Pandering to extremists

Appealing to the vanity of one’s audience is one of the standard rhetorical tricks of speakers seeking to ingratiate themselves and thus make their message more palatable. Donald Trump in the US has raised such pandering to extremists to high levels. But this kind of appeal to the tribal vanity of the audience is by no means unique to him and one does not have to look far to find other examples that are as extreme.
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On Israel, satire in The Onion gets closer to the truth than the news media

Israelis and their supporters in the US celebrated the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem even as the Israeli armed forces killed dozens of unarmed protestors in Gaza. Jeremy Scahill writes about what happened and Norman Finkelstein’s new book about the harrowing conditions in Gaza.

ISRAEL HAS ONCE again conducted a premeditated, full-scale massacre in broad daylight, in front of the cameras of the world. Once again, it took place in Gaza.

On May 14, Israeli snipers and other forces gunned down more than 60 Palestinians, and wounded thousands of others, including civilians, journalists, and paramedics. “You try nonlethal means and they don’t work,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “So you’re left with bad choices. It’s a bad deal. You know, you try and you go for below the knee, and sometimes it doesn’t work, and unfortunately these things are avoidable.”

It appears that the only way not to be killed, according to Netanyahu, is to meekly accept imprisonment inside the prison of Gaza. Among those killed by Israeli forces was an 8-month-old infant. Her name was Laila al-Ghandour. They also killed at least seven other children and a man in a wheelchair, and that man had lost his legs after they had to be amputated following an earlier Israeli attack.

Israel has made it clear that it believes that it has the right to systematically murder Palestinians for the crime of continuing to exist. There is no defense for what Israel has done. None.

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Blowback from torture

Gina Haspel has been confirmed as head of the CIA with assistance from Democratic senators despite her appalling record of supervising brutal torture methods and then destroying evidence. Jeremy Scahill reports how Dr. Sondra Crosby, a professor of public health at Boston University and a doctor and a Naval reserve officer, described what she saw to the committee that was conducting the hearings, and that it was worse than what she had seen in torture victims in other places.
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Taking advantage of young people’s passions

The world of professional sports takes great advantage of young people’s desire to be part of its glamor. The most egregious example is the way that so many colleges make so much money off student athletes while the students themselves never see any of it and often get a rotten education as well. The latest US Supreme Court decision striking down the bans on betting on sports is going to open the floodgates for a lot more money and plenty of groups are going to want a slice of that action and the only people who will be shut out are the student athletes. The problem is that there are many young people who love sports so much or hope to someday be part of the tiny minority who make it in the professional leagues that there is no shortage of people who can be exploited.
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How Facebook enabled Buddhist vigilante violence in Sri Lanka

The New York Times has a daily podcast where they discuss with their reporters a single story that they covered. On Wednesday, May 16 they had an episode titled When Facebook Rumors Incite Real Violence about how rumors on Facebook led to deadly violence in Sri Lanka. (Scroll down to find it.) The story provides yet another example of how religious majorities tend to be intolerant and that Buddhists, despite their reputation of being a ‘peaceful’ religion, are no less susceptible to violence than Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims. There is no religion that cannot be turned into a vehicle for intolerance and violence when they acquire the means to be so.
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Yet another mass school shooting

The ghastly series of needless gun-related deaths in the US continues with the latest in Texas this morning, with reportedly at least eight people killed by a fellow student, though initial reports of the numbers of dead and injured and identification of the shooter tend to be unreliable.

Police responded to reports of a shooter at Santa Fe high school about an hour from Houston on Friday morning before 8am local time. Students evacuated Santa Fe high school, about 35 miles south-east of downtown Houston, amid a heavy presence of law enforcement and medical first responders.

The Harris county sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, said in the late morning that at least eight and perhaps 10 people, including students and staff from the school, were dead. One male, a student at the school believed to be the shooter, has been arrested and a second “person of interest” has been detained, Gonzalez said. A school district police officer was among the injured and officers were searching the school, he added.

“The number varies; it could be anywhere from eight to 10 fatalities,” he said.

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On acknowledging ignorance

In an earlier post, I mentioned how I had the completely wrong idea about what in America is referred to as ‘pickles’. In a comment on that post, Crip Dyke made an interesting point that made me reflect on the question of ignorance.

[W]hen one has a reputation amongst one’s friends for being knowledgeable, one has more to lose by revealing that one has been making such an error … and thus the fear of this may very well be heightened for people who have a reputation amongst their circle as knowledgeable. Thus I sometimes wonder if my fear of making a clueless error is just my vanity in disguise. (though, of course, there do exist independent reasons to want to avoid error)

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