Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Reign of Ignorance and Fear in the U.S.

TruthOut.com has posted the Newsweek story “Losing Afghanistan: The Rise of Jihadistan” by Ron Moreau, Sami Yousafzai, and Michael Hirsh.

The editor of TruthOut.com notes that interestingly, but not altogether surprisingly, “the cover of [Newsweek's] international editions, aimed at Europe and other world regions, has maintained the original title of the story, ‘Losing Afghanistan.’ The new cover for the United States edition features photographer Annie Leibovitz and is titled ‘My Life in Pictures’ ”.



Why the cover switch, I wonder?

Could it be somehow related to
Bob Woodward’s recent contention that the American people have been misled over the situation in Iraq?

I’d actually go further and say that the Bush administration has misled the country over all aspects of the so-called “War on Terror”.

And the American corporate media is, without doubt, complicit in this misleading, as the cover switch at Newsweek demonstrates.

The situation in Afghanistan, like the situation in Iraq, is clearly deteriorating. The Bush regime’s “War on Terror” is not stemming international terrorism but rather fuelling it. That’s irrefutable. These realities are obviously considered by Newsweek to be big news. Yet in the U.S., this “big news” is downplayed, resulting in the public being mislead on its importance and its specifics.

For a start, the image on the cover of the international editions of the magazine is far more compelling than the one on the U.S. edition. It gets your attention. I’m sure more people would stop and pick it up and read its cover story as opposed to the rather bland U.S. cover story featured on the U.S. version.

It brings to mind award-winning journalist
Amy Goodman’s observation that many within the U.S. corporate media “have an unspoken rule with those in power not to challenge them – a self-censorship that is commonplace and destructive.”

How destructive? Well, as Thomas Jefferson once noted, “Democracy cannot survive, much less thrive, without an informed citizenry”.

And without doubt, Americans are woefully ignorant of world events and the in-depth analysis of such events offered outside of the narrow framework established and maintained by the U.S. corporate media.

As Minneapolis-based journalist Lydia Howell has noted, “Media of all kinds has been deeply shaped by the public relations industry and the escalating concentration of information-sources in fewer and fewer, wealthy, corporate hands. This results in narrow, pre-determined ‘debate’ parameters, a reliance on a few carefully chosen ‘experts’ and propaganda – primarily by omission of more progressive perspectives, dissident voices and marginalized groups”

Partly as a result of such media “shaping”, the Bush administration has been able to get away with a promoting and, in some cases, legalizing elements of a decidedly
neo-fascist agenda.

Over at the Gay Species blogsite, D. Stephen Heersink sums it up very succinctly when he states that, “Not since the Japanese internment camps of WWII have I felt so utterly disgusted with my government, Democrats and Republicans alike. We can agree to disagree over policy initiatives, but undermining our liberal principles for an autocrat to defend against terrorism is its own form of terrorism. By simple pronouncement of being an “enemy combatant”, domestic or foreign, all the consitutional safegaurds of speedy trial, facing your accused, habeas corpus, trial by peers, access to counsel, knowing the charges leveled against you – all – have become compromised. This regression into fascism is lamented rightly on both the Right and the Left, but apparently our constitutional principles are of slight interest to both Democratics and Republicans. And why? Fear!”

Yes, fear. Fear of terrorism and fear of looking weak in confronting terrorism. Some of these fears are legitimate, some are overblown – and purposely so by the likes of George W. Bush.


But as well as fear, I’d also include the ignorance and complacency of the American people in accounting for the largely unchecked rise of neo-fascism in the U.S. And in large part, we have the mouthpiece of the U.S. government, the U.S. corporate media, to blame for such ignorance and complacency.

What can be done?

Well, for all it’s worth, here are my recommendations:

First, get informed by seeking out alternative news services like
Free Speech TV and programs like Democracy Now!

Log onto websites like Truth Out, CommonDreams.org, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).

While visiting FAIR, get acquainted with the organization’s
Media Activism Kit, a great collection of “how-to” guides for identifying, documenting and challenging inaccurate or unfair news coverage, along with information about how to promote independent media.

Challenge the corportae media – its framework, perspectives, and misleading tactics – by making phone calls, sending e-mails, and writing letters.

Boycott the corporate media’s corporate advertisers, though be sure to let them know you’re doing it and why!

Get involved in supporting local, independent media outlets, such as your local community radio and/or TV station. Become the media!

Getting the picture? Good! Now let’s take action!

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