During my ten years of writing for Pravda.Ru, I have received both criticisms and questions from readers, and thought it was time to respond to some of them.
I would also like to thank everyone who has read and commented on my articles. As the saying goes, even negative criticism can be a positive thing because it at least indicates that someone took notice of my work. Although this rule is obviously not an absolute (negative criticism, for example, can sometimes make the difference between a successful venture and a failed one), I still, after all these years, find it frustrating to submit an article that nobody comments on, since this always invokes in my mind the timeless philosophical question, "If a tree falls in the woods, and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?"
Some readers have claimed the editors of Pravda.Ru dictate or direct what I write. Be assured that I have never, ever, been told what to write, and that Pravda.Ru's editors have never altered a single word I've written, other than to make necessary corrections in spelling and/or grammar, usually as a result of the sometimes questionable proofreading skills of yours truly.
One question I've sometimes been asked is how I acquired the title of Legal Editor. This was given to me by a former Pravda.Ru editor because of my educational and professional background in law.
But a more common question is, "Why do I write for Pravda.Ru?" The answer is as follows: When George W. Bush stole the presidential election during the coup of 2000, I knew that (dare I say it!) a Satanic evil was at work in America, and this evil was no longer concerned about concealing itself in platitudes espousing justice and human rights.
Because of the nature of this evil, I knew that Bush and his fellow reprobates were lying about their so-called "reasons" for wanting to invade Iraq and opportunistically exploiting the fear and hysteria created by the 9/11/2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center to wage an illegal war. I knew these individuals were so depraved that they wanted to "play soldier" by proxy, especially since many of them went to great lengths to avoid military service themselves.
In addition, Bush and his fellow war criminals were also motivated by the desire to decimate the Bill of Rights (that ever eroding "check-and-balance" between the government and the governed), and the desire to reward their wealthy supporters in the military-industrial complex lucrative "no-bid" rebuilding contracts.
Yet whenever I submitted an article to America's corporate-controlled media explaining Bush's true motivations for invading Iraq, I was met with rejection after rejection. It was particularly frustrating that many of these rejections were accompanied with statements like, "I agree with you, but cannot use your article," because it indicated that a nation incessantly touting its "freedom of the press" was unwilling to publish the truth.
Undoubtedly, some of this unwillingness was fueled by the fear of losing viewers or readers who were blindly swallowing Bush's lies and denouncing those who did not as "unpatriotic." But I have no doubt that most of it was facilitated by the ratings and profits the Iraqi war generated, with its "embedded" reporters, "talking head" military strategists, twenty-four hour coverage, and constant glorification of the "heroes" who were protecting "freedom" and "democracy" for America, even though, as evidence later showed, Iraq had done nothing to diminish even a modicum of this "freedom" and "democracy." In fact, Bush and his fellow reprobates, aided by a plethora of corrupt and biased judges, actually diminished more civil rights and liberties in America than any foreign power, and this sordid legacy is being continued by the "progressive" Barack Obama.
Frustrated by the lack of freedom in America's "free" press, I began to send my articles to media outlets outside of the United States, and ultimately found a home with Pravda.Ru.
Not surprisingly, I once again experienced this frustration with America's corporate-controlled media a few weeks ago when I attempted to "shop around" an article about the United States Supreme Court's refusal to hear Ward Churchill's appeal challenging his firing from the University of Colorado (UC).
I have discussed Churchill's case at length in several previous Pravda.Ru articles-including my most recent: Lies Live Forever (Pravda.Ru, 4/15/13)-so I will just touch upon it here. Churchill, once a tenured professor at UC, was fired after he authored a controversial essay about the 9/11 attacks. Although UC claimed his firing was due to "academic misconduct" unrelated to this essay, a jury disagreed and determined that the misconduct allegations, and the "hearing" used to "investigate" them, were just a pretext. But the presiding judge (himself a graduate of UC's law school) overruled the jury and entered a verdict in favor of UC, a ruling that was rubberstamped by the Colorado Supreme Court and by the United States Supreme Court's refusal to hear Churchill's appeal.
In my article, I stressed that Churchill's case had ramifications far beyond an employer-employee dispute: It represented nothing less than the annihilation of academic freedom throughout the United States. I also emphasized that the destruction of this freedom had been accomplished through the use of a bogus investigation and judicial proceedings that stank of possible judicial bias, ethical misconduct, and collusion.
It would seem that the machinations surrounding Churchill's case would be the stuff investigative journalists dream about, or, at the very least, provide ample fodder for Editorial and OP-ED pieces. Yet, time and again, my article was rejected, including a rejection by a major newspaper in Colorado that claimed an article about the University of Colorado and the Colorado legal system did not meet the requirement of having a "local connection."
Of course, America's corporate-controlled media could argue I was at a disadvantage because I was submitting my article around the time the bombing at the Boston Marathon occurred, and an unwritten rule of American journalism is "If it bleeds, it leads."
But this rule is clearly not an absolute. Multiple deaths did not compel America's corporate-controlled media to give commensurate attention to an explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that damaged 150 buildings, injured 160 people and killed 14 others, nor did these media seem unduly concerned about the 55 people killed in a bombing in Iraq, even though both events occurred around the same time as the Marathon bombing. And this lack of commensurate attention was even more evident a few weeks later when more than 1,100 people died in Bangladesh after a building housing several garment factories collapsed.
Before proceeding further, and for reasons that will become evident later in this article, I am not endeavoring to compare tragedies or to argue that one occurrence was more terrible than another. Clearly, from a numerical perspective, the fatalities that resulted from the Boston Marathon bombing pale in comparison to the fatalities in Bangladesh. But from a moral perspective, one single death in any of these occurrences was one death too many.
Why did the Boston Marathon bombing receive the bulk of attention in America's corporate-controlled media? Simple. It was an act of political fanaticism, which Americans fear, while the other deaths emanated from corporate greed and the ruthless pursuit of profit, which Americans accept.
Thus, the Boston Marathon bombers are readily labeled "terrorists," but the corrupt Supreme Court justices who destroyed the voice of labor and made the corporate voice the only effective voice in American politics (via their ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), and the corrupt politicians (fattened by corporate and billionaire dollars thanks to Citizens United) who have passed or advocated for deceptively named "right-to-work" laws that sacrifice workplace and environmental safety for the sake of corporate profits, are not as readily labeled, even though the deaths and destruction they have caused, and will continue to cause, exceeds what any "terrorist" could hope to accomplish.
Recently, in an enduring testament to this reality, members of the United States Senate rejected, by a vote of 71-27, an amendment that would require makers of genetically altered foods to label their products as such. This means that Americans are not even allowed to know what they are serving at their own dinner tables, even when it could potentially kill them.
But this is not surprising, given that, since the start of the new millennium, America's political and legal systems have become so "bat s**t" insane that CIA and other government agents who have tortured and murdered, and those who have overtly obstructed justice to cover up these crimes, have gone unpunished, while honorable people who have exposed these atrocities are imprisoned for revealing government "secrets." Judges, who send people to prison everyday for harming their fellow human beings suddenly don't know how to "define" torture when it's engaged in by government agents. In fact, torturers and war criminals are so celebrated in today's America that they teach at prestigious universities, work as political commentators, and even serve as federal judges.
Which brings me to what is perhaps the primary criticism that has been directed against many of my articles throughout the years: Why do I condemn America's human rights abuses, and its political, corporate, and legal corruption, when they pale in comparison to what exists in many other countries?
My response is threefold:
First: Such criticism inverts how principles like truth, justice, and human rights should be viewed. It is fallacious to argue that "our injustices are not as bad as your injustices," "our tortures are not as bad as your tortures," or "our corruption is not as bad as your corruption," because such arguments consider torture, corruption, and injustice to be situational relatives.
Truth, human rights, and justice should be viewed as absolutes, and any deviation from this norm should be subject to condemnation. CIA instigated torture and murder, the atrocities at Guantanamo Bay, the individuals who have endorsed, committed, or covered up these crimes, and the politicians, prosecutors, and judges who have failed to hold these criminals accountable should be condemned just as vociferously as one would condemn a tyrant who has unjustly imprisoned, tortured, and/or murdered thousands, because evil does not reside in numbers, but in actions.
Second: During America's civil rights movement, many activists stated that their greatest threat did not come from the virulent racists who sought to maim or kill them, but from some of their so-called supporters who secretly worked to undermine them.
The reality is that tyrants rarely conceal their tyranny, so those that oppose them know exactly what they are facing. The greater danger is when an enemy pretends to be your friend, to value what you value and to support what you support, because, by the time the truth is revealed, the good you've hoped to accomplish has been destroyed.
This is why America's government continues to deceive the world into thinking it has "respect" for human rights and the "rule of law." Yet, while it demands punishment for war criminals and torturers in other nations, it rewards its own torturers and war criminals, and while it advocates for the advancement of human rights in other countries, it has illegally spied upon, denied due process to, tortured, and even extrajudicially executed its own citizens.
Yet far too many Americans still buy into the illusion that America is "a nation of laws, not men" where "nobody is above the law," even though its highest court has become nothing more than an enabler of corporate greed and corruption; its "investigative" agencies, like the CIA and FBI, have repeatedly undermined democracy and freedom to enhance corporate profits; its wars are waged to provide corporations with cheap labor and natural resources; its worker safety laws are sacrificed for the sake of corporate greed; its politicians are bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists who promise them lucrative positions once they leave "public" office; and its own attorney general has openly stated that some corporations are "too big to prosecute."
Third: When I was young, a strategy my parents often used to encourage me to finish my meal was to tell me about children who were starving in other countries. But I could not commiserate with these children in that faraway land; instead, I was more concerned about why my friend's parents had bought him a new bicycle when my parents would not buy me one.
The reality is that people tend to feel more acutely the lacks and losses they experience through their five physical senses-a sensation known as "relative deprivation."
Without this sensation of relative deprivation, it could be argued that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should never have struggled for civil rights in America, because racism in South Africa during his time was much worse. It could also be argued that American workers should not be paid a minimum wage, because they earn dollars, while workers in other countries, like Bangladesh, earn pennies, or that nothing should be done to combat hunger or poverty in the United States, because poverty and starvation are more pronounced in other nations.
In making these assertions, I am in no way stating that tyranny should not be condemned, or that economic and social injustices should not be redressed, whenever and wherever they occur. What I am saying is that one should not be prohibited from speaking about injustices in one nation simply because there are greater injustices in another. As Dr. King said in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Therefore, it logically follows that combating injustice anywhere, combats it everywhere.
In fact, there is perhaps an even greater need to condemn injustices in America, because, as a military superpower, it possesses the potential to spread its injustices across the globe, and, with its illegal invasions of other countries, strong-arming of allies, policies of "extraordinary rendition," secret prisons in foreign lands, and drone attacks that kill both the innocent and the guilty, it has demonstrated an unbridled willingness to do so.
But perhaps the ultimate question I've been asked during my writing career is, "Why bother to draw attention to the evils of the world when they are so entrenched that words, no matter how well-meaning, cannot eradicate them?"
Whenever I hear this question, I am reminded of the song To Beat the Devil by Kris Kristofferson. In this song, Kristofferson encounters a stranger who tells him songwriting is a waste of time because people don't listen and don't care. He reminds Kristofferson of the myriad of voices that have been lost in the sands of time, because nobody wanted to acknowledge the truth of what was being said.
Kristofferson replies that since songwriting feeds a hunger in his soul, he will not die ashamed even if he dies penniless, nor will he surrender his belief that some people will listen and some will eventually care.
This is why I write. But I am not as optimistic. In several previous Pravda.Ru articles, I have asserted that the demiseof humanity will undoubtedly be the result of its terminal myopia. It is, in fact, this myopia that emboldens those who perpetrate most of the injustices and evils in today's world, because they know they will be far removed from the reach of humanly created justice by the time their criminality is recognized and condemned.
The pages of history books are filled with tales of those who were condemned and vilified during their lifetimes, whose courage and integrity were only recognized after they had died. These pages are also filled with tales of those who were powerful and praised during their lifetimes, whose evils were only recognized and condemned long after their deaths.
But, while these historical "pangs of conscience" may provide some semblance of justice for belatedly recognizing the truth, the day will come, perhaps sooner than we think, when the failure to recognize evil during its lifetime will be apocalyptic: Advances in technology, biology, physics, chemistry, and genetics can enhance humanity or destroy it. With the increasing concentration of corporate power and its corrupting influence on governments; with so-called "justice" systems turning blind eyes to, and even propagating, injustice; with the corporate-controlled media suffering from habitual, profit-induced myopia; and with the increasing destruction of, and decreasing respect for, human rights, worker rights, consumer rights, academic rights, animal rights, and environmental rights, it is clear humanity is on the pathway to destruction. Unless this path is altered, nobody will be alive to write history, nobody will be alive to read it, and nobody will be alive to care.
David R. Hoffman
Legal Editor of Pravda.Ru
Forest fires in Siberia have been raging for three months already. They have become a disaster not only of Russian, but of global scale. The fires have already scorched 12 million hectares of land