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Spreading some dis-information

Published by marco on

The NY Times writes No News Is Good News, another article about media management in the U.S. It discusses the efforts to keep Bin Laden off of network television, with the transparent excuse that he might be sending coded messages to his ‘troops’, as well as the bending of public sentiment to keep up support for the war by encouraging a ‘with us or against us’ mentality:

<q>Even so, America’s New War, as CNN has branded it, is already whipping up one of the cold war’s most self-destructive national maladies — a will to stifle dissent. Such has been the disproportionate avalanche of invective about Susan Sontag, Bill Maher and Noam Chomsky that you’d hardly guess they were a writer, a late-late-night comic and a linguistics professor — Americans with less clout and popular standing than a substitute weatherman on the “Today” show.</q>

In the same vein is the laughable notion that the food packs dropped by the U.S. (whose propaganda value has been discussed in other places) are being poisoned by the Taliban. Poisoning the Well (Oct. 26, 2001) on CounterPunch quotes several aid agencies:

<q>When contacted, Sam Barratt of Oxfam International, currently working out of Peshawar, Pakistan, characterized the Pentagon statement as “deeply unhelpful,” adding, “This claim further goes to undermine the position of aid agencies in the country.”</q>

The story also contains warnings to question all that you hear, citing examples of misinformation from our last conflict in the Gulf War. These types of misinformation can drastically affect public opinion:

<q>In order to combat disinformation effectively, however, we will have to learn how to recognize it before the war is over, while it’s still relevant to current affairs. And, in fact, we’ve already seen open evidence of its use in this crisis. Government officials were forced to admit that reports that the terrorists targeted Air Force One were untrue (presumably they were circulated to further anger the American public).</q>

Update: An Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy at Common Dreams is almost a month old. It’s somewhat frightening to note how predictable the U.S. response has been.

<q>So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilization and savagery, between the “massacre of innocent people” or, if you like, “a clash of civilizations” and “collateral damage”. The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerized, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world’s superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world …</q>

<q>The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defense industry. …</q>

<q>Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven’s sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defense secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America’s new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.</q>

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marco

Update: An Algebra of Infinite Justice by Arundhati Roy at Common Dreams is almost a month old. It’s somewhat frightening to note how predictable the U.S. response has been.

<q>So here we have it. The equivocating distinction between civilization and savagery, between the “massacre of innocent people” or, if you like, “a clash of civilizations” and “collateral damage”. The sophistry and fastidious algebra of infinite justice. How many dead Iraqis will it take to make the world a better place? How many dead Afghans for every dead American? How many dead women and children for every dead man? How many dead mojahedin for each dead investment banker? As we watch mesmerized, Operation Enduring Freedom unfolds on TV monitors across the world. A coalition of the world’s superpowers is closing in on Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most ravaged, war-torn countries in the world …</q>

<q>The US government, and no doubt governments all over the world, will use the climate of war as an excuse to curtail civil liberties, deny free speech, lay off workers, harass ethnic and religious minorities, cut back on public spending and divert huge amounts of money to the defense industry. …</q>

<q>Terrorism as a phenomenon may never go away. But if it is to be contained, the first step is for America to at least acknowledge that it shares the planet with other nations, with other human beings who, even if they are not on TV, have loves and griefs and stories and songs and sorrows and, for heaven’s sake, rights. Instead, when Donald Rumsfeld, the US defense secretary, was asked what he would call a victory in America’s new war, he said that if he could convince the world that Americans must be allowed to continue with their way of life, he would consider it a victory.</q>