as there were no moderates in the invasion of Iraq.

We should compare Fallujah to Aleppo and Mosul,

All out war is what the guys you don't like do??
We; in the West peacekeep or liberate.
I am sure our MSM will agree!!!

TB

Pamela Mac Neil said...

BM: It's interesting what you say about the Syrian refugees not being that impressed with Canada's standard or living. Their probably also being polite about Canadian culture. You"re right that many Canadians think of them as Arabs living in tents. I worked for 30 yrs in my own company as a high tech engineering search consultant. As a result of that I interviewed thousands of professionals from all over the world, many, many from the ME. including Syria.
Syrians were not only highly intelligent in computer engineering, but along with speaking several languages, they were very sophisticated and cultured and very well travelled. Arabs from all the different countries in the ME and Africa all shared the same attributes as the Syrians.

Also their history is very interesting. They were the ones who wrote by hand the works of Aristotle, not an easy undertaking, but we would not have the works of Aristotle if the Arabs had not done that. Western philosophy without Aristotle would be like having evolution without Darwin. I'm not sure if evolution itself would have gotten off the ground without Darwin or if Philosophy would have gotten off the ground without Aristotle. Anyway, I digress but their seems to be the thought from white North Americans that we actually have a civilization and people who mainly are not white who have been around for thousands of years don't and are still living in tents and caves. But as I said, I digress and that is a whole subject unto itself.

I have read Dr. T. P. Wilkinson and I agree, there is much to be learned from him. I haven't read him in a while though, so I should get back to him.I too don't have time for VTchek.
Binoy Kampmark I have not read. Is he also with Voltaire .org? I will certainly look him up. Have you read Pepe Esqabar, or Jim Miles. Jim Miles can be read on a website called Axis of Logic and Pepe is sometimes on there, but he's also on other sites. Another one you may know of or not is Andre Giroux . Anyway, there are some smart people on the internet and I for one am grateful. Eva Bartlett, I heard for the first time on RT. Very Impressive. I will be looking out for her in the future.

You seem to have a really good grasp of what is really happening in Syria including all of the intricacies between the US and Saudi Arabia and Al Qaeda and ISIS, including the CIA role. Just as important is that you understand why it is happening in the first place, that Assad said no to Qatar to build a natural gas pipeline crossing Syria in 2010. I think the pipeline was being built so they could sell gas to Europe. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the US would have built and controlled the pipeline. Another example of the US thinking they can control the earths bounty.

I follow world politics daily and choose books to read that will help me understand more indepth what is really taking place economically, politically and philosophically, even though philosophically the US in particular is intellectually bankrupt. The US has replaced ideas with scripture, which for me means faith and force are at the root of the power that the US exerts daily over other countries.

Thanks for your response. Even though I was trying to say the same things you did, you explained it better.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

You posted a great subject today Owen and even for us who disagreed it made for a great discussion. Thx for posting.

Anonymous said...

Curiouser and curiouser!

http://www.voltairenet.org/article194584.html

TB

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, the Reseau Voltaire page -- from three different sources -- comes up blank. Any ideas about how to bring it up -- in French or English?

Pamela Mac Neil said...

BM..I gave you an incorrect name. Andre Giroux, should be Henry Giroux.