If you don’t watch the news on the BBC, you probably didn’t see the stunning picture of thousands of Italian Fiat workers marching with huge red banners billowing in the wind, refusing management’s plan to demand wage cuts in order to invest in modernization. The idea that we could ever see such a show of force by industrial workers in the United States is ludicrous.
We might as well be on another planet from the rest of the world. Here the talk is of congresspeople toting guns in the hallowed chambers of government; of ‘blood libel’ tossed out over the airwaves without knowing what it refers to; of pistols that can fire thirty rounds without reloading, and threats against left-wing academics such as seventy-eight year old Francis Fox Piven, a recent president of the American Sociological Association, for plotting socialism.
In the current Nation, on newly released tapes, Nixon’s top foreign policy advisor, Henry Kissinger is quoted as saying: “The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.” Deadline Poet Calvin Trillin remarks that “He would have fit in well at State in Nineteen hundred thirty-eight.” Indeed, in The People’s History of the United States, the late Howard Zinn noted that President Franklin Roosevelt had left the fate of German Jews in the hands of the State Department, known for its anti-Semitism. This week, some commentators noted worriedly that Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congress-woman shot a week ago in Arizona, is Jewish, while Israelis argue about the legitimacy of Army conversions, mostly of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, again in Italy, where the Prime Minister finally lost his immunity from prosecution and faces embarrassing charges of cavorting with party girls, the left is circulating a petition to ban the sentence of life in prison, while United States, along with only a few other ‘developed’ nations (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan), have still not banned the death sentence!
China holds the record for executions, with numbers estimated from two to ten thousand. India applies the death sentence ‘only in the rarest of cases’, of which there were 100 in 2007 to our 52, Saudi Arabia’s 69 and Yemen’s ‘at least 30’ according to Wikipedia.
Long overdue, labor lawyer Thomas Geogehen’s new book Were you Born on the Wrong Continent?, that details the superior European social systems (such as the 35 hour work week in France, the six weeks vacation everywhere, comprehensive health care and education for all), is on back order at The Free Press, after an initial printing of 3,000 copies (one for every hundred Americans). No wonder that in this week’s Nation Harry Sloan, a former Washington D.C. Health Commissioner, cites the need for teach-ins on Obama’s timid health reform, which he thinks may be in jeopardy, even if only from the deliberate withholding of funds by the Republican congress.
In Backlash, Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the age of Obama, Will Bunch signals the return of the John Birch Society. He also notes that Scott Brown, the Tea Party candidate who won Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat defended Joe Stack, who flew his private plane into the IRS building in Austin, killing an employee, as motivated by “the same anger that got him elected”. In other words, an American terrorist attack is okay, even if there is an innocent victim.
Michelle Bachman, leader of the Tea Party caucus, managed to secure a seat on the House Intelligence Committee. She announced that Americans should be ‘armed and dangerous’ to prevent higher taxes on energy, or an intrusive census, and fears a global currency could take away America’s independence.
As for the increasing number of militias shooting in the woods, some cite a recent candidate for governor who claimed his opponent’s bill to encourage the use of bicycles was part of a U.N. plan to take over the world.