Who Knew

An article of 27 May 2011 in Der Spiegel describes the German occupation of Poland during WWII. Hans Frank had the task of clearing eight million Jews and Poles out of part of Poland to make room for ethnic Germans imported from around the Baltic and from Volhynia and Galicia in western Ukraine.

The article recites that in 1940, Frank told a reporter for the Völkische Beobachter newspaper: “In Prague, for example, large red posters were hung up announcing that seven Czechs had been executed that day.” That had made him think: “If I had to hang up a poster every time we shot seven Poles, we’d have to cut down all the Polish forests, and we still wouldn’t be able to produce enough paper for all the posters I’d need.”

It’s quite a boast. More to the point, who back in Germany at that time knew of Frank’s boast?

The Völkische Beobachter was the paper and party organ of the NSDAP (the Nazi Party) and had a circulaton of over 120,000 in 1931. By 1941 its circulation was over one million, and by 1944 it was one million seven hundred thousand. It’s last edition appeared in April 1945.

So at the time Frank made his boast, it was quoted in a newspaper in Germany that had a circulation of almost one million.

So in 1940 in Germany it seems reasonable to say that it was commonly known in Germany that the Governor-General of Poland was executing Poles in their thousands, and proud enough to boast about it.

Newspapers Opinion and Fact

We often hear a complaint that newspapers are forgetting their role of delivering the facts and instead are intent on forming public opinion. They are accused of relaying only what fits the newspaper’s own ideology or direction or interest.

So, the argument runs, a newspaper should separate fact from opinion and give out the facts and then be explicit where it wants to give an opinion. This raises the question of whether it should give an opinion at all, to which the answer would be – and why not? After all those who run the newspaper are people as well and they have opinions.

The flaw in the argument of all of this is that there are no such things as facts. Of course there are facts but when newspapers report facts those facts are filtered through the collection of attitudes, desires, beliefs etc. that form and inform the minds of the people who work in and run the newspaper.

And therefore nobody on the newspaper can actually see the facts.

It takes huge insight to be able to see the facts. The context, the understanding of man, the history of mankind – a man must know all of these clearly because he can state the facts. More than that, it takes huge insight to be able to draw back and not go along some well-trodden road originally walked by one of the greater or smaller thinkers. To do that would be to simply regurgitate and parrot an opinion that is not the journalist’s own, rather than simply looking, seeing, and analysing.

It is basic. We do not have consensus on the nature of reality. Where is the consensus between the religious and the secular? Where is the consensus between those who hold that life is predictable and those who think that outside of a small field of predictability there is an ocean of chance? Faced with this we can say that people do not all occupy the same interior universe. What chance then their agreement on facts?

So we task newspapers with an impossible job. And this is not to say that a newspaper should simply decide wholesale that it’s going to ignore a pursuit of fact and just tailor everything and everything in its message to the opinion that wants to put over in order to sway public opinion. That is a complete abandonment of its task. But recognising that it is not possible for a person to see the facts without them being slanted by their own opinion is to ignore reality.

Brushes With The Truth

This is the first part of a longer post (A Million People) copied here.

How not to mix things up in a world full of casual brushes with the truth – uncaring as to what is real and what is not. In principle it has always been the same for at least some of the population. Now, however, we have reached critical mass.

Each uncaring and unthinking person has access to weapons of war. A tweet ricochets off another tweet and spins off into another social media platform. Like a pinball machine full of pinballs, the machine gets hot and melts down. 

Anger, frustration, good old-fashioned annoyance – they have nowhere they want to go except deeper into the furnace.

And the furnace spits them out. It doesn’t need them except as examples of persons. It doesn’t care about them except for whatever trace they leave behind in the the social weave. 

If they all disappeared tomorrow, their loss would be calculated in loss of engagement, followers, likes, and shares.

Iran Strike

I’ve been thinking about the interception of the drones and missiles from Iran. What would have happened or might have happened if America, Britain, France had not stepped in? What might have happened if the Jordanians had not allowed the use of their airspace? Then what might the result have been?

And I’m trying to picture it from the point of view of the Iranians who must have thought that a good number of their drones and missiles would get through. Perhaps they did not expect that the Americans and the French and the British and the Jordanians would all coordinate efforts to stop the rockets and missiles and drones.

And so the question might be what might have led them to think that the Americans, the British and the French would not have it all coordinated and worked out and immediately do what was needed?

And it might be we can link it back to the killing in the aid truck of the food aid workers by Israel in error.

And President Biden’s response, which went from criticism to threat.

My feeling is that President Biden is a politician, by which I mean that he understands people.

He understands when he can say something and then simply jettison it in the face of something else later on.

He understands people and he understands how to give out messages.

I don’t think in all the time of his presidency he’s ever put a foot wrong in terms of giving out messages.

So I wonder whether Iran simply read America wrong.

That is, they assumed that he, President Biden, would be so annoyed with Israel that he, the United States, would not come to Israel’s aid and that therefore Britain and France would not and that therefore Jordan would not. And that that was the miscalculation by the Iranians.

There is a counter-argument that the intention of the Iranians was to draw out the truth of the affiliations of the Americans, British, and French – and perhaps even more specifically of the Jordanians. Unless the ordnance that was directed at Israel is small potatoes for Iran, then it was an expensive gambit.

I can’t see it as a gambit so far as the USA, Britain, or France are concerned. If anything, the news seems to be that the moral outrage of anti Israel protesters is wearing thin with a lot of people. But Jordan – that may be a weak point, although whether the whole of Iran’s gambit turned on this? Maybe.