Monday, 23 June 2008

Obama's Israel

Casual enquirers at our weekly Palestinian stall often ask why America doesn't just apply the necessary pressure on Israel to effect a just settlement for the Palestinians. Sometimes it takes that kind of elementary question to remind us of the root causes and continuation of the Palestinian predicament.

A little explanation of Washington's massive financial, political and ideological backing for Israel and its apartheid policies usually helps to illuminate. Yet, even those loosely aware of America's dark hypocrisies on matters of 'freedom and democracy' are often taken aback at the scale of this patron-client enterprise.

Lately, a more particular variation on the question has been posed: will Barack Obama, if elected, bring some of that pressure to bear. The question is usually tinged with a sense of hope. Yet, as we've seen, the signals suggest little room for optimism.

Obama's victory speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), 4 June 2008, was a reaffirmation of where he, and political America at large, stands in relation to Israel:

"Let me be clear..Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper. But any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided".

Many observers will likely read this as a pragmatic electoral play to the US Zionist constituency: once elected, a less Israel-friendly politics will prevail, with some sort of 'gentle leaning' on Tel Aviv to agree a just settlement for the Palestinians.

The recent dress rehearsal of mass Israeli F-16s adds another dark dimension to where the warmongering policy is situated, vis-a-vis intimidation of Iran and the last manic hours of the Bush presidency. For some liberal analysts, Obama's election is an immediate imperative.

Yet, can we really foresee an Obama White House as the catalyst for meaningful change in the US-Israel relationship? Will his election presage a less indulgent view of Israeli belligerence towards Tehran? On the Palestinian ground, will he advocate for key 'final status' concessions like the removal of all West Bank settlements?

Alas, as the 'undivided Jerusalem' pledge would indicate, the dual-speak of US-Israeli policy would appear to negate such prospects.

Haven't we been here many times before? Here's an informative reminder of Bill Clinton's tenure for those hopeful of an Obama assertiveness once in power:
"Throughout the Arab world, Clinton’s election was heralded. Those who opposed the Iraqi embargo said that Clinton would represent a fresh look at the sanctions. It soon became evident that it was business as usual. Under the Clinton administration, more Iraqis died than in the two military actions by a couple of Bushes. Here we go again. Barack Obama is the posterperson of the left and of those who want to see the Arab world get a fair shake in dealing with Israel. The same statements abound: "He’ll change when he’s in office;" "We know he’s not ideal, but he represents a new look in politics." Many Arab-Americans are putting Obama on a pedestal. Unfortunately, that pedestal has already begun to crumble."

Realistic hope should never be sacrificed to cynical despair. But, as with the 'redemptive' promises of Blair, we should, at least, be alert to how such 'bright new saviours' come to display rapacious capacities for warmongering. Unlike Blair, Obama, of course, opposes the war in Iraq. But he does so not because it's basically immoral and illegal, but because it's fundamentally unwinnable.

The principal home truth for Americans and the world at large is Obama's reassuringly safe pair of hands. His is a candidacy endorsed, financed and lauded by corporate America. Nothing he may do once in office is likely to upset that set of crucial interests. Indeed, as the financial system lurches towards deeper structural crisis, the hegemons of Wall Street appear ready once again for the 'soft' version of world domination. From Clinton to Bush, neo-conman to neo-con man, the political managers of the corporate order know what's expected of them. Mr Obama will be no exception.

Pilger sees the Obama 'coming' as 'Liberalism's last fling' - which reminds one of Gore Vidal on how FDR's 'liberal interventions' once helped save capitalism. Elucidating the stakes for a 'new' Democrat version of capitalist democracy, Pilger offers this sober comparison with Robert Kennedy:
"In the US, where unrelenting propaganda about American democratic uniqueness disguises a corporate system based on extremes of wealth and privilege, liberalism as expressed through the Democratic Party has played a crucial, compliant role."

"What is Obama’s attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy’s. By offering a “new”, young and apparently progressive face of the Democratic Party – with the bonus of being a member of the black elite – he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell’s role as Bush’s secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US anti-war and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent."

"The vacuities are familiar. Obama is his echo. Like Kennedy, Obama may well “chart a new direction for America” in specious, media-honed language, but in reality he will secure, like every president, the best damned democracy money can buy."
Reviewing his tough words on Latin America, Pilger provides this further reality check on Obama's hawkish tendencies, all in the traditional war-making spirit of past Democrat leaders:
"It is time the wishful-thinkers grew up politically and debated the world of great power as it is, not as they hope it will be. Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates. Obama's difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is. However much the colour of his skin draws out both racists and supporters, it is otherwise irrelevant to the great power game. The "truly exciting and historic moment in US history" will only occur when the game itself is challenged."
Dogs and tails

Challenging the Israeli game in Palestine, and America's continued participation in it, returns us to the key dynamic shaping the 'special relationship'.

In his latest book, Israel and the Clash of Civilisations (Pluto Press, 2008), Jonathan Cook offers an incisive reading of the US-Israeli dialectic.

Refining the Mearsheimer and Walt thesis of the Jewish lobby's 'tail' wagging the US policy 'dog', and incorporating Chomsky's core views on how US interests remain the predominant factor in US policy-making, Cook argues that the true relationship is actually one of mutual interests and benefits - in effect, the tail and the dog are wagging each other. This, for Cook, is amply illustrated by the common agenda envisaged and cultivated by Israel and the US neo-cons:
"Israel persuaded the US neocons that their respective goals (Israeli regional dominance and US control of oil) were related and compatible ends...Israel's military establishment started developing an ambitious vision of Israel as a small empire in the Middle East more than two decades ago. It then sought a sponsor in Washington to help it realise its vision, and found one in the neocons. The Jewish neocons, many of them already with strong emotional ties to Israel, may have been the most ready to listen to the message coming from Tel Aviv, but that message was persuasive even to the non-Jewish neocons precisely because it placed US interests - especially global domination and control of oil - at the heart of its vision." (pps 90-91.)
Cook goes on to detail the antecedents of this evolving relationship, a not always smooth or fluid one - as with certain policy tensions between Carter and Begin in the seventies. Yet, while dynamic, it has always been subject to the basic assumption that Washington would never take serious reprisals for Israel's conduct.

Cook cites, for example, the Johnson administration's hushing-up of the Israeli air force attack on the US spy ship, Liberty, during the 1967 war, killing 34 US sailors. Israeli defiance, even of this kind, could always be tolerated because "on strategic issues Israeli policy was seen in Washington as according with larger US interests." (p 99.)

And, as Cook shows, it's that deep convergence of interests which lies at the heart of the present theatre of conflict in the Middle East. In essence, both the US and Israel are intent on destabilising the Arab world as part of a joint enterprise in regional authority and energy controls. In particular, Washington wants ownership and control of Iraqi oil, allowing it an enhanced position over OPEC, as well as the geopolitical muscle that goes with that military presence. Tel Aviv, in turn, sees its mission to expand into Palestinian land as dependent on its ability to subvert surrounding Arab states. Israeli and US neocon calls to bomb Iran are, thus, of mutual significance.

Again, this agenda has not been without tension. As Cook argues, while "the Israeli-neocon plan for remaking the Middle East was about undermining the oil states", the interests of Big Oil were not necessarily best-served through this strategy of chaos. One broad scenario it fears, notes Cook, is the possibility of a shift from Sunni to Shia majority influence across Iraq and Iran, and with it a displacement of Saudi Arabia as the key OPEC state, a development which many of the major oil businesses oppose given their profit-guaranteed agreements with OPEC countries.

Nonetheless the neocons have, at this late point of the Bush presidency:
"succeeded in setting in motion a process of destabilisation that was providing a taste of what they intended and what Israel want for the region." (p 121.)
Whatever the contingencies and unravelling to come for the Middle East, there's a dark truth to Cook's view of how the Israeli-US neo-con project utilises insecurity, provocation and division to pursue their joint interests.

Israel's lockdown of Gaza and enforced separation from the West Bank has been a central part of this agenda, allowing it to use the Occupied Territories as a military and human laboratory for US-Israeli policing of the region.

And, as Obama's reassuring speech to the AIPAC elite suggests, those same strategic fundamentals will continue under a Democrat administration. There may be moderations to the policy with Obama at the desk. But they will be moderate alterations, paying dutiful lip service to Israel's version of a 'two-state solution'.

Never say never, of course. As other international pressures are brought to bear, we're also seeing a qualitative change in public and political perceptions of the issue. With the Hamas-initiated ceasefire, Israel has - again - been put on the back foot, effectively forced to acknowledge the gathering criticism of its occupation and blockade of Gaza. Despite the usual skewed media reports of 'Israeli scepticism' over Hamas's intentions for peace - it is, as always, Israel who will seek to destroy it in order to maintain its military imperatives.

Yet, it's that same intransigence, aggression and compliance in a policy of inhuman expansion which also keeps both Israel and the US on the wrong side of the legal and moral fence. That's what they can never disguise. Ultimately, theirs is a politics of domination and coercion which, as history shows - in South Africa, Vietnam, East Timor and other brutalised places - can't be sustained. Indeed, one might reasonably argue that, in Gramscian terms, the US-Israeli project is in a state of hegemonic crisis, failing in popular legitimacy and international authority.

As the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust showed, might can never be right, truth can never be suppressed, compliance can never be hidden. There will, in due course, be a rightful, truthful exposure of Palestinian suffering. One ex-Democrat president, Jimmy Carter, has taken a laudable position on expediting the cause. If Obama, while actually in office, was willing to act upon Carter's denunciation of Israel's apartheid policies that day could be much sooner. If only.


Monday, 16 June 2008

Palestine, violence and the 'two sides' narrative

Isn't the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians just tit-for-tat violence? Aren't they just as bad as each other? Surely there's two sides to the story?

Such are the loaded and feeble impressions we're fed of the illegal occupation, daily atrocities and international compliance over Palestinian suffering.

Politicians and journalists alike utilise this narrative to spin the issue, typically characterised as a 'relentless conflict' of two irreconcilable, warring sides. It's a standard set of messages, bordering on cliché, dutifully popularised by the mainstream media and received by the public as 'balanced truth'.

In practice - as I had occasion to remind an insistent enquirer at our weekly Palestinian stall - it's a bogus distraction from the actual truth of a grossly one-sided persecution.

Yes, Palestinians resort to violence, in response to Israeli violence. But it's not a 'violence of equals' - as the overwhelming might of Israel's US-gifted arsenal plainly shows. Nor is it just Palestinian reaction to the latest Israeli 'incursion' - media-speak for state-military murder. Rather, it's a violence of continued resistance to generations of Israeli violence.

For the oppressor, that violence serves an explicit purpose. Israel not only breeds violence through its occupation, it actually needs that violence to manage and pursue the Zionist project of territorial, political and ideological expansion.

The more searching question is how, or whether, the Palestinian case is advanced through violence. And this takes us on to a more qualitative engagement of the violence issue.

Here's a useful reminder from Chomsky on the case for a non-violent response:

"My opinion all along has been that the Palestinian leadership is offering Israel and its US backers a great gift by resorting to violence and posturing about revolution -- quite apart from the fact that, tactical considerations aside, resort to violence carries a very heavy burden of justification. Today, for example, nothing is more welcome to Israeli and US hawks than Qassam rockets, which enable them to shriek joyously about how the ratio of deaths should be increased to infinity (all victims being defined as "terrorists"). I have also agreed all along with personal friends who had contacts with the Palestinian leadership (in particular, Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad) that a non-violent struggle would have had considerable prospects for success. And I think it still does, in fact the only prospects for success."
Chomsky's thoughts, of course, transcend the standard condemnation of Palestinian violence and the 'two-sides' distortion. The question, rather, is how much more effective would the Palestinian case be if based solely on non-violence?

Chomsky's views on the matter prompted this recent exchange at the Media Lens board (June 8 2008).
Posted by Stephen Soldz in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

The question Chomsky is raising is, are the Palestinians willing to forgo the easy boost to self-esteem from launching a few rockets in exchange for a possible long-range victory. I certainly understand the impulse behind the violent strategy, but its total failure should be clear to all. It should be clear by now that the Palestinians cannot defeat the Israelis militarily. In fact, they can only be an irritant aiding the most repressive and regressive forces in Israeli society. The greatest threat to the occupation would be a mass movement demanding among the occupied voting rights in Israel. A reasonable two-state solution would then appear to be a "moderate" compromise.

Posted by Jimbob in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

One problem with this argument is that the Palestinians have tried non-violent protest before (the first intifada, and before the war in Lebanon in 1982) and been met with just as much brutality. If you look at the majority of anti-colonial struggles then violence and the threat of violence has proved fairly effective.

Posted by dereklane in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

I know I'm repeating myself, but for the last hundred years or so Aborigines in Australia have more or less practised a non-violent protest (fear of reprisal may have had more than a little to do with it - the slightest revolt gets met with armed military, threatening and beating men, women and children). It has got them nowhere.

A non-violent oppressed minority is easier to ignore, and to manipulate with token gestures and allegations and assault of character; easier to erode culturally, mentally, physically. You need the will of a Buddhist monk to maintain the strength to remain passive in the face of continuous barbarity, and most people in the world do not have that (me included). I don't condone the violence, but I think its fanciful to suggest their cause would be any further advanced without it.


Posted by John Hilley in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

I take your point entirely, Derek, about the historical plight of the Aborigines, though I suspect they would have met the full force of white violence with or without armed resistance.

The case for a non-violent response in Palestine is, to my mind, a tactical one. Israel, as we've repeatedly seen, will go to any lengths to provoke the Palestinians into violent action, thus maintaining the pretext for 'retaliatory' 'self-defence' - the repressive modus operandi of the occupation.

Chomsky (as with the late Said) is essentially correct in his analysis. Despite Western support for Israel, there's a growing awareness of the Palestinians' case internationally, significantly highlighted by people like Carter, Tutu, Dugard et al. Hamas need to capitalise on that. Indeed, one can see that strategy evolving in the Hamas offer of a hudna.

No one who seriously understands the Palestinians' desperate predicament can easily condemn their resort to violence. But we must consider how best to advance that cause, a process which involves highlighting and isolating the real practitioners of mass violence - the Israeli state. Peaceful exposure of Israel as an apartheid state akin to South Africa will bear greater fruit than any token military response.


Posted by dereklane in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

"there's a growing awareness of the Palestinians' case internationally, significantly highlighted by people like Carter, Tutu, Dugard et al."

That's the real point, isn't it? That now - when recognition of the Palestinian genocide/oppression is growing (rather than hidden or ignored) - the next step to take is the non-violent path (perhaps a long term ceasefire). Without the international knowledge of their plight, such a step might just prove to be a slow suicide, but with it, it might make their case even stronger. Hard, of course, to implement - Hamas, like any government, doesn't have the last word on what Palestine's citizens do.

I can see it working more from a 'from now on' perspective, just not so from the idea that had Palestinians not indulged in violence across the years, they would be further advanced to a positive end to their oppression today. To many people, the highlighting of Palestinian suicide bombers in the media hasn't resulted in the standard media reaction of 'how barbaric those Palestinians are', but the more obvious question of 'well, what could drive a man to do such a thing?' - a question that leads invariably to enlightenment on the issue. In that sense, however gruesome and reprehensible (where innocent people suffer), it has worked.


Posted by JJ in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

I don't wish to appear reductive but shouldn't non-violence be a goal entirely on its own merits and in a moral context rather than a tactical one? Apart from anything else, a non-violent policy founded on tactical motives would surely prove unstable and unlikely to last for any length of time. Any political advances from a non-violent approach are the result of its moral strength, so the morality at the heart of the issue should be catalyst, rather than trying to sneak a non-violent approach through the backdoor, as it were, based on tactical reasons.

Posted by Miriam in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

Recognition of the Palestinian cause has been almost entirely the result of the efforts of Palestinian people themselves to promote awareness of their plight. It's a pity that 'big name' recognition now seems to carry more weight when it comes to taking advantage of the heightened recognition they have achieved.

I agree that non-violence should be a matter of principle rather than tactics. But that said, it's surely inhumane not recognise the severe provocation caused to Palestinians by Israel's actions - along with the disgusting complicity of the US, the UK, the UN (despite all manner of ineffectual hand wringing). Isn't retaliatory violence in that context not a matter of regret but of inevitability - if not outright necessity?

Posted by John Hilley in reply to "Re: Chomsky's view on violence in Palestine"

I think you're fundamentally right here [JJ]. Non-violence is a moral imperative in itself. It's also the most human form of action. The suggestion of its tactical value really stems from a basic recognition that violence is already an understandable reality here.

My point, thus, is not to invoke or 'preach' the case for non-violence in a situation where it's almost inevitable, but to argue that the Palestinian cause would be better served through a non-violent response.

I also take Derek's point that the actions of suicide bombers may have caused many to ask 'what drives them' rather than resort to outright denunciation. However, there are two key sets of forces always encouraging the latter reaction: the mainstream media and the Israeli state itself. Both, as I've said, help provide and maintain the pretext for deeper repression and 'legitimation' of the occupation.

One of the things that continues to terrify Israel is the prospect of mass peaceful civil protest, as happened recently during the 'Gaza breakout'.

The 'big names' may be late in coming to the cause. But their voices do count, serving, alongside all the grassroots work of ISM and others to shame and isolate Israel. Desmond Tutu calling the blockade of Gaza "an abomination" is part of the critical process of building international awareness.

Reinforcing the 'two-sides' agenda

As suggested, images of Israeli violence against Palestinians have the power to shock and bring home the reality of that "abomination". The trouble is that it can't happen without sustained coverage of Israeli violence. And here, again, we see the crucial role of the media in fostering the 'two-sides' narrative.

This is evident even where reports of brazen Israeli violence are given more 'serious' space. The BBC recently applauded themselves for airing disturbing pictures of an old Palestinian lady and her husband being viciously beaten by baseball-stick-wielding Israeli settlers.

It was, indeed, a shocking piece of footage, captured by a young Palestinian with a hand-held video camera. The film, then passed on to the BBC, has correspondent Tim Franks relate the obvious brutality of the incident.

Yet, despite this, and the report's reference to Palestinian land rights, Franks's concluding words return us to the safe, 'objectivity' of the 'two-sides' context:

"Violence against Jews as well as Palestinians has long scarred this place. Video may now may be giving us a new and raw view. But for most people here, the only answer - a political deal - remains out of sight."
It may seem a 'fair' and 'balanced' conclusion: violence is occurring 'on both sides', everyone is "scarred" and a settlement between these adversaries seems a distant promise. But, while much of this is evident, such statements help reinforce the notion that 'one side is as bad as the other'.

Here was a film which could have been used to explain the true extent of settler brutality in Hebron and other places of Palestinian suffering. Instead, it felt like a token nod to the Palestinian 'side' of the 'argument'.

Why, moreover, have the BBC been failing to shoot such daily images themselves rather than relying on civilian witnesses to highlight this supposed "new and raw" reality?

Last week, the Israeli army used live rounds against peaceful demonstrators at Bil'in. The week before, three visiting European envoys were injured by tear gas and a tear gas round. Neither story, apparently, merited any coverage by the BBC.

In truth, there is no 'two-sides' to the occupation and murder of Palestinians by the Israeli state. Just as there was no 'two-sides' to the Holocaust and mass murder of Jews by the Nazis. We can have philosophical debates about man's inhumanity to man. But, fundamentally, the ethnic cleansing and systematic murder of peoples comes down to an examination of one-sided power. There's the oppressor and the oppressed. And those who portray it as a two-sided affair merely enhance and legitimate the one-sided dominance of the oppressor.

If the BBC acknowledged even a fraction of the massively disproportionate violence visited on the Palestinians every single day, the public might be some way forward in understanding that raw reality. Instead, the 'two-sides' narrative serves to obscure the truth, prolong the violence and further empower the Israeli regime. That's a form of complicit violence in itself.


Monday, 2 June 2008

Michael White and 'people like us'

It's often instructive to see leading liberal journalists use crude simplifications to disguise their establishment leanings and analytical deficiencies.

Thus, from on high, comes this all-knowing proclamation from the Guardian's chief political editor Michael White:
"It's always simple to MediaLens and Noam Chomsky, that's fine if it makes them happy - or is the goal unhappy? - but the world is usually more complex..."
White was posting his closing response over George Monbiot's attempted citizen's arrest of John Bolton at last week's Hay Book Festival. His rationalisations of Bolton's presence and warmongering arguments served a useful purpose in revealing to many, including erstwhile Guardian readers, White's, and the Guardian's own, true colours over the war and slaughter in Iraq. It's another timely reminder of how war criminals like Bolton and Blair have been sheltered by moral contortions and in-house platitudes at Farringdon Road.

But the exchanges also helped expose White's own delusions of grandeur in dismissing those supposedly unfit to challenge his kind of 'professional journalism'.

Thus, Noam Chomsky, a man widely credited as probably the finest intellectual of his age, has his millions of studious words on the subject of Iraq and such issues casually dismissed as "simple". Likewise, with the many forensically-documented articles and comments from Media Lens. One can only presume White's similar contempt for other learned anti-war writers like Pilger and Dahr Jamail.

Yet, for White, Bolton is also afflicted by a similar inability to see this "complex" world picture. Thus, White deploys another variation of the 'simpleton' line to address and excuse Bolton's criminal intent:
"For Bolton to say he has no opinion points to a wider myopia. Bolton - whom I have heard before - strikes me as the kind of American who does not know much about the big world outside nor its long and diverse history. He seemed to lack sympathetic imagination to consider the other point of view."
So, Bolton is also deemed ignorant of the 'big picture', the only difference being, for White, Bolton's neo-con 'simplification' as opposed to Chomsky's/ML's leftist "simple" worldview.

White's claim that Bolton "does not know much about the big world outside" shows, in itself, a shocking poverty of analysis. But it also indicates the kind of self-assured and self-delusional world many senior journalists inhabit.

In truth, Bolton knows precisely what's going on in the "big world outside". To think, or argue, otherwise is to reduce his co-planning and co-execution of a wilful war of aggression to that of 'ignorant bystander'.

Indeed, Bolton's long-standing calls for pre-emptive attacks on North Korea and other Axis of Evildom tells us all we need to know about the workings of this calculating, mercenary mind.

White also takes issue with those comparing Bolton and his warmongering associates to the Nazis. Yet, White's 'the Nazi comparison is too simple' rebuke is another grandstanding device, allowing him to dismiss the central issue of Bolton's actual criminality, prosecutable under the same Nuremberg laws designed to address Nazi war crimes. As I noted at the ML board, White's 'objections' to Bolton are, thus, diluted to a set of minor political differentials, never the possibility that he could be a war criminal.

White's defence of Bolton's invite and statements at Hay demonstrates the central function of the liberal media in whitewashing illegal wars and occupations like Iraq and Palestine. Indeed, devious politicos like Bolton and Blair depend critically on the liberal circuit for their respectable standing - the quid pro quo being the type of favoured access White enjoys to Downing Street and the New Labour loop.

And with that privileged door to power comes a kind of incredulity that such 'all-knowing' journalists could be questioned by 'novice' activists on their reporting of political life. Thus, White dismisses one excellent activist/correspondent present at the Hay 'arrest' with the term "people like you".

Oliver Kamm recently handed-down another such grand dismissal in claiming that:
"ML operates in effect as a "care in the community" scheme for numerous species of malcontent..."
White, Kamm and 'people like them' might not like this uncomfortable reminder about 'people like us', but it was millions of the latter who, at the outset, saw the blatant lies people like Blair and Bolton were peddling, a set of warmongering fictions which people like White, for all their professional status and journalistic kudos failed, or affected not to, see.

Michael White would have us believe that his worldview eschews the "simple" in favour of the "complex". The more useful possibility is that people like White are unable or unwilling to see their own self-regarding place in the elite firmament and how their privileged words serve to mystify and excuse the simple truth that people like Bolton are scheming criminals. Reassuringly, there's always people like us to remind people like White of their elitist myopia.