In the Thrall of a Dominant Death Culture

By Norman Solomon, Tom Dispatch

Persisting in his support for an unpopular war, the Democrat in the White House has helped spark a rebellion close to home. Young people — least inclined to deference, most inclined to moral outrage — are leading public opposition to the ongoing slaughter in Gaza. The campus upheaval is a clash between accepting and resisting, while elites insist on doing maintenance work for the war machine.

Gaza encampment at Columbia

I wrote the above words recently, but I could have written very similar ones in the spring of 1968. (In fact, I did.) Joe Biden hasn’t sent U.S. troops to kill in Gaza, as President Lyndon Johnson did in Vietnam, but the current president has done all he can to provide massive quantities of weapons and ammunition to Israel — literally making the carnage in Gaza possible.

A familiar saying — “the more things change, the more they stay the same” — is both false and true. During the last several decades, the consolidation of corporate power and the rise of digital tech have brought about huge changes in politics and communications. Yet humans are still humans and certain crucial dynamics remain. Militarism demands conformity — and sometimes fails to get it.

When Columbia University and many other colleges erupted in antiwar protests during the late 1960s, the moral awakening was a human connection with people suffering horrifically in Vietnam. During recent weeks, the same has been true with people in Gaza. Both eras saw crackdowns by college administrators and the police — as well as much negativity toward protesters in the mainstream media — all reflecting key biases in this country’s power structure.

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