Episode 15: 9/11

Peasants & Emperors is a podcast presenting topics related to democracy, science, culture, women’s issues, current events and critical thinking. A new podcast is produced and available for listening/download approximately every two weeks.

In episode 15, the Hooligans open the discussion by discussing the comedy of Bo Burnham. Then they move on to talk about how Western civilization is still being impacted by the events of 9/11. The discussion segues into a brief discussion of Colin Kaepernick and his supporters and detractors.

Episode 15: 9/11

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Notes & Clarifications
1). The first attempt to bring down the World Trade Center came in 1993. A truck bomb was placed in the parkade of the North Tower. The idea was to bring the North Tower down crashing against the South Tower. The blast failed in its ultimate objective but did lead to the death of six while injuring hundreds.

2). In the podcast, Rick observed that the United States asked Turkey in 1993 for permission to use Turkish air bases to fly bombing missions against neighboring Iraq. The Turkish government put the question to its people in the form of a plebiscite. The Turkish people decided not to allow the Americans to use their air bases. Paul Wolfowitiz, Deputy Defense Secretary for the United States, responded publicly that the Turkish decision demonstrated how democracy in Turkey had failed. The absurdity of a genuine plebiscite not reflecting the popular will was obviously lost on the Deputy Defense Secretary. To use Noam Chomsky’s words from the book Failed States (page 133), Wolfowitz “took the most extreme position. He berated the Turkish military for not compelling the government to follow Washington’s orders, and demanded that military leaders apologize and say, ‘We made a mistake’ by overruling virtually unanimous public opinion [as expressed in the  referendum].”

3). In the segment discussing the significance of Colin Kaepernick’s symbolic sitting or kneeling before football games during the singing of the American anthem, Rick and Jess discussed the existence of other individuals who have historically challenged group mentalities, popular wisdom or tribalism. One such individual, Eugene Debs, made highly unpopular antiwar speeches during World War I at great personal risk. Debs and others like him have made a point of keeping dialogue open during times of tension so people would be reminded patriotism doesn’t consist so much in just supporting one’s government or troops without any qualification; rather, the idea behind patriotism is to use it as a motivation to preserve a people from both the real dangers posed from without and the very real dangers posed to the people from within. For more on this see Chris Hedges book Death of the Liberal Class pages 60-80.

4). During the podcast, Jess talked about the idea of measuring a country’s greatness. Rick followed that up by stating America actually measured quite low by comparison compared to other countries with respect to infant mortality, literacy rates, and access to healthcare. With this in mind, the United States it the 5th worst country when it comes to infant mortality, literacy 22nd best, and healthcare outcomes 37th overall.