American hypocrisy was one of my German-born mother’s first discoveries of the United States when she arrived with my U.S. Army-veteran father in 1948. Into the welcoming arms of the Statue of Liberty she came only to find intense discrimination and resentment against immigrants like herself, particularly Germans after a war that had devastated her land and people as well as most of Europe.
No matter that she herself had been imprisoned by the Gestapo for her efforts to make lives easier for French prisoners at a camp in La Rochelle, France, where she had been sent by the German government to work. When she arrived in my father’s native South, first in Georgia then North Carolina, she heard a lot about “Southern hospitality” but then witnessed a racism that at times could be as raw and deadly as the racism of the Nazis in Germany.
For all its ideals of liberty and equality, the United States remains a nation where hypocrisy continues to reign—certainly at the highest levels of business and government, including Joe Biden.
My former University of Mississippi student Jaz Brisack, a Rhodes scholar, was fired in recent days from her job as a barista at Starbucks in Buffalo, New York. The firing was not a complete surprise given the fact she led the successful unionization effort at her shop, an effort that subsequently spread to Starbucks coffee shops around the country and won her nationwide attention as a leading new force in grassroots organizing.
(To the right, Jaz Brisack)
An expected firing perhaps, but still it hurt. “I will admit to mourning more than (legendary martyred union leader, troubadour and immigrant) Joe Hill might have approved of,” she told me, adding, however, “the union rolls on!”
Starbucks chief Howard Schultz and his team may offer a litany of excuses for their firings—they recently fired a union organizing barista here in my town of Oxford, Mississippi, and notoriously fired pro-union workers in Memphis—but their real reason is they want to purge their shops of pro-union workers.
The hypocrisy is that Starbucks has always marketed itself as a cool place to work—hip and youthful and in tune with modern, egalitarian values. Wrong. It’s a union-busting outfit on a par with Walmart.
Labor South has been reporting on the war in Ukraine extensively in recent months. It’s an issue that threatens the entire world, one that pits old Western colonial powers against the Global South as well as against Russia.
The proxy war that NATO and the United States are waging against Russia has been planned by the Deep State in Washington, D.C., for years, and its purpose is to destroy the Russian federation and its challenge to U.S. hegemony, a first step in a broader effort that also targets China.
You’d think mainstream journalists would at least acknowledge or at least explore this in their coverage, but they’re so imprisoned by the worldview of their corporate owners that real reporting is impossible outside of independent media. The result is an hypocrisy that would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.
When Russian leader Vladimir Putin recently announced a partial military mobilization in his country, mainstream media—from the New York Times to BBC and the major U.S. television networks—rushed to report on protests by Russians against Putin’s move.
The scale of those protests is likely much more limited than what is being reported, and certainly less than the 70,000 protesters in the Czech Republic earlier this month who called for an end to the proxy war with its devastating economic impact on their lives. You’d never know there was such a protest in the Czech Republic if you didn’t go to YouTube or some other source for independent reportage. The same is true of similar nationwide protests in the United States in recent weeks.
Remember the myriad reports of shelling near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, and the mainstream reports about both Russia and Ukraine charging each other with firing those shells. The answer would come, we were told, once international inspectors arrived to assess the safety of the plant. Well, those inspectors came and not a single mainstream report followed as to which side fired those shells.
Wanna know why? It is because the Ukrainians were firing those shells. Of course, they did. Why would Russians fire at a nuclear plant that they already occupy?
Phillip Knightly’s 1975 book The First Casualty is considered the classic account of the history of war correspondence. It’s a sad history of more often bad rather than good reporting. It’s not just because of the “fog of war”. A prime example is coverage of the Spanish Civil War in the mid-1930s. Many of the reporters there were so enamored of the leftist Spanish Republicans and full of hatred for Generalissimo Franco’s fascist army that they failed to report the brutal murders of thousands of Catholic priests and nuns across the land by the Republicans. Every outrage by Franco’s fascists, however, was dutifully reported.
My late mother, Maria Stoller, bless her very religious heart, knew Hitler and the Nazis could be as hypocritical as anyone with all their talk of love for the Vaterland. And she grew to love the people in her new homeland.
Well, maybe not all of them. It’s hard to love hypocrisy. In fact, you can’t. Even hypocrites don’t.