Sunday, May 22, 2022 |
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Propaganda and teh Ukranian war
Most of us recognize propaganda in its classic form, the “con game.” Hustler tells a gullible person a big lie. Gets his confidence and his money. Business uses the same approach. Tobacco industry: Smoking is not addictive. Government: It is.
Ads hustle us every day because business is competitive, and how do you beat the competition?
The “moral compass.” My belief is that all humans start life with a moral compass. It’s nature and/or God’s way to stop us from killing humans. The moral compass is a person’s ability to judge right and wrong and act accordingly. To judge: The No. 1 rule is “Though shall not kill humans.”
In the 19th century, military theorists discussed how to win a war. It is like a business discussion as to how to beat the competition. In the classic book “On War,” the author Vonn Clausewitz wrote: “…moral factors are the ultimate determinants in war…armies that prevail have the full-hearted support of their citizens back home.”
How do you get this support and break the moral compass? By propaganda. Example from World War II: Hitler, when he came to power, started the myth of the Aryan “superman.” Germans are greater than other humans. What of the Slavs (Russians). They are “untermeschen,” sub-human. The sub-human is the greatest enemy of the dominant species on earth. They are primitive animals.
That is the big lie. The moral compass is skewered to it is OK to kill animals. Humans do it all the time.
When Germany attacked Russia in 1941, German officers were told to tell the soldiers that Germany was fighting the untermeschen. It’s OK to kill Russians. 40 million Russians were killed, most of them civilians.
Fast forward to the Ukranian war. The new appeal to all of us is the indiscriminate attack on people, especially women and children. Our moral sense is aroused by the No. 1 rule, don’t kill humans. How can Putin breach such a rule? Is he insane? He must be charged with war crimes. Surely the Russian people will rise up against him.
Remember what Clausewitz said: to win you need the full-hearted support of people back home. Putin at the start of the war spoke of history, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Nazis. Who were the Nazis that fought against Russia? Germans, Rumanians, Hungarians, some Bulgarians and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. Maybe that memory might cause the moral compass of the majority of the Russian people to support Putin.
We traveled to Russia. Monuments and academics made it clear that the Russian people have been severely hurt by two wars: Napoleon’s invasion of 1812. (Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture is a rousing propaganda piece.) The other: The Great Patriotic War against the Nazis. Statues, monuments, memories of the horror. At Leningrad, where the German army surrounded the city for 900 days and thousands of people died from hunger and privation, we learned the horror. I think Putin was there during the siege and lost a daughter.
Think on it. Might people who recall the horror of World War II be easily convinced to fight another “Patriotic War against the Nazis?” What nations are in NATO? Germany, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria. And the Ukraine wants to join NATO.
I am not defending Putin. Killing innocents is horrible.
But I am trying to help you understand this war.
The last invasion of the U.S. was in 1812.
Few of us have any kind of memory of it.
William J. Fernandez is a retired judge and Kapa‘a resident.
Some people need driving lessons
Some people need to take a lesson on traffic lights and safety hints in the area.
For example, on the new traffic lights at Laulea and Kaumuali‘i Highway in ‘Ele‘ele, if you are at a stop at the intersection waiting for the light to turn red to green to allow you to make a left turn or go straight to cross the highway.
There is a designated line (2 feet or a road shoulder’s width from the traffic light) to stop. The reason one should stop at that line is to relieve a driver turning onto Laulea Street from fear of scrapping your bumper and damaging their vehicle.
Also, for you exiting/crossing the highway, stop at the designated line and leave enough room for the vehicle to enter onto Laulea Street. The other reason is to keep a plain view for the vehicle on the right of you, to see that there is no oncoming vehicle before he/she can enter the highway.
So, please, wait your turn when the light directs you to do so, and stop on the designated line.
“Do not pass the line.”
Also, you don’t have to act like an idiot and stick your head out of the driver’s window yelling at the driver (who has the right of way) turning onto Laulea Street.
Again, stop at the designated line, so there is room for an oncoming vehicle making his/her left turn from the highway and for a vehicle on the right to see his/her view safely.
Howard Tolbe, ‘Ele‘ele
Thanks for insightful letters
Thanks to William Fernandez and Judy Xenofos for their thoughtful letters (Forum, March 6). They call to mind a warning embedded in one of the few Hawaiian mele that have survived from the time before Europeans arrived: “Kaulilua i ke anu o Wai‘ale‘ale” (Chilled through and through on the cold summit of Wai‘ale‘ale).
One of several interpretations of this complex chant holds that Wai‘ale‘ale represents a pinnacle of thought from which a prophet discerns the future: “Ki‘ei kaula nana i ka makani” (The prophet peers into the wind, seeing far in time and space). S/he foresees the chill wind blowing strangers toward the islands. These newcomers will bring new ideas and inventions, some of which will bless and others that will hurt the land and people. Watch out, admonishes the prophet. Embrace the beneficial and eschew the dangerous. Be sure you know which is which. Use the wisdom your ancestors have given you to ponder all possible consequences of your choices. (Take note: whoever is responsible for doming the corridor of Lihu‘e Airport with photographs illustrating this chant may have had a deeper purpose in mind than simply posting pretty pictures!)
What timeless and timely advice! In his recent letters, Judge Fernandez has called readers to learn from the past to avoid making mistakes in the present that will imperil the future. Ms. Xenoforos decries the marginalization of elders and others who are less than completely technology savvy. Their concerns echo recent warnings, some from the technology purveyors themselves, about possible negative effects of Instagram and other social-media phenomena on people, especially young people, who uncritically depend on them.
A common denominator is an old Maori proverb: What you were is what you are and what you will be. Do not dismiss history and the elders who embody it simply because they are old. Examine what they did right and wrong so that you will be better prepared to choose your future wisely.
H.M. Wyeth, Anahola
Eminent domain is theft
One of my favorite proverbs says, “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their true name.”
Regarding our County Council voting in favor of taking private property in Kilauea away from its rightful owner through the process of eminent domain, there’s only one principled way to perceive such an act. It is THEFT, and our councilmembers should be excoriated as the thieves they truly are.
“Eminent domain” is just a euphemism created to obfuscate the principle of property rights that is the foundation of all freedom. The underlying principle does not become void based on any good intentions of the thief. If your car was stolen but the thief left you a less-valuable vehicle in its place so you could still get around, would that negate the crime committed? Just like property taxes, eminent domain is an attack on the property rights of citizens by an oppressive occupying force.
The kingdom of Hawai‘i was stolen from its people through an act of eminent domain by sugar barons. The kingdom is currently under foreign occupation by an illegitimate U.S. federal government. Government has only one proper function, and that is to defend the rights and liberties of its citizens. Elected officials and other government employees are to be held to the same standards and laws as they enforce upon their constituents. They should not possess special privileges which exempt them from being punished for their crimes. The democratic process does not negate the rights of the voters. Just because the majority of residents choose one criminal over another does not legitimize their crimes. The same principle applies to Kawakami and Ige’s illegal mandates and emergency declarations.
For those of you who feel some allegiance to the United States, it would serve you well to revisit the Declaration of Independence. Your rights are unalienable, being endowed by your creator, not your government. That government derives its power from the consent of the governed. Most importantly, when that government becomes destructive of your liberty, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.
You are asleep at the wheel if you can’t recognize the current usurpation of the people’s rights at all levels of government power. The time has come to start holding our representatives accountable for their crimes and protecting the property rights of civilians.
Brady Stewart, Kapa‘a
Brady, all of Hawaii’s land, all if it, in the Great Mahele and the subsequent Kuleana Act, went to Hawaiians. None of it went to foreigners. It was Hawaiians who sold it off, many of whom were ali’i and royalty. An occasional kuleana owned by a Hawaiian inside a larger parcel that the royalty sold was lost due to the death of the kuleana owner with no heirs or was outright abandoned and forgotten. But those were few and far between. It was the ali’i and the monarchy who sold Hawaii’s land.
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