Monday, May 10, 2010

Chris Hedges and his Critics

By Sodium

Recently,I was involved in debating a fine poster on one of the forums of Truthdig website. The poster impressed me by his usually unoffensive responses. However,he criticizes the writing of Chris Hedges often but not really frequently. I could never figure out to what group of the five groups of critics I categorized through the last three years of taking notes about the weekly hard core critics of Hedges. Hence,this fine poster has compelled me to review my files that I have accumulated in the last three years as a regular blogger at Truthdig website.

My files indicate that the hard-core critics who want desperately to refute or,at least,discredit the writings of Chris Hedges are five different groups,motivated by different causes and hence categorized accordingly:

(1) The Extreme Right Evangelical Christians: This group of critics hates the guts of Hedges because he has exposed their agenda for the U.S.the main point of which is to control the political structure of America and change it from secular type of government to a Christian one. Anyone who stood against their attempts to fulfill their agenda must be fought and marginalized.

(2) The Israel's Apologists or as some writers dubbed them,"The Israel's Firsters": Those Firsters also hate the guts of Hedges because more than once he has exposed in some of his columns,Israel's inhuman atrocities being committed on daily basis against the Palestinian people. He wrote several column on this topic but one column would remain an outstanding one,entitled "Starving Gaza". It can be found in Truthdig's archive.

(3)The Neoconservatives: It is well known that the neoconservatives were the ones who instigated the illegal and immoral war against Iraq,especially those who wrote and signed the "Project for the New American Century",(PNAC) for short. The irony about those warmongering hawks is the fact that none of them has served in the military,and yet they are,indeed,warmongers to the hilt. Because of this fact,some writers dubbed them as the "Chicken Hawks" for sarcasm. Why they hate Chris Hedges? Because Hedges has been against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the top of that,Hedges wrote several columns specifically against what was going on in Iraq,exposing and discrediting their unparalleled blunder in the entire history of the U.S. One especially effective column was entitled,"Beyond Disaster". It can be found in Truthdig's archive.

(4) The Hard-Core Democrats: No need to elaborate on this group,since it is to be expected that they hate Hedges's guts for being an exponent in criticizing President Obama. And from the very start of the election campaign,Hedges has supported Ralph Nader for the presidency. Thus,hating Hedges by them may be understandable but not necessarily correct or even legitimate.

(5) The Show Off Critics: This group embodies a a variety of posters. Just to name a few,the following subgroups will give an idea of their various composites:
A. Posters who likes to parade their phony "knowledge?". Plagiarism cannot be
ruled out.
B. Bloggers who like to high jack the forums to express their ideology. They are
usually rude and they have no courtesy for Hedges and his columns.
C. The strong believers in the "Conspiracy Theory" in every major events,
ranging from Kennedy assassination to the tragic event of 9/11.
D. The silly posters who enjoy using sarcasm against Hedges and everyone else
except their friends of bloggers who shower the m with complements. One
blogger called those friends "The Boiler Room Club".

Final words: In spite of all those five groups of critical posters,the numbers of bloggers who have shown support to and admiration for Chris Hedges far exceed the number of all of his critics combined in the ratio roughly 2:1. This is a rough estimate,on my part,by counting the number of pros and cons posted on a particular forum of Truthdig. This healthy ratio may rise or fall,depending upon what Hedges writes and of course on the level of interest.

I regret the fact that I could not assign the fine blogger I had debated recently to any group cited above. He/she is a class by himself or herself,because his/her approach to debating is very healthy


  1. Great essay. Although I have my serious doubts as to the mainstream media account of 9/11, I am an avid reader of Chris Hedges and take his comments seriously.
    Under (5) I would suggest another category. The non-believers whose moral compass as to porn and other moral matters Chris writes about consider his views an affront to their beliefs/lifestyle or that of their loved ones/friends. Thus, they will "get" him another time. Paraphrasing.
    It is difficult to categorize. Humans are too complicated.

  2. Sodium:

    You have a very thoughtful site, and you use a conciliatory tone which doesn't preclude your expressing convictions/points of view. Way to go.

    About those who discredit the writings of C. Hedges, the categories listed sound right, in my opinion. You wonder why these people keep reading Hedges but I guess we know that: they need to target someone on whom to simply deposit their anger, time and again....and again. Or, perhaps, they think that if they keep at it, those like Hedges will just disappear?

    Another category that could be added is that of those who are constantly asking for solutions and/or documentation to what anyone says --meaning that unless you do that, your opinion doesn't count. They don't realize that, while there are many undeniable, documented facts (for example, earthquakes and floods happen, WW II took place, Clinton was a president,) a great deal of "facts" are really based on opinion when they are closely analyzed.

    And, when it comes to solutions, that's a very big word. They are a dime a dozen. The categories of readers you described above also represent most of the voting public. Given that, I'm not sure that I, for one, can offer realistic solutions.

  3. elisa,

    This is to let you know that I have appreciated your suggestion concerning group category No.(5).In case I review the topic again to expand it a little bit more,I certainly will re-read your suggestion once more to see where it fits.

    Thank you for your obvious honesty and sincerity.
    I wish all bloggers at Truthdig are as matured as you are in refraining from using vulgar and abusive language.

  4. MeHere,

    I must admit that you have completely surprized me with your constructive comments,because I did not expect them from you. You must have been a serene observer and quiet notes-taker at Truthgig's forums.

    Any further expansion or editing of the topic at hand will review the suggestions you have proposed proposed and see where they they would fit.

    Thank you for your constructive comments. Most appreciated. Please keep your visits to the websit,

    going on and your suggestions coming. Thanks again.


    Because I think highly of elisalouisa,it was necessary to pass my website address to her through one of Truthdig's forums. There was no other alternative. At the most,I expected elisa might take her time to respond to my invitation and possible ardee,if he read it,since he no longer post at Truthdig because he is an activist
    for the coming mid-term election,in November of 2010. Hence,my surprize.

  5. Sodium:

    So, I surprised you, eh? You must have "misunderestimated" me, as our previous leader once said. Just kidding....

    I didn't mean to propose suggestions to you. They were just my comments on the subject. This is your blog and your writing should be your own --I think you're doing very well.

    As far as me being a "serene observer" when it comes to Thruthdig, I'm not sure. I post comments here and there. One thing I won't do is to engage with those who exhibit personal aggression to other posters. It doesn't benefit anybody. When somebody calls other people "an idiot," "incompetent," illiterate," and worse things, it immediately makes me doubt the integrity and even the intellectual ability of that person, and how much they really care about justice, peace, or anything else. It's not that I object to anyone being enraged at the garbage we read and hear.I am myself plenty enraged.

    Some time ago, I was lucky to host a small group of people for discussions once a month. We came together out of the despair we each felt at the start of the Iraq war (second one.)Some of us didn't know each other. We were all opposed to the war but, as time went on, we all had our own separate views on issues. We agreed and disagreed, sometimes very strongly. Each one did some form of activism but the group was a place to relax, exchange views and information, and get emotional and moral support. What kept the group going for something like 6 years was that we never attacked each other personally. Besides social and politcial subjects, we discussed life issues, religion, you name it. I think we all learned a lot about communicating and discussing things with people...I'm still learning. I wish I could gather a similar group again.

    Maybe I should write more about this at Thruthdig. I tried it a bit once with ITW --he didn't have anything to say but didn't react badly. And that was good. If I do write about this, I can imagine posters ignoring what I say or accusing me of preaching. And that's fine too!

    Elisa seems like a very reasonable person. I'm glad she wrote to you.

  6. MeHere,

    I feel that words are impotent to express my genuine appreciation and thanks for the interest in what I write here and more importantly your obvious encouragement. You must be a hell of a good person whose human good and positive qualities trannscend the human negative ones. You are the kind of person I love to have as my next door neighbor to have occasional chat with over a cup of coffee or tea. Therefore,I cannot possibly thank you enough,MeHere.

    Please,keep the contact with me through this website going on. Your contact will be most appreciated.

    Your encounter with ITW should not be the standard of measurement as to how others might think and feel about your initiative,whatever it was and is. You may be surprized with the magnitude of the reception you might have received.Of course,there always will be the loud,assertive,repulsive,obnoxious,arrogant and vulgar posters who belong to the various groups cited in category no.(5) in the essay written above. Experiences have tought me that the best course of action to marginalize them is to ignore their rants as much as possible,although I realize that there is a limit as to how much to ignore. Unfortunately,most bloggers cannot do so(ignoring their rants). As a result result,bickering vulgarity develops and the desired constructive debates are no longer insight.

    By following what Elisa has posted so far,I am fully convinced she is not only reasonable but also intelligent,sincere and honest. Her tranparency in her writings attests to what I have just said.

    Well,Mehere,that is it,about what I wanted you to say. Perhaps I have elaborated more than I should have. And thank you again for such constructive exchanges,indeed.

  7. Hi S:

    I had sent a reply to your last comment but it didn't go through apparently. It could have been my mistake, probably missed clicking "submit" or something. Nothing too important.

    But I wonder whether you can help me with this: At my personal email address, I got an automatic email message saying:

    "From: Sodium on the subject of your Gandhi blog.

    Sodium has left a new comment on the post "The "Great Soul" of India and his "Ahimsa".":

    No,Anonymous,I have not taught a course on Gandhi and his Ahimsa. But,I read every book I could get my hand on,that was written on him. What I have found most interesting are the enormous communications he had exchanged with other leaders and common people. That certainly was a great help for understanding him and his Ahimsa better in an unbias and an objective manner.

    Post a comment.

    Unsubscribe to comments on this post.

    I don't know how this type of email was generated. I don't really need this mail since I look at the blog. I'm trying to keep mailboxes uncluttered. The word "subscribe" came in blue so it's clickable but I don't want to unsubscribe to the blog by mistake. (I must say I didn't find the process of subscribing to the Google Blog too user friendly) If you can shed any light on this, I'd appreciate it. But, please don't sweat too much about it. I can just click and see what happens.


  8. HereMe,

    Regret to inform you that I am almost illiterate when it comes to computer manipulations. When I face a problem,I have to call on my daughter or my son to help me. Everyone of them is a computer wizard,in my opinion.

    Since my daughter is the one who have helped me in straighten my registration with Truthdig and then helped me in setting up this website,I would ask her about your problem exactly as you described it and see if she can give me an answer and would come back to you.

    I hope I can catch her before she and her husband return to New york. Both are architects and work there. They have a house where I live and they have an apartment in Brooklyn,N.Y. They have to leave for New York at the end of may. I still have two weeks to catch her before they return to New York. I hope to return to you with an answer.

    Sorry for my illiteracy in computer manipulations. I belong to old generation of the "Slide Rule" and "Telex" and Black&White TV. Now,there is the "Talking Calculater" replacing the "Slide Rule",the "Fax Machine" replacing the "Telex" and "Color TV" replacing the "Black&White TV" Amazing!

  9. S,

    Don't worry, please. At the most, if I make a mistake, I'll just have to register to the blog again. I did it once already, didn't I? From what I gather, you did not generate the email so it has to be something Google did. I didn't request anything like that but maybe there was an option I should have indicated, or who knows what. Again, no big deal.
    For many of us, the stuff around can be overwhelming and, unless one grew up with it or it is part of one's work, it takes time and trial and error to catch up.

    ~ S ~

  10. Sodium:
    You are most brave. The world is not a kind place at times, as we both know. Times do changes as the night becomes day.


  11. Elisa,

    What I had done was the right thing to do.

    Although Truthdigger3 handled them very nicely and I must say valiantly But,he could not last too long alone The ratio was 4:1 is just too many against one. In fact the benavior of some of the four was really rude toward Td3. I had to take a stand,regardless of the consequences. I tried to control my anger.I could no longer.

  12. Sodium:

    I have received the paperback copy of 'The 100 A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.' It is not your normal paperback in that it is the size of a hard cover book and the quality of paper and also print is similar to a hard cover book. I am very pleased with it and thank you for recommending it.Yes, Muhammad is #1 on the list. I really would like to know more about the Muslim religion and not from those who wish to put it in a negative light. All you hear about is how Muslims denigrate women and that is put out in a very crude manner. One must put the role of women throughout history within the context of raising beautiful children into adults that will contribute to the world in a positive manner. Such a task requires a great deal of self-sacrifice, a word many women do not wish to hear. Also, it is not just that we compare the women of today to those of many hundreds of years ago without considering how the world was then and the spirit that prevailed at that time as to relationships between men and women.

    Enjoyed reading the written exchange that you had with MeHere. Truthdig should have more of such posters however, those who seek control of the board as to issues that are discussed also seek to control which posters do contribute on a regular basis. Naturally, they encourage the "apple polishers" as you put it. Thus, some posters not in agreement with the "boiler room crowd' might retreat for more than one reason. Discussing such reasons might make a good column Sodium.

    Have a great weekend with your family, thank you again for recommending 'The 100'.

  13. Elisa,

    As always,delighted to hear from you. And you have received the book. It is one of the rare books I truly treasure. Not because the messenger of God through the angle Gibrael was placed number one. Not at all. But because the wealth of information given about personalities that truly effected our lives. For example,Just take Isaac Newton whose Laws of Motions were the very fundamental foundation for the human-kind's remarkable advancement into space. Without such laws,most likely,the human-kind is still did not how to over come the Earth gravity to uplift the satalites into space.

    Please notice that I did not call Muhammad "Prophet Muhammad" because of two reasons:

    (1) He never called himself Prophet but Messenger of God.
    (2) All the heavy-weight Islamic scholars I had the privilege of meeting in the Arab world called in Arabic "Al-Rasool Al-kareem" which mean in English the following:

    Al-Rasool means "The Messenger".
    Al-Kareem means "The Generous" or "The Most Honest"'

    Therefore the net result of the not-exact translation but close enough is:

    "The Generous Messenger" or "The Most Honest Messenger".

    Why Muslims and non-Muslims alike called him "Prophet Muhammad",I could never figure that one out.

    Shortly,I will start posting a series of aticles about Islam,as I understood it as a non-Muslim, since the internet is full of websites of hatred towards Islam. They really try hard to demonize Islam and Muslims whom I consider the real victims.

    As to the "Apple Polishers" and their tactics to high-jack the forums,I say let them wast their time by talking with one others and praising each others,as one Conservative describe liberals and progressive to me once and I quote: "All what the liberals or progresives do is talk to each other or praise each other and no actions that produce positive results".These are not exactly the words he used but close enough.

    I was proud of the way you handled nemissis,especially the way you answered his aggressive questions. Also,I was impressed by the post you posted outlining how I personally got involved in the bickerings,which is usually alien to my basic nature,and you perfectly calling N-G a self-appointed arbitrator. I thought that was so straight forward and profoundly honest. I was pleased to see you departing the forum with high dignity,implicitly telling them to get lost. So was the position of OM who he and I hardly agree on anything,but I respect him for being honest with me.

    I hope shortly I shall start publishing,here, a series of articles about Islam,especially about the status of women in Islam.

    By the way I publish a new article today entitled "Ralph Nader and Election 2000". I shall appreciate reading a feed back from you. Thank you.

  14. Hello Mehere,
    Per my father's request, I looked into your question regarding automatic email messages from the blog. Once you log in, go to "Options" or "Settings," then go to "Messaging," here you'll have the ability to manage your email settings by un-checking the option that reads "Receive site newsletters and communication from Reviews By Sodium."
    Hopefully this will address the email clutter problem you're referring to. By the way, I agree, it's not very user-friendly... but I hope this helps.
    All the best to you.

  15. Hi S,

    Please thank your daughter for looking into this. I don't think I signed for the option she mentions. I get the feeling it was a glitch from Google. But the good thing is that after that first email, I never got any others. When I first signed up I wasn't sure how things would work out. But if you want to communicate by email, please let me know and I'll set it up. I don't mind it at all if I know that you have control over what email goes out.