By Amitabh Pal on June 27, 2014

New suggestive evidence has emerged that the disappeared Malaysian airliner likely went down as a result of oxygen loss. This rebuts the wild charges that the pilots carried out a religiously inspired suicide mission.

“Nearly four months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished into the night, Australian transportation officials said in a report on Thursday that the plane kept flying until it ran out of fuel, most likely because the cockpit crew had become unresponsive because of oxygen deprivation,” the New York Times reports.

“A clinical psychologist advising the investigation has been very skeptical of the suicide theory, saying it would be highly unusual for a suicidal person to proceed with such a deadly plan over many hours, investigators said,” adds the paper.

But you can listen long and hard and not hear a mea culpa.

The day after the plane disappeared, Rupert Murdoch sent out a tweet: “777 crash confirms jihadists turning to make trouble for China. Chance for US to make common cause, befriend China while Russia bullies.” He followed up five days later with: “World seems transfixed by 777 disappearance. Maybe no crash but stolen, effectively hidden, perhaps in Northern Pakistan, like Bin Laden.”

Murdoch set the tone for many of his media outlets, especially Fox News.

“Does your first thought go towards terrorism?” Sean Hannity asked his guests on his show a few days after the tragedy. “I have—I am unapologetic in saying that’s where my thoughts go to.” One of Hannity’s guests was Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of a Muslim-bashing group called Act! for America. She, of course, agreed with Hannity.

Other leading lights in the hate-Islam crowd wheeled out their own pet theories. Robert Spencer, the founder of JihadWatch.org and the author of several best-selling books, hypothesized the day after the downing that Uighur passengers were possibly to blame. (This line of speculation has been refuted by the Chinese authorities, who keep close tabs on their Uighur minority population.)

More prevalent Islamophobic memes have held the pilots responsible.

The blog BareNakedIslam, which has had a reported 51 million hits since 2008, headlined a piece: “MISSING Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?s ‘devout’ Muslim pilot was also a political fanatic.”

Pamela Geller, who led the campaign against the Islamic interfaith center in downtown Manhattan, has actually suggested that there be a ban on Muslim pilots. “How is the TSA going to screen for this?” she said on her enormously popular blog, Atlas Shrugs. “No Muslim pilots? That’s never going to happen. So we are all sitting ducks until the next time.”

The findings by the Australian investigative team reinforce the need for caution—not demagoguery—when evaluating news events.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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