Mon, 16 April 2018
There is no planet B. So what’s the plan once we destroy this one?
Enter: SCIENCE! New and improved, “Science” has the answer. The only catch? It’s up to us to give a crap. Take a virtual walk of Denver’s March for Science with Gregory and Andi.
Music recorded live at Denver’s Civic Center Park: Papa Juke,
Sun, 25 March 2018
This episode of the Majority Villain podcast has some pretty adult themes. If you’re a sensitive listener, you may want to have a friend proof-listen the show. Otherwise, we feel the topics here need to be discussed again and again, and we welcome heartily your sincere feedback. As always, you can email me your thoughts, concerns and input: email@example.com.
Please consider following up with more of this content and the nationwide protests that have taken place around gun violence under the hashtag #Marchforourlives.
A look back at three horrific tragedies and the vastly different responses by governments following them:
All music, art, and show clips were taken via the Free Music Archive, Flickr, and Youtube under Fair Use and Creative Commons Licensing. Today’s show image by sari_dennise, with music provided by Evil Bear Boris, Blue Dot Sessions, and Kai Engel.
If you found value in today’s show, please consider doing two things: Share the show with a friend, and tell them why you liked it. And please leave a review for us on Apple Podcasts or on the device you’re already using. It takes a few minutes, but its impact on the work we are doing will be felt for years. Thank you very much for taking these actions.
As usual, you can find us @MajorityVillain on Twitter and Facebook, and you can always send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every single email we get, and promise you a thoughtful response.
Until next time… Status quos are for suckers.
National Center for Health Statistics,
-Assault or Homicide
-National Vital Statistics Reports
Open Secrets, Profile for 2016 Election Cycle:
Mass shootings and gun control (6/2/2010)
How Many Gun Bills Pass After Mass Shootings? (9/13/2013)
Massacre Energized gun debate not lawmakers (Article from 2000) http://extras.denverpost.com/news/col0419g.htm
What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer
Mass Shooters Are All Different. Except for One Thing: Most Are Men.
Australian Gun Stats
Just 3% of Americans own more than half the country's guns
United States — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law
Mon, 12 March 2018
For over a year now, much of the world has been watching the United States. With Donald Trump becoming the 45th president of the United States, and an investigation being opened into his campaign shortly after his inauguration, many of us, including all of us here at Majority Villain, have been watching with a healthy mix of shock and curiosity to see what will REALLY come of the allegations of collusion with Russia. Every day, we open our preferred 'fake news' branded site to see what car accident we get to watch in slow motion today.
From an outside perspective, it seems as if Robert Mueller, the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is producing results and untangling the interwoven threads that make up the 2016 Trump Pence campaign. To date, criminal proceedings have been initiated against 19 people. Out of the 19, five of them are United States citizens, and four of them worked for the Trump Campaign itself.
Robert Mueller and his team are on a mission, and they are producing results. But, this begs the question: Who are these people that have been charged? How did they get themselves into such a predicament? Let's go ahead and start with number one. The first man to be indicted: George Papadopoulos. The man that started it all. But… I think that I may be ill equipped to launch into this by myself. I think we need a little help from some of my better known friends… The Obstruction of Justice League of America! Aggregate!
Greg: Oh, hold on I gotta take this… Hello?
Ethan: Dude, I was just listening to the intro - and uh, yeah you can’t say that.
G: Oh hi Ethan. What do you mean? You’re too late. I just said it. Everybody literally just heard me do it.
E: Yeah, but Stephen Colbert did this already.
G: What are you talking about?
E: On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert did the Justice League thing. Back in July.
G: I don’t understand the words that you’re using.
E: He made the same joke.
G: A joke like our joke?
E: The SAME joke.
G: But that’s our thing. We made the Obstruction of Justice League.
E: HE USED THE SAME NAME, DUDE!!!!
G: What? No, that’s not possible…
E: See what I mean? You gotta change it.
G: Yeah, I mean, yeah. I see what you mean. I’m glad you said something before...
E: Ok good. I just didn’t want to see you make an ass out of yourself or anything.
G: Yeah, sure sure. Just let me, real quick.
E: I’m glad we could see eye to eye on this one. It would have been a real shame if we—
G: Uh, hey Ethan.
G: JUSTICE LEAGUE, AMALGAMATE!
E: That’s not even how it goes…
The Justice League Starring...
Longest serving FBI director since J Edgar Hoover and former vietnam marine, Robert “Superman” Mueller…. As Muellerman!
Former FBI director James “Martian Manhunter” Comey…. As Martian Manhunter Comey!
Trump Campaign pawn, and federally prosecuted, George “Brainiac” Papadopoulos…. As the Legion of Doom’s Brainiopoulos!
Donald J. Trump as Lex Luthor…. As LEXALD J. LUTHOR!
Join our band of heroes as they work together for good against the tyranny of treason as the Obstruction of Justice League of America!!!
BACK AT THE LEGION OF DOOM’S HQ - THE HALL OF DOOM
Lexald J. Luthor plans his attack on Giganta Hillary Clinton.
Campaign staffer Sam Clovis sends recruit George Brainiopoulos on a secret mission to improve relations between the United States and Russia. While in his secret London lair, the Brainiopoulos is approached by Professor Joseph Mifsud - a man with known connections to Russia and Vladmirro himself.
Brainiopoulos and Professor Mifsud meet on numerous occasions between mid-March, 2016 under the pretense that Russia has "dirt" on “Hilganta” from her private communications and on March 24th, Professor Mifsud is joined by Olga “The Cheetah” Polonskaya, in disguise as the beloved niece of Vladmirro.
Clovis encourages Brainiopoulos to travel to Russia to meet with agents of Russia’s Foreign Ministry after learning of Hilganta secret email weakness and on return boasts of alleged intel regarding Hilganta’s feculent digital trail.
BUT NOT SO FAST! The Obstruction of Justice League’s James “Martian Manhunter” Comey is keen to the rouse, and delves deeper into the doings of the Legion of Doom’s dubious developments.
After numerous requests for Lexald J. Luthor to meet with Russian representatives, Brainiopoulos is told by the Toymanafort and Gorilla Gates that Lexald J. Luthor will not make the journey - but rather, a minion in his stead.
Upon learning of Brainiopoulos’ ongoings - the Martian Manhunter Comey catches the scent of wrongdoing afoot and sends emissaries, spooking Brainiopoulos who in sensing the danger of his pursuers purges the records of his personal book of faces. He creates a new book in its place.
Luthor, sensing the unending pressure upon him, looks to banish the Martian Manhunter Comey back to Mars, lest he never be heard from again.
But Lexald J. Luthor has underestimated the Justice League’s bureaucratic power as the Manhunter’s power orb is absorbed into Muellerman (HERO MUSIC), making the Justice League and Muellerman more knowledgeable than ever before.
With all of the information in his possession, Muellerman springs to action, closes his decisive grip of justice around Brainiopoulos, bringing the young Luthor pawn and his actions to a screeching halt. Smelling the scent of defeat, being captured for his deceptions, Brainipolous pleads guilty to all charges. The world is safer for another day, and the work of Justice League of America has just begun.
Tune in next time…
Upon learning of his betrayal of his once beloved compatriot, Luthor does everything in his power to disavow Brainiopoulos, minimizing and obscuring his actions as a low-level minion fraught with/plagued by delusions of grandeur.
Greg: So, what do you think?
Ethan: Dude, I told you like 10 minutes ago, Colbert already made this joke.
Greg: I don’t recall that information whatsoever.
Ethan: Somebody is gonna sue us.
Greg: We don’t have any assets anyway.
You’ve been listening to the Majority Villain podcast. Today’s show was written by Ethan Braine and Gregory Haddock. To redeem your superfriend points for this episode visit the website at majorityvillain.com and Facebook and Twitter @majorityvillain. Show music via the Free Music Archive, and show images via Flickr. All media used under Fair Use and Creative Commons Licensing. Episode image by Tom Woodward.
Want to be a superfriend or a villain?
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UNTIL NEXT TIME… Status quos are for suckers.
Sun, 25 February 2018
As the 2018 Winter Olympics come to a close The Majority Villain Podcast presents to you the villain’s review: our version of events, validating various vignettes of valor - the victor’s view from the vertex. Vamoose vagabonds! Vanish you valley voyagers vibrant only in vanilla vagary! Vended and verified be the vanquisher.
Today’s music brought to you by Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Nigerian Women's bobsled team becomes the first ever African bobsled team to qualify for the winter Olympics.
This of course revitalized once again the conversation that predominantly black nations from warmer regions can in fact have bobsled teams. Jamaican Bobsled documentarian John Candy explains:
(John Candy, Cool Runnings)
Nigeria is one of only 8 participating African countries in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The team is comprised of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga. The Houston based women are trained track and field athletes. Adigun competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 100-meter hurdles and Onwumere competed in the All-African Games.
Despite previous successes, when Lagos-based writer Emmanuel Dairo spoke with Nigerian freelance reporter Linus Unah, Dairo said of the team, "Very few even know there is a winter games going on, and even fewer care.” Nevertheless, it was Seun Adigun who launched a GoFundMe page in 2016 to help raise money for their trip to the games, and after raising $150,000 she helped to establish the Bobsled & Skeleton Federation of Nigeria. The team eventually competed with a slew of sponsors as part of team Visa. Even if winning wasn’t in the cards… perhaps it wasn’t the point…"Our objective (now) is to be the best representation of Africa that the Winter Olympics have ever witnessed,” Adigun said.
North and South Korea competed as a United Korea this year in hockey, despite being technically still at war! This was the first time some of the South Koreans have met North Koreans. North Korea brought more than 180 cheerleaders (a reminder of how weird shit is over there), and were accompanied during all events by minders that sat with them, disputing any semblance to freedom there might have been. The cheerleaders acted as a stark reminder to how far the two countries have grown apart, including mixed reactions from the women at a moment when a Kim Jong Un impersonator walked in front of them. Awkward shiiiiii…
(Audio, John Candy)
For more on North Korea peruse the Majority Villain podcasts on the device you’re already using. (That means subscribing to the show!) I recommend the January episode, “North Korea Could Be Anywhere” http://www.majorityvillain.com/thepodcast/northkorea.
Teen Olympian snowboarder, Red Gerard, overslept and then won gold in slopestyle after late night binging on Netflix in which Gerard stated that he was watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine - which appears to be available only on overseas Netflix - so it’s pretty understandable, Red. Get it while you can. We dig it. After being woken up by his roommate, Gerard realized soon that he couldn't find his coat and ended up taking his roommate's which was too big. As his family spent the morning shotgunning South Korean beer, the clearly overwhelmed 17 year old clinched gold, cursing on television, ”What the fuck? Hoooly shit”. In related news, Gerard has promised his Olympic roommate either one of his kidneys whenever it is needed.
(Audio, John Candy)
The United States National Hockey League did not participate these Olympic games. The decision was announced on April 4th of 2017, stating they would not be allowing their players to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, because the games take place directly in the middle of the NHL's regular season, causing issues with tickets and other operations. Another factor was injuries. With athletes going to the Olympics, injuries are always a fear that players may miss out on regular season games. Likewise, there are financial losses that NHL teams would have in their existing contracts, like setbacks on regular league play. The International Olympic Committee doesn't actually have a partnership with the NHL. This would mean that the NHL and all teams with participating players would be footing the bill to provide insurance for players as well as travel and lodging costs. All in all, the NHL saw no upside to allowing players to compete.
(Shuffling papers) Aaaand in other news the US women’s hockey team won gold in a dramatic shootout against Canada.
John Candy was born in Newmarket, Ontario. John Candy’s middle name was Franklin.
John Candy graduated from Neil McNeil High School in Toronto.
You’ve been listening to the Majority Villain podcast. I’m Gregory Haddock. Today’s show was written by Ethan Braine and myself. To redeem your villain points for this episode be sure to visit the website at majorityvillain.com and on Facebook and Twitter @majorityvillain. On a side note - Big suprirse, this show is satirical… a HUGE congratulations to the US Women’s Hockey Team on their gold medal. Thanks for the showing the NHL what a bunch of wieners they are. You guys are badass.
Wanna get a gold medal of your own? Go to Apple Podcasts. (But, uh, maybe… I, uh, later I can, uh….) No, no, no - I insist. A link is provided in the show notes…https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/majority-villain/id877298705?mt=2\ go there and leave a review for Majority Villain. A five star review is single handedly the most helpful action you can take to support the work we are doing. Gold medal sold separately.
Status Quos Are For Suckers.
John Candy was 6’2”.
Red Gerard Oversleeping
NHL Not Participating
Nigerian Women's Bobsled Team
Sat, 10 February 2018
Cryptocurrency may just seem like the latest fad for throwing your money away. It is, at least, what one man would classify as (Ethan: fake internet points). And to a degree, he’s right, isn’t he? Think about it. The internet age is a millennial specialty for our throw-away culture — like swiping right and most of the rules of grammar.
Proponents of cryptocurrency, sometimes called digital currency, like it for its more democratic ends based on the very fact that the currency belongs to no one entity. It’s decentralized from a banking system which means it remains in the public commons and is, in essence, unbound by traditional rules of economics.
That doesn’t mean that cryptocurrencies are without their struggle. Far from it. With volatile market fluctuations, cyber crime and hacking, cryptocurrencies have more than traditionally government-backed currency and regulations to contend with. They and consumers are navigating unforeseen obstacles everyday to see if they will become a major player in the future of finance or if they will become just another footnote in internet history alongside grumpy cat memes, duck lip selfies, Charlie Sheen and the mannequin challenge (shudder).
Despite the uphill battle, even the hardest of the hardcore crypto-haters out there will admit that in the face of major obstacles like record-breaking price-drops in value over the month of January 2018, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are unlikely to disappear altogether. Like it or not, we are tech-bound for the duration of our stay on Earth. Cryptocurrency is ipso facto, here to stay.
So, if you’re anything like me, you probably have one gnawing question:
Yeah, I’m going to need some help with this one. (I’m Ethan Braine with Majority Villain)
The drop in Bitcoin is actually $7915.01, as of the recording of this message, though days ago it was nearly $6000. The volatility is violent.
While many cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin allow access to a public ledger, the trails for these funds can be astoundingly complicated and drowned out in the process. Hackers may have numerous “wallets” where questionable transactions are mixed in with clean funds and then sold off at a later date when the money in question is digitally mixed enough through a process called “tumbling”. Think of it as the money laundering of the future!!!
There are plenty of reasons cryptocurrency is a good idea. The elimination of a central government - means no government or company can control the currency or directly manipulate interest rates. There are also no limits on how much money can be transferred so banks are a non-factor, and the fees are almost non-existent. Best yet, they can be used anywhere! So a Bitcoin in Bulgaria is a Bitcoin in Burkina Faso, and a Bitcoin in Belarus is a Bitcoin in Boston and a Bitcoin in Bolivia is a Bitcoin in Bangladesh and a Bitcoin in Bermuda is a Bitcoin in…
The Dark Web makes all kinds of things possible. It’s dark, because it is all the seediest activities humans aren’t typically willing to do in overwhelmingly public, well-lit areas. The following is a re-enactment of one type of seedy dark-web behavior. Listeners be warned as this audio clip contains adult content taken from a real-life dark web incident.
Man 1: Why hello there sir. How do you do?
Man 2: I do. And you?
Man 1: I do too. Thank you. Now, tell me my good man. Where might I purchase some drugs?
Man 2: Why why, my good man. I would be happy to accommodate your drug request by providing said drugs to you, hereby to be referred to simply as “drugs”.
Man 1: Bully! Naturally it would be poor form to simply hand you paper currency, hereby to be referred to as “cash money” for said “drugs”.
Man 2: Understandably so. Let us then conduct our cash money for drugs transaction via a cryptocurrency delivery to one web address, to then be split and muddled into multiple addresses, thereby disguising the cash money and drugs in question.
Man 1: Bully! In that case I will also acquire one unit of sex for more cash money.
Man 2: Bully! Consider the sexy sex for cash money delivered.
…And that’s how it happens. Just. Like. That.
The pain is real. The Mt. Gox hack resulted in the absolute ruin of some investor’s. Real people, real consequences.
From a reddit post in 2014, following the Mt. Gox bankruptcy:
— (originally I tried to withdraw $30,000.00, but Mt. Gox cancelled my withdraw and asked me to change to GBP. Funds never arrived. Mt.Gox admits in the e-mail funds are mine.)
— I have about 90 BTC in my Mt. Gox account, which I would very much like to receive back at some point. It's only just sinking in that it might all be gone.. I can't believe I waited so long before getting it out somewhere safe, but.. here we are.
— I have about 650 BTC in Gox. I haven't slept in days and haven't been able to tell my wife how much I've lost. I was an early adopter, just mining in my basement, and I can't imagine all of my time and work vanishing like this. Please contact me with what I need to do.
Think this all sounds crazy? Don’t. We do it everyday. Try eating a handful of dollar bills and tell me how full you feel, but that may sound stupid because that money is government-backed. However, there is one other type of financial speculation much more similar called a “future”. A future is a financial arrangement in which the thing being traded back and forth is not intrinsically for the item in question, but rather for the value that item has on the market at any given time. In other words, the Wall Street speculator that purchases 1000 future shares of cattle livestock doesn’t actually want 1000 shares of cattle livestock to show up to his office. That idea is so silly, we wouldn’t even know where to begin. But that doesn’t mean those future shares of that very livestock won’t change hands multiple times in one day as men in black suits with black ties yell back and forth on the trading floor to move those future shares. Imagine what the average rancher thinks of all this!
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t all that different. The value isn’t the weight of the bitcoin sitting in your hand. It’s about the value of these “fake internet points” the market places on it. This isn’t just an internet-age phenomenon either. 17th century Dutch saw entire fortunes won and lost on the exchange of exotic tulips. Yes, those tulips. As 1630s trades for tulips ramped up in the Netherlands, a 1000% market-value increase for one type of bulb in the span of a single month was not unheard of. A link to an article comparing the Dutch tulip craze and cryptocurrency on Focus Economics is located in the show notes.
You’ve been listening to the Majority Villain podcast. I’m your host, Gregory Haddock. A very special thanks today to the Villain’s newest, correspondent, Ethan Braine, who helped write much of today’s show. To redeem your villain points for this episode be sure to visit the website at majorityvillain.com and on Facebook and Twitter @majorityvillain. In signing out I would like to ask one very particular favor: please click on the iTunes link in the show notes and leave a review for Majority Villain. A five star review is single handedly the most helpful action you can take to support the work we are doing. Thank you in advance for taking action.
In the meantime… Status quos are for suckers.
Real life stories of people screwed at Gox...
Tulip Mania: When Tulips Cost As Much As Houses
From $900 to $20,000: Bitcoin's Historic 2017 Price Run Revisited
Link to power consumption
Regulation from South Korea
South Korean regulatory page
Top Five hacks
Nvidia asks retailers to stop selling graphics cards to miners
Warren Buffett says he won't invest in cryptocurrency
Info on BitConnect lawsuit
Sun, 28 January 2018
The Doomsday Clock is now two minutes to irrevocable worldwide destruction; the closest it has been since 1953, when the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists wrote, “Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.”
The Bulletin, a group accredited by the membership of its 15 Nobel laureates, began with former Manhattan Project scientists who could, “not remain aloof to the consequences of their work.” Their warning to the human species came as humankind entered the age of nuclear war, and the tense relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union quickly deteriorated.
The clock, a metaphor of humanity’s countdown to midnight, coarsely whispers the warning to our species if we are unable to change our trajectory. The minute hand has only moved 22 times in that 73 years, and since 2007 it has also reflected the effects of climate change.
Citing the Trump administration’s outright rejection of the scientific community’s consensus on climate change, and President Trump’s disturbing comments toward North Korea, Iran and Pakistan in January of this year, the Bulletin saw the need to move the minute hand a half-minute closer to global catastrophe, stating the current situation is as dangerous as it has ever been since World War II.
Tragic irony rings deep echoes in noting that it was Barack Obama who was the first US President to call for a “nuclear-free world”, but it was also Obama who announced a trillion dollar investment to modernize the nuclear-weapons program — and it was another first when he visited Hiroshima, and then offered no official apology when it was the healing power of reconciliation they truly needed.
There is no doubt that the times we live in are hectic, dangerous and absurd, but the answer to the question of what one could do with two minutes should be all we need to hear: not much.
I’m Gregory Haddock. This is Majority Villain.
Show Image: Trinity Bomb Test, July 16, 1945, New Mexico
Sun, 14 January 2018
Rate The Majority Villain Villain Podcast on iTunes! https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/majority-villain/id877298705?mt=2
We’ve all heard the reports about North Korea.
There’s no shortage of information about the nation most people love to hate. We hear a lot regarding missile tests, prison camps and brainwashing. We know the stories of Kim Jong-un and his late father Kim Jong-il, but not too much about the true patriarch of the nation; Kim Il-sung. Reports and discussions over the behavior of North Korea are abound, while self-reflection of the roots of these resentments and ill-feelings remain silent.
Today, on Majority Villain we will consider the questions:
Why does North Korea hate America? Or more succinctly put: why does it seem that way?
And two far-less talked about questions…
So, let’s have at it, shall we? This is Majority Villain.
Are we going to have a nuclear war with North Korea?
This question gets thrown around. A lot. So much so that I fear we don’t anticipate what it would mean. The levity with which we pose the question seems to traverse beyond varying degrees of caution and concern, instead springing head first into some kind of patriotic excitement on how a full-on war could somehow revitalize the American spirit. The two longest wars in American history raging on right now in Iraq and Afghanistan would suggest otherwise. It seems to me then, we ought to be wary of the words we use to describe such a scenario, lest we not anticipate what would likely be the consequences. Regardless, we continue to ask: Are we going to have a nuclear war with North Korea? Variations of the question include whether or not we should (as if choosing to have a war would place us into some type of scenario where there would be clear advantages. There probably wouldn't be). Other variants include WWIII references (beyond scary), the duty of America to be the peace-enforcer (paternal), how evil or crazy Kim Jong-un is (ironic), and more recently how the United States should use its strong arm over China to wield its powerful influence in bringing North Korea under control (dream weaving).
Let’s talk fire power.
Occasionally, people scoff at the idea that North Korea could ever successfully attack the United States with a nuclear payload missile, citing a three decade-long program littered with international embarrassments; early on it was only short-range tests, and then later a total overhype of test trajectory, and sometimes tests were flat-out failed launches. It’s not the most solid track record on missile tests in history, and that tends to lead a lot of people to thinking that the United States is safe. On the other hand, North Korea’s weapons program is young (just over 10 years old), they have an unknown number in their arsenal, and most terrifyingly - as recently as November, 2017 have they launched a successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) experts say is capable of reaching anywhere within the continental United States. Is North Korea's program riddled with flaws? Yes. Does the United States have a missile defense program designed to shoot these things out of the sky? Yes. But do we know how many the United States would need to shoot down, has that missile defense system been tested, and are we even sure the United States would be the target of that attack? No, no and no.
Most experts says that the United States partner-country, South Korea would be on the receiving end of what would certainly be far too many missiles to defend against. By all accounts, South Korea would be decimated in unimaginable ways.
That makes Donald Trump’s, and more generally, the United States’ tough guy approach all the more scary — not to Americans — but to South Koreans particularly, because they would take more than their fair share of the bombardment.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to carry a big stick than it is to speak softly. Specifically, to speak about the nuance regarding North Korea, namely, the people. It’s easy to forget that there are a lot of innocent people in North Korea, both imprisoned and free who don’t necessarily agree with the aims and goals of the Kim regime. When we say things like, “North Korea is crazy” we undermine the reality of millions of citizens who are trapped in very real ways. The North Korean propaganda machine is the best in its class, censorship on rogue ideas is strictly forbidden, and dissidents who speak or act out are not given very many second chances — if ever. Most of the country is under an electric blackout and quality food sources are scarce — even among those who are not imprisoned or in labor camps. The bottom line is this: North Korea cannot be abrasively labelled as aggressive without attention to the massive population of people who are oppressed in inconceivable ways. If the United States were to attack North Korea the casualties would be astronomical just as they were the last time US troops were there.
Flash back to 1950 as global relations are beginning to take new shape in the aftermath of failed a attempt by Axis Powers led by Germany, Italy and Japan. Korea has been occupied for some three decades by the Japanese and is split up into two dictatorships; One North, one South. One protected by communist Soviet Union and one protected by capitalist America. A North Korean military front, led by Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung heads into the South to take over the land. The newly formed United Nations responds under immense persuasion by the United States to intercede. What begins as a protection and post-WWII peace enforcement mission in the former Japanese-occupied country pushes back against the North, not only to the original borders, but far beyond, just shy of the Chinese border. By 1953, non-militarized treaty lines between the North and South are established where they still exist on a map today. The casualties are immense.
Howard Zinn recalls the words of a BBC journalist as he described the trauma in both Koreas after the 1950 June invasion by the North resulted in a US led campaign of 3 years of bombing, shelling and even napalm in his book, A People’s History of the United States. Sensitive listeners advised as the following description is rather unsettling.
“In front of us a curious figure was standing, a little crouched, legs straddled, arms held out from his sides. He had no eyes, and the whole of his body, nearly all of which was visible through tatters of burnt rags, was covered with a hard black crust speckled with yellow pus…. He had to stand because he was no longer covered with a skin, but with a crust-like crackling which broke easily…. I thought of the hundreds of villages reduced to ash which I personally had seen and realized the sort of casualty list which must be mounting up along the Korean front.” (Zinn, People’s History, 1980)
Zinn estimated during this time that as many as 2 million Koreans were killed. To try to put that into perspective, it is a figure nearly 9 times higher than the number of deaths accrued during the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs dropped by the United States just 5 years earlier.
Typically, this is the part where somebody argues that neither Kim Jong-un nor Donald Trump are responsible for actions taken 70 years ago. True. But that answer feels wholly insufficient, does it not? While decades-old resentments remain, a closer look at current behaviors is needed. Political linguist Noam Chomsky says that a good start to normalized diplomatic relations (like getting North Korea to freeze its nuclear weapons program) would be ending the threatening military maneuvers facilitated by the United States military right outside North Korea’s borders. And understandably so! Imagine what public opinion would be if Russia had 35,000 troops located in Toronto and were running drills on how to attack New York… you know, just in case. Not a good feeling, right? But Chomsky doesn’t end the argument for understanding North Korea’s fears and frustrations there. Rather, he explains quite clearly the legacy of the root of that hostility.
(Audio clip of Chomsky explaining how US troops leveled NK.)
Perhaps the irony with North Korea is our leaders are so alike. Here is a short quiz taken by the BBC, with some notable quotes of my own choosing added. I’ll read you a quote, and after a few seconds I will tell you if it was Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump. You can keep score at home. Finally, a game the whole family can enjoy!
“The military might of a country represents its national strength. Only when it builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country.” - Kim
"If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment.” -Kim
"They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” -Trump
"Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him.” - Kim
“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice!” -Trump
“We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.” -Trump
"Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space.” -Kim
“There can be no prosperity without law and order.” -Trump
If you got a perfect score - congratulations! You know your dictators from your dickheads! Missed two? Not too shabby. If you got anything less than that - you really gotta admit it - they’re pretty damn similar, and that should give you cause to reflect on the dangers of unmoving nationalism.
International Relations in academia have competing schools of thought when it comes to a state’s behavior. There are ongoing dialogues about the varying degrees between state sovereignty vs world cooperation, military might vs diplomacy, border security vs international investment. Realist schools of thought place a premium on the need to securitize the nation, reign in foreign nationals, and build up a mighty military with the force to destroy at a moments notice if not for the home team’s offense, then for a monumental dissuasion for those with ill intentions from ever even thinking about trying something against us. Never question the home team. It is us vs them.
If the two leaders of these two governments are so eager to measure their members, display their plumage, yell the loudest, fire the biggest rockets, and ignore their own advisors, then we shall reap what we sow…
(Sound of rocket taking off)
(Ring Ring - News report: North and South Korea open up previously closed direct contact line)
What thickens the irony all the more is that Kim, unlike Trump, might be more willing to compromise. Given recent rhetoric by President Donald Trump, even in a diplomatic setting like the United Nations… (Audio of Trump at UN session) North and South Korea have been more eager to communicate today than they have been in at least two years. Does this mean that Donald Trump’s tough guy approach has worked? Or does it imply that the Koreans are finding the United States to be an obstacle to compromise? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I will not be able to answer that question here.
The more important question is how we view success as a nation. It is a me-first approach? Is there room to question the home team? Is dissidence simply permitted or is it cherished as a means to problem-solving? Howard Zinn’s take on patriotism was much different:
“If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one's country, one's fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.”
The United States proudly calls itself a peace-enforcer, but there is no such thing as enforcing peace. A farmer does not enforce the growth of corn. He cultivates it. An architect doesn’t enforce the construction of a new building. She develops it. Likewise, peace cannot be imposed, forced, coerce or even won.
It’s unfortunate that our über-macho society masculinity places such a premium on aggression. We see what we want and we go and make it happen. We manifest the desired outcome with elbow grease and a can-do attitude. Of course these cultural traits have their value, but why are they seen as an all-encompassing replacement, overshadowing their counterpart attributes of compassion, listening, patience and empathy.
In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day - I leave you with his own words on the subject of nationalism.
“This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.” (Beyond Vietnam)
You’ve been listening to the Majority Villain podcast. I’m your host, Gregory Haddock. To redeem your villain points for this episode be sure to visit the website at www.majorityvillain.com and on Facebook and Twitter @majorityvillain. If you liked the show you have three tasks; Tell a friend, Subscribe, and Rate the show on iTunes. A link is at the very top of the show notes are on the device you’re already using.
Peace, love and villainy. Status quos are for suckers.
Music provided by the Free Music Archive under Creative Commons licensing. Today’s music by Audiobinger, Evil Bear Boris, Ari de Niro and Lee Rosevere. Show image by NASA.