Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 2013

The last of the Semites

Jewish opponents of Zionism understood the movement since its early age as one that shared the precepts of anti-Semitism in its diagnosis of what gentile Europeans called the “Jewish Question“.

What galled anti-Zionist Jews the most was that Zionism also shared the “solution” to the Jewish Question.  The solution that anti-Semites had always advocated, namely the expulsion of Jews from Europe.

It was the Protestant Reformation with its revival of the Hebrew Bible that would link the modern Jews of Europe to the ancient Hebrews of Palestine, a link that the philologists of the 18th century would solidify through their discovery of the family of “Semitic” languages, including Hebrew and Arabic.

Joseph Massad posted this May 14, 2013 in Aljazeera: “It is Israel’s claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all

Whereas Millenarian Protestants insisted that contemporary Jews, as descendants of the ancient Hebrews, must leave Europe to Palestine to expedite the second coming of Christ, philological discoveries led to the labelling of contemporary Jews as “Semites”.

The leap that the biological sciences of race and heredity would make in the 19th century of considering contemporary European Jews racial descendants of the ancient Hebrews would, as a result, not be a giant one.

Basing themselves on the connections made by anti-Jewish Protestant Millenarians, secular European figures saw the political potential of “restoring” Jews to Palestine abounded in the 19th century.

Less interested in expediting the second coming of Christ, as were the Millenarians, these secular politicians, from Napoleon Bonaparte to British foreign secretary Lord Palmerstone (1785-1865) to Ernest Laharanne, the private secretary of Napoleon III in the 1860s, sought to expel the Jews of Europe to Palestine in order to set them up as agents of European imperialism in Asia.

Their call would be espoused by many “anti-Semites”, a new label chosen by European anti-Jewish racists after its invention in 1879 by a minor Viennese journalist by the name of Wilhelm Marr, who issued a political programme titled The Victory of Judaism over Germanism.

Marr was careful to decouple anti-Semitism from the history of Christian hatred of Jews on the basis of religion, emphasizing, in line with Semitic philology and racial theories of the 19th century, that the distinction to be made between Jews and Aryans was strictly racial.

Israeli kids kicking, harassing and mocking a Palestinian elder woman: Zionism inbred racism and colonial culture?

Assimilating Jews into European culture

Scientific anti-Semitism insisted that the Jews were different from Christian Europeans.

Indeed that the Jews were not European at all and that their very presence in Europe is what causes anti-Semitism. The reason why Jews caused so many problems for European Christians had to do with their alleged rootlessness, that they lacked a country, and hence country-based loyalty.

In the Romantic age of European nationalisms, anti-Semites argued that Jews did not fit in the new national configurations, and disrupted national and racial purity, essential to most European nationalisms. This is why if the Jews remained in Europe, the anti-Semites argued, they could only cause hostility among Christian Europeans.

The only solution was for the Jews to exit from Europe and have their own country.

Religious and secular Jews opposed this horrific anti-Semitic line of thinking. Orthodox and Reform Jews, Socialist and Communist Jews, cosmopolitan and Yiddishkeit cultural Jews, all agreed that this was a dangerous ideology of hostility that sought the expulsion of Jews from their European homelands.

Spotlight  Gaza Crisis

The Jewish Haskalah, or Enlightenment, which emerged also in the 19th century, sought to assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture and have them shed their Jewish culture.

It was the Haskalah that sought to break the hegemony of Orthodox Jewish rabbis on the “Ostjuden” of the East European shtetl, and to shed what it perceived as a “medieval” Jewish culture in favor of the modern secular culture of European Christians.

Reform Judaism, as a Christian- and Protestant-like variant of Judaism, would emerge from the bosom of the Haskalah. This assimilationist programme sought to integrate Jews in European modernity, not to expel them outside Europe’s geography.

When Zionism started a decade and a half after Marr’s anti-Semitic programme was published, it would espouse all these anti-Jewish ideas, including scientific anti-Semitism as valid.

For Zionism, Jews were “Semites”, who were descendants of the ancient Hebrews.

In his foundation pamphlet Der Judenstaat, Herzl explained that:

1.  it was Jews, not their Christian enemies, who “cause” anti-Semitism and that “where it does not exist, [anti-Semitism] is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations… the unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America…”

2. That Jews were a “nation” that should leave Europe to restore their “nationhood” in Palestine or Argentina;

3. That Jews must emulate European Christians culturally and abandon their living languages and traditions in favor of modern European languages or a restored ancient national language.

Herzl preferred that all Jews adopt German language, while the East European Zionists wanted Hebrew.

Zionists after Herzl even agreed and affirmed that Jews were separate racially from Aryans. As for Yiddish, the living language of most European Jews, all Zionists agreed that it should be abandoned.

Israeli soldier aiming at Palestinian children. Jehad Namoora‘s photo.
من بطولات جيش الاحتلال الصهيوني الذي لا يقهر</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>شارك ,لا تجعل الصورة تقف انشرها ليعرف العالم بطولة الصهاينة بحق أطفال فلسطين

An Israeli soldier pointing gun on Palestinian children

The majority of Jews continued to resist Zionism and understood its precepts as those of anti-Semitism and as a continuation of the Haskalah quest to shed Jewish culture and assimilate Jews into European secular gentile culture, except that Zionism sought the latter not inside Europe but at a geographical remove following the expulsion of Jews from Europe.

The Bund, or the General Jewish Labor Union in Lithuania, Poland, and Russia, which was founded in Vilna in early October 1897, a few weeks after the convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel in late August 1897, would become Zionism’s fiercest enemy. The Bund joined the existing anti-Zionist Jewish coalition of Orthodox and Reform rabbis who had combined forces a few months earlier to prevent Herzl from convening the first Zionist Congress in Munich, which forced him to move it to Basel. Jewish anti-Zionism across Europe and in the United States had the support of the majority of Jews who continued to view Zionism as an anti-Jewish movement well into the 1940s.

Anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts

Realising that its plan for the future of European Jews was in line with those of anti-Semites, Herzl strategised early on was an alliance with the latter. He declared in Der Judenstaat that:

“The Governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain [the] sovereignty we want.”

He added that “not only poor Jews” would contribute to an immigration fund for European Jews, “but also Christians who wanted to get rid of them“. Herzl unapologetically confided in his Diaries that:

The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”

When Herzl began to meet in 1903 with infamous anti-Semites like the Russian minister of the interior Vyacheslav von Plehve, who oversaw anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia, it was an alliance that he sought by design. That it would be the anti-Semitic Lord Balfour, who as Prime Minister of Britain in 1905 oversaw his government’s Aliens Act, which prevented East European Jews fleeing Russian pogroms from entering Britain in order to save the country from the “undoubted evils” of “an immigration which was largely Jewish”, was hardy coincidental.

Balfour’s infamous Declaration of 1917 to create in Palestine a “national home” for the “Jewish people”, was designed, among other things, to curb Jewish support for the Russian Revolution and to stem the tide of further unwanted Jewish immigrants into Britain.

The Nazis would not be an exception in this anti-Semitic chain of pro-Zionist enthusiasts.

Indeed, the Zionists would strike a deal with the Nazis very early in their history. It was in 1933 that the infamous Transfer (Ha’avara) Agreement was signed between the Zionists and the Nazi government to facilitate the transfer of German Jews and their property to Palestine, and which broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews.

It was in this spirit that Zionist envoys were dispatched to Palestine to report on the successes of Jewish colonization of the country. Adolf Eichmann returned from his 1937 trip to Palestine full of fantastic stories about the achievements of the racially-separatist Ashkenazi Kibbutz, one of which he visited on Mount Carmel as a guest of the Zionists.

Despite the overwhelming opposition of most German Jews, it was the Zionist Federation of Germany that was the only Jewish group that supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, as they agreed with the Nazis that Jews and Aryans were separate and separable races.

This agreement was not a tactical support but one based on ideological similitude. The Nazis’ Final Solution initially meant the expulsion of Germany’s Jews to Madagascar. It is this shared goal of expelling Jews from Europe as a separate inassimilable race that created the affinity between Nazis and Zionists all along.

While the majority of Jews continued to resist the anti-Semitic basis of Zionism and its alliances with anti-Semites, the Nazi genocide not only killed 90 percent of European Jews, but in the process also killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call of abandoning their countries and homes.

The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.Theodor Herzl , Diaries

After the War, the horror at the Jewish holocaust did not stop European countries from supporting the anti-Semitic programme of Zionism. On the contrary, these countries shared with the Nazis a predilection for Zionism. They only opposed Nazism’s genocidal programme.

European countries, along with the United States, refused to take in hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of the holocaust.

In fact, these countries voted against a UN resolution introduced by the Arab states in 1947 calling on them to take in the Jewish survivors.

Yet, these same countries would be the ones who would support the United Nations Partition Plan of November 1947 to create a Jewish State in Palestine to which these unwanted Jewish refugees could be expelled.

The pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis

The United States and European countries, including Germany, would continue the pro-Zionist policies of the Nazis. Post-War West German governments that presented themselves as opening a new page in their relationship with Jews in reality did no such thing. Since the establishment of the country after WWII, every West German government (and every German government since unification in1990) has continued the pro-Zionist Nazi policies unabated.

There was never a break with Nazi pro-Zionism.

The only break was with the genocidal and racial hatred of Jews that Nazism consecrated, but not with the desire to see Jews set up in a country in Asia, away from Europe. Indeed, the Germans would explain that much of the money they were sending to Israel was to help offset the costs of resettling European Jewish refugees in the country.

After World War II, a new consensus emerged in the United States and Europe that Jews had to be integrated posthumously into white Europeanness, and that the horror of the Jewish holocaust was essentially a horror at the murder of white Europeans.

Since the 1960s, Hollywood films about the holocaust began to depict Jewish victims of Nazism as white Christian-looking, middle class, educated and talented people not unlike contemporary European and American Christians who should and would identify with them.

Presumably, if the films were to depict the poor religious Jews of Eastern Europe (and most East European Jews who were killed by the Nazis were poor and many were religious), contemporary white Christians would not find commonality with them.

Hence, the post-holocaust European Christian horror at the genocide of European Jews was not based on the horror of slaughtering people in the millions who were different from European Christians, but rather a horror at the murder of millions of people who were the same as European Christians.

This should explain why in a country like the United States, which had nothing to do with the slaughter of European Jews, there exists upwards of 40 holocaust memorials and a major museum for the murdered Jews of Europe, but not one for the holocaust of Native Americans or African Americans for which the US is responsible.

Aimé Césaire understood this process very well. In his famous speech on colonialism, he affirmed that the retrospective view of European Christians about Nazism is that

it is barbarism, but the supreme barbarism, the crowning barbarism that sums up all the daily barbarisms; that it is Nazism, yes, but that before [Europeans] were its victims, they were its accomplices; and they tolerated that Nazism before it was inflicted on them, that they absolved it, shut their eyes to it, legitimized it, because, until then, it had been applied only to non-European peoples; that they have cultivated that Nazism, that they are responsible for it, and that before engulfing the whole of Western, Christian civilization in its reddened waters, it oozes, seeps, and trickles from every crack.

For Césaire the Nazi wars and holocaust were European colonialism turned inwards is true enough.

Since the rehabilitation of Nazism’s victims as white people, Europe and its American accomplice would continue their Nazi policy of visiting horrors on non-white people around the world, on Korea, on Vietnam and Indochina, on Algeria, on Indonesia, on Central and South America, on Central and Southern Africa, on Palestine, on Iran, and on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rehabilitation of European Jews after WWII was a crucial part of US Cold War propaganda. As American social scientists and ideologues developed the theory of “totalitarianism”, which posited Soviet Communism and Nazism as essentially the same type of regime, European Jews, as victims of one totalitarian regime, became part of the atrocity exhibition that American and West European propaganda claimed was like the atrocities that the Soviet regime was allegedly committing in the pre- and post-War periods.

Israel would jump on the bandwagon by accusing the Soviets of anti-Semitism for their refusal to allow Soviet Jewish citizens to self-expel and leave to Israel was part of the propaganda.

Commitment to white supremacy

It was thus that the European and US commitment to white supremacy was preserved, except that it now included Jews as part of “white” people, and what came to be called “Judeo-Christian” civilization. European and American policies after World War II, which continued to be inspired and dictated by racism against Native Americans, Africans, Asians, Arabs and Muslims, and continued to support Zionism’s anti-Semitic programme of assimilating Jews into whiteness in a colonial settler state away from Europe, were a direct continuation of anti-Semitic policies prevalent before the War.

It was just that much of the anti-Semitic racialist venom would now be directed at Arabs and Muslims (both, those who are immigrants and citizens in Europe and the United States and those who live in Asia and Africa) while the erstwhile anti-Semitic support for Zionism would continue unhindered.

West Germany’s alliance with Zionism and Israel after WWII, of supplying Israel with huge economic aid in the 1950s and of economic and military aid since the early 1960s, including tanks, which it used to kill Palestinians and other Arabs, is a continuation of the alliance that the Nazi government concluded with the Zionists in the 1930s.

In the 1960s, West Germany even provided military training to Israeli soldiers, and since the 1970s has provided Israel with nuclear-ready German-made submarines with which Israel hopes to kill more Arabs and Muslims. Israel has in recent years armed the most recent German-supplied submarines with nuclear tipped cruise missiles, a fact that is well known to the current German government.

Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Der SPIEGELin 2012 that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years”. Berlin financed one-third of the cost of the submarines, around 135 million euros ($168 million) per submarine, and has allowed Israel to defer its payment until 2015.

Doesn’t these supports makes Germany an accomplice in the dispossession of the Palestinians? This is of no more concern to current German governments than it was in the 1960s to West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who affirmed that “the Federal Republic has neither the right nor the responsibility to take a position on the Palestinian refugees“.

This is to be added to the massive billions that Germany has paid to the Israeli government as compensation for the holocaust, as if Israel and Zionism were the victims of Nazism, when in reality it was anti-Zionist Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

The current German government does not care about the fact that even those German Jews who fled the Nazis and ended up in Palestine hated Zionism and its project and were hated in turn by Zionist colonists in Palestine. As German refugees in 1930s and 1940s Palestine refused to learn Hebrew and published half a dozen German newspapers in the country, they were attacked by the Hebrew press, including by Haartez, which called for the closure of their newspapers in 1939 and again in 1941.

Zionist colonists attacked a German-owned café in Tel Aviv because its Jewish owners refused to speak Hebrew, and the Tel Aviv municipality threatened in June 1944 some of its German Jewish residents for holding in their home on 21 Allenby street “parties and balls entirely in the German language, including programmes that are foreign to the spirit of our city” and that this would “not be tolerated in Tel Aviv”.

German Jews, or Yekkes as they were known in the Yishuv, would even organize a celebration of the Kaiser’s birthday in 1941 (for these and more details about German Jewish refugees in Palestine, read Tom Segev’s book The Seventh Million).

Add to that Germany’s support for Israeli policies against Palestinians at the United Nations, and the picture becomes complete. Even the new holocaust memorial built in Berlin that opened in 2005 maintains Nazi racial apartheid, as this “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” is only for Jewish victims of the Nazis who must still today be set apart, as Hitler mandated, from the other millions of non-Jews who also fell victim to Nazism.

That a subsidiary of the German company Degussa, which collaborated with the Nazis and which produced the Zyklon B gas that was used to kill people in the gas chambers, was contracted to build the memorial was anything but surprising, as it simply confirms that those who killed Jews in Germany in the late 1930s and in the 1940s now regret what they had done because they now understand Jews to be white Europeans who must be commemorated and who should not have been killed in the first place on account of their whiteness.

The German policy of abetting the killing of Arabs by Israel, however, is hardly unrelated to this commitment to anti-Semitism, which continues through the predominant contemporary anti-Muslim German racism that targets Muslim immigrants.

Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition

The Jewish holocaust killed off the majority of Jews who fought and struggled against European anti-Semitism, including Zionism.

With their death, the only remaining “Semites” who are fighting against Zionism and its anti-Semitism today are the Palestinian people.

Whereas Israel insists that European Jews do not belong in Europe and must come to Palestine, the Palestinians have always insisted that the homelands of European Jews were their European countries and not Palestine, and that Zionist colonialism springs from its very anti-Semitism.

Whereas Zionism insists that Jews are a race separate from European Christians, the Palestinians insist that European Jews are nothing if not European and have nothing to do with Palestine, its people, or its culture. What Israel and its American and European allies have sought to do in the last six and a half decades is to convince Palestinians that they too must become anti-Semites and believe as the Nazis, Israel, and its Western anti-Semitic allies do, that Jews are a race that is different from European races, that Palestine is their country, and that Israel speaks for all Jews.

That the two largest American pro-Israel voting blocks today are Millenarian Protestants and secular imperialists continues the very same Euro-American anti-Jewish tradition that extends back to the Protestant Reformation and 19th century imperialism. 

But the Palestinians have remained unconvinced and steadfast in their resistance to anti-Semitism.

European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…Yasser Arafat, 1974 UN speech

Israel and its anti-Semitic allies affirm that Israel is “the Jewish people”, that its policies are “Jewish” policies, that its achievements are “Jewish” achievements, that its crimes are “Jewish” crimes, and that therefore anyone who dares to criticise Israel is criticising Jews and must be an anti-Semite.

The Palestinian people have mounted a major struggle against this anti-Semitic incitement. They continue to affirm instead that the Israeli government does not speak for all Jews, that it does not represent all Jews, and that its colonial crimes against the Palestinian people are its own crimes and not the crimes of “the Jewish people”, and that therefore it must be criticized, condemned and prosecuted for its ongoing war crimes against the Palestinian people.

This is not a new Palestinian position, but one that was adopted since the turn of the 20th century and continued throughout the pre-WWII Palestinian struggle against Zionism. Yasser Arafat’s speech at the United Nations in 1974 stressed all these points vehemently:

Just as colonialism heedlessly used the wretched, the poor, the exploited as mere inert matter with which to build and to carry out settler colonialism, so too were destitute, oppressed European Jews employed on behalf of world imperialism and of the Zionist leadership. European Jews were transformed into the instruments of aggression; they became the elements of settler colonialism intimately allied to racial discrimination…

Zionist theology was utilized against our Palestinian people: the purpose was not only the establishment of Western-style settler colonialism but also the severing of Jews from their various homelands and subsequently their estrangement from their nations. Zionism… is united with anti-Semitism in its retrograde tenets and is, when all is said and done, another side of the same base coin. For when what is proposed is that adherents of the Jewish faith, regardless of their national residence, should neither owe allegiance to their national residence nor live on equal footing with its other, non-Jewish citizens -when that is proposed we hear anti-Semitism being proposed.

When it is proposed that the only solution for the Jewish problem is that Jews must alienate themselves from communities or nations of which they have been a historical part, when it is proposed that Jews solve the Jewish problem by immigrating to and forcibly settling the land of another people – when this occurs, exactly the same position is being advocated as the one urged by anti-Semites against Jews.

Israel’s claim that its critics must be anti-Semites presupposes that its critics believe its claims that it represents “the Jewish people”.

But it is Israel’s claims that it represents and speaks for all Jews that are the most anti-Semitic claims of all.

Today, Israel and the Western powers want to elevate anti-Semitism to an international principle around which they seek to establish full consensus. They insist that for there to be peace in the Middle East, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims must become, like the West, anti-Semites by espousing Zionism and recognising Israel’s anti-Semitic claims.

Except for dictatorial Arab regimes and the Palestinian Authority and its cronies, on this 65th anniversary of the anti-Semitic conquest of Palestine by the Zionists, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, the Palestinian people and the few surviving anti-Zionist Jews continue to refuse to heed this international call and incitement to anti-Semitism.

The Palestinians affirm that they are, as the last of the Semites, the heirs of the pre-WWII Jewish and Palestinian struggles against anti-Semitism and its Zionist colonial manifestation. It is their resistance that stands in the way of a complete victory for European anti-Semitism in the Middle East and the world at large.

Joseph Massad teaches Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians. 

“Me-Self” autobiography versus “I-Self” stories in night dreams.

Night dreams are rehearsals of all the pent up anger and frustrations you tried to have under control during the day. The horror of what the day could turn if we acted on our basic instincts and hatered and jealousy for everyone around us…

And most dreams are ugly, illogical and haphazard stories that we prefer to forget: We are unable to make sense of them and telling these dreams makes us look fools and inarticulate…

If people were that idiot to speak and express their thought on everyone and everything, we would all wish to be reincarnated as animals.

Preferably animals with a fighting chance for survival against so many predators.

Animals that we think behave “naturally” and do not keep revenge in their mind and harbor loathing against other animals.

Animals that we think live the day to day in perfect harmony with how they were created, and not influenced by mankind perception of them… 

Marsha Norman once wrote: “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.”

I believe that sleep dreams are the draft scenarios stories of the “I-Self” that the conscious mind re-edit to modify the “Me-Self” autobiography of our world view that conform to the customs and traditions of the community…

The “I-Self” stories are pretty incoherent fragments, and we hardly can make sense of them, and we prefer to forget them as soon as we wake up.

The “I-Self” stories are basic building blocks to whatever alterations we conduct on our autobiographical version story and many of the next days decisions.

Many people grind their teeth when sleeping. And the sound is pretty alarming. This is a consequence of venting pressure and anger in our dreams that we tried hard to control during the day.

In the last two years, most of my night dreams are wandering from one dirty toilet to another flooding WC: My hint that I should be getting up and piss. Otherwise, my night is a wet horror and disgusting string of trips.

There are not just a hint to visit the WC: These drowning dreams in dirty water are reflections of what I implicitly capture of people perception of me…

When I sleep in chunks of 3 to 4 hours, I am necessarily dreaming, whether I recall that I had dreamt or not…

Consequently, I am twice editing my autobiography every single day. In winter time, I am editing it three times: My siestas are lengthy and generate dreams…

The more often you dream, the better person you are…

Noam Chomsky on Democracy and Education in the 21st Century and Beyond

Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political critic and activist.

He is an institute professor and professor emeritus in the department of linguistics and philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years.

Daniel Falcone, History educator, interviewed Noam Chomsky, on June 1, 2013 in his Cambridge office on May 14,  for Truthout:

D.F: I wanted to ask you some questions about education in the 21st century.

Chomsky: Not sure the topic exists.

Falcone: Before I would go into discussing the 21st century, can you comment on this country’s history with education, and what tradition do you think we have grown out of in terms of education?

Chomsky: That’s an interesting question. The US was kind of a pioneer in mass public education. Actually, this here is land-grant university which is part of the big 19th-century expansion of our education through federal grant. And most of them are out in the West, but this is one. And also, just-for-children mass public education, which is a pretty good thing. It wasn’t a major contribution, but it had qualifications. For one thing, it was partly concerned with taking a country of independent farmers, many of them pretty radical. You go back to the late 19th century, the Farmer’s Alliance was coming out of Texas and was the most radical popular Democratic organization anywhere in history, I think. It’s hard to believe if you look at Texas today.

And these were independent farmers. They stick up for their rights – they didn’t want to be slaves. And they had to be driven into factories and turned into tools for someone else. There’s a lot of resistance to it. So a lot of public education was, in fact, concerned with trying to teach independent people to become workers in an industrial system.

And there was more to it than that. Actually, Ralph Waldo Emerson commented on it. He said something like this: he hears a lot of political leaders saying that we have to have mass public education. And the reason is that millions of people are getting the vote, and we have to educate them to keep them from our throats. In other words, we have to train them in obedience and servility, so they’re not going to think through the way the world works and come after our throats.

So, it’s kind of a mixture. There’s a lot of good things about it, but there were also, you know, the property class. The people who concentrate wealth don’t do things just out of the goodness of their hearts for the most part, but in order to maintain their position of dominance and then extend their power. And it’s been kind of that battle all the way through.

Right now, we happen to be in a general period of regression, not just in education. A lot of what’s happening is sort of backlash to the 60s; the 60s were a democratizing period. And the society became a lot more civilized and there was a lot of concern about education across the spectrum – liberals, conservatives and bipartisan. It’s kind of interesting to read the liberal literature in the 70s, but there was concern about what they called, at the liberal end, “the failures of the institutions responsible for indoctrinating the young.” That’s the phrase that was used, which expresses the liberal view quite accurately. You got to keep them from our throats. So the indoctrination of the young wasn’t working properly. That was actually Samuel Huntington, professor of government at Harvard, kind of a liberal stalwart. And he co-authored a book-length report called The Crisis of Democracy. There was something that had to be done to increase indoctrination, to beat back the democratizing wave. The economy was sharply modified and went through a liberal period, with radical inequality, stagnation, financial institutions, all that stuff. Student debt started to skyrocket, which is quite important. But that’s a technique of indoctrination in itself. It’s never been studied. Important things usually never get studied; it’s just putting together the bits of information about it. One can at least be suspicious that skyrocketing student debt is a device of indoctrination. It’s very hard to imagine that there’s any economic reason for it. Other countries’ education is free, like Mexico’s, and that is a poor country.

Finland’s, which has the best educational system in the world, by the records at least, is free. Germany’s is free. The United States in the 1950s was a much poorer country. But education was basically free: the GI Bill and so on. So there’s no real economic reason for high-priced higher education and skyrocketing student debt. There are a lot of factors. And one of them, probably, is just that students are trapped.

The other is what’s happening to teachers like you. They’re turning into adjuncts, temporary workers who have no rights, you know. I don’t have to tell you what it’s like, you can tell me.

But the more you can get the graduate students, temporary workers, two-tier payment, the more people you have under control – and all of that’s been going on. And now it’s institutionalized with No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top; teach to the test – worst possible way of teaching. But it is a disciplinary technique. Schools are designed to teach the test. You don’t have to worry about students thinking for themselves, challenging, raising questions. And you see it down to the lowest level of detail. I give a lot of talks in communities and places where people are concerned about education and I’ve had teachers come up to me and say afterwards, you know, I teach sixth grade. A little girl came up after class and said she was interested in something that came up in class, and wanted to know how to look into it. And I tell her, you can’t do it; you got to study for the test. Your future depends on it; my salary depends on it.

And that’s happening all over. And it has the obvious technique of dumbing down the population, and also controlling them. And it’s bipartisan. The Obama administration is pushing it. Also, an effort to kill the schools – the charter school movement vouchers, all this kind of stuff is nothing but an effort to destroy the public education system. It claims that it gives the parents choices, but that’s ridiculous.

For most people, they can’t make the choices; there are not any. It’s like saying everyone has a choice to become a millionaire. You do, in a way: there’s no law against it.

Falcone: You have indicated in some of your writings the effects of Taylorism – a management method that breaks tasks down into small parts to increase efficiency – as a form of on-job control. Does our educational system foster a form of on-job control?

Chomsky: Off-job control. Actually, the term is sometimes even used – Taylorism – by the business press. Taylorism gives on-job control, but we have to be careful to have off-job control and there are a lot of devices for that: education is one. But advertising is another. The advertising industry is a huge industry, and anyone with their eyes open can see what it’s for. First of all, the existence of the advertising industry is a sign of the unwillingness to let markets function. If you had markets, you wouldn’t have advertising. Like, if somebody has something to sell, they say what it is and you buy it if you want. But when you have oligopolies, they want to stop price wars. They have to have product differentiation, and you got to turn to diluting people into thinking you should buy this rather than that. Or just getting them to consume – if you can get them to consume, they’re trapped, you know.

It starts with the infant, but now there’s a huge part of the advertising industry which is designed to capture children. And it’s destroying childhood. Anyone who has any experience with children can see this. It’s literally destroying childhood. Kids don’t know how to play. They can’t go out and, you know, like when you were a kid or when I was a kid, you have a Saturday afternoon free. You go out to a field and you’re finding a bunch of other kids and play ball or something. You can’t do anything like that. It’s got to be organized by adults, or else you’re at home with your gadgets, your video games.

But the idea of going out just to play with all the creative challenge, those insights: that’s gone. And it’s done consciously to trap children from infancy and then to turn them into consumer addicts. And that means you’re out for yourself. You got the Ayn Rand kind of sociopathic behavior, which comes straight out of the consumer culture. Consumer culture means going out for myself; I don’t give a damn about anyone else. I think it’s really destroying society in a lot of ways. And education is part of it.

Falcone: Do we as a nation have a reason to fear an assault on public education and the complete privatization of education?

Chomsky: It’s part of the way of controlling and dumbing down the population, and that’s important. Much has to do with the catastrophe that’s looming, mainly environmental catastrophe. It’s very serious. It’s not generations from now; it’s your children and your grandchildren. And the public is pretty close to the scientific consensus. If you look at polls, it will say it’s a serious problem; we’ve got to do something about it. Government doesn’t want to, and the corporate sector not only doesn’t want to, it’s strongly opposed to it. So now, take for example ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s corporate funded, the Koch brothers and those guys. It’s an organization which designs legislation for states, for state legislators. And they’ve got plenty of clout, so they can get a lot of it through. Now they have a new program, which sounds very pretty on the surface. It’s designed to increase “critical thinking.” And the way you increase critical thinking is by having “balanced education.” “Balanced education” means that if you teach kids something about the climate, you also have to teach them climate change denial. It’s like teaching evolution science, but also creation science, so that you have “critical thinking.”

All of this is a way of turning the population into a bunch of imbeciles. That’s really serious. I mean, it’s life and death at this point, not just making society worse.

Falcone: What do you think are important attributes of a school? What constitutes a good school?

Chomsky: Well, I’ll describe the school I went to when I was kid. It was a school run on Deweyite lines, an experimental school run by Temple University, which had a very good education department, a progressive education department. I was in it from about 2 to 12. Then I went to an academic high school – Central High in Philadelphia. You may know it. It was a boy’s school, probably not now.

Falcone: Yeah, co-ed now.

Chomsky: Which were all college- oriented kids. So, until I got to Central High, I literally didn’t know I was a good student, because the question never came up.

Everybody was a good student. The kids were just encouraged to do what they like to do and what was best, and there was a structure; there was a program. It’s not you ran around doing anything you felt like. I skipped a grade, but I didn’t pay any attention and no one else paid any attention. Just that I was the smallest kid in the class, but the idea that somebody is a good student; somebody is not a good student – it just never arose. There were tests, but they just gave information about what’s going on. This is something we ought to be doing better.

The kids weren’t ranked; there were no grades. There’s a lot of cooperative work and cooperative projects and they encouraged us. You know, study, challenging questions, and it was extremely successful. I remember everything very well. I went into the academic high school and it’s kind of like a black hole. I was able to get all As and a scholarship to go into college. I might well not have gone, except for what I learned on my own.

And that’s what school is. And there’s no reason why it can’t be done everywhere. Actually, just today, I had lunch with a faculty member here I’ve known for many years who works on designing educational programs for high schools, science programs. He’s describing the programs, and they are programs like one of the programs that they’re trying to get high schools to use around the world, incidentally – not just here. So he described one in which it starts by asking the question, “How can mosquitoes fly in the rain?” And then, but why is there a problem? Well, you study the force of the raindrop hitting a mosquito – it’s like a person being hit by a locomotive.

So how come they don’t get smashed to pieces? And what makes them stay up? And then a million other questions come. You start looking into these questions. You start learning physics, biology, all kinds of things. And there are things that the students can do so that they can ask questions, and pursue them, and do experiments and so on. I mean, that’s education. It’s not just you learned how a mosquito flies in the rain, but you learn how to be creative and why it’s exciting to learn things and create things and make up new things. And that can be done from kindergarten on.

For example, one kindergarten program, it was described in Science Magazine: they had a series on why the educational system is destroying interest. There’s a kindergarten program where the kids were given dishes which had in them a bunch of objects and pebbles, shells, seeds and others. They had a problem, which was to figure out which ones were the seeds. So they had a scientific conference, and kids get together and figure out ways, things you can try. Teacher is in the background guiding it, but mostly independent. Finally, they figured out what the seeds were. At that point, each kid was given a magnifying glass and the teacher opened the seeds and took a look inside. They could find the embryo that makes it grow. Those kids not only learned some biology; they also learned that it’s fun to understand things and to discover things. And that’s what matters. It doesn’t matter how much you learn in school; it’s whether you learn how to go on and do things by yourself. And that can be done at any level. I know graduate school is kind of like, automatic; that’s all you do at a good graduate school, but like here in graduate school, you don’t have grades. They don’t pay any attention to that.

But it can be done in kindergarten. And that’s how good schools are made; that’s where everything is possible.

Falcone: And these are natural impulses?

Chomsky: Kids are naturally creative, and of course, you don’t have to beat it out of them. That’s why they’re asking, “Why?” all the time.

Falcone: A fancy suburban high school that is rich in resources: sometimes they’re still faced with apathy and indoctrination, a narrow ideological spectrum. Is this a cultural condition in your view, or is this inherent in our school system?

Chomsky: It was true even in the school that I went to in Philadelphia, in a day of much less corporate control of society. I don’t think it’s inherent in anything. They can perfectly well have schools that have programs like the kinds I was just talking about. But not just in science – in every other area as well … Take American history. I have a friend who was a school teacher in Lexington, where I live, who taught sixth grade. She was a really good teacher, very successful. But she described to me once how she ran a section on the American Revolution. And a couple of weeks before the section was going to begin, she started imposing arbitrary restrictions on the class. Like making the kids do things that they didn’t like and that didn’t make any sense.

And finally after a while, they got pretty resentful and they started getting together to get her to stop doing it somehow. But when it got to that point, she introduced the section on the American Revolution, okay? They understood what was going on.

Falcone: That’s clever.

Chomsky: There’s no level where you can’t do things like that if you’re a teacher who has control of what you’re doing. Then if there’s some respect for teaching, so you’re allowed to have control. But that’s what’s being destroyed: teachers’ control of the classroom, like worker control of the shop floor. You can’t allow that; you have to have Taylorism.

Control from above, control by the administrators. No respect for the working person, whether it’s a teacher or machinist. And it’s amazing how this is done. I mean, there’s a great study done by faculty members here. David Noble, who worked on the history of technology. He studied the machine tool industry in the 1950s and 60s. There was a move towards computer control of machines. Numerical control of machine process, big advance.

Noble did a detailed study and it’s very striking how it worked. There were two tasks that could be followed. One was letting skilled machinists run the system with their detailed knowledge and ability to fix things that went wrong and make up new ideas and so on. The other was let the managers run it. And there were studies, and the ones where the machinists ran it were successful and profitable and everything else, but they picked the opposite way. And they picked it for a very simple reason: they got disciplined workers. Even if that overcomes profit, it’s much more important to have a disciplined, obedient workforce. Not workers who can do things for themselves, for pretty obvious reasons. If they can do things for themselves, they’re pretty soon going to ask, why do we need bosses? And then you’re in trouble. Kind of like sit-down strikes, that’s why they’re so dangerous. This happened, and that’s the same in schools.

You can’t let teachers control the classroom. That’s teaching to test; then the teachers are disciplined. They do what you tell them. Their salaries depend on it; their jobs depend on it. They become sociopaths like everyone else. And you have a society where it’s only, “Look after me; I’ll forget everyone else.” And then they can get rid of Social Security and get rid of Medicare. And why should I pay for the kid across the street going to school; my kid is not going to school. Why should I care about disabled widows? Etcetera.

Falcone: And these are bipartisan efforts?

Chomsky: Oh, it’s bipartisan. Obama suggested cutting back on Social Security. But then they pretend to be surprised at the outcomes. Like there was a really comical story in The New York Times the other day on the front page. Part of the new Medicaid program is having private companies contract to give care for the elderly and the disabled and so on. And there was a study that looked into it and found that what they’re doing is having yoga classes for well-off people, and all kind of stuff that makes money. And how come the private companies are trying to make money instead of help people? I mean, did you ever think for a second, is a private company in business in order to help people or in order to make money?

Falcone: How about the arts and music? We see cutting of …

Chomsky: It cuts creativity, it cuts the independence. I mean, that’s a phase in which kids, in fact grown-ups, express themselves. You know, they learn about themselves. It’s important to cut that back.

I grew up in the Depression. My family was a little, I’ll say employed working class, but a lot of them never went to school in the first grade, but [were familiar with] very high culture. The plays of Shakespeare in the park, the WPA performances, concerts, and it’s just part of life. The union had worker education programs and cultural programs. And high culture was just part of life. Actually, if you’re interested, there’s a detailed scholarly study of working class people in England in the 19th century and what they were reading, and it’s pretty fabulous. It turns out that they didn’t go to school, mostly. But they had quite a high level of culture. They were reading contemporary literature and classics. In fact, the author concludes finally that they were probably more educated than aristocrats.

Read more: Democracy and Education in the 21st Century: Part 1, Daniel Falcone Interviews Noam Chomsky, June 2009

Bags of the past: Default programs, ready-made responses… New dreams call for new behaviors.  Unless you refuse to change… What worked in the past only digs holes in the present. Old strategies and methods would hardly fulfill new dreams. Start again, but don’t resort to default behaviors, imagine new behaviors. Past behaviors worked in the past, but you’ve changed and so has the world. Examples of Old Bag: During stressful situations you reach into a well-worn back of tools – default responses. Defaults invisibly fit your grip. They’ll work again, you believe.

Default responses blind to new possibilities.

Two year olds get what they want by kicking and screaming. Leaders, who haven’t grown up, reach in their tool bag and pull out default responses of anger, for example. Negative defaults: The following strategies worked for you in the past.

  1. Pushing harder rather than stepping back.
  2. Anger rather than openness.
  3. Blame rather than responsibility.
  4. Attack rather than collaboration.
  5. Stubbornness rather than flexibility.
  6. Defending rather than listening.
  7. Explaining rather than exploring.
  8. Withdrawal rather than reaching out.
  9. Taking things personally rather than focusing on issues.
  10. All or nothing rather than progress.

Don’t let default responses bury you. New dreams require new tools. Imagine: Ask someone who is in default-mode to imagine other responses and they go blank. Addressing defaults:

  1. Invite someone to tell you what you look like when you’re in default mode. Better yet, ask them to talk/act like you act so you can see it. (Fasten your seat belt.)
  2. Forget solutions; explore strategies. Stop solving the problem and examine the way you’re solving problems.
  3. Uncover desired outcomes. What are you really after when you default to your default responses? Is it what you really want? What do you really want? Get that.
  4. What do your default responses say about you?
  5. How would someone you admire deal with situations you’re in?

What default responses do you see in others? In yourself? Note: A post from Dan Rockwell

(And you can change with patience and hard training

Ironic opinions on religions? The clerics have been setting the trend…

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood in power are cracking down on free opinions and targeting the journalists and TV presenter (Bassem Youssef) under the the label of denigrating and being ironic in matters of religion…

For example, consider this sample of sheikhs and imam on what they said and pronounced regarding the other religions.

Wajdi Ghoneim , supposedly one of the “internet revolutionaries” of January 2011, vomited: “The Copts (an Egyptian Christian sect) are whores (Sharameet), Unclean (Anjass), and the death of (Patriarch) Baba Shnoda was a day of celebration for the Moslems…”

Abu Islam pronounced: “The Christians worship the male dick. Must burn their Bible…”

Muhammad Zoghbi ejaculated: “May god burn the Chiaa and the Druze. They are dirty human species…”

Preisdent Morsi said: “The Jews are descendant of Chimps and pigs and blood suckers...”

And yet, Bassem Youssof, the media comics who lambasted these religious clerics is being harassed by the Moslem Brotherhood government…

Samer Madi‘s photo.
من يتهم من؟؟؟
Drone operator haunted
Richard Engel, Chief Foreign Correspondent, NBC News Former drone operator says he’s haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths

A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.

Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.

“The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.

“I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”

Bryant, now 27, served as a drone sensor operator from 2006 to 2011, at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and in Iraq, guiding unmanned drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. Though he didn’t fire missiles himself, he took part in missions that he was told led to the deaths of an estimated 1,626 individuals.

In an interview with NBC News, he provided a rare first-person glimpse into what it’s like to control the controversial machines that have become central to the U.S. effort to kill terrorists.

He says that as an operator he was troubled by the physical disconnect between his daily routine and the violence and power of the faraway drones. “You don’t feel the aircraft turn,” he said. “You don’t feel the hum of the engine. You hear the hum of the computers, but that’s definitely not the same thing.”

At the same time, the images coming back from the drones were very real and very graphic.

“People say that drone strikes are like mortar attacks,” Bryant said. “Well, artillery doesn’t see this. Artillery doesn’t see the results of their actions. It’s really more intimate for us, because we see everything.

A self-described “naïve” kid from a small Montana town, Bryant joined the Air Force in 2005 at age 19. After he scored well on tests, he said a recruiter told him that as a drone operator he would be like the smart guys in the control room in a James Bond movie, the ones who feed the agent the information he needs to complete his mission.

He trained for three and a half months before participating in his first drone mission. Bryant operated the drone’s cameras from his perch at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada as the drone rose into the air just north of Baghdad.

Bryant and the rest of his team were supposed to use their drone to provide support and protection to patrolling U.S. troops. But he recalls watching helplessly as insurgents buried an IED in a road and a U.S. Humvee drove over it.

“We had no way to warn the troops,” he said. He later learned that three soldiers died.

And once he had taken part in a kill, any remaining illusions about James Bond disappeared. “Like, this isn’t a videogame,” he said. “This isn’t some sort of fantasy. This is war. People die.”

Courtesy Brandon Bryant. Brandon Bryant stands with a Predator drone in Nevada. He says that as an operator he was troubled by the physical disconnect between his daily routine and the violence and power of the faraway drones.

Bryant said that most of the time he was an operator, he and his team and his commanding officers made a concerted effort to avoid civilian casualties.

But he began to wonder who the enemy targets on the ground were, and whether they really posed a threat. He’s still not certain whether the three men in Afghanistan were really Taliban insurgents or just men with guns in a country where many people carry guns. The men were five miles from American forces arguing with each other when the first missile hit them.

“They (didn’t) seem to be in a hurry,” he recalled. “They (were) just doing their thing. … They were probably carrying rifles, but I wasn’t convinced that they were bad guys.“ But as a 21-year-old airman, said Bryant, he didn’t think he had the standing to ask questions.

He also remembers being convinced that he had seen a child scurry onto his screen during one mission just before a missile struck, despite assurances from others that the figure he’d seen was really a dog.

After participating in hundreds of missions over the years, Bryant said he “lost respect for life” and began to feel like a sociopath. He remembers coming into work in 2010, seeing pictures of targeted individuals on the wall – Anwar al-Awlaki and other al Qaeda and Taliban leaders — and musing, “Which one of these f_____s is going to die today?

In 2011, as Bryant’s career as a drone operator neared its end, he said his commander presented him with what amounted to a scorecard. It showed that he had participated in missions that contributed to the deaths of 1,626 people.

“I would’ve been happy if they never even showed me the piece of paper,” he said. “I’ve seen American soldiers die, innocent people die, and insurgents die. And it’s not pretty. It’s not something that I want to have — this diploma.”

Now that he’s out of the Air Force and back home in Montana, Bryant said he doesn’t want to think about how many people on that list might’ve been innocent: “It’s too heartbreaking.”

The Veterans Administration diagnosed him with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, for which he has undergone counseling. He says his PTSD has manifested itself as anger, sleeplessness and blackout drinking.

“I don’t feel like I can really interact with that average, everyday person,” he said. “I get too frustrated, because A) they don’t realize what’s going on over there. And B) they don’t care.”

He’s also reluctant to tell the people in his personal life what he was doing for five years. When he told a woman he was seeing that he’d been a drone operator, and contributed to the deaths of a large number of people, she cut him off. “She looked at me like I was a monster,” he said. “And she never wanted to touch me again.”

Related stories:

The thermostat and the frying pan analogy for various objectives

If you want to cool your house to 68 degrees Fahrenheit quickly, setting the thermostat to 62 degrees isn’t going to get it temperate any faster than if you set it to 68. It blows full cold until it hits the number, then it stops.

(For those down under where it is winter, the opposite is also true–extreme thermostat settings won’t warm you up any faster).

Frying pans don’t work that way. Turning the temperature on the burner all the way up will certainly heat up that pan faster.

Seth Godin posted this June 18, 2013:

There is significant pressure on marketers to get it done fast. Ah, an analogy!

And so the inclination to spend a lot, to race around, to turn the thermostat to its most extreme state.

All the yelling doesn’t build your brand faster.

In fact, it might do quite the opposite. Trusted brands don’t get there by spending their whole budget on one Super Bowl ad.

Valuable marketing campaigns are the result of time and user experience, not media and more media. Tweeting more often doesn’t make your tweets have more resonance.

On the other hand, product design and user interaction definitely benefit from the frying pan approach. Extraordinary products, remarkable stories, intense connection via user interaction–these things actually do scale quickly.

The movie business has seduced itself into believing that they can turn the thermostat to absolute zero and use a massive media push to make a moribund movie work. They can’t.

Movie business would be far better off putting the risk and the effort into making movies worth talking about instead.

Social media is a marathon, a gradual process in which you build a reputation.

The best time to start was a while ago. The second best time to start is today. But turning it up to 11 isn’t going to get you there faster.

The confrontation waiting to happen: The essential confrontation is with yourself

It’s not between you and your boss, your critics, your editor, your competition, your spouse or some other outsider.

You are your own biggest critic. And it takes time to observe and form your own ideas.

And your own biggest competitor.

Now that it’s easier than ever to pick yourself, the question is, “why haven’t you?”

And now that it’s easier to ignore the competition and become a category of one, the question is the same.

Our instinct is to externalize the forces that are holding us back, but in fact, that’s not the problem, is it?

Power of “First time I did this… First time I experienced that”

Perseverance is the learning process of trying again a “first time experience”, until the experience is satisfactory.

You can never know how it might turn out: Do not waste a satisfying first time experience.

You can change someone by helping him do something they haven’t done before, and monitor that his first  experience was a success story.

You remember the people who helped you do things you’d never done. First times transform us. Talking is good; doing is better.

Dan Rockwell posted:

Incremental or radical:

Skill development is incremental, one practice built on another. And  there’s nothing like the first time you led a meeting, ran a project, fired an employee, or gave a presentation. It radically changed you.

Successful leaders enable firsts in others.

Examples of Powerful firsts:

  1. Propel your assistants on their journey. Connect this “new thing” to their big picture.
  2. Include pushing. Let them know you believe in them while you’re pushing them out of the nest. Kick, don’t coddle. Admittedly, finding the right amount of push requires skill. (Watch the eagles kicking their one-year old to fly away from the nest)
  3. Create fear and stress. Reaching high is hard. (And reading to an audience)
  4. Involve stumbling. If they get it right the first time, it was too easy.(Or maybe this was not a first time?)
  5. After stumbles, give stew-time. Don’t rush in like momma. Set up debrief meetings a day or two after their first.
  6. Focus on being as well as doing. Ask, “How are you becoming who you want to be?” (Actions are the best responses?)
  7. Require improvement opportunities. Give second and third chances.

Someone gave you first-opportunities that changed you. Return the favor – change others – by giving them their firsts.

What firsts changed you?

Do not be a whiners in the workplace about teammates and other managers. Be the catalyst for first timers.

Reminds me of kids in the backseat. “He touched me!”

  • “Bob spoke harshly to me.”
  • “Mary’s clothing is too casual.”
  • “Bill Doesn’t like me.”
  • “Mary plays favorites.”

You ask, “Did you say something?”

They say, “No. I couldn’t do that.”

Whining may seem small but it’s big.

Whiners, who don’t own and express opinions and concerns, are organizational dead-weight. Complaints about others are the tip of the iceberg.

They won’t provide independent, controversial, or contradictory options, in public. They go along but whine behind the scenes. They:

  1. Destroy open communication
  2. Drain energy.
  3. Undermine team culture.
  4. Weaken relationships.

5 Reasons whiners come to you:

  1. They want you to handle it for them – fear and irresponsible.
  2. You’re sympathetic and they want support – whiner.
  3. They’re undermining others – power and position.
  4. It’s not their place, they believe, to say anything – confused and lack of ownership.
  5. They don’t know what to do – unskilled.

Anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

Fear and irresponsibility often prevent whiners from speaking up (#1). Chronic whiners, on the other hand, consistently undermine others (#3).

Responding to whining about others:

The critical moment is when you realize they don’t want to personally address their complaint. Five options:

  1. Explore. “What makes you feel that way? What happened?”
  2. Contradict. “Mary’s clothing isn’t too casual.”
  3. Support. “I know what you mean. Bob seems to like Sally the best.”
  4. Challenge. “You need to say something to your boss.”
  5. Solve. “I’ll speak to your boss.”

Other responses to whining about others:

  1. Ask, “What would you like me to do?”
  2. I’ll help you formulate an approach, if you don’t know what to say.
  3. I won’t listen to this complaint until you speak to them.
  4. Let’s call Mary and clear the air right now.

What impact does whining have on your organization?

What are useful responses to whining about others?

A ‘Human Face’ of Conflict? A pilot refusing to bomb a school…

During the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, a rumor circulated throughout the city of Saida, Akram Zaatari’s hometown and a Lebanese Artist, that an Israeli fighter pilot was ordered to bomb a school there but refused and instead dumped his bombs into the sea.

Mr. Zaatari, 47, an artist who now lives in Beirut, first heard this story when he was 16 years old. His father was the founder of the school, which was eventually bombed by another pilot and severely damaged.

NINA SIEGAL published this June 19, 2013 in The NY Times “Letter to a Refusing Pilot

Over the years, Mr. Zaatari heard versions of the same tale, with varying explanations for the actions of the pilot, and he came to regard it as a legend of sorts. He once referred to the story during a lecture that was transcribed and published in a book, and came to discover that it was no rumor and that the pilot did exist. His name was Hagai Tamir.

A screenshot from the film “Letter to a Refusing Pilot,” made by Akram Zaatari in 2013.

When Mr. Zaatari was selected to represent Lebanon at the 55th Venice Biennale, which runs until Nov. 24, he chose to focus on this Israeli pilot’s act of conscientious objection with a quiet, evocative, film, “Letter to a Refusing Pilot.”

“The importance of the story is that it gives the pilot a human face,” Mr. Zaatari said. “It gives what he is about to bomb, which is considered terrorist ground; it also gives that a human face. I think it’s important to remember in times of war that everyone is a human being. Taking it to this level humanizes it completely, and we’re not used to this at all.”

The film was shot in the neighborhood around the school, which has been rebuilt, and incorporates aerial photographs, drawings, computer imaging and some personal documents from Mr. Zaatari’s own life to tell the story from the perspective of a teenage boy.

In the Lebanese Pavilion at the Biennale, it is part of an installation that includes a reel film projector, a single movie theater chair and a number of cylindrical stools.

Mr. Zaatari has built a career on exploring historical narratives through documentary materials including old photographs, audiotape and film, and he also uses contemporary materials like smartphone videos and YouTube clips.

In 1997, Akram was a founder of the Arab Image Foundation, a conservation and research institute that has preserved about half a million professional and amateur photos from the Middle East and North Africa, chronicling personal and public histories.

He has curated these images in London, Beirut, Damascus and Brussels, and has used many of the works as a starting point for his own videos and installations; they are among the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Pompidou Center, in Paris; and the Tate Modern, in London.

Mr. Zaatari says one of his interests is exploring the nuances between official versions of events — how wars are represented in the news media, for example — and how the same events might be told on a personal scale. That was part of what attracted him to the story of Mr. Tamir.

“This comes at a really important time; a time when we need it,” Mr. Zaatari said. “It’s the story that perfectly represents a conflict between an individual’s ethics and the orders that he’s getting.”

Although Mr. Zaatari has been recognized as a major artist in Lebanon and beyond for several years, he is receiving particularly avid attention in the West today.

This year marks only the second time that Lebanon has organized a national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and Mr. Zaatari alone was chosen to represent the country this year. He is also the subject of an exhibition on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York through Sept. 23, “Projects 100: Akram Zaatari,” featuring two of his video installations.

One of the works in that show, “Dance to the End of Love,” (2011) is a four-channel video installation of YouTube videos made by young people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other Middle Eastern nations, representing themselves as superheroes, bodybuilders, dancers and musicians.

The other work, “On Photography, People and Modern Times,” (2010) a two-channel installation, tells the story of the Arab Image Foundation, with images and recorded oral histories by those who contributed photos to the archives.

“He has this very personal approach, very poetic,” said Eva Respini, associate curator of photography for the Museum of Modern Art and one of the curators of the exhibition there. “He’s an excellent storyteller. So while he’s out questioning how images work in public society, how they circulate, there’s also something very personal, very filmic in how they express themselves in his work.”

In November, Mr. Zaatari will have his first solo exhibition at the Thomas Dane Gallery in London, which began representing him less than a year ago, and a separate exhibition of his work will open at Kurimanzutto Gallery in Mexico City on June 27. He is also represented by the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut and in Hamburg.

“He’s a very quietly powerful artist,” said Martine d’Anglejan-Chatillon, a partner at Thomas Dane. “He is a very particular kind of individual who has the courage to engage very profoundly with some of the questions he finds around him in Beirut and that region. And he’s able, more than any other artist I’ve seen, to deploy very different kinds of mediums to convey a certain kind of universality, so that they touch a much, much broader group of people than one might imagine.”

Mr. Zaatari uses the term “excavation” a lot when he talks about his work, perhaps because his first field of study was archeology. The term, he says, refers to treating ordinary locations as archeological sites, where meaning is discovered within the ruins.

The site might only be a photography studio in Beirut, or a public school, as in “Letter to a Refusing Pilot.”

The intersection of truth and legend continues to intrigue him.

“What still interests me in the story is that he didn’t tell anyone except his friends and his family, for many years,” Mr. Zaatari said. “How did the news leak into Lebanon? I don’t know. How did the story circulate in my neighborhood? I don’t know. He didn’t come out publicly until 10 years ago. So how did I come to know the story when I was just 16?”

A version of this article appeared in print on June 20, 2013, in The International Herald Tribune.




June 2013

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