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                        Mark Macy

 

 

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Facebook Hacking and Other Acts of Restrained Terrorism

 

Mark Macy

 

This month someone broke into my Facebook profile and placed disreputable website links on the walls of 14 of my FB friends. They looked like this:

  

 Mark Macy   I tried this, and it really worked…here is the link if you wanna give it a wirl!! www.phonyurl.com/xy

 

At first I thought it was just an irritating case of some clever hacker breaking into FB to sell stuff, and I just happened to be one of the random victims… but the more I sniffed, the more it began to stink. The websites in the links all had bad reputations, accompanied by warnings from search engines like Google.

It began to occur to me that this was probably NOT someone trying to sell something. It was more likely someone trying to weaken my credibility… to make me seem like a source of bad information, a person NOT to listen to. And it didn't take long to figure out the most likely suspect.

As you may have noticed from my writings, I lean a bit to the left politically. :-))) I went through a right-wing, conservative craze during my first year of college in the late 60s, getting fired up by Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, and other books that extolled the virtues of personal freedom and the dangers posed by bureaucrats who restricted it.

But it was a conflicted time for me. I also loved the rebellious upswelling underway in the 60s, led by liberal troubadours like Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. ("I've been Ayn Randed, nearly branded a Communist 'cause I'm left handed. That's the hand I use! Well, never mind." – Paul Simon, "A Simple Desultory Philippic.)

In the 1970s and 80s I was seeking a middle road. I was working with peace researchers from various countries, who educated me on the real differences between the right-vs-left, capitalist-vs-socialist debate. I mentioned those differences a few weeks ago in my September 5 blog entry:

By definition, capitalist democracies rate freedom high and equality low (as opposed to communist countries which rate freedom low and equality high), so one of the inherent weaknesses of capitalism is its tendency toward inequity—a growing chasm between the rich and poor. That gap in American society today, which is becoming more and more noticeable in difficult economic times, seems to be close to the core of the healthcare crisis. The wealthier Americans can afford excellent healthcare, while the poorer Americans get almost no healthcare whatsoever. The have's and the have-not's scenario is an ever-present possibility in a capitalist democracy.

Although a few peace researchers and I were writing about the equality-freedom debate 25 years ago, I've seen nothing about it since then—zero, nada—until I posted it on my blog early this month. Then it apparently swept through the conservative grapevine. Right-wing columnist George Will came to Denver on Sept 17 for a scholarship ceremony and announced that there's "a new clarity" in American politics: "Liberals today tend to stress equality and are therefore willing to circumscribe the free working of the market to engineer more equality of outcome. Conservatives stress freedom and are therefore willing to accept greater inequities of outcome."

Well, that's great, George! If that understanding really does sweep through the consciousness of Americans on both sides of the political aisle, there will evolve a new social-political-economic system built upon the best qualities of liberal and conservative thought, of equality and freedom. I'd love to see that glorious compromise in my lifetime!

But I doubt it'll happen anytime soon. One reason is that people at the political fringes, especially at the far right where small groups of people have large reserves of money and power, relish the conflict and resist change. They're finding clever ways, especially with the Internet, to spread their opinions and to undermine those who have opposing views. That's the main reason why I lean toward the left today. I'm  driven to break down the forced inequalities and injustices imposed on us Americans by a lopsided system. If I were living in Europe I'd probably be moderate. If I were living in a ruthless African dictatorship I'd almost certainly be a right-wing freedom fighter. That's just me; I push for balance. I root for the underdog.

Nowadays I enjoy listening to National Public Radio, and there was a recent story on NPR about Wikipedia, and some troubles the great online encyclopedia is having. Just about anyone can post just about anything on Wikipedia, and it can then be polished up by people with more expertise on the subject. Works great in theory, but in practice, people who learn the Wikipedia rules are able to change certain listings and then prevent other people from changing theirs. Apparently the far right is busy today giving Wikipedia a conservative slant. Listen to the NPR story, starting around 8:15 into the file. You'll hear journalist Farhad Manjoo and call-in guest Kate from California discuss how neoconservative organizations pay computer users to become Wikipedia experts, to create a conservative encyclopedia.

I suspect this is just one of many neoconservative projects underway that use the Internet for political purposes. As I wrote in my August 19 blog entry, "Public Health Insurance in America, a Must" (which I linked on Facebook):

Peace researchers have found that groups are most peaceful and vital when there is a good blend of equality and freedom. Each virtue has some great effects on people, but either virtue, without the other, leads to problems….

The USA has become obsessed with freedom, or liberty, to the point where equality is shunned. Since the Cold War, when American freedom and Communist equality were vying for world dominance, many Americans have associated equality with communism, and thus consider it "evil." Here are just a few of the freedom-fanatic groups that fight against equality in the name of liberty:

CRC, CRC Public Relations (which coordinated the "Swift Boat" attacks on Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and now fights against health care reform as "Conservatives for Patients' Rights," which of course is doublespeak, since that group is really trying to squash patients' rights), CPR, RNC, ALA, FW, AFP, CFG, TH, PF, PUN . . . to name a few...

There's a ruthless character to many of these freedom-oriented groups, whose aim it is to sustain the wealth and privilege of their members (such as drug-makers and oilmen), generally at the expense of the public as a whole. The fact that millions of Americans are going broke because they can't afford health care doesn't seem to be a concern of theirs. As long as they're free.

Equality, along with the empathy it can foster, is out the window in America, thanks to these conservative groups.

Well, that pretty much hits the nail squarely on the head, at least from a liberal point of view, and it's not the kind of thing that those on the far right want people to be hearing about. The conservatives make note of people with liberal views, and the smear machine is often turned on.

Smear campaigns are the specialty of America's freedom-fanatic groups and their front-men, who include Rush Limbaugh, most of the Fox News anchors, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. I haven't heard much about neocon mastermind Rove since the Bush regime, but dark, devious minds don't hide quietly in the shadows; they're always busy nurturing terror and chaos in the minds of otherwise decent people, filling them with fear and outrage, which the masterminds then channel for their own narrow purposes… such as disrupting Town Hall meetings and attending rallies with "I'm addicted to Fox News" signs.

To make a long story short, I would not be surprised to learn that the recent hacking of my Facebook account was choreographed from the far right.

- - -

Anyway, based on what I've seen on Facebook, I'm definitely not using it the way most other people do. I like to post little teasers that lead to my blog, sometimes adding a little inspirational video or picture. Most people use FB in a more chatty kind of way. Millions of FB useres who are feeling friendly and loving at the moment spread a cloud of good will around the planet. And as thousands of people vent their anger or frustration on FB, they create a little dark cloud around the planet. It's basically what we humans have always done—spread a lot of light and a little darkness, depending on our moods—but now with there's high-tech twist that amplifies things.

My little blog teasers don't seem to fit in real well with all that healthy sharing and venting. Because of that, and also because of the hacking problem, I'll probably phase out of Facebook this fall.