Biden Is Breaking His Climate Promises. What Are The Consequences?

Robert Pollin

Although the war in Ukraine has put climate action on the back burner for many policy makers, the global climate crisis is spinning out of control. Various climate records were smashed in 2021, and greenhouse gas emissions are on course to hit record levels in 2023. In the face of such dramatic developments, political inaction on the climate front could portend an imminent environmental catastrophe.

In the interview that follows, world-renowned progressive economist Robert Pollin discusses the latest developments on the climate crisis, starting with Biden’s broken promises to provide leadership in the fight against the climate emergency, and the problems of soaring energy costs and inflation. He also refutes the arguments in favor of nuclear energy, as well as the claims that there is very little we can do to stop the burning of fossil fuels. Pollin is distinguished professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he has authored many climate stabilization projects for different U.S. states. He is also the author of many books, including Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal: The Political Economy of Saving the Planet (co-authored with Noam Chomsky).

C.J. Polychroniou: Bob, why did Biden break his promise on no new leasing on federal lands? Aren’t there other ways to fight soaring energy costs besides a “drill, baby, drill” policy? And will record high gas prices actually be solved by drilling more?

Robert Pollin: The Biden administration announced last April 15 that it would lift the executive order it had established in January 2020 that imposed a temporary ban on auctioning off federal lands for oil and gas leasing. This is despite the fact that, as a presidential candidate, Biden pledged, “And by the way, no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” So much for even Biden’s most emphatic campaign promises.

One excuse that the administration has given for Biden’s flip-flop is that a federal judge in Louisiana had struck down the January 2020 executive order. However, Biden could have easily delayed the awarding of new drilling permits indefinitely by fighting the judge’s order in court. Biden chose not to do this. The administration’s excuse here is that, in the immediate, Biden has had to focus on pushing down energy prices and overall inflation. The administration claims that opening up federal lands for drilling will increase oil and gas supply and thereby counteract the sharp oil and gas price increases that have prevailed since over the past year.

Specifically, the average retail price of gasoline has risen nearly 150 percent over the past year, from an average of $1.77 per gallon over May 2021 to $4.23 from May 1–23 this year. This spike in gasoline prices, along with rise in heating oil prices, has, in turn, been the single biggest driver causing overall U.S. inflation to rise by 8.3 percent over the past year, the highest U.S. inflation rate in 40 years.

Without question, we face serious problems with surging oil and gas prices and overall U.S. inflation. But it is also obvious that expanding drilling on public lands will have precisely zero impact on oil prices over the next year or two, if at all. This is because any supplies that could be produced through new drilling on federal lands will not become available in the retail energy market for at least 1 to 2 years. In addition, the amount of new oil and gas supplies that could ever come onstream from these projects would be minuscule as a share of the overall global energy market.

The Biden administration certainly must know all this. Their policy reversal is therefore all about optics — they want to convey the impression that they are taking strong measures to fight high gas prices, even while, in fact, they are doing no such thing. This Biden strategy is especially damaging since, rather than straining now so ineptly to manipulate public opinion, they could instead get serious to enact effective measures that can both fight climate change and protect people’s living standards against the vagaries of the global oil market.

Getting serious has to begin with the recognition that if we are going to have any chance of meeting the goals of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for climate stabilization — i.e., a 50 percent reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030 and zero CO2 emissions by 2050 — then we have to maintain a hard commitment to phasing out fossil fuel consumption every year, with no backsliding permitted — i.e., “period, period, period.” This is because burning oil, coal and natural gas to produce energy is by far the largest source of CO2 emissions globally and therefore the biggest driver of climate change. At the same time, the world now depends on fossil fuels to meet 80 percent of global energy demand. We should therefore assume that short-term crises will regularly emerge in which, similar to the current situation, the imperatives of climate stabilization will appear less pressing than keeping energy supplies abundant and prices low. We need to be prepared to meet these inevitable short-term crises without ending up, each time, clinging to our current dependency on fossil fuels.

Within this context, any measure now to push fossil fuel prices back down would be moving us in the wrong direction, since lower fossil fuel prices will encourage greater fossil fuel consumption. Rather, on behalf of saving the planet, we actually need all fossil fuel prices to remain high, and indeed, if anything, to increase still further. This is because high prices for oil, natural gas and coal will discourage consumers from buying fossil fuels to meet their energy needs. High fossil fuel prices will also incentivize efforts to build a new energy infrastructure, whose two pillars will be high efficiency and renewable energy, in particular solar and wind power. A high-efficiency renewable energy-dominant infrastructure will, among other things, deliver cheaper energy than our current fossil fuel-dominant system. But that cannot happen in an instant. In the meantime, we cannot allow working class and middle-class people to experience cuts in their living standards right now through high fossil fuel prices while oil companies’ profits explode. How can we effectively address these equally valid, though competing, considerations? Read more

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Trust me (we’ll get to know each other later) – Tagline: blockchain re-invents who and how we trust

Ills.: nl.wikipedia.org

I’ve been mulling a wry title for this piece. The passage of deliberation punctuated by flocks of green avians (yes, parrots and in Amsterdam!) dissecting the blue, blue firmament on their screeching way to somewhere possibly exotic, only to pivot and rush back the way they had come mere moments later.

The struggle is to find the depth of pith required to compliment the hint of wit that will sustain attention beyond a headline. ‘Trust me (again)’ comes close as does ‘Trust re-invented’. ‘Trust 2.0’ is potentially smirk worthy but only to those, perhaps, for whom Web 3.0 or Industry 4.0 elicit a familiar nod.

Trust me, this was the best I could do.

Most of us trust someone or something: a distant cousin on your mother’s side, a company, an institution, or even the government. Agreed, it was not strictly necessary to add the word ‘even’ when mentioning the government and yet…

Trust runs through us like Brighton through rock. It’s free and freely given. It’s easily and frequently betrayed only to be given again.

And so…

We trust that the barber is no Sweeney Todd; that government will safeguard state pensions; that the late-night Uber driver is, honestly, just an Uber driver; that the limited-edition Warhol is not, on inspection, a Wharwhole; that the heating engineer can distinguish a water pipe from a gas pipe; that the eviction technician barring entry to Koooolers Nightclub will not sell the enforced copy of your ID to X-Ron3023, a denizen of the dark-web and a close associate of NightKnightBungie100-2; that the recently promoted (former) assistant VP now has access to the executive bathroom on the top floor.

We need trust. The moment maker. The oil in the works. What is there without trust? And I implore you to keep in mind that trust starts with truth and ends with truth, fear leads to more fear, and trust leads to more trust, and we must surely all concur that to be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved. Trust Hemmingway to weigh in with ‘The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.’

All good. Not a jot of critique from my side. Old school trust. Built over decades, augmented by endorsements of others. The trusted and tested and true assured reliance on character and values and judgement, our innate ability and strength to see the truth of someone or something leading us have confidence (unscientifically, some might say) that our best interests will be represented, or at the very least not compromised.

It’s been a battle – a losing battle – to maintain my willingness to trust those making increasingly frequent requests for, yes, my trust. You can trust us with your profile data, they cry; you can trust our claim that the coffee-famer received a living wage in the production of this premium product; that the energy powering my microwave is not only green but the greenest; and that this cod was sustainably caught in the North Sea using the latest ecologically friendly gear and the discard (read: disposing of dead fish that you’d rather not have caught) was negligible.

Sceptical? Should you find a moment in your local supermarket to peruse the little letters and labels printed on the packaging en route past Dairy and Fresh to where Linda waits patiently at the checkout, you’ll surely agree that the credibility of these claims is enhanced by cutting-edge keywords that include (but are not limited to) WiggleWoggle certified, artisan organic, free range (define range) and farm fresh(ness) – whatever that means.

Further doubts may be placated by a plethora of QR codes and high-quality logos and, without a shred of hesitation on my part, I’d like to state for the record that many of these logos go way beyond clipart.

Look, we’re a few paragraphs in and I’ve not mentioned blockchain which has not been easy. Don’t ask or expect me to defend the many (but not all) justifiable claims that cast blockchain in a poor light. Decades must pass before blockchain’s battered reputational half-life decays to the point of defying detection.

Blockchain. Disruptive? Disreputable? I need to move on as, otherwise, this post will assume book-length dimensions as I attempt to parry what many are thinking. My plea, humbly made, is that you will accept that blockchain is a ‘thing’ and that we’ll save other discussion for later.

[Author’s note: the remainder of this article contains numerous dangerous bends in train of thought, and a range of concepts and terms invented by nerds whose average age is twenty-three. Continue reading only under medical advisement].

How can blockchain replace old school trust? What could possibly supplant the handshake, the written agreement, the unshakeable faith in a bond handed down the generations?

The answer is that blockchain cannot replace any of these things.

Rather, blockchain facilitates alternative forms of trust. Trust between parties that have never met, who have not heard of one another, who do not like each other, who compete with each other and – I’m just putting it out there – do not trust each other. Blockchain facilitates trustless transactions where a distributed network of ‘verifiers of truth’ (nodes) guarantee both the execution of transactions between parties (liveness) as well as the integrity of transactions following agreement (consensus).

Furthermore, blockchain requires no mediating (meddling?) third-party as an enabler and, as a result, there is no centralised authority needed to deny or refuse or scrutinise or record any transaction or interaction between two parties. Humans are not involved in consensus forming and, as a result, there is no opinion-based influence and no ad-hoc bias. Given the same set of inputs, the blockchain will consistently resolve in the same manner each time of asking. Trust me on that.

In considering how blockchain helps reinvent trust, we need to first dispel the notion that blockchain and cryptocurrency are synonymous. The repute of the former tarnished by the ponziness of the latter. Take transactions for example. The first and best-known blockchain network was named ‘Bitcoin’, while the first and best-known cryptocurrency was named ‘bitcoin’ (the branding agency has a lot of explaining to do). And the first transaction involved a bitcoin token on the Bitcoin network. Read more

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Alicia Garza: “The Shooter Wrote A Manifesto, And My Name Was Included In It”

Photo: aliciagarza.com

The 18-year-old white supremacist who traveled to Buffalo to shoot Black shoppers at the local supermarket didn’t only target the 10 Black people whom he killed. His hate-filled manifesto made clear that he aimed to target all Black people in the U.S. — and also mass organizing for racial justice.

“Black communities and Black families must once again grieve the loss of loved ones — mothers, fathers, partners, siblings, friends — at the hands of white supremacy and racialized violence,” Radical organizer and activist Alicia Garza, cofounder of Black Lives Matter and Principal of Black Futures Lab, told Truthout in the wake of the attack. “I am heartbroken and my heart extends to every family who lost a loved one in this weekend’s senseless violence.”

Garza added: “The shooter wrote a manifesto, and my name was included in it. This is the second time in two years that this has occurred. The first time, I was targeted along with several others in a plot to cause violence and destruction.”

According to the New York Times, the manifesto published by the mass shooter, Payton S. Gendron, stated that he had decided to target east Buffalo “because it held the largest percentage of Black residents near his home in the state’s Southern Tier, a predominately white region that borders Pennsylvania.” The killer’s manifesto praised the white supremacist who killed nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 and also praised the white supremacist shooter who killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.

The attack has spurred renewed calls for mass organizing across the country. Garza is also calling for swift action to curtail the proliferation of racial terror and broader participation in ongoing mass organizing efforts in the U.S. to push back against the emboldening of white supremacists nationwide.

Garza emphasizes that combatting the emboldened forces of white supremacy in the U.S. while simultaneously confronting other forms of inequality, poverty, climate crisis and environmental injustice will require building broad-based social movements with the power to significantly alter how capitalist institutions function and the strategic vision to initiate a transition toward a new socioeconomic order beyond capitalism. These have never been easy tasks, yet they are even more important in our own time as global neoliberalism has intensified economic and social contradictions and the climate crisis threatens to end organized human life.

In the interview that follows, Garza explains why racism continues to play such a critical role in our society, how to build independent Black political power, which is the mission of Black Futures Lab, and what is needed in the face of attacks like the white supremacist shooting in Buffalo.

C.J. Polychroniou: What words would you like to offer up in this moment, as people absorb the horrifying news of the anti-Black mass shooting in Buffalo?

Alicia Garza: White nationalist violence is escalating — and the leadership of this country refuses to do anything significant about it. For the last six years, the former president, his supporters and like-minded politicians have taken up a bullhorn to work up white nationalists, white supremacists and vigilantes. They have gained political capital by stoking the fears of people who fear demographic change, and given political and moral cover to those who respond to these changes — and to their fear of and anxiety about this country’s undeniable future — with violence. This is not new. We know the backlash that occurs when Black communities flex our power. The response has always been racialized terror and racialized violence, and it is being used on purpose.

While the president tours the country encouraging states to spend COVID dollars on expanding police forces, white supremacists are wreaking havoc in our government and in our lives. White supremacists are emboldened when they know that there are no significant consequences for their actions, and when they realize they have sympathizers and allies in our government. Which political party will take real action to save lives and to save this country? We don’t need any more empty words, statements, or symbolic gestures. We need action, and we deserve real change.

Companies like Wikipedia and Facebook are also complacent, as they shelter and provide information that allows white nationalists to carry out racial terror. The existence of a profile I did not initiate has been leveraged to obtain sensitive information about myself and my family for the second time. Despite our safety being compromised, Wikipedia continues to refuse to do anything about it, ostensibly in the name of free speech and protecting “user generated content.” But what happens when those users are white supremacists? I am not the only one Wikipedia will not protect — journalists and other activists are experiencing these same challenges on their site. They are just one of a few sites that excuse and condone the invasion of our privacy and leave us vulnerable to attacks from people who want to harm us because of the work we do.

Without swift and decisive action, we will continue to see racial terror proliferate, and more innocent lives will be stolen.

You have been an organizer and a civil rights activist for over two decades. You are the co-creator of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and principal at Black Futures Lab (BFL). Could you share your thoughts on why racism remains a foundational feature of U.S. society?

Racism remains a foundational feature of U.S. society because it is key in distributing power. Power is the ability to make the rules and change the rules, and racism helps to determine who gets to make the rules. Racism provides the justifications for why some people have and some people don’t, why some people live longer than others, have roofs over their heads and jobs, why some people can be doing really well while others are really struggling. Racism keeps us from fighting back, together, against these rigged rules, because racism helps to obscure that the rules are rigged in the first place.

Tell us about Black Futures Lab. How did it come about and what are its primary aims and ultimate goals?

The Black Futures Lab works to make Black communities powerful in politics, so that we can be powerful in the rest of our lives. We work to equip Black communities with the tools we need to undo the rules that are rigged against us, and to replace rigged rules with new rules that move all of us forward, together.

I started the Black Futures Lab, and another political organization, the Black to the Future Action Fund, to build independent Black political power — that means to put Black communities in a position to make the rules and change the rules, and to be a part of deciding who gets what, when, and why. At the Black Futures Lab, we have a few strategies that we employ to build Black political power. We collect recent and relevant data about who our communities are and what we want from our government — the Black Census Project is a part of that work.

With the Black Census Project, we are working to collect 200,000 responses from Black communities across the nation, to learn more about what we’re experiencing every day, and what we want to see done about it. We do policy and legislative advocacy work, taking the information from our research and using it to inform policy that would improve the lives of Black communities. We also train our communities how to write, win and implement new rules that would improve our lives in cities and states. We design good public policy and work to get it passed in order to motivate and activate Black communities to vote. And we invest in our communities with the resources we need to be powerful. We provide resources for organizing that folk may not have access to otherwise.

Through our first Black Census Project, we provided Black organizations with resources to hire organizers, and the technology they needed to reach as many people as possible; we’re doing the same with this year’s Black Census Project. This year, we’ll be moving about $2 million to Black organizing work, to Black-led organizations across the country.

The problem of low wages is considered to be the most pressing one among Black respondents who took part in a recent Black Census initiated by BFL. What do you consider to be the best strategies for raising wages and improving labor standards for people of color?

In order to address the problem of low wages that are not enough to support a family, Black Census respondents favored raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and increasing government participation in providing housing and health care. In the most recent Temperature Check polls run by the Black to the Future Action Fund, respondents want to see an extension of the COVID-19 stimulus bill in the form of monthly $2,000 checks until the pandemic is over. Respondents indicate that they would use that stimulus check for matters of survival — rent/mortgage, utilities, healthcare. We also see a desire to strengthen unions and regulate workplaces and corporations in order to address labor standards and wages.

Black communities and people in poverty have disproportionately high exposure to health and environmental risks. Given that environmental racism is very real in the U.S., what do you envision to be the role of Black Futures Lab in the struggle against environmental racism and in the broader task of building a global climate movement?

Black communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental racism. We found in our Temperature Check Polls that Black people understood the environment to be about more than weather — it was also about having access to the things we need to live well. A third of our respondents said that lack of access to clean drinking water was a major concern for them, and 31 percent said that a lack of access to healthy food was one of their primary concerns related to environmental racism. Our role is to show the impact on Black communities, and ensure that the resolution to those impacts present themselves in public policy that we win and implement in cities and states across the country.

Forging a common identity among people from diverse communities, with a shared worldview and a shared strategy in the pursuit of justice and radical social change, defined the mission of social movements worldwide during the 1960s and 1970s. I may be wrong, but I don’t see this being the case with many of today’s social movements, which seem to concentrate overwhelmingly on single issues and are indeed deprived of an overarching agenda for transforming our world. What are your own thoughts on this matter? Is it possible to build a broad and inclusive social movement in the political, social, economic and cultural landscape of the 21st century that challenges the existing socioeconomic order while envisioning a future that works for all?

I can completely understand why it feels like our movements are siloed — and I do think that there are and have been many efforts at creating and advancing an overarching agenda to change the world. Because so much of our work happens in nonprofit vehicles that are forced to rely on philanthropy and philanthropic dollars, our work begins to reflect the challenges we face in funding it. Philanthropy is largely divided into single issues, and if our movement is dependent on philanthropy to survive, it means we will likely be organized in this way as well. We also have to keep rebuilding our infrastructure to account for the attacks we experience from the state and, frankly, from inside our own ranks. History is not linear, and there are a lot of different factors that contribute to our state of being. But, from the Movement for Black Lives to Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, there are seeds being planted that aim to coalesce our movements into something coherent and cohesive and hopefully, one day, unstoppable. And that is something that gives me a lot of hope.

Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

C.J. Polychroniou is a political scientist/political economist, author, and journalist who has taught and worked in numerous universities and research centers in Europe and the United States. Currently, his main research interests are in U.S. politics and the political economy of the United States, European economic integration, globalization, climate change and environmental economics, and the deconstruction of neoliberalism’s politico-economic project. He is a regular contributor to Truthout as well as a member of Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project. He has published scores of books and over 1,000 articles which have appeared in a variety of journals, magazines, newspapers and popular news websites. Many of his publications have been translated into a multitude of different languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. His latest books are Optimism Over DespairNoam Chomsky On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change (2017); Climate Crisis and the Global Green New DealThe Political Economy of Saving the Planet (with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin as primary authors, 2020); The PrecipiceNeoliberalism, the Pandemic, and the Urgent Need for Radical Change (an anthology of interviews with Noam Chomsky, 2021); and Economics and the LeftInterviews with Progressive Economists (2021).
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Attie S. van Niekerk & Sytse Strijbos (Eds.) – We cannot continue like this: Facing modernity in Africa and Europe

Synopsis
The book is based on the view that the present trajectory of modern development cannot continue as it is now because it is ecologically unsustainable, it continues to enlarge the gap between rich and poor, and the decolonialisation movement has drawn our attention again to the specific role of religion, culture and value in human affairs and the need for a robust element of indigenisation and contextualisation. This book is strongly focused on the context of Africa, with two chapters that are written by authors from the Netherlands, for the purpose of presenting a North-South dialogue. The book contains reflection on approaches followed in building sustainable human communities in general and reflection on specific efforts to solve sustainability issues. It seeks to integrate academic reflection and insights gained from practical involvement with sustainability issues in local communities and low-income households, with contributions from Theology and Natural and Social Sciences.

Download the book (open access):
https://books.aosis.co.za/index.php/ob/catalog/book/283

Preface
This book is the first result of a quite unique and emerging researc collaboration between three organisations, NOVA, the International Institute for Development and Ethics (IIDE) and the Centre for Faith and Community (CFC) that is housed at the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria. The central aim is to chart an innovative course in the debate on ‘sustainability and development’. NOVA and IIDE are independent entities that both want to operate as an intermediate between the university and broader society. Read more

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Beeldvorming in Berichtgeving; Joden toen en Moslims nu

Inleiding
“Heb ik, in strijd met uw verwijt, de Nederlandsche gastvrijheid in het verleden dankbaar herdacht. Thans echter is van gastvrijheid geene sprake meer, want gij en ik zijn beide staatsburgers met gelijke rechten en plichten. Ik ben niet uw gast en gij zijt niet mijn gastheer – maar gesteld eens, gij waart het, dan neemt gij de honneurs al vrij gebrekkig waar” (Open brief van A.C. Wertheim aan L.W.C. Keuchenius. Algemeen Handelsblad, 24 januari, 1891).

“Ik vraag me af of we pas acceptabel zijn voor de VVD als we ons geloof vaarwelzeggen. Moeten we eerst vrijzinnig worden. Wij zijn geen gastarbeiders en al helemaal geen gast. Wij zijn Nederlanders” (Karacaer, 2004).

Met het “Ik ben niet uw gast en gij zijt niet mijn gastheer” reageert het liberale Eerste Kamerlid Wertheim (1832-1897) via een open brief vol zelfvertrouwen op de verwijten van het antirevolutionaire Tweede Kamerlid Keuchenius (1822-1893). Subtiel laat Wertheim weten dat hij niet gediend is van de door Keuchenius toebedachte positie van joden, aan het einde van de 19de eeuw, als gasten en tweederangsburgers in de Nederlandse samenleving. Zij zijn staatsburgers met gelijke rechten en plichten. Een vergelijkbaar citaat “Wij zijn geen gastarbeiders en al helemaal geen gast.” verschijnt ruim een eeuw later in het dagblad Trouw over de positie van moslims in de Nederlandse samenleving. Dit citaat van de toenmalig Milli Görüş directeur Haci Karacaer, is een reactie op het liberale VVD Kamerlid Hirsi Ali. Karacaer maakt door het stellen van de (retorische) vraag of moslims pas acceptabel zijn als ze het geloof vaarwelzeggen, de ervaring vanondergeschiktheid nog zichtbaarder dan Wertheim destijds deed.

Beiden reageren op de positie die zij krijgen toegewezen als gast in de samenleving. Hebben zij dan geen gelijke rechten, zoals Wertheim stelt, of hebben zij wel gelijke rechten, maar moeten zij zich toch eerst aanpassen voordat zij echt gelijk zijn zoals Karacaer vermoedt. Er zijn verschillen tussen beide reacties. Wertheim en Karacaer maken deel uit van twee verschillende religieus etnische gemeenschappen en tussen beide reacties bestaat een tijdsverschil van ruim een eeuw. Toch zijn er ook grote overeenkomsten in hun reacties. Zij reageren op de ondergeschikte positie die anderen (Keuchenius en Hirsi Ali) hen, als joden respectievelijk moslims, in de Nederlandse samenleving toewijzen en zij gebruiken nieuwsbladen [De omschrijving ‘nieuwsbladen’ wordt gebruikt, in plaats van de gebruikelijkere omschrijvingen ‘dagbladen’ of ‘kranten’, omdat één van de onderzochte bladen een weekblad is] als platform om hun reacties te uiten, terwijl zij geen van beiden journalist zijn.

Het lijkt oude wijn in nieuwe zakken. Natuurlijk, de Nederlandse samenleving aan het eind van de 19e eeuw is niet de huidige Nederlandse samenleving, en joden en moslims behoren niet tot dezelfde religieus etnische gemeenschap. Maar vervang in een 19e-eeuws nieuwsbericht over joden de woorden joden en synagoge door moslims en moskee, pas het woordgebruik aan het huidige Nederlands aan en honderd jaar oud nieuws kan opnieuw als een 21e-eeuwse actualiteit worden uitgevent.

Waarom onderzoek ik de berichtgeving over juist deze groepen, joden en moslims en waarom ben ik geïnteresseerd in de beeldvorming over hen in nieuwsbladen? Wat beide groepen, ondanks grote verschillen, gemeen hebben is dat ze zich een plaats wilden en willen verwerven binnen de Nederlandse samenleving.
Er bestaan op het eerste gezicht veel overeenkomsten tussen de huidige berichtgeving over moslims en de toenmalige berichtgeving over joden, onder meer in de vaak negatieve en problematische boodschap die in de berichten doorklinkt. In hoeverre zijn deze overeenkomsten nog steeds zichtbaar als de berichtgeving systematisch over een langere periode wordt onderzocht? En in hoeverre bestaan er binnen beide perioden verschillen tussen nieuwsbladen in hun berichtgeving? Deze vragen vormden de aanleiding voor mijn onderzoek waarbij ik de berichtgeving over moslims tussen 1990 en 2013 en de berichtgeving over joden tussen 1890 en 1910 systematisch analyseer en vergelijk.

De manier waarop nieuwsbladen over moslims en over joden schrijven, wordt medebepaald door bewuste en onbewuste keuzes die gemaakt worden bij de productie van nieuws door o.a. journalisten, redacties en nieuwsorganisaties (Galtung en Ruge, 1965). Door de vergelijking kunnen deze keuzes en selecties aan het licht komen. Het gaat hier om keuzes die gemaakt zijn over de onderwerpen of personen die ter sprake komen, de mensen die aan het woord gelaten worden en de gebeurtenissen en gedragingen die aanleiding waren voor een bericht. Wanneer in de berichten over moslims steeds dezelfde onderwerpen en personen aan bod komen, dan is het aannemelijk dat bij de productie van het nieuws voortdurend dezelfde keuzes zijn gemaakt. Wanneer de berichtgeving tussen nieuwbladen niet veel verschilt dan zijn de keuzes over de inhoud van het bericht zeer waarschijnlijk niet exclusief door de journalisten, de redactie of elders binnen de nieuwsorganisatie, maar buiten het nieuwsblad gemaakt. Het nieuwsblad functioneert in een dergelijke situatie vooral als een doorgeefluik van het nieuws.

In de berichtgeving kan elke beschrijving van moslims en joden worden onderzocht, maar in mijn onderzoek gaat het om de beschrijvingen waarin het nieuwsblad niet alleen benadrukt waarover (een onderwerp, persoon of gebeurtenis) het de lezer informeert, maar daarbij ook aangeeft wat (een interpretatie) de lezer daarvan moet denken of vinden (Entman, 2007). Ik ben op zoek naar specifieke interpretaties van de positie van moslims en joden in de samenleving.
Deze interpretaties maken deel uit van een min of meer gesloten (samenhangend) geheel van interpretaties, resulterend in een beoordeling van nieuws, die ik in het vervolg omschrijf als normatieve referentiekaders. Deze referentiekaders beschouw ik als normatief omdat zij richtinggevend zijn voor de wijze waarop nieuwsbladen onderwerpen, personen en/of gebeurtenissen beschrijven. Wanneer ik deze referentiekaders vaak en met enige regelmaat in de berichtgeving aantref, dan spreek ik van beeldvorming. Beeldvorming die ook zichtbaar kan worden door de aan de referentiekaders gerelateerde aandacht voor bepaalde onderwerpen, personen en gebeurtenissen. Het zijn deze vaste patronen en kenmerken die ik in de berichtgeving over moslims en joden wil achterhalen.

Deze beeldvorming kan per nieuwsblad verschillen en na verloop van tijd veranderen. Berichtgeving en de beeldvorming die daaraan ten grondslag ligt, draagt in een belangrijke mate bij aan de meningsvorming van de lezer en de publieke opinie (Entman, 2007; McCombs, 2004; Lippmann, 1961). Het systematisch onderzoek naar beeldvorming in berichtgeving over moslims en joden kan ons inzicht verschaffen in de rol die media spelen bij het ontstaan of het verminderen van spanningen rond de positie van minderheidsgroepen in de samenleving.
Dit proefschrift is geen media-effect studie, dus dit onderzoek richt zich niet op de feitelijke beïnvloeding van de publieke opinie door berichtgeving.

Voor de inhoudelijke analyse heb ik voor beide perioden een selectie van berichten uit nieuwsbladen gemaakt. De berichten over moslims uit de periode 1990-2013 zijn afkomstig uit de vijf belangrijkste landelijke dagbladen met een betalend lezersbestand: NRC Handelsblad, Algemeen Dagblad, Trouw, De Volkskrant en De Telegraaf (Bakker & Scholten, 2014). Het gaat om een groot, maar niet volledig, bestand van digitaal beschikbare artikelen. De berichten over joden uit de periode 1890-1910 zijn afkomstig uit: Algemeen Handelsblad, De Telegraaf, De Tijd, De Standaard, Het Volk en Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad.

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Bruce Springsteen – Chimes Of Freedom (East Berlin 1988)

July 1988. One year before the fall of the Berlin wall, between 200.000 and 300.000 east-berliners witnessed this historical concert. In his speech, they recommended him not to say the word “wall” so he changed it for “barriers”. Epic historical moment.

GERMAN: Es ist schön in Ost-Berlin zu sein. Ich möchte euch sagen ich bin nicht hier für oder gegen eine Regierung, ich bin gekommen um rock’n’roll zu spielen für Ost-Berlinern, in der Hofnung dass eines Tages alle Barrieren obgeriesen warden.

ENGLISH: It’s nice to be in East Berlin. I want to tell you that I’m not here for or against any government, I have come to play rock’n’roll for the East-Berliners, in the hope that one day all barriers will be torn down.

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