FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Proving Stalin Right?

“One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.”

“Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?”

—Josef Stalin

On the same day that hundreds of US citizens were arrested, while peacefully protesting for a living wage for fast-food workers, in 150 cities across the United States, I channel-surfed the evening news reports. Every single channel—ranging from Right to Far Right—from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN to FOX led their “news” broadcasts with tributes to the deceased “comedy legend” Joan Rivers!

This happened 3 days after “Labor Day,” the day even Huckabee proclaimed was to commemorate the achievements of our Labor Movement! (And on a snippet of his Labor Day show—which, again, I caught while channel-surfing—the Huck solemnly noted some of the gains made by the decades-long struggles of Labor: the 8-hour day; minimum wage; safety standards; abolishing child-labor.)

Well… that was then… and this is now! The US minimum wage is now hockey-puck! A man or woman working at one job, 40 hours a week, makes barely more than $15,000 per year—about $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of three in an “average” (i.e., not Washington, New York, San Fran, etc.) American city. And, most of those workers are not kids; they do have a family to support—one or two kids, or a spouse and a kid, a sick parent, etc.

But, these, of course are “statistics.” And Stalin seems to be having the last laugh here, because most Americans’ eyes glaze over at the mere mention of any statistics besides sports statistics!

Personally, it has been about 40 years since I thought Joan Rivers somewhat amusing. How in hell does the news of her passing take priority over the lives and concerns of millions of working Americans? Didn’t there used to be a separation between “real” news and sports and entertainment? And, if they had to share a format at all, wasn’t the trivia shuffled to the bottom, put on the back burner, until serious people could prioritize and relate the important stuff?

Oh, how I miss Walter Cronkite and Ted Koppel! (Note: When Cronkite called America’s adventurism in Vietnam a failure, LBJ lamented: If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America, I’ve lost the war… During the long days of the Iran Hostage Crisis, Koppel would often begin his broadcasts with an Iranian ambassador or spokesperson—addressing him with all due respect, and letting him have his say. During one of the far-too-many wars between Israel and the Arabs, Koppel would have reps from both sides, giving each one a chance to present his country’s or his party’s viewpoint!)

A few days ago, every American newscast began with the depressing news that another American journalist had been beheaded. American politicians and media spokespersons dutifully gravely cited the “barbarism” of ISIS (or ISIL or IS—mostly—them! The Other!) Apropos speeches were made about the need to “wipe out” our enemy (wipe them off the map?), etc.

As one who has himself worked as a free-lance journalist, I’m especially grieved at the loss of these two men.

But, one wonders: Of the 2100+ human beings recently killed in Gaza—including over 500 innocent children—how many were “beheaded” by bombs or shrapnel or falling rubble?

When the United States invaded our former ally Iraq (which had done our dirty work against our then post-hostage-crisis enemy, Iran)—when we killed about 1 million people there—mostly civilians, including women and children, was that not “barbarism,” based on a false claim of “weapons of mass destruction”? Or, was that merely “statistics”?

When the United States invaded Vietnam with nearly 600,000 troops, based on the false claim of a North Vietnamese attack on our destroyer in the Tonkin Gulf, when we dropped more tonnage of bombs than was dropped in all of World War II in our then longest war (about 10 years, not counting our “advisors” and skull-duggery days)—was that not “barbarism”?

There are lies, damn lies and statistics, Mark Twain groused.

But, Stalin was right in another way, too: Ideas are more powerful than guns! And, in the US, we have really taken that proposition to heart—and even one-upped Stalin. We don’t so much mind our “enemies” having guns so long as they are aiming at other “enemies” of ours! (A blatant example is Syria, where we have supported various factions over the past 3 years, including, most likely, the forerunners of ISIS!) And, at home, we’ve gone a step further, too: it’s just fine if everyone and his uncle has a gun… but we really don’t want people running around with wild ideas about equality or fairness or a living wage! “Why should we let them have ideas?” the ghost of Stalin wonders.

And we wonder, too: How much longer can our lies, self-deceit and absurdities continue?

Gary Corseri has published novels and poetry collections; his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere, and he has performed his poems at the Carter Presidential Center. He has taught in US prisons and public schools, and at US and Japanese universities, and has worked as an editor in the US and Japan. His work has appeared at Counterpunch, The New York Times, The Village Voice and hundreds of periodicals and websites worldwide. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

More articles by:

Gary Corseri has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library, and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has published novels and collections of poetry, has taught in US public schools and prisons and in US and Japanese universities. His work has appeared at CounterPunch, The New York Times, Village Voice and hundreds of publications and websites worldwide. Contact: gary_corseri@comcast.net.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail