by Joe Courter
Self-radicalization is a term that came to the fore after the Boston Marathon bombing; the big question of how these two young men could, on their own, come up with the rationalization to do such an awful act on their own. It is a concept that troubles people when they contemplate the wide range of information available on the Internet which can deviate from the accepted norms and narrative of our society and culture. And of course we can see examples of behavior based on a set of constructed principles that groups and individuals adopt and act upon. That is normal human behavior. There is always the chance that the normal human behavior of forming or adopting some paradigm to live by will, in some people, be taken to the extreme
From the adoption of strict dietary principles, the fanatical fixation on sports teams, complete devotion to one form of music over all others, or one religion over all others; it is also what we humans do. Very troubling here is where “American Exceptionalism” fits in; one nation over all others.
One of the quite-neglected skills that our U.S. culture lacks is critical thinking; it is not emphasized in schools, and our media, with its bi-polar form of discussion, make it seem over-simplified. There is that common narrative everyone accepts, and then we argue shading within that narrow paradigm. There is a hubris that develops and a closing of the mind to alternatives. Taken further, there is a hostility that can develop to those who do accept a different point of view. We can see no better example than the hostility to single-payer healthcare, a practice most of the world uses. It is, as Obama said, “off the table.”
by joe courter
Okay, the primary elections are behind us, and come November the voting begins.
This election is pivotal on both the national and local levels. With the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s VP, this presidential race may be a referendum on how government should work in America; in the words of Ryan, individualism vs. collectivism.
This Ayn Rand inspired libertarian ideology has been bubbling, some might say festering, below the surface of American politics for decades. It opposed FDR’s New Deal from the get-go, and still seethes at the welfare system, and any thought of a national healthcare system. It hates regulation on business, be it banking, energy or commerce. It wants privatization of the public sector, from government programs like Social Security to drilling by corporations for oil and gas in our National Parks.
Its adherents have been very successful in using their money and connections to get their ideology into the mainstream, creating the Heritage Society and the Cato Institute and many other “think tanks,” which the docile corporate media has come to accept as the third voice in our political debate. It can generate huge campaign donations from the rich and corporations because its policies, if enacted, will save and make them even MORE money.
This is a wake-up call that brings to mind the old bumper sticker/button slogan, “If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention.”
by joe courter
Publishing a small news magazine in this age of information overload has its pluses and minuses. There is a lot to write about and report on, but sheesh, there sure is a lot to choose from. Do you write about things coming up, or things that have already happened? From an activist orientation, the Iguana wants to present information to inform and inspire, to try and convey that the struggle for a better world is long and slow, with bursts of hope that, when proved fleeting, should not be seen as defeat but as part of the process of change.
A good friend last week expressed to me that she wished the Iguana was bigger or came out more often, ’cause it is one media source she trusts. Well, as this publication is run both on volunteer time and on a shoestring budget, that is unlikely. So it is up to everyone, via libraries, selective use of the media, or their computer to get out and dig up meaningful stuff, and not settle for the mainstream BS that passes for news now.
Beyond that, there is also an ethic of solidarity, the common struggle. We see resistance to austerity measures around the world, a collective “NO!” to the demands of sacrifice that the rich and powerful impose on, very often, the ones with the least, but also on the compliant. Because they can. For now.
BY JOE COURTER
This spot will be a regular column going forward, and as with last month, I will
first address subscription support. We need it. This paper is produced with
100% volunteer labor; all the money that comes in goes to its printing and
To those who pick it up for free, it is the subscribers and
advertisers who make that possible (please patronize and thank!!). Please
consider a donation and help offset that burden, even if you do not want it
mailed to you. Think of this as an eventless fundraiser… You make your
donation, but then you don’t have to go anywhere!
To our loyal subscribers: if you got this in the mail and are due to renew,
you should find a stamped envelope to reply. If you can’t afford the $15
request, less is okay. If you can do more, great.
Here is the reality of our little operation. The printing of 4,500 copies is about $750.00. The mailing to you all is approximately $350. That is about $1,100 per issue, and we do it eight or nine times a year. Our core staff of Jessica, Beth, Pierce and myself donate many hours. We all believe a tangible paper you can hold in your hands, put in your bathroom, hang on your fridge, whatever you do at home, or one you can pick up while ordering a meal, or read on the bus, or in a waiting room, has value that a purely electronic publication does not have. Let’s keep this going.
There are now, with the Internet, endless sources of information. Each month we try and present a range of interesting and useful articles. Mother Jones, Common Dreams and Democracy Now! are sampled this month, and issues of corporate power and systemic oppression come to light from different angles. There are also events and activities to plug into. And of course, the censored Doonesbury comics. We’ll be out again in mid-May for a May/June edition. Talk to you then.