The website Antiwar.com (whose name is self-explanatory) announced March 18 that Google Adsense had suspended its account — a major source of the revenue it needs to stay online — for publishing new photos of torture and abuse from the Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq (Eric Garris, “Google Disables All Ads on Antiwar.com,” March 18). Google provided no explanation beyond the allegation that the pictures violated its policies against “violence” and “disturbing images.”
Conspicuously absent from the company’s notice was any indication of whether the takedown was at the behest of any third party (in Garris’s words, “Is Google now an arm of the U.S. State Department?”). But it would hardly be surprising, given Google’s history of compliance with censorship demands by repressive regimes around the world, and the craven way that online payment and crowdfunding services colluded with the U.S. government in suppressing Wikileaks.
We certainly know the U.S. government doesn’t want the photos to be publicly available. President Obama argued against release, saying the photos would “further inflame anti-American sentiment” and thereby endanger U.S. “national security.”
There’s a great scene in an episode of The Simpsons where Marge ends her prom date with Artie Ziff in response to his sexual advances. Artie asks her to keep quiet about his inappropriate behavior. Not out of concern for his own reputation, he explains — “but I am so respected, it would hurt the school to hear of it.”
The argument of Obama and his ilk, put briefly, is that it would be bad for “national security” for the people of the world to find out just how evil it really is, because they might get mad.
Well, guess what? People around the world need to get mad. And if U.S. “national security” means its ability to engage in wars of aggression and supervise the corporate looting of defeated countries around the world, that “national security” needs to be undermined.
Obama has made it pretty clear the U.S. can only be constrained from outside, from inflamed domestic and world public opinion and the unwillingness of other governments to cooperate with it. He has refused to hold anyone accountable for torture, from those directly administering the waterboarding and sexual abuse to those at the highest level of the Army, CIA and White House who knowingly authorized it. And he refused on the grounds that it would — again — “undermine U.S. national security.”
So that leaves it to a hostile American public to rein in an out of control state. And failing that, we need to fan the flames of outrage until every country in the world with a U.S. military or naval base shuts it down, along with the CIA stations in every U.S. embassy in the world.
You know what really undermines the national security of actual, ordinary Americans? The U.S. government. Virtually every anti-American terrorist movement in the world — the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda Iraq, ISIS — was either originally funded by the U.S. government, or was organized in reaction to U.S. wars of aggression overseas. So long as the U.S. government is allowed to conduct such wars around the world, we will be the ones who pay the price for it.
Meanwhile, the unstated opinion of the U.S. government is that the American public is the real threat to “national security.” That’s why our perception of the world must be managed by state censorship and propaganda.
That’s why Google and other online services can’t be allowed to get away with this. Ultimately this shows the need for open, p2p replacements for Google’s platforms and social media services of all kinds, and a shift to services hosted by offshore servers in countries beyond the reach of U.S. power.
But in the short term, we must make this so unpleasant for Google that they’ll see defying the U.S. government rather than rolling over for it as the path of least resistance. Please call Google at 650-253-0000 and tell them to reinstate Antiwar.com’s Adsense account immediately.
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