"parrhesiazesthai" means "to tell the truth." But does the parrhesiastes say what he thinks is true, or does he say what is really true? To my mind, the parrhesiastes says what is true because he knows that it is true; and he knows that it is true because it is really true. The parrhesiastes is not only sincere and says what is his opinion, but his opinion is also the truth. He says what he knows to be true. The second characteristic of parrhesia, then, is that there is always an exact coincidence between belief and truth...If there is a kind of "proof" of the sincerity of the parrhesiastes, it is his courage. The fact that a speaker says something dangerous — different from what the majority believes— is a strong indication that he is a parrhesiastes.In my own writing and public pedagogy it is a principle that I strive to fulfill.
Parrhesia comes with risk.
William Saletan, writing at Slate, has just violated a basic rule in mainstream, corporate news, American public discourse with his new essay "The Chattanooga Killings Aren't Terrorism". There, he dares to suggest that America engages in acts of war, violence, and yes "terrorism" abroad, but that the American people would howl in protest if the same standards of behavior and acts were committed against the "homeland".
Senseless? Unfathomable? Terrorism? I doubt it. If this incident was inspired by Islamic jihad, as many investigators suspect, then it probably wasn’t senseless. Nor was it terrorism. It was a rational, horrific act of war.
Americans think we’re tough because we have a strong military. In truth, most of us are soft. We know nothing of combat. We don’t regularly hear gunfire or worry about our kids dying in an airstrike. When somebody who’s angry at our government opens fire in one of our cities, we can’t believe crime has come to our own neighborhood. We call it terrorism...
Mabus, the Navy secretary, is outraged that these men were killed stateside. They were at a training facility, not in a war zone. And the Army office shot up a few minutes earlier by the same gunman, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, was just a recruiting center. The State Department’s definition of terrorism takes this context into account. It stipulates: “The term ‘non-combatant’ … is interpreted to mean, in addition to civilians, military personnel (whether or not armed or on duty) who are not deployed in a war zone or a war-like setting.”
But what, exactly, is a war zone? Today, with the aid of remotely piloted vehicles, you can engage in combat overseas without leaving the safety of your own country. That’s what many of our fighters are doing. Last month in the Daily Beast, David Axe reported that according to U.S. military officials, during the past year, drones have conducted nearly 900 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria—and even when they’re not firing the missiles, they’re “involved in pretty much every engagement.” The drones are being piloted from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, with help from other stateside bases. If you want to kill the people who are firing those missiles in Iraq, you have to come here...Recruiters are standard fare. In February, we sent a drone to kill an ISIS recruiter in Afghanistan, even though, according to a Pentagon spokesman, the recruiter had “decided to swear allegiance to [ISIS] probably no more than a couple weeks ago. And he didn't have a whole lot of depth to any network resources or manpower when he did it.”
Training facilities aren’t just fair game. They’re prized targets. President Obama has repeatedly bragged about hitting them. In February, White House spokesman Josh Earnest proudly informed reporters that coalition airstrikes had “succeeded in taking out at least 20 training camps.” Two weeks ago, Obama indicated that the tally had increased: “We’ve taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps.”
When we target a training facility and kill its inhabitants, we don’t call that terrorism. We call it moral success.Smart, responsible, and enlightened citizens--of course--know this to be true, and that a whole industry and machinery exists to socialize the American people into a "war made easy" state of mind in which lies about American Exceptionalism, the country's reluctance to go to war, where war is always a last option, and "we" only fight for democracy, freedom, and human rights is accepted as the fact. Unfortunately, such basic knowledge is forbidden; possession or utterance of it can get one branded a heretic or traitor.
I care not if some would dismiss Saletan's analysis as "click bait", what matters is that he is right.
Why has his analysis not received more attention? (Or protest? Perhaps I have not have been looking in the right places.)
Do you think he will suffer any repercussions for his truth-telling? And why do you think that Slate, a website owned by a multinational conglomerate, would feature such an essay?