The Role of Mass Media in Empire Building
After dispelling any cynicism about ZB's rational fear of democracy being inimical to empire building, and countering the myths about Israel as an argument against it, let's continue with our analysis of empire building.
What is the first thing one should do if empire building is indeed the goal and the democratic people are blocking the way?
Let's just get rid of democracy and civil rights. We saw portions of that at work in the rise to power (See Best Democracy Money can Buy). And once in power, curtail dissent, and have the population patriotically cheer the president every time he comes on TV. But how? Through sustained indoctrination of the masses – sounds like such an antiquated Marxian term doesn't it! But how can this be done in a democracy, even a subverted one when the media and the press are supposedly free? Use a boogie man to create the perception of an external danger that threatens their domestic well being and that can rally the people around the flag, and get the mass media to comply in perpetuating this threat perception through sustained propaganda. Especially if that threat perception is more than an abstract perception, and actually been observed in reality on television by the masses, as the events of 911 were. Hitler too had needed some physical action as propaganda alone had not been sufficient to rally the public. And he had contrived various pretexts to launch his invasion of Europe as history has amply documented. America too got its own New Pearl Harbor. How or who is not relevant in this chapter, only that it enabled giving reality to the threat perception propaganda, which now could be put into full motion as the actual “war on terrorism” against an irrational and powerful enemy in self defense. The role of the American media in using 9-11 to further the American administration's “war on terrorism” and thus becoming complicit in expanding empire contrary to the will of the American public, is the subject of this chapter.
Let's take the media first and observe its complicit behavior
If the media was not complying, why would one get more in-depth analysis and dissent expressed in foreign press than one sees in the local US print and TV media, the occasional courageous and revealing article in the New York Times and Washington Post not withstanding? Isn't the main purpose of the Freedom of the Press as enshrined in the sacred Constitution mainly to “monitor the centers of power”, as Robert Fisk never tires of quoting Amira Haas (both courageous journalists, former writes for the Independent in the UK currently reporting from Baghdad – how many in the mainstream have seen his reports of vaporized dead remains of the young and old civilians; the latter for an Israeli newspaper)? Why does the US television news media, press, and the vast majority of US journalists (though not every one to be sure) predominantly behave as if they were the TASS news agency of the former Soviet Union, dutifully reporting Pentagon and White House blurbs as their “faithful stenographers” (as Dennis Bernstein prefers to call them)? Read on to understand how corporate America brings what is called “news” to the American public.
Even Dan Rather, the earnest and respected anchor of CBS news stands up to salute his commander in chief on a late night talk show with an unquestioning show of reverence, then later reveals to Greg Palast in an interview on BBC in London that due to fear and repression at home, he is unable to ask the kinds of questions he should from the American leadership or else he would be neck-laced with the burning tire of unpatriotism put around his neck!*1
When Amy Goodman, the award winning journalist and very courageous host of DemocracyNow program on the Pacifica Network, repeats this quote from Dan Rather on her maiden appearance on the Charlie Rose program on corporate sponsored American public television, what does Mr. Rose do as a reputed commentator himself? Instead of asking Ms. Goodman for further elaboration of what Dan Rather might have meant because he had never heard the quote, and perhaps request a source for that quote, he gets all defensive about how Dan Rather could never say such a thing!
Charlie Rose must be commended for really being the first major talk show host to put such a prominent voice of dissent on any mainstream TV program in the US. However I am a bit puzzled by his interlocution of Amy about Dan Rather. Why did Charlie Rose, instead of asking the obvious follow-up questions about the quote, start defending Dan Rather as if his friend had been insulted or something, when it was a quote of Dan Rather himself that Amy gave him, and she was not making any ad hominem attacks on Dan Rather nor did she bring him up on any other point in the conversation? The same situation had occurred at the very start of the program, almost right off the bat. He introduced Amy very nicely, and then Amy introduced Pacifica network and said: “we need independent reporting”, to which Rose seemed puzzled, and rightfully asked what do you mean, by “independent”. Amy then rattled off a list of mega corporations that own various American mainstream television networks: NBC owned by GE, CBS owned by Viacom, and ABC owned by Walt Disney Co. What does Mr. Charlie Rose do? Instead of asking Amy if she could support the underlying allegation that being owned by a corporation implied being influenced by them in the newsroom (and that would have been like asking can you support the allegation that GE, Viacom and Disney are in business to make money – perhaps that is why he did not ask it!), he says, and this quote is from the television broadcast, not the transcript:
“I promise you, CBS news, and ABC news, and NBC news are not influenced by the corporations, it may own those companies, since I know one of them very well, and work for one of them.”
He left Amy looking taken aback, because here was her maiden appearance on such an important show, and in the very first minute, she had run into a potential sticky wicket. Wisely, she did not follow-up right then, perhaps also because Charlie Rose looked down at his desk, dropped the eye contact, and started on the main topic.
Again, I am very puzzled by Charlie's blanket defense of the entire corporate news industry like that, as if he was their “Ari Fliesher”, i.e., their spokesperson! How would Charlie Rose know what the corporate board rooms think, or what unwritten criteria they use to hire the senior management, senior producers, and senior editors of their news divisions? When he says he knows them well, what does that mean? Is he privy to their decision making process in their board rooms and corporate head quarters, or does he mean he knows them socially? Even if he works for one of them, where is he in the food chain? Is he the CEO of the news division? On what rational and factual basis can he assert that promise to Amy Goodman?
We see here on two instances, within a matter of minutes of each other, Charlie Rose rising to the defense of the status quo, and that is very telling. Whereas he showed all his extensive journalism skills in asking the right sort of questions of Amy regarding everything else, but any examination that would have led to questioning the status quo position on either the corporations role in the news media, or this war on terrorism that the media is dutifully supporting, he issued the typical denials, and not refutation (former is just saying no it isn't so, latter also offers some evidence to back it up), candidly revealing the style of journalism in vogue in this country, even when it is supposedly public television! This self imposed censorship in the mainstream media is what this essay is all about in its exploration of the prisoners of the cave, of which this is but one manifestation. A uniquely American phenomenon. I would nevertheless, applaud both Charlie Rose and Amy Goodman for not making these sticky wickets a point of contention, as that would have certainly detracted from the value of the show as the main topics were not those points, but the antiwar dissent and exposure to Pacifica that Amy Goodman had come to deliver. This is also valuable learning experience for others who may get other opportunity to present their dissent on mainstream, now that Amy has set a precedent, choose your words carefully and avoid red herrings like the plague. See the Pacifica website for the transcript of this show, and reach your own conclusions.
Any meaningful and fair analysis of the coverage between local mainstream news media and foreign news media will substantiate the claim that the US coverage generally tends to be one sided and faithfully tows the government's policy line when the subject is one of ideological alignment.
Whether it be on this fictitious “war on terrorism”, or on its unequivocal support for Israel, or other matters, one can plainly see the congruence of views between the mainstream news media and the government du-jour on all ideological issues as if they were the natural extension of the government's Public Relations arm, instead of being the government watchdog they were meant to be by the first Amendment to the Constitution.
For instance, see if you can spot any significant contrarian discourse, dissenting commentaries, or even any substantial analytical coverage in the mainstream media for the following American government ideologies and/or policies, quite unrelated to Israel:
I.1: America has the god-given right to dictate terms to the world and is allowed to unquestioningly have 10,000 nuclear bombs along with a foreign policy that advocates preemptive nuclear first strikes on non-nuclear nations, but other nations not among her favored allies may not claim the same rights, even for self defense; if they do so, then they are “evil doers”;
I.2: any self defense against America and her “favored” allies is terrorism;
I.3: unbridled market capitalism controlled by American corporations, is the only sacred religion that all nations must be converted to, and if they don't open up their markets for America, they need a regime change;
I.4: those against the WTO are terrorists.
To illustrate this concept with an example at the risk of slight digression, how many Americans understand why WTO is bad for the developing countries and only good for large multinational corporations of the industrialized economies; and how the former are being brow beaten to acquiesce to these unfair trade agreements at the expense of adversely affecting their own domestic development – from agriculture to industrial factory production to worker wages? But that is okay, because America will sell it all to them. The American government says WTO is good for everyone, and the American mainstream media complies by not expressing any analysis of it, nor allowing any of the scores of qualified experts a voice on the corporate airways who can explain to the common man in America why they must oppose these unfair trade treaties as only they can help bring justice to the inequity their government is forcing upon others.
Let us examine Israel in the US media briefly, where there is much confluence of ideological interests between the US and Israel, global Hegemony for the former, and local domination of Arab lands for the latter. Support for Israel is institutional in the United States as was noted by our Martian observer friend earlier in this book.
The systematic “population adjustment” of the Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces, a sick euphemism for the reduction in their numbers through daily killings and infliction of serious crippling injuries, is a matter of open record for most anyone in the world. The daily oppression and dehumanizing treatment of the Palestinian is indescribable, a sustained climate of oppression and fear with life made so inhospitable and unlivable that if it were any other people oppressing them except the Zionist of Israel, the world would be shamed to come to their rescue. But because of the support Israel enjoys from the US, the world has become impotent to aid them, although the coverage of what is happening to them is seen by almost every country on the planet, except in the US. In America, their plight is generally unknown, the coverage in the media non-existent, or completely de-contextualized. For any other people, at the hands of anyone else, it would be called ethnic cleansing, genocide, and holocaust, right here in the US. But not for the Palestinians when it is at the hands of the Israelis, god's “chosen” people. The media does not show how the Israeli soldier in his twenties deliberately shoots Palestinian children in their eyes. Maiming and killing sprees by Israeli soldiers is of course ignored, as is the torture and arbitrary jailings in the most inhuman conditions of young men between certain ages for months without charges. The daily shelling from US made helicopter gunships and F16s of civilian homes, house demolitions by US made Caterpillar bulldozers, and the systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure, their civil records, and their histories, either totally ignored or covered partially as “Israeli incursion into the West Bank led to some civilians being killed in the crossfire.”
How many 'diaries of Anne Frank' must exist in the West Bank and Gaza? Does anyone tell their stories? How many “Nights” of Elie Wiesel get enacted on a daily basis, are there any readings of that in the US mainstream? Or is it only when the victim is burned in an oven that it becomes a holocaust? A Palestinian child in the West Bank in a video documentary eloquently captured it by noting that being a dog in America was perhaps better than a child in Palestine, at least the dog gets to walk twice a day outside his home, gets water whenever it wants, and no one dare terrorize it ever, let alone on a daily basis, lest the police be called for animal rights abuse. But Palestinian rights? Are they less than animal rights? The silence in the media about the plight of the poor beleaguered Palestinians is most deafening, affirming the worldwide impression about America that it perhaps considers some victims inherently more worthy than others. And as Noam Chomsky calls them, the “unworthy” victims, not worthy of media's attention because they only suffer from the policies of the US and its allies. But if they suffer at the hands of anyone else, then they are considered “worthy” victims, courageous freedom fighters, and “morally equivalent of our founding fathers” as President Reagan referred to the Afghani Mujahideen invited to the White House not too long ago when they were fighting the oppression of our mortal enemy, the Soviet Union.
Even when a brave and courageous young American puts her young and innocent life in front of a US made armored D9 Caterpillar bulldozer demolishing a Palestinian doctor's home and gets murdered in cold blood by the Israeli soldier driving it, is there any outrage in the public media? When International Solidarity Movement observers (ISMs) get killed by American bullets shot through Israeli hands, do we see any processions coming out in the streets protesting their murder?
Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old very courageous young Jew American woman, met that fate very deliberately under a D9 Caterpillar Bulldozer on March 16, 2003, as she stood in front of a Palestinian doctor's home in the village of Rafah in Gaza Palestine, trying to protect it from being unjustly demolished. With a megaphone in hand she had been interrupting the Israeli soldier driving the huge machine from demolishing the home. This had been going on for several minutes according to eyewitness testimony, and had succeeded in stopping the bulldozer momentarily as they faced off each other. Then suddenly, getting impatient, he blithely rolled over her as she at the last moment tried to move out of the way and stumbled. According to eyewitness and fellow ISM member Alice, another Jewish American activist who herself puts her life in jeopardy daily in order to bear witness against her own fellow Jewish killing machines, it was a deliberate murder. Alice was also present at the shooting of fellow 21 year old British ISM member Tom Herndel in the head, who is now in a coma. She provided a detailed description live from Rafah to Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow, of how both Tom and Rachel, wearing brightly colored reflective vests, were deliberately executed. The broadcast date was April 14, 2003. Visit their website to hear Alice describe it first hand. Also interviewed were Craig and Cindy Corrie, the bereaved parents of Rachel, and it is very instructive to hear what they have to say. I wonder if the American public got an opportunity to hear Alice or Rachel's parents on mainstream media? Also shot in the face about the same time by an Israeli tank was ISM member Brian Avery from New Mexico, his tongue sliced into two.
These murders were a deliberate and sadistic attempt at sending a message of intimidation to all those foreigners who are witnessing first hand the systematic annihilation of the Palestinians and attempting to report it to the rest of the world. And in many cases providing a human shield to the miserable poor Palestinian family whose Arab life isn't considered to be worth much, but the Internationals perhaps thinking that their European and American heads and passports may command a higher premium and may be able to hold off the Israeli brutality also quickly learn that in the modern day inebriation of Israeli power with American institutional backing, even their Jewish blood isn't worth very much.
The message is quite clear, that your members of Congress, the President, and the media aren't likely to come bat for you, or protest your death too loudly other than perhaps a public relations bark, because we are ideological partners. So begone! Don't interfere in our cleanup operation for our new settlements and our vision of a greater Israel as we turn our swords into plowshares! Is this just editorializing on my part, all unsupported assertions? Perhaps you can become a better judge of that after reading the following statements from Jewish Israeli Statesmen of their own fanaticism for Zionism, not even letting Jewish blood of conscience stand in their paths of destruction of an innocent population in their murderous quest for “Der Judenstaat”. Thus Rachel Corrie's killing was consistent with this history of Zionist terrorism in Palestine:
'In 1943, current Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir wrote an article entitled “Terror” for the journal of the terrorist organization he headed (Lehi) in which he proposed to “dismiss all the 'phobia' and babble against terror with simple, obvious arguments.” “Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war,” he wrote, and “We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle.” “First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today, and its task is a major one: it demonstrates in the clearest language, heard throughout the world, including by our unfortunate brethren outside the gates of this country, our war against the occupier.”'*2
“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to the rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”*3
“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria, and Sinai.”*4
“We must do everything to insure they (the Palestinians) never do return ... The old will die and the young will forget.”*5
“We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel ... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” and “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”*6
“We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves”*7
“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”*8
“Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”*9
But we don't need the testimony of the older generation of Israeli Statesmen to corroborate the condition of the Palestinians and the fanaticism of the Zionists. Rachel Corrie's own eyewitness testimony on the plight of the Palestinians, published in the U.K. Guardian, in the form of emails to her mother, is sufficient to wake up the conscionable Americans from their ignorant slumber if they are exposed to the pain contained in them.
This is a 23 year old conscientious American Jew talking to her parents after her first exposure to the horrors of Palestine:
“I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what's going on here ... I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I'm not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me "Ali" – or point at the posters of him on the walls ... I think about the fact that no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here ... once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn't surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed settlements, and now a giant metal wall. I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing – just existing – backed by the worlds only superpower – in its attempt to erase you from your home ... Currently the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed ... the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah's water supply ... many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition ... If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours – do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragment means remained? ... When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here ... Coming here is one of the better things I've ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.”*10
A letter included in her emails from reserve first sergeant in the IDF, named Danny says the following:
“The amount of AWOLS and refusals to serve are unprecedented in our history ... refusal to carry out orders that involve firing on targets where civilians may be harmed ... many career soldiers – among them pilots and intelligence personnel have chosen jail and unemployment over what they could only describe as murder ... I am supposed to report to the Military Justice department – it is my job to hunt down runaway soldiers and bring them in. I have not reported for 18 months. ... I believe that Israel is under the leadership of some very bad people right now. I believe that settlers and local police are in collusion with each other and that the border police are acting disgracefully. They are an embarrassment to 40% of the Israeli public and they would be an embarrassment to 90% of the population if they know what we know ... Please document as much as you can ... the media here serves as a very convincing spin control agent through all of this ...”*11
Okay, so having read Rachel's own testimony along with that of an IDF soldier, and seeing in our minds third eye the eloquent image that they have drawn for us, now let's examine the coverage in the US media and ponder the enslavement of the American public – is it all that much different from Plato's mythical prisoners of the cave?
Yes there was some wide coverage of Rachel's life and a brief description of what happened in many US news papers on March 17, some giving it front page coverage (see below for detailed analysis of how it was covered in the San Francisco Chronicle). Where there had been a complete silence before, there was now some explanation of what Rachel was doing there. The next day the story pretty much disappeared, except for some bylines here and there. The question however is, why isn't there a huge public outcry of the scope that we might see, if for example, something similar had occurred to an American at the hands of Sadaam Hussain? They would have been bombs flying all over if it was Sadaam, but since it is Ariel Sharon, the “man of peace” according to the US President, it is treated almost gingerly. What's the difference between the two, one is the butcher of Kurds in Halabja, the other is a butcher of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shattila? Neither of them physically pulled the triggers themselves, then why is one of them a killer and the other a “man of peace”? What a conundrum!
This is the key question to understand as we honor the memory of Rachel Corrie, who in her superhuman sacrifice of her beautiful young life for a cause that she passionately believed in (while the Palestinians do not have a choice but to suffer, she did have a choice of not going to Israel to bear witness), even left us a further lesson in her martyrdom, as she laid thread bare this hypocrisy in her country, in the hope that where her living couldn't do much to end it, perhaps her death might. So let's understand where this hypocrisy stems from so that we may give the credit where it is due.
Usually (though not always, but the coverage is similar), any mainstream media coverage of the Palestinian plight only comes about when a young Palestinian retaliates for the unbearable and systematic daily Israeli oppression, with a suicide bomb as he does not possess any F16s and cruise missiles or else he certainly would have used them for even more devastating revenge in his struggle for liberation. Surely many innocent lives are lost in this attack. The media coverage gets focussed on its victims as it should, while the human toll on the other side due to Israel's F16 and Apache helicopter attacks on a civilian population is either ignored, or continues to simply be “caught in a crossfire during Israeli incursion into the West Bank.” The viewer's attention is drawn by the endless chatter of the talking heads on television on how the Palestinian mother can send her children to commit suicide and what a bad religion Islam must be that it encourages Jihad and this sort of random purposeless violence. Okay, not that the assessment is either fair or sheds any light on the history of the occupation and the reasons for this conflict, but how about also condemning the Israeli mothers at what sort of sons and daughters they are raising that they would systematically shoot to cripple and maim young children and old men without any moral compunction!
Perhaps there is a new declaration of human rights in the media in which some innocent victims are more worthy of sympathetic and humanizing coverage than others! De-contextualized from history, the American viewer, generally isolated that he is from what is happening in the rest of the world, and as Noam Chomsky often observes “the most important things for him always happen down the street”, is left completely perplexed at the wanton randomness, and utter senselessness of these suicide bombings, and automatically comes to the appropriate and desired conclusions. What might those conclusions be?
Thus is it any wonder that the US public opinion, compared to the rest of the world’s public opinion, so much supports the Israeli adventures in the West Bank and Gaza. Might it perhaps have anything to do with what the American mainstream sees on their televisions and what the rest of the world sees on theirs? And might it also have any basis in the myths that are perpetuated on them in the US media that Israel is fighting for its survival against these unjust and evil forces? Or is it perhaps that the US public is just inherently evil, too stupid to understand, or just do not care? Which proposition sounds more preposterous? You be the judge!
Perhaps now we can begin to see why Rachel Corrie's death has not created outright condemnation of Israel in the US media and the press, and there are no missiles being launched in retaliation. Because Israeli military can do no wrong, the poor guys in their tanks and helicopters are being besieged and harassed by those nasty looking stone-throwing evil jihadis, and yes the bulldozer did run over her. But as the San Francisco Chronicle of March 17, 2003 in its front page paragraph 3 quotes the Israeli military spokesman even before it elaborates on the circumstances of her death thus:
“This was a very regrettable, accident. We're dealing with a group of protesters acting very irresponsibly, putting everyone in danger – the Palestinians, themselves, and our forces.”
Yes it must have been an accident! She was just being reckless being there in the first place. That seed is planted right in your head in the very beginning of the article. And what was the bulldozer doing there trying to demolish the Palestinian home on his own land in the first place? No, we don't ask that question. The fact that it is against the Geneva Convention that an occupying army should destroy civilian homes with bulldozers is not raised either. Again, don't ask the 'why'. Israel can do no wrong. So murder it's not.
The San Francisco Chronicle continues on Page A10:
“State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said the US government 'deeply regrets this tragic death of an American citizen.'”
Okay there is the American Government's vociferous protest. And it further attempts to provide a context for these home demolitions:
“the army has destroyed dozens of structures in a volatile border zone that is rocked by near constant fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen.”
So now one is supposed to be quite enlightened as to why the Israeli army is destroying these 'structures', and just what these structure might be is not mentioned, leaving the impression that perhaps they were some obstructions lying on the road, or empty abandoned buildings with no human beings living there. There was no mention of the hundreds of Rafah civilians including large numbers of children killed by the Israeli army, or the suffering of the Rafah residents such as 70% of its children being anemic because they are too afraid to eat as the Israeli army goes about its demolitions.
It's not just what the papers say, but also what they don't say, that informs the reader. This is why it is so easy to deceive. The uninitiated reader does not know what he does not know, hence has no way of knowing that he is only getting half the story. Perhaps the same thing may apply to the journalist too. Their ignorance however, if indeed it is just that and not deliberate obfuscation, is inexcusable and some might allege positively criminal. Why such ignorance may occur so frequently in US news media, and not as much in foreign and even Israeli press is an interesting subject and Noam Chomsky has dealt with it at great length. It is further discussed from my perspective towards the end of this essay.
To the uncritical eye, this was a pretty decent article, front page coverage and all. After reading it, one cannot but help think that it was perhaps Rachel's own fault that she was there in front of the bulldozer, in her reckless zeal fueled through a bit of idealism and noble motives, and the Israeli army while expressing its regret, is not to blame, or at best it was a tragic accident as the State Department says too. So who are we (the mainstream public) to think otherwise. So no Tomahawk cruise missiles to be deployed here, no equivalence with Tianamen square to be drawn here – the courageous front page picture of Rachel momentarily holding up the gigantic bulldozer with a megaphone in her hand does not remotely resemble the television images of the equally brave Chinese student holding up a tank, so no sanctions to be imposed, no regime changes to be contemplated!
This is the psychological makeup behind Rachel Corrie's front page coverage in the US press! See no evil and hear no evil isn't just a Confucian saying in fortune cookies. Noam Chomsky might say this another way, that Rachel Corrie was an “unworthy” victim, using his “worthy” and “unworthy” victim models mentioned earlier. The former of course being worthy of America's wrath as they have been victimized by the enemies of the US or its allies, and the latter being unworthy of America's wrath and retaliation as they have been victimized by the policies of the US itself, or its favored allies and client-states. You can judge this for yourself. Look at all the oppression around the world, then see which victims get what sort of coverage in the mainstream media, and what sort of alliance those governments have with the United States.
Please see the award winning and highly respected journalist Robert Fisk's many articles on this subject in the U.K. newspaper The Independent about how the US media sanitizes Israel's coverage with interesting choice of words. Often “occupied territories” is replaced with “disputed territories”, “settlements” with “neighborhoods”, etc., and not just by the journalists on their own initiatives, but under explicit directives from the corporate board rooms above. And even when the American press borrows stories directly from the Israeli press, and when Robert Fisk's own reports on Israel's misdeeds are run in syndication, these often end up being edited and modified to suit the “American tastes”, sometimes even without the original newspapers permission.*12 Please review the foreign press, and even the Israeli press which often carries more unsanitized news and dissenting opinions about Israel's own actions than the US press does. Why should this be the case? Why do you think?
The first response that might occur to the mainstream American reader is denial, that this isn't the case. For such obdurate critics, the grass-roots organization “If Americans Knew” is compiling detailed statistics on American media coverage of Israel-Palestine and a visit to their web site might convince the recalcitrant of the veracity of these observations regarding the gross imbalance and deliberate deception in American reporting. Modern marketing was pretty much invented in America on Madison Avenue in New York (okay London too). However, its deployment is not limited to selling diapers! Why is the American media trying to sell a sanitized Israel to the American public? And how are they able to do it consistently, persistently? Who owns the media, who runs the newsrooms, and who sits on the corporate boards of the parent corporations? Who do you think?
Please also see the two books The Other Israel – Voices of Refusal and Dissent edited by Carey and Shainin, and Israel/Palestine – How to End the War of 1948 by Tanya Reinhart, for a sampling of what enters into Israeli discourse but not in the American discourse. And this is while their own right-wing war criminals in the government continue to annihilate the Palestinians. Refer to my model of apartheid Israel earlier to review how is it that despite having a freer press, Israeli population continues to elect and reelect known killers and war criminals to be their leaders.
The Prime Minister of Israel, General Ariel Sharon, cannot travel to Belgium as he would be arrested for war crime charges for his complicity in the cold blooded revenge killing of 1700 to 2000 unarmed Palestinian men women and children in two refugee camps in Southern Lebanon in 1982 by an Israeli backed Christian militia. Condemned by Israel's own inquiry commission for his role in it that led to his resignation as the then Defense Minister – Ariel Sharon is now back as the Prime Minister – some way to recycle garbage! I have very rarely seen this rehearsed on mainstream American television (that should actually read never ever seen on mainstream television), even when the American President called Sharon a “man of peace”!
Continuing with the references for self-study in order to form your own conclusions on how the American mainstream mass media has grossly indoctrinated you and purposely misled you by sheltering you from the miserable realities of American power politics outside the shores of the American landscape, please see the voluminous Pity the Nation – The Abduction of Lebanon by Robert Fisk for a description of the murderous adventures of General Sharon and reflect on how even the US President could possibly refer to him as a “man of peace”. Probably the same way, I suppose, as Menachem Begin, the past president of Israel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after he had been the most wanted criminal in Britain for his role in the 1948 blowing up of King David Hotel as a member of the terrorist gang Irgun, killing the British soldiers staying there. Short memories, these power brokers of the West have! Ronald Reagan now appears to be a sagacious old wise man as we revisit his famous quote once again: ~“I am told politics is the second oldest profession, it seems to have a strong resemblance to the first one”. Then they write scholarly treatise explaining it all as a “Clash of Civilizations”. The erudite Harvard scholar Samuel P. Huntington is only partially right, although many argue that he got it entirely wrong. Some of the boundaries of world conflict may indeed end up aligning around civilizational “fault lines”, but not for the reasons he argues, that other civilizations are naturally incompatible with the Judeo-Christian centric highly developed and culturally dominant civilization of Europe and America, as well as with each other. Huntington's entire scholarship was unwittingly summarized by the highly educated US President (another Harvard alumni) in response to why do they hate us: ~“because we are good and democratic and they are evil”. I didn't attend Harvard, so perhaps I am just too naive when I ask the obvious that could it perhaps also have anything to do with the systematic economic oppression and exploitation, as well as the economic and military domination of other emerging nations for the “full spectrum dominance” of the entire planet, also largely being along these “fault lines”?
Please do read Huntington's book alongside ZB's book. I am sure the other mediocre and wannabe superpowers have their own ZBs and George Kennans framing similar policies but more suited to their station in the imperial food chain. Then you be the judge whether it is a clash of civilizations, or a clash of haves vs. have-nots, oppressor vs. the oppressed, developed vs. trying to develop and not being allowed to be self-reliant and independent? It does not take rocket science to observe this!
Nor does it take a prophet to suggest that were justice to prevail, if resources were justly shared, if relations were justly formed, if no nation tried to exercise its hegemony over another, if no civilization gave itself the license for 'a mission civilisatrice' upon another, if the past exploited were justly indemnified, and if ruthless primal merchants of death like ZB did not prevail over nations policies, there would be no clash of civilizations at all!
For a concise understanding of the history of the Palestinian lands that the media denies you, see the wonderful book by the Professor of Biblical History and Archaeologist and past US marine, William W. Baker, Theft of a Nation (it might be out of print but the author had told me that he was working on an update; I am lucky to have an autographed version) in which he superbly deconstructs the biblical mythology spun by Israel. And he is a Christian scholar, not a Muslim one! Truth in the hands of an honest broker can sometimes be so religion blind! If we dare to know it, that is. When this book was first published twenty years ago, Baker was issued death threats by the Zionists and Meir Kahane of New York. In his characteristic marine style, he responded to the phone call he received from Kahane, by saying “okay, where shall we meet, outside your house or mine?” When FBI offered him protection and suggested he carry a weapon to protect himself, his response? “InshaAllah”! And the FBI was confused, “what do you mean?”, they asked. Having lived in Jerusalem, both among the Muslims and the Jews, Baker could perhaps speak Arabic, and InshaAllah is a typical exclamation from a Muslim when he wishes to signify that he has left matters in the hands of his Creator. While William Baker is not a Muslim, this exclamation from him greatly impressed me as someone not at all afraid of going wherever the truth takes him, even if of alien origin. How about the rest of us?
To further understand the fraud being perpetuated with this mantra of “restarting the peace process” ad nauseum in the mainstream media that parrots both the US and Israeli governments, please see The End of the Peace Process – Oslo and After by Edward W. Said, a Palestinian Christian intellectual and Professor of English Literature at Columbia University, again not a Muslim! How many Americans even know that both Christians and Muslims are equally resident of the Palestinian refugee camps dotting Lebanon, Jordan and the slums of West Bank and Gaza, and indeed in the Palestinian Diaspora the world over? Also see Naseer H. Aruri's very critical analysis of America's role in the so called peace process: dishonest broker – The US Role in Israel and Palestine. And in accordance with the approach of this essay in quoting the antagonists themselves, see Tanya Reinhart's Israel and Palestine referenced earlier, for a lucid description of the plight of the Palestinians post Oslo. While not an antagonist herself but a conscientious critic of the Israeli government, she writes from within the belly of the beast, as a reputed Professor in Tel Aviv University and regular contributor of a column for Yediot Aharonot, Israel's largest daily newspaper. Finally, see Noam Chomsky's new book Middle East Illusions, for a detailed and chronological political history employing his usual insightful and analytical wit, of this conflict pre and post 9/11.
After all this self-study, what do you think? Do I convince the most pigheaded but fair critic of the devious role of the Zionist sympathetic American media in enslaving the American public in the proverbial chains of the prisoners of the cave? Not yet? Don’t have time to read and research on your own? Okay there is more. Please read on further.
It is interesting to observe that one has to exert considerable time and effort to get to hear reasoned arguments and truthful reporting in this country, whereas drivel is always kept one click of the remote control's button away. Who has the time to read all these books in America? I doubt very much anyone reading this essay will ever bother to follow-up on any of the references cited here, unless they happen to be researching something. Thus it's okay to allow publishing them because they are not a big determinant of the majority public opinion, unless the State wants an excuse to get rid of the author, then it will be called anti-Semitic and subversive, the author labeled “enemy combatant”, and the Patriot Act will kick in to send him off to Guantanamo Bay. As I had stated earlier in my essay about the FBI's visit to my home, and perhaps it can never be restated enough times for no one seems to be listening: Free speech only means something when there is someone listening. I can have all the free speech in vacuum and die from asphyxiation.
This is also why we don't see these debates on television, because everyone watches TV. First amendment free speech has become limited to obscure printed books in this country. When print was the dominant source of information, as in the McCarthy era, what appears in books today could not appear then. Most everyone in this country misunderstands freedom of speech and their own constitution. It is not freedom to speak, but freedom to think differently and freedom to be heard, especially on political matters but certainly not limited to it, that is enshrined in the US Constitution. Unfortunately, while there is some freedom to speak, and to publish, there is no freedom to be heard on the mass media television in this country, especially in matters which conflict with the interests of the elites controlling this country and its corporate mass media. If a voice remains unheard, or can be drowned, publish all you want, talk all you want.
Note that now, in the emerging police state in America, even the freedom to speak is under attack – lord knows some “evil doers” may hear and do some thinking for themselves. Witness the emergence of the new military thought police on university and school campuses under the auspices of this ultra right-wing ruling party, called the Campus-Watch that monitors what is said and talked about on campus. In addition, a surprising new Orwellian legislation pending in Congress makes it illegal to criticize Israel and Israeli occupation of Palestine in university and school campuses. It is not clear whether only in publicly funded ones or in all of them. Together with campus-watch, this is designed to quell any free speech and open debate on matters critical of Israel in the foremost and highest places hitherto protected from such intrusions, the academic freedom to think and debate freely.
But for other matters, yes there are 500 channels, all the sports you can watch, and all the possibilities for self expression, even self mutilation, and the masses are kept happy and well fed. Even the Roman empire did not have it so good. Attempts are being made to exercise dominance to quell critical debates not just in America, but throughout the world by influencing the world media as the entire planet now gets their news and forms their opinions on television viewing. If it cannot be bought or intimidated into compliance, it is bombed into compliance. An alien observer on Mars monitoring microwave transmissions from earth watching all the Hollywood movies and FOX news might conclude that only Anglo-Saxons live on the third planet, and the third Reich is back in power pursuing full scale military style psychological operations on the denizens.
Even the internet, once heralded as the great equalizer and democratizer in the world is not immune to the slowly encroaching barriers to free, unhindered, and unintimidated speech. But since its penetration in American households, though growing, is not as pervasive as television, its policing through corporate policies and new laws is only growing in proportion to its prominence and ability to effect public opinion in any significant numbers. Thus it remains open to free speech and a good source of alternate information at the present. However, it is routinely being scrounged by law enforcement and intelligence communities for evidence of subversive talk. And who defines subversive? The US Justice department? Several states have enacted laws that makes anonymizing a users web and email submission illegal, on the pretext of safeguarding against identity theft. With regular trolling of the internet by even employers to check what type of comments their prospective employees might have made in the past, and profiling and data mining tools proliferating even in the most innocuous operations, it may not be too long before the internet is primarily relegated to another shopping channel for the masses and a transaction channel for businesses, or for the harmless irrelevant non political chatter of the pop culture which will be called free speech in America. Being able to earn a livelihood can be a powerful chiller for political speech as observed during the McCarthy era. Furthermore, ownership of the internet is already beginning to fall in the hands of the mainstream corporate media moguls such a AOL-Time Warner. Before long, the likes of Rupert Murdoch will be owning a big chunk of the internet pie and beaming another 500 websites of entertainment chatter into our home.
A conspiracy at dumbing us down? This is no conspiracy theory. It's far more insidious. It is institutional! A natural outcome of the imperial path to world conquest, dominated by the rise of the military-industrial complex acquiring the rights of “person-hood” and constitutional protections over the past century, and now owning all of the mass media and driven by the new mantra of corporate globalization. Giant oil, auto, and agriculture corporations now dominate Wall Street, and are far richer than majority of nations on the planet – and they have now claimed for themselves constitutional human rights of free speech including the right to influence legislation, politicians, and make donations to political parties. According to Thom Hartmann, before 1886, it was not like this, most states prevented corporations from meddling in politics. If they cannot vote, why should they be talking to the politicians? Now, there is much in common between the fictitious “person” modern corporation, and this fictitious “war on terrorism”.
The interests of these elites now control the planet. They comprise less than a measurable fraction of one percent of the planet and monopolize more than 90% of its resources and its wealth. Just look at the wealthiest people on the Forbes list, look at the wealth commanded by the top few Fortune 500 companies, and compare it to the ownership of wealth and resources of the rest of the nations on the planet including their GDP.*13 Also review the earlier example of young labor sweat shops in Bangladesh run by the Walt Disney Company that pays 5 cents per shirt. And who owns ABC news? Why would ABC news broadcast an exposé of these sweat shops – contrary to what Charlie Rose might unreservedly proclaim? What does your own commonsense tell you?
The “war on terrorism” being waged from the White House is not about battlefield deployments against “Islamic jihadis”. It is mainly about privatization of the world’s resources and public commons into the hands of the military-industrial-corporate-multinational complex of the United States. Even Afghanistan was about oil pipelines and getting physically closer to Central Asia and China. As late as the summer of 2001, months before 9/11, the Taliban were told by US representatives to either accept the US offer of a carpet of gold or they would be buried in a carpet of bombs, that in either case the Americans would have their oil pipeline from the oil-rich nations of Central Asia to the Indian ocean through Afghanistan. Again, Iraq is about the control of oil spigots.
In general, America would be very happy to give the whole world their freedom to do absolutely whatever they want, have any kind of government they want, as long as they spend their money to buy American products in US dollars, and sell back all of their natural resources including their labor! Yes sell. Americans aren't thieves. After all, we buy what is under your soil or the fruits of your hard labor, and pay you what we think is a reasonable price for it. It is nothing more diabolical then a race among the corporations of the industrialized world for who can stake their claims first on which resource, with America being the dominant hog as it happens to own the biggest guns. Nor is it any more complex to understand than corporate greed, an extension of the age old human greed. The Enron and other fantastic debacles of late in which the CEOs of those bankrupt companies pay themselves millions in bonuses and even protect their wealth from any reclaim from bankruptcy proceedings is evidence of this greed.*14
The reconstruction of history by the official mainstream historians that is faithfully reproduced on the minds of the Americans by the media is also mind boggling! What is even more mind boggling is the cavalier attitude with which these texts refer to their sins of at least a 100 years ago (anything closer in time would be too close for comfort). For example, my kids came home talking about how the US army had given small pox laden blankets to the native Indians which killed tens of thousands of them. Okay, many of their descendants still live in appalling conditions on reservations – get them into gambling casinos, but not indemnify them for the sins of the past, nor bring these moral points up for discussion in the text books – but show them from the detachment of the sins of the past of a generation long dead! They did it; it's not our burden.
When is it our burden? When it is happening right at our door steps? Only when we are eyewitness to it? Only when we pull the trigger with our own fingers? I do not see and national contrition, restitution, and accountability, or memorials going up to the victims of America in America. What have I missed? I am 100% certain that in a 100 years the American historians will write text books about the devastation of Iraq and Afghanistan with similar detached regret. Then it will be out in the open, and perhaps my posterity might come home with similar official stories of tens of thousands Muslims dead from bombing the cities, from sanctions, from imposed dictatorships. But today, when this knowledge can be crucial to the American public who still choose or “select” their governments by some sort of voting, and can do something about it to get rid of them and bring them to justice, this information is conveniently not available.
All this is what inevitably and institutionally leads to mind control of the populace in America like the chained dwellers of Plato's mythical cave, for all sources of education and information are now under the corporate control of the military-industrial complex, including the law makers and the politicians.*15 The corporate influence in the White House, and vice versa, along with a confluence of other ancillary interests such as the Zionists alliance with Israel and their direct and indirect control of large chunks of US economy, its news outlets, and its politicians, make it impossible to hear and see images of the worst atrocities being committed in order to pursue empire.
If the American public saw and read what others in the world are seeing and reading, what would be the public's stance on Israel's occupation and its systematic extermination of the Palestinians? How much should we credit the corporate news media for not asking the 'why', for not showing us the powerful images that tell the story from both sides, and thus enhancing our obfuscation, that allows our government to continue aligning itself with Israel since we don't know any better and do not protest, and that emboldens Israel to carry on its planned genocide of the Palestinians with impunity, even being so emboldened as to kill a young American activist who dared to challenge them?
Thus, how much is the mainstream news media to blame for Rachel Corrie's murder, indeed for the wholesale slaughter and destruction of an entire people, in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the world, and how much are we, the silent ignorant majority, in whose name and with whose tax dollars, these war crimes are being committed? You be the judge!
Media non-coverage in this “Slaughter On Iraq”
Now let us look at some media non-coverage in this war of conquest and ponder the cause for the ignorance of the mainstream Americans.
Someone might perhaps argue that if the US President were to listen to Pacifica instead of his advisors, he might be less inclined to take Ariel Sharon as his mentor and not call him a “man of peace”! Not so. The Israeli soldiers have been training US soldiers on how to conduct Urban warfare based on the Jenin model! (The US President is quite aware of what is going on, not that it matters now, but on impeachment day perhaps?) Never made it on the mainstream news. There is so much confluence of interest between Israel and this war of aggression in the Middle East and oil that it is quite sinister to not see it even brought up on CNN, ABC, FOX et. al. as experts after experts are paraded before us. In this entire coverage, not one word has been mentioned of the Israeli interest in reviving the oil pipeline between Mosul and Haifa that I am aware of. That Israeli commanders have unprecedented access to the Central Command (CENTCOM) in Qatar, that they monitor and consult on real-time developments as they unfold in Iraq, lending their superior expertise in urban warfare that they learnt on innocent Palestinian homes in their own back yard, to the US military is not newsworthy. I guess the historians who will be rewriting the new text books of history will mainly be consulting FOX, CNN, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, and the glossy presentations of the Pentagon Generals and the Secretary of State General Colin Powell.
The threat facing the Dollar from the Euro, as Baghdad switched to the Euro for its oil transactions, and potentially Iran, Venezuela and all of OPEC also contemplating this move, which could break the dollar monopoly as an international currency for oil trading and threaten the US economy already loaded with trillions of dollars in debt, has not been raised as a motive for the war. See William Clark's detailed analysis on this topic on the web. A potential warning to these countries of what could come if they persisted in their blasphemy. It would provide an interesting empirical evidence of this motive if now none of these countries switch to the Euro. Retd. General J. Garner, as the new power in Iraq, is now a voting member of OPEC, in full and eager anticipation of falling price of crude oil from $22 to $8 – $10 as Iraq's production ramps up, with the oil companies pocketing that difference as profits. Can you see their stocks going up? Then there are the pipeline development contracts, oil fire put out contracts, military bases development and support contracts, and of course, Iraq rebuilding contracts. There are of course no oil men, or oil woman, and other corporate interests in the White House, right?
But why go to Iraq, why not twist the arm of Saudi Arabia to simply pump more oil if this was indeed the case, don't we own that country anyway? We took that country having no income tax before 1991, and made it one of the most debtor nations in the world by making it pay for the first Gulf War that the US convinced it fraudulently to fight by showing it doctored satellite pictures of Sadaam's supposed armored troops tracks in the sand poised to attack Saudi Arabia. Later, the photos were shown to be of highly questionable merit. Of course we won't bother going into the details at the moment about the late American Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, who gave Sadaam the proverbial “American green light” under orders from the State Department:
“We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”*16
The internal dispute had been Kuwait continually over pumping more oil than its agreed upon fare share from the disputed region between Iraq and Kuwait thus keeping the oil prices low, apart from the fact that Kuwait was artificially crafted out of Iraq by the colonial imperialist like all the modern countries of the Middle East. This “green light” to Sadaam was a an obvious trap as the subsequent history is evidence; and within a few hours of Sadaam's invasion of Kuwait, Iraq’s substantial dollar assets were frozen in the United States.
The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait enabled the US, under the stewardship of George Bush Sr., to finally enter the land of the Muslims, after years of trying, and finally set up military bases there, all paid for by Saudi Arabia from its oil revenues. And we also won't go into the fraudulent testimonies provided by the teary-eyed daughter of the ambassador of Kuwait to the US Congress about how the Iraqi soldiers were throwing babies out of incubators, to win over the US public opinion about going to war. All of these fraudulent testimonies were televised on all the news channels, without informing the public that the witness was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States having come here begging the superpower to come to its rescue. It has all been documented by others, and is accepted even by the mainstream journalists, but of course never to be rehearsed openly, especially now in the time of war, lest they inadvertently end up asking some really tough questions of the government, as it perpetuated new frauds on the public in the United Nations. Mafia aficionados, take notes on extortion racket.
But if you did ask this question, good job, you are relearning what you were forced to unlearn as a child, not to ask 'why' by giving you Ritalin and diagnosing you with ADD. The response, which the eloquent mainstream media won't give you, Pacifica provides you. Michael Ruppert, publisher of “From the Wilderness” explained it as the cost of producing a barrel of oil. In the rest of the world, the oil production has “peaked”, in other words, more than 50% of the oil has been pumped out from under their soil. The cost of production to pump out the next barrel of oil is now much higher, up to approx. $10 per barrel. Whereas in Iraq, the oil is floating about 600 feet below the surface, it has not “peaked”. It would cost less than a couple of bucks to pump that deliciously rich Mesopotamian thick black gold. Chink, the Wall Street just rallied!*17
New intellectual property laws are currently being drafted in Iraq by a representative of the recording industry so that the newly liberated Iraqis may not start copying Madonna songs! Weren't they supposed to be liberating the Iraqi people from Sadaam, now only to have them be under the diktats of the recording industry (courtesy of Pacifica)? Pillage and plunder aren't just words in history text books applied to colonizers past. And it's not just over there, it's right here too. Look at the company called ChoicePoint and watch your next presidential election results! See Greg Palast's new investigative reporting and articles in the U.K. Guardian newspaper available on its website on the many sources of profiteering and their immediate beneficiaries from this “war of conquest” that you will not hear in the US news media. It is a full Mafia ops for dizzying profits.
Perhaps it is not the media's fault – is it the economy stupid?
Mainstream America sees nothing, rallies around the Flag
Is this why the press and the journalism profession were accorded constitutional protection, the “freedom of the press”, so that special interests would push their agendas on the public mind? Especially the TV coverage from all of them, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, FOX, and CNN (I love their new acronym Censored News Networks courtesy of Flashpoints) is pro-war and support the troops and support the President – regardless of what war crimes against humanity get committed! That is an observation, and a fact, though frequently denied by the media participants themselves but never convincingly refuted. Compare their TV coverage with foreign broadcasts. Dish antennas are now quite pervasive and cheap – you can do your own experiment!
Remaining ignorant is no longer an excuse for complicity – and the assertion of innocence in the face of these atrocities being committed in our name can at best ring hollow – and at worst stand the same accusation of history that now the world levels at the German nation for their allowing Fascism to rise in their own country. To understand “why they hate us”, getting exposed to their story as told by them, not by the media pundits echoing the Pentagon or the White House, is a prerequisite. To understand why someone may lose all compunction in wanting to kill innocent civilians at the expense of their own lives, it is important to see what this country may have done to them in the past so many decades, and to remember one's own history and what Patrick Henry said “give me liberty or give me death” when England held sway over the fates and riches of this nation not so very long ago. Not to say it is ever justified to kill even a single innocent person, but do we not ask “why” when Tim McVeigh blows up a building in Oklahoma? Do we not try to unravel the crime in a sea of false trails and red herrings? So if “why” isn't being asked, what should one conclude?
Is the mainstream news media willing to take us there? When the leader of the free world asserts: “either you are with us or with the terrorists”, the media actually blocks us from seeing that there is also another alternative, that we can be neither. Hear the wonderful Arundhati Roy's eloquent speech that she made in Porto Alegre in Brazil titled “How to confront Empire?” that never made it on the 6 o clock news on any channel, but was broadcast on Pacifica, and whose transcript is available on the Internet. Her response to the President of United States of America is very simple and rational:
“'No thank you.' We can let him know that the people of the world do not need to choose between a Malevolent Mickey Mouse and the Mad Mullahs.”
Nor was Nelson Mandela's speech ever broadcast on the mainstream media but was heard on Pacifica. Had the American public been allowed to see him on their televisions at prime time, they would have heard the world's most revered leader and acknowledged elder statesman stating that the world's most powerful person “cannot think properly”, and perhaps pondered on it.
It's not the economy, it's the media stupid!
What were to happen if the television news shows, the Sunday morning and weekday talk shows, the late night comedy shows, and the public radio shows, started featuring commentaries and rebuttals from the large number of very articulate voices of dissent in this country and the world over? Do mainstream Americans even know that these popular voices of dissent exist: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, the past US attorney General Ramsey Clark, Asad Abu Khalil, Michel Chossudovsky, Rahul Mahajan, Tariq Ali, Greg Palast, Dennis Bernstein, Arundhati Roy, Amy Goodman, Nelson Mandela, Scott Ritter, Dennis Halliday, Michael Moore, Helen Caldicott, Robert Fisk, Daniel Ellsberg, David Harris, Congress member Barbara Lee, former Congress member Cynthia McKinney, the names of dozens of family members of 9/11 victims who openly state “not in our name”, leaders of foreign governments, and the list is endless. What if debates are held between them and the members of the government? What would happen if direct coverage from such courageous un-inbedded journalists like May Ying Welch and Robert Fisk (both phoning in their eye witness testimony directly from Baghdad to Pacifica), or the detailed footage of civilian carnage from AbuDhabi TV or Al-Jazeera is beamed into our homes alongside the made for TV canned coverage of the inbedded reporters showing how US soldiers eat their lunch and how the Iraqi children are welcoming them?*18
Incidentally, it has been widely reported in the overseas press that these smiling bare footed children greeting the US soldiers at the barrel of their M16 rifles are welcoming them with “$#@&^%” swear words in colloquial Arabic while enthusiastically shaking their hands. Even the embedded journalists have expressed their surprise privately to un-embedded journalists at why they are not being greeted with open arms, although this is not reported by them in the US mainstream media. They are surprised? Invading a country with “Shock and Awe” terror, right after they have been starved and bombed daily for 12 years, surprise would be the last feeling anyone but a complete moron would have. Just imagine, what would happen if American public saw and heard this stuff that the rest of the world is watching and listening, or heard critical debates instead of the mindless drivel. Would they still tolerate it in their good name? Are they incredibly indoctrinated or are they incredibly self-serving?
Since such critical debate and meaningful information is non-existent in the American mainstream media, the American public must seek out other sources of information, analyze why there is a difference between what their mainstream media and Government officials tell them and what these alternate sources tell them, and reach their own conclusions. This requires considerable time and effort, and a continuous desire to remain informed despite the immersion in the materialistic consumer culture that keeps most of us perpetually occupied pursuing our “American Dreams.” By the time we get home, there is only enough energy left to throw off our shoes and turn on the television. This is also understood by the ruling elite who incessantly bombard us with further self-reinforcing consumerism in the two hours we will watch television informing us about the newest gadgets and gee-whiz techno-babble in between mindless episodes of “Friends” and captivating new car advertisements. So who can muster such motivation to seek out alternate news sources? Only the nutty few, who can easily be dismissed as “conspiracy theorists” or “fanatics” or “leftists” or a “focus group”, and yes, if they become so bold as to voice their courageous dissent loudly with a potential of it being heard and believed, then even “terrorists”!
Not that these alternative sources of information are inherently more reliable or that they necessarily represent the sole truth or even any truth, but only in the differences in perspective, in the public expression of alternate viewpoints and information, and in the open public debate in the mainstream among contrarians, can a polity become informed – for being informed is the lynchpin of any progressive self-empowering human existence under any system, from dictatorships (in order to overthrow them) to democracy (in order to maintain it).
Does mainstream America want to build an empire by subjugating everyone else – with bombs and/or imposed dictatorships? ZB does not think so. I do not believe so either – or writing this book would have been rather pointless. But you can better adjudicate on this question for yourselves!
So now we clearly come to see why it is necessary for the US news media, and especially TV news to be so compliant. Images speak volumes, and in this nation of television junkies, it is the primary source of information for most everyone, with few exceptions. This is also why, it is permissible to occasionally allow critical dissenting articles in the back pages of New York Times et. al., sometimes a few even make the front page – but how many people read these newspapers in this country? So long as it is ineffectual, it has all the freedom of the press and speech! So long as not too many people are exposed to it or believe it, it is allowed to be expressed – for it also aids in the essential propaganda of the 'freedom of speech and the press' to make the American peoples proud of the accomplishments of their democratic ideals and nationhood. This is also why so many books on current affairs that critically challenge this “war on terrorism” are allowed on the American bookshelves – the reading public in America is miniscule, and especially the audience for such works that require critical thinking and reflection is almost non-existent, and roughly the size of the protest marches in American streets that Bush eloquently dismissed as a “focus group”. Thus all the freedom to publish books – but not to have them discussed and their authors presented on mainstream media and television!
The preceding suffices to lend credence to ZB's assertion on the role of mass media in a populist democracy in molding domestic public opinion. While ZB presented his argument as the mass media making the public war averse, we have convincingly demonstrated the converse – that mass ignorance perpetuated by the mainstream mass media has molded the US public opinion towards ignorance, and this has allowed America to wage unspeakable wars in the name of national interest against sovereign nations from WWII until today.
“War on terrorism”? Give me a break! But what do you think?
Footnotes Chapter 4
*1 See Greg Palast: Best Democracy Money Can Buy, 95 – 96. A must read for all Americans.
*2 See Noam Chomsky: Western State Terrorism, Chapter 2. Also available online on the web.
*3 Israel Koenig: “Koenig Memorandum”. Culled from the web.
*4 David Ben-Gurion, 1948. Culled from the web.
*5 David Ben-Gurion, 1948. Culled from the web.
*6 Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the IDF: “New York Times 14 April 1983”. Culled from the web.
*7 Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983. Culled from the web.
*8 David Ben-Gurion – Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), 121. Culled from the web.
*9 Moshe Dayan: Haaretz, April 4, 1969. Culled from the web.
*10 Excerpted from the pamphlet containing Rachel’s letters published by Alison Weir of If Americans Knew. This pamphlet was distributed at Rachel’s martyrdom commemoration gathering in a small church in Berkeley California which the author attended with his young children.
*11 Weir, Alison Pamphlet, Rachel's Letters published by 'If Americans Knew'
*12 To gain a better understanding of the choice of words and the use of language in molding public opinion, please see Collateral Language – A Users Guide to America's New War, Edited by John Collins and Ross Glover.
*13 See the book Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Domination and the Theft of Human Rights by Thom Hartmann for some interesting statistics and to understand the rise of modern multinational corporations, the primal cause of injustice in American foreign policy after the end of the Cold War. Also see After Capitalism by Seymour Melman for an understanding of where unbridled and unfettered capitalism under the market economy of ever expanding corporate globalization without the checks and balances can take us.
*14 See Vijay Prashad's Fat Cats and Running Dogs – The Enron Stage Of Capitalism for details.
*15 See The Iron Triangle by Dan Briody for an eloquent exposé of the revolving door between corporate America, military, and government leaders including past US and European heads of state. The linkages drawn here might be surprising to some, but are nevertheless quite real and easily observable in the American system.
*16 Excerpt from the transcripts of conversation between April Glaspie and Sadaam Hussain. I found this transcript on the internet, and its authenticity is unknown. However, the occurance of this conversation and Glaspie showing the green light to Sadaam Hussain is well known. The transcript details are as follows:
Transcript of Meeting Between Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, July 25, 1990 (Eight days before the August 2, 1990 Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait)
July 25, 1990 – Presidential Palace – Baghdad
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – I have direct instructions from President Bush to improve our relations with Iraq. We have considerable sympathy for your quest for higher oil prices, the immediate cause of your confrontation with Kuwait. (pause) As you know, I lived here for years and admire your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. We know you need funds. We understand that, and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. (pause) We can see that you have deployed massive numbers of troops in the south. Normally that would be none of our business, but when this happens in the context of your threat s against Kuwait, then it would be reasonable for us to be concerned. For this reason, I have received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship – not confrontation – regarding your intentions: Why are your troops massed so very close to Kuwait's borders?
Saddam Hussein – As you know, for years now I have made every effort to reach a settlement on our dispute with Kuwait. There is to be a meeting in two days; I am prepared to give negotiations only this one more brief chance. (pause) When we (the Iraqis) meet (with the Kuwaitis) and we see there is hope, then nothing will happen. But if we are unable to find a solution, then it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death.
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – What solutions would be acceptab le?
Saddam Hussein – If we could keep the whole of the Shatt al Arab – our strategic goal in our war with Iran – we will make concessions (to the Kuwaitis). But, if we are forced to choose between keeping half of the Shatt and the whole of Iraq (i.e., in Saddam s view, including Kuwait ) then we will give up all of the Shatt to defend our claims on Kuwait to keep the whole of Iraq in the shape we wish it to be. (pause) What is the United States' opinion on this?
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – We have no opinion on your Arab – Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960's, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America. (Saddam smiles)
On August 2, 1990, Saddam's massed troops invade and occupy Kuwait. _____
Baghdad, September 2, 1990, U.S. Embassy
One month later, British journalists obtain the above tape and transcript of the Saddam – Glaspie meeting of July 29, 1990. Astounded, they confront Ms. Glaspie as she leaves the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Journalist 1 – Are the transcripts (holding them up) correct, Madam Ambassador?(Ambassador Glaspie does not respond)
Journalist 2 – You knew Saddam was going to invade (Kuwait ) but you didn't warn him not to. You didn't tell him America would defend Kuwait. You told him the opposite – that America was not associated with Kuwait.
Journalist 1 – You encouraged this aggression – his invasion. What were you thinking?
U.S. Ambassador Glaspie – Obviously, I didn't think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.
Journalist 1 – You thought he was just going to take some of it? But, how could you? Saddam told you that, if negotiations failed , he would give up his Iran (Shatt al Arab waterway) goal for the Whole of Iraq, in the shape we wish it to be. You know that includes Kuwait, which the Iraqis have always viewed as an historic part of their country!
Journalist 1 – American green-lighted the invasion. At a minimum, you admit signaling Saddam that some aggression was okay – that the U.S. would not oppose a grab of the al-Rumeilah oil field, the disputed border strip and the Gulf Islands (including Bubiyan) – the territories claimed by Iraq?
(Ambassador Glaspie says nothing as a limousine door closed behind her and the car drives off.)
*17 Not being an oil expert, I have no idea to the actual validity of this “peaking theory”. The point however is that if this theory is also openly debated in the media by contrarian experts, we might know better.
*18 Also see Asad Abu Khalil's Bin Laden, Islam and America's new war on Terrorism; Before & After – US Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis by Phyllis Bennis; and Clash of Fundamentalisms by Tariq Ali, to help remove some of the obfuscation that the media deliberately helps perpetuate by controlling what is aired and what isn't.
These are all contrarian viewpoints and whether one agrees with them or not is besides the point – what is to the point however is why we have never heard either Asad or Tariq Ali or Phyllis Bennis on mainstream television, on Sunday morning news talk show circuits, and in debate with Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld? All three intellectuals are incredible speakers, exceedingly eloquent, highly media literate, and very presentable on television. Depriving the mainstream American public from seeing and hearing them, and seeing and hearing a hundred others like them, is the tragedy of modern America.
Danny Schechter, Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception : How the Media Failed to Cover the War on Iraq, Prometheus Books, October 2003
Danny Schechter, Weapons of Mass Deception, media documentary 2004 – 2005, http://www.wmdthefilm.com , watch online at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4437853756074043715