Friday, September 25, 2009

AM Radio Hitler's Deadliest Weapon

The triumph of Nazi propaganda in this period is the subject of a remarkable exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (where I serve on the governing board). Germany in the 1920s was a land of broad literacy and diverse politics, boasting 146 daily newspapers in Berlin alone. Yet in the course of a few years, a fringe party was able to define a national community by scapegoating internal enemies; elevate a single, messianic leader; and keep the public docile with hatred while the state committed unprecedented crimes.

The adaptive use of new technology was central to this achievement. The Nazis pioneered voice amplification at rallies, the distribution of recorded speeches and the sophisticated targeting of poster art toward groups and regions.

But it was radio that proved the most powerful tool. The Nazis worked with radio manufacturers to provide Germans with free or low-cost "people's receivers." This new technology was disorienting, taking the public sphere, for the first time, into private places -- homes, schools and factories. "If you tuned in," says Steve Luckert, curator of the exhibit, "you heard strangers' voices all the time. The style had a heavy emphasis on emotion, tapping into a mass psychology. You were bombarded by information that you were unable to verify or critically evaluate. It was the Internet of its time."

This comparison to the Internet is apt. The Nazis would have found much to admire in the adaptation of their message on neo-Nazi, white supremacist and Holocaust-denial Web sites.

But the challenge of this technology is not merely an isolated subculture of hatred. It is a disorienting atmosphere in which information is difficult to verify or critically evaluate, the rules of discourse are unclear, and emotion -- often expressed in CAPITAL LETTERS -- is primary. User-driven content on the Internet often consists of bullying, conspiracy theories and racial prejudice. The absolute freedom of the medium paradoxically encourages authoritarian impulses to intimidate and silence others. The least responsible contributors see their darkest tendencies legitimated and reinforced, while serious voices are driven away by the general ugliness.

Ethicist Clive Hamilton calls this a "belligerent brutopia." "The Internet should represent a great flourishing of democratic participation," he argues. "But it doesn't. . . . The brutality of public debate on the Internet is due to one fact above all -- the option of anonymity. The belligerence would not be tolerated if the perpetrators' identities were known because they would be rebuffed and criticized by those who know them. Free speech without accountability breeds dogmatism and confrontation."

This destructive disinhibition is disturbing in itself. It also allows hatred to invade respected institutional spaces on the Internet, gaining for these ideas a legitimacy denied to fringe Web sites. After the Bernard Madoff scandal broke, for example, major newspaper sites included user-generated content such as "Find a Jew who isn't Crooked" and "Just another jew money changer thief" -- sentiments that newspapers would not have printed as letters to the editor. Postings of this kind regularly attack immigrants and African Americans, recycle centuries of anti-Semitism and deny the events of the Holocaust as a massive Jewish lie.

Legally restricting such content -- apart from prosecuting direct harassment and threats against individuals or incitement to violence -- is impossible. In America, the First Amendment protects blanket statements of bigotry. But this does not mean that popular news sites, along with settings such as Facebook and YouTube, are constitutionally required to provide forums for bullies and bigots. As private institutions, they are perfectly free to set rules against racism and hatred. This is not censorship; it is the definition of standards.

Some online institutions, such as The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, screen user comments before posting them. Others, such as The Post and The Wall Street Journal, rely on readers to identify objectionable content -- a questionable strategy because numbness to abusiveness and hatred on the Internet is part of the challenge.

Whatever the method, no reputable institution should allow its publishing capacity, in print or online, to be used as the equivalent of the wall of a public bathroom stall.

The exploitation of technology by hatred will never be eliminated. But hatred must be confined to the fringes of our culture -- as the hatred of other times should have been.
Washington Post 9/25/09

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Who The Hell Am I” ...Nas Forgot to Name a 'Coon'

Man I love that song. When an artist takes a stand and confronts a problem that people might not realize because they don’t quite understand the history of our culture. But Nas forgot somebody. Maybe it could be because they play his videos on TV. Hmmmm...I wonder who he missed. I’ve got it! That station that had a young boy doing stand-up holding a pimp cup and yapping about pimpin’. That station that devotes more than 70% of its schedule to showing music videos than decent programming. That station that continues to bestow upon its audience the concept that the only rich people are rappers, singers, and athletes. That station that instead of showing the presidential debates opted to show another round of its useless top 10 videos showcasing half naked women and people who idealize money and cars instead of embracing less tangible items. That station that shows a little more than three quarter naked women after hours. That very station that shows less news than any other minority station. Do you have an idea who I’m talking about? If you don’t you better wake yo punk ass up!

It’s a Coon Picnic over there at BET. BET stands for Black Entertainment Television but lately could stand for Black Exploitation Television because of its lack of anything helpful to African American culture. Sure they have a half and hour news show and from time to time show a decent movie (if that) but that’s where the buck stops. Remember when BET used to have Teen Summit with Prince Dejour and Ananda Lewis? An educational forum that young people tuned into every week that not only gave you insight on problems plaguing our teens but also gave you a decent performance or two (remember the baby faced Usher before he got crunk?). Remember when Donnie Simpson brought personality to Video Soul? Every day it felt good to look at the likeable and well spoken Donnie wake you up to your favorite music. This is before the naked asses you see today of course.

No more BET Tonight, Heart and Soul or Lead Story. But whose fault is it? Robert Johnson sold BET to go after being the first Black owner of a sports franchise. Hooray for Bob Johnson! He’s rich and we are still poor in knowledge and culture. He reportedly once said that the ‘E’ in BET stood for Entertainment not Education. I guess he’s not responsible for what comes on TV but more interested in his bottom line. That makes him a good businessman right? But when will it become someone’s responsibility to help assist in the growth of our culture rather than succumb to the never ending stereotypes that plague BET today.

Now look what BET is. The only outlet for African American television that does damn near nothing for the culture that helps keeps this station afloat. I mean...dammit... I hate BET! It’s a shame when you show more videos than a station whose name says “Music Video” in it! I can’t bear to watch Tip Drill again (okay maybe one more time...but that’s it and I mean it! ) because of its degrading images. I can’t watch another video with zero substance but more than 1,000,000 dollars worth of rims, cars, jewelry and clothing that the next generation idolizes more than content and history.

Speaking of history, where the hell is the history!?!? Geezus! What do you have to do to get a little education around here? I don’t know what the hell videos teach us but I don’t think it would hurt too much to show other great African Americans who have transcended our culture through various outlets besides rapping about big booty bitches who get low and thug out. The Gordon Parks, Bo jangles, Eldridge Cleavers, Bobby Seales, Stokely Carmicheals, Angela Davis, Assata Shakurs, Donnie Hathaways, Marcus Garveys, Ossie Davis, Spike Lees, Omar Tyrees, Michael Eric Dyson, Barack Obamas, Duke Ellingtons, Lena Hornes, Ruby Dees, Josephine Bakers, Harriet Tubmans, Billie Hollidays, Tom Joyners, Princes, Sistah Souljahs, Bill Cosbys, Nikki Giovannis, Cornel Wests, and the many others who have assisted in making African Americans valuable.

Why can’t BET show African Americans how to make money instead of spend it? It’s crazy how a video can influence us go out and buy the silliest items which depreciate as soon as you drive it off the lot, but why not take 1 hour out of the umpteen hours of videos and deliver a show about how to make money and how to make your money make money. Look how we are viewed. No other channel has more “debt free” commercials than BET yet will do absolutely nothing to teach people how to stay out of debt. It’s like we are their prey. But we bite the bait every single time.

Talk about how important credit is for young people. I mean just for entertainment purposes let P. Diddy host it. He’s rich and he got everybody who didn’t know jack about an election to believe in his “Vote or Die” mantra so why not let him show people how he makes money on his various lucrative endeavors. His accountant can hold up the que cards. Oh and next can we please rid ourselves of the crappy shows BET picks up that were booted off of another station? The Parkers?

Awwwww... C’mon! Why not show television shows that meant something like What’s Happening, Good Times, Sanford and Son, A Different World, Living Single, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, In Living Color, Martin, the list can go on and on. BET has crappy shows period.

Take College Hill for instance, an outright bite off of MTV’s The Real World yet looks like it was shot with the world’s first video camera. Viacom owns MTV, BET and VH1 so why is it that VH1 and MTV have the better quality shows while BET shows look like bootleg garbage? They gave us the scraps from the bottom of the barrel and we accepted it. It’s like feeding your two favorite children while the redheaded...or I guess you can say...nappy headed stepchild rummages the crumbs off of the floor. I suppose it all boils down to what we accept as a culture.

Since a high percentage of time on BET is devoted to videos, let’s talk about that garbage as well. How many times can one person watch the same 20 videos? I swear you can catch a video that ends BET Start and then kicks off 106th and Park which is shown again on the Countdown.

I mean really, there aren’t any other artists out there? Remember when BET was groundbreaking and would show videos that you couldn’t catch on the radio? Remember when Rap City was the @#%$? Now it’s in some dudes basement under his mama’s house. Remember the first time you saw Nas climbing the steps to “The World is Yours”? Or watching the dust rupture off of the instruments on the Roots “Distortion to Static”? Or how about Public Enemy fighting the power?

What if these videos were never shown? Of course hip hop has changed which results in a programming shift but there can be more time allotted to spotlighting more innovative artists. Videos play a huge role in what the public gets behind so why not be a little more responsible with what type of videos are shown? It’s amazing how BET can take Eminem off the air because he dissed Michael Jackson but there was no shame in showing the women degrading “Get Low” over and over and over again. Eminem can’t diss Michael Jackson but Comic View does it every single day.

Hypocritical perhaps? And speaking of Comic View...when will that show die??? The comedy is so linear and not funny it’s unbelievable. But I guess when people view us as dancing, singing, rapping, God fearing jiggaboo comedians; we can’t let them down right? And speaking of God fearing....

There is something I have to get off my chest real quick before many of you send me death threats and make an attempt on my life. ALL AFRICAN AMERICANS DO NOT WANT TO SEE THE CHURCH ALL DAY SUNDAY! Yes... I’m a god fearing individual but why is it that BET is the ONLY station besides the Christian Network that has to show the Gospel all day on Sunday. I don’t go to church (for my own personal reasons of which I will not get into) along with many other African Americans so I really don’t want to sit through TD Jakes as my programming all damn day. That is just as stereotypical as the rest of the programming. If there was a balance none of this would be an issue but it’s either one extreme or the other. So I guess all we can do is laugh, sing and rap about sex, cars, women and money. That’s what BET gives us everyday. 24hrs a day 6 days a week (can’t forget about the whole Sunday dedicated in crooked pastor programming). But what can we do?

Make a statement! Stop supporting BET and the garbage that it is committed in delivering to your television set. Take a stand and fight the power. The only thing worse than another race dissing you is your own race dissing you unabashedly for the fancy of Entertainment. How can we stop the attacks on the outside unless we work on healing our own wounds internally? Be an activist within your community and make others knowledgeable of their history and their culture. Maybe then we can appreciate the path that Bo jangles had to take in order for us to get through the door. Maybe then we can understand that what Amos and Andy did was relevant but was done so we would not have to tread that path once again. But until then I’m still singing along with Nas

“One for the coons on UPN 9 and WB who yes massah on BET” but I’m just a critic...

Who the Hell Am I?
Monday - December 06, 2004
Andreas Hale

Thursday, September 10, 2009

America's Natural Gas

Andre Johnson
1816 NW 45th Str
Miami, FL 33142-4748

September 10, 2009

[recipient address was inserted here]

Dear [recipient name was inserted here],

While the price per barrel of oil has fallen from the last summer highs,
it's beginning to rise again. What hasn't changed is the percentage of
oil we import every day: over the past 12 months we have continued to
import nearly two-thirds of the oil we use.

Most of the oil we import is used as a transportation fuel - cars, trucks,
aircraft, boats and trains. About one barrel out of every five is used as
diesel fuel to power heavy trucks - 18-wheelers.

I am all for developing battery and fuel cell technology - or some other
technology which is still in the laboratory stage. But neither batteries
nor hydrogen are ready for widespread distribution to our national fleet
of approximately 250 million cars and light trucks. A battery also won't
push an 18-wheeler. The only fuel which is available to reduce our
dependence on foreign oil is domestic natural gas.

Due to recent advances in technology, we now have the ability to recover
natural gas from the enormous deposits in Texas, Louisiana and Appalachia
in the lower 48 states. In fact, a recent study Potential Gas Committee
estimates that natural gas reserves have surged by 35 percent. The 2,074
trillion cubic feet of domestic natural gas reserves cited in the study is
the equivalent of nearly 350 billion barrels of oil, about the same as
Saudi Arabia's oil reserves.

Natural gas is cheaper than diesel fuel. Natural gas is cleaner than
diesel. It's abundant. And it's ours.

The time to act is now and the NAT GAS Act is the best tool we've had in
decades to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

The NAT GAS Act of 2009 is a bi-partisan bill in both the U.S. House of
Representatives (H.R. 1835) and the Senate (S. 1408). In the House,
Congressmen Boren (D-OK), Larson (D-CT) and Sullivan (R-OK) introduced it
April 1 and it already has nearly 80 bi-partisan cosponsors. In the
Senate, Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Hatch (R-UT) were joined by Senate
Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to introduce it on July 8.

The NAT GAS Act provides industry with the incentives to replace older
diesel trucks with newer natural gas vehicles - it's a great step in the
right direction. It will provide the momentum for engine manufacturers,
natural gas producers and natural gas distributors to ramp up and make a
real difference in our dependence on foreign oil.

I hope you will sign up as a cosponsor to support this important
legislation. I will be watching your press and floor remarks for
statements of support.


Andre Johnson

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


This country is coming a loose at the seams. Now we have a president who actually is trying to get needle and thread and sew it back up. Some people who claim to be intelligent, worldly, are not looking at our situation globally. They are acting like enemies of the state. Are they trying to defeat us from the within? To stop this man, our president from repairing a torn republic. Medicare will be bankrupt in several years, our manufacturing sector is not competing at all, we have to borrow money from a previous socialist country to sustain ourselves. Adam Smith wrote a book about "Petro Dollars" because at one time we thought that with all the investment coming from OPEC that they would actually have a majority stake in America. Now it really seems like the Chinese will. The Chinese are the tireless. They are the manufactures of the world. America is far behind in the creation of technology patents. Look at and see what the Chinese are doing with their time, you can buy a watch that is actually a cell phone with a camera that is looks nice. Their children study they don't play and waste time like America's they know they have to compete. We as Americans have become complacent. Sports and the arena is what ruined Rome. Now ask yourself "What are the most looked at television shows in America?" Answer the NFL Monday night Football and the WWE with is on three nights a week. Our children have false hope and dreams with these shows of athletic prowess. Where is the stimulation and brain athletics that count toward a more realistic future. There are commercials on that say that children buy $140.00 sneakers hoping to learn to play basketball and will never have talent enough to be a professional athlete. So is there anything wrong with telling them to exercise their brain where they truly have a chance of real success that will also benefit a country that need their success? Not far behind China in education is India. India's honor role students equal the total number of students in America's schools. We have to compete in this world; our children have to compete in technology and manufacturing. Stop the excuses. Excuses are the tools of the mediocre which what we have become. Wake up America.