Washing Away One Trail of Tears After Another

White Washing: According to one Merriam-Webster definition, to whitewash is to “gloss over or cover up,” which, in a sense, is what the racial form of whitewashing does. It creates a White world where sins against people of color, including Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, and other minority groups cease to matter because, in revisionist history and reality, those minority groups barely exist.

Here’s one example believe it or not which ties into my neck of the woods on the Central Oregon Coast, and even Portland, OR: ‘Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. With an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he. Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. He was brave, he was fearless and as tough as a mighty oak tree. The rippin’est roarin’est fightin’est man the frontier ever knew.’

We get to Boone in a moment, and all the mythology and falsified history of his very existence.

There are all sorts of ways to wash away complicity or guilt, and the color wheel is just one way to describe this highly sophisticated form of propaganda-marketing-PR spin-Revisionist history/thinking/mythology. Whitewashing is a form of fabrication.

Part of the fabrication are those scared cows like “we support our men and women in uniform.” I personally have a few hundred examples of going up against many armies of the lie, or battalions of the bullshit.

There are good journalists and good teachers, for sure, but the majority, for the most part, are not sacred or holy or fool-proof agents of democracy. There are many ways I have been hobbled for not supporting the illegal wars of this country, especially Bush’s “declared victory” in the Middle East. Hobbled by fellow journalists and educators.  I was living in El Paso, and Cocaine and Southern Comfort W Bush was the governor of that Tex-ass state. El Paso is a huge arena for military and retired military. The Mexican-Americans (88 percent of the population in El Paso/El Paso County) may have voted straight democrat on their ballots (Bush and other retrograde redneck vicious governors have come to town courting that vote), but many Latinx love their USA flags and military men and women from their ranks. So, going against Reagan’s wars in Central America or Bush I’s against Panama, Malvinas and his Desert Shield, I was up against supposed liberal left fellow teachers and journalists. Even supposedly disenfranchised Latinx.

Once the Prez or Congress or whomever (CIA, NSA) gets us into a war, we all must support the troops, no, tie a yellow ribbon on the chain-link fence sort of thing …  support the mission, support whatever the Commander in Chief does with his tin soldiers. How many times have I gone up against college/university presidents and provosts and department chairs and even my own fellow faculty when I questioned the veracity of rationales for bombing other countries. As Kim Peterson illustrates in his recent DV article, “North Korea Steadfastly Resisting US Hegemony,” by illuminating A.B. Abrams’ “… comprehensive book, Immovable Object: North Korea’s 70 Years at War with American Power, there is a whole lot of rooting for war and destruction by the average North American:

US wars are not only a function of its government and military. It is important to realize that the US carries out it warring and provocations against foreign countries often with overwhelming approval of the American populace. Abrams writes that the majority of American citizens supported using nukes against North Korea. (p 131) American public support for warring was also evident by support for intensified bombing by the US during armistice negotiations. (p 224) That this American public support for militarism was not an anomaly was revealed during the US attacks on Muslim nations following 9-11, with 70% of Americans indicating a belief in Saddam Hussein being connected to Al Qaeda. (p 390)

You can fiddle with terms like illegal alien, positing that no human being is “illegal,” or debating how the term “alien” ascribes more than a negative otherness to the person — it dehumanizes the person.

These are important discussions, especially in politics, in journalism and in educational circles. Yet, these discussions have lingered in academia, and have withered at the root of American enlightenment.

I’ve had to confront people about what it means to be humanistic and abiding by the Earth Charter and Dignity and Rights of All People. You know, that socialistic and humanistic and democratic and communist set of principles of for-by-with-because-of the people:

  • pinko
  • self-loathing white
  • un-American
  • anti-American
  • anti-patriotic
  • traitor
  • love it or leave it
  • bleeding heart liberal

These are terms of vile against me and others for fighting for the simple rights of people — some of the most able, of the land and poor village people and farmers whose lives are torn up, destroyed, disposed of, displaced through the strong arm and long arm of economic-cultural-political-military warfare.

You can be labeled “anti-American/anti-business/anti-poor” for questioning Walmart. You can be called a “traitor” for questioning bombing, chemical spraying, immolating, polluting, imprisoning, permanently displacing people the USA deems enemies, supportive of enemies of the state, or collateral damage.

Proportionality when discussed by the average American is questioning the very fabric of our way of life, our leadership and our own form of enslavement and dictatorship. The military is right, and whatever they need to intervene or overreach, they know the deal.

Proportionality in international law, however,  is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about equality of firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime…. even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality). — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.

The above Moreno-Ocampo statement is more or less memory-holed, erased largely from discourse, and hardly every cited in educational circles. This form of washing away knowledge is called agnotology – a concerted effort to wash or erase facts, history. The white wash cited above, as in support the troops right or wrong, is well, pretty obvious in the K12 textbooks, or watching those crocodile-teared GOP or Democrats with their metal USA flag lapel pins, shakily saluting while death jets like F-15, 16, 18 models zoom above inebriated football fans. Hourly fuel costs:

Fighters:
F-15C Eagle Fighter — $41,921
F-16C Viper Fighter — $22,514
F-22A Raptor Fighter — $68,362

$1,500 – Predator drone
$11,500 – A-10
$70,000 – V-22
$32,000 – F-35
$44,000 – F22
$135,000 – B-2
$5,000 – F-16
$17,000-$30,000 – F-15C
$19,000-$30,000 – F-22

VIP transport:
C-20B VIP Plane (Senior Pentagon Officials) — $32,212
C-32A VIP Plane (Vice President, Cabinet Officers) — $42,936
VC-25A Air Force One — $161,591
E-4B Flying Headquarters — $163,485

Operating expenses total $206,337 for every hour the president’s plane is in the air.

Which brings us to more than just white washing, or blood money trading. Imagine the US military is the biggest single source of pollution in the world, and imagine creepy politicians and GS-18’s and highflying ex-four star generals and CEOs of the mercenary companies like Raytheon and Aerodynamics, just getting their free air time spewing lie after lie about a more sustainable US military — mean, green, lean fighting machine.

Greenwashing is a whitewash or green sheening by corporations to promote themselves as “environment friendly.” It also encompasses that environmentally and socially responsibility flim-flam, full of the PT Barnum deceptive promotion to lie through their teeth. Key concepts for all washing it marketing and advertising themselves as environment friendly. Spend money on the Mad Men and Mad Women, rather than actual actions, is called greenwashing.

Add to the wash of the green, blue-washing:  a technique deployed by corporations and companies to form collaborations and associations with various United Nations agencies to portray themselves as being compliant of the ten principles of United Nations Global Compact, while not being so in actuality.

Advertising spin of the blue wash variety is supposedly showing congruence with these principles above, to include actions against child labor, slavery and corruption, safeguarding human rights.

Then, well, we get into the latest arena of washing, bullshitting, lying, mind manipulation, closely linked to the fearful majority who would dare speak out against Zionism as a massively inhumane belief and operating system, one counterpoint to the 10 Principles illustrated above. You are, in a nutshell, pigeon-holed as anti-Semitic if you criticize these aspects of Zionism or the country (sic) of “Israel.” Washed out of existence, another form of washing. Akin to being memory-holed  as a non-human, a nobody.

Who would have thought Pink-washing would be tied to “Israel,” but . . . .

[Below: Anarcho-queer collective Mashpritzot hold a “die-in” protest against Israeli pinkwashing and the perceived homonormative priorities of the LGBT support centre in Tel Aviv]

Over a decade ago, activists adopted the term “pink-washing” to describe the Israeli propaganda tactic of washing away the oppression of Palestinians by painting Israel as a gay-friendly and liberal state. Israeli pink-washing tries to win the hearts and minds of international audiences and prevent solidarity with the Palestinian struggle

white paint overlay over a close up of details of a marble column

Reversing back to this screed’s start

We’ll get to Ralph Nader’s Radio Hour in a second. We’ll get to Daniel Boone too, in a second, tied to the white-washing pulled quote above.

First, a little bit of my work again in social services, a field that is for the most part vastly underpaid, with workers who are dedicated at first, highly motivated to help people, and whose lives are in many cases the epitome of sacrifice — student loan debts, master’s degrees for $17 an hour work, and mandatory several thousand hours of unpaid clinical hours.

Think about that for a moment — pre-Covid-19, a society fraught with trauma, fraught with chronic physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual illnesses. People who are left alone, left out to dry, folks who are traumatized by family, by neighborhoods, by circumstances. People who were already damaged in many ways in utero, and after birth, well, the society in general and at large, eating away at the typical American soul. Tape worms of the soul: Capitalism. Pin worms of the heart: Consumerism. The giant proverbial leech sucking people dry in this economic gulag: Market Driven Madness.

Some of the people I serve have head injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries. That act of “god” or “fate” can alter a person completely for life. In most cases, there is a lot of physical impediment, or some, but the memory is shot-through, many times. Spotty short-term and long-term memory. Swiss cheese of the brain in many cases.

Then a head bash-trauma can also strip away a person’s emotional and empathetic cores. They just can’t feel the normal range of human emotions. No tears when a loved one dies. Little joy. Even brain injured children are considered low on the person’s emotional totem pole.

On the job, a person in this situation needs accommodations, needs personal support workers to help the injured person just do the basic activities of daily living/survival.

It isn’t an easy life — going from a perfectly healthy and active 15-year-old thriving teen, to a paralyzed, comatose and soon recovering brain injured human being.

My job is to support these sorts of people in getting work, and in getting to first base in the first place by coaching interview techniques, by helping contextualize life gaps, such as the years after a brain injury.

The emotional complexities of the human species are many times missing, and so I have to act as the bridge and interpreter as this person attempts to navigate integrated employment.

The problem is that this sort of survival is a growing concern. Emergency Medicine can keep people alive after horrific accidents, accidents which just a few years ago would have been a death sentence.

Now, what do the “recovered” do to survive, to find some niche in society by working and carrying on? When the society in general is still fifty years behind the times?

Many of the people with a TBI live a life surrounded by/surrounding themselves with mythology, sacred cows, propped up belief systems. They many times want to believe in “normal/normalcy” in a world where that — normal — is an ever-moving target.

The “new normal” is no normal.

Which leads us back to the entire white washing of USA, of this country’s past, this country’s under girder and foundations of, well, theft.

Brains and Daniel Boone

I write, participate in revolutionary activism, muckrake, and work in social services, as I have laid out in DV many times in the past 11 years, grappling with many different challenges in those gigs or jobs I’ve had assisting people — people in distress, traumatized, in full-blown crisis, a la PTSD. Brain injured as adults (war time, too), born with Down Syndrome, dementia and Alzheimer’s, mentally retarded (according to various school districts and Special Ed programs), with drug affected conditions leading to all manner of learning and developmental disabilities. Old and young, functional in terms of our “normal” society, or highly impacted by fetal alcohol syndrome or cerebral palsy, and the like.

I’ve worked with folks living with psychological disabilities, like schizophrenia. With full-blown mental breakdown caused by bad families, bad circumstances, bad drugging, bad war experiences, bad people. Everyone of the military women I have worked with were victimized by rape. Brutal. Many women in general I have worked with have been sexually assaulted. And with all of the psychological tears and battering those rapes do, there are also physical issues tied to pounded faces, pounded necks, and, thus, we have bad backs and necks and all the other secondary and tertiary things associated with violent attacks on bodies.

I’m working with what the people who come to me have, helping them enhance the positives and push down some of the barriers. And the barriers are more than just their own, their own families’, their own community’s. The barriers are cultural. Many Americans want “them” to maybe be seen but not heard. Many do not want them to be seen, either.

Another threadbare existence for tens of millions of people. Maybe more. And there will be more on the horizon with more and more people surviving crashes and accidents, left with major mental-psychological-neurological-physical disabilities. The handicapping comes from policies, legislation, lack of housing, lack of real support teams. Just one of a million things lacking in this Corrupt and Criminal Capitalism.

Funny stories arise, though. One fellow I work with read the local paper, Newport News Times. I’ve written for the twice-a-week rag. On homelessness and environmental stuff.

He was excited to know that the Oregon timber town where he lives once had a fellow and his brood there, on an island, whose family line included that fellow, Daniel Boone:

‘The history of McCaffrey Island’ —

Van Daniel first homesteaded the island in 1897 but never owned the property, according to James’ correspondence with Van Daniel’s daughter, Carol Holbrook. The family first moved into an abandoned shed on the island but built a full home there by 1901. Nine of their 10 children were born on the island, and they went to school by rowing to Oysterville.

The family made its living harvesting oysters and raising pigs. On the upper tier of the island was a waterfall and garden. Holbrook said there were no trees on the island when they first moved there, but they later planted many, including an apple and plum tree.

Holbrook said Indigenous people often visited the island, and her father hired them to help the family shuck oysters. One of Van Daniel’s sons also found arrowheads and beads on the island while they lived there.

When Van Daniel’s wife fell ill with tuberculosis in 1917, the family moved from the island to an abandoned house on the mainland. They didn’t sell the island because they didn’t own it. They never learned who owned the abandoned house they moved into on the mainland either.

So, of course, my friend/client got all excited because of that famously present seeding of lies the US school system and Holly-Dirt have perpetuated since that old cherry tree was chopped down, or that first “thanksgiving” with the Puritans and Pokanoket Wampanoag.

We talked about the old TV show the 35-year-old client watches — Fess Parker as Boone in the 1964-1970 TV series. Strange how these racist old series still float around the ether.

“Man, I always wanted to be like Daniel Boone when we watched that show. I watched the show when I was young. What was it, fifteen years or whatever after the show was cancelled.”

So, with his permission, we looked at the Boone myth which was precipitated by an innocuous piece in the local rag on some pioneer (sic) families and others who had that island.

Boone has been portrayed in books and in movies and TV shows as a regular tough guy, all-American, the new Adam paving the way for Manifest Destiny and land claims for a beginning white nation. Here is a decent two paragraphs that put the white washing in the context of Boone and his modern-day worshippers:

In 1992 Native people in KY and allies during the 500th anniversary of Columbus decided to correct local historic monuments to alleged heroes of colonialism in the Ohio Valley. The picture you see above is one example. It was a statue of Daniel Boone at the entrance to? “Cherokee Park”. There are 4 parks in Louisville named after the people driven from this land. Cherokee, Shawnee, Chickasaw, and Iroquois. Of course there are monuments all over this city to Confederate Generals, Indian killers, slave owners, and the like. There are absolutely none to Tecumseh, Blue Jacket, Harriet Tubman, or any native or African-Americans. A couple of streets that is it. So as I was watching Tecumseh’s vision, the PBS special last night, I was reminded of several things that deserve exploring. So once again I am going to poke holes in “American History” and saw the legs off of statues to genocidal murderers. Sorry. — Source.

To begin with let us be clear, the colonial Americans never had any desire to live harmoniously with their Indian hosts and in fact Thomas Jefferson explicitly ordered their removal and extermination, owned slaves, and was aside from his humane policies toward his fellow colonists was a rapist, slaving, ethic cleansing murderer. So was Boone. So let us be exactly and historically honest shall we? Let us start with Daniel Boone as he was the “Indian Fighter” exemplar. Now let us remember Tecumseh was born in 1768. Boone was killing Indians and escorting colonists as Tecumseh drew his first breaths and Boone then became an elected official and presided over the ethnic cleansing of the Delaware, Shawnee, Cherokee, and all the indigenous people in the way of “progress” till his retirement. Many would say he just did what was expected of him in that time. OK? What was expected of him was that he kill Indians and escort colonists to steal lands that belonged to someone else.

The fine line I have to toe is that I am there for my clients on many social services levels — the official duties — but I am also more importantly an advocate, a teacher, a model, a mentor, and someone they can relate to who happens to have years working with “disadvantaged” but who himself thus far has had or currently has none of the disadvantages they have had to bear (yet). Sure, we are all in this predatory, insanity called United Snakes of America together, but unfortunately (and for obvious infantilizing reasons) we do not have the same depth of research, life experiences, multiple perspectives, and worldly views. When I am with the average Biden Boy or Obama Yes We Can Cultist, I know I am with someone who is ultra conservative, ultra pro-money, ultra stupid when it comes to history and facts. That is the very nature of those millions of gears working to “white” wash or “green” wash or “pink” wash the world.

When it comes to sacred cows, well, the discussion turns interesting. And for many people, with or without trauma and disabilities, very uncomfortable.

Weight of Rape, the Weight of Racism

The reality is that the average “dude” or “gal” who may be coming at things with a less severely redneck or reactionary point of view, well, they either can’t fathom the number of people in the USA (no, I am not getting into other societies with just as bad situations) who have been violently raped as adults or sexually assaulted as underage humans. Mostly women, but not exclusively. In 2021, I still get people with or without college degrees, telling me, that “this is not a rape culture.” Telling me “many women are faking it.” Telling me that “Trump is a target because he is famous and has money … there is no way he did that … he has children, man, and what would his wife say if it was true?”

That white washing is a unique sort of push back against women.

Then, well, many just can’t take the Portland uprising anymore, as if Portland is this huge Fallujah bombed out metropolitan area. They can’t take “black lives matter” anymore. They can’t take the crescendo of news stories of more pigs/cops getting accused and acquitted of murder. The white washing of our murderous men (and women) in uniform is just so complete that the few that want to defund the military and the police, well, they are propagandized into people who are not true Americans, rabble, provocateurs. “All those statues coming down, what do you think, Haeder? Isn’t that erasing history?” I just got asked this question. Again, people on their duffs, consuming main-line TV as if it’s crack.

So the beat goes on and on, to explain to them, that Andrew Jackson or Daniel Boone or even Honest Abe, coming down, well, isn’t it obvious that the disenfranchised and basically helpless people of this predatory land have to release something symbolic to show their disgust of this country’s white washing? I attempt to explain, yes, a better reaction and process would be to put a mural around each bloody statue, with just the head of the white murderer sticking out as he sits upon his horse. On that mural, well, the real history of this person’s contribution to Indian killing, Slave owning, Black murdering. Of course there are a million teachable moments, but in a country that doesn’t do nuance well, one that is all about flash in the pan, all about spasms of this or that reaction to the zeitgeist, we are not going to see those sorts of responses to the racist monuments. And yes, many of those confederate monuments were put up AFTER the south lost the war. Decades after. Tin monuments for tinhorn racists and rapists. They are not sacred monuments, in the true sense of the word. Sacred Racist Monuments.

Does Anyone Not Get Why a Democrat Would NOT Hire One Nader?

So, I do encourage folks to listen to Black Agenda Report, or to read Mother Jones, In These Times, The Progressive, Mint Press News, Consortium News, Counterpunch, DV, and others, for sure. But for most, I get them to listen to a bastion of powerful knowledge and real on-the-ground activism. Someone who actually ran for president of the US of A. Twice!

Simple stuff, not exactly radical Black Panthers or anarchy —

Ralph welcomes the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, to talk about how this important agency – created in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and moribund in the Trump years – needs to start protecting consumers again. Plus, Ralph pays tribute to the late great muckraking journalist, James Ridgeway.

Richard Cordray is the founding director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he served from 2011 to 2017. He is the author of Watchdog: How Protecting Consumers Can Save Our Families, Our Economy, and Our Democracy.

“Every aspect of our legal system has been turned around by financial companies to oppress individual consumers. And yet, individual consumers are not permitted (often by these arbitration clauses) to band together to seek collective justice against the company.” [ Richard Cordray].

Cover for Watchdog

So we talk about this issue, with me pointing out that antigovernmental entitlements or antigovernmental this or that is actually anti-public, anti-people thinking. The corporations — all of them, with the unholy facilitation of  banks, credit companies, tech companies — they are the enemy. And each and every politician they have in their back pockets is the enemy, but the public realm, the public potential for true democratic socialism, that is not the enemy. AT& T, Wells Fargo, Safeway, Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens, and a few million other corporations are the true enemy. They have cooked the books, stacked the deck, and conspired to rip-off the public. Listen to just this one episode of Ralph, and when I ask people who are skeptical of my criticism of all corporations, they have a bit more to deal with here: Finances.

Listen to the beginning, where Nader talks about the death (and work of) the great American journalist, James Ridgeway. Note that this man was a muckraker, a man who looked for truth, and never tired of investigative reporting, never jading himself to the people’s needs. He did die, as Ralph states, a poor man.

Here’s a Mother Jones article on Jim when he worked for MoJo

Jim Ridgeway—who leaves MoJo’s staff roster this week to become a contributing reporter—is, though he’d never put it this way, one of the legends of modern muckraking. Back in 1965 he helped establish the nascent field of consumer reporting when he revealed that GM had run a dark-ops campaign against a young Ralph Nader, whose book Unsafe at Any Speed detailed how automakers had knowingly sacrificed safety for sales. He went on to break more stories than we can count, digging into everything from energy politics to national security to the sex industry. MoJo co-founder Adam Hochschild remembers becoming a Ridgeway reader in 1968, when Jim and the late Andrew Kopkind started a newsletter called first Mayday and later Hard Times.

‘I still remember the yellow paper it came on, how eagerly I waited for each issue to arrive, and the pleasure of instantly knowing we shared a view of the world if I found that a new acquaintance was also a reader. It is sobering, in a way, to see how many of the problems Jim wrote about half a century ago are still with us. But it’s inspiring to see someone keep the faith all these years, especially someone who could have very easily had a successful and doubtless much more lucrative career writing unthreatening stories for the mainstream media. That, in fact, is where more than of few of the dissenters of the 1960s ended up.’

Most people I interface with do not know of Jim Ridgeway, and those that know about Nader, still incorrectly and stupidly think “he’s the guy that got Bush into office.” More white wash and agnotology:

It is true that approximately 95,000 Florida ballots were cast for Nader in 2000, and assuming every single one of those votes went instead to then-Vice President Al Gore (which is an incorrect assumption, but we’ll get to that later), Gore would have been easily able to supplant the 537 vote differential in the Sunshine State that gave Bush the presidency.

What that oft-cited factoid leaves out are the inconvenient truths laid out by Jim Hightower in Salon way back when, including the fact that only about 24,000 registered Democrats voted for Nader in Florida, whereas about 308,000 Democrats voted for (wait for it…) Bush! Further, approximately 191,000 self-identified “liberals” voted for Bush, as opposed to the fewer than 34,000 who went with Nader.

The conventional thinking goes like this: Nader voters lean left and Gore is to the left of Bush, therefore votes for Nader would have gone to Gore. But leftist academic Tim Wise pushed back on this summation in 2000, writing that “Exit polls in Florida, conducted by MSNBC show that Nader drew almost equally between Gore, Bush, and ‘None of the above,’ meaning his presence there may have been a total wash.” — Anthony Fisher

Covid-19 Fears, Fools, Fascists 

Hyper paranoia, misinformation, one bad leader leading a bunch of bad leaders. One man’s science, isn’t another 10,000 scientists’ and journalists’ science.

Everyday, a few dozen pleas by clients and their charges and their families about what to do next with lockdown A, B and C done, and more cases (maybe) of Covid-19 (many articles being scrubbed from the WWW about faulty tests for CoV2).

Amazing how many bad mask wearers I run into — literally, 90 percent of the masks out there in la-la land do not stop exhales from hitting the common air locations, whether it’s the grocery store, restaurant, liquor store, or on the beach.

The dichotomy of American thinking is the dangerous thing now, and the retribution, the white washing and green washing and blue washing and vaccine washing and the science washing, all of it, now, we have many new normal’s tied to more scrubbing (agnotology) and banning and outright fascistic attacks on people, like, well, Robert Kennedy Junior.

https://youtu.be/MZz8lUniwHM

Agnotology (formerly agnatology) is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data. It was coined in 1995 by Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford University professor, and linguist Iain Boal. The word is based on the Neoclassical Greek word ἄγνωσις, agnōsis, “not knowing” (cf. Attic Greek ἄγνωτος “unknown”), and -λογία, -logia. Proctor cites as a prime example the tobacco industry’s advertising campaign to manufacture doubt about the cancerous and other adverse health effects of tobacco use. More generally, the term also highlights the condition where more knowledge of a subject leaves one more uncertain than before.

David Dunning of Cornell University warns that “the internet is helping propagate ignorance,… which makes [users] prey for powerful interests wishing to deliberately spread ignorance”. Irvin C. Schick refers to unknowledge “to distinguish it from ignorance. He uses the example of “terra incognita” in early maps, noting that “The reconstruction of parts of the globe as uncharted territory is … the production of unknowledge, the transformation of those parts into potential objects of Western political and economic attention. It is the enabling of colonialism. — Source.

Check out Chapter One, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance. That is, in a nutshell, something I have been battling since day one as a journalist (I was 19) and day one as a college part-time faculty (I was 26).

This is not child’s play, this entire game of narrative framing, myth-making, mind scrubbing, brain washing, collective Stockholm Syndrome, Collective Abused Spouse/Worker/ Student/Consumer/Citizen Syndrome. It infects our culture of words, books, TV, movies, mass education, media, social digital networks, Madison Avenue, history book creation, and the marketing that is the way of Capitalism. Mediums are the Message, but then, how the child is wired in utero, and then right out of the womb. Bombarded by ignorance in the culture and brain washed parents. Bombarded by images and sounds and the smells of consumerism, there to draw in newer and younger and more buyers of the junk, the dangerous products, the more dangerous ideology of the masters in this complex.

Learned helplessness is nothing compared to learned and gloating ignorance. And here we are, even here with the author attempting to be “objective” with a piece in Town and Country Magazine on RFK, Jr. Imagine what this writer says, doubting the veracity and the validity of Kennedy’s research into vaccines over a sordid historical record. Imagine, thousands of journal articles parsed by RFK, Jr., thousands of books annotated, thousands of people interviewed by Kennedy on the many troubling things around pharmaceuticals, drug makers, scientists using people as Guinea pigs and around vaccines. That’s Kennedy, man. Yet, the elite author of the more elitist rag (Town and Country)  has to put in his pretty shallow and sallow two cents.

The room that Kennedy, who is 66, uses as an office is walled with books on shelves stacked six high from floor to ceiling, hundreds and hundreds of books. On top of those: a long line of framed photos like cars on a freight train—old ones, recent ones, black-and-white, color. A sprawling L-shaped sofa with blankets and pillows, a big TV.

On this subject, I think he is dangerously wrong. But that’s not the most interesting thing to talk with him about, nor is it the subject of this story. You can judge his arguments for yourself on your own time. The debate about whether vaccines are safe rages every day, and you can go online and read studies and opinions on every side. You can read almost any story by or about Kennedy and you will encounter the substance of his beliefs in detail. There aren’t many doctors in the world who think it’s a debate at all, of course.

A deeper question than whether he’s right or he’s crazy is why Bobby Kennedy Jr. is doing any of this. There was a time when he was almost universally admired, a fighter for conservation and the environment—perhaps the dominant issue of our time—and a shining figure worthy of his family’s legacy. Now he is shunned by many of his former allies and admirers, ignored by much of the once fawning media, and just tuned out by many who are uncomfortable with his sometimes hectoring obsessiveness.

Look, I am in the process of writing my memoir/anti-memoir (sounds pretentious, but really, does the world need Epstein’s madam’s book, another Trump tell-all, all the creepy stuff from the rich and famous, more crap from actors and musicians?). I have a wheelbarrow’s worth of novels (unpublished but hawked by my deceased NY agent) and plays and a teleplay and other such stuff. I’m 64, and, well, some things in my life have been amazing full circle existential wheels through the magic of ecology and meeting fellow man/woman in fellowship.

Drinking from the spring where Winona LaDuke’s father, Sun Bear, had his gatherings, sure, that was another wheel of life I have written about. I have hundreds of these moments, with a ship-load of connectivity to the circle of life.

For now, though, it’s Kennedy. Our two lives are so different in so many ways, that the circle, the multiple circles of connectivity, well, maybe it takes a working class fool like myself to really drill down on that stuff.

I am not taken by money, and, in fact, I am anti-money, anti-rich, anti-famous. Celebrity culture is to me worse than the guys and gals I used to run with who were hooked on lines of coke and drams of Scotch.

However, here’s the interesting thing. Make that a decade ago when I heard RFK, Jr. speak. I got to take him aside, and talked with him, but that is another story. He was in Spokane as President of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. We already got our Spokane Riverkeeper, and Kennedy was in town  helping with fundraising for Spokane Riverkeeper and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper. Kennedy was at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane. I also met him afterwards.

Here you go — if you get any sense of Kennedy from the Vanity Fair article cited, you can see a real battler (that’s the epigraph to this essay above). He certainly came from a famous family. Our two lives are diametrically different.

But the circles, man, those five or 10 degrees of separation. I had an aunt who owned — with two other immigrant (Scotland) women — The Whale Inn, in Northampton, Massachusetts. An amazing restaurant and B & B. I had relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins) who lived in Short Hills, NJ. My uncle was a well-known surgeon and did stints for Columbia University as an MD. Now, I was back east a few times, spending time at the Whale Inn, and in Short Hills, in the City, in Boston, and at Cape Cod. Poor kid of the military man dad, and I got a taste of East Coast.

So, get this, I also had a mother who worked for an advertising agency in Albuquerque and part of that was some publicity for John and Jackie Kennedy when they came to New Mexico.  When we lived in Germany and France, many people thought my mom looked like Jackie.

Okay, so let’s get real — I have worked around people with developmental disabilities for a long time, officially the past decade. RFK, Jr. also spent time around disabled people: “When not at school Bobby used to spend a lot of time at the house of his Aunt Eunice—his father’s sister, and Bobby’s godmother. She ran a camp for children with intellectual disabilities, and she founded the Special Olympics in 1968, and Bobby remembers there always being people at her house who had Down syndrome, ‘at every meal, virtually. I was always around people with intellectual disabilities.’”

He also to this day does animal rescuing and wildlife recovery. He drives a mini-van that has the stench of pit bull rescue pets and road kill he finds and takes back to boil and articulate or at least display the skull.

rfk pro celebrity tennis tournament august 26, 1972

Kennedy in 1972, around age 18, at a tennis tournament named for his father. Even in his late teens, Kennedy was battling drug addiction, which he would eventually beat. — Ron Galell photo
He was hooked on heroin until he was 30. He was and still is an avid adventurer. Much of that above I related to directly. Not heroin, but other drugs. The road kill? Yep. Animal rescue? Yep. Mini-vans? Yep.

environmental lawyer activist robert f kennedy jr l riverkeeper john cronin out on hudson river, revitalized through efforts of their riverkeeper, inc in legal fight against water polluting industries photo by ted thaithe life picture collection via getty images

In the early 1980s Kennedy teamed with John Cronin, right, to revitalize the Riverkeeper Association, which routinely sued large polluters. The group spurred the creation of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, of which Kennedy is president. — Ted Thai photo
Here’s my piece on the second Riverkeeper for our Spokane River, after the first one (Mike Chappell, 44) unexpectedly passed away — “A River for Fish, Kayaks, Swimmers”

nyc screening of trace amounts

In 2014 Kennedy edited Thimerosol: Let the Science Speak, about mercury and vaccines. Cindy Ord photo
The point I am trying to make in this essay is that the circles I recognize and write about are as real as anything on planet earth. What RFK, Jr. and I talked about back then, well, I will write about at length later. I did mention to RFK, Jr. how burned out I was getting being with the greenie weenies, the so-called sustainability wonks and their pandering to corporations … and not just through green washing. We are talking about eco-pornography. Kennedy got a kick out of that terminology — eco-porn. You know, Shell Oil or Exxon or Monsanto running multimillion dollar ad/PR/public disservice campaigns to sell their idea of snake oil to the global public. That those companies are the best and the brightest hopes for stewardship of the environment. Now that’s pornography of the utmost degree.

I mentioned how another state eco group was taking money from Proctor Gamble or CocaCola, for what I call blood money from those corporations. Lots of blood money in the game of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. We also talked about science gone awry, science for-by-because of  the profit motive, science in the name of Imperialism and Corrupt Capitalism. We also talked about vaccinations.

The circle I am drawing it that I was a young guy who did all sorts of adventurous stuff in the Sonora Desert catching rattlesnakes, Gila Monsters, scorpions. Lots of crazy cool stuff scuba diving (roughing it) in the Sea of Cortez. Lots of crazy stuff on my own on Baja, diving and free diving and camping alone.

Another point is, while our lives are so different, there are things that connect us, in my mind. Kennedy was pretty jazzed about my writing, my activism and my ability to go for the underdog over any hubris or placating. He was definitely in favor of my concepts of fighting white washing, green washing and agnotology (he hadn’t heard of that concept).

Here’s the title to that six-month old Town and Country article —

What is Robert Kennedy Jr. Fighting For?

It’s no surprise he gets into battles. Kennedys seem to be born with their chins out. But why does the 66-year-old scion of America’s most prominent political family take his crusades—the environment, vaccines, you name it—to places where very few people want to go?  By Ryan D’Agostino, Oct 19, 2020

Note: Several months after the publication of this story, Instagram deactivated RFK Jr.’s Instagram account. “We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement.

Here he is, now part of the systematic suppression of debate, discourse, ideas counter to the prevailing winds, the current paradigms. He’s questions Fauci, Gates, 5-G, and the motives of Big Tech and Big Pharma. What we all are supposed to do, no?

And yet, those people I support with developmental/intellectual/TBI disabilities, they want to know, they want answers, they want to understand how someone like me, or someone like Kennedy is looking beyond the parables of propaganda and virtue signaling and systemic silencing of countervailing thought and opinions.

I wish I had Bobby Kennedy’s email or physical mailing address to exchange words and ideas. That is another circle that may or may not come to fruition, though circles are really never complete or ending or beginning, now are they? I know he probably saw this documentary, probably saw my review of it in Hormones Matter: “Injecting Aluminum: Documentary Questions Vaccine Safety” 

The piece also appeared in Dissident Voice: “The Jury Has Been Out on Vaccines: Harm to the Brain, Immune System, Limbic System, Life“.

2016 deer valley celebrity skifest

In 2014, Kennedy married the actress Cheryl Hines, whom he met through his friendship with Larry David. “I have an amazing wife and amazing kids,” he says. “I have everything.”  — Emma McInty photo
In that regard, the circles are still being shaped, huge veronicas in the sky, throughout our collective consciousness. At least for those who are willing to fight for the underdog. RFK, Jr., now counted as one of the underdogs. My whole life, while still in a category of white privilege in this racist country, I too have been an underdog. The grace of rebellion and revolutionary thinking has given me more privilege of knowing when the jig is up than I can actually express in a short essay here.

Paul Kirk Haeder has covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/ community journalism in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, and PK12 districts. He organized part-time faulty. His book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. He blogs from Waldport, Oregon. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.