The Guardian ‘would’ be commended if its revision of Sherwood’s apartheid smear were substantive


On Oct. 23, we posted about a characteristic smear of Israel by Harriet Sherwood, based on distorted poll results – suggesting Israeli support for apartheid – egregiously misinterpreted by the original reporter covering the story, Gideon Levy of Haaretz.

Sherwood’s story contained this title  ’Israeli poll finds majority in favor of ‘apartheid’ policies‘, conveying to readers the idea that Israelis indeed support apartheid.  

The text in Sherwood’s story echoed this title, beginning thus:

“More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews say that 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank should be denied the right to vote if the area was annexed by Israel, in effect endorsing an apartheid state…” [emphasis added]

However, Sherwood failed to acknowledge the vital other poll results demonstrating that only 38 percent of the Israelis surveyed want Israel to annex some of the territories in the first place.

The suggestion that most Israelis support denying Palestinians the right to vote in Israel is necessarily undermined by this additional information which Harriet Sherwood did not report.

It would be more accurate to report that only a minority of Israelis would deny the vote to Palestinians, and then only in a hypothetical scenario which most Israelis don’t wish to see happen.

As Yehuda Ben-Meir wrote in Haaretz, Most of us don’t want apartheid, Oct. 28, after having compared the article’s conclusions with the survey’s findings:

“[Israelis] oppose the annexation of territories. That’s the survey’s most important finding, and its conclusion is exactly the opposite of what’s written in the [Haaretz] headline.”

the…majority [of Israelis are] also unwilling to live in a country with an “apartheid regime,” so it opposes the annexation of territories. That’s the survey’s most important finding…”

Further, Haaretz issued a retraction. Here it is, translated from Hebrew by CAMERA.

“The wording of the front-page headline, “The majority of Israelis support apartheid in Israel” (Ha’aretz, Oct. 23), did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future: “If Israel annexes territories in Judea and Samaria, in your opinion, should 2.5 million Palestinians be given the right to vote for the Knesset?” 

Additionally, even the Haaretz journalist who published the story, Gideon Levy, offered this retraction:

“Most Israelis do support apartheid, but only if the occupied territories are annexed; and most Israelis oppose such annexation. Haaretz explained this in a clarification published in the Hebrew edition on Sunday.” [emphasis added] 

Nowhere does the Guardian cite the extremely vital qualification that most Israelis, in fact, DO NOT SUPPORT annexation. Evidently in response to criticism of Sherwood’s incredibly misleading story, and the accompanying headline, the Guardian, on Oct. 30, issued this correction:
So, the title was changed from the original…
…to this:

Nothing in the the story’s text was changed, and there’s still nothing to inform readers that a majority of Israelis don’t support annexation and, thus, by logical inference, a majority DO NOT support denying Palestinians the right to vote.

If the Guardian had made such a substance change – providing the public with information necessary to properly understand and contextualize the poll – they would resemble a serious newspaper rather than an anti-Zionist propaganda sheet.

65 comments on “The Guardian ‘would’ be commended if its revision of Sherwood’s apartheid smear were substantive

  1. It’s still a ridiculous headline.

    Levy’s report said that the survey had been commissioned by the US-based New Israel Fund’s Yisraela Goldblum Fund. But the New Israel Fund, a major player in fostering equality and democracy in Israel, quickly announced that it had nothing to do with the survey. With equal speed its deputy communications director, Noam Shelef, wrote in New York’s Daily Beast that the survey actually shows that Israelis want to separate themselves from the West Bank: “So, claiming the poll demonstrates support for ‘apartheid’ is spin at its worst.” He said it “seems to amount to a misrepresentation of the data”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/26/israel-arabs-not-apartheid

    • Pretty silly headline as Levy quickly realised. But Levy and Sherwood are not the issue. The findings would be just the same if neither of them had ever been born.

      Making Levy and Sherwood the issue is a pretty effective diversion though I have to admit.

    • It’s interesting to see how persistently CIF Watch attacks a woman journalist known in Jerusalem and London for being one of the brightest and most talented foreign correspondents.

      Nothing will change the fact that Ms Sherwood writes for the Guardian, while Mr Levick write for his own private website.

    • Fritz, this woman is know in Jerusalem and London for being one of the brightest and most talented foreign correspondents.

      What are you known for?

      • “this woman”

        What a vile sexist remark.

        Nat Ms. Sherwood’s gender has no connection to her ability, or lack of it, as a journalist. You should be deeply ashamed for such a sexist and misogynistic remark

      • Is she? By whom, you?
        Talented with Anti-Semitism is normally not considered as very bright, but your high opinion of her will certainly improve her standing. :-)

      • If she is the brightest in London then the British are doomed. But maybe she could teach geography and the use of GPS in a kindergarten.
        Regarding she’ being known in Jerusalem – yes she is known of being a pretty stupid and ignorant political propagandist. But knowing the others of her kind living in Jerusalem it is very possible that she is the brightest among them.

  2. Adam,

    fascinating piece!

    I applaud your grasp of disinformation, mea culpa – signal to noise ratio – partial hangout.

    There is surely a storm larger than Sandy on the horizon your paying advisors are wary of; the very substance of which is written large between the lines of your many articles.

    Should western asian satelites be making peace with their man-made Gods – the flury of storm clouds in wax and wane of favour over substance; your minian’ sleeping soundly; blissfully aware in their pre-calculated, dismissive beds?

    Pity we couldn’t dig up and re-animate the cause’ of this multi-act play of inter-generational tyranny – a ploy of moralised tort subterfuge to fact, with a daily drip drip infusion – $8.4 million of parasitism from the shallowing pockets of slowly awakening American’ tax payers.

    Pity the bombs. Pity the debt of externalised cause and effect, weighted; waiting in the wings.

    Take a very good close look at this exponential world Adam:

    The United States use roughly 25% of the worlds yearly quota of oil to support but 5% of the population of planet earth.

    Allow the US 3% growth – 3% equalling a doubling time of 24 years. In just 24 years the US would require near 50% of total world resource to maintain its illusory ideals blessed with Rome’ deceit. Calculate world peak back in 2005, and you now know what your masters are fighting for – the clock is ticking – silent creeping digits – 7 years past peak with nothing so dense and energy rich to replace it – a war over shrinking returns – time ~ scale ~ cost.

    7 billion mouths to feed today, another 95 million more this time next year …

    What do we know of which we are certain, whose battle we are fighting for our own guarantee?

    • kramerfaust. May I be the first to thank you for this fascinating and altogether wonderful contribution to this site. I am sure we poor mortals are all greatly indebted to you for opening our eyes in such an eloquent, bulls**t-free and above all, clear and rational, manner. Yours entirely and unequivocably sincerely, Labenal.

      • Adam,
        Just checkin’ if there was a pulse.
        I mean you do mound a ton of it daily on your website – sometimes twice?
        You’ve got to admit that if you keep writing about the anti semitism in the media so much, people are going to say, “hey, is it true people hate Jews?”
        Even if I am one, come on, enough already!
        With what is left of a free press, people are going to state what they see, and with Israeli policy – not the Israeli people persay – what is there to like?

    • Dependency on oil import 2030 according to BP Energy Outlook 2030
      India 97%
      China 80%
      EU 94%
      USA 32%
      The accelerating substitution of oil by gas in the USA diminishes the dependancy on the Near East, China, EU and India will be in a mess.
      If the USA withdraw from Near East, China and India will fill the gap, leaving the European countries as the big losers.
      So better be nice to the USA unless you prefere to live in a “green dystopia”. Then you should keep practising, as first step by shutting down your computer.
      Bye, bye.

      • Fritz,

        I have a retort for that statement as a question.

        At present, the poor EROEI energy investment return value of “Frac’ing gas” is being manipulated through the ‘sleight-of-hand’ method of capital subsidy.

        The same can be said of turning an escalating production – 22%+ this year – of grain yield into ethanol, with an EROEI net energy return of not much better than 1 to 1.

        This to me is a cul-de-sac as a return on energy investment, never mind that the economists will continue flipping “externalities” as though we can lassoo another planet circling the sun to extend resource extraction for another century at this exponential rate of infinite “FIAT” growth of finance on a finite planet.

        So, my question is, do you always get your answers from the same well of influence, or do you sometimes go elsewhere?

        Link>

        • Poor boy, “green investments” in alternative energy display the same “sleight-of-hand method of capital subsidy”, in the European countries or in China.
          Chinese firms for solar energy are just destroying the European firms, due to global lifting of customs and cheap work of hundred of milliones in China. The growth of population worldwide increases the hunger for energy, cheap energy, green visions would lead to death of hundred of millions, only a mixed approach will prevent worldwide hunger and murder.
          That`s why the opening of new atomic power plants were in the pipe before Fukushima. And the German people already feel the increasing prices of energy due to planned shutting down of atomic plants in Germany, and they get angry. The conservative government will soon again change horses.
          To think independently you have to consider all facts you can access, and to abstract from all nice feelings and ideals. You can fix goals taking in mass killing due to population increase and the fight for a living instrumentalised by extremists or try to achieve a human standard by asserting a energy supply people can afford.
          As apocalytical thinker you are bound for the first solution.

          • You presume I advocate “Green Investments” Fritz?

            Are you basing a world view governed from a stand-point of just two camps, with one in dissent of the other?

            The fossil fuel path is as equally built upon the 2nd law of thermodynamics as any green investments.

            So, in your own words:

            “To think independently you have to consider all facts you can access, and to abstract from all nice feelings and ideals.”

            And with that in mind:

            In 2010, The Bundeswehr Transformation Centre – Future Analysis Branch – created a future energy security formula for the German Army.

            It’s called:

            ARMED FORCES, CAPABILITIES AND TECHNOLOGIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY – ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSIONS of SECURITY

            http://www.permaculturenews.org/files/Peak%20Oil_Study%20EN.pdf

            Not without some personal irony:

            For America, Dr Robert Hirsch – who in 2005 was senior energy program adviser for Science Applications International Corporation – and presently Senior Energy Advisor at MISI as a consultant in energy, technology, and management – released to the American government:

            PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT

            http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/others/pdf/oil_peaking_netl.pdf

            His three scenarios within the report, as point of fact:

            “Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.

            Initiating a mitigation crash program 10 years before world oil peaking helps considerably but still leaves a liquid fuels shortfall roughly a decade after the time that oil would have peaked.

            Initiating a mitigation crash program 20 years before peaking appears to offer the possibility of avoiding a world liquid fuels shortfall for the forecast period.”

            With that in your head, how about hearing that global decline is running at 6.7% – that’s a 50% drop in sweet crude output in roughly 10 years – directly from the International Energy Authority’s chief economist Fatih Byrol:

            It’s a bit of a headup when you realise that 65% of the worlds oil and gas resource’ are on a patch of land the size of the state of Texas just east of Israel.

            Uncannily, there are untold numbers of American bases – some of them upward of $1,5 billion each – surrounding it, with Iran somewhat smack in the centre – funny that!

            Now who would suppose that from global output and export figures of sweet crude over the past 7 years, output has remained flat?

            Seven years past what Dr Robert Hirsch quoted, and I’ll re-quote in this post:

            “Waiting until world oil production peaks before taking crash program action leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for more than two decades.”

            • Nice link to the Bundeswehr, but i recommend to read and interpret the content, too, not only linking, otherwise it is only pretence.
              After these replies which are helpless efforts not to adress the ongoing substitution strategy it is obvious that your range of understanding something outside your dogma jail is very limited, poor boy, as your assumptions are refuted and and your deflections are pointless.

              • Put down the crack pipe, Fritz,

                “The final test of truth is ridicule. Very few dogmas have ever faced it and survived.” H.L. Mencken

                To paraphrase John Michael Greer, “there is a big difference between a problem, compared to a predicament or dilemma.”

                Problems have solutions. The things we have coming down the pike have no solutions. Rather, they’re “predicaments”, or “dilemmas” that can’t be solved, but with coping strategies.

                Germany is somewhat ahead of the curve with its predicaments, yet about 20 years too late to solve its problems.

                In the meantime, I’m going to suggest this thread has played its part in all but one task left ahead – for you to come back here and drop in a post beneath this one on the 4th of November 2014, in affirmation – or negation – to the perceived significance and nature of events, after they have occurred.

                I must warn you, I have Marshall McLuhan in my defense ;0) :

          • Obviously you have nothing substantial at your hands, besides citations and youtubes out of the internet, your apocalyptical approach equals this “knowledge base”, poor jail boy.

  3. Yeah, I know, I’m trollin’…

    Truth is, I want to get back the couple of hours I lost of my life reading the threads here.

    Too much of this squishy star vote contest bullshit, like negative vote breaks sanity or something?

    What ego …

    I mean what’s left, UPPER CASE???

    Here’s a dig at the Israeli border that might open a couple of eyes here for whats on the horizon in the next couple of years. Of course, instead of being hung up all friggin’ day over anti semitism as the fodder of choice — oh, yeah, its realistic trouble that you could also have a hand in to do something positive about instead of bitch …

    Link: -

    http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/egypts-warning-are-you-listening/52575

    • kramerfaust,
      You comments are have nothing to do with the content of this blog. What are you doing here? (rhetorical question, PLEASE don’t answer.)

  4. I don’t think we are going to see kramerfaust again, its a hit and run thing. There are just two kinds of people in this world. Those that don’t understand kramerfaust and are desperate to do so, and those that don’t understand kramerfust but are content to just know that he is there.

    • Realzionist,

      such power and beauty in your words. They remind me of Milan Kundera:

      “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

      If we are not islands – neither the country of our origin, then we are then, an individual. As an individual I am not the politics of my nation, and should surely not be viewed as such.

      Oh, but how Daniel Khans words cut so deep …

      I will continue to appear on these pages into the future as an invited opponent, with an acceptance and respect to the tenets of CP Scott. I will adhere to the vakue of this treatment as a gentleman, even if at certain times of loud objection to the fictions I see fit to question ~ as to quote Scott:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2002/nov/29/1

      “Its primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred. “Propaganda”, so called, by this means is hateful. The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard. Comment also is justly subject to a self-imposed restraint. It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair. This is an ideal. Achievement in such matters is hardly given to man. We can but try, ask pardon for shortcomings, and there leave the matter.”

      Lest we forget …

  5. I will continue to appear on these pages into the future as an invited opponent,

    Gambling isn’t your strong point then ?

    • That you want to continue posting here is a gift for Cifwatch. Your demonstration of the intellectual and moral capabilities of a so called “anti-Zionist” is invaluable.

      …as an invited opponent.
      Almost correct. You are not invited here at all; this is simply an uncensored site where even you can post your inanities. Rgarding being an opponent – you are not an opponent but a troll. That you don’t know the difference is perfectly natural and understandable.

      • Oh, Peter,

        stop gushing such inane “anti-zionist” twaddle …

        I have a sincere loathing of revisionist history is all.

        I extolled my status as a troll early on – “Ctrl F” – and I’m revelling in it.”

        “…as an invited opponent” equates irony …

        You’re my gift; manna az égből.

        And why isn’t Robert Fisk on the sites hit list?

        http://cifwatch.com/cif-contributors/

        Oh yeah, he writes for the Independent.

        Have you read of his experience at Shabra and Chatila?

        http://www.countercurrents.org/pa-fisk180903.htm

        “It was the flies that told us. There were millions of them, their hum almost as eloquent as the smell. Big as bluebottles, they covered us, unaware at first of the difference between the living and the dead.”

        Why not Google around the article and the author as an example of factual attrition that this website inhabits.

        Oh, sorry, you’ll fish some obscure piece circling:

        ‘At-Ground-Zero-With-Photographic-Evidence’

        … and throw back a retort that will confirm my belief that in your book it has already been:

        “Given the revisionist, redacted, editedorialised, downplayed, reformulated, rehashed and contrived treatment over a couple of decades ago in the Jewish/American press – in support, rather than revulsion of Sharon. The articles surrounding the massacre in question now coveted as a type of slanderous revisionism of anti-zionist bias.

        This site surely isn’t anything to do with the Guardian newspaper group at all, is it?

        viszontlátásra

        • Fisk and his exonerating of the Libanese militias, he even suggest that Israelis took part. Prejudice instead of knowledge.
          ” If the Israelis had not taken part in the killings, they had certainly sent militia into the camp. They had trained them, given them uniforms, handed them US army rations and Israeli medical equipment. ”
          Quite untrue, but fits to our jail boy.
          Shortly before Gemayel and more than twenty of his followers were murdered, which explains the motive, not the misdeed. Revenge followed with more than 320 massacred.
          In Lebanon one massacre followed the other, one assault the other, one invasion (Israelian) the other (Syrian), tit for tat, a slaughterhouse at that time, something Fisk missed to mention, in his smearing Israel.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karantina_massacre
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damour_massacre
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tel_al-Zaatar_massacre

          • Fritz,

            we’re talking past each other – each assuming the others stance, and running with it.

            It is impossible to continue replying in the middle of all the static in this thread, as it is lost unless the reader pays attention to both date and time of the posting – which I sense is the purpose for the thread “beta type” built into this forum.

            See below …

  6. Hmmm,

    They should get these stars fixed. I’ve been voting myself up from one to three … ;0) …

    You don’t need to gamble against fraud. In opposition, a contender should be near equal; never to justify themselves from a standpoint of fiction ridden bluster, or vaccuous hyperbole.

    The bet with you will be that I lose by default as a “lion in a room full of Daniels”, if only you’ll excuse the taint of self mockery in that Wilde quote …

    Nitra’e bekarov!

    • No way Fritz. There are other places with professional personnel trained to help them. Adam Levick doesn’t seem to me someone who has a degree in psychiatry.

  7. Oh, Fritz Wunderlich,

    back from your 47 year slumber!

    I always hoped your death from a fall in a stairwell was a fallacy – such an immortal voice. How did you become so distant of the rapture that is love?

    Pity the angel fell from grace, but that we have left the wonder of your crystal clear voice as a legacy in our midst today. Not just at this idylic forum, but on the world stage of November 1965, in rendition of Schumanns Dichterliebe, with the beauty of Heinrich Heine’s haunting poetry:

    Shumann said of Heine:

    “At certain points in time, Heine’s poetry dons the mask of irony in order to conceal its visage of pain; perhaps for a moment the friendly hand of a genius may lift that mask so that wild tears may be transformed into pearls.”

    And you Fritz, with your passion and understanding to love and melancholy, aid the chalace to our lips to better comprehend lifes bitter pill:

    “In beautiful May, when the buds sprang, love sprang up in my heart. In beautiful May, when the birds all sang, I told you my suffering and longing.

    Many flowers spring up from my tears, and a nightingale choir from my sighs. If you love me, I’ll pick all the flowers for you, and the nightingale will sing at your window.

    Joyfully I used to love the rose, lily, dove and sun. Now I love only the little, the fine, the pure, the One: you yourself are the source of them all.

    When I look in your eyes all my pain and woe fades; and when I kiss your mouth I become whole. When I recline on your breast I am filled with heavenly joy; and when you say, ‘I love you’, I weep bitterly.

    I want to bathe my soul in the chalice of the lily; and the lily, ringing, will breathe a song of my beloved. The song will tremble and quiver, like the kiss of her mouth which in a wondrous moment she gave me.”

    But heavens, I digress!

    What could possibly entitle this as Adams post of the week?

    The media is the reason that this forum is here!

    What better medium to enthrall and explain how the media – (public relations, propaganda, call it what you will) – operates, at least as a point of fact?

    Andrew Marr interviewed Noam Chomsky back in 1996 in a program called: The Vision Thing. Marr became the schlep that mopped the floor.

    From the scribblings of Walter Lipmann in his 1922 book Public Opinion:

    http://www.faculty.english.vt.edu/Collier/5314/lippmannpublicop.pdf

    to Edward Bernay’s 1928 book Propaganda:

    http://www.whale.to/b/bernays.pdf

    The answers to the questions you ever wondered – how the fools paradise of America is governed by one authority, with a cyclical illusion of choice between Democrat and Republican:

    And if you prefer to read than watch:

    What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream ~ Noam Chomsky

    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199710–.htm

      • That´s good that you like your self imposed jail as your pointless postings suggest that you will never leave it.

        • Gadaffi gone, Assad on the way …

          To quote A.J. Muste ~ “The problem after a war is with the victor. He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay. Who will now teach him a lesson?”

          … what do the rhunes say:

          “Young lovers seek perfection. Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and of seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches”

      • Jeff,

        How uncanny!

        Wie Unheimliche!

        Thankyou for the etymology lesson, as the Old Frisian translation for “Poison” is “Jeft”,

        In Old English “asgift,” means “payment for a wife” – as “Mitgift”, modern German for “dowry”.

        Now, right there is a marriage of convenience – as in translation, the marriage of Israel to the United States – a “Gift”.

        Who could suppose the identity of Israel – built upon the tenets of Zionism – of Marx, communism and socialism – the tenior that was the Kibbutzim – could have embutment of such a seemless join with American neoliberalism, to never guess that the shell of Israel today is all that is left of what has been hollowed out from within.

        In economic – not moral terms – it is easy to foresee what would have become of Israel, if its politics had not been morphed out of proportion from its roots.

        In historic terms, the true political transition can be cleanly seen after October 6th, 1973 – the taint in further cause and effect from that date to present day Syria and Egypt.

        But please, do continue vaunting the revisionist history of this site. It is proven since the time of Rome that “the winners write the history”.

        Question=

        What would happen if the American currency was nolonger the pegged currency of the world, and therefore unable to continue printing its currency out of thin air – inflating IMF/World Bank loans to extreme, unpayable, default rendering interest bearing rates?

        What is the case in point, where the American nation has an unemployment rate extending beyond 22%, even though over 50% of its yearly income-tax still goes toward supporting 800+ military bases around the globe?

        Do you suspect its global military lifestyle will remain sustainable, and if so, do you believe the strategic geographic position of Israel will be more than just political and religious hegemony over the next decade, in the raised expense of a harder to acquire, global shrink in fossil fuel output?

    • Realzionist,

      I’m very proud to have you and the voice of Daniel Kahn here.

      Who could have foretold the truth in that Wilde quote “A Daniel In A Room Full Of Lions” that I gave to you earlier?

      A “Piliory” for the inside of skulls in my book is a form of attrition, and with attrition there is witness to the effect’ of Divide and Conquer.

      Victor Hugo published ‘The Man Who Laughs’ with accolade back in 1869. I have a salient passage from it that denotes well to what you and I have witnessed here:

      http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hugo/victor/man_who_laughs/complete.html

      “In China, from time immemorial, they have possessed a certain refinement of industry and art. It is the art of molding a living man. They take a child, two or three years old, put him in a porcelain vase, more or less grotesque, which is made without top or bottom, to allow egress for the head and feet. During the day the vase is set upright, and at night is laid down to allow the child to sleep. Thus the child thickens without growing taller, filling up with his compressed flesh and distorted bones the reliefs in the vase. This development in a bottle continues many years.

      After a certain time it becomes irreparable. When they consider that this is accomplished, and the monster made, they break the vase. The child comes out — and, behold, there is a man in the shape of a mug!”

  8. If I told you In had a photo of my wife touching up Wilde would you believe me ? Thought not. I won’t bother them.

  9. Fritz,

    as I stated above, the thread beta system in this forum loses all sense of propriety and context, unless the reader has the tenacity to rigidly follow replies by date and time. Therefore, I hope we can continue to post at the base, out of mutual respect for one anothers point of view.

    We each carry the scars of our own entitlement, born on the illusion that the history we pour over is as solid as the ground under our feet. Yet, it is our entitlement of place in the country of our origin, that persuades much that is in our bias’.

    With such bias, each of us would merit and allude to an opposing conclusion to:

    Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

    This, then, is a saliant extract from Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View ~ by Stanley Milgram PDF

    Page 108/116

    http://gyanpedia.in/Portals/0/Toys%20from%20Trash/Resources/books/milgram.pdf

    Obedience and the War in Vietnam

    Every generation comes to learn about the problem of obedience through its own historical experience. The United States has recently emerged from a costly and controversial war in Southeast Asia.

    The catalogue of inhumane actions performed by ordinary Americans in the Vietnamese conflict is too long to document here in detail. The reader is referred to several treatises on this subject (Taylor, 1970; Glasser, 1971; Halberstam, 1965). We may recount merely that our soldiers routinely burned villages, engaged in a “free-fire zone” policy, employed napalm extensively, utilized the most advanced technology against primitive armies, defoliated vast areas of the land, forced the evacuation of the sick and aged for purposes of military expediency, and massacred outright hundreds of unarmed civilians.

    To the psychologist, these do not appear as impersonal historical events but rather as actions carried out by men just like ourselves who have been transformed by authority and thus have relinquished all sense of individual responsibility for their actions.

    How is it that a person who is decent, within the course of a few months finds himself killing other men with no limitations of conscience? Let us review the process.

    First, he must be moved from a position outside the system of military authority to a point within it. The well-known induction notice provides the formal mechanism. An oath of allegiance is employed to further strengthen the recruit’s commitment to his new role.

    The military training area is spatially segregated from the larger community to assure the absence of competing authorities. Rewards and punishments are meted out according to how well one obeys. A period of several weeks is spent in basic training. Although its ostensible purpose is to provide the recruit with military skills, its fundamental aim is to break down any residues of individuality and selfhood.

    The hours spent on the drill field do not have as their major goal teaching the person to parade efficiently. The aim is discipline, and to give visible form to the submersion of the individual to an organizational mode. Columns and platoons soon move as one man, each responding to the authority of the drill sergeant. Such formations consist not of individuals, but automatons. The entire aim of military training is to reduce the foot soldier to this state, to eliminate any traces of ego, and to assure, through extended exposure, an internalized acceptance of military authority.

    Before shipment to the war zone, authority takes pains to define the meaning of the soldier’s action in a way that links it to valued ideals and the larger purposes of society. Recruits are told that those he confronts in battle are enemies of his nation and that unless they are destroyed, his own country is endangered. The situation is defined in a way that makes cruel and inhumane action seem justified. In the Vietnamese War, an additional element made cruel action easier: the enemy was of another race. Vietnamese were commonly referred to as “gooks,” as if they were subhuman and thus not worthy of sympathy.

    Within the war zone, new realities take over; the soldier now faces an adversary similarly trained and indoctrinated. Any disorganization in the soldier’s own ranks constitutes a danger to his unit, for it will then be a less effective fighting unit, and subject to defeat. Thus, the maintenance of discipline becomes an element of survival, and the soldier is left with little choice but to obey.

    In the routine performance of his duties, the soldier experiences no individual constraints against killing, wounding, or maiming others, whether soldiers or civilians. Through his actions, men, women, and children suffer anguish and death, but he does not see these events as personally relevant. He is carrying out the mission assigned to him.

    The possibility of disobeying or of defecting occurs to some soldiers, but the actual situation in which they now function does not make it seem practical. Where would they desert to? Moreover, there are stringent penalties for defiance, and, finally, there is a powerful, internalized basis for obedience. The soldier does not wish to appear a coward, disloyal, or un-American. The situation has been so defined that he can see himself as patriotic, courageous, and manly only through compliance.

    He has been told he kills others in a just cause. And this definition comes from the highest sources – not merely from his platoon leader, nor from the top brass in Vietnam, but from the President himself. Those who protest the war at home are resented. For the soldier is locked into a structure of authority, and those who charge that he is doing the devil’s work threaten the very psychological adjustments that make life tolerable. Simply getting through the day and staying alive is chore enough; there is no time to worry about morality.

    For some, transformation to the agentic stage is only partial, and humane values break through. Such conscience-struck soldiers, however few, are potential sources of disruption and are segregated from the unit.

    But here we learn a powerful lesson in the functioning of organizations. The defection of a single individual, as long as it can be contained, is of little consequence. He will be replaced by the man next in line. The only danger to military functioning resides in the possibility that a lone defector will stimulate others. Therefore, he must be isolated, or severely punished to discourage imitation.

    In many instances, technology helps reduce strain by providing needed buffers. Napalm is dropped on civilians from ten thousand feet overhead; not men but tiny blips on an infrared oscilloscope are the target of Gatling guns.

    The war proceeds; ordinary men act with cruelty and severity that makes the behavior of our experimental subjects appear as angel’s play. The end of the war comes not through the disobedience of individual soldiers but by the alteration in governmental policy; soldiers lay down their arms when they are ordered to do so.

    Before the war ends, human behavior comes to light that confirms our bleakest forebodings. In the Vietnam War, the massacre at My Lai revealed with special clarity the problem to which this book has addressed itself. Here is an account of the incident by a participant, who was interviewed by Mike Wallace of CBS News:

    Q. How many men aboard each chopper?
    A. Five of us. And we landed next to the village, and we all got on line and we started walking toward the village. And there was one man, one gook in the shelter, and he was all huddled up down in there, and the man called out and said there’s a gook over there.

    Q. How old a man was this? I mean was this a fighting man or an older man?
    A. An older man. And the man hauled out and said that there’s a gook over here, and then Sergeant Mitchell hollered back and said shoot him.

    Q. Sergeant Mitchell was in charge of the twenty of you?
    A. He was in charge of the whole squad. And so then, the man shot him. So we moved into the village, and we started searching up the village and gathering people and running through the center of the village.

    Q. How many people did you round up?
    A. Well, there was about forty, fifty people that we gathered in the center of the village. And we placed them in there, and it was like a little island, right there in the center of the village, I’d say. . . . And. . .

    Q. What kind of people – men, women, children?
    A. Men, women, children.

    Q. Babies?
    A. Babies. And we huddled them up. We made them squat down and Lieutenant Calley came over and said, “You know what to do with them, don’t you?” And I said yes. So I took it for granted that he just wanted us to watch them. And he left, and came back about ten or fifteen minutes later and said, “How come you ain’t killed them yet?” And I told him that I didn’t think you wanted us to kill them, that you just wanted us to guard them. He said, “No. I want them dead.” So -

    Q. He told this to all of you, or to you particularly?
    A. Well, I was facing him. So, but the other three, four guys heard it and so he stepped back about ten, fifteen feet, and he started shooting them. And he told me to start shooting. So I started shooting, I poured about four clips into the group.

    Q. You fired four clips from your. . .
    A. M-16.

    Q. And that’s about how many clips – I mean, how many -
    A. I carried seventeen rounds to each clip.

    Q. So you fired something like sixty-seven shots?
    A. Right.

    Q. And you killed how many? At that time?
    A. Well, I fired them automatic, so you can’t – You just spray the area on them and so you can’t know how many you killed ’cause they were going fast. So I might have killed ten or fifteen of them.

    Q. Men, women, and children?
    A. Men, women, and children.

    Q. And babies?
    A. And babies.

    Q. Okay. Then what?
    A. So we started to gather them up, more people, and we had about seven or eight people, that we was gonna put into the hootch, and we dropped a hand grenade in there with them.

    Q. Now, you’re rounding up more?
    A. We’re rounding up more, and we had about seven or eight people. And we was going to throw them in the hootch, and well, we put them in the hootch and then we dropped a hand grenade down there with them. And somebody holed up in the ravine, and told us to bring them over to the ravine, so we took them back out, and led them over to – and by that time, we already had them over there, and they had about seventy, seventy-five people all gathered up. So we threw ours in with them and Lieutenant Calley told me, he said, “Soldier, we got another job to do.” And so he walked over to the people, and he started pushing them off and started shooting. . . .

    Q. Started pushing them off into the ravine?
    A. Off into the ravine. It was a ditch. And so we started pushing them off, and we started shooting them, so all together we just pushed them all off, and just started using automatics on them. And then. . .

    Q. Again-men, women, and children?
    A. Men, women, and children.

    Q. And babies?
    A. And babies. And so we started shooting them and somebody told us to switch off to single shot so that we could save ammo. So we switched off to single shot, and shot a few more rounds. . . .

    Q. Why did you do it?
    A. Why did I do it? Because I felt like I was ordered to do it, and it seemed like that, at the time I felt like I was doing the right thing, because, like I said, I lost buddies. I lost a damn good buddy, Bobby Wilson, and it was on my conscience. So, after I done it, I felt good, but later on that day, it was getting to me.

    Q. You’re married?
    A. Right.

    Q. Children?
    A. Two.

    Q. How old?
    A. The boy is two and a half, and the little girl is a year and a half.

    Q. Obviously, the question comes to my mind. . . the father of two little kids like that. . . how can he shoot babies?
    A. I didn’t have the little girl. I just had the little boy at the time.

    Q. Uh-huh. . . . How do you shoot babies?
    A. I don’t know. It’s just one of these things.

    Q. How many people would you imagine were killed that day?
    A, I’d say about three hundred and seventy.

    Q. How do you arrive at that figure?
    A. Just looking.

    Q. You say you think that many people, and you yourself were responsible for how many?
    A. I couldn’t say.

    Q. Twenty-five? Fifty?
    A. I couldn’t say. Just too many.

    Q. And how many men did the actual shooting?
    A. Well, I really couldn’t say that either. There was other . . . there was another platoon in there, and . . . but I just couldn’t say how many.

    Q. But these civilians were lined up and shot? They weren’t killed by cross fire?
    A. They weren’t lined up. . . . They [were] just pushed in a ravine, or just sitting, squatting . . . and shot.

    Q. What did these civilians – particularly the women and children, the old men – what did they do? What did they say to you?
    A. They weren’t much saying to them. They [were] just being pushed and they were doing what they was told to do.

    Q. They weren’t begging, or saying, “No. . . no,” or . . .
    A. Right. They were begging and saying, “No, no.” And the mothers was hugging their children, and . . . but they kept right on firing. Well, we kept right on firing. They was waving their arms and begging. . . .

    (New York Times, Nov. 25,1969)

    The soldier was not brought to trial for his role at My Lai, as he was no longer under military jurisdiction at the time the massacre came to public attention.

    In reading through the transcripts of the My Lai episode, the Eichmann trial, and the trial of Lieutenant Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville, the following themes recur:

    1. We find a set of people carrying out their jobs and dominated by an administrative, rather than a moral, outlook.

    2. Indeed, the individuals involved make a distinction between destroying others as a matter of duty and the expression of personal feeling. They experience a sense of morality to the degree in which all of their actions are governed by orders from higher authority.

    3. Individual values of loyalty, duty, and discipline derive from the technical needs of the hierarchy. They are experienced as highly personal moral imperatives by the individual, but at the organizational level they are simply the technical preconditions for the maintenance of the larger system.

    4. There is frequent modification of language, so that the acts do not, at verbal level, come into direct conflict with the verbal moral concepts that are part of every person’s upbringing. Euphemisms come to dominate language – not frivolously, but as a means of guarding the person against the full moral implications of his acts.

    5. Responsibility invariably shifts upward in the mind of the subordinate. And, often, there are many requests for “authorization.” Indeed, the repeated requests for authorization are always an early sign that the subordinate senses, at some level, that the transgression of a moral rule is involved.

    6. The actions are almost always justified in terms of a set of constructive purposes, and come to be seen as noble in the light of some high ideological goal. In the experiment, science is served by the act of shocking the victim against his will; in Germany, the destruction of the Jews was represented as a “hygienic” process against “jewish vermin” (Hilberg, 1961) .

    7. There is always some element of bad form in objecting to the destructive course of events, or indeed, in making it a topic of conversation. Thus, in Nazi Germany, even among those most closely identified with the “final solution,” it was considered an act of discourtesy to talk about the killings (Hilberg, 1961). Subjects in the experiment most frequently experience their objections as embarrassing.

    8. When the relationship between subject and authority remains intact, psychological adjustments come into play to ease the strain of carrying out immoral orders.

    9. Obedience does not take the form of a dramatic confrontation of opposed wills or philosophies but is embedded in a larger atmosphere where social relationships, career aspirations, and technical routines set the dominant tone. Typically, we do not find a heroic figure struggling with conscience, nor a pathologically aggressive man ruthlessly exploiting a position of power, but a functionary who has been given a job to do and who strives to create an impression of competence in his work.

    Now let us return to the experiments and try to underscore their meaning. The behavior revealed in the experiments reported here is normal human behavior but revealed under conditions that show with particular clarity the danger to human survival inherent in our make-up. And what is it we have seen? Not aggression, for there is no anger, vindictiveness, or hatred in those who shocked the victim. Men do become angry; they do act hatefully and explode in rage against others. But not here. Something far more dangerous is revealed: the capacity for man to abandon his humanity, indeed, the inevitability that he does so, as he merges his unique personality into larger institutional structures.

    This is a fatal flaw nature has designed into us, and which in the long run gives our species only a modest chance of survival. It is ironic that the virtues of loyalty, discipline, and self-sacrifice that we value so highly in the individual are the very properties that create destructive organizational engines of war and bind men to malevolent systems of authority.

    Each individual possesses a conscience which to a greater or lesser degree serves to restrain the unimpeded flow of impulses destructive to others. But when he merges his person into an organizational structure, a new creature replaces autonomous man, unhindered by the limitations of individual morality, freed of humane inhibition, mindful only of the sanctions of authority.

    What is the limit of such obedience? At many points we attempted to establish a boundary. Cries from the victim were inserted; they were not good enough. The victim claimed heart trouble; subjects still shocked him on command. The victim pleaded to be let free, and his answers no longer registered on the signal box; subjects continued to shock him. At the outset we had not conceived that such drastic procedures would be needed to generate disobedience, and each step was added only as the ineffectiveness of the earlier techniques became clear. The final effort to establish a limit was the Touch-Proximity condition. But the very first subject in this condition subdued the victim on command, and proceeded to the highest shock level. A quarter of the subjects in this condition performed similarly.

    The results, as seen and felt in the laboratory, are to this author disturbing. They raise the possibility that human nature, or-more specifically-the kind of character produced in American democratic society, cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment at the direction of malevolent authority. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.

    In an article entitled “The Dangers of Obedience,” Harold J. Laski wrote:

    . . . civilization means, above all, an unwillingness to inflict unnecessary pain. Within the ambit of that definition, those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized men.

    . . . Our business, if we desire to live a life not utterly devoid of meaning and significance, is to accept nothing which contradicts our basic experience merely because it comes to us from tradition or convention or authority. It may well be that we shall be wrong; but our self-expression is thwarted at the root unless the certainties we are asked to accept coincide with the certainties we experience. That is why the condition of freedom in any state is always a widespread and consistent skepticism of the canons upon which power insists.

  10. You don`t discuss, you just copypaste, in this case the epilogue of the pdf-document.
    Two possibilities.
    You are otherwise gifted or, like many silly nerds, consider copypaste as a method of thinking and discussing saving thinking, formulating and writing, well, let`s say, labour.
    I guess this tells all about your shallowness..

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