"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Friday, May 27, 2005

War, Torture, Corruption - Anomalies?

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." Milan Kundera

The Silent Media Curse of Memorial Day

Media Beat (5/26/05)
By Norman Solomon

Memorial Day weekend brings media rituals. Old Glory flutters on television and newsprint. Grave ceremonies and oratory pay homage to the fallen. Many officials and pundits speak of remembering the dead. But for all the talk of war and remembrance, no time is more infused with insidious forgetting than the last days of May.

This is a holiday that features solemn evasion. Speech-makers and commentators praise the “ultimate sacrifice” of American soldiers -- but say nothing about the duplicity of those who sacrificed them. War efforts are equated with indubitable patriotism. Journalists claim to be writing the latest draft of history, but actual history is no more present than the dead....

It has become popular to describe the U.S. invasion of Iraq as some kind of anomaly, a departure from Washington’s previous record of seeking peaceful alternatives to war and refusing to engage in aggression. Such depictions amount to a kind of pseudo-historical baby food, chopped up and strained so it can be stomached.

But during the last half century -- when, for days or months or many years, U.S. troops and planes assaulted the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq again -- the rationales from the White House were always based on major falsehoods, avidly promoted by the U.S. mass media. In the light of real history, the U.S. soldiers who are honored each Memorial Day were pawns of methodical deception. Media spin and the edicts of authorities induced them to kill “enemy” combatants and civilians, for whom Pentagon buglers have never played a single mournful note.

The Orwellian process of rigorous forgetting is not only about past wars. It’s also about the next war.

Aldous Huxley observed about “triumphs of propaganda” long ago: “Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.” I thought of that comment the other night while watching a TV network. No, it wasn’t Fox or MSNBC or CNN. It was PBS -- the Frontline show, airing a report about Iran’s nuclear program. Every word of the May 24 broadcast may have been true -- yet, due to the show’s omissions, the practical effect was to participate in laying media groundwork for a military attack on Iran....

Memory with integrity should inform our understanding, on Memorial Day and every day. If we remember the Americans who were killed but forget the people they killed -- if we remain silent while media scripts exclude crucial aspects of history that demolish Washington’s claims of high moral ground -- the propaganda system for war can remain intact. When journalists defer to that silence, they’re part of the deadly problem.

Full Article: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)