The Yes Men’s New York Times Edition: Iraq War Ends

November 12, 2008

yesmen_nytThe Yes Men deliver another fake! BBC reports that the interventionist art/activist group distributed 1.2 million free copies of a fake New York Times edition in New York and Los Angeles. The headlines: Iraq War Ends. The date: July 4, 2009. Replacing the NYT’s venerable “All The News That’s Fit To Print”: All The News We Hope To Print.

70 years ago, Orson Welles’ radio broadcast “War of the Worlds” sparked mayhem because listeners mistook scripted fiction for real-time fact. Today, The Yes Men are taking this a step further by simply turning the dates forward.

Is this a fake NYTimes, as the BBC describes the action? Or is it prophetic? Is this a fake-real paper or a real-fake paper?

Certainly, my fingers are crossed that come July 4th, 2009, the NYTimes WILL, in fact, read: Iraq War Ends.

Ah… art. One small step for The Yes Men, a big leap for humankind. Nothing like putting something out into the universe I’m told.

Advertisements

Church Blesses Weapons of Violence

October 7, 2008

The NYTimes ran this as one of their top photos yesterday. The caption:

A Roman Catholic priest followed by military officials blessed 50 new machine guns in Kauswagan, a town on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, to help the military in its operation against rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The question: Should a priest be blessing machine guns? Should the church be deciding who is worthy of life?

Father, Father: Make love not war.

Photo: Agence France-Presse – Getty Images


Republican Radio Host Calls for Murder of Media Activist

June 14, 2008

Michael Reagan, eldest son of Ronald Reagan and national radio talk show host, is calling on listeners to kill Mark Dice, political activist and founder of a Christian media watchdog called The Resistance. Reagan’s words:

How about you take Mark Dice out and put him in the middle of a firing range. Tie him to a post, don’t blindfold him, let it rip and have some fun with Mark Dice. (full audio link)

What provoked the former president’s adopted son?

Apparently, Mark Dice and his group of 3,000 Christian activists had been urging people to send letters and DVDs to U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq informing them that 9/11 was an inside job produced by the American government. In an interview with Fox News, Dice explained his motivations for “Operation Inform The Soldiers”:

I don’t want the soldiers who are risking their lives in Iraq to be used as pawns in the creation of the New World Order… We want U.S. troops to know that we care about them and are doing our best to make sure that they don’t have to risk their lives based on false pretenses.

While we do NOT agree with or endorse Dice’s platform, Reagan’s open call for murder is just plain repulsive. A transcript of the words he used on his radio program:

We ought to find the people who are doing this, take them out and shoot them. Really. You take them out, they are traitors to this country, and shoot them. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that’s what they are, and you shoot them dead. I’ll pay for the bullets.

Dice certainly knows how to fight back. He has filed a report with the FBI, is considering legal action, and is calling for Reagan to be fired immediately.

It’s not often that we see two right-wingers throwing fire and brimstone at each other. Perhaps a reality tv show is in the works.


Benedict XVI Meets Bush In Realignment of Church and State

June 13, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Roman Catholic church, granted a special audience to U.S. President Bush on Vatican state grounds earlier today. This is their second official meeting in exactly three months. Photos of the seemingly casual encounter unambiguously articulate a new alignment and alliance between the two powerful leaders. Both men walk (or sit) side by side — as amiable colleagues, placing Western religion and Western politics on equal, albeit very precarious, footing.

bushpopeOn the surface, the two men appear diametrically opposed. Joseph Ratzinger consciously adapted his papal name from Benedict XV, known as the “peace pope” during World War I. While George W. Bush simply inherited an ancestral name then fell into (some say stole) a legacy of war.

So why the love fest?

We can only speculate. Both are heads of institutions whose global dominance and relevance are currently on the wane. Future growth and stability are dependent on cultures outside their historic territories. Do they simply need each other to survive into the next century?

The more important question for me is why Benedict XVI has positioned himself (and therefore his god, his church) so squarely on the side of a president who continues to wage a profoundly unjust war.

There are at least three answers — all of which, of course, just lead to more questions:

1. The pope condones war. Has Benedict XVI chosen to walk in the footsteps, NOT of Benedict XV, but of one of Benedict XV’s proteges: Pius XII, who was crowned pope on March 12, 1939, the eve of Adolf Hitler’s march into Prague? (Controversy over Pius’ papacy continues today because of his refusal to condemn the Nazi regime and his silence in face of the Jewish holocaust.)

2. The pope rejects war. Perhaps these meetings are subtle attempts to sway Bush from staying the course of war. The Vatican’s official line, of course, is that Benedict XVI rejects the war and is “skeptical of politics without reference to the Gospel.”

3. The pope rejects war but has to turn a blind eye in order to win his church’s larger battle — converting the entire world over to Christianity. In other words: the elimination of all other religions, including the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism and Islam.

It’s a new world. All roads no longer lead to Rome. Strangely, they now all lead to the Middle East.

Whichever the answer (and there are admittedly many more), both Benedict and Bush seem to be ideal counterparts. Not two men from different spheres, but two halves of a single neoconservative coin.

During his visit, Bush reportedly told Benedict: “This is fantastic up here… Thank you so much for showing me this.” The view of the gods must be spectacular. Caution: thunderbolts ahead.

Photo from Getty Images, as published in NYT’s lede story this morning.

Bush Responds to Housing Crisis with “National Homeownership Month”

June 7, 2008

Home foreclosures are at a record high. And nothing bulldozes the American Dream faster than an eviction notice.

Have no fear: the Bush White House has declared June “National Homeownership Month”! From the official press release (i.e., not a joke):

For many Americans, owning a home represents freedom, independence, and the American dream. During National Homeownership Month, we highlight the benefits of owning a home and encourage our fellow citizens to be responsible homeowners

…I encourage all Americans to take advantage of financial education opportunities to explore homeownership. My Advisory Council on Financial Literacy is finding ways to help educate people from all walks of life about matters pertaining to their finances and their futures. By practicing fiscal responsibility, Americans can contribute to the strength of our neighborhoods and our country.

screamThis is not a matter of education. It’s the economy, stupid.

America’s existential crisis continues.

Get the Bushites and McCainites out of Our House now.

Image: Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, 1893, oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard. 91 x 73.5 cm. National Gallery, Oslo.

Disappearing Palestine: From Dunkin Donuts To Fulbrights

May 30, 2008

As the Bushites push Israel and Palestine into a peace treaty that would secure an official Palestinian state, we wonder how much of this is just for show (or some last ditch effort to salvage Dubya’s name in history books). Does the U.S.-Israel alliance really want to build a future for Palestine? Two events this week suggest otherwise.

In a highly-publicized move, Dunkin Donuts pulled an internet ad with celebrity chef Rachel Ray after ultra-right-winger Michelle Malkin criticized the scarf Ray was wearing. Malkin described it as a keffiyeh, which “for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad.” Malkin’s statement was a prime case of racial stereotyping, aka self-imposed ignorance. The shocker: Dunkin Donuts actually bowed to the racism and cancelled the ad. (This move is fueling other acts of self-censorship.)

Today, another important story hit the NYTimes: U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza. This is an outrage:

The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.

Israel has isolated this coastal strip, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Given that policy, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said the grant money had been “redirected” to students elsewhere out of concern that it would go to waste if the Palestinian students were forced to remain in Gaza.

These events frame a grim picture. While the Israeli occupation builds walls, settlements, and checkpoints to contain and isolate Palestinians, we are also witnessing the gradual elimination of Palestinian culture and its intellectual resources. In short, its past AND its future.

These reminded me of an important work by artist Emily Jacir. In 2001, she exhibited “Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages That Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948″. The piece was a large burlap refugee tent. Onto its sides and roof, she penciled the names of 418 Palestinian villages that have disappeared. Then with the help of over 140 volunteers (many were Palestinians from these very villages or Israelis who had grown up on their remains), Jacir slowly stitched the names onto the tent as a collective act of remembrance.

jacirtent

It’s important to Jacir that people ask why they don’t recognize the villages’ names. “They have been erased from official Israeli history, a history that, in its expulsion of the Palestinians, repeats the act of dispossession”. The act of writing, stitching, and giving the piece the title, “Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages That Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948” reclaims the lost territory and deleted history.

60 years have passed. And the genocide continues.


Bush 2003: Major Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended

May 1, 2008

5 years ago today Bush stood on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Under the now infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner, he pridefully declared:

“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed…

In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation.

Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.

In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear…”

bushbannerToday, the U.S. casualty count totals 4,065. The Iraqi count is near-impossible to determine but is in the range of 90,000 documented civilian deaths. The cost to the U.S. alone grows by about $200 million per day. There’s no victor here. Bush’s myopic and hubristic speech on May 1, 2003 ought to be remembered as a warning for future generations. Of course, to the contrary, near silence in the American press about this today.