What Have We Wrought: thoughts on freedom, taxes, capitalism and democracy
Part IV: Media and Propaganda
With a mainstream corporate media that is bought and sold by the likes of Rupert Murdoch, with Clear Channel’s and other right-wing owners control of local radio around the country, how do we reach these relatives and neighbors?
Every day I see wonderful articles and exposes written in support of WikiLeaks, of Anonymous, along with articles that expose the hypocrisy of war and the trillions we spend on it, not to mention the budgets of Homeland Security and the FBI and CIA, as well as articles about how the rich are living high while the rest of us suffer.
But obviously there are many who do not see these articles and who need to see them and understand them. Perhaps it is the cynical way we often approach these topics that puts them off or fails to convince them to believe in the truth of what we say. Or perhaps it is because instead of appealing to their emotions, we create 12-point plans.
Then also there are the extreme examples that we hear about on the media, like the woman, I am ashamed to say, from Minnesota who asked John McCain about Obama being an Arab. Again, our media distorts the truth by focusing on the outrageous, rather than the ordinary good people who are taken in by the right-wing message. They call it “conservative,” but it is right-wing.
Is the empire starting to crumble with Murdoch and others being “outed”? Scotland Yard implicated in the coverup, yet! How far do their tentacles reach? Well, we know it is far. Rebekah Brooks, CEO of Murdoch’s News International, had extensive networks that included former prime ministers and the current prime minister of England (Newsweek, July 25, 2011). I won’t call it a Conspiracy. Mostly its more basic than that: greed and hubris, two of the Seven Deadly Sins. The other sins probably weigh in as well.
We do not have freedom, we do not really have a free press like we once did. Yes, we still have the internet, but that is just, “sort of.” Facebook, for example, we know is based on finding “Friends” who have the same interests as you might have. It was just happenstance that I found that Being Conservative Facebook page and the video by the army in this post, for example. Ordinarily Facebook suggests “Friends of Friends” so you don’t get asked to be “Friends” with those who don’t agree with you. It is all so controlled that ordinarily I would never happen to see conservative and right-wing opinions and ideas. It is true that you can search out conservative and right-wing websites on the internet. But how many look to see the opinions of the other side? It’s human nature to want to read and see what we agree with, and Facebook plays on that human quality.
The “truth” is out there in the independent media in the form of many good websites, blogs, and articles on the internet (some are RSS feeds on WAMMToday), in print, on TV even, and radio, but you have to know where to look for it. You also have to know where to look for the “untruth” on the internet to understand that the other half or so of the American population is looking at TV, newspapers, websites, blogs and Facebook pages that are in direct opposition to what you are looking at and reading in print, on TV and radio, and on websites, blogs, or on Facebook.
One of the things I will always remember from college is one of the professor’s diagrams on the blackboard: At first it was a line, with right-wing and left-wing on opposite ends. The right-wing was the Fascists, the left-wing the Communists (more appropriately the Stalinists). Then he drew the ends together into an elliptical circle, ends touching, showing the extreme of either to be violent and oppressive. He made a point of mentioning the violent nature of both. The truth is not always so simple, but still the metaphor serves well to show that the right-wingers, who call themselves conservatives or Tea Party or Republicans or religious right, can be just as violent in their fascism as any totalitarian government on the left end of the line. At the far extreme of the right today are the Neo-Nazis.
Sometimes crying “fascist” is like “crying wolf.” In spite of the fact that we know what the fascists did in the ’30s and ’40s, we are not supposed to say that our government might have fascist elements, even though the right-wing can say it has communist or socialist elements: Social Security and Medicare, Unemployment, and Workers’ Rights, including the eight-hour day, are based, after all, on communist and socialist principles.
As you well know if you are reading this article, there is no easy answer, no easy solution. U.S. Debt, is the issue is still an issue that is consuming Americans and much of the world. The economy is now a world economy with nations’ fates locked together and to the U.S. With Obama and the Democrats finally caving into the Republicans, economists are still advising that the best way to restore the economy is to create jobs, not to makes cuts. Once again as a nation we are on the wrong track.
But the showdown in D.C. is about much more than the budget or even the economy. The issues at stake are no less than what kind of country America is and wants to be, and is inextricably linked to the cultural and societal questions raised here.
Who do we want to be? A nation that takes care of our children, our sick, our vulnerable, our elderly? Or one that casts them aside like so much chaff into the wind. If we listen, we can hear them in the wind, already crying.
As a democratic society, even as a republic, we are in deep trouble as a country, as a nation, at least the country we originally aspired to be, with all our warts and flaws, still based on a unique idea of the “consent of the governed.” And in that “governed” right now there is a divide as serious as the schism that resulted in the Civil War.
Overlaid with that divide is the fact we are an empire, an empire in decline. We can look to the example of the British Empire and decline gracefully, with dignity still intact, or we can run ourselves in the ground, throw all our values and liberties and principles aside, and fall hard and flat on our faces into the dirt.
We appear to be headed in the latter direction, the great experiment in government that failed. We can change that. We’re not done yet, those of us who want to put an end to war and who wish for justice for all peoples; and we are people worldwide, not just a handful of crazies in America left over from the 60s, as the corporate media would have you believe.
The plus side of the technological revolution is that we have powerful allies in this journey for peace and justice, like independent media and WikiLeaks and Anonymous. Anonymous has defied the FBI in spite of arrests (see “Anonymous, LulzSec: ‘Your threats to arrest us are meaningless” on WAMMToday). Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is accused of sexual misconduct on a trumped up charge (probably it was entrapment) and continues to have worldwide support.
Bradley Manning is in prison in Leavenworth for allegedly providing information to WikiLeaks, isolated and previously tortured, for acting on his principles.
Our own nine antiwar activists from the Twin Cities (along with those from Chicago, together comprising the 23) who were raided, subpoenaed, and targeted by the FBI, continue to refuse to appear before a grand jury to implicate others, particularly in Colombia, and continue to stand in solidarily with the people of Palestine and Colombia, because dissent from U.S. foreign policy and solidarity with struggles for justice in other parts of the world are not crimes.
Part VI: What’s Technology Got to Do with Propaganda? and Part VII: Thoughts on emotion, propaganda, racism–and room for hope, will be published tomorrow.
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