Category Archives: Politics

Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage

There are many important issues on the national political table right now, but sometime soon, fixing the federal minimum wage should be there too. Of course, the politics of reform don’t look good, but there is a Congressional election coming next year, and we need to be sure that voters understand that almost every Republican in Congress (some Democrats too), and the self-proclaimed workers’ champion in the White House don’t think people deserve a helping hand to get a living wage. The current federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, is a disgrace. Even $10 an hour yields only $20,800 for year-round, full-time work. That’s below the extra-low American poverty line for a family. Even for an individual living alone, it would not be enough in most American cities.

But how high a wage should we push for in the long run?  Of course, $15 an hour is a great starting point and courageous workers and local politicians have succeeded in getting a $15 minimum or something like it in quite a few states and cities. Two years ago, 42% of American workers were earning less than $15 an hour, so movements that are winning a $15 minimum in states and cities are helping millions and millions of workers. But workers in other states and cities need federal help. Getting a $15 national minimum wage would be a tremendous victory. But just the beginning. In the not-so-long run, $15 an hour won’t be enough. That’s because $15, while a huge advance for millions of workers, yields only $31,000 before taxes for a full year of full-time work. And many low-wage workers do not work full-time.[1]

If we are debating with people who think $15 is terribly high, can we defend something higher? What would be an ideal minimum down the road? There are several ways to construct an ideal minimum wage, but two approaches are particularly compelling. One is about minimum living standards and the other is about equality. As to the first, we can ask how much a family needs to live, not in affluence, but in modest comfort. Experts have estimated that a two-parent, two-child family requires $54,500 a year for a modest living standard. (The amounts vary by where the family lives and household size.) If there is only one earner, he or she must work full-time all year and earn $26 an hour to reach $54,500.[2]

Next, if we apply the equality method, it seems a matter of elementary justice that everyone should share increases in the national income. To estimate how much income did not go to the people, we can use per capita income–the total national income divided by the population. Per capita income increased 16 times between 1965 and 2015. But average hourly pay increased only half as much. One reason is that a tiny group of “capitas”–the rich–seized most of the increase in the national income. If the hourly wage of the average rank-and-file worker had increased as much as per capita income, it would be $40 today, not $21. If the federal minimum wage of 1965 had increased by a factor of 16, it would be $20 an hour, not $7.25.[3]

In light of these facts, it is astonishing that many politicians on the national scene are happy with the pathetically low minimum of $7.25. This indifference to the working poor occurs while big bankers and business tycoons take home massive compensation packages of millions and even billions of dollars.

One wonders what the President’s working-class supporters expect of him on the wage front. He likes to visit factories and talks big about job creation, but it tells us something about what he really thinks of the working class that he, his appointees, and Congressional members of his party, are fine with a $7.25 national minimum wage, do not support the $15 movement, and would be horrified if we dared to talk about a minimum wage that started at $20.

By Frank Stricker/Counter Punch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

White supremacist is charged with TERRORISM after coming to New York to ‘stab a 66-year-old black man to death with a sword’

James Harris Jackson is accused of killing Timothy Caughman, 66, last week
The New York District attorney announced the charges against him on Monday
The 28-year-old former veteran is charged with: murder as an act of terrorism, murder as a hate crime, and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon
Jackson served from 2009 to 2012 and worked as an Army intelligence analyst

A sword-wielding racist who traveled to New York City and allegedly killed a homeless black man was charged Monday with state terrorism charges – a rarity – in a crime that prosecutors decried as an assault on personal and racial freedom.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office took the dramatic step of filing first- and second-degree murder as an act of terrorism charges against James Jackson, 28. Terrorism charges are typically filed at the federal level and are reserved for suspects who planned mass attacks, anti-abortion killings, or eco-terrorism. Among the most famous domestic terror cases are the Unabomber attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Charleston church shooting.

Jackson was originally charged with run-of-the-mill murder charges but prosecutors on Monday upgraded the ante to terrorism. He is depicted in an indictment as an assassin who traveled from his Baltimore home for one simple reason: the scouting and killing of a black person on the streets of New York.

“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, wrote in announcing the charges, which also include a count of murder in the second degree as a hate crime. “With total presence of mind, he acted on his plan, randomly selecting a beloved New Yorker solely on the basis of his skin color.”

Fatally stabbed in the March 20 attack was Timothy Caughman, who was picking through trash when Jackson is alleged to have pulled a 26-inch sword from a long black overcoat he was wearing and stabbed him in the chest and back.

Jackson, who was staying in a midtown New York hotel, told police that he hated black men for at least a decade, police said.

“The reason he picked New York is because it’s the media capital of the world, and he wanted to make a statement,” Assistant Police Chief William Aubrey said at the time of Jackson’s arrest.

Police suggested that Jackson had been thinking of attacking others but instead chose to turn himself in.

The New York Daily News reported Sunday that Jackson said in a Rikers Island jailhouse interview with a reporter that he hoped the attack on Caughman would stop white women from entering relationships with black men.

Jackson said he grew up in an “almost all-white” area outside of Baltimore. “My family is as liberal as they come … typical liberal Democrats,” he told the Daily News. “The white race is being eroded. … No one cares about you. The Chinese don’t care about you, the blacks don’t care about you.”

Jackson told the newspaper he is a fan of the web site Daily Stormer — which was also frequented by South Carolina church gunman Dylann Roof, who was sentenced to death for killing nine black worshipers in 2015.

Vance, the Manhattan prosecutor, said that in addition to New York’s reputation as a media capital, Jackson sought out the Big Apple because of its reputation as a melting pot for different people and cultures. It was in such a place that Jackson wanted to deliver his message of hate, Vance said.

“We must never take for granted New York’s remarkable diversity. We must celebrate it, protect it and refuse to let violence and hate undermine the progress we have made,” Vance wrote.

By Mike James/USA TODAY

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

Internet privacy rules removed by Congress

Internet providers will not be required to ask permission to sell customers’ browsing habits, including medical information, shopping habits and even pornography preferences after Congress voted to roll back Obama-era regulations.

The House of Representatives voted 215 to 205 in favor of eliminating restrictions of internet service providers (ISP) and their ability to sell their customer’s information on Tuesday. The protections were planned to be enacted by the end of 2017 and would have forced ISPs to get permission from their customers before selling their internet browsing and app habits to advertisers.

The vote was largely bipartisan, with those in favor being exclusively Republican. However, several Republican lawmakers crossed over to vote against eliminating the privacy measures. Last Thursday, a Senate vote set the stage for the House of Representatives to send the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk after they voted exclusively on party lines against the measures.

The planned protections were proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and would have prevented ISPs and broadband providers from selling information, including where customers bank, shop, browse, their political views and even sexual orientation.

Those in favor of eliminating the protection measures have claimed that preventing ISPs from requiring consumer consent for customer information will eliminate competition among providers.

In a press release, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) defended rolling back the protections, saying the FCC’s privacy policy “has the potential to limit consumer choice, stifle innovation, and jeopardize data security by destabilizing the internet ecosystem.

Supporters of the FCC regulations believe the repeal will only benefit broadband providers.

Instead of making the industry more competitive, what this bill wants to do is give these four or five ISPs even more power,” Representative Ro Khanna (D-California) told The Guardian.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting privacy on the internet, released a statement saying “should President Donald Trump sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, big Internet providers will be given new powers to harvest your personal information in extraordinarily creepy ways.

For internet users who want to protect their privacy from ISPs, the options are slim going forward. Some may choose to utilize a virtual private network (VPN), a frequently paid service that routes all internet traffic through one server not directly connected to the user. However, many sites like Netflix try to ban VPN users from utilizing their services.

Others may move over to using Tor, a more complex server that could leave users open to malicious servers.

Repealing the FCC’s regulations is not a done deal, yet. President Trump has yet to sign off on SJ Res 34, leaving opponents room for a Hail Mary. The EFF’s Jeremy Gillula told the Guardian, “I think we’d try to convince President Trump that signing a bill that helps big corporate interests by eliminating Americans’ privacy and weakening their cybersecurity isn’t exactly ‘draining the swamp.’

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Culture change’: DNC orders all staff to submit resignations

The new leadership of the Democratic National Committee has asked its entire staff to resign as the party seeks to rebuild from the 2016 electoral losses.

Immediately following the hotly contested DNC chair race in February, the winner Tom Perez, a former labor secretary under President Barack Obama, asked the entire DNC staff to submit their letters of resignation by April 15, NBC News reported Tuesday.

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said Perez has been looking to restructure the party since he took over.

From the beginning, Tom has been adamant that we structure the DNC for future campaigns. Current and future DNC staff will be integral to that effort,” Hinojosa told NBC News.

Together we’ll right the ship and get the Democratic Party in a position to take the fight to Donald Trump and the Republican Party and win,” Perez said in a March 15 announcement. He also revealed the creation of a 30-member Transition Advisory Committee, tasked with reviewing current staff members and interviewing new prospects for the restructuring process.

Leah Daughtry, a co-chair of the committee, then reportedly asked every staff member to submit letters of resignation to allow Perez to make a “culture change.

Perez told NBC News last Friday, “We’re repairing a plane at 20,000 feet. You can’t land the plane, shut it down, and close it until further notice.

During the 2016 election under former chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), the DNC was accused of favoring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her opponent in the primaries, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), based on allegedly hacked or leaked DNC communications as well as Wikileaks publishing thousands of email exchanges from Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta.

Although it is normal practice for a new party chairman to seek resignations from some staffers, some fear this move may lead to filling the party with those who aligned with Perez, leaving out progressives who backed his opponent, Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota).

Kait Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a March 16 statement that “the initial names on the DNC Transition Advisory Committee include zero leaders of progressive grassroots groups that engage in electoral work and very few movement progressives,” according to the Huffington Post.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

11 things corporate media won’t tell you about Timothy Caughman — the unarmed Black man stabbed to death by a white supremacist

Thanks for humanizing the “victim” 

Timothy Caughman was killed for being Black. He was 66.

A canner, who supported himself by gathering and redeeming bottles and cans, Caughman was doing his job–sorting through recycling–when a 28-year- old army veteran, James Harris Jackson, pulled out a 26-inch mini-sword and repeatedly stabbed him in the chest and back Monday night in Manhattan’s Hell’s kitchen neighborhood. Caughman died at a hospital.

Wednesday, Jackson turned himself in, telling police that he traveled from Maryland to New York City on Friday in order to “target male blacks,” according to Assistant Chief William Aubry of Manhattan South Detectives. “The reason why he picked New York,” said Aubry, “is because it is the media capital of the world… He wanted to make a statement.” The New York Post reports that “Jackson identifies as a white supremacist and told police he penned a manifesto about his racist views,” which included a plan “about an imminent attack on blacks in New York.” He was particularly disturbed by Black men who were in romantic relationships with white women.

So, to recap, a self-identified white supremacist fatally stabbed an unarmed man because he was Black.

Yet, much of the mainstream media coverage has turned a story about the murder of an unarmed Black men into an investigation into the character of an unarmed Black man, as Adam Johnson points out at FAIR. The Daily News and New York Post reported on Caughman’s utterly unrelated and irrelevant arrest record. Even more remarkably, The Daily News thought it was appropriate to remind readers that, “In December 2014, Ismaaiyl Brinsley traveled to the city from Baltimore and assassinated Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were in the car near Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Brinsley had made anti-police statements on social media prior to the murders.” Though tragic, a murder that took place over two years ago doesn’t seem germane. Johnson suggests,

 This is a bizarre journalistic choice that appears to be some kind of attempt at “balancing” the coverage, suggesting that there could be a bit of score-settling going on: Yes, this black man was senselessly murdered by a white supremacist, but some other black guy killed cops two-and-a-half years ago, so….
To be fair, there is another angle here. Both crimes were committed by men who traveled from the state of Maryland to New York City. So there’s that.
Another important thing, according to the Daily News and New York Post, is that Caughman lived in transitional housing.

This isn’t the first time the media has tasked itself with scrutinizing and smearing the character of an unarmed Black murder victim. See: Michael “no angel” Brown, Freddie “he caused his own injuries (which he didn’t)” Gray, Trayvon “he smoked pot once and gave the middle finger in a photo once” Martin. The punishment for having once smoked pot is not, actually, execution at the hands of someone who failed the police entrance exam, beats his girlfriends and volunteers as a neighborhood watchman.

Curiously, the same media which is so quick to the judge victims, finds itself capable of extraordinary empathy and understanding when the perpetrator is white. Consider, for example, the story of Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months (of which he’d serve three) for assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. While some were disturbed by the rape and the light sentence, The Washington Post, worried that Turner’s promising swimming career would be disrupted by the conviction. The article, whose headline read, “All-American swimmer found guilty of sexually assaulting unconscious woman on Stanford campus,” featured a fresh-faced posed photo of Turner, not the traditional mugshot. and not his mug shot.

Caughman happened to be a collector of autographs, a passionate consumer of pop culture and a huge fan of Shari Headley, so outlets have also picked up the human interest angle of the story, which, though preferable, still manages to incorporate the irrelevant information from the smear-based reports. Even an additional article in The Daily News, whose headline reads, “New Yorker who was fatally stabbed by Maryland man loved meeting Hollywood stars,” includes the fact that he lived in transitional housing. Because so little information has been released about Caughman, even places like The Hollywood Reporter, included this irrelevant tidbit in its seemingly harmless listicle: “Timothy Caughman Stabbed To Death: 5 Things About The Innocent NYC Man.” The fourth thing you need to know, apparently, is that Caughman,

lived in transitional housing. Timothy resided in a transitional housing facility on W. 36th street, sources told New York Daily News. Transitional housing is a place for homeless people to stay, generally after they have suffered a crisis.

Curiously, the same media which is so quick to the judge victims, finds itself capable of extraordinary empathy and understanding when the perpetrator is white. Consider, for example, the story of Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months (of which he’d serve three) for assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. While some were disturbed by the rape and the light sentence, The Washington Post, worried that Turner’s promising swimming career would be disrupted by the conviction. The article, whose headline read, “All-American swimmer found guilty of sexually assaulting unconscious woman on Stanford campus,” featured a fresh-faced posed photo of Turner, not the traditional mugshot. and not his mug shot.

Caughman happened to be a collector of autographs, a passionate consumer of pop culture and a huge fan of Shari Headley, so outlets have also picked up the human interest angle of the story, which, though preferable, still manages to incorporate the irrelevant information from the smear-based reports. Even an additional article in The Daily News, whose headline reads, “New Yorker who was fatally stabbed by Maryland man loved meeting Hollywood stars,” includes the fact that he lived in transitional housing. Because so little information has been released about Caughman, even places like The Hollywood Reporter, included this irrelevant tidbit in its seemingly harmless listicle: “Timothy Caughman Stabbed To Death: 5 Things About The Innocent NYC Man.” The fourth thing you need to know, apparently, is that Caughman, lived in transitional housing. Timothy resided in a transitional housing facility on W. 36th street, sources told New York Daily News. Transitional housing is a place for homeless people to stay, generally after they have suffered a crisis.

Posted by the NON-Conformist

Noam Chomsky: Trump could stage a ‘false flag’ terror attack and ‘change the country instantly’

Author and political philosopher Noam Chomsky sounded a dire warning on Monday in an interview with AlterNet’s Jan Frel, saying that President Donald Trump could stage a “false flag” terror attack in an effort to consolidate his power and strip Americans of their constitutional rights.

Chomsky warned that eventually the people who voted for Trump will realize that his “promises are built on sand” and begin to lose faith in his presidency, at which point Trump will need someone to scapegoat, so he will say, “‘Well, I’m sorry, I can’t bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it.’ And the typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people: immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be. And that can turn out to be very ugly.”

“I think that we shouldn’t put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky — who has called Trump a “con man” who will drag civilization “down to the utter depths of barbarism” — also said that much of the world is amused at the outrage many Americans feel about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I mean whatever the Russians may have been doing, let’s take the most extreme charges, that barely registers in the balance against what the U.S. does constantly,” he said. “Even in Russia. So for example, the U.S. intervened radically to support [Boris] Yeltsin in 1991 when he was engaged in a power play trying to take power from the Parliament, Clinton strongly supported him. In 1996, when Yeltsin was running, the Clinton administration openly and strongly supported them, and not only verbally, but with tactics and loans and so on.”

“All of that goes way beyond what the Russians are charged with, and of course that is a minor aspect of U.S. interference in elections abroad,” said Chomsky, adding that the U.S. operates under a philosophy of “If we don’t like the election, you can just overthrow the country.”

The White House is reportedly in turmoil after the collapse of the administration’s healthcare law, which was withdrawn before it could come to a vote on Friday. While the president’s poll numbers are at historic lows, Trump’s supporters are still largely loyal to the man they voted for.

By David Furguson

Posted by the NON-Conformist

What Is Objective Journalism?

‘Just The Facts, Ma’am’

So what is objective, impartial journalism?

The standard view was offered in 2001 by the BBC’s then political editor, Andrew Marr:

When I joined the BBC, my Organs of Opinion were formally removed.1

And by Nick Robinson describing his role as ITN political editor during the Iraq war:

It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking… That is all someone in my sort of job can do.’2

‘Just the facts, Ma’am’, as Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wryly describes this take on journalism.

It is why, if you ask a BBC or ITN journalist to choose between describing the Iraq war as ‘a mistake’ or ‘a crime’, they will refuse to answer on the grounds that they are required to be ‘objective’ and ‘impartial’.

But actually there are at least five good reasons for rejecting this argument as fundamentally bogus and toxic.

First, it turns out that most journalists are only nervous of expressing personal opinions when criticising the powerful. Andrew Marr can’t call the Iraq war a ‘crime’, but he can say that the fall of Baghdad in April 2003 meant that Tony Blair ‘stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result’.3 Nick Robinson can report that ‘hundreds of [British] servicemen are risking their lives to bring peace and security to the streets of Iraq’.4

The ‘Wham, bam, thank you, Ma’am’ version of ‘impartiality’, perhaps.

Journalists are allowed to lose their ‘objectivity’ this way, but not that way – not the way that offends the powerful. Australian media analyst Sharon Beder offers a further example of the same double standards:

Balance means ensuring that statements by those challenging the establishment are balanced with statements by those whom they are criticising, though not necessarily the other way round.5

The second problem with the no-opinion argument is that it is not possible to hide opinions by merely ‘sticking to the facts’. The facts we highlight and ignore, the tone and language we use to stress or downplay those facts, inevitably reflect personal opinion.

The third problem is indicated by the title of historian Howard Zinn’s autobiography: You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train. Even if we believe it is possible to suppress our personal opinion in reporting facts, we will still be taking sides. Zinn explained:

As I told my students at the start of my courses, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” The world is already moving in certain directions – many of them are horrifying. Children are going hungry, people are dying in wars. To be neutral in such a situation is to collaborate with what is going on.6

Matt Taibbi gives a striking example:

Try as hard as you want, a point of view will come forward in your story. Open any newspaper from the Thirties or Forties, check the sports page; the guy who wrote up the box score, did he have a political point of view? He probably didn’t think so. But viewed with 70 or 80 years of hindsight, covering a baseball game where blacks weren’t allowed to play without mentioning the fact, that’s apology and advocacy. Any journalist with half a brain knows that the biases of our time are always buried in our coverage…

A fourth, closely-related problem is that not taking sides – for example, against torture, or against big countries exploiting small countries, or against selling arms to tyrants, or against stopping rather than exacerbating climate change – is monstrous. A doctor treating a patient is biased in seeking to identify and solve a health problem. No one would argue that the doctor should stand neutrally between sickness and health. Is it not self-evident that we should all be biased against suffering?

Finally, why does the journalistic responsibility to suppress personal opinion trump the responsibility to resist crimes of state for which we are accountable as democratic citizens? If the British government was massacring British citizens, would journalists refuse to speak out? Why does the professional media contract outweigh the social contract? Journalists might respond that ‘opinion-free’ journalism is vital for a healthy democracy. But without dissent challenging open criminality, democracy quickly decays into tyranny. This is the case, for example, if we remain ‘impartial’ as our governments bomb, invade and kill 100,000s of people in foreign countries. A journalist who refuses even to describe the Iraq war as a crime is riding a cultural train that normalises the unthinkable. In the real world, journalistic ‘impartiality’ on Iraq helped facilitate Britain and the United States’ subsequent crimes in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

This is the ugly absurdity of the innocent-looking idea that journalists’ ‘organs of opinion’ can and should be removed.

So if we reject this flawed and immoral version of objectivity behind which so many corporate journalists hide, what then is objective journalism? Are we arguing for open bias, for a prejudice free-for-all disconnected from any attempt at fairness? Not at all.

Equalising Self and Other

Objective, impartial journalism is rooted in the understanding that ‘my’ happiness and suffering do not matter more than ‘your’ happiness and suffering; and that it is irrational, cruel and unfair to pretend otherwise. Objective journalism rejects reporting and analysis that prioritises ‘my’ interests – ‘my’ bank account, financial security, company, nation, class – over ‘your’ interests.

Objective journalism does not take ‘our’ side at ‘their’ expense. It does not count ‘our’ dead and ignore ‘their’ dead. It does not refuse to stand in judgment on ‘our’ leaders while fiercely condemning ‘their’ leaders. It does not hold ‘them’ to higher moral standards than ‘us’. It does not accept that ‘our’ nation is ‘exceptional’, that ‘we’ have a ‘manifest destiny’ to dominate ‘them’, that ‘we’ are in some way ‘chosen’.

A central claim of Buddhist and other mystical traditions is that we really can ‘equalise self and other’ in this way. Many intellectuals, including leftists, dismiss all such analysis as irrelevant piffle. But at a time when the Vikings were ravaging Europe, the ninth century Buddhist sage Shantideva asked:

Since I and other beings both,
In wanting happiness, are equal and alike,
What difference is there to distinguish us,
That I should strive to have my bliss alone?7

If this is an astonishingly reasonable thought, it is surpassed by an even more remarkable declaration:

The intention, ocean of great good
That seeks to place all beings in the state of bliss,
And every action for the benefit of all:
Such is my delight and all my joy.8

After four billion years of evolution ostensibly ‘red in tooth and claw’, Shantideva was here asserting that caring for others is a source of delight and bliss that far exceeds mere pleasure from personal gain.

The claim, of course, is greeted with scepticism by a society that promotes unrestrained greed for maximised profit. But if we set aside our groupthink and take another look, it is actually a matter of common experience. The Indian spiritual teacher, Osho, commented:

Have you never had a feeling of contentment after having smiled at a stranger in the street? Didn’t a breeze of peace follow it? There is no limit to the wave of tranquil joy you will feel when you lift a fallen man, when you support a fallen person, when you present a sick man with flowers – but not when you do it [out of duty] because he is your father or because she is your mother. No, the person may not be anyone in particular to you, but simply to give a gift is itself a great reward, a great pleasure.

The existence of this reward has been confirmed by some very interesting and credible science (see here).

Objective journalism is thus rooted in two claims:

1) that human beings are able to view the happiness and suffering of others as being of equal importance to their own.

2) that, perhaps counter-intuitively for a society like ours, individuals and societies dramatically enhance their well-being when they ‘equalise self and other’ in this way.

In other words, this is not a sentimental pipe dream – human beings can be fair and just, and they do experience benefits from being so.

The value of objective journalism, and indeed objective living, in this sense is clear enough. We know from research (see here) and our own experience that people who think only of themselves are as miserable as they are biased.

In his collection of spontaneous talks, ‘Ta Hui – The Great Zen Master’, Osho gave a powerful example of objectivity, in the sense intended here, from his own childhood:

It happened that in my village, between my house and a temple, there was a piece of land. For some technical reason, my father was able to win the case if he took it to court – only on technical reasons. The land was not ours, the land belonged to the temple. But the technical reason was this: the map of the temple did not show that the land was in their territory. It was some fault of the municipal committee’s clerical staff; they had put the land onto my father’s property.

Naturally in court there was no question; the temple had no right to say that it was their land. Everybody knew it was their land, my father knew it was their land. But the land was precious, it was just on the main street, and every technical and legal support was on my father’s side. He brought the case to the court.

I told him, “Listen” – I must have been not more than eleven years old – “I will go to the court to support the temple. I don’t have anything to do with the temple, I have never even gone inside the temple, whatever it is, but you know perfectly well that the land is not yours.”

He said, “What kind of son are you? You will witness against your own father?”

I said, “It is not a question of father and son; in the court it is a question of what is true. And not only will your son be there; your father I have also convinced.”

He said, “What!”

I had a very deep friendship with my grandfather, so we had consulted. I had told him, “You have to support me because I am only eleven years old. The court may not accept my witnessing because I am not an adult, so you have to support me. You know perfectly well that the land is not ours.”

He said, “I am with you.”

So I told my father, “Just listen, from both sides, from your father and from your son… you simply withdraw the case; otherwise you will be in such a trouble, you will lose the case. It is only technically that you are able to claim. But we are not going to support a technical mistake on the part of the municipal clerk.”

He said, “You don’t understand a simple thing, that a family means… you have to support your family.”

I said, “No, I will support the family only if the family is right. I will support whoever is right.”

He talked to my grandfather who said, “I have already promised your son that I will be going with him.”

My father said, “That means I will have to withdraw the case and lose that valuable piece of land!”

He said, “What can be done about it? Your son is going to create trouble for you, and seeing the situation, that he will not in any way be persuaded, I have agreed with him – just to make his position stronger so that you can withdraw; it is better to withdraw than to get defeated.”

My father said, “But this is a strange family! I am working for you all. I am working for you, I am working for my son – I am not working for myself. If we can have a beautiful shop on that land you will have a better, more comfortable old age; he will have a better education in a better university. And you are against me.”

My grandfather said, “I am not against anybody, but he has taken my promise, and I cannot go against my word – at least as far as he is concerned – because he is dangerous, he may put me in some trouble. So I cannot deceive him; I will say whatever he is saying. And he is saying the truth – and you know it.”

So my father had to withdraw the case – reluctantly… but he had to withdraw the case. I asked my grandfather to bring some sweets so we can distribute them in the neighborhood. My father has come to his senses, it has to be celebrated. He said, “That seems to be the right thing to do.”

When my father saw that I was distributing sweets, he asked, “What are you doing? – for what? What has happened?”

I said, “You have come back to your senses. Truth is victorious.” And I gave him a sweet also.

He laughed. He said, “I can understand your standpoint, and my own father is with you, so I thought it is better that I should also be with you. It is better to withdraw without any problem. But I have learned a lesson.” He said to me, “I cannot depend on my family. If there is any trouble they are not going to support me just because they belong to me as father, as son, as brother. They are going to support whatever is true.”

And since that time no other situation ever arose, because he never did anything in which we had to disagree. He remained truthful and sincere.

Many times in his life he told me, “It was so good of you; otherwise I was going to take that land, and I would have committed a crime knowingly. You prevented me, and not only from that crime, you prevented me from then onwards. Whenever there was a similar situation, I always decided in favor of truth, whatever the loss. But now I can see: truth is the only treasure. You can lose your whole life, but don’t lose your truth.”9

Objective journalism insists that ‘I will support the family only if the family is right. I will support whoever is right.’ If the facts show that the Iraq war was an unprovoked war of aggression, then objective journalism will describe it as such.

Unfortunately, of course, most corporate journalism says:

I will support my family, my party, my newspaper, my corporation, my advertisers, my arms industry, my military, my country, my class, whether or not they are right. I will support whatever benefits me. I will highlight facts and voices in a tone that benefits the powerful interests that reward me. I will ignore facts and voices that might harm my career.

Osho’s father perceived his son’s challenge as an attack: ‘you are against me’. But, in fact, Osho was not against his father, nor was he for the temple – he was for the truth.

In 2012, Media Lens compared media reaction to the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by a US soldier, with a massacre of 108 people in Houla, Syria, for which Western media found Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad personally responsible. We asked what evidence would be required before journalists found Obama personally responsible for such a massacre. Obviously, the involvement of US forces would need to be confirmed beyond doubt. These forces would need to have been acting under orders. Presumably, Obama would need to have signed these orders, or been aware of them and agreed to them on some level. But Syrian forces were instantly declared responsible, with Assad held personally responsible, even before the killers had been identified.

We were inviting readers to consider if ostensibly free, independent journalists treat foreign governments, especially Official Enemies of state, the same way they treat their own government and its leading allies. We were not against Obama any more than we were for Assad – we were for the truth.

Ironically, our attempts to challenge biased reporting in this way are regularly denounced as examples of ugly bias – we are described as ‘pro-Assad’, ‘pro-Gaddafi’, ‘pro-Putin’ ‘genocide deniers’, ‘apologists for tyranny’, and so on, often by people waging a kind of propaganda war against anyone challenging power.

More recently, we commented on the muted coverage of an Islamic State massacre of 38 people in an Afghan hospital:

If Islamic State’s attack had been on a French hospital, shooting doctors and patients, it would have been one of 2017’s defining traumas.

Again, this comment was no more ‘pro-Afghan’ than it was ‘anti-French’ – it pointed to a deep and dangerous bias in the way corporate media respond to suffering in the world.

Why do we care so much about this bias? Because, as Osho’s anecdote suggests, all is not as it seems. It turns out that there are hidden costs to mendacity, just as there are hidden benefits to truth.

After decades spent honing its talent for suppressing profit-hostile fact and opinion, the corporate media system has become incapable of reporting truth even in the face of imminent disaster. The cost, in this age of catastrophic climate change, is becoming very clear.

by Media Lens/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NoN-Conformist