Sometime in 1982 or so, when I was nine, I decided to play with the radio somewhat systematically. So I went through all the frequencies and caught assorted radio stations.
At one moment, I would hear someone who said (in Slovak):
This was our editorial commentary. You are listening to the Czech and Slovak broadcasting of the Radio Free Europe [station].It just happens that I was recording that experiment on a tape so I still probably have these first words I heard from RFE somewhere. Listening to RFE became my standard daily exercise between 1982 and 1990. For this and other reasons, you could have counted me as a child dissident but at the (very good, then) basic school, I was really highly loyal and my opposition only became clear at the high school – where I also hated many other things.
Sometimes, the radio jammers were running at a full speed and the signal was bad but most of the time, I had no trouble to listen to the program. At any rate, your humble correspondent doesn't remember the time when the opponents of communism were routinely executed or something like that. By the 1980s, communism in Czechoslovakia ran out of steam and was becoming obsolete. No one was believing in it anymore. One could still be fired from schools and jobs for political reasons – and (with uncles on both sides in emigration etc.) I could only get to the high school thanks to the repeated victories in the mathematical and physical olympiads. But it was a diluted tea, indeed.
Czechoslovakia would have a few thousand of full-fledged dissidents (a small number) and 300,000 people fled Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Warsaw Pact occupation (and there was a similar "first wave" of emigrants after 1948 or at least after 1945). Many of those emigrants were economically motivated, of course. We like to think that the U.S. is a free country but I think it is accurate to say that this claim is becoming questionable and the rise of both "dissidents" and "exile" – especially very skillful Americans who are being rejected by virtually every "mainstream" institution connected with power and wealth in the U.S. for ideological reasons – is a clear symptom of the disappearing freedom in America.
I will mention just two very recent (last 7 days) examples that appeared on my radar. Richard Lindzen and his younger would-be counterparts will be the example of the "dissidents" while the American employees of RT (previously Russia Today) will be my examples of the exile, thanks to the official description of these people by the new "information minister" in the U.S.
OK. First, five days ago, Richard Lindzen gave a 19-minute interview to the Howie Carr show, a radio program: audio, The Daily Mail, Breitbart.
An unhinged climate alarmist insisted that Lindzen should have been arrested for being a climate skeptic. Richard Lindzen was explaining why the hundredths of a degree in temperature differences are ludicrous – even if it were tenths of a degree, it would be negligible differences. He described why the global warming movement has become a religious cult. You can imagine that I agree with all of his words. If I had to pick something where my accent would be different, well, I would probably be less convinced that the Bible may serve as a reliable weather record (including the floods etc.). But fine, I am obviously an infidel relatively to semi-believer Dick Lindzen. ;-)
He would also mention that he is living and he has always been living comfortably. He was recognized as a brilliant researcher in his field in time (I add) and got the tenure before the global warming movement got powerful. His very presence (flavored both by his brilliance and by his political opinions that are more widespread among donors than among scholars) has brought lots of donations to the MIT so the MIT has always respected him and protected him although sometimes this fact could have been obscured by some corners.
But Lindzen pointed out that an assistant professor who would be defending his views – and who is starting his or her career – would be doomed. So Lindzen himself discourages his young colleagues from such a risk, he says. Of course that I have the same expectation about the fate of such people. My conflict with the left-wing fringe at Harvard was "focused" around feminism but of course that those things are correlated so if someone opposes feminism, he (if not she) must be not only sexist but also a racist homophobe etc. But if I recall the holy war of a radical Marxist named Naomi Oreskes against me, I am sure that even without feminism, I would – soon or later – run into existential problems for the very simple reason that I – much like every sensible person – consider climate alarmism to be a pile of crap.
Thirty years ago, proponents of the climate hysteria – or other environmental hysterias, sometimes more sensible ones – would have long hair, they would climb the trees, eat the roots, and would be generally recognized as a fringe. But the movements with these nuts have merged with tons of sleazy and stinky left-wing ideologues (who have been leaving the sinking communist ship when the Soviet bloc collapsed) and opportunists and they have penetrated into most of the mainstream institutions in the U.S. – and also other Western countries, of course. One of those hysterics said the following just a few days ago:
... And no challenge — no challenge — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. (Applause.)The idea that climate change poses the "greatest threat" is ludicrous; it poses no detectable threat at all. 2014 was certainly not the warmest year on record according to the RSS, UAH AMSU satellite datasets, and according to NASA and NOAA, it probably wasn't the warmest year according to NOAA's NCDC and NASA's GISS, either. (Thankfully, AP just posted a story hours ago in which they admit that they distorted the facts by writing that 2014 was the warmest year.) Obama's need to refer to latest 15 years only highlights the fact that the temperatures have been constant, up to the noise, for (more than) 15 years.
2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does: 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what, I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at NOAA, and at our major universities. And the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it. (Applause.)
And that’s why, over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever to combat climate change, from the way we produce energy to the way we use it. ...
More originally, the idea that Barack Obama knows "the best scientists" who agree with the climate hysteria is absolute nonsense. Pretty much by definition, there aren't any good scientists, let alone "best scientists", who endorse a total pseudoscientific superstition such as the climate hysteria. I won't waste time discussing Obama's conspiracy theories about the CO2 behind heat waves, conflicts in the world, hunger, and the Pentagon because it would be way too obvious that he should be stored in a psychiatric asylum.
Nevertheless, these people have hijacked most of the official institutions in the U.S., especially the media. Richard Lindzen has been doing fine but even the fact that he is giving interviews at Howie Carr-like shows (with all my respect) and not so much e.g. at the national TV channels says something. With a marginally possible exception of Fox News, the climate alarmist nuts have de facto barred sensible and educated people such as Richard Lindzen from the public discourse. Calls to suppress the climate skeptics even more fully are being voiced on a daily basis. And Howie Carr's show may be classified as the American counterpart of Samizdat.
I chose climate skeptics to have a particular example in mind but there are lots of other "holy cows" in the political correctness whose opponents are increasingly successfully repelled from virtually all mainstream institutions – even though their opinions are endorsed by a big portion (and often the majority) of the U.S. citizens. These people are increasingly clearly resembling dissidents in the communist countries as the fanatical loons who would like to arrest Lindzen and do similar things are gaining increasing influence over the mainstream institutions.
Russia Today, a threat ahead of ISIS and Boko Haram
My example of the "exile" will be the U.S. employees in Russia Today. There are perhaps other stations out there but I chose this station because I am very familiar with it. These days, I watch the English programs of Russia Today much more than all U.S.-based television stations combined. I think that these people – and I think that most of the relevant ones are Americans – are doing a very good job. In some respects, RT is doing the same thing as other Western media. In others, it's much more original, balanced, and covering the important stories and views that are omitted elsewhere. Some science stories at RT are above the average, too.
While I agree with the station's views concerning the Ukrainian civil war and lots of other things, be sure that there are lots of prevailing opinions they mostly believe but I disagree with them. For example, I am vastly more pro-Israel than they are; and I don't think that the Greeks have the right to "forgive themselves" the debt they owe to others in the tomorrow's elections, and so on.
But regardless of my disagreements, I can still see that they show some journalistic courage and impartiality that has become extremely rare elsewhere. Now I want to mention the new story that shocked me yesterday. Andrew Lack was named the new boss of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, some quasi-independent body supervising U.S. information and "propaganda", if you wish, including stations like Radio Free Europe. It's what I semi-jokingly called the "ministry of information" even though at least in the past, it wasn't meant to introduce any censorship or things like that.
However, times may be changing and the Thursday interview in the New York Times,
“We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East and groups like Boko Haram, “ he said. “But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”Wow. So according to this U.S. "minister of information", RT is on par with the Islamic State and Boko Haram (the terrorist Islamist group in Nigeria). In fact, the RT is ahead of these "counterparts". Why? Because Russia Today is "out there pushing a point of view"! Wow, what a crime. What does Mr Lack want to do against this threat? What about starting radio jammers and censoring the Internet?
A completely random RT video: Abby Martin (who lives in D.C.) is not only attractive and witty but she does a kind of analysis (in this case, the foreign policies in the State of the Union address) that no one or virtually no one in the U.S. networks is doing. Is she really an enemy? Shouldn't most Americans be able to see the obvious, anyway? You know, Americans, you suck when babe like hers has to find a similar job in a foreign country that has almost 10 times lower GDP.
Why it's sick and completely against the Western values to place a TV channel on the same level as terrorist organization is so obvious that I don't want to waste time with that. Who doesn't immediately see why Mr Lack is a sick pile of crap (for example, his friends from the unhinged yet completely "mainstream" TV station called MSNBC who praise him in NYT) are lost people. I am physically afraid of these lunatics.
But I want to focus on something less obvious here. The fact that much of the good stuff that is being produced at RT is the work of Americans who have quite some independence in their work. They have to have because "just the Russians" wouldn't even be capable of organizing and designing all these professional programs. Apologies to my Eastern Slavic friends for having expressed this attitude. Americans are just well ahead of Russia and others in these matters and the charm of RT is, to a large extent, due to the charm of its U.S. employees.
The question I want to ask is whether these American citizens currently working for RT, to pursue my example further, are still full-fledged first-class citizens of the United States of America. And my answer is "No, and the gap is growing".
The NYT interview with Lack says that he and his staff will "more forcefully engage international rivals such as China and Russia in the high-stakes information war". I didn't even know that the U.S. has openly entered an "information war". What does it exactly mean when it comes to news networks broadcasting in America, such as RT America? Does it mean that this "ministry of information" only sees one "right truth" that must be supported and everyone else must be fought against as in any war?
...Russia has poured millions into foreign-focused news media like Russia Today and Sputnik News, a new website and radio service that leaders at the Kremlin say is being set up to counter the pro-American bias of the western news media. Russia Today already has a significant American presence. ...Would you agree that these comments imply that the Americans working for RT are considered enemies of the state – of the U.S. – in this "information war" by the U.S. "ministry of information"? Can you imagine what does this mean?
It means that these professionals effectively have to flee America and risk that their homeland will treat them as enemies just because their viewpoints are not convenient for the "only allowed truth" that Mr Andrew Lack and his comrades want to defend in their "high-stakes information war".
Let me just remind you that if America were a democracy and if there were freedom, these people could broadcast pretty much the same programs in the U.S. There is clearly demand in the U.S. for this kind of news as Mr Lack openly admits, too. But for some reason they can't be aired directly from the U.S. They have been declared enemies of the state.
Enemies of the state – just because they think it's right to point out thousands of casualties across the world that are completely overlooked by the U.S.-based media? To show reasons why the U.S. policies in the Middle East have been seriously flawed and harmful for the local people? Reasons why Barack Obama or John Kerry are lousy politicians? Evidence that Kiev's behavior in the Ukrainian civil war has been more murderous and less legitimate than the behavior of the other side? Proofs that MSNBC and lots of other channels are just not being honest? Observations about the problems caused by the European integration?
Shouldn't it be normal for Americans who have these observations to be able to present these views directly from the U.S. – and not to be treated as enemies in an "information war"? They are American citizens just like the employees of MSNBC and if the press were free in the U.S., the government-appointed institutions such as Andrew Lack's board shouldn't pick winners and losers between the media outlets.
I am just amazed and scared by these developments. You might say that those biases and open hostilities against the U.S. citizens with some – clearly totally legitimate and legal (and mostly true) – opinions don't prove that the freedom of thought is disappearing in the U.S. because Andrew Lack's board isn't really a part of the government. It is an independent organization, and so on.
This excuse is extremely weak. In every totalitarian system, the government's complete control over a certain portion of the life of the society began "informally", in some organizations that were powerful enough in the whole nation, de facto fully aligned with the new government, but could be viewed as independent. Later, when the friendship between the regime and these institutions became way too obvious, their relationship was made official. The Brownshirts was just some fun military wing in a political party years before it would be made an official arm of the state. When the SA organized the Night of the Broken Glass against the German Jews in 1938, it was just an "informal" organization doing its fun activities. The state did nothing against these events, however.
I think that you will agree that by that moment, Germany was already a full-fledged totalitarian country. And I can give you tons of similar examples. The point is that in a free country, institutions that are picked as "standard organizations doing something" by the government simply have to respect the equality of different citizens and their views. So I urge you to fire this fascist bastard Mr Andrew Lack before it is too late.
Meanwhile, more realistically, jerks like this one will continue to gain power and the gap between the "mainstream America" they have hijacked and the "dissidents" and "exile" will continue to grow and will increasingly resemble countries such as the Third Reich and the USSR.
And that's the memo.