Monthly Archives: January 2011

Al Jazeera update

Apparently quite a few people have had the same thoughts as myself about the non-availability of Al Jazeera English in the US. The Huffington Post has a piece posted today covering much of the same territory and here is a link you can use to demand that your local cable company starts providing AJE coverage. Use it.

Why can’t I watch Al Jazeera?

Is it too much to hope that one outcome of the convulsions currently gripping the Arab world will be that American cable television viewers can now get to watch Al Jazeera’s coverage of events in that crucial part of the world? Probably, but anticipating disappointment should never deter one from doing the right thing.

So, in that spirit I’d like to endorse Jeff Jarvis’ call on his Buzz Machine blog for American cable companies to add the Qatar-based broadcaster to their channel lineups. Jeff writes:

What the Gulf War was to CNN, the people’s revolutions of the Middle East are to Al Jazeera English. But in the U.S., in a sad vestige of the era of Freedom Fries, hardly anyone can watch the channel on cable TV. Cable companies: Add Al Jazeera English NOW!

It is downright un-American to still refuse to carry it. Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one–not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media–can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.

The recent momentous events in the region, first in Tunisia and now in Egypt, have served to highlight just how woefully out-of-touch, uninformed and, in too many cases, inherently biased the major US news channels are, stuck in a Bush-era time warp and terrified of airing any image of the Arab world that deviates too far from the jihadist stereotype.

Cairo in turmoil

Phillip Weiss made a similar point in an excellent piece on Salon at the weekend:

I’d thought this is what (Obama) wanted for the Arab world: democracy! But the market dropped, and the cable shows teem with mistrust of the Arab street. The talking heads can’t stop going about the Islamists. Chris Matthews cried out against the Muslim Brotherhood and shouted, Who is our guy here?– as if the U.S. has a role to play on the streets. While his guest Marc Ginsberg, a former ambassador to Morocco whose work seems to be dedicated to finding the few good Arabs out there, said that forces outside Egypt are funding the revolt– an insulting statement, given the homegrown flavor of everything we’ve seen; and when Matthews pressed him, Ginsberg said, Hamas… Iran.

Matthews’s other interpreter was Howard Fineman. Why aren’t there more Arab-Americans on US television?

I suspect Phillip knows the answer only too well,  that the reason there aren’t more Arab-Americans on US television is the same reason none of the cable companies will touch Al Jazeera. Partly it’s to do with the pro-Israel bias of the American media but it is also because by this point the American television-viewing public has a facile notion about the Middle East fixed immovably in its collective mind; Arab equals terrorist.

The media is in large measure responsible for that simplistic thought and having helped to create it, is now imprisoned by it. To challenge the idea by interviewing Arab pundits and treating them as normal, intelligent and even insightful human beings risks the accusation of harboring secret sympathy for terrorism – such journalists in Ireland were called ‘sneaking regarders’ – or at the very least of being soft on it and that prospect is enough to terrify most in the media into acquiescence. That’s how self-censorship works, as I know only too well from my years in Belfast.

The media got their cue from America’s political establishment. The network was labelled an Al Qaeda front by the Bush White House – Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld set the tone by calling it “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable” after it aired Osama Bin Laden videos – while right-wing commentators have assailed it as ‘Terror TV’ and campaigned to keep it off the cable networks.

America’s political and military leaderships have also given violent, bloody form to their hatred of the station. In November 2001, just after the American invasion of Afghanistan, a US missile strike destroyed Al Jazeera’s Kabul office. Eighteen months or so later, Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed by an American missile as he reported from the rooftop of the station’s office even though, as a protective measure, the network had, as it had done with its Kabul office, provided the State Department with its co-ordinates some time before.

In November 2005 the Daily Mirror in Britain reported that George Bush and Tony Blair had discussed bombing Al Jazeera’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar the year before during a major offensive by US Marines on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. The paper said it had a leaked memo from 10 Downing Street laying out the discussion but the account was denied by the White House. The story got little play in the US media.

Between them, rhetorical and physical hostility to Al Jazeera have been enough to ensure that the network has become a media ‘untouchable’ in America. According to a superb piece about the network in the online magazine Guernica, posted in 2008, around 120 million people “from Jerusalem to Jakarta to Germany” can tune in to the network’s English language service but unless you live in Burlington, Vermont or Northeast Ohio – both places with significant Arab populations – you cannot get Al Jazeera in America. According to Guernica:

Comcast, Charter, Time Warner, Dish Network and DirecTV (were offered the network but) all passed.

None would say why, but it is not hard to imagine that the same fear that keeps Arab-Americans off the major networks was and still is at work in the minds of the cable companies. Right now, the only way to get Al Jazeera, aside from YouTube videos, is to log on to their English language live stream on the internet but when a big story is happening, as in the past few days or so, and demand is high the service can be very hard to get.

Which is a great pity because the US networks are making a pretty poor fist of explaining what has been happening in Egypt. As Phillip Weiss noted, they keep tripping up over their preconceptions and prejudices about the Arab world. One recurrent theme, and not just on Fox News, has been that a) the Muslim Brotherhood could well seize power if Mubarak falls, (b) the Muslim Brotherhood are Eqypt’s Al Qaeda and therefore (c) what is happening in Egypt might well be a very bad thing.

Blogger and Nation reporter, James North said it well:

All of a sudden, middle-aged American men in suits who couldn’t find their way, unaided, from Cairo’s Ramses Station down Talaat Harb to Midan Tahrir, are posing as experts, appearing on U.S. television to insinuate that the Muslim Brotherhood is violent and extremist.

Fortunately, the Brothers have an English-language website.  Scroll down it to the lower left and you will see the feature: “MB vs. Qaeda.”  This segment is one more sign of the organization’s decades-long commitment to nonviolence, even though over the years the Mubarak regime has arrested and tortured thousands of its members.

If you go to the Muslim Brotherhood’s website (you need to scroll down) you can read this in a report on the recent attacks on Christians in Egypt by Muslim extremists of the Al Qaeda variety:

In a statement the Muslim Brotherhood vehemently opposed both the attack and threat calling on all Muslims to unite and protect the holy places of all the monotheistic religions, stressing it was a religious duty. It emphasized that Islam was a religion which promoted only peace and tolerance. The MB described the attack as criminal and heinous.

Hardly the words of jihadist terrorists or sentiments of which Osama bin Laden would approve yet this crucial part of the story, that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is actually quite a moderate force within its spectrum, has flown right over the heads of the major networks, albeit with one or two notable exceptions like PBS’ NewsHour.

There is an irony in all of this and it is that Al Jazeera’s name for radical, anti-western coverage has been inflated beyond reason. The network is really the Middle East’s version of something that lies between the BBC and CNN – many of whose veteran reporters and producers not coincidentally provide a large slice of its staff – and can be every bit as mainstream, tedious and boring. In this regard it is salutary to recall that in its early, pre-9/11 days, Al Jazeera was often accused of being the voice of America in the Arab world. But it happens to do a very good job of reporting the story in its part of the world, a far better one than the US networks. That’s why we should be allowed to watch it.

The Irish General Election

In the wake of the economic collapse in Ireland, the Fianna Fail-led coalition government headed by prime minister Brian Cowen has crumbled amid allegations of widespread lying and corruption in Irish political life. A general election will be held within weeks.

Gerry Adams Action Hero

Gerry Adams has quit his West Belfast seat to stand in Louth, and if elected will lead Sinn Fein in the Dail, the Irish parliament. Many observers believe Sinn Fein could do well, possibly well enough to become a partner in the next government. In the coming election the dishonesty of politicians and the extent to which their words and promises can be believed, will be major issues in voters’ minds. Here are some extracts from reports and interviews dealing with the central issue in Adams’ political life, the achievement of a united Ireland via the peace process. No comment from me is necessary.

BBC, 14th January 2000

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has predicted there could be a united Ireland in 16 years time.

Mr Adams made the comment to rousing applause at a rally for party supporters in New York on Thursday night.

He said the logic of the peace process would lead to unification – perhaps by the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, which was seen a turning point for Irish nationalism.

“If we want to make progress then there is no reason whatsoever, from someone who has dealt with the unionists close up, who has dealt with the British close up, no reason why we cannot celebrate the 1916 Rising in the year 2016, in a free and united Ireland.”

Irish Independent, 18th November 2003

A UNITED Ireland by 2016 is on the cards, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness  predicted last night.

With nine days left to the North’s Assembly Election, the Mid Ulster MP said at his party’s manifesto launch republicans could attain their goal by the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

“As we develop the north-south implementation bodies and people co-operate and work together, I think people will see more and more the logic of that,” Mr McGuinness said.

“Certainly it is our view that it can be accomplished over a short period. Gerry Adams has said 2016 and I think that is achievable.”

Guardian, 15th September 2007 – Gerry Adams interviewed by Nick Stadlen,

NS: You said that a united Ireland could be achievable by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising …

GA: Well I didn’t quite say that. A colleague of mine said that and then when I was asked the question I said: “But if we don’t get it, don’t blame us”. Because it will not happen inevitably, it will only happen if we continue to pursue proper strategies, and if we’re able to develop the political strength and the political support … if we’re able to create the political conditions to bring that about, and I think that we have got the ability to create those conditions, but I wouldn’t be precious about it’s going to happen at such and such a date.

University Times (paper of Trinity College, Dublin), 26th January 2011 – Gerry Adams interviewed by Eugene Reavey

Q – It now seems that the party’s goal of achieving Irish unity by 2016 will not come to fruition. Are you still hopeful of achieving unity in your lifetime, or do you feel the political will amongst the other parties no longer exists?

A – The party’s primary political objective is to attain Irish reunification. I believe that it is a doable and achievable project. I want it to happen sooner rather than later.

The party never had a position of achieving this by 2016. It will happen when sufficient political and public support has been attained. Bear in mind that under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the Government of Ireland Act was scrapped and replaced with a new constitutional arrangement. The British government is now committed to legislating for a United Ireland if a majority of citizens in the north want it.

That places a huge challenge before all of us who want Irish unity. We have to win support for it. We have to especially reach out to unionists. But we also need to make the border irrelevant by building on the all-Ireland dimensions of the Good Friday Agreement and harmonising relations between north and south.

A Fish Rots from the Head Down

“…I call my cancer, the main one [in] the pancreas, ‘Rupert’, so I can get close to it because that man Murdoch….there is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press. And the pollution of the British press is an important part of the pollution of British political life and it’s an important part of the cynicism and misperception of our own realities that is destroying so much of our political discourse. And that is what is happening. Look at what is happening at the BBC. Look at what is happening to television in general. Look who owns it…”  –British playwright Dennis Potter interviewed by Melvyn Bragg in April 1994, a few weeks before his death.

“…moneyed propagandists have taken advantage of that to create a demonology in which it is the left, the Democratic left, that is the source of many of our troubles. And this is the most frightening development, rather than the kind of nutty death threats that you read a couple of. It’s a very alarming development, because it raises the question of whether a democracy can survive and reemerge with any kind of health in the face of these enormous propaganda capacities. And in that sense, it is Murdoch, not Beck, who is the more important target.”  –American academic Frances Fox Piven interviewed on Democracy Now about violent rhetorical attacks on her by Fox News host Glenn Beck on January 14th, 2011

The news that British premier David Cameron’s spokesman, Andy Coulson, has been forced to resign in the face of a growing scandal over, and widening police investigations into, allegations that journalists at the News of the World hacked into celebrity telephone calls while he was the paper’s editor is welcome for a number of reasons.

Along with the deplorably double-dealing Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Tory party boss Cameron is about to fulfill that Thatcherite pipe dream and begin dismantling the National Health Service. Anything that casts doubts on Cameron’s judgement and in the process hampers that nefarious plan (hatched, coincidentally, at the same time that Obama is contemplating a similar fate for Social Security) can only be a good thing.

The other bit of good news is that the embarrassing but hardly surprising revelation that News of the World journalists have the same ethical standards as sewer rats may seriously upend plans by the paper’s publisher and News International* supremo, Rupert Murdoch to tighten his grip on non-terrestrial television in Britain.

Cameron’s coalition government has yet to decide whether to let News International’s $12 billion takeover bid for the satellite television operator, BSkyB to go ahead or refer it to competition authorities. Given the recent history of British prime ministerial deference to Murdoch (Thatcher, Blair, Brown and now Cameron) the decision was previously regarded as a slam dunk. Not so straightforward now. Maybe.

As the Guardian reports, News International has been trying desperately to ‘close down’ the hacking scandal, spreading bucket loads of money around in confidential settlements to soothe angry celebrities and movie stars but now the floodgates have burst. An anxious Murdoch is due in London next week. His journey from New York was supposed to be a triumphant celebration of a successful BSkyB deal (and an opportunity to let the world know he had yet another British prime minister safely tucked in his back pocket) but instead he faces a full-blown crisis over low standards at one of his media ventures that may, just may, underline the reality that low standards and News International are more often than not Siamese twins.

In this regard the Guardian highlights a long disregarded truism about the company’s founder:  “…in the end no decision of significance can be taken without him at the company he has built over half a century.”

A truism it may be but it is more often ignored than heeded, especially here in the United States where liberal and progressive critics of Fox News too often concentrate their fire on Roger Ailes, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity while ignoring the reality that they all get their cue from Murdoch, notwithstanding efforts in some quarters to distance him from their worst excessess.

Where in the post-Tucson outrage was there even a hint of recognition that the guy who signs the checks for Ailes, Beck & Co. also calls their tune? None of that hate-filled rhetoric, none of Glenn Beck’s lunatic ravings would happen without his approval.

* A word of disclosure. Like many Irish and British journalists, I have had occasion to take Murdoch’s shilling. It is a measure of the man’s reach that it’s almost impossible to work in the media and not be on the payroll of a Murdoch outfit at some stage. And we are all slaves in the kingdom of necessity after all.

‘Motiveless’ Murders

Watching and reading the tortured but determined efforts on the part of some to depoliticize the massacre in Tucson brought vividly back to mind a similar episode from the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The parallels are, of course, not exact. They couldn’t possibly be. But there are some strikingly similar features — and lessons — to both.

The Belfast experience and the shootings in Tucson had a number of characteristics in common: a terrible loss of life caused by psychotic individuals, a background of traumatic political change (at least in the minds of the perpetrators) and a setting of fevered rhetoric from right-wing political leaders who were whipping their followers into a frenzy of derangement against their opponents, alleging conspiracies where none existed. And like the killings in Tucson, the ‘motiveless murders’ that took place in Belfast during the awful summer of 1972, brought with them a persistent effort by people in authority to deny or misdescribe the motives, to play down the political inspiration and accentuate instead the individual and the psychopathic aspects of the killers.

As we know well by now, attempts to characterize the attempted assassination of Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the murder of six people attending her ‘Congress on the Corner’ meeting at a Tucson strip mall and the wounding of fourteen others as the act of a madman motivated solely or predominantly by his own mental illness have gained considerable traction.

It is not just in Palin-land or the curious universe inhabited by Fox News that this is happening but in the mainstream media, or at least amongst some sections of it. By coincidence or not, in many instances some of the same media folk could be seen quite recently lining up against Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

Putting cynicism aside, it is not hard to see how they could come to such a conclusion. The alleged perpetrator, Jared Loughner is clearly crazy. Enough about his life has emerged, not least an alarming mugshot snapped not long after the killings and a disturbing video he shot at his community college, to support the view that he is quite probably a paranoid schizophrenic, a lone, delusional nut who was likely to kill or cause great harm to someone, some day.

But it wasn’t just ‘someone’ who he attempted to kill. His target was a Democratic politician who had herself been singled out for political destruction by Sarah Palin in her infamous ‘crosshairs’ map of vulnerable Congressmen. And the attempt to kill her came against a background of some two years of furiously violent and ‘eliminationist’ rhetoric, as Paul Krugman put it, from GOP extremists determined to wrest control of Congress from Democrats and ultimately to kick Obama out of the White House.

A madman Loughner almost certainly is, but he inhabits a country and a state where various levels of madness and irrationality define a large chunk of the political Right, where it is acceptable and even laudable for many to use language that suggests the violent removal of political opponents and for serious politicians to give currency to the most laughably absurd conspiracies.

And while Loughner seems not to have obsessed on the major bugbears of the Tea Party, such as the idea that Obama is a Kenya-born, Muslim Marxist or that health care reform is the first stage on a journey to a country filled with death panels and concentration camps housing dissident American patriots, he nonetheless shares enough of the views of the Right on hallmark issues — for example, Glenn Beck’s favorite obsession, restoring the gold standard, a fixation elsewhere on the Right — to qualify him as a member, albeit of its less well-defined fringes. And a recent interview with a former girlfriend suggests he may actually have been closer to classic Tea Party thinking than many believed, a guy who would ‘rant’ about the powers of the federal government with as much fervor as anyone on Fox News.

But back to Belfast in the summer of 1972. The phenomenon of which Tucson is a junior cousin became unavoidably visible in July of that year. Bodies of dead Catholics began showing up, thirty-one of them by the end of the month, dumped at the edges or sometimes in the heart of Protestant or Loyalist parts of the city. Many had been tortured or mutilated — “fingers, toes, genitals (were) cut off, or eyes plucked out”, according to one account — and all died horrible deaths. One victim had been suspended from a beam and tortured for hours; his body had some 150 knife wounds. Another’s body hair was removed with a blow torch.

So here is point one in the catalog of similarities between Tucson, January 2011 and Belfast circa 1972: the madness of the killers. Those in Belfast were undeniably sadists of a particularly evil sort whose slaughter was inspired by xenophobia and whose American equivalent would more likely be found in Mississippi or Alabama than in Arizona. But that the Belfast killers and Jared Loughner were both psychologically imbalanced in a deep and serious way is undeniable.

And like the slaughter in Tucson on January 8th, the killings of July 1972 in Belfast didn’t come out of the blue. Northern Ireland had been in a political ferment for over two years. A campaign for civil rights by Catholics had met violent resistance from the Protestant or Unionist majority which governed the place. Loyalist mobs (a note of explanation: Loyalist was the term used to describe hardline Unionists; they were the Irish version of the Tea Party, if you like) had attempted to burn down whole Catholic areas, Britain sent troops in and before too long the long-dormant IRA had been revived and was bombing and shooting in an effort to destroy the state. Faced with rising, uncontrollable violence and spreading political instability, the British decided to close down the Unionist government, known as Stormont after the building in which the parliament met, and rule the place directly from London.

Now Unionists and Loyalists both saw Stormont as the bulwark against Catholic domination and their protection against being absorbed by the rest of Ireland. They had been Britain’s surrogate in Ireland for centuries. Transplanted in the seventeenth century and given confiscated Catholic land, the Protestants of the North were the instrument through which Britain controlled the whole island. They had occupied a privileged place but this had been whittled away when most of Ireland won independence in 1921. Now they saw their last buttress being taken away from them; an appalling vista stretched before them. They were in great political shock.

Point number two in the list of similarities. The election of Barack Obama, the first African-American president, in 2008, preceded by the financial collapse on Wall Street and followed by the great bank bailout and bursting of the property bubble, is the equivalent for many Americans — interestingly of similar social, racial and economic background and outlook to the Unionists of Northern Ireland — of the fall of Stormont. A safe, comfortable and predictable world had suddenly been taken away from them and an uncertain and threatening future lay ahead.

For the Unionists of Northern Ireland that uncertain future could, in their minds, mean only one thing: their absorption into the Irish Republic where they would now be the minority, condemned to live in fear that those who had once had their land taken away from them — and their jobs, houses and political rights — would now be out for revenge.

That this was in fact neither the intention nor the likely outcome of abolishing Stormont did not matter. The British wanted to reform Northern Ireland, to bring Catholics in from the cold and not to drive the place into the arms of the Irish Republic. Not only could the southern state not afford such a burden, it didn’t want it and it was already clear, as subsequent events would bear out, that Catholics would happily stay British as long as they got a fair deal. But at the time and in the atmosphere of the day such rationality fell on deaf Unionist ears.

For the Tea Party constituency, the Obama election and the financial crisis offered an equally alarming set of possibilities. To begin with, Obama’s success foretold the worst nightmare of White America: the coming demographic revolution that would see Blacks and Hispanics outnumber Whites, a fate that almost mirrored exactly the fears of Northern Ireland Protestants in 1972 that ahead of them lay a future in which they would become the exploited, victimized minority.

Meanwhile, the dramatic shrinkage of property values and retirement portfolios along with a background of near hysteria over Islamic terrorism combined to create an atmosphere in which the wildest of conspiracies suddenly seemed plausible and tenable. Obama was a Muslim, an alien and charlatan who could not prove his American citizenship, a Communist with roots in the radical left of the 1970s and a community organizer who would impoverish the middle class to subsidize the feckless poor and needy in the ghettoes.

As with Northern Ireland in 1972, it did not matter that this was utter nonsense. Like their Irish counterparts, the Tea Party constituency was impervious to reason, instead preferring to find a bizarre solace in imagining the worst.

In Northern Ireland there was no shortage of right-wing politicians ready and willing to put all the Unionists’ worst paranoid imaginings into words. The Rev Ian Paisley, the loud street-corner preacher cum extremist politician, was certainly one. But in those days he had lots of competition. Perhaps the most chilling Loyalist leader was a former Unionist government minister called Bill Craig, who in 1972 had set up a quasi-fascist political movement called Vanguard. He would organize massive protest rallies at which his uniformed followers would parade in their thousands, flags flying as Craig reviewed them from a platform, like a Hitler admiring his stormtroopers at Nuremberg.

A week before the British removed Stormont, Craig held a massive rally at a public park in south Belfast. The rally had been called to protest the anticipated British move and Craig did not mince his words: “We are firmly decided to defeat anyone who tries to subvert our constitution”, he told the 60,000 strong crowd. “We must build up the dossier on those men and women in this country who are a menace to this country, because one of these days, if and when the politicians fail us, it may be our job to liquidate the enemy”.

Almost exactly a month later the first Catholic was shot dead (above: a Loyalist murder victim of the 1970s) and each subsequent week saw more and more killings until by July the numbers of bodies being found on the streets of Belfast were multiplying so fast that it became impossible to deny that something very sinister was happening.

Words have consequences and these were the consequences of Craig’s angry words. Now it may be technically correct that Sharon Angle’s ‘Second amendment remedies’, Palin’s ‘Don’t retreat – reload!’ or Jesse Kelly’s invitation to ‘target’  Gabby Giffords’ defeat by firing a M16 automatic rifle with him, don’t quite match the sinister quality of Bill Craig’s threat, but they’re pretty darned close. And if they don’t, there’s no shortage of others in the conservative camp whose rhetoric over the last five or six years certainly does, like this gem from Rush Limbaugh: “I tell people don’t kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus — living fossils — so we will never forget what these people stood for.” Or Ann Coulter’s response in 2005 when asked if she’d rather not talk to a liberal: “I think a baseball bat is the most effective response these days.”

Bill Craig and other like him had opened a Pandora’s Box in Belfast. The killing of Catholics that began after his rally was of course very organized and deliberate. It was intended to terrorize the Catholics into turning against the IRA and it was carried out by Loyalist paramilitary groups whose ranks were populated with killers whose psycopathy would, over subsequent years, become every bit as notorious as Jared Loughner’s, men like John White , Davy Payne , Lennie Murphy, Michael Stone (pictured left) and Johnny Adair.

The deliberate and organized nature of the killing was an obvious piece of political wisdom to the Catholics of Belfast but the authorities decided to pretend that it was not happening. The police, known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), christened the killings ‘motiveless murders’ and the British government, by now the sole political authority, agreed.

Minimal resources were allocated to tracking down the killers and the police, according to one account, even tried to blame the carnage on a single psycopath, “variously dubbed ‘Jack the Ripper’ or the ‘Shankill Butcher’, even when killings were taking place simultaneously in different parts of Belfast, some of the victims being bundled into cars by three or four men.”

The decision not to admit the obvious was motivated by a number of factors, primarily an unwillingness to open up another front in the war raging in Northern Ireland. The IRA was Britain’s main enemy and chasing Loyalist killers would be a distraction. As well, the British Army had begun to recognize that the Loyalists could be a useful tool to wield against the IRA, that the ranks of the paramilitaries could be infiltrated and their leaders directed towards desired military goals. 

Whatever the real reason the fact remains that next to nothing was done to halt the bloodletting. Unconfronted by the British, the Loyalist killers went on to kill more and more people. Within a couple of years, the paramilitary groups responsible emerged into daylight and the media was able to put names to them; one group was the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), another the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). The government could no longer deny that they existed or that they killed on a massive scale. But it was too late. By the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the UDA and the UVF, and their associated splinter groups had between them killed over a thousand people. The per capita equivalent in the U.S. would be 200,000.

The lesson from all of this for Americans in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabby Giffords is that if the underlying reality behind Jared Loughner’s killing spree is not fully recognized, and that the significant role, however indirect, played by the hate speech of the Right remains unacknowledged, then the risk of more Tucson’s can only grow.

Oh, and there’s one more point of similarity between the Tucson situation and Northern Ireland of the early 1970s, and that’s gun ownership. In America, according to one poll, three out of ten people own a weapon. In Northern Ireland the figure is one in ten. By sharp contrast only one out of every 121 people in England and Wales owns a firearm.

*      *      *

SO, WHO’S THE CRAZYHEAD?

Jared Loughner may well be a crazyhead but take a look at these samplings from a libertarian website, Atlas Shrugs posted in the days following the Tucson killings. The blog is run by Pamela Geller, co-author of the anti-Obama diatribe, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and a fanatical opponent of all things Muslim. She was a leading light in the campaign against the so-called ‘ground zero’ mosque in lower Manhattan and, at the height of the hysteria over that issue, Fox News brought her on to the network, giving her a slot as a contributor alongside John Bolton, Juan Williams and Judith Miller. Read these postings and ask yourself if in Geller’s world and Fox News’, Jared Loughner is really not mad at all but actually represents what passes for normality?

TRG said in reply to DanS….
Correct, what many people don’t understand here is that this man is akin to a pit bull. He has an owner and a handler. His handler let him off the leash and used him as a weapon. This happens all the time, so the media can just say “Oh, just another unstable psycho who lived in his mom’s basement and got this wild idea to kill a bunch of people” NO, it doesn’t happen like that. These types are programmed and engineered from a very young age by extremely elite and wealthy people to do their bidding. They do this with hollywood and the music industry as well, except they use celebrities to shape social structure and conformity, whereas they use people like Jared as a weapon. There’s WAY more to this story than most people can even possibly begin to comprehend.

android__ said in reply to Blakrat…
Are you kidding me? You need to be read about mind control. Anytime the government wants to pass a new law they create a scenario in which something tragic happens, and going forward they try to convince Americans to give up their liberties for protection. Now they’re trying to say any type of political rhetoric is responsible for actions like this when truly they’re the ones creating the event. Don’t you see they’re trying to take the First and Second Amendment away by using these scenarios? It’s disgusting. Please, get informed. This is why they’re able to pull the wool over a majority of American citizens.

True Patriot said…
I would like to jump in and say the liberal lying news media is covering up that this nutjob was one of their own. He is a Democrat. He is not an Independent. The Communist thugs in the media have been on overtime 24/7 to coverup this nutjobs background. The real story that is.

He was always a Democrat. Also turns out this loon went to Mountain View High School which embraced teaching curriculum offered up by none other than good old Bill Ayers of Weather Underground.

World Net Daily’s reported – Aaron Klein broke this story yesterday after uncovering this school taught the violence and killing of thugs like Bill Ayers, and guess what else? This curriculum was funded by Obama, during the time Obama was Chairman of Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

So Loughner gobbled up this curriculum, embraced it and did what he was taught. He is one of their own and the radical media is having a stroke to try and stop this news from getting out.

Go to World Net Daily’s site and read the entire article. Obama should be in jail, along with Ayers, and all of these thugs. Loughner is just a casualty of this dangerous propaganda Obama embraces.