Sunday, October 16, 2011

Editorial: A lot of people want to be lied to

Muckraker I.F. Stone famously pointed out, "All governments lie." He may have been too kind to point out the obvious, "A lot of people want to be lied to."

During the last ten years in the US, we've seen a lot of governmental lying, probably kicked off with the false assertion that, "They hate us for our freedoms," certainly including the many lies used to sell the Iraq War and the continued embrace of Corporatist War Hawk Barack Obama.

Last week, it was Uganda Barack was sending US troops to. Yet still some cling to the lies that swallowed and that they spat out to help elect Barack.

Take the insufferable Danny Schechter.

"The Hot Topics Dumpster"

Beyond Middle Aged and still thinking he's a Young Turk, his biggest self-deceptions is that he's fooling anyone. Knocking limp dicks with the likes of Todd The Toad Gitlin on his radio show in a pretense of covering the Occupy Wall Street movement (Toad, as WSWS has pointed out, is attempting to hijack the OWS for Barack's electoral prospects -- Danny waives in, always), or knocking limp dicks at the refuge of all the foul sexist pigs, or just continuing to live off the work of women, Danny repeatedly lies not just about what Barack stands for but about what he himself does.

What he mainly does is insist, when Democrats aren't in the White House, that he doesn't care who's in power and, when Democrats make it into the White House, offer non-stop excuses for them (at one point, apparently attempting to rise to the post of cleric in the Cult of St. Barack, Danny had Barack being held hostage and brainwashed and threatened by the Pentagon to excuse away Barack's actions). When that doesn't work out so well, he'll rush to tell you how awful the Republicans are.

That 'logic' is as insane and useless as Schechter himself. It's as if you're saying, "Republicans will rob you at gun point and have bad breath, Democrats will just rob you at gun point." Either way, you're still being robbed.

In The Terror Dream, Susan Faludi addresses a number of cultural lies we, in the United States, have always told ourselves and surely there's never been a great self-lie than the one that we are good but the other is bad. For the last year, Bob Somerby's done strong work on the modern usage of that lie, of that tribalism. In fact, this work has become even more important than his work on the 2000 election or his work noting the conservative bias in the media. This is lasting work on a topic worthy of a book -- a book that could be a building block for future generations.

Because to break free of either/or, of the notion that we must embrace out of fear, of the false belief that we have to Oprah is and say "yes" to get along, we're going to need some serious building blocks.

The media lies. Yes, it does. I.F. Stone and Ida B. Wells and so many others who came before noted that. And twenty or so years after they note it, they're embraced in some form. And the media shake its head with a rueful smile over the way things were back then.

Back then.

Always back then. In the safe and distant past.

The problem was back then.

Things are fine right now.

That's the lie we tell ourselves and that's how we get screwed over repeatedly.

In his work on tribalism, Bob Somerby's been the only one to note what he's dubbed "the math" of the Occupy Wall Street movement. 99% to 1%. 1% benefits, 99% is screwed means that those being screwed over outnumber those benefitting and that alliances and education could take place among the 99%. As Somerby pointed out Friday:

Question: Are you part of the 50 percent? Or could you be part of the 99? The newer math of the Occupy movement is built around some fairly obvious points. For example, everyone is getting looted by the oligarchs -- red and blue voters alike. Everyone pays too much for their health care; everyone's salaries stagnate.
But you can't explain such facts to other people if you're convinced, going in, that they are simply not part of your tribe.
You can't approach the 99 percent with a dogmatic 50 percent mindset.
Tribal tribunes love the idea that the world is red and blue, Us against Them -- that the true math is 50/50. Tribal tribunes have always loved this most ancient pre-human idea. And tribal tribunes have always found ways to undermine any wider perspective.

Tribal tribunes have always found ways to undermine any wider perspective. Again, it's a book. It's an epic theme. It's putting his media criticism skills to work with his training in philosophy.

It's a real education.

And it's needed because while there are always some who will choose to be lied to, there are others who have simply not been shown how the whole thing actually works. As with the 99%, you might not be able to pull all of them together, but if you do work required to communicate, you should be able to get a majority of that 99% willing to work together on some issues.

[Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Hot Topics Dumpster."]
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