Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The lack of activity in the US in protesting the treatment of foreign national at the borders, the extradition of foreign nationals to countries known to torture and disinterest in the the profiling and secret arrests of Americans of Middle Eastern descent is disconcerting.

Remember, some day they may come looking for you.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.


first they came for the terrorists...

First they came for MacDonalds...

I think you've got it right Joi, but the problem is, with the current adminstration, merely protesting labels you as 'terrorist'. Hence, increasingly only the really hard left people go out and protest, thus skewing the profile, and resulting in lower numbers overall. I think it's time us Americans admitted that we live in an oligarchy, not a democracy.

This is going to REALLY long, please bear with me...

Speaking as an American (albeit, one living in Japan), I can confidently say that the lack of protesting by US citizens stems from one major source: most people in the US, regardless of their political stance, have *NO* idea that these things are happening.

People in the US primarily get their domestic and international affairs information from prime-time televeision news programs and newspapers which are increasingly are controled by only a few (largely conservative) media conglomerates. These media companies have tremendous control over what information people see, and the opinions that are conveyed about this information.

A lot of us have heard of the University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes study which reports "Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions [about the situation in Iraq]" (

In addition to this, there is a severe self-censoring mentality happening within the US media environment, with a combination of journalists' reluctance to tackle big issues, like Joi mentioned, and editors' fear of the repercussions this would have upon the viewers/readership.

The attrocities happening in America right now are largely going completely unnoticed by the general public because of the selective criticisms of the US media. I think that far more Americans would be far more outraged if they new the truth. Unfortunately, a tag-team of the current administration and its influence over the media has lead to vastly under-informed country.

Read this article by New York Times journalist Adam Clymer ( about the Bush administration's 18% increase in the number of classified documents and its work to restrict Americans' ability to get access to truthful information and facts.

For anyone looking for a bit of fresh air and truth, you can listen/watch Democracy Now on many National Public Radio stations, public-access TV stations, and even for free on the web (

Coincidentally, for the last 2 days, they have been covering The National Conference on Media Reform. (listen to it, and you can conversely see how THEIR broadcast has at least partially affected MY opinion in this post...heh-heh...we're all sheep ^_^ )

Relevent Abraham Lincoln quote: "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts."

This is not happening in American right now. I believe that because of this, the People cannot be great until we DO start getting the real facts.

I'm *terribly* sorry for the enormous post -- it's my first one on Joi's blog. Like Joi was talking about the other day, this "pushed one of my buttons" . Thanks for providing this forum, Joi and for pushing my button (sometimes it can be a good thing)!! If I ever see you here in Kyoto, I'll be sure to say "Hi!" :)

As a side note to this, Joi, I think that we'd all benefit greatly if in the future you could give first-hand accounts of the difficulty you have had while traveling to and from the US. An example would be the recent requirement to have all Japanese requesting a visa to have a face-to-face interview at a US Consulate before the visa is approved.

Jon. I wonder when my blog will become classified as "subversive". ;-) I wonder if that means that people who read and write on my blog are also subversive...

I agree that the people in the US don't seem to be informed. I'm not sure how much the media
are controlled by the administration and how much it is about just a degenration to a sell them what they want to see/entertainment sort of orientation. Isn't there a role blogs can play here?

Again, as I've said before, the Japanese media is probably worse in many ways. I don't know about the US, but in Japan, the media conglomerates own both newspapers and television and make more money from entertainment and sports than from news.

Thanks for the links and the thoughtful post Dan.

Dan, first of all I want to say that I agree with your post but I have one question. Could the 18% increase in classified documents be because of the War on Terror (just or unjust). I wonder how that number would look in contrast to the Vietnam War years? Is it a sign of the times or part of a larger trend (I tend to agree with your assumption but I am just thinking outloud). Again, I agree with what Joi posted and what you wrote here. Thanks for posting it.

Joi, in recent posts you've begin to come off as a little wacky. For instance, adocating new training for immigration employees, or courts review of Guantanamo detainees is good. But quoting something that makes an analogy to Nazi Germany or making ad hominem statements aboiut the U.S. president doesn't get you any listeners among normal, thoughtful readers.

Reading about your online life, I think maybe you are getting too caught up in a feedback loop with a small group of fellow travellers who egg you on to more extreme positions. How about a month-long Ramadan from the net? :-)

Lonica. Thanks for your frank opinion. I guess I would argue that the Maher incident wasn't about the training of the imigration employees, but how he ended up on the list and who and how the decision to send him to Syria was made. It's all a big black box which is frightening and I believe that this administration is pushing towards more and more secrecy.

Also, the quote... I think this is a quote that is important to remind EVERYONE, not just the US that unless you fight for human rights for everyone, there may be no one left to fight for your rights when your turn comes. I'm not trying to make an analogy between Nazi Germany and the US, but talking about human rights generally.

Having said that... I'm just finishing a session a this summit where we were presented with and discussed the US in a balanced way. The discussion with Japanese intellectuals about the US was quite interesting. (Some people even remember getting chocolates from US GI's) ;-) I'll post notes later.

One of the most important aspects of remembering such things as the horrors of Nazi Germany is to pay special attention when one sees similarities to what allowed those horrors to happen.

Dismissing comparisons with Nazi Germany is far far worse than forgetting it outright.

Remebering is one thing. Learning and prevention is another. And cynicism in the face of possible recognition of patterns just doesn't help anything.

Here is a link that might interest you in connection with your story. There is protest in the US: Land of the Free?. A blog. And a personal story.

Your post reminds me of a section from "A Man For All Seasons":

Setting - Sir Thomas More has declined to employ Richard Rich, who has just left the room.

Wife: Arrest him!
More: For what?
Wife: He's dangerous!
Roper: For all we know he's a spy!
Daughter: Father, that man's bad!
More: There's no law against that!
Roper: There is, God's law!
More: Then let God arrest him!
Wife: While you talk he's gone!
More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down (and you're just the man to do it!), do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Though I am of mixed opinion about the U.S.'s Iraq situation, it is important to point out that Saddam 'came' for the Shiite muslims and Kurds along time ago and there was silence.

reminds me of the Benjamin Franklin quote that says:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

If you are going to quote, try to get the quote correct:

"According to Harry W. Mazal, the exact text of what Martin Niemöller said, and which appears in the Congressional Record, 14, October 1968, page 31636, is:

When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church — and there was nobody left to be concerned."

Interesting. Thanks Larry. Do you have a URL for the source?

It is generally accepted that Harry W. Mazal's version of Pastor Niemoller's warning is inaccurate and self-serving -- especially since it replaces "Communists" with "industrialists" (whom Niemoller certainly never mentioned).

I've written a long weblog entry about this widely used quotation and how it has been "reworked" to suit various ends:

The quote's importance is not in its integrity, but the message instead. I frankly dont care who said it, when or where, their message comes thru loud and clear. The selfishness of our society will be our downfall.

We only help others when 1)we feel guilty 2)we hope to gain some sort of religious/spiritual reward in the afterlife 3)We feel compassion, and search for a convienient way to settle our concience without stepping to far out side of our security bubbles ( an extremely small percentage are doing anything out of the goodness of their heart, although they think they are). And because of our behavior, we are divided as a nation. Were all looking out for number 1, and as long as the government is after another group, its not my problem. Until they turn their sites to me of course, and when that happens, who would commit such a selfless act to stand up for this individual. No one. Unless they themselves are affected by it.

We have been successfully divided as a people and as nations. By Race, Sex, Class, Intelligence, Physical Strength, social structure/sub culture/ counter-culture and social engineering, because our society has given our focus to our differences seperating us, instead of making us stronger as a group, and why? Because ALL GOVERNMENTS FEAR THEIR OWN PEOPLE MORE THAN ANY OUTSIDE FORCE. A nation divided cannot stand, and therefore, we are nothing more then cattle to our world government hopefuls. This is not something new, its been happening for over 8 decades. As Corporations Merge, laws are rewritten to cater to big business, and government and Corporate worlds become more one and the same on a daily basis. And now, thanks to Bush and his "Godly Connection" we are seeing the amalgamation of Government, Religion and Corporations. An unholy trinity who have the well being of their citizens on the back burner. Yet still we sit, thinking we have no control over any of it. And as long as we are convinced we are powerless we are.
I'll see you in the dungeon, make sure you bring a prayer.

"All truth passes through 3 stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer

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