Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Norman Solomon

American Journalist, Antiwar Activist, Media Critic and Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives

"The country’s largest media institutions operate on a basis of enormous respect for presidential power. Overall, mass media outlets restrain the momentum of denunciations lest they appear to create instability for the Republic."

"The policies are matters of priorities. And the priorities of the Bush White House are clear. For killing in Iraq, they spare no expense. For protecting and sustaining life, the cupboards go bare The problem is not incompetence. It's inhumanity, cruelty and greed."

"The boast that the United States is now the world's only superpower has a grim undertow in the area of human rights; no one can tell Washington what to do or not do, no matter how egregious its cruelties."

"Charities and other nonprofits are struggling to cope with deep economic wounds that have been festering for years. The dire consequences are far more widespread than private agencies can possibly heal. Only government has the capacity to provide economic remedies for social distress of this magnitude. But government is failing."

"The character of the Bush administration is such that the U.S. delegation to the United Nations will -- in practice -- indignantly refuse to recognize a single standard of human rights whenever such a standard would put the U.S. record in a negative light."

"Uncle Sam is making bad choices. For instance, policymakers are squandering money — and taking lives — in a war effort that costs about $1 million per year for each U.S. soldier now in Afghanistan. The failure of Congress to enact a proposed one-quarter of 1 percent transaction tax on Wall Street is depriving the U.S. Treasury of $150 billion a year. And so it goes. Our national funding priorities are out of whack. We must change them to revive our communities."

"A free and independent press is crucial for confronting such dire trends. But structural factors of corporate power continue to undermine the potential of journalism. The Washington Post is a grim case in point. Six months ago, Jeff Bezos ? the CEO and main stakeholder of Amazon ? bought the Post. But the newspaper?s ongoing CIA-related coverage does not inform readers that the CIA?s big contract with Amazon is adding to the personal wealth of the Post?s sole owner. This refusal to make such conflict-of-interest disclosures is much more than journalistic evasion for the sake of appearances. It?s a marker for more consolidation of corporate mega-media power with government power. The leverage from such convergence is becoming ever-less acknowledged or conspicuous as it becomes ever-more routine and dominant."

"A vision of the future that I have is not particularly optimistic. It is certainly not fatalistic. All of this is up for grabs. The momentum that we?re up against, in terms of the military-industrial complex and all the rest of it, can be counteracted. I believe ? not to be Hallmark card about this ? in the human spirit. The human spirit can?t be killed, but it can be sedated. And we need to be able to shake off that sedation. It means wake up, get past the psychic numbing, help each other to do that, and organize and organize."

"All three branches of the U.S. government are now largely under the control of forces with stunning contempt for basic legal processes required by the Bill of Rights. Mere words and mild reforms from members of Congress may mollify the gullible, but only a direct challenge to the Obama administration?s policies can rise to the level of the current historic imperative to restore civil liberties in the United States."

"A terrible formula has taken hold: warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state."

"As the largest Web retailer in the world, Amazon has built its business model on the secure accumulation and analysis of massive personal data. The firm?s Amazon Web Services division gained the CIA contract amid fervent hopes that the collaboration will open up vast new vistas for the further melding of surveillance and warfare."

"Her reality was, so to speak, a crowbar to open the lid on what had been sealed, which is the human dimension. The media and politics don't engage with death very well. And Bush has been effective until this summer at keeping US victims of this war in a hazy middle distance, close enough to exploit as a photo-op prop but not up close and personal enough to begin to deal with the grief of war."

"Huge corporations are now running roughshod over the Internet. At the illusion-shattering core of Digital Disconnect are a pair of chapters on what corporate power has already done to the Internet -- the relentless commercialism that stalks every human online, gathering massive amounts of information to target people with ads; the decimation of privacy; the data mining and surveillance; the direct cooperation of Internet service providers, search engine companies, telecomm firms and other money-driven behemoths with the U.S. military and "national security" state; the ruthless insatiable drive, led by Apple, Google, Microsoft and other digital giants, to maximize profits."

"I think because of the more than 100,000 people who signed the RootsAction.org petition and because it speaks to deeply felt, growing concern and anger, it all resonates. People are fed up with war being labeled peace."

"But the U.S. Record, as assessed by independent organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, is reprehensible."

"I think it was President Eisenhower who said, in one of his more lucid moments, that the people of the world want peace so badly that one day the governments are going to have to get out of the way and let them have it. And I felt from so many people I met in Norway, a hunger to break out of the old paradigm. So many countries are under intimidating duress from the United States government. Those of us who live in the USA, it?s a particular challenge and responsibility to insist that human decency prevail over the mendacity and cruelty that is so implicit in the US government?s priorities. It?s really not that different for people in different parts of the world. We want some candor. We want some honesty. We want a process that can elevate government actions so that they respond to what?s best in human beings instead of what?s worst."

"I think, a disquiet that exists in Norway as in many other parts of the world, but perhaps most acutely in Norway, that there?s concern the Nobel Peace Prize has lost its way and that the organization with the formal name Norwegian Nobel Committee is without a moral compass."

"If certain members of Congress resent being pushed by progressives to challenge the White House, they lack an appreciation for the crucial potential of grassroots social movements. On the other hand, those in Congress who ?get? progressive social change will appreciate our efforts to push them and their colleagues to stand progressive ground. When we?re mere supplicants to members of Congress, the doors that open on Capitol Hill won?t lead very much of anywhere. Superficial ?access? has scant impact. The kind of empowered access we need will come from mobilizing grassroots power. We need to show that we?ll back up members of Congress who are intrepid for our values -- and we can defeat others, including self-described ?progressives,? who aren?t. Building electoral muscle should be part of building a progressive movement. We?re in this for the long haul, but we?re not willing to mimic the verbiage or echo the silences from members of Congress who fail to challenge egregious realities of this administration?s policies. As Howard Zinn said, our role is to challenge, not fall in line."

"In contrast, the letter from the 14 members of the House (eight Democrats, six Republicans) lays down a clear line of opposition to the rationales for stepping up the warfare. "If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive," the letter says. And it warns that "any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States." More than 400 members of the House declined to sign the letter. In effect, they failed to join in a historic challenge to a prevailing assumption ? that the U.S. government must use massive violence for many more years to try to work Washington's will on Afghanistan. An old red-white-and-blue bumper sticker says: "These colors don't run." A newer one says: "These colors don't run? the world." Now, it's time for another twist: "These colors won't run? Afghanistan." But denial and evasion are in the political air."

"It?s a truly odious and destructive mix ? a government bent on perpetual war and a digital tech industry dominated by a few huge firms with an insatiable drive to maximize profits. Those companies have a lot to offer the government, and vice versa."

"Independent journalism is the antidote to the warfare state."

"International law is suddenly very popular in Washington. President Obama responded to Russian military intervention in the Crimea by accusing Russia of a ?breach of international law.? Secretary of State John Kerry followed up by declaring that Russia is ?in direct, overt violation of international law.? Unfortunately, during the last five years, no world leader has done more to undermine international law than Barack Obama. He treats it with rhetorical adulation and behavioral contempt, helping to further normalize a might-makes-right approach to global affairs that is the antithesis of international law."

"It?s now painfully clear that the president has put out a contract on the Fourth Amendment. And at the Capitol, the hierarchies of both parties are stuffing it into the trunks of their limousines, so each provision can be neatly fitted with cement shoes and delivered to the bottom of the Potomac."

"It's a big problem when there's not disclosure. I'm glad you opened this up. And I wouldn't want any viewers of this program to be left with the impression that somehow General Electric is an environmentally conscious company. On the contrary, they have a 30-year history of refusing and actually fighting against efforts to make them clean up the Hudson River, which GE fouled with terrible quantities of horrific PCBs, other rivers as well. People told they can't fish in the Hudson River. General Electric still lobbying to not have to clean up. General Electric, even today -- and this report is very timely -- General Electric is lobbying to get Congress to pass $18 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for a huge GE product which is General Electric components for nuclear power plants. So we should not be fooled in any way by efforts to greenwash General Electric or any other company."

"Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America?s Warfare State."

"Nearly 96 hours after the Observer had reported it, I called Times deputy foreign editor Alison Smale and asked why not. 'We would normally expect to do our own intelligence reporting,' Smale replied. She added that 'we could get no confirmation or comment.' In other words, U.S. intelligence officials refused to confirm or discuss the memo -- so the Times did not see fit to report on it."

"It's kind of like going to a store and there's fifty brands of cigarettes, they're mostly owned by three different corporations. You do have the Internet, but Jupiter Media Matrix just did a new study finding that 47% of the minutes spent on the World Wide Web by people in the United States are on sites owned by three corporations."

"Realities on the ground in the Middle East are undermining the fantasy-based policymakers in Washington. So, the Israeli iron fist, backed up by Washington, can do little to sweep away the electoral results from Palestinian votes that reflect actual opinions among Palestinian people."

"Some other Americans are on a rescue mission. One of them, Congressman Justin Amash, began a debate on the House floor Wednesday with a vow to ?defend the Fourth Amendment.? That?s really what his amendment ? requiring that surveillance be warranted ? was all about. No argument for the Amash amendment was more trenchant than the one offered by South Carolina Republican Jeff Duncan, who simply read the Fourth Amendment aloud. To quote those words was to take a clear side: ?The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.? Edward Snowden?s heroic revelations have made it possible for some House members from both parties to blow away the fog that shrouds so much tap dancing on Capitol Hill. When the Amash amendment went to the floor, there was no place left to hide."

"The Bush rhetoric about democracy has little to do with Washington's actual policy goals in the Middle East."

"The espionage law is about 95 years old. It?s absurd to use it against a whistle-blower, and it conveys a government attitude that the ?enemy? is first and foremost the people of the United States. That is a tacit approach that embraces secrecy as a way of continuing to perpetrate policies that can?t stand the light of day. So they?re kept hidden in the dark. A basic precept of democracy is consent of the governed, and it?s only meaningful if you have informed consent of the governed. And when you see what Bradley Manning has said not only in the courtroom, but also in his online chats, when he never had any thought they would go public, he had an acute sense that the public needs to know what is being done, that that?s an absolute prerequisite for a meaningful democratic process. Most people don?t want war, and so the manipulation of information and filtration of it and the twisting of it, all that is a prerequisite for a warfare state. Bradley Manning was aiding the enemy only if the enemy is truth. Bradley Manning was committing espionage only if the beneficiaries of the alleged espionage are understood to be the citizens of United States, and for that matter people of the world, who are so much at risk from aggressive military action."

"The huge imbalance of digital power now afflicting the Internet is a crucial subset of what afflicts the entirety of economic relations and political power in the United States. We have a profound, far-reaching fight on our hands, at a crossroads leading toward democracy or corporate monopoly. The future of humanity is at stake."

"That's a very different approach to what the CAW has done in the past."

"The official storyline is that the U.S. went from humiliation, with the Soviet launch of Sputnik 50 years ago, to triumph, man on the moon in ?69, technological superlatives ever since. But there?s a shadowy side, a terribly damaging and destructive shadowy side, which many people in the United States and around the world have been subjected to, and that is the hijacking and the channeling of technological expertise and scientific research in billions of dollars for purposes of what Dwight Eisenhower called in ?61 the "military-industrial complex" and, in a less well-known phrase in his farewell address in ?61, a "scientific technological elite." That elite is sending 2,000-pound bombs into urban areas of Iraq. It is not only paying off outfits like Blackwater to, out of sight and often out of mind, slaughter Iraqi people in our names and with our tax dollars, but also pursuing missions that are very far from the official storyline. And so, you could say, just as Sputnik was said to have launched a trajectory of U.S. technological expertise, Silicon Valley and all the rest of it, we have the underside of what we could call a political culture of hoax that has counterpointed all of the rhetoric about democracy and scientific progress with what Martin Luther King called in 1967 a dynamic of "guided missiles and misguided men," of using our talents of our country, our resources, our scientific brilliance, for purposes of enriching a few and building a warfare state, which is part of us every moment."

"The belief in the bodily resurrection has no religious foundation, and the doctrine of immortality refers to the after-existence of the soul only."

"The spinning is a repetition compulsion disorder. It?s part of the corporate media. If we?re going to counteract it, we need to support this program and many others around the country, websites, publications, radio outlets, all the different efforts that are necessary, because if we leave it to the punditocracy, they will go back to square one as they?re doing with Iran, this danger of an attack on Iran boilerplate with what we saw five years ago. We have to stop it."

"The warfare state doesn?t come and go. It can?t be defeated on Election Day? and it has infiltrated our very being."

"They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home - helping people in the communities they know best - not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away."

"To be silent about war agenda is consent."

"We desperately need a substantive national debate on U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While the Obama administration says that the problems of the region cannot be solved by military means, the basic approach is reliance on heightened military means."

"War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death."

"What has not changed is the profusion of corporations making a killing from the warfare state in tandem with Washington?s quest for geopolitical positioning, access to fossil fuels and other raw materials ? and access to markets for U.S.-based industries ranging from financial services to fast food. Let?s give credit to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for candor as he wrote approvingly in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree: ?The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald?s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the U.S. Air Force F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley?s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.?"

"We have lived, we have been incubated by a warfare state for five, six decades. And the effects of that are terribly pernicious. Martin Luther King talked about the "spiritual death" ? his phrase, the "spiritual death" ? that accompanies a society which year after year spends more on military defense than on social uplift. That was 40 years ago. What are the effects then of that spiritual death? And so, we have a chance to counteract those sort of dangerous, horrible trends with such terrible results, but we need to activate ourselves to do that."

"What is critical to me is that the process is a two-way street."

"What matters for those of us who watch T.V. and listen to the radio and read printed, uh, outlets is the content. And there you have a very different matter. If you subject what's on the airwaves and in major print outlets to a content analysis, it's very, very different. Now the media industry is structured, I think very similar to other industries. People at the top have a lot more to say about the constraints that the workers work under than people at the bottom."

"While the House has grown somewhat restive, the Senate has remained notably pliant for the surveillance state."

"When people decry civilian deaths caused by the U.S government, they're aiding propaganda efforts. In sharp contrast, when civilian deaths are caused by bombers who hate America, the perpetrators are evil and those deaths are tragedies. When they put bombs in cars and kill people, they're uncivilized killers. When we put bombs on missiles and kill people, we're upholding civilized values. When they kill, they're terrorists. When we kill, we're striking against terror."