Freedom for life

When you realise that people from all over the world want to kill you, it might be a good time to wonder why. You might ask ‘Why do they want to harm us?‘ as Helen Thomas does to no avail during this White House briefing . (Notice how a stooge steps in to change the subject at the end.)

Or you might speculate about motivation. In this clip Ron Paul suggests that people might hate America because it occupies their country. The mere suggestion is called anti-Semitic by another Larry King guest (Republican lawyer, game-show host and actor Ben Stein).

Of course, George Bush famously explained on September 20th, 2001 that “They hate our freedoms” . In other words they are prepared to die to kill freedom – life is the price you pay if you want to destroy freedom.

There is a deep connection here with an article by Howard Jacobson (who tends to confuse criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism). Writing in last Saturday’s Independent he supports the introduction of body-scanners with an argument that life is more precious than freedom.

To him freedom fighters are “no more than tyrants in waiting” (presumably excluding the likes of Nelson Mandela).

Jacobson is happy to forgo freedom in the interest of preserving life, arguing that “we are still free … to go our own way in our heads (for we can be bounded in a nutshell and still count ourselves kings of infinite space)“. (Maybe that’s how you persuade millions of people to submit to fascism – each individual believing that life is more precious than freedom they retreat into their heads, which are stuck firmly in the sand.)

Jacobson claims that “they cannot police the imagination” – but of course he is wrong. Shaping ideas, manipulating the story is a much more effective way to control society than by the use of batons or bullets. The stooge who changes the subject, the lawyer who shouts ‘anti-Semite’, the columnist arguing that we should not make a fuss. They have each bought into the corporatist agenda, become compliant and speak the party line against those who dare question.

I am sure that Jacobson would be deeply affronted at the suggestion, but the stooge, the lawyer and the columnist make Herman Goering’s point for him:

Naturally the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

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