By the way, Claudia and Michael G., do you realize that it is your
insistence on discussing what I should and should not post that is
cluttering this list and leading to long threads, and not my original posts,
which number only one and can be easily ignored if they are not of interest?
But of course if you tell me what to post and what not to, I am going to
object on political grounds. Keep quiet, and so will I.


On Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 9:12 AM, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Recently I posted 2-3 items on the Israel-Palestine issue, including
> notices of the Sept 15 march in NYC. No one said a peep about that. That's
> probably because the great majority of list members agree with the political
> content of those posts.
> The only time that anyone cries "off topic!" is when someone posts on a
> subject on which the left is divided, like Libya, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. That
> rather supports ("proves" is too strong a word, in Michael G's comments too)
> my contention that it is the political content to which people are
> objecting, not the off-topic nature. Can those who do so please look at
> themselves in the mirror for possible signs of political hypocrisy?
> The irony here is that I post more science-related content here than at
> least 90% of list members, including Claudia specifically. As I have said so
> many times, make a contribution to the list and let others say what they
> want.
> Claudia has a lot of interesting and insightful things to say, and I enjoy
> her posts, but they are a lot more interesting when she is not trying to be
> the list's resident scold.
> MB
> On Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 8:44 AM, Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>>  If others were arguing with Claudia's excellent post, surely that would
>> lend some credence to Balter's position, but if only he objects, that rather
>> proves her point, I think.
>> Best,
>> Michael
>> Sent from my iPad
>> On Aug 30, 2011, at 11:08 PM, Claudia Hemphill Pine <
>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Why don't you find my arguments persuasive?  Is it because you're simply
>> not listening?  If you have a logical reason for inviting everyone to
>> clutter up the SftP list-serve with any and all posts and reposts they find
>> personally of interest, please state it.
>> I don't think there is any such argument that holds water.  The only
>> argument for clutter and irrelevance is a perverse desire to drown out and
>> drive out good information with bad and random chaos.
>> When you talk to this community about SCIENCE, I'm interested.  But when
>> you simply want to talk politics, I'm not listening.  SO WHY BOTHER???
>> ...or should I say, why bother most of us here?
>> Claudia
>> On Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 11:58 PM, Michael Balter <<[log in to unmask]>
>> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> As you can see from this post, I don't find Claudia's arguments
>>> persuasive. In fact I think the balance on this list is just about right:
>>> Most posts are about science, and a minority are about issues that
>>> progressive science folks are interested in. As for posting on other lists,
>>> that is always an option, but it is this community that I want to talk to.
>>> MB
>>> <>
>>> Libyans: Passive Tools?
>>> with one comment<>
>>>  <>
>>> Reuters
>>> Somebody said to me recently, “The Libyans will soon be doing business
>>> with Israel, whether they like it or not.” Here we go again: the assumption
>>> that the Libyans have no agency of their own, even after they’ve so
>>> dramatically taken the initiative to change the course of their own history.
>>> Yes, Libyans took help from NATO, Qatar, and the UAE when they found
>>> themselves with no other option. This doesn’t mean they are fated to be
>>> slaves of the West. Even Iraq doesn’t do business with Israel, and Iraq has
>>> suffered a full-scale US occupation.
>>> Such easy assumptions about the Libyan people arise from racism, usually
>>> of the unconscious, ‘well-meaning’ variety. This racism consists, first, of
>>> indifference to the people’s plight under Qaddafi, or outright denial of
>>> their plight. The rose-tinted view of life under the dictator is reminiscent
>>> of the Zionists who assure us that Gaza has swimming pools and shopping
>>> malls and that Palestinian Israelis live better than any other Arabs. The
>>> rush to highlight the crimes<> of
>>> the revolutionaries (sometimes relying on Qaddafi regime propaganda) is
>>> accompanied by silence over the far greater crimes of the quasi-fascist
>>> tyranny.
>>> Libyans (and, to a degree, Syrians) are seen as passive tools in the
>>> hands of the devilishly clever White man, as childlike people who don’t know
>>> their own best interests, as people best advised to shut up and enjoy being
>>> tortured for the sake of the greater ‘anti-imperialist’ good. The right of
>>> the Libyans to life and freedom, and to make their own decisions, becomes
>>> less important than the right of certain people to feel self-righteous.
>>> Many anti-Libyan commentators have felt free to make sweeping predictions
>>> about Libya and the Libyans without actually possessing any knowledge of the
>>> people or the country. Where now are those voices who a few weeks ago
>>> predicted so confidently the division of Libya into east and west? Or who
>>> informed us that the uprising against the tyrant was in fact a tribal civil
>>> war? Or that Tripoli would never fall because Qaddafi had so much popular
>>> support there? How do these people explain the almost immediate surrender of
>>> Qaddafi’s security forces as soon as the revolutionaries arrived in the
>>> capital, or the fact that revolutionaries rose within the capital to greet
>>> their brothers arriving from beyond, or the mass celebrations in almost
>>> every neighbourhood as soon as it became safe to express real emotions?
>>> Beyond racism, exaggerated conspiratorial overgeneralisations are a
>>> symptom of perceived impotence. Some believe that the CIA (or whoever) is
>>> behind not only the revolutions in Libya (why the CIA would have plotted to
>>> get rid of Qaddafi I don’t know; Qaddafi was not only selling oil to Western
>>> companies, he was torturing rendered Islamists on America’s behalf and
>>> controlling cross-Mediterranean migration for the EU’s sake) and Syria, but
>>> even in Tunisia and Egypt. Such theorists believe, whether they admit it or
>>> not, that change through political action is an impossibilty, that mass
>>> mobilisations, and the courage to take on armed goons with empty hands and
>>> bare chests, cannot be real. The logical correlation of this belief is that
>>> the sole purpose of the left is to whine about the state of the world, but
>>> never to actually change anything. At the start of the 20thCentury the
>>> left could have been criticised for underestimating the difficulty of
>>> establishing a fairer society; at the start of the 21st Century,
>>> sections of the left, particularly the Western left, must be criticised for
>>> the opposite.
>>> Libyans will certainly do business with the West, just as Qaddafi did
>>> before. Libya needs to sell oil to make its economy work and to build the
>>> infrastructure that Qaddafi failed to build. (If Libyans require advanced
>>> medical treatment, they go to Tunisia – a much poorer country). Libyans will
>>> no doubt prefer to do business with the Western countries that gave them
>>> support than with such powers as Russia, which gave succour to their
>>> oppressors. If Libyans are in the driving seat, making their own decisions,
>>> this is fine. Yet certainly the danger exists that in their gratitude and
>>> amid the current chaos Libyan officials will make too many concessions to
>>> Western power. Britain, France and others will be working hard behind the
>>> scenes to ensure such an outcome, and the Libyans should be very wary.
>>> Many of the first signs out of post-Qaddafi Libya are good. Although the
>>> Transitional Council has failed to make a strong statement against racist
>>> attacks on African migrant workers (by people who accuse every single
>>> foreigner of being a mercenary), and although Mustafa Abdul-Jalil has
>>> unwisely called for continued NATO action (until Qaddafi is captured and his
>>> remaining forces neutralised), Transitional Council officials have made
>>> clear that Libyan citizens (such as Megrahi) will not be handed over to the
>>> West. More significantly,protests have erupted<> in
>>> Misrata against the Transitional Council’s appointment of an ex-Qaddafi
>>> official to a security position in Tripoli. Much of the Council is made up
>>> of old regime personalities. The challenge now will be to deepen the
>>> revolution while keeping the people as unified as possible.
>>> Like Tunisia and Egypt, Libya is in the early stages of its revolution.
>>> One thing is certain: the people are by no means passive, and are not in the
>>> mood to exchange one tyranny with another.
>>> *(Thanks to PW). And here’s Nafissa Assed’s latest piece<>.
>>> Nafissa reported from Tripoli for this site in the early days of the
>>> revolution. I’m very pleased that she’ll be returning home soon.*
>>> --
>>> ******************************************
>>> Michael Balter
>>> Contributing Correspondent, Science
>>> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>>> New York University
>>> Email:  <[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
>>> Web:    <>
>>> NYU:     <>
>>> ******************************************
>>> “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there
>>> is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
>>>                                                   --John Kenneth
>>> Galbraith
>> --
>> The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a
>> revolution.  -- Paul Cezanne
> --
> ******************************************
> Michael Balter
> Contributing Correspondent, Science
> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
> New York University
> Email:  [log in to unmask]
> Web:
> NYU:
> ******************************************
> “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there
> is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
>                                                   --John Kenneth Galbraith

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is
no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith