November 26, 2014
Independence From Terror
Posted on Jul 4, 2013
By Subhankar Banerjee, Climate Story Tellers
What I just discussed is the political reason why ‘supporters cheer’ and ‘apologists veer,’ but there is a larger insidious reason, and it is—sociological.
It is easy to criticize the other. It is much more difficult to criticize one’s own. This is true at a macroscopic level (nation to nation) and also at a microscopic level (one family to another).
Take for example, domestic violence: it is easy to say that domestic violence “is going on in my neighbor’s house” than to acknowledge “is happening in my own home.” Similarly, it is easy for the US government to announce: “China is spying on the US” than to acknowledge “US is spying on its own citizens and everyone else.” This issue is particularly pronounced in the US.
In her concise yet immensely thought–provoking book, Regarding the Pain of Others Susan Sontag wrote:
Climate change is not a Democrat or Republican issue and its solution (if there ever will be one) does not involve cheerleading of Democrats.
Now I’ll turn to critics’ spear.
* * *
To understand the true intent of Obama’s speech I begin with AlterNet senior environmental editor Tara Lohan’s article, “Obama Uses Major Climate Speech to Cheerlead for Natural Gas Industry; Keystone XL Fate Still Undecided.” She recognizes that “Obama’s speech will likely be met with cheers and jeers, even in the environmental community.” She first acknowledges the “cheer” part and then throws a solid 400–lb punch and points out the “hypocrisy of Obama’s allegiance to the gas industry and his pledge to fight climate change”:
It’s all the more remarkable, because these words didn’t come from a writer/editor sitting in her ergonomically uncomfortable chair and throwing out some angry words. It came from someone who is reporting from the field now. Tara is traveling across North America documenting communities impacted by energy development for a new AlterNet project, Hitting Home. This is what I’d call—good environmental journalism that includes honest criticism.
Next, if you’re looking for an in–depth socio–ecological analysis of Obama’s speech, take a look at Professor Chris Williams’ essay “Mass Protest, Not A Speech, Is Needed To Address Climate Change” that I published on ClimateStoryTellers.org. About the Democrat–Republican ping–pong match, Williams wrote:
And about relying on politicians to solve the climate crisis, Williams wrote:
Lastly, if you’re looking for a good example of thoughtful criticism of the environmental policies being perpetuated by a head of state, look no further than Canadian journalist Andrew Nikiforuk’s most biting critique of Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper’s devastating energy policy. In his essay, “Oh, Canada: How America’s Friendly Northern Neighbor Became a Rogue, Reckless Petrostate,” in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy Nikiforuk wrote:
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