After reading Rania Khalek’s pieces she wrote for Truthout on the NSA, drone strikes, and her interview with Max Blumenthal about the political culture in Israel, I dug out my copy of Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. I first read this book back in college, but have turned to it from time to time to remind myself why it’s important to hold on one’s moral compass lest we devolve into a world that, as Arendt describes, is characterized by the Latin phrase, Homo homini lupus (roughly translated as “man is a wolf to man.”)
In this Truthout interview, Rania and I discuss the culture of privilege in Israel and the sometimes violent lengths some Israelis go to in order to maintain that privilege and power. According to Max Blumenthal, who was interviewed by Rania, Israel has a constructed culture of fear of “the other” (i.e., Arabs), and inculcates that fear from an early age through the education system.
Our conversation then dovetailed into a discussion of the NSA and the way in which it has its roots in spying on groups who have been marginalized in the United States (i.e., African Americans, Native Americans, and Arab Americans). In other words, communities of color have often been at the forefront of surveillance efforts by the government.
Lastly, we talked about the recent testimony in a congressional hearing by Rafiq ur Rehman and his children Zubair and Nabila, who told lawmakers about a US drone strike that killed his mother in Pakistan. As Rania noted, this was the first time victims of a drone strike have ever addressed Congress.